Swine Flu Roundup: Starbucks Closes, Egypt Slaughters, Google Tracks, and More

Last Updated Apr 29, 2009 6:26 PM EDT

Flu could slow Mexican truck resolution -- The controversy over allowing Mexican trucks onto U.S. roads could take longer to resolve because of swine flu, trade experts have said. Under NAFTA, the U.S. was supposed to open its roads to truckers from Mexico, but unions and other groups say that Mexican trucks don't meet U.S. safety standards and that such a move would drag down trucker wages in the U.S. Obama has pledged to address the issue quickly and allow Mexican trucks on our roads, but the flu outbreak, along with increased attention to drug and gun running along the border, could postpone any meaningful action. [Sources: Reuters, h/t Trade Observatory]

Mexico City restaurants, Starbucks closed -- In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the local government has forbidden cafes and restaurants from offering table service, though take-out is still allowed. Starbucks has also temporarily shut 10 stores in the Mexican capital, and one of its employees is being treated for flu symptoms. [Sources: BBC, AP]

Egypt slaughters swine -- The country has begun a mass slaughter of pigs to prevent swine flu, despite the fact that the virus is spreading between humans. Egypt is also monitoring all passengers flying in from Mexico. [Source: BBC]

Google tracks outbreak -- The tech company is mapping out confirmed and reported cases of swine flu, as well as deaths, as the virus spreads throughout the world. The maps is available at Google Maps (h/t The Big Money).

Factory Farms blamed -- Although the swine flu is not directly connected to the food supply, it's likely that it passed from live pigs to humans, and many environmental groups are blaming the conditions of pigs on factory farms and calling for investigations. "These unhealthy, overcrowded operations are a breeding ground for disease," said the president and founder of Farm Sanctuary. The area in Mexico where the first case was detected has many hogs, but no link has yet been proven. [Sources: How the World Works, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch]

No pigs acknowledged in Israel, says minister -- Because eating pork is forbidden to both Jews and Muslims, the extremely orthodox Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman refuses to call the latest disease "swine flu." The flu did not come from humans eating pork, and cannot be spread that way, but nevertheless, Litzman doesn't want to acknowledge any connection to the non-kosher meat, even though the disease did evolve from strains of flu in swine. Instead, he's calling it "Mexican flu." Ironically, Litzman's move allies him with the U.S. pork industry, which has been encouraging the media to avoid the name "swine flu" because it might hurt business. [Sources: The Atlantic, Foreign Policy]

Twitter panic mocked -- A web comic pokes fun at the panicked reactions to the swine flu that have been spreading through Twitter. "Swine flu is God's punishment for the ACLU and lesbians and 9/11 and nanobots!" says the fictional Crackmonkey74. I couldn't resist including it in the roundup. Enjoy. [Sources: xkcd, h/t Chris Blattman]

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'Swine Flu' Wreaks Havoc on Pork Industry, Despite Lack of Swine Connection

  • Katherine Glover