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As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They’re banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we’ve seen in decades. I’d like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren’t originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children’s books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there’s always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1322

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it’s passed testing. It won’t even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can’t sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can’t even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children’s items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you’ll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you’d better start buying now because it’s all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren’t certified as safe.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/16/cpsia-safety-toys-oped-cx_wo_0116olson.html

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law
http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

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photo by Katharyn Boudet

photo by Katharyn Boudet

This story about a basset hound and an owl striking up a friendship while watching television just made my day when I first read it. Absolutely adorable.

Doomsday type news stories, like those about asteroids or the sun exploding one day in the future, don’t usually bother me at all. However, the quakes that are happening in Yellowstone right now? Totally freaking me right the heck out. Mostly because I watched a special on the volcano in Yellowstone on one of the science channels a long time ago. Remind me not to do that sort of thing.

This is an older story but it’s one I hadn’t caught until it was mentioned on end of the year list. I thought it was incredibly interesting – a man was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and his life saved all because he shook hands with the right doctor.

I’ve heard of Soles4Souls at some point but I don’t think I ever knew what it was exactly. They’ve won a Guinness World Record and helped clean up a massive shoe spill of all things, so hopefully more people will learn about them and help them with their cause. They’re a charity that sends used shoes that might otherwise end up in landfills to people in need in Haiti.

I love the movie “My Neighbor Totoro.” I actually made a soot sprite for my boyfriend for Christmas. I was really sad to find out that the landscape in which it’s set is rapidly declining. It’s a beautiful place and the habitat is home to various species that are now in danger. Here’s another link about the efforts to save it.

When a couple of people inherited a garage from their uncle they had no idea that inside was an incredibly rare 1937 Bugatti – only 17 of these cars were ever made and this one’s odometer reading is only 26,284. That had to be a shock. I am now secretly hoping to one day inherit a Bugatti Veyron from some long lost relative.

Lastly, as a science major, this story really interested me. There may be a more natural way to stop the spread of malaria and dengue fever through mosquitoes by infecting them with an insect parasite. Basically, the parasite will cut the life span of the mosquito and therefore make it unable to incubate the malaria long enough to be able to pass on to humans. I really hope the results of the longer studies are promising because this can save so many lives in addition to reducing the need for insecticides made with nasty chemicals.

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