Thames Water hit with largest fine ever: Thames Water, the United Kingdom’s biggest water and sewerage company with around 14 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, has been fined a record £20m after pumping nearly 1.5 billion liters of untreated sewage into the historic river. The company admitted water pollution and other offenses at sewage facilities, and Judge Francis Sheridan said the scale of the problem was such that it must have been known up the chain of command. He told the court it was inconceivable that all the individual managers made the same decisions to run pumps at half levels, calling it a “shocking and disgraceful state of affairs.” Fish and birds died in droves after the spills in 2013 and 2014, and the river was full of diapers and debris. The £20.3m fine is the largest penalty ever handed down to a water utility for an environmental disaster. READ MORE


Avian flu confirmed in Alabama: Alabama officials have confirmed low-pathogenic bird flu in two poultry flocks, just a week after three commercial breeders had to kill their chickens across the state line in Tennessee. The state veterinarian announced that chickens are under quarantine after testing positive for the disease at a commercial breeding operation in Pickens County near the Mississippi line. The disease also was found in a backyard flock in Madison County, near the Tennessee line. READ MORE


Details released about Brazilian meat investigation: Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply released a list on Tuesday afternoon detailing what the Federal Police are investigating in each of the 21 food processing plants included in the probe dubbed “Operation Weak Flesh.” Only three plants were closed; two are being investigated for using spoiled meat in sausages, and applying additives above the allowed limits or using prohibited additives, while one is accused of “corruption, embarrassment of international and national inspection, and attempt to avoid suspension of exports.” One JBS S.A. plant has not been closed but is being investigated for potential “irregularities in the sanitary certification procedure,” according to the Ministry of Agriculture. JBS, which entered the U.S. market in 2007 with the purchase of Swift & Co. , said Tuesday that its employee under investigation does not play a strategic role in JBS, and that the company is unaware of the specific reason for his involvement in the investigation. READ MORE

Aflatoxin-free crop technique could beef up third world food security: A technique that reduces plant contamination from a toxic metabolite could help save millions of tons of crops from this threat to food security, especially in developing nations. READ MORE

Brucellosis outbreak in Mexico: An outbreak of brucellosis in the Mexican state of Zacatecas has been linked to contaminated cheese. Brucellosis is one of the most serious diseases of livestock, causing decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of young, infertility, and lameness. The disease is passed to humans in two way. First, people who work with unvaccinated animals that become infected are susceptible, including  farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. The second way is through ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. READ MORE


Hamas terrorist explains how she was recruited: Hamas terrorist Ahlam Tamimi, who this month was charged in the U.S. with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S. resulting in death, and who on the same day was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, was interviewed on the Kuwaiti Iqraa TV channel in 2012. In the interview, she explained how, as a journalism student and member of the Palestinian Journalists Union, she could freely enter Jerusalem “without the knowledge of the Zionists.” She said she had been invited to join Hamas’ Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and immediately agreed. She discussed her role and missions as part of a cell carrying out terror attacks in Israel in the early 2000s, noting how she had identified potential civilian targets, such as schools, stores, and restaurants, and surveilled them for maximum casualties. She also described how she had planted a bomb in a Jerusalem supermarket. The two-part interview was posted on YouTube on June 27 and 28, 2012. READ MORE


Slaughterhouses a magnet for religious violence: Indian police said Wednesday they were not ruling out arson after fire gutted three butcher shops in Uttar Pradesh state, where a firebrand Hindu leader has taken office promising a crackdown on slaughterhouses. The meat industry is a magnet for religious violence in India, where Hindus consider cows sacred and accusations of beef being sold by Muslims can trigger violent mob reprisals. READ MORE