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Plastic bag problem

November 24th, 2008

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080506/MULTIMEDIA02/80505016

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Support Nadler Resolution on Bush Pardens

November 23rd, 2008

 

Dear Friends,

 

I have just read and signed the petition: “Support Nadler Resolution on Bush Pardons”

 

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. Please sign here:

http://www.democrats.com/nadler-pardons?source=dfly%40dragonflyranch.com

 

Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.

 

Thank you!

 

Barbara Moore,

 

Democrats.com

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Accountability for the War in Iraq

November 23rd, 2008

The Iraqi people’s human and civil rights were – and remain -swept aside by the occupation.

By Burhan Al-Chalabi.

The U.S. Presidential Election has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the world. The American people have rejected the foreign and domestic policies of President George W. Bush.

In Britain, the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, found his position unsustainable and resigned, leaving the invasion of Iraq and its awful consequences as his political legacy. The new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has talked about the need to be open and transparent in order to win the trust of the British public, but has so far shown no sign of addressing or redressing his predecessor’s failed policies in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The military occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its vast mineral wealth continue unabated.

To justify the invasion of and war against Iraq, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair cited two violations by the Iraqi regime: of human rights and of UN Security Council resolutions passed just before and after the first Gulf War of 1991. The purpose of the war, it was claimed, was to hold the Iraqi regime accountable under international law.

But by invading Iraq, the U.S. Administration and the British Government were themselves violating UN resolutions and international law, as stated in the Report by Lord Bingham, the Law Lord, and published in the Guardian on 18th November 2008. The Iraqi people’s human and civil rights were —and remain—swept aside by the acts of war and the continuing fact of occupation.

Today, Iraq’s sovereignty has been destroyed. Its wealth of cultural heritage has been looted or vandalised. Iraq’s natural resources have been squandered, and its once-elaborate and sophisticated infrastructure has been laid to waste. Safety, security, and the processes of the rule of law are virtually non-existent. The legal and moral authority of the UN has been undermined. Terrorism is on the increase.

The whole Middle East region has either been destabilised or is as a result of the chaos in Iraq at high risk of instability or even meltdown. To all intents and purposes Southern Iraq is under the control of the Tehran Government, an outcome that many familiar with the region foresaw as talk of an invasion mounted in 2002 but the Bush White House and its associated agencies somehow failed to anticipate.

To get rid of one man, the two Anglo-American powers have brought an entire nation to the brink of devastation. This man, Saddam Hussein, was not at war with the U.S. or the UK, and could not realistically have posed a threat, at any level. He was not even considered any longer, in 2002, to be a serious threat to his Arab and Persian neighbours. Neither did Iraq pose any threat to American or British national interests or security, as it has since been proved to the satisfaction of all but a few of the most die-hard and tunnel-visioned supporters of the failed Bush regime and the departed Mr. Blair.

More than 3million Iraqis have left their homes, most of these having to flee to neighbouring Arab countries or the West. Iraqis now form one of the largest refugee communities in Europe. More than 600,000 civilians have been killed. Tens of thousands more are maimed or injured, traumatised or homeless, often all of these. Wild dogs feast on Iraqi remains. Holy places have been desecrated. Hundreds of people are assassinated or kidnapped every day. Puppet Iraqi Governments under the occupation are prevented from publishing the details and numbers of dead Iraqis.

During the 13 years of the U.S.-led economic and other sanctions imposed by the Security Council, Iraqi children suffered from malnutrition and genetic disorder caused by depleted uranium (DU). Some eminent Western medical authorities estimated in the early 1990s that Iraqi children – babies, toddlers and infants – were dying at the rate of one every six minutes. All the most telling evidence from UN agencies and NGOs and visiting experts in the medical and scientific fields was ruthlessly ignored by the U.S.- and British-dominated sanctions authorities. Between 1991 and 2003 the lifeblood of the nation was drained.

Since the American military occupation, Iraqi children are growing up in what is an even worse situation. The sanctions have been replaced by anarchy, institutionalised sectarian division, mayhem and murder. These children remain in fear of their lives, with no hopes, no dreams, no education, and no health care. They are helpless. For the lucky ones, play time is spent on rubbish dumps, even seeking food amongst this filth. Many others are kept at home for fear of being kidnapped or blown up.

This is a demeaning sight in one of the richest countries in the world, one which had developed fast and successfully in areas such as health, welfare, medicine, education, roads, housing and literacy, a model for other Middle East nations in how to use and spread oil wealth, and for the developing world—until just 19 years ago. Modern Iraq, if such a term can be used, is now a permanent and shameful scar on the conscience of those who conspired to invade and occupy Iraq to further their national and personal ambitions.

Iraq is a failed state. For Iraqis, life is hell. Things worsen by the day. Secular Iraq had made great strides in improving the lot of all of its people in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, in all social and economic areas. Sectarian Iraq is the most corrupt nation in the world, a perfect export model of U.S. political hypocrisy in action.

The occupiers use every conceivable excuse to justify the failure of the war in Iraq. They dismiss resistance to the occupation as mere terrorism, and other labels insulting to the Iraqi people but considered palatable to U.S. domestic consumption. All that is bad and violent is attributed to the Iraqis and their traditions or nature; the Americans and the British, of course, bear no responsibility for the breakdown in order and the monumental increase in sectarian violence since 2003. Abuse, torture, humiliation and rape are treated as a side show, left to committees to get it out of the glare of negative publicity and to dampen public anger and frustration of the conduct of the war.

The war was never intended to be one of liberation. There was never an exit strategy. Instead, initiatives are taken to divert attention from the true extent of human and financial losses by the war, and to justify continuing the occupation.

The real quagmire of the U.S. Administration is not just to be found in the catastrophic failure of the war, which was doomed to fail from the start; it is not even in the extent of human and financial losses and suffering, both Iraqi and American. Death and destruction is the business of war.

No, at the heart of this swamp is dishonesty with the American (and British and Iraqi) public. The American and British public, legislators and voters were inveigled into this disaster. The true aims of the war were never shared by its architect with the American people for fear of being rejected for what they really were— American Imperialism, a modern day spin for politically, commercially and religiously motivated colonial imperialism. The American and British Governments conspired with much of the western media and pulled the wool over the eyes of most of the others—who largely seemed all too ready to listen to their masters—to hide the facts, continue the deceptions, and prolong the suffering and pain of the Iraqi people.

President-elect Obama’s message to the American public is that of change. The most fundamental change needed is honesty, transparency and accountability with respect to the war against Iraq. The American public deserve to know what their loved ones died for. Iraqis also want to know the Bush administration’s hidden agenda for the invasion, destruction and continuing occupation of Iraq.

In Britain, bereaved parents also deserve to be told for whom their sons and daughters died. This was no war for the greater good, Queen and Country. It was for oil.

In March, 2005, it was revealed by The Sunday Times that in 2002 the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, told Tony Blair and his leading advisers after a visit to Washington that “the facts and intelligence” were being “fixed round the policy” by George W Bush’s Administration.

In his resignation speech, Tony Blair said: “I did what I thought was right for our country”, all this in the face of irrefutable evidence that he and his closest aides deliberately misled the British public and the Labour Party into believing there was palpable national risk to Britain at the hands of a WMD-bearing Saddam Hussein. To date, the British Government has ignored all attempts to set up a proper public, judicial or parliamentary inquiry into what led to the Anglo-American invasion—the biggest western blunder in the Middle East since Suez, and one of far greater consequences.

In a democracy, the executive must be held accountable to the people. Only this can and will restore faith in the most fundamental principles of democracy, namely accountability.

Officials of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein were quickly held accountable for their crimes, and punished, some—including Saddam Hussein himself—executed for their felonies and atrocities. But to date; there has been no independent judicial or political process in the US or UK to hold anybody accountable for the violations and crimes of invading Iraq and what has happened since—what is still happening without an end in sight.

Hiding behind “dodgy dossier” or expressions of faith, hope and belief in the so-called Western system or “spread of democracy” are not legal justifications for avoiding responsibility. Advocating the politics of fear to pursue personal or national agendas cannot be accepted in the civilised world.

Real not politicised justice must be seen to be done, to right the wrongs committed by the Bush Administration against the Iraqi people. The first step is to announce a date for the withdrawal of American forces and their imports of Iranian and Iraqi cronies.

– Dr. Burhan Al-Chalabi (FRSA) is Chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation.

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Money and the Crises of Civilization

November 20th, 2008

 

 

VERY GOOD Advice !!!! – Read on

 

 

Money and the Crisis of Civilization

 

http://www.realitysandwich.com/money_and_crisis_civilization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money and the Crisis of Civilization

 

Charles Eisenstein

Suppose you give me a million dollars with the instructions, “Invest this profitably, and I’ll pay you well.” I’m a sharp dresser — why not? So I go out onto the street and hand out stacks of bills to random passers-by. Ten thousand dollars each. In return, each scribbles out an IOU for $20,000, payable in five years. I come back to you and say, “Look at these IOUs! I have generated a 20% annual return on your investment.” You are very pleased, and pay me an enormous commission. 

 

Now I’ve got a big stack of IOUs, so I use these “assets” as collateral to borrow even more money, which I lend out to even more people, or sell them to others like myself who do the same. I also buy insurance to cover me in case the borrowers default — and I pay for it with those self-same IOUs! Round and round it goes, each new loan becoming somebody’s asset on which to borrow yet more money. We all rake in huge commissions and bonuses, as the total face value of all the assets we’ve created from that initial million dollars is now fifty times that. 

 

Then one day, the first batch of IOUs comes due. But guess what? The person who scribbled his name on the IOU can’t pay me back right now. In fact, lots of the borrowers can’t. I try to hush this embarrassing fact up as long as possible, but pretty soon you get suspicious. You want your million dollars back — in cash. I try to sell the IOUs and their derivatives that I hold, but everyone else is suspicious too, and no one buys them. The insurance company tries to cover my losses, but it can only do so by selling the IOUs I gave it! 

 

So finally, the government steps in and buys the IOUs, bails out the insurance company and everyone else holding the IOUs and the derivatives stacked on them. Their total value is way more than a million dollars now. I and my fellow entrepreneurs retire with our lucre. Everyone else pays for it. 

 

This is the first level of what has happened in the financial industry over the past decade. It is a huge transfer of wealth to the financial elite, to be funded by US taxpayers, foreign corporations and governments, and ultimately the foreign workers who subsidize US debt indirectly via the lower purchasing power of their wages. However, to see the current crisis as merely the result of a big con is to miss its true significance. 

 

I think we all sense that we are nearing the end of an era. On the most superficial level, it is the era of unregulated casino-style financial manipulation that is ending. But the current efforts of the political elites to fix the crisis at this level will only reveal its deeper dimensions. In fact, the crisis goes “all the way to the bottom.” It arises from the very nature of money and property in the world today, and it will persist and continue to intensify until money itself is transformed. A process centuries in the making is in its final stages of unfoldment. 

 

Money as we know it today has crisis and collapse built into its basic design. That is because money seeks interest, bears interest, and indeed is born of interest. To see how this works, let’s go back to some finance basics. Money is created when somebody takes out a loan from a bank (or more recently, a disguised loan from some other kind of institution). A debt is a promise to pay money in the future in order to buy something today; in other words, borrowing money is a form of delayed trading. I receive something now (bought with the money I borrowed) and agree to give something in the future (a good or service which I will sell for the money to pay back the debt). A bank or any other lender will ordinarily only agree to lend you money if there is a reasonable expectation you will pay it back; in other words, if there is a reasonable expectation you will produce goods or services of equivalent value. This “reasonable expectation” can be guaranteed in the form of collateral, or it can be encoded in one’s credit rating. 

 

Any time you use money, you are essentially guaranteeing “I have performed a service or provided a good of equivalent value to the one I am buying.” If the money is borrowed money, you are saying that you will provide an equivalent good/service in the future. 

 

Now enter interest. What motivates a bank to lend anyone money in the first place? It is interest. Interest drives the creation of money today. Any time money is created through debt, a need to create even more money in the future is also created. The amount of money must grow over time, which means that the volume of goods and services must grow over time as well. 

 

If the volume of money grows faster than the volume of goods and services, the result is inflation. If it grows more slowly — for example through a slowdown in lending — the result is bankruptcies, recession, or deflation. The government can increase or decrease the supply of money in several ways. First, it can create money by borrowing it from the central bank, or in America, from the Federal Reserve. This money ends up as bank deposits, which in turn give banks more margin reserves on which to extend loans. You see, a bank’s capacity to create money is limited by margin reserve requirements. Typically, a bank must hold cash (or central bank deposits) equal to about 10% of its total customer deposits. The other 90%, it can loan out, thus creating new money. This money ends up back in a bank as deposits, allowing another 81% of it (90% of 90%) to be lent out again. In this way, each dollar of initial deposits ends up as $9 of new money. Government spending of money borrowed from the central bank acts a seed for new money creation. (Of course, this depends on banks’ willingness to lend! In a credit freeze such as happened this week, banks hoard excess reserves and the repeated injections of government money have little effect.) 

 

Another way to increase the money supply is to lower margin reserve requirements. In practice this is rarely done, at least directly. However, in the last decade, various kinds of non-bank lending have skirted the margin reserve requirement, through the alphabet soup of financial instruments you’ve been hearing about in the news. The result is that each dollar of original equity has been leveraged not to nine times it original value, as in traditional banking, but to 70 times or even more. This has allowed returns on investment far beyond the 5% or so available from traditional banking, along with “compensation” packages beyond the dreams of avarice. 

 

Each new dollar that is created comes with a new dollar of debt — more than a dollar of debt, because of interest. The debt is eventually redeemed either with goods and services, or with more borrowed money, which in turn can be redeemed with yet more borrowed money… but eventually it will be used to buy goods and services. The interest has to come from somewhere. Borrowing more money to make the interest payments on an existing loan merely postpones the day of reckoning by deferring the need to create new goods and services. 

 

The whole system of interest-bearing money works fine as long as the volume of goods and services exchanged for money keeps growing. The crisis we are seeing today is in part because new money has been created much faster than goods and services have, and much faster than has been historically sustainable. There are only two ways out of such a situation: inflation and bankruptcies. Each involve the destruction of money. The current convulsions of the financial and political elites basically come down to a futile attempt to prevent both. Their first concern is to prevent the evaporation of money through massive bankruptcies, because it is, after all, their money. 

 

There is a much deeper crisis at work as well, a crisis in the creation of goods and services that underlies money to begin with, and it is this crisis that gave birth to the real estate bubble everyone blames for the current situation. To understand it, let’s get clear on what constitutes a “good” or a “service.” In economics, these terms refer to something that is exchanged for money. If I babysit your children for free, economists don’t count it as a service. It cannot be used to pay a financial debt: I cannot go to the supermarket and say, “I watched my neighbor’s kids this morning, so please give me food.” But if I open a day care center and charge you money, I have created a “service.” GDP rises and, according to economists, society has become wealthier. 

 

The same is true if I cut down a forest and sell the timber. While it is still standing and inaccessible, it is not a good. It only becomes “good” when I build a logging road, hire labor, cut it down, and transport it to a buyer. I convert a forest to timber, a commodity, and GDP goes up. Similarly, if I create a new song and share it for free, GDP does not go up and society is not considered wealthier, but if I copyright it and sell it, it becomes a good. Or I can find a traditional society that uses herbs and shamanic techniques for healing, destroy their culture and make them dependent on pharmaceutical medicine which they must purchase, evict them from their land so they cannot be subsistence farmers and must buy food, clear the land and hire them on a banana plantation — and I have made the world richer. I have brought various functions, relationships, and natural resources into the realm of money. In The Ascent of Humanity I describe this process in depth: the conversion of social capital, natural capital, cultural capital, and spiritual capital into money. 

 

Essentially, for the economy to continue growing and for the (interest-based) money system to remain viable, more and more of nature and human relationship must be monetized. For example, thirty years ago most meals were prepared at home; today some two-thirds are prepared outside, in restaurants or supermarket delis. A once unpaid function, cooking, has become a “service”. And we are the richer for it. Right? 

 

Another major engine of economic growth over the last three decades, child care, has also made us richer. We are now relieved of the burden of caring for our own children. We pay experts instead, who can do it much more efficiently. 

 

In ancient times entertainment was also a free, participatory function. Everyone played an instrument, sang, participated in drama. Even 75 years ago in America, every small town had its own marching band and baseball team. Now we pay for those services. The economy has grown. Hooray. 

 

The crisis we are facing today arises from the fact that there is almost no more social, cultural, natural, and spiritual capital left to convert into money. Centuries, millennia of near-continuous money creation has left us so destitute that we have nothing left to sell. Our forests are damaged beyond repair, our soil depleted and washed into the sea, our fisheries fished out, the rejuvenating capacity of the earth to recycle our waste saturated. Our cultural treasury of songs and stories, images and icons, has been looted and copyrighted. Any clever phrase you can think of is already a trademarked slogan. Our very human relationships and abilities have been taken away from us and sold back, so that we are now dependent on strangers, and therefore on money, for things few humans ever paid for until recently: food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, child care, cooking. Life itself has become a consumer item. Today we sell away the last vestiges of our divine bequeathment: our health, the biosphere and genome, even our own minds. This is the process that is culminating in our age. It is almost complete, especially in America and the “developed” world. In the developing world there still remain people who live substantially in gift cultures, where natural and social wealth is not yet the subject of property. Globalization is the process of stripping away these assets, to feed the money machine’s insatiable, existential need to grow. Yet this stripmining of other lands is running up against its limits too, both because there is almost nothing left to take, and because of growing pockets of effective resistance. 

 

The result is that the supply of money — and the corresponding volume of debt — has for several decades outstripped the production of goods and services that it promises. It is deeply related to the classic problem of oversupply in capitalist economics. The Marxian crisis of capital can be deferred into the future as long as new, high-profit industries and markets can be developed to compensate for the vicious circle of falling profits, falling wages, depressed consumption, and overproduction in mature industries. The continuation of capitalism as we know it depends on an infinite supply of these new industries, which essentially must convert infinite new realms of social, natural, cultural, and spiritual capital into money. The problem is, these resources are finite, and the closer they come to exhaustion, the more painful their extraction becomes. Therefore, contemporaneous with the financial crisis we have an ecological crisis and a health crisis. They are intimately interlinked. We cannot convert much more of the earth into money, or much more of our health into money, before the basis of life itself is threatened. 

 

Faced with the exhaustion of the non-monetized commonwealth that it consumes, financial capital has tried to delay the inevitable by cannibalizing itself. The dot-com bubble of the late 90s showed that the productive economy could not longer keep up with the growth of money. Lots of excess money was running around frantically, searching for a place where the promise of deferred goods and services could be redeemed. So, to postpone the inevitable crash, the Fed slashed interest rates and loosened monetary policy to allow old debts to be repaid with new debts (rather than real goods and services). The new financial goods and services that arose were phony, artifacts of deceptive accounting on a vast, systemic scale. 

 

Obviously, the practice of borrowing new money to pay the principal and interest of old debts cannot last very long, but that is what the economy as a whole has done for ten years now. Unfortunately, simply stopping this practice isn’t going to solve the underlying problem. A collapse is coming, unavoidably. The government’s bailout plan will at best postpone it for a year or two (who knows, maybe until 2012!), long enough for the big players to move their money to a safe haven. They will discover, though, that there is no safe haven. As the US dollar loses its safe-haven status (which will happen all the more certainly when the government takes over Wall Street’s bad debts), you can expect capital to chase various commodities in an inflationary surge before a deflationary depression takes hold. If a credit freeze overpowers the government’s inflationary measures, depression will come all the sooner. 

 

The present crisis is actually the final stage of what began in the 1930s. Successive solutions to the fundamental problem of keeping pace with money that expands with the rate of interest have been applied, and exhausted. The first effective solution was war, a state which has been permanent since 1940. Nuclear weapons and a shift in human consciousness have limited the solution of endless military escalation. Other solutions — globalization, technology-enabled development of new goods and services to replace human functions never before commoditized, and technology-enabled plunder of natural resources once off limits, and finally financial auto-cannibalism — have similarly run their course. Unless there are realms of wealth I have not considered, and new depths of poverty, misery, and alienation to which we might plunge, the inevitable cannot be delayed much longer. 

 

In the face of the impending crisis, people often ask what they can do to protect themselves. “Buy gold? Stockpile canned goods? Build a fortified compound in a remote area? What should I do?” I would like to suggest a different kind of question: “What is the most beautiful thing I can do?” You see, the gathering crisis presents a tremendous opportunity. Deflation, the destruction of money, is only a categorical evil if the creation of money is a categorical good. However, you can see from the examples I have given that the creation of money has in many ways impoverished us all. Conversely, the destruction of money has the potential to enrich us. It offers the opportunity to reclaim parts of the lost commonwealth from the realm of money and property. 

 

We actually see this happening every time there is an economic recession. People can no longer pay for various goods and services, and so have to rely on friends and neighbors instead. Where there is no money to facilitate transactions, gift economies reemerge and new kinds of money are created. Ordinarily, though, people and institutions fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. The habitual first response to economic crisis is to make and keep more money — to accelerate the conversion of anything you can into money. On a systemic level, the debt surge is generating enormous pressure to extend the commodification of the commonwealth. We can see this happening with the calls to drill for oil in Alaska, commence deep-sea drilling, and so on. The time is here, though, for the reverse process to begin in earnest — to remove things from the realm of goods and services, and return them to the realm of gifts, reciprocity, self-sufficiency, and community sharing. Note well: this is going to happen anyway in the wake of a currency collapse, as people lose their jobs or become too poor to buy things. People will help each other and real communities will reemerge. 

 

In the meantime, anything we do to protect some natural or social resource from conversion into money will both hasten the collapse and mitigate its severity. Any forest you save from development, any road you stop, any cooperative playgroup you establish; anyone you teach to heal themselves, or to build their own house, cook their own food, make their own clothes; any wealth you create or add to the public domain; anything you render off-limits to the world-devouring machine, will help shorten the Machine’s lifespan. Think of it this way: if you already do not depend on money for some portion of life’s necessities and pleasures, then the collapse of money will pose much less of a harsh transition for you. The same applies to the social level. Any network or community or social institution that is not a vehicle for the conversion of life into money will sustain and enrich life after money. 

 

In previous essays I have described alternative money systems, based on mutual credit and demurrage, that do not drive the conversion of all that is good, true, and beautiful into money. These enact a fundamentally different human identity, a fundamentally different sense of self, from what dominates today. No more will it be true that more for me is less for you. On a personal level, the deepest possible revolution we can enact is a revolution in our sense of self, in our identity. The discrete and separate self of Descartes and Adam Smith has run its course and is becoming obsolete. We are realizing our own inseparateness, from each other and from the totality of all life. Interest denies this union, for it seeks growth of the separate self and the expense of something external, something other. Probably everyone reading this essay agrees with the principles of interconnectedness, whether from a Buddhistic or an ecological perspective. The time has come to live it. It is time to enter the spirit of the gift, which embodies the felt understanding of non-separation. It is becoming abundantly obvious that less for you (in all its dimensions) is also less for me. The ideology of perpetual gain has brought us to a state of poverty so destitute that we are gasping for air. That ideology, and the civilization built upon it, is what is collapsing today. 

 

Individually and collectively, anything we do to resist or postpone the collapse will only make it worse. So stop resisting the revolution in human beingness. If you want to survive the multiple crises unfolding today, do not seek to survive them. That is the mindset of separation; that is resistance, a clinging to a dying past. Instead, allow your perspective to shift toward reunion, and think in terms of what you can give. What can you contribute to a more beautiful world? That is your only responsibility and your only security. The gifts you need to survive and enjoy will come to you easily, because what you do to the world, you do to yourself.

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Fun Way to Feed People!

November 18th, 2008

Hi everyone,

I just learned about a new very fun website www.freerice.com <http://www.freerice.com>   , which was created by Harvard Univ. and the UN.  Here’s the deal:  you play a game and each answer you get correct donates 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.  Each answer you get correct will lead you to a slightly harder question, incorrect to an easier question, and so on.  There are all kinds of categories from English vocabulary, lanugages, art, geography, math, science.  Spend just 10 minutes and you can feed someone for an entire day~~great way to ‘waste time’ isn’t it, and you increase your brain power while you do it.

Love,
Heather
 

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Gulf War Syndrom verified

November 18th, 2008

 

 

aloha….

Report: 1-in-4 Gulf War veterans still suffer from toxin exposure

 

Now Hear This: Seattle’s Military Blog

militaryarmed servicesarmynavyair forcemarinesiraqafghanistanpentagonSeattle

 

Report: 1-in-4 Gulf War veterans still suffer from toxin exposure

 

Seventeen years after the decisive but relatively quick Persian Gulf War invasion of Iraq to liberate Kuwait, a landmark 450-page report released Monday by a federal panel of scientific experts and veterans concludes what many veterans already knew about Gulf War illness:

 

At least one-fourth of the nearly 700,000 military personnel who served in that war and its aftermath have complex but real health problems that the report now scientifically links to a poisonous stew to which they were exposed.

 

“Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War had the distinction of serving their country in a military operation that was a tremendous success, achieved in short order. But many had the misfortune of developing lasting health consequences that were poorly understood and, for too long, denied or trivialized,” the report said.

 

The Congressionally-mandated report, titled “Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses” was handed over Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake at the department’s headquarters in the nation’s capital. The Boston University School of Public Health scientific staff assisted with research.

 

Anthony Hardie, national secretary and legislative chair for Veterans of Modern Warfare Inc., a non-profit veterans group representing those who served during and since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, said the report is “huge.”

 

“It really closes one of the darker chapters of the legacy of the Gulf War, and that is Gulf War illness,” Hardie said.

 

“The report clearly lays out that Gulf War illness was caused by unique exposures; it lays out clearly that Gulf war illness is not a stress-related or trauma condition, that is is not the same as in wars before or since. It is unique,” Hardie said by phone Monday.

 

According to the report, “The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time.

 

“Scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans. Research has also shown that his pattern of illness does not occur after every war and cannot be attributed to psychological stressors during the Gulf War,” the report says.

 

Gulf War veterans applaud the report, lamenting that it has been a long-time coming, noting the years in which fellow veterans suffered and died. 

 

Hardie said the report conjures “mixed feelings.”

 

On the one hand, “It is certainly a victory for Gulf War veterans. Gulf War veterans were right all along that their illnesses are related to unique exposures during the 1991 Gulf War. This is a government report based on science that clearly lays out the nature and scope and effects of Gulf War illness,” he said. 

 

On the other hand, “it is bittersweet in that two decades after the war’s end we still don’t have treatments for Gulf War illness; they are sporadic,” Hardie said. Some veterans illnesses remain unrecognized.

 

The long ordeal over Gulf War illness for veterans of the 1991 war parallels the long fight of Vietnam veterans over post-war illnesses linked to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant, many veterans say. The report notes those difficulties.

 

“Some observers have suggested that these complexities pose too difficult a challenge, and that it is unlikely that the nature and causes of Gulf War illness can ever be known. On the contrary, the Committee has found that the extensive scientific research and other diverse sources of information related to the health of Gulf War veterans paint a cohesive picture that yields important answers to basic questions about both the nature and causes of Gulf War illness. These, in turn, provide direction for future research that is urgently needed to improve the health of Gulf War veterans,” the report says.

 

Many Gulf War veterans have voiced frustration that their problems were written off as stress-related. The report flatly says that “studies consistently indicate that Gulf War illness is not the result of combat or other stressors, and that Gulf War veterans have lower rates of posttraumatic stress disorder than veterans of other wars.” 

 

A variety of factors were examined, ranging from sychological stress, vaccines, oil fires, depleted uranium. nerve agents, infectious disease and many more. 

 

Two immediately jumped out at Hardie, pesticides and pyrodstigmine.

 

The latter, called simply “PB,” was a pill taken by at least half of all troops in the 1991 war for purported protection against nerve gas.

 

Troops in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have to take the pills, Hardie noted.

 

“That was one lesson we learned from the Gulf War. PB was not approved by the FDA, which gave a waiver to the Defense Department that waived the necessity for informed consent,” Hardie said.

 

The report says of pyridostigmine bromide (PB):

 

 

“Widespread use of PB as a protective measure in the event of nerve gas exposure was unique to the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Pyridostigmine bromide is one of only two exposures consistently identified by Gulf War epidemiologic studies to be significantly associated with Gulf War illness. About half of Gulf War personnel are believed to have taken PB tablets during deployment, with greatest use among ground troops and those in forward locations. Several studies have identified dose-response effects, indicating that veterans who took PB for longer periods of time have higher illness rates than veterans who took less PB. In addition, clinical studies have identified significant associations between PB use during the Gulf War and neurocognitive and neuroendocrine alterations identified many years after the war. Taken together, these diverse types and sources of evidence provide a consistent and persuasive case that use of PB during the Gulf War is causally associated with Gulf War illness.”

 

 

Depleted uranium, meanwhile, a much-considered potential source of illness over the years, was not likely a culprit in Gulf War illness, although the report leaves open a door by noting that DU very likely has effects of its own. 

 

“Exposure to depleted uranium munitions is not likely a primary cause of Gulf War illness. Questions remain about long-term health effects of higher dose exposures to DU, however, particularly in relation to other health outcomes,” the report said.

 

Committee members said the report offers a “blueprint” for the incoming Obama Administration to focus on Gulf War veterans. It also could help those from other countries, including troops allied with the U.S. during Desert Storm, who have reported similar health problems. 

 

“A renewed federal research commitment is needed,” the committee report says, “to achieve the critical objectives of improving the health of Gulf War veterans and preventing similar problems in future deployments. This is a national obligation, made especially urgent by the many years that Gulf War veterans have waited for answers and assistance.”

 

 

 

 

Posted by Mike Barber Mike Barber at November 17, 2008 3:53 p.m.

Categories: Army, Department of Veterans Affairs, Iraq, Marines, Veterans 

 

 

Comments

#218038

Posted by unregistered user at 11/17/08 5:48 p.m.

 

Why is it that so many soldiers and probably civilians can get exposed to such hazards at the whim of their own government and why are there so little accountability? Why must these people battle beaurocracy in the land they fought for to get recognition of the maladies they were left with? It is almost like a case of the enemy within. Governments must own up when there has been a stuff-up.

Report violation

#218051

Posted by unregistered user at 11/17/08 6:11 p.m.

 

To help servicemembers and Veterans with their immunity from bio-toxins one should insist that Veteran’s for Peace change the name and scope of their Agent Orange campaign. It deals extensively with reparations for Agent Orange in Vietnam but is insensitive to the continuing hazard of bio-terrorism by or against Veterans. With their documented weak grasp on arms control and non violence, in general, as well as their fearless registration with the armed forces, government and health care, Veterans are particularly vulnerable to use as soldiers of fortune against their own friends and families. Granted the Veteran conference goer who earned this scorn was a former lawyer who was up to his elbows in wills before he went insane, and now seems to have killed both his parents, much like all the other lawyers I know. Veterans must stop torturing their spouse and killing their spouse’s family. At least Veterans have succeeded in stopping the medical billing. They have also succeeded in laying down their arms. Perhaps this skill in disarmament can extend to the invisible biological and chemical weapons, used at home so much they are overlooked at the majority of “natural” deaths, because they are prohibited under international and national law.

 

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Impreach Bush to stop pardons

November 17th, 2008

 

Dear Friends,

 

I have just read and signed the petition: “Impeach Bush To Stop Pardons”

 

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. Please sign here:

http://www.democrats.com/pardon?source=dfly%40dragonflyranch.com

 

Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and family to sign as well.

 

Thank you!

 

Barbara Moore,

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FEMALE HEART ATTACKS

November 17th, 2008

Subject: FEMALE HEART ATTACKS

 
 

  NURSE’S  HEART ATTACK EXPERIENCE

I  am an ER nurse and this is the best description of this event that I have ever  heard. Please read, pay attention, and send it on!

FEMALE  HEART ATTACKS

I  was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best  description I’ve ever read.

Women  and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction). Did you know that women rarely have  the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack ..

you  know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the  chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies. Here is the story  of one woman’s   experience  with a heart attack.

‘I  had a heart attack at about 10 :30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior  emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was  sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my  lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually  thinking, ‘A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy  Boy with my feet propped up.

A  moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you’ve been in  a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of  water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you’ve swallowed a golf ball  going down the esophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You  realize you shouldn’t have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more  thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to  the stomach. This was my initial sensation—the only trouble was   that  I hadn’t taken a bite of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

After  it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions  that seemed to be racing up my SPINE   (hind-sight,  it was probably my aorta spasms), gaining speed as they continued racing up  and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when  ministering CPR).

This  fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both  jaws. ‘AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening — we all have  read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of an MI  happening, haven’t we? I said aloud to myself and the cat,   Dear  God, I think I’m having a heart attack!

I  lowered the foot rest dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and  fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, If this is a heart attack, I  shouldn’t be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else  … but, on the other hand, if I don’t, nobody will know that I need help, and  if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in a moment.

I  pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room  and dialed the Paramedics … I told her I thought I was having a heart attack  due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I  didn’t feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she   was  sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to  me, and if so, to un-bolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they  could see me when they came in.

I  unlocked the door and then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost  consciousness, as I don’t remember the medics coming in, their examination,  lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the  call they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we  arrived and saw that the radiologist was already there in his surgical blues  and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was  bending over me asking questions (probably something like ‘Have you taken any  medications?’) but I couldn’t make my mind interpret what he was saying, or  form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and   partner had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral  artery into the aorta and into my   heart  where they installed 2 side by side stints to hold open my right coronary  artery.
‘I  know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at  least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but actually it took  perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and St. Jude  are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to  the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped  somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stints.

‘Why  have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of  you who are so important in my life to know what I learned first hand.’

1.  Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not the usual  men’s symptoms but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws  got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first  (and last) MI because they didn’t know they were having one and commonly  mistake it as indigestion, take some Maalox or other anti-heartburn  preparation and go to bed, hoping they’ll feel better in the morning when they  wake up … which doesn’t happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not  be exactly like mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is   unpleasantly  happening that you’ve not felt before.

It  is better to have a ‘false alarm’ visitation than to risk your life guessing  what it might be!

2.  Note that I said ‘Call the Paramedics.’ And if you can take an aspirin.  Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!   Do  NOT try to drive yourself to the ER – you are a hazard to others on the road.

Do  NOT have your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at  what’s happening with you instead of the road.

Do  NOT call your doctor — he doesn’t know where you live and if it’s at night  you won’t reach him anyway, and if it’s daytime, his assistants (or answering  service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn’t carry the equipment  in his car that you need to be saved! The paramedics do, principally OXYGEN  that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later.

3.  Don’t assume it couldn’t be a heart attack because you have a normal  cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a   cholesterol  elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it’s unbelievably high  and/or accompanied by high blood pressure). MIs are usually caused by  long-term stress and inflammation in the   body,  which dumps all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up  in there.   Pain  in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.   Let’s  be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.

A  cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you  can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.

**Please  be a true friend and send this article to all your friends (male & female)  you care about!**


 

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Marry Yourself at the Dragonfly Ranch

November 8th, 2008

Upscale Treehouse Honeymoon Destination for Singles. 
 
The legendary Dragonfly Ranch (voted #1 B&B in West Hawaii), has hosted happy honeymooners for 25+ years. Now it is also catering to individuals who wish to formalize their own personal male/female union.
Soul Proprietor of this Healing Arts Center, Barbara Moore, is offering $1000 in lodging for the winner of the “Be Your Own Valentine” vow writing contest. Vows will be judged on authenticity, poetic beauty, and humor. Please submit entries to Barbara at: info@dragonflyranch.com
The lucky winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 2009.
www.dragonflyranch.com <http://www.dragonflyranch.com>  
• 808-328-215

 

 

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Stop Mormon tax exemption

November 8th, 2008

Subject: No on prop 8….PETITION Let’s release the  Mormon church of their tax exempt status for mixing church and state by sending millions to the Yes on 8 political campaign. As a religious organization, one would think that they’d be using that money for charitable contributions (hunger, education, making the world a little better) not stripping gay people of their rights. Directly violates laws regarding political contributions. We must stop this and set a precedent!   http://www.mormonsstoleourrights.com   If you’re a resident of California, please sign the petition to the Governor. http://www.petitiononline.com/seg5130/petition.html   Thanks…    

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