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Q&A: What's so special about sea salt

Does sea salt's makeup matter?

Does sea salt differ in mineral composition from ordinary salt? Has the Food and Drug Administration set any content standards?

Sea salt, which is an unrefined salt, is composed of 55 percent chloride, 30.6 percent sodium, 7.7 percent sulfate, 3.7 percent magnesium, 1.2 percent calcium, 1.1 percent potassium and 0.7 percent of other items. Ordinary (also called table) salt is almost always refined salt, which is composed of about 99 percent sodium chloride and 1 percent of other items.

Sea salt has a coarser texture, and some people think a superior taste. But many people cannot tell the difference, and medical experts say there is no difference in the effect on the body.

The FDA regulates processed foods and has been working over the past two years with industry to cut the amount of salt used in those foods. The initiative may lead to regulatory limits.

United Nations fund is a science

How is a country's contribution to the United Nations calculated? How and how much are the various countries behind in their payments?

The United Nations charter gives the General Assembly the power to decide how much its nation members should pay, based on their capacity and ability to pay. Usually that's measured in gross national income, with adjustments made for debt and low per capita income.

There is a ceiling to what any one country is asked to contribute, as a percentage of the United Nations budget, because the General Assembly doesn't want to become too dependent on any one country. That ceiling is 22 percent. There is also a floor, and that is 0.001 percent of the U.N. budget, which was $5.16 billion this year.

The United States pays the most, 22 percent of the U.N. budget, followed by Japan (12.53 percent), Germany (8.018), the United Kingdom (6.604), France (6.123), Italy (4.999), Canada (3.207), China (3.189), Spain (3.177) and Mexico (2.356). The other 27.797 percent is paid by everyone else.

The U.N. has always had problems with nations refusing to pay their assessments. For many years, for instance, the U.S. Congress refused to authorize payment because of disagreement with the U.N., and the United Nations says the United States now owes it more than $1 billion. That figure is disputed by the United States.

Nations currently in arrears include Central African Republic, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia. Nations that owe as much or more than they contributed the previous two years can lose their General Assembly vote, But the Assembly can make an exception if it feels the nonpayment is beyond the control of the member.

Correction

Ask the Times was guilty of some fuzzy math in the Oct. 24 column item about a proposed 1 percent transaction tax. Under it, tax on a $10 lunch would be a dime, not a penny.

Q&A: What's so special about sea salt 10/30/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 30, 2011 5:30am]

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