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AlienLove: Health

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 Politics: Sometimes a Clock is Just a Clock

HealthBy Rosemarie Jackowski

"They arrested me and accused me of making a hoax bomb." That is what 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed said. He was handcuffed and arrested because of an innocent high school project. Irving, Texas Police Chief Larry Boyd commented: "We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school." This is Islamophobia gone wild. In case you missed it - Ahmed made a clock. He took the clock to school to show his teachers. Then someone mistook the clock for a bomb. "Paranoia runs deep..."

The War on Terrorism is not the only war we have on our shores today. We also have a War on Drugs. It is a myth to believe that every patient whoever takes opiates for pain will become an addict. That is like believing that everyone who ever has a glass of wine with dinner will become an alcoholic. Addiction phobia has created some unintended consequences.

These two wars are running parallel and creating serious collateral damage. Prejudice against anyone who might be a Muslim is out in the open. All religions and all non-religious beliefs must be respected. No exceptions.

To law enforcement and Homeland Security, everyone looks like a terrorist. Everything looks like a bomb. To the DEA, everyone looks like a drug addict. Every pain med looks like an illegal drug.

It gets worse. Now respected doctors are being 'watched' - in overt ways and also some subtle ways. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program keeps lists doctors who prescribe opiate pain meds. Many doctors have been prescribing pain meds for decades with no problem, but now the government is 'watching'. Imagine being a doctor and receiving an official letter from the government. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, September 29 @ 21:27:51 EDT (2038 reads)
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 Opinion: Dickensian US Working Conditions Almost Guarantee Ebola Catastrophe

Healthby: Dave Lindorff

Ebola is coming! Ebola is coming! America is doomed!

That, in essence, is the message of the US corporate news media, always on the lookout for the next sensational story with which to stir up hysteria among the public in the interest of higher ratings.

But the thing is, this time, unlike Saddam Hussein’s supposed nuclear weapons and poison-gas-spewing drone aircraft, Al Qaeda’s non-existent “sleeper cells,” and now ISIS and its supposed army of infiltrators coming to separate our heads from our shoulders, the threat is real.

True to form though, the threat is not what the media are claiming it is.

Ebola is a certainly terrible scourge in poor countries in Africa, where a handful of doctors are expected to provide care to thousands of people and to keep persons who contract the disease isolated so that the infection doesn’t spread. Ebola has spread so rapidly in the war-ravaged little nation of Sierra Leone that doctors there have decided they have to surrender the high ground of bringing all infected people into medical facilities for treatment, and to fall back to advising families who have a member who contracts Ebola to treat them at home as best as they can.

In the US, we have plenty of doctors, and plenty of hospitals with the ability to initiate steps to avoid the spread of disease.

But we do not have universal access to health care -- especially to the kind of front-line health care that an epidemic calls for: access to a physician at the first sign of illness, access to affordable medication to treat disease, and even in many cases access to an emergency room. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, October 13 @ 20:17:50 EDT (1662 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Sick Pig Problems

Rising prices aren't the only reason you should reconsider eating pork.

By Andrew Carter

A pound of bacon now costs more than $6. That’s a record increase from $3.86 a pound four years ago.

What’s driving this spike?

Blame Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus. The disease, known as PEDv, is rattling the pork industry after claiming over 10 percent of the U.S. pig population. Nearly all infected piglets suffer severe dehydration and die within the first few weeks of their life.

The cause of the virus is still up for debate, but many farmers suspect contaminated feed imported from China. Pork prices have shot up over 12 percent since May and relief could be more than a year away.

Though the illness doesn’t threaten human health, there are other reasons to cut back on pork. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, July 25 @ 20:32:09 EDT (2089 reads)
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 History/Culture: Therapy Benefits Us All

Getting help isn't just for those with psychiatric problems — it's for anyone who is human.

By Jill Richardson

In 2008, I went to therapy. By then, I’d needed it for a long time. I had a terribly difficult, incurable condition — one I’d had for 28 years without treatment.

My condition? Being human.

Like many “normal” people, I felt I didn’t need therapy when I went. But my brother had just died unexpectedly at the age of 23. And on the morning of his funeral, I had a vision of myself in old age: still single, surrounded by cats. The neighbors murmured to one another, “She never got over the death of her brother.”

“All right, I’ll get therapy,” I thought. Just in case.

Nowadays, with mental health in the news — particularly following the horrific killing spree in Isla Vista, California — I see plenty of advice aimed at those with common mental health problems like anxiety. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, June 04 @ 17:21:23 EDT (1686 reads)
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 Going Green: Take a Hike! No, Really

Nature is the best drug out there.

By Jill Richardson

For the first decade that I suffered from severe and almost daily migraines, I didn’t consider them a gift. Yet, in a way — a very painful one
— they are.

My headaches began setting me apart from the rest of society at the age of 15. Back in 1996, my brother got a Nintendo 64. Eager to try it out, I begged him to give me a turn. But it was unmistakable — watching the screen gave me headaches.

Everyone who gets migraines has a different “trigger” — a food, a smell, lack of sleep. My triggers are all visual and luminescent: looking at fluorescent lights, TV, and movies. That keeps me out of gyms, some stores and restaurants, and even some jobs.

In 2006, after trying 20 medications with limited success, my doctor gave me the prescription I’d needed all along. “Unless you exercise outdoors for 30 minutes a day, there is no pill I can give you that will help.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 08 @ 21:13:06 EDT (1713 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Beefing Up Food Safety

HealthBy Jill Richardson

In a 1968 comedy called The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Paul Newman is captured during World War II in Italy. After the prisoner of war spends several weeks trying to escape, his captor tells him some great news: The guards now have bullets in their guns.

The Food and Drug Administration news about food safety reminds me all too much of this scene. Guess what? They’re now going to start trying to make sure our imported food is safe!

“Under the proposed regulations…U.S. importers would, for the first time, have a clearly defined responsibility to verify that their suppliers produce food to meet U.S. food safety requirements,” reads the agency’s press release.

Let me translate this: The guardians of our food supply now have bullets in their guns.

Imported foods make up one fifth of the vegetables, half of the fruits, and more than 90 percent of the seafood we eat. The odds are that some of the food you eat is imported. And while Greek olives and French cheese sound divine, how about Chinese tilapia or Vietnamese catfish that ate human feces as part of their diet?

Yep, that’s gross, but I’m not making it up. When I reported on the safety of imported seafood, the experts I interviewed described fish farms in China where the family outhouse flows directly into the tilapia pond. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 06 @ 21:39:05 EDT (1412 reads)
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 History/Culture: Eat Well, Walk More, Live Longer

Americans die younger than citizens of most other rich countries.

By Jill Richardson

We just got some bad news. Or maybe it’s some good news.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans don’t live as long as citizens of most other rich countries. How is that good news? Because many of our top risk factors are things we can change.

By and large, people who reside in the world’s wealthy countries live longer than we do. We’re the anomaly. We’ve got the money. We can make the changes — if we want to.

In 2010, a baby born in Japan was expected to live to 82.6. Babies born in Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Israel, France, and a number of other countries could expect to see their 80th birthdays. What about American babies? Those born in 2010 are expected to live only to age 78.2.

It’s just a difference of a couple years. But still, why do we rank below Chile?

The answer to this question requires other answers. Why are we dying young? What are the biggest risk factors? ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, July 19 @ 21:20:00 EDT (992 reads)
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 Environment: How I Fell for Farmers’ Markets

Eaters everywhere across America are discovering the joy of buying directly from local farmers.

By Jill Richardson

I’ll never forget the first time I went to a farmers’ market. I hated it.

Like many who buy food only from the grocery store, I didn’t realize that local farmers can’t produce every food all year round. I didn’t expect pineapples or anything, but the extremely limited selection in early spring shocked me: spinach, arugula, green onions, radishes, and rhubarb. That was it.

I had just moved to Madison, Wisconsin, home of one of the nation’s biggest farmers’ markets. The entire town was abuzz with excitement about the Dane County Farmers’ Market starting up again for the year on the Capitol Square.

Seasoned marketgoers all knew that the selection of produce expands and changes throughout the year. For them, the market’s array of offerings was just the first of many. They saw it as merely an appetizer, a teaser, as they readied themselves for strawberries, asparagus, sugarsnap peas, and the other treats still to come.

But no one gave me that memo. And it never occurred to me that the snow had only just melted and that it takes a few weeks — or months — to grow food. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, May 29 @ 20:59:29 EDT (899 reads)
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 The News: Those Uninvited Guests at Your Barbecue

With most samples of several common store-bought meats testing positive for antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," factory farming practices must change.

By Jill Richardson

Planning a Memorial Day barbecue? When you buy meat for that festive meal, watch out for some uninvited guests. An alarming amount of American meat harbors not just pathogens, but “superbugs” — antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

For now, you’d better cook your meat well enough to kill the germs (165F is the magic temperature), but there might be hope for safer alternatives in the future. Consumer advocates and lawmakers are trying to push changes that make these superbugs a thing of the past. That’s never been so important because industrialized agriculture delivers efficiency, productivity, and profit at the expense of food safety.

Our modern-day factory farm system has for too long served up meat that too frequently comes with a side of with pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli. Packing animals into cages and pens and feeding them the cheapest possible diets results in fast growth and tidy profits. But it also sets up sanitary conditions worse than a medieval city. With so many immune-depressed animals packed tightly together (along with their waste), these “farms” are a boon for bacteria.

That’s bad enough because food poisoning can kill you. But the news is even worse because many of the pathogens found in meat aren’t just bugs — they’re superbugs. If they infect you, antibiotics won’t help. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 16 @ 23:09:14 EDT (1064 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Supreme Court Hears Arguments Challenging Patents on Genes

HealthFrom: aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case seeking to invalidate patents on two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil LibertiesUnion and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, patients, breast cancer and women's health groups, and medical professional associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists and laboratory professionals. The patents allow a Utah company, Myriad Genetics, to control access to the genes, thereby enabling them to limit others from doing research or diagnostic testing of the genes, which can be crucial for individuals making important medical decisions.

"Myriad did not invent the human genes at issue in this case, and they should not be allowed to patent them. The patent system was designed to encourage innovation, not stifle scientific research and the free exchange of ideas, which is what these patents do," said attorney Chris Hansen of the ACLU, who argued the case.

A federal district court invalidated all of the challenged patents in 2010. In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled for the second time that the patents on the genes were valid. Its 2-1 decision followed a Supreme Court order directing the appeals court to reconsider its initial decision in light of a related patent case decided by the Supreme Court last spring. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, April 15 @ 19:42:52 EDT (876 reads)
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 Environment: Eat Your Weeds

The humble dandelion turns out to be a superfood and stinging nettles make a premium pizza topping.

By Jill Richardson

You might not be a master gardener, but odds are you grow one of the world’s healthiest vegetables in your yard every year. It’s a superfood that packs more calcium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins C, B6, E, and K than an equal amount (by weight) of spinach. And, if you notice this amazing vegetable at all, you probably get annoyed by its uninvited presence in your lawn.

I’m talking about the humble dandelion.

Yes, the very weed my dad used to pay me a penny apiece to remove from our lawn when I was a kid. Instead of tossing them out, we should have brought them into the kitchen and had them for dinner.

As an adult, I assumed the proper way to deal with weeds was to get rid of them. And, for some weeds, that’s the case. Don’t even get me started on my opinions of monsters like Bermuda grass. But after years composting just about every weed I found in my garden, I’ve realized that many of them are edible. Some are even nutritious and tasty. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 21 @ 22:37:11 EDT (3501 reads)
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 History/Culture: Making Death Less Painful

The long-taboo topic of death with dignity is gaining traction.

By William A. Collins

Spare me, Lord,
From those who say
That I need pain,
Till my dying day.

There’s no quick path to a new personal freedom. Whether it’s civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, or the right to die with dignity, winning is not easy.

There are always bitter opponents who feel somehow threatened by seeing an “unworthy” group of people relieved of prejudice and suffering.

Why is that?

Sociologists labor to find the answer. In the meantime, these social-change tsunamis are raging. Conservative states are doing their best to effectively ban abortion, a move that can only return the procedure to its back-alley days. Conversely, activists in many states are successfully crusading for gay rights with new legislation, initiatives, and lawsuits.

The political landscape changes every day, as battles are won and lost. Even the long-taboo topic of death with dignity is gaining traction. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, March 13 @ 19:44:39 EDT (3500 reads)
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 Politics: These Laws Make Me Want to Gag

States are adopting laws meant to keep consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.

By Will Potter

Do you have a right to know where that steak on your plate came from?

Should it be legal to photograph chicken farms and dairy cows?

Big Agriculture says you don’t and it shouldn’t. Armies of Big Ag lobbyists are pushing for new state-level laws across the country to keep us all in the dark. Less restrictive versions have been law in some states since the 1980s, but the meat industry has ratcheted up a radical new campaign.

This wave of “ag-gag” bills would criminalize whistleblowers, investigators, and journalists who expose animal welfare abuses at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Ten states considered “ag-gag” bills last year, and Iowa, Missouri, and Utah approved them. Even more are soon to follow. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, March 01 @ 18:08:46 EST (3531 reads)
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 The News: ACLU Sues to Protect Privacy of Drug Prescriptions

ACLU Challenging Government Efforts to Access Confidential Records Without a Warrant

From: ACLU.org

PORTLAND, Ore. – The American Civil LibertiesUnion and the ACLU of Oregon filed a complaint in federal court today challenging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to obtain Oregonians' private prescription records without a warrant. In November, the State of Oregon sued the DEA to prevent the agency from circumventing a state law requiring a warrant for such access, and today the ACLU filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of several patients and a doctor whose prescription records are in the database.

In 2009, Oregon enacted legislation to create the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which records information on millions of prescriptions for Oregon patients. The database tracks prescriptions needed to treat chronic and acute pain, anxiety and panic disorders, weight loss associated with AIDS, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and other conditions.

In order to safeguard the privacy and security of these records, the Oregon law prohibits the PDMP from releasing records to any federal, state or local law enforcement official without a judicial warrant based on probable cause. However, the DEA has been issuing the PDMP administrative subpoenas, which do not involve a judge, seeking prescription records of patients and physicians. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, January 28 @ 19:20:22 EST (797 reads)
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 The News: Healing our Health Care System

Unsafe nurse-to-patient staffing levels are a key cause of 98,000 preventable deaths each year.

By Deborah Burger

The vast scale of America's health care system is daunting. Maternity wards, emergency rooms, and other facilities operate around the clock at most of the nation's 4,000 hospitals. Registered nurses form the backbone of this system, providing triage and treatment.

But this spine is being stretched to the breaking point. As the president of the nation's largest professional RN union, I've seen hospital nurses left responsible for too many patients in nearly every state — and this problem is only getting worse. Today's unsafe nurse-to-patient staffing levels are a key cause of 98,000 preventable deaths each year, according to the Institute of Medicine.

And RNs are leaving the bedside in droves. Unsafe patient staffing is the impetus behind this exodus.

Fortunately, there's a proven solution. In California, my home state, reasonable RN-to-patient staffing ratios are required by law, thanks to the determined efforts of the California Nurses Association. After 2004, when the law we fought for went into effect, hospitals across the state hired nearly 130,000 additional actively licensed RNs. Dramatic improvements to patient outcomes followed. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 28 @ 20:32:32 EDT (839 reads)
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Thursday, June 07
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Thursday, March 15
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Friday, March 02
· Rampant Workplace Hazards Endanger Pregnant Women
Tuesday, January 24
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Monday, July 25
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Tuesday, July 19
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Wednesday, June 15
· Stay Healthy
Friday, May 06
· Meditation may help the brain 'turn down the volume' on distractions
Saturday, April 02
· State Health Law Waivers: Where Will They Take Us?
Monday, February 07
· Key Hand Sanitizer Ingredient May Cause More Harm than Good
Wednesday, December 15
· Denying Health Care to Americans is Un-American
Monday, November 08
· Uncontrolled Medical Drug Discharges Into Drinking Water
Wednesday, October 13
· Pet Owners Must Face Up to Tough Choices
Monday, August 23
Friday, July 23
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