It’s sweet deception, honey

December 30, 2008

That honey you stir into your tea or drizzle on your toast may not be the pure and natural product you think it is. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today that in spite of the sweetness-and-light image most people have of honey, the industrial honey trade is rife with contaminated products, faulty safeguards, organized crime and deliberately disguised products. This a great piece of journalism from the P-I, well worth the long read through the main story by Andrew Schneider.

Honeys path from hive to market can take many turns, including some that disguise its true origin.

Honey's path from hive to market can take many turns, including some that disguise its true origin.

According to the P-I, honey from China often is rerouted through other countries that have little to no native honey industry. Among the other disturbing findings in the article is that when American honey packers do find that the honey they buy is contaminated, the honey goes back to the producer. (Any guesses as to what a producer willing to ship bad honey once is going to do with this returned product?) None of this is helped by the fact that there is no federal definition of honey. The P-I follows up with at least one more story tomorrow: “Experts say there’s no such thing as ‘organic’ honey made in America, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from putting it on the market.”

Honey laundering: A sticky trail of intrigue and crime

Antibiotic use could taint honey’s reputation as a miracle drug

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Murders by black teens rise 79 percent, study says

December 29, 2008

Black teens have become murderers at an alarmingly greater rate in the past several years, according to a new study.

The San Francisco Chronicle buried the story, leaving it to the AP to cover. But in according to the Boston Globe, the study showed that murders committed by black males younger than 24 rose by 79 percent in San Francisco from 2000-2001 to 2006-2007.

The Northeastern University study put this as the fifth-highest increase among the 28 cities studied. Some cities showed a decrease, such as New York’s 21 percent decline, and murders overall have declined nationwide.

Blame for the increase depends on who you ask, apparently, with some observers attributing it to a decline in federal funding for urban youth programs, others saying it’s due to the disintegration of black family structure and still others saying it’s because federal money for law enforcement dried up. In any case, it’s a sad and disturbing trend that shouldn’t be ignored. As one person in the Globe’s story put it, even if you think this story is about someone else, all taxpayers are affected by the drain on resources represented by each homicide case.

Homicides among black males spike – Boston Globe.

Murders by Black Teenagers Rise, Bucking a Trend – NYTimes.com.

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My Spot.Us pitch about Muni reaches full funding

December 22, 2008

Success! My Spot.Us pitch for a story about San Francisco’s Muni express bus service, and why Muni doesn’t run more express buses, is now fully funded.

Thanks to all the sponsors who signed on to support this story — and, by extension, the concept of crowd-funded journalism. Thanks also to Spot.Us honcho Dave Cohn. Without his efforts, I’d still be in the fundraising stage.

I’m really pleased to be able to get moving on the legwork for this story, which I expect to start in January, and I have ideas for several other stories I think would fit in well on Spot.Us.

My Spot.Us pitch on Muni express buses is here.

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Update on my Muni express bus story pitch

December 11, 2008

I’m really pleased to report that I’ve almost reached full funding for my story about San Francisco’s Muni express bus service on spot.us!

Muni may be watching its funding get yanked out from under it right now, but that makes it even more important for Muni to run well with the resources still available. And clearly, people are interested in why Muni doesn’t run more expresses to serve the needs of daily commuters. As of the afternoon of Dec. 11, my story pitch for crowd-funded journalism site spot.us was just $60 away from full funding.

And — super cool — San Francisco blog SFist ran a little piece about my story pitch. Thanks, SFist! Read the SFist post at http://sfist.com/2008/12/09/can_muni_run_more_express_buses.php.

A more detailed update is available on my YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/tpretesf. Or just watch the video below.

For more information about my story idea, spot.us and how crowd-funded journalism works, please visit http://www.spot.us/pitches/39.

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