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Over the past few years a rash of food-related illnesses caused by everything from tomatoes to spinach to peanut butter has sparked nationwide concern over food safety. Conventional wisdom has always said you can assure your food is safe by buying organic. But New York Times reporter Kim Severson did some digging and she found that organic certification has nothing to do with food safety.
Listen to the full Takeaway segment with Kim Severson here
In undeveloped nations such as Eritrea, Haiti, or Cameroon, light is a luxury. Mark Bent thinks that's unacceptable.
Bent, a former American diplomat and Houston oilman, is CEO and founder of SunNight Solar, a company that has created solar powered flashlights that they are now spreading throughout the world by way of private donors, the United Nations and organizations such as Direct Relief International.
The Takeaway ran into Bent at the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City on February 27th, where he happily pulled apart his product for us. The flashlights, the shape of which reminded me of a Pantene-Pro V shampoo bottle, are made of LED lights and a plastic case. They nab their power from three recyclable batteries that are re-charged by a solar panel that graces the side of the flashlight. In total, the panel provides power for up to 2,000 nights, and the batteries last about two years.
Bent was at the conference to participate in an expert panel titled, "Green Design For Good." When asked about using plastic in his product (a material that doesn't scream sustainability) Bent replied, "I'm willing to live with ABS plastic because I can get people to read." The former Navy man's flashlight do more than help people read. They cut down on the need for kerosene lanterns, which improves lung health, as well as allow villages and refugee camps to function safely after dark. Women are protected from sexual assault, refugees can use the lamps to deter thieves, and farmers can keep away wild animals.
Bent sat down with us post-conference to dish on how his flashlights promote gender equality and safety around the world, and why pink is his favorite color.
You can find every dollar on recovery.gov, right? Not exactly. But you can find your state's recovery Web site.
The reporting on the recovery act funds begins today, with agencies being required to report "funding, major actions taken to date, and major planned actions." The Office of Management and Budget memo detailing the requirement doesn't say how quickly those reports will make it to recovery.gov, and an OMB spokesman is only promising they'll go up "as soon as they are made available."
(And, in case you forgot, that memo ONLY requires reporting down two levels. If money goes to a state, then a city, that's it. Where the city spends its dollars is beyond the reporting requirements.)
In the meantime, recovery.gov has a pretty cool map of state recovery sites.
ShovelWatch is a joint project of the non-profit investigative outfit ProPublica, the morning news program The Takeaway and WNYC, New York's flagship public radio station. With investigative reporting, interactive features and help from you, we're tracking the stimulus bill dollars from Congress to your community.
Follow the dollars online and tell us how the stimulus plan is playing out in your community. We're sharing your stories online and on air, and we'll continue the investigation with your help.
The Watchmen movie comes out on Friday and we are just SO excited! If you don't know about the graphic novel that started the entire trend of graphic novels, you are in for a treat. Head here to buy the book and start cramming for the opening. Obviously we haven't seen the movie yet, but the trailers have us all atwitter. Here they are for your review.
Originally sold for 10 cents in 1938, the first edition of the comic book that launched Superman as an action hero is worth around $126,000 today. Stephen Fishler, who is in charge of the auction, considers the book to be the Holy Grail of comic books for most collectors since there are only 100 copies of this first edition.
Read a transcript of President Barack Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress, concerning the economic stimulus plan, health care, education and more, from February 24, 2009, and discuss the state of the states in The Takeaway's "user-annotated" document viewer.