Australian Chef Criticized for Charging for Tap Water

Bottled WaterIs Australian chef Mark Best justified in charging for tap water at Marque Restaurant, his restaurant in Syndey, Australia?

Best stopped selling “boutique bottled water” and instead offered customers treated tap water for about half the price of the bottled water he previously sold, according to a Reuters article. He did so because he considers these bottled waters to be wasteful and wanted to provide an eco-friendly alternative.

Best installed a water filter system that filters, chills and carbonates the Marque Restaurant‘s tap water. And while he could have raised his pricing across his menu to make up the cost, he wanted everyone to know they were being charged for tap water. He charges the equivalent of $5.31 in US dollars for all the tap water a patron cares to drink. The 500 ml bottles of boutique bottled water that he sold in the past cost twice that much.

“I’m not highly political but I want to make people aware and this is just one initiative,” Best said.

While many patrons were unhappy about it, charging for tap water is not illegal if it has been treated — and Best’s $6,000 Italian-made water filtration system certainly does that.

If Best’s main goal in charging for tap water was to make a statement and “raise awareness of the need for restaurants to be socially responsible and reduce plastic waste,” we would say he succeeded. What do you think: is Best justified in charging for tap water or not?

Effects of Mold from Water Damage – House Cleanup & Health Risks

House Mold Mildew Cleanup

Mold Contamination & Cleanup

When an area experiences a major flood, water damage is not the only deadly culprit lurking around. As devastating as the damage is when the waters recede, residents are often faced with the new threat of mold contamination.

Porous materials that absorb water can confine mold infinitely. Anything that can harbor mold should be discarded immediately. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some people are sensitive to mold because exposure can cause symptoms such as eye irritation, wheezing, nasal congestion or skin irritation. Those who are seriously allergic to mold, may experience more severe reactions such as shortness of breath or a fever. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found sufficient evidence linking indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, wheezing and coughing in healthy individuals in addition to those with fragile immune conditions.

Mold and mildew can begin growing within 24 hours after a flood. Mold can begin colonization throughout your home, from the attic to the basement, and then to your crawl spaces. Porous materials such as rotten wood, drywall, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, rags, upholstered furniture or stale carpeting can trap mold indefinitely and should be discarded immediately. During cleanup, the EPA recommends that you wear gloves and use an N-95 respirator in a well-ventilated area.

Wet places need to be cleaned immediately and not allowed to remain damp. Mold cannot grow without moisture. Non-porous objects such as metal, plastic, glass or ceramic should be cleaned with a solution of household bleach, detergent and water. Use up to 1 cups of bleach per gallon of water. Do not forget to wear rubber gloves, goggles, an air filter mask and other protective clothing when working with bleach solutions. Never mix bleach and ammonia together. Mold contaminated areas should be washed down. Have ductwork inspected by a professional and don’t forget to change your air and furnace filters. Be sure to monitor the area for any signs of new mold growth and moisture.


The Profits of War – Bottled Water Contracts and Bribes

Derrick ShoemakeSun Tzu once wrote that “It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.” Thankfully the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (known as SIGIR) is in the middle of a sweeping investigation of the use, and misuse, of money spent on the wars overseas in an attempt to put an end to such personal profits.

SIGIR, created in 2004, oversees Iraq reconstruction programs and operations, and ensures that taxpayer money is spent appropriately. The organization is also prosecuting soldiers and civilians that have pocketed the funds since 2003, including Derrick Shoemake.

Lt. Col. Shoemake entered a guilty plea to charges of bribery stemming from bottled water contracts in Kuwait. Shoemake, a native of Ohio, also ran Entune Entertainment, a hip-hop music label that encouraged soldiers to record songs about their war experiences. The Justice Department uncovered that in the mid-2000s, while Shoemake was in Arifjan, Kuwait, “he conspired first with a Saudi Arabia-based contractor, then with a contractor from India, to fix bottled-water contracts worth millions of dollars. Prosecutors allege Shoemake received $215,000 in cash payments from the Saudi contractor, some of which were delivered by hand to the officer’s wife in Los Angeles.” The Justice Department alleges that another $40,000 was paid to Shoemake from an Indian contractor for bottled water contracts in Afghanistan.

The money from these contracts is no paltry sum. George H. Lee, a contractor charged with bribery, is said to have accumulated almost $20 million in bribes and kickbacks. Lee, however, pleaded not guilty and insists that the accusations against him are a result of a poorly executed Army investigation, racial bias, and a conspiracy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, SIGIR “has funding through December 2012, when files from more than 100 current investigations will be farmed out to agencies, including the Pentagon’s Criminal Investigation Command, the inspectors general for the State Department and the Agency for International Development and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Already SIGIR has estimated that it has saved over $1.1 billion through investigations and seized more than $150 million worth of assets. And with only 18 more months of funding, there is plenty more work to be done.