February 11, 2006 in Nation/World

USDA forecasts lower farm incomes

The Spokesman-Review
 

Farmers will see their incomes plunge in 2006, coming off two years of unusually high prices and record crops, the Agriculture Department said Friday.

Rising energy costs and interest rates are gobbling up the bottom line for farmers, analysts said.

On average, net income for a farmer should be $48,600 in this year, down from $68,300 last year, according to forecasts from the department. The average was $52,500 from 2000 through 2005.

Department analysts made their projections assuming that weather will be normal and crop yields will be average, which could change.

New York

NOAA accused of limiting speech

James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming.

Hansen, speaking in a panel discussion about science and the environment before a packed audience at the New School university, said that while he hopes his own agency will soon adopt a more open policy, NOAA insists on having “a minder” monitor its scientists when they discuss their findings with journalists.

“It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States,” said Hansen, prompting a round of applause from the audience.

NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher denied Hansen’s charges, saying his agency requires its scientists to tell its press office about contacts with journalists but does not monitor their communications.

New York

X-rated cookies shock fundraiser

There is great embarrassment in your future.

A box of X-rated fortune cookies was mistakenly delivered to a fundraiser hosted by a Brooklyn politician.

The 350 cookies stuffed with “the most graphically lurid” fortunes got mixed up with a batch of 1,750 cookies ordered for the Chinese New Year event, Borough President Marty Markowitz said Friday. Some guests “were stunned, to say the least.”

The annual event – to raise money to send poor children to summer camp – was attended by some 700 guests Tuesday, but only about 80 were still there when the dirty cookies were opened, Markowitz said.

Washington

U.S. adopts meth restrictions

The Patriot Act compromise agreed to Friday included a provision to combat illegal methamphetamine by limiting sales of cold remedies used to make the highly addictive drug.

A number of states have already moved to curb the sale of cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, the ingredient used to cook meth in makeshift labs around the country. The federal measure would impose restrictions nationwide.

Stores would be required to keep medicines like Sudafed and Nyquil behind the counter, and consumers would be limited to 3.6 grams, or about 120 pills, per day, and 9 grams, or about 300 pills, per month. Purchasers would need to show a photo ID and sign a logbook.

The limits target meth dealers who buy large quantities of the drugs to extract the pseudoephedrine.

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