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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One in Eight People Go Hungry

One in eight people on the planet are chronically undernourished, according to a report issued today by U.N. food agencies. From 2010 to 2012, 868 million people were hungry; about 12.5 percent of the population. This is down from 18.6 percent in 1990. “That is better news than we have had in the past, but it still means that one person in every eight goes hungry. That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty,” said director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jose Graziano da Silva. In 2000, the U.N committed to halving the number of undernourished people by 2015, as part of the Millennium Development Goal. While the goal is still attainable, Graziano de Silva cautioned, “Most of the progress in hunger reduction was made until 2006, as food price levels continued to decline. With the rise in food prices and the economic crisis that followed, there have been many fewer advances.” The report highlights the role women hold as stewards of smallholding farms, which the report said constitute the most effective means of reducing hunger and providing employment to the poor.

Top U.S. Court to Hear Affirmative Action Arguments

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the University of Texas’ affirmative action admissions policies violate the rights of white applicants. The case suit was brought against the university by Abigail Fischer after she was denied admission to the college despite a strong application. The Court last heard arguments on affirmative action in 2003 when it ruled that the University of Michigan Law School could use race as one factor in its admissions but should look for alternatives to ensuring diversity. Should the court decide otherwise, some colleges could suffer a dearth of diversity as alternatives to affirmative action have not yet met with success.

Mexican Navy Killed Narco Leader, Lost Body

The body of Los Zetas leader Heiberto “El Lazca” Lazcano was stolen from a funeral parlor today. El Lazca and an accomplice were gunned down on Sunday after a shootout with the Mexican Navy, and the bodies were taken to a funeral parlor in Sabinas, Coahuila in the north of Mexico for holding, where Lazcano’s identity was confirmed via fingerprints. According to Coahuila state prosecutor Homero Ramos, a gang of heavily-armed men later entered the parlor and subdued the staff: “They took the bodies, stuck them in a hearse, and made the owner drive it off.” Lazcano was the leader of a sect of the Zetas that recently broke with Miguel “Z-40″ Morales leading to internecine conflict. Yesterday, Mexican authorities arrested Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, one of Z-40′s top commanders, who was implicated in more than 200 executions including the 2010 death of American David Hartley. Since 2009, more than 20 major narcos have been killed or captured. Senior Zetas boss Ivan “El Taliban” or “Z-50” Velazquez and Gulf Cartel head Jorge Costilla, alias “El Coss,” were both captured last month.

Egyptian President Pardons ‘Revolutionaries’

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has pardoned all those arrested for crimes committed “in support of the revolution” that saw Hosni Mubarak ousted in early 2011. Thousands will be freed under this new amnesty. Mohammed Gadallah, an important legal aide to Mursi said the amnesty was “one of the revolution’s most important victories”. But other human rights lawyers disagree, saying the the amnesty is vague and that the phrase “in support of the revolution” might be interpreted too conservatively. The amnesty, which comes at the end of President Mursi’s first 100 days in office, will specifically not apply to cases of murder.

Milk Futures, Prices Soaring Due to Drought

Milk prices will rise over the next few months as production is down to its lowest point in 12 years. Feed costs have risen due to a drought that has affected at least 39 percent of the U.S. leading many dairy farmers to slaughter their herds to avoid bankruptcy. U.S. cows are being killed at rates not seen in the last 25 years. “Farmers can’t afford to buy as much grain and protein, and that affects milk production,” said dairy economist Bob Cropp. “In California, there’ve been some foreclosures and some sell-off of cows quite heavily. You’re going to see that in other parts of the country.” The drought, comparable in damages to the 1930′s dust bowl, has also driven up prices for hogs, wheat, chicken and soy.

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