Is a bus pass the ticket to serenity?

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! I don’t know what finally set me off. Maybe it was gas hitting $3.25 a gallon. Maybe it was the beginning of the summer traffic crunch. Maybe it was the day a speeding driver cut me off, then flipped me an unkind hand gesture and I obsessed the entire way home about the conversation I would have with my lawyer after I was arrested for attempted homicide for purposely running that rude woman off the road. Maybe. Whatever it was, sometime in May I decided I had had enough of the insanity and cost of driving. The novelty of having a gas-saving Prius and access to the state’s car-pool lanes were no longer enough to balance the stress of the 52-mile round trip between downtown L.A. and the West San Fernando Valley. The books on tape I listened to no longer distracted my mind from the disturbing facts that I was inching along the 101, sucking up fumes and wasting gallons of an increasingly pricey liquid. I needed a break before I did something that resulted in a hospital stay or jail time. So, on Thursday, the first day of June, I left my car, and hoofed it 1.1 miles to the bus station with my newly purchased EZ Transit monthly pass. My goal is to see if I can live without the car for a month, not just for the daily commute but for everything trips to the grocery store, weekend jaunts. For just 30 days I will attempt to do what thousands of other working Angelenos do with regularity, relying only on public transportation and my own locomotion to get around this large city. Plus, I will get to stick it to the oil companies in my small and ultimately futile way. If I can hack it for a month, only 30 days, maybe public transportation will be my salvation. It’s not that I really want to know what it’s like to have to make life choices based on the limitations of transportation options. But there’s something seductive about giving up some of my tightly maintained control to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: control over when I get to work or home and in what condition I do so. I prepared in what ways I could. I took some vacation time so I could enjoy my last few days of driving. I stocked up on dog food since I can’t imagine lugging home a 25-pound bag on the bus. I purchased beverages in bulk so I would not have to cart heavy bottles home on the bus. I made sure I had enough thyroid medicine for my old cat to get through the month. A colleague called me a cheater for stocking up. In a way, he’s right. The reality is that the entire experiment is a kind of cheat. I’m not a victim of bad luck, finances or a DUI arrest. If the month without my car gets too tough, if things go wrong, I always have a perfectly good, fully gassed, insured and registered car in the driveway. I know that I can put off buying heavy things for a month. I have a washer and dryer and don’t have to drag a week’s worth of clothing back and forth to the laundromat. But I’m going to do it. Maybe I’ll return to my car in July. Maybe I’ll buy another bus pass. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this month. Already I’ve learned a few things from my experience. First, I learned that you shouldn’t put off buying your transit pass until the day before you need it, especially if you’re a first-time bus pass purchaser. And if you do, you shouldn’t expect that the places the MTA lists on its Web site as pass dealers will have the pass you want. In a fit, I finally just decided to drive to MTA headquarters downtown. And I also learned that road rage doesn’t just dissipate when you relinquish the wheel. It transfers. Thursday morning, not two minutes into the first bus commute on the first day of the month, a guy sitting on the other side of the aisle one row back started whistling tunelessly. As he continued on mile after mile, I felt the familiar stress. Instead of acting on it by hurling a quarter at is head as I briefly contemplated I got up, grabbed my bag and found a seat out of earshot. I couldn’t have done that in my car. This bus thing just might work out. Mariel Garza is a columnist and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Write to her by e-mail at mariel.garza@dailynews.com.last_img read more

Avian influenza turning into epidemic

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest After hearing the latest news of more devastating cases of poultry losses in his state, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the current avian influenza (AI) outbreak an “epidemic.”On May 1, Iowa declared a state of emergency due to the problem. The latest detections in Iowa involved three turkey farms and a chicken laying operation of about 1 million birds. Over 5.5 million birds have been lost in Iowa alone, the nation’s top egg producing state. Minnesota and Wisconsin had already declared emergency status in April. Nationwide total AI losses are more than 20 million birds.“AI has been percolating relatively quietly in the poultry industry for most of the year. In early March, the first case of the highly-pathogenic H5N2 strain of AI in the Mississippi flyway was confirmed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on a commercial turkey operation in Minnesota,” said John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation. “Looking ahead, the big question is whether or not highly-pathogenic AI will impact the broiler industry. So far, broilers have not been impacted significantly. The two commercial chicken operations to have confirmed AI cases have both been layer operations. Of course, there are substantial numbers of broiler facilities along the Mississippi flyway, mostly in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri. As the migration season winds down, the likelihood of a full-blown outbreak in the broiler sector should be diminishing, but the possibility remains a real source of uncertainty for the livestock sector this year.”Three worrisome strains of avian flu have been detected in U.S. birds so far. The strains are related to a virus that circulated in Asia and Europe in 2014. In December 2014, they were detected in the Pacific Migratory Bird Flyway, in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. These viruses are classified as highly pathogenic, meaning they are extremely infectious and fatal for birds. Since then, the problem has exploded nationally.“This is obviously a very troublesome situation for the producers affected. We are working very closely with state ag officials and producer groups,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary. “We want to make sure folks are using every bit of biosecurity they can to prevent this from happening. We have a booklet that is available through APHIS that lays out the strategies people can take to prevent this from occurring. We want to make sure that when it does occur it is detected as quickly as possible so we are in a position to depopulate the affected flocks, provide reimbursement and make sure we sanitize the area properly to contain this the best we can. We are also working on vaccines, but AI has a way of mutating and we are hoping we do not see an eastern impact and we hope that export markets remain as open as they can be. We are concerned that 11 or 12 countries have proposed a countrywide ban on poultry from the United States. We don’t think that is consistent with science or international regulations. We will continue to work as best we can to make sure export markets remain open.”The current avian influenza outbreak has not been found in Ohio, but is a concern.“Our highest priority at this time is on protecting our flocks through heightened biosecurity measures that will help prevent introduction of this disease on Ohio’s farms,” said Jim Chakeres, with the Ohio Poultry Association. “Those of us in the egg and poultry farming community remain deeply concerned about the continued spread of avian influenza. While there is no risk to humans from the disease, and eggs, turkey and chicken remain safe to eat, the impact on the nation’s flocks and on the industry overall is devastating,”This has been strictly an avian disease outbreak — human illness has never been reported in relation to this outbreak in North America, Europe or Asia, and poultry products such as chicken and turkey are safe to eat. Still, producers and poultry owners should take all necessary measures to protect their birds, said Mohamed El-Gazzar, poultry veterinarian for Ohio State University Extension who is also an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.“The first thing is to try to avoid direct contact between any domestic or captive type of bird and wild migratory birds,” El-Gazzar said. “Producers are generally very good about protecting their birds, but they need to be aware that there’s an increased risk.”Backyard poultry owners should consider keeping their birds in enclosed covered runs until the threat from the viruses passes, he said. Poultry owners should not be complacent about these viruses even though they have not been detected in the Midwest, El-Gazzar said.Samples from wild birds collected during the recent hunting season have not yet been analyzed, and few additional samples will be collected until summer. So, although there is no evidence that these viruses might be circulating in Ohio, authorities can’t be certain the state is completely free of them, he said.“While we don’t think there are these highly pathogenic viruses in the Mississippi flyway, we don’t really know for sure,” he said.Anyone who keeps or breeds raptors should also be aware of these viruses, as they have been detected in birds of prey out West, too, El-Gazzar said. Other precautions El-Gazzar recommends include:In addition to avoiding direct contact between migratory and domestic birds, it’s important to prevent indirect contact, as well. “For example, if there’s an open body of water nearby that attracts wild birds, don’t go out, potentially step in fecal material, and then come back to your birds and transmit an infection,” he said.Protect birds from other poultry populations. “We don’t encourage mixing flocks, mixing ages or mixing species,” El-Gazzar said. “Visitors to your bird flock, whether they’re from the neighborhood or from other farms, are highly discouraged.”Commercial producers or backyard poultry owners should boost insect and rodent control efforts. “Make sure your houses are animal-proof, so that raccoons, opossums or any varmints can’t get in, and bird-proof so that wild birds can’t get in.” Such biosecurity measures also include keeping feed and water clean.It’s especially important to protect domestic birds from wild duck populations, El-Gazzar said, because they often don’t show any signs of disease even if they are carrying the virus.“If you’re a poultry owner and have ducks and chickens and turkeys in the same flock, that is a highly risky situation,” El-Gazzar said. “Particularly if ducks are involved, that requires increased biosecurity for the time being.”Even if poultry owners cannot isolate their flocks from migrating birds and other poultry species, it’s at least important to be aware of the increased risk of the virus, El-Gazzar said.“At the first sign of a problem, alert authorities so things can be checked out,” he said. “If you notice increased mortality in an alarming manner, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture. They will speak with you and determine if what you’re seeing matches the pattern of the highly pathogenic influenza.”The animal disease hotline at ODA is 800-300-9755 or 614-728-6220. Updates on the Pacific flyway avian influenza outbreak is online at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website, at www.aphis.usda.gov. For additional information on poultry biosecurity measures, see the service’s poultry biosecurity website at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/biosecurity/basicspoultry.htm. OSU Extension also has a fact sheet, Biosecurity for Poultry, online at ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0009.html.“We’re not trying to scare anybody,” El-Gazzar said. “Currently we don’t have any problems with this group of viruses here in Ohio, that we know of.“We’re just saying be aware of the problems out west, which might represent some risk to the Ohio poultry producers and backyard poultry owners. Just be aware and do everything you can to protect your birds.”last_img read more

Somnath Chatterjee’s body given for medical research

first_imgAs that of his political mentor Jyoti Basu, the body of veteran parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee was donated to the State-run SSKM Hospital for medical research on Monday evening, hours after he passed away in a private health facility in the city. Ganadarpan, an NGO, facilitated the donation. The eyes were donated to the Priyamvada Birla Aravinda Eye Hospital’s eye bank. The body was kept at three locations — Calcutta High Court, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and Raja Basanta Roy Road — before reaching its final destination in the super-speciality health facility.“We have received the organs in good condition and will be happy if we can match them with recipients,” a hospital representative said.last_img

Sania catapults to 14th in doubles rankings

first_imgSania Mirza on Monday touched a new high as she achieved a career-best doubles ranking of 14th and along with her Russian partner Elena Vesnina, became world number three in the WTA Championship race owing to their French Open runners-up finish.Sania and Elena, who have already won two WTA titles this season, are now in contention for the year- ending WTA championship, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey. They have 3606 points and only the top- four pairs make the cut for the elite event.In singles, Sania made a significant jump as she zoomed to 58 from 72 despite the second round exit from French Open.The stupendous show at Roland Garros, where she and Elena ended runners- up in the women’s doubles meant that Sania improved her doubles ranking by 11 places. The standings are being led by Kveta Peschke of Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Katarina Srebotnik (4395), followed by Russia’s Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus ( 3865).Meanhwile, in the ATP singles rankings, Somdev Devvarman slipped a spot to 67.In doubles, Rohan Bopanna further improved his career best ranking by reaching the number 10 spot while Leander Paes moved out of top- 10 to be at 11th position. Mahesh Bhupathi maintained his fifth rank.- With PTI inputslast_img read more