Fuel For Thought

That milk and lettuce diet giving you a little extra boost lately? Perhaps that’s because it’s tainted with perchlorate, the fuel component that makes rockets go boom–and if consumed by pregnant women in high enough amounts, causes lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech and motor skill deficits in fetuses. According to a recent nationwide survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, this deadly byproduct of the rocket age has leached into local water supplies and was found in nearly all of the 200 samples of lettuce and milk collected in 15 states, California included. The FDA’s survey was in part prompted by Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit investigative organization that reported in July that it found perchlorate in 45 out of 46 samples of milk taken from around the Golden State, including northern California. The group is currently urging state and federal regulators to lower the amount of perchlorate permitted in food items.

Counting Napa

Napa County voters who used direct recording electronic or touch-screen voting machines in the presidential election can apparently rest easy ( Oct. 6, 2004). Unlike voters in certain precincts in Ohio, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, Napa County’s virtual votes were counted accurately, reports California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. Napa was one of 10 counties subjected to the state’s pioneering parallel monitoring program, and apparently it passed with flying colors. “It’s reassuring to see that the equipment that was tested performed as expected,” Shelley says. “Voters will be even more confident when these machines provide an accessible, voter-verifiable paper audit trail required in 2006, so they may double-check their votes to ensure they were accurately recorded by the machines before actually casting their ballots.”

Raisers Edge

Say what you want about motor-sports fans (those damn NASCAR dads!), at least they’re generous. The Infineon Raceway Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities announced last week that it had raised $458,000 for 36 qualified youth organizations in Sonoma County through special raceway events such as the NASCAR Grand Marshall’s Banquet, the Rock-n-Race Auction and the NHRA Tour de Charity, as well as a generous donation from Fremont-based Sonic Automotive Corporation. It was the most money ever raised by Speedway Children’s Charities’ local chapter, which formed in 1996.

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From the December 8-14, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley’s Weekly Newspaper.

© Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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