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Food Firms Launch Import Food Safety Effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. food companies, worried recent import scares may turn away customers, launched a plan on Tuesday to add teeth to existing safety guidelines and increase funding for bare-bones federal regulators.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which includes leading companies like General Mills Inc., Cargill Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Hershey Co., proposed the steps in a bid to ease fears stirred this year by reports of lead-laden toys and chemical-laced seafood and other goods imported into the United States, largely from China.

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Americans back Petraeus Troop Withdrawals, Oppose War

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans approve of U.S. plans for limited troop withdrawals from Iraq but are not more optimistic about the war after testimony last week from a top U.S. general, a new poll found on Tuesday.

The poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press found modest improvements in public perceptions of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, with 41 percent saying it was going very or fairly well, up from 36 percent in July.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said in congressional testimony last week that President George W. Bush's troop build-up in Iraq had led to progress in reducing violence but that political reconciliation among warring factions remained elusive.

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Recalled Mattel Toys: 200 Times Legal Lead Limit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Toymaker Mattel Inc's recent recalls involved toys that had nearly 200 times the amount of lead in paint as allowed by U.S. law, the company said in a letter released to a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

The largest U.S. toymaker recalled millions of Chinese-made toys in August and September due to hazards from small powerful magnets and lead paint. Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled about 1.5 million toys because of excessive lead paint on the products based on popular characters from "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer."

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Stocks soar as Fed makes bold rate decision

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks jumped the most in four years on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates and raised hopes the economy could ride out a prolonged housing slump and turmoil in the credit market.

The cut in the Fed's benchmark short-term rate, the first in four years, was more aggressive than many investors had expected. The market responded by pushing the S&P 500 to its biggest percentage gain since March 2003.

It was the blue-chip Dow average's best one-day percentage gain since 2003.

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Scientists Seek Closed Containment Systems At Salmon Fish Farms

Eighteen prominent scientists and researchers say there is no question that sea lice from fish farms are lethal to wild salmon, no evidence to the contrary and a need for greater protection. The scientists, ranging from David Suzuki to National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Wade Davis, wrote in an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell that the future of juvenile wild salmon is at risk. >> Read the Full Article

2008 Green Car of the Year Will be Announced at Los Angeles Auto Show

LOS ANGELES - The winner of the 2008 Green Car of the Year award will be announced on Nov. 15 at the Los Angeles Auto Show during the show's Press Days. Green Car Journal, the leading automotive environmental magazine, initiated this annual award in 2005 and it has continued to grow in significance as consumer demand for more fuel efficient and environmentally positive vehicles has increased exponentially.


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Powerful typhoon targets eastern China

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A powerful typhoon targeted China's booming eastern province of Zhejiang and the nation's financial capital, Shanghai, on Tuesday, prompting evacuation of over 1.6 million people as ships were recalled to port.

Typhoon Wipha was about 300 km southeast of Wenling city at 4 a.m. EDT. With gusts of up to 198 km per hour (123 mph), it was moving northwest at 25 to 30 km per hour and should make landfall in the early hours of Wednesday, Xinhua news agency said.

"East China, including the commercial hub of Shanghai, is preparing for what may be the most destructive typhoon in a decade," the agency said.

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Arctic summer ice thickness halves to 1 meter

OSLO (Reuters) - Large tracts of ice on the Arctic Ocean have halved in thickness to just 1 meter (3 ft) since 2001, making the region more accessible to ships, a researcher said on Tuesday.

"There was loose ice everywhere we went," Ursula Schauer, leader of a scientific expedition aboard the Polarstern ice-breaker, told Reuters by telephone from the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia.

"All of these areas have previously had two meters of ice," said Schauer, who works at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, of a trip from Norway around the North Pole and back towards Russia. The last major survey was in 2001.

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New Federal Protection For Polar bears?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish in the Federal Register an announcement of the availability of nine research papers recently completed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that will be used by the Service in reaching a final decision on whether to protect the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Concurrent with this announcement, the Service will reopen the public comment period on its January 2007 proposal to add the polar bear to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The comment period will reopen when the announcement is expected to publish in the Federal Register on September 20, 2007, and will be open until October 5, 2007, to give interested parties an opportunity to review and respond to the USGS reports. >> Read the Full Article

San Francisco Waldorf School Green Report

Dave Alsop, Head of Administration for the San Francisco Waldorf High School, watched along with excited parents, students, and faculty as the green ribbon was cut today welcoming the students to the first and only San Francisco LEED Gold Certified High School. Alsop explained, "We wanted the new high school to represent our values both visibly and outwardly"; and they succeeded. >> Read the Full Article