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Yes, the U.S. and South Korea are near an agreement for a new trade deal. But, no, the agreement does not include beef. The barriers South Korea has put up blocking American beef will remain. 

“I am deeply disappointed that today’s deal fails to address Korea’s significant barriers to American beef exports, which President Obama identified this June as one of the critical outstanding issues that must be resolved before moving this free trade agreement forward,” said Montana Sen. Max Baucus.

Grist has good debate on the Food Safety Modernization Act, that appears to be once again stalled in the Senate. Grist has several perspectives on the “exemption” in the bill for small farmers. 

• Wait until our relatives learn that a female tarantula of breeding age can fetch up to $1,000 on the open market. The darn things were all over the ranch last summer, crawling across the roads, the patio and hiding in every nook and cranny of the ranch house.

Anyway, some dude was arrested in Los Angeles last week and charged with importing wildlife into the U.S. (Somebody found in profitable to bring tarantulas into the U.S.? That’s mind boggling.) He had about 1,000 of them.

And, no, we don’t know how to tell the males from the females. 

• Very interesting review of a book by the principal who helped make the “Stand and Deliver” teacher Jaime Escalante possible.

Henry Gradillas was the principal of the school where Escalante taught his young charges math. Now Gradillas has written his own prescription for fixing schools — and it sounds nothing like the school reform ideas that are now all in vogue. For one thing, Gradillas does not see teachers as the problem. 

• Texas is expected to add either three or four seats in Congress after results from the latest Census are announced. 

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