Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More U.S. Women Having Fewer Kids, If Any

This news is dangerous for the future of our country.

More American women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, is the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns.

About 4.2 million women participating in the survey (which was conducted from January through December 2006) had had a child in the previous year.

The statistics could be used by state agencies to provide maternal care services, the report said.

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Afghanistan Clash Kills 10 French Soldiers

It's no wonder McCain doesn't mention Afghanistan. We are losing in that country because we are bogged down in Iraq. It is also the reason why the Russians are taunting us.

The French government said Tuesday 10 of its soldiers died in fighting near Kabul, while U.S. and Afghan forces killed several insurgents in other clashes.

The French defense ministry said its soldiers, part of the 1,670-strong French contingent with NATO forces in Afghanistan, had been engaged in fighting Taliban militants since Monday, CNN reported.

Other reports said the fighting had been heavy but further details were not immediately available.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the CNN report said several suicide bombers and militants tried to attack the Forward Operating Base Salerno, a U.S. base north of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, but were beaten back.

Khost is about 12 miles from the border with Pakistan. The report said seven insurgents, including three suicide bombers, were killed.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the approaching militants had been observed by U.S. and Afghan troops at the base.

A Taliban spokesman claimed 15 suicide bombers inflicted heavy casualties at the base, which was dismissed both by ISAF and local officials, the report said.

The latest incident follows a suicide car bombing Monday outside the base in which 10 Afghan civilians died.

F.B.I. Details Anthrax Case, but Doubts Remain

The FBI will never succeed in putting this matter to rest. They have convicted the wrong man and have destroyed any hope that we will find those truly responsible.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials on Monday laid out their most detailed scientific case to date against Bruce E. Ivins, the military scientist accused of being the anthrax killer, but they acknowledged that the many mysteries of the case meant an air of uncertainty would always surround it.

[...]Dr. Ivins, a longtime anthrax researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, killed himself last month as the Justice Department was preparing an indictment against him. Since his death, a number of scientists have said that the limited forensic evidence that the F.B.I. made public in linking the attacks to Dr. Ivins is inconclusive.

The unusual presentation by the bureau on Monday was intended to quell those doubts, but some scientists remained skeptical. They said it would be months before they were able to evaluate fully the strength of the forensic evidence, and the new process used, in an independent setting.

At the briefing, F.B.I. officials disclosed that they first obtained a sample of a unique strain of anthrax from Dr. Ivins in 2002, one that could have led them back to the strain used in the 2001 attacks. But the bureau destroyed the sample because Dr. Ivins did not follow protocol in the way it was submitted, making it more difficult to use in court.

It was not until 2006, after a backup copy of Dr. Ivins’s sample was found by another scientist working with the F.B.I., that the bureau’s scientists realized it was the same strain used in the anthrax mailings. That crucial finding helped confirm other evidence pointing to Dr. Ivins.

Report: Tainted Peppers Didn't Alarm FDA

It is clear that this administration doesn't give a damn about the safety of the food supply of Americans.

Federal inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back filthy, disease-ridden shipments of peppers from Mexico in the months before a salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400 people was finally traced to Mexican chilies.

Yet no larger action was taken. Food and Drug Administration officials insisted as recently as last week that they were surprised by the outbreak because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before.

But an Associated Press analysis of FDA records found that peppers and chilies were consistently the top Mexican crop rejected by border inspectors for the last year.

Since January alone, 88 shipments of fresh and dried chilies were turned away. Ten percent were contaminated with salmonella. In the last year, 8 percent of the 158 intercepted shipments of fresh and dried chilies had salmonella.

On Friday, Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's food safety chief, told reporters peppers were not a cause for concern before they were implicated in the salmonella outbreak.

"We have not typically seen problems with peppers," Acheson said. "Our import sampling is typically focused on areas where we know we've got problems or we've seen problems in the past, which is why we're now increasing our sampling for peppers."

On Monday, the FDA said Acheson's comment was in relation to outbreaks or illness associated with Mexican peppers, not the rejection of pepper shipments at the borders. Calls to the FDA seeking elaboration were not immediately returned.

Still, food-safety advocates question why the agency did not pay more attention to the peppers being stopped at the border and why it took the nation's largest foodborne illness outbreak for the agency to ratchet up its screening of companies known for shipping dirty chilies.