Confectioner decorates wedding cake

Christian baker refused to make same-sex wedding cake: The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. By a 7-2 vote, the majority said he was a victim of religious discrimination. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Pecan plant cited for violations: Operators of a pecan plant are on notice because federal inspectors found live cockroaches, lab-confirmed rodent feces, general filth, and nuts soaking in a swimming pool chemical at the Orangeburg Pecan Co. Inc. in Orangeburg, S.C. Among the repeat violations observed was the illegal use of “BioGuard maintain CLC3 swimming pool multi-purpose granular chlorine.” An investigator documented that the chemical is used by the firm as a hand dip, a pecan meat wash, and as an overnight soak of in-shell pecans prior to cracking. READ MORE

Restaurants’ claims about ‘gluten free’ are false: Many foods promoted as “gluten free” in Melbourne, Australia, eateries contain levels of gluten that can be dangerous to people suffering from celiac disease, a survey of 127 restaurants has found. The findings, published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, found that of 158 samples of “gluten-free” dishes from 127 randomly selected restaurants within the city of Melbourne council, 9 percent contained detectable gluten and were not compliant with the Food Standards Australia New Zealand definition of gluten free. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Truck driver shortage is causing price increases: The American Trucking Association reports that there’s a shortage of upwards of 50,000 truck drivers across the U.S. Retailers aren’t the only ones that are being hit by a shipping squeeze, consumers are also starting to see the effect hit their wallets. Amazon recently raised its Prime membership to $119 a year from $99 due to high shipping costs. Cream of Wheat, Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola have all said that the rising costs of freight have caused their prices to increase as well. READ MORE

Tyson breaks ground on Tennessee plant: Tyson Foods Inc. executives along with local and state officials broke ground last week at the site of the company’s future chicken processing plant in Humboldt, Tenn. The $300 million project is expected to create more than 1,500 local jobs once the new complex begins operations, currently expected in late 2019. Tyson Foods also announced it is providing Gibson County with a $500,000 community grant. READ MORE

Pork producers fight complaints about stench, etc.: The world’s largest pork producer put its best case before jurors last week to debunk claims that its waste is responsible for stenches so foul and attracts so many flies that life for rural neighbors is miserable. It’s the second lawsuit to come to trial in a series of what could be dozens of similar nuisance complaints on behalf of more than 500 neighbors. As many as 10 lawsuits filed by the same attorneys could go to trials this year. Smithfield Foods’ lawyers picked the case, involving the two plaintiffs and the neighboring 4,700-hog operation, after plaintiffs’ lawyers picked the first case and won a nearly $51 million jury verdict last month. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

California takes lead in combating venereal diseases: A billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood screams out a stark warning: “drug-resistant gonorrhea alert!” Sexually transmitted diseases have made an alarming resurgence across the U.S., where 2016 saw a record two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, including 628 cases of congenital syphilis. But California, the most populous state, stands out for its willingness to tackle the crisis head-on, with cases of the three ailments up 45 percent in 2017 from five years ago. READ MORE

A ‘life-saving’ pizza? Scientists and chefs in Italy say they have made a pizza which prevents cancer and heart disease. The Pizza Pascalina, designed by scientists in Naples, has been called “the pizza that extends life” and an “anti-tumor” pizza. The Pascalina is packed with ingredients from the Mediterranean diet which are known to have health benefits. Neither cheese nor meat feature on the dish; its toppings include tomatoes, olives and rapini – a type of broccoli. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Do U.K. trends forecast U.S. trends? The United Kingdom tends to run ahead of the U.S. on trends related to terrorism and crimes by one to two years. For that reason we monitor the U.K. closely, because the problems currently being experienced there will eventually be seen in the U.S. With that in mind, Britain says the militant Islamist threat remains high (meaning attacks are expected) and may rise further, despite successes in reducing land held by ISIS; and Britain has revised its security strategy to counter a “step change” in militant threat. As if that were not enough, both knife and gun crimes are soaring. Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.

CYBER SECURITY

Arrest hits cyber-crime gang: The FBI appears to have made headway in cracking a cybercrime extortion group that has plagued health and dental clinics, schools, law firms and even Hollywood production companies since 2016. Serbian authorities, saying they were working with the FBI, arrested a 38-year-old man, believed to be a member of The Dark Overlord, the nation’s Interior Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Venezuela’s human exodus: An unruly 9-year-old bolted from his classroom, prompting a volunteer teacher to chase him down the hall. He would normally be hauled straight to Romina Sciaca’s office. But the guidance counsellor was gone – part of a wave of staffers to flee Aquiles Nazoa Elementary School. This collapsing socialist state is suffering one of the most dramatic outflows of human talent in modern history, with Aquiles Nazoa offering a glimpse into what happens when a nation begins to empty out. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

Foodservice workers strike, fearing robot replacements: Each day, Vegas hotels and restaurants dish up 60,000 pounds of food. It takes nearly 50,000 real-live humans to prepare and serve all those crab legs, potatoes, and chocolate cakes, and now they’ve made it clear: they don’t want to lose their job to robots. Members of the city’s Culinary Workers Union voted last week to go on strike after June 1st, when their union contracts are set to expire at 34 different casino resorts. A big sticking point in the renegotiations? Contracts that protect them from being replaced by automation. READ MORE