Jury awards $473.5 million: A federal jury decided Friday that the world’s largest pork producer should pay $473.5 million to neighbors of three North Carolina industrial-scale hog farms for unreasonable nuisances they suffered from odors, flies and rumbling trucks. The jury found that Smithfield Foods owes compensation to six neighbors who complained in their lawsuit that the company failed to stop “the obnoxious, recurrent odors and other causes of nuisance” resulting from closely packed hogs, which “generate many times more sewage than entire towns.” The case comes after two previous, related lawsuits rocked agribusiness in the country’s No. 2 pork-producing state. North Carolina legislators reacted by adopting new barriers against nuisance lawsuits that all but eliminate the ability of neighbors to sue Smithfield Foods or any other agribusiness. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Human transmission likely in norovirus outbreak: Human transmission of norovirus is likely what made dozens, possibly hundreds, of people in Transylvania County, NC, sick in an outbreak among customers of a McDonald’s restaurant. “Based on our current evidence, we believe it was due to human contamination rather than any one particular food or drink item,” Tara Rybka, public health educator with the county, told Food Safety News. READ MORE

CPS plans to release request for research proposals: The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) will announce a request for preliminary research proposals on Sept. 11. Details will be available on the Grant Opportunities page on the CPS website, with research priorities and guidelines for the proposal process. Proposals will be due  Nov. 13. A CPS research proposal webinar is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 5. CPS Technical Committee members will share evaluation criteria for funding proposals.

FOOD SECURITY

South African situation deteriorates: The security situation in South Africa continues to deteriorate as violence aimed at white farmers proliferates. President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed plans to seize land from white farmers without compensation. If these seizures go through, the aftermath will prove disastrous for the nation. Starvation in the medium- to long-term is almost assured and will be a repeat of similar government seizures in places like Zimbabwe and Venezuela. International corporations have ceased investment in South Africa, and  the world community is also starting to discuss closure of markets to South African exports. If the seizures take place, expect the humanitarian crisis to explode almost immediately. Read more HERE and HERE.

Iranians protest water shortages, food price hikes: Iranians protested for a third day in a row against the clerical regime that they blame for running the economy into the ground. Protesters have long complained of regime corruption and mismanagement that has led to severe water shortages and significant price hikes on basic foodstuffs. Another big complaint is its spending on its foreign adventurism in places such as Syria and Yemen, while ignoring problems at home, which seems to have pushed ordinary Iranians over the edge as they risk prison or worse. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Florida’s ecological nightmare: In South Florida this summer, one ecological scourge has piled on top of another. First came the red tide, eventually stretching along 100 miles of the Gulf Coast. Oxygen-starved fish, eels, dolphins and turtles littered beaches, in numbers too vast to count. The foul siege reached from Sarasota nearly to the tip of Florida by early June, when ecological insult No. 2 arrived. A green film of cyanobacteria appeared, as it regularly does in summer, in vast Lake Okeechobee. This year the bacteria spilled over into rivers and canals, which carried the toxic green sludge east to the Atlantic Ocean and west to the Gulf of Mexico. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Lyme disease in all 50 states: If you thought you were safe from Lyme disease because you don’t live in New England, where the tick-borne illness first appeared, think again. Now, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have residents who have tested positive for Lyme, a bacterial infection that can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including joint aches, fatigue, facial palsy and neck stiffness. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Number of terrorist attacks declines, but still high: With 10,900 terrorist attacks killing more than 26,400 people in 2017, the numbers of terrorist attacks and deaths worldwide have declined for the third consecutive year, according to new data released last week. Despite recent decreases in terrorist violence, the number of attacks in 2017 is 28 percent higher than in 2012, and deaths 71 percent higher. Terrorist violence peaked in 2014 at nearly 17,000 attacks and more than 45,000 total deaths. READ MORE

WEATHER EMERGENCIES

A NYC ‘hellscape’: Intense humidity will make the next couple of days in New York feel even hotter than the soaring number on the thermometer — turning the city into a swampy hellscape. There’ll be highs in the 90s on Monday and Tuesday but it’ll actually feel like a muggy 100 degrees or more, warned Accuweather meteorologist Dan Pydynowski. READ MORE

Mendocino Complex Fire now second largest in California history: The Mendocino Complex fire is now the second-largest wildfire in California history, scorching more than 273,000 acres and frustrating firefighters as it continues to leap across natural and man-made barriers in Lake County. The Ranch and River fires, which make up the complex fire, had grown to 273,664 acres as of Monday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The blaze was only 30 percent contained as of 7 a.m. Monday. READ MORE

Series of problems led to slashing of air tanker numbers: Data suggest that the number of U.S. wildfires has diminished, and the size of fires has increased, partly due to the federal government slashing the number of air tankers, and changing the way fires are fought — not just because of climate change. READ MORE

European drought affecting food prices: Escalating feed costs due to the drought affecting much of Europe has prompted German egg producers to call on supermarkets for price rises. Germany’s wheat crop is expected to be 25% lower than last year, which is set to push cereal feed prices higher. READ MORE

HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Thousands await rescue after quake: Thousands of tourists desperately await rescue from the group of islands, after at least 142 people were killed when the massive earthquake struck yesterday, This video shows the chaotic scenes on Gili Islands as thousands of tourists await boats to be rescued from the group of tiny islands near the coast of northwest Lombok Island. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

WannaCry ransomware—again: Chipmaker giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) said Monday the computer virus that brought its production to a halt for two days was a variant of the WannaCry ransomware that hit users all around the world.WannaCry infected more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries last year, encrypting user files and demanding ransom payments from their owners to get them back. READ MORE

ANIMAL HEALTH

A serial cat killer: On Saturday night, Kathy Harrigan fed and brushed Harley, a deaf tabby cat who she had been taking care of for the past two years. The next morning, police showed up with bad news. Harley had been found mutilated on a neighbor’s lawn, they told her – making the semi-feral 20-year-old tabby’s death the seventh in a string of killings in recent months that officials in Thurston County, Washington, believe is the work of a serial cat killer. READ MORE

JUST INTERESTING

The rise of innovative independent grocers: Just months after opening his own grocery store, Maj. Gene Hogg is a pro in the industry. Hogg, the Salvation Army’s commander for central Maryland, organized mobile kitchens in Manhattan after 9/11 and in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Hogg’s market, DMG Foods, is one of a growing number of experimental grocery stores that have emerged recently. Stores like DMG Foods have the potential to surpass the on-going “retail apocalyspe” and takeover traditional supermarkets, the New York Times reports. READ MORE

An early grape harvest: Germany’s grape harvest is officially underway on its earliest date yet after a scorching summer that has many other farmers groaning but — so far — is promising to be good for vintners. At a vineyard in Loerzweiler, south of Mainz in southwestern Germany near the Rhine River, workers started plucking white grapes off rows of vines on Monday. READ MORE

‘Non-dairy’ legislation fails to progress: Legislation that would have changed how the FDA regulates non-dairy “milk” failed to make its way into a Senate bill, while another amendment aimed at sparking innovation in dairy processing passed. An amendment to the “minibus” spending bill would have overturned a recent decision by FDA regarding dairy labeling where the agency was looking at enforcing standards for labeling products as milk that come exclusively from animals. READ MORE