Thursday, September 29, 2011

Walnuts get AHA's stamp of approval

From the California Walnut Commission:

California Walnuts is proud to announce that the American Heart Association is now certifying walnuts as a heart-healthy food. The Heart-Check mark easily identifies foods that meet the nutritional standards set by the American Heart Association and provides consumers a quick and reliable way to identify heart-healthy foods.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S.[1] The disease process can start early in life and is influenced over time by lifestyle behaviors including poor nutrition. The Heart-Check mark can help consumers take a step in the right direction in making good food choices. “Eating a handful of walnuts a day is a delicious way to protect the heart,” says Michael Roizen, M.D. Institute Chair, Chief Wellness Officer Wellness Institute Cleveland Clinic. “Walnuts offer antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, protein and the only nut providing a significant amount of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)[2]. People would be nuts not to include them in their diet.” In fact, some of the most popular nuts on grocery store shelves do not contain any ALA.

There is a strong body of scientific research on walnuts, which began in 1993 with the landmark Loma Linda University study conducted by Dr. Joan Sabaté Chair and Professor of the Department of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, showing walnuts lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol by as much as 16 percent. Considering almost 50 California walnut studies have been published to date, Dr. Sabaté believes that “the strength of research on walnuts makes them an essential food for heart patients.”

The cardioprotective effects of walnuts have been studied at world-renowned institutions including Harvard, Penn State and Yale Universities and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The research substantiating the specific benefit of consuming walnuts as part of a heart-healthy diet in reducing the risk of heart disease is so strong that in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted walnuts one of the first qualified health claims for a whole food[3].

Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., the Bickford Green and Gold Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and an American Heart Association spokesperson said, “We know that consumers have relied on the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark to easily identify heart-healthy foods for more than 15 years. Adding nuts, fish and other foods that are rich sources of good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, enhances the program and gives more healthy options consumers can choose with the same trust factor.”

The American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark is a credible reference and an icon that consumers trust. In fact, 83 percent of consumers have an aided awareness of the Heart-Check mark, and 73 percent of primary grocery shoppers say the Heart-Check mark improves the likelihood that they'll buy a product[4].

Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University believes “the Heart-Check mark on walnuts is an important step forward in our thinking about how to eat heart healthy. Emphasizing good fats is important and walnuts are loaded with good fats in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids.” She states that “unsalted walnuts are nutrient-dense and a can easily fit in a heart-healthy diet.”
For more on this, check soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Farm City Day draws hundreds

About 450 fourth-graders from around the north state attended the Shasta County Farm Bureau's annual Farm City Day field trip this morning at the Shasta District Fair grounds.

In the photos, from the top, hay and pumpkin grower Bob Nash, an SCFB board member, talks to kids about the importance of water to farming; kids from Shasta Meadows School try their hand at using tubes to siphon water from a tub, simulating a farmer getting water out of a ditch; and Palo Cedro 4-H member Mariah Hoffman, 11, on horseback, tells schoolchildren what it takes to care for a horse.

Kids moved from station to station all morning learning things like the wild animals of Shasta County, the products people use that come from harvested trees, and why ranchers wear the clothes they do.

Watch for my coverage of today's event at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Studies: Klamath dam removal would aid fish

From the U.S. Department of the Interior:

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the federal government has completed numerous peer-reviewed scientific and technical studies providing new and detailed information about the environmental and economic impacts of removing four Klamath River hydroelectric dams – fulfilling a major condition of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), which was negotiated among state, local, tribal and water provider leaders and announced in February 2010.

The analysis and studies describe pluses and minuses to potential dam removal on the Klamath River. They reveal that, over the next few decades, dam removal and the implementation of a watershed-wide restoration program could significantly increase salmon harvests in the river and ocean, eliminate the toxic algae blooms in reservoirs, and restore more normal water temperatures in the river, which is important for salmon.

Dam removal could also result in some small increases in long-term flood risks as well as a short-term impact on juvenile fish populations from the release of the sediment built up behind the dams. The studies also describe how these risks could be mitigated. The studies estimate that dam removal would result in the loss of some recreational opportunities on the Klamath River reservoirs, and some decrease in property values for landowners nearby. Dam removal will not have any direct impact on water supplies in the basin as these facilities do not provide storage for irrigation uses.

While the dam removal would result in the loss of hydroelectric power generation, which will have to be made up from other sources, and the loss of around 50 jobs from managing those facilities, it would also create a substantial number of jobs – varying in nature, duration, and location – estimated at approximately 1,400 during the short-term.

Over the full period of analysis, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) is estimated to support approximately 4,600 jobs. While many factors can impact employment estimates over a 50-year economic study period, an estimated 450 jobs would be supported on average annually from the dam removal and as improvements to water quality and the fisheries occur. A federal study also shows that the most probable cost of removing the four dams fall under the $450 million state cost-cap, negotiated in the KHSA.
The dams currently generate enough electricity to power roughly 70,000 homes, although if the dams are retained, the additional costs from construction of required fish passage facilities, which could be substantial, will likely be passed on to ratepayers. The KHSA also calls for the parties to pursue opportunities on development of replacement energy.

A summary of these studies is available here.

The Department of the Interior, in association with the California Department of Fish and Game, also released an environmental analysis known as a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIS/EIR). According to the terms of the KHSA, Secretary Salazar will make a final decision on dam removal based on a complete review of the scientific and technical data as well as the information in an environmental analysis, which includes input from the public.

“The reports issued today represent the most complete body of information to date on the science involved in Klamath River dam removal and the project’s potential for job creation,” said Secretary Salazar. “The science and analysis is vital to sound-decision making, but I also look forward to hearing from the people of the Klamath Basin who have endured a long cycle of irrigation shortages, fishing closures, poor water quality, fish disease and a large salmon die-off in 2002, and closure of the tribal fishery in Upper Klamath Lake for twenty-five years. Their input and perspectives will help shape the path we take toward strengthening the health and prosperity of all that depend on the Klamath for their way of life.”

“I am pleased to see the initial analysis shows there could be substantial economic as well as environmental benefit from the effort to restore the Klamath basin,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “This is just one example of the tremendous opportunity we have to get Oregonians back to work across the state restoring the health of our watersheds, fisheries and forests and better position Oregon for long-term prosperity.”

“These agreements are an essential step toward restoring the health of the Klamath Basin,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “Their effects on Klamath communities and biological and other resources have been carefully studied. Only with such close scientific scrutiny can we make the most informed decisions. This is a testament to the strong collaborative effort that continues to take place."

The Draft EIS/EIR identifies the effects of the proposed action – dam removal and implementation of the KBRA – as well as several other alternatives, including options for leaving all dams in place as well as options for leaving two dams in place. The KBRA is watershed-wide program to restore fisheries, improve water quality and provide water supply certainty to communities and water users in the Basin.

The Draft EIS/EIR has been prepared by the Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Reclamation, and the California Department of Fish and Game. The 60-day public comment process for the Draft EIS/EIR is open Sept. 22–Nov. 21, 2011.

Visit to view the Draft EIS/EIR and obtain a schedule for public hearings as well as instructions for submitting written comments. Hard copies of the Draft EIS/EIR are available for viewing at various public libraries and at federal and state natural resource agency offices in and near the Klamath Basin.

The Final EIS/EIR will include an addendum of all public comments received when it is published. A final decision by the Secretary is expected in March 2012. If the Secretary opts to remove the dams, the Governors of Oregon and California will have 60-days to concur.

Underscoring the Obama Administration’s commitment to openness and scientific integrity, the Department will summarize the technical reports that have been prepared for the Secretarial Determination process of removal of Klamath-area dams and publish it later this fall into a single “overview report.” This report will be available for public review and will then receive an additional peer review by an independent panel of experts. An additional economic survey that is being conducted will also be included in the summary report.

For my story, check soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Western lawmakers pitch jobs package

It seems like everyone else in politics is unveiling a jobs package these days, so why not the congressional Western Caucuses?

Members of the Senate and House Western Caucuses have a plan to put Americans back to work. The caucuses, which consist of 18 senators and 42 congressmen representing Western states, all Republicans, will unveil their “Jobs Frontier” report on Thursday ahead of President Obama’s speech to congress.

The report highlights a litany of GOP-backed bills that would eliminate restrictive government policies and regulations concerning domestic energy production and exploration, domestic mining, agriculture, forestry and other industries common, but by no means limited to Western states. The goal, they write, is “to replace Washington’s broken promises with America’s boldness.”

Here are a few of the recommendations the caucus plans to outline on Thursday, according to a copy of the report obtained by National Review Online.

Increase Affordable American Energy — The Obama administration’s policies have made it increasingly difficult to develop domestic energy sources in the United States, effectively choking off an industry with the potential to boost the economy, create thousands if not millions of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. The plan aims to “ensure America’s future domestic energy comes from the responsible development of federal lands,” for instance, by waiving federal rules that impede the development of wind and geothermal energy sources. It would also prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from designating coal ash, a residual from burning coal, as a “hazardous waste,” which would lead to higher energy costs and lost jobs.

Explore for American Oil and Natural Gas — As with domestic energy production, the administration has consistently favored policies to restrict new energy exploration, both onshore and offshore. For example, the Energy Information Administration estimates that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to drop by 20 percent in 2012 from 2010 levels because of the Obama Administration’s moratorium on offshore exploration. Additionally, according to a Rand Corporation study, oil shale deposits in parts of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado contain an estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil, more than triple the reserves of Saudi Arabia. The GOP plan recommends passing legislation that would “increase responsible oil and gas exploration across the country,” by streamlining the permitting and leasing processes for new energy exploration. It would also open up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and gas exploration, and use the revenue generated by the new production to reduce the deficit and invest in alternative energy development.

Strengthen the American Mining Sector — The plan would remove many of the “unnecessary and outdated permitting practices and regulations” that prevent or discourage companies from tapping into the country’s wealth of natural resources (particularly abundant in Western states), and which have led to an “unacceptable” dependence on countries like China and Russia for minerals that could be mined here in the United States. The plan calls for measures to streamline domestic exploration and production of “critical minerals” and head-off efforts by the administration to raise fees on certain mineral producers. It would also authorize a land exchange near Superior, Arizona that would facilitate construction on a new $4 billion underground Resolution Copper Mine, believed to be the third largest undeveloped copper resource in the world. The National Mining Association estimates that the U.S. possesses some 550 million tons in known copper reserves that remain untapped.

Overturn Washington’s Overreach — Republicans would reevaluate much of the administration’s onerous environmental regulatory regime in order to establish “a proper balance between job creation and conservation.” Specifically, the plan would require all federal departments to carefully analyze the impact that proposed major regulations would have on jobs before any final action is taken, thus establishing “a policy that recognizes that jobs are as important to Americans as the environment — not more important, but equally important.”

Promote Agriculture, Ranching and Forestry — The plans calls for legislation that would roll back a number of federal regulations, particularly those coming from the EPA, that impose unnecessary burdens on the agriculture and forestry industries while offering “few tangible health or economic benefits.” For instance, it would delay the implementation of the EPA’s costly new dust pollution standards, while providing more flexibility at the state and local level to impose their own set of rules. New rules regarding insecticide use would be amended to prevent farmers from having to obtain permits to apply pesticides that are already regulated under federal law. By the EPA’s own estimates, these new rules, scheduled to go into effect in October, would cost states and local entities, as well as farmers who apply pesticides, $50 million and require 1 million hours to implement each year.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fearing Sarah Palin's fans

Erick Erickson blogs at RedState:

On Fox News, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham had the best discussion on Sarah Palin I have seen. And Ann said something I have said. But I have not said it nearly as well as Ann did.

To paraphrase Ann, a lot of us fell in love with Sarah Palin because of her enemies and a lot of us have fallen out of love with Sarah Palin because of her fans.

For the past year, Palin fans have become an online fixture with more venom and insanity than the most rabid Ron Paul fan. They have not evangelized on behalf of Sarah Palin trying to lead people to Sarah Palin, they have freaked a lot of us out.

I am at the point of fearing that should Palin not get in the race we’re going to have a Hale Bopp moment with many of her most ardent supporters. These people have become too emotionally invested in one person to discuss that person rationally or even to address serious policy concerns.

For the longest time I wanted Sarah Palin to run.

At some point, I decided Sarah Palin could not defeat Barack Obama, but I’d rather go down fighting on Team Sarah than side with any of the guys who will just take us down the “big government conservative” path of creeping socialism.

Finally, I decided Sarah Palin was not going to run and I moved on. Ultimately, 2012 really is about beating Barack Obama, not what Sarah Palin will or will not do.

Unfortunately, as I found out and as others are starting to find out, moving on from Sarah Palin is like leaving Scientology.

No telling how many of Palin's most ardent fans remember she endorsed John McCain early on in the 2008 primary, but that's another issue.

Leon H. Wolf offers harsher criticism of Palin here. The consensus among conservatives who have supported her up to now: She needs to either fish or cut bait -- and she should probably cut bait. Soon.

I've thought all along that Palin makes a better movement leader/activist than she does a politician. If she's not running for president, and I don't think she is, she ought to just go on Hannity and say she isn't. She should also endorse someone else so her most anxious supporters have something to do besides fling Internet slime.

Palin would be best served by just going back to being a pundit for Fox News, writing books and traveling the country talking with ordinary folks. She could be a voice for middle America and she might provide a balance for Karl Rove, who seems to be perfecting the art of making a fool of himself.

Check out our latest podcast

Now that I'm back from vacation (a great five days in Newport, Ore.), I can point you to the latest podcast we have up at Blogriculture, the Capital Press' flagship blog.

On the podcast, I and several other reporters talk about various stories in the current issue of Capital Press.

The blog entry is here.