Association offers tips on dealing with floodwaters

Association offers tips on dealing with floodwaters Although the water levels of North Dakota’s Red River are subsiding, the danger has not passed yet with new storms in the forecast. Meanwhile, a health organization has offered tips on flood survival.

The American Lung Association (ALA) of the Upper Midwest points to risks from contact with floodwaters, including water-born microorganisms and toxins which persist even after water has receded.

Health risks may also come from damp buildings and furnishings, physical stress and time spent in large group emergency housing.

That is why after the flood water is gone, the process of cleaning up should begin as soon as possible. Mold can begin growing within 48 hours, so it is important to start by removing any wet materials such as sheetrock, carpeting and plywood from home.

While removing such items, it is important to bag them to avoid spreading contaminants throughout the home. One should also avoid using air cleaning devices that emit ozone as it has not been proven to clean indoor air, but can be harmful to lungs.

Regarding emergency power risks, ALA warns to be on guard against carbon monoxide, a deadly gas produced by portable gasoline- or diesel-powered generators and cooking devices that people often use when electric power is lost during floods.

To avoid risks associated with carbon monoxide inhalation, one should never operate such devices indoors.


FDA nominations fuel criticism on many fronts

FDA nominations fuel criticism on many frontsPresident Obama’s nominations for the commissioner and deputy chief of the Food and Drug Administration are pitting different groups against one another.

A barrage of criticism for Obama’s nomination of Margaret Hamburg as head of the FDA came from many conservative quarters, including the Catholic League whose president Bill Donohue has denounced Hamburg’s opposition to sex education that stresses abstinence over safe sex.

Meanwhile, while Hamburg’s nomination was warmly received by the pharmaceutical industry, the nomination of Joshua Sharfstein as deputy chief of the FDA has invoked bad memories among food, pharmaceutical and medical device groups.

Sharfstein worked under Representative Henry Waxman (California) who has been known to be tough on drug companies, including cracking down on medication use for illnesses not approved by the FDA and criticizing pharmaceutical companies for gifts handed out to physicians.

"[In announcing this nomination] the president decided that absolute drug safety should come first, even at the cost of the drugs’ availability to sick patients," according to Jeff Stier, an associate director of the American Council on Science and Health, writing for

"That doesn’t bode well for our chances of getting the new medications needed to keep pace with our enviable improvements in quality of life and life expectancy," he added.

Both nominations are still pending Congressional approval.

PUFAs may reduce the risk of heart disease

Polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart diseaseA new article has reviewed the benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and their role in the prevention and treatment of the coronary artery disease (CAD).

In an article for the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Mark Tabaka, from Bristol Hospital in Connecticut, analyzed multiple observational studies on CAD patterns.

He found that populations whose diets are rich in fish oils, such as the Inuit people inhabiting the Arctic regions from Alaska to Greenaland, have far lower rates of heart disease and related morbidity than the general population.

Fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon and fish oil are among the best natural sources of these essential acids.

Scientists have put forward several theories to explain the exact mechanism by which PUFAs contribute to better cardiovascular health. They include antithrombosis, lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels.

However, the most likely mechanisms appear to be the antiarrhythmic and antiatherosclerotic properties of PUFAs, according to the author.

In conclusion, Tabaka points out that the American Heart Association’s guideline regarding appropriate daily PUFA intake for persons with CAD is approximately one gram per day.

"Because obtaining this high level from dietary sources alone might be difficult to achieve, fish oil supplements are an option," he writes.

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 480,000 people die from CAD each year, making it the leading cause of death in the country.

Holder’s Guantanamo plan sparks outrage

Holder's Guantanamo plan sparks outrage Attorney General Eric Holder’s suggestion that some Guantanamo Bay detainees may be released in the U.S. or tried in American courts has led one politician to call it "an outrage… confirming our worst fears."

Holder told reporters the administration would conduct a review of the dossiers of some 240 terrorism suspects still held at Guantanamo and make a case-by-case decision on whether they should be put on trial or released.

"For those who are in that second category, who can be released, there are a variety of options that we have," said Holder, quoted by Reuters, adding, "Among them is the possibility that we could release them into this country."

In response to that, president of American Values and former presidential candidate Gary L. Bauer expressed his dismay at the Obama administration’s proposed move and stressed that the primary obligation of the government is to keep the citizens safe.

"How can releasing enemy combatants, picked up on foreign battlefields, into American neighborhoods possibly safeguard our security?" he asked.

Shortly after taking office in January, President Obama signed an executive order to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year and to ban harsh interrogation techniques.


California libertarians support domestic partnership initiative

California libertarians support domestic partnership initiative The Libertarian Party of California has endorsed the proposed state measure that would replace the word "marriage" with "domestic partnership" throughout the California constitution and statutes.

The measure, known as the Domestic Partnership Initiative (DPI), proposes that legal rights for all domestic partners, in same or opposite sex partnerships, be identical and include the rights currently afforded to married persons.

Under its provisions, marriage would become a matter for religious and other civil institutions rather than a province of the state.

Stressing that there is no place for the state in a relationship between two people, who may or may not choose to have it blessed by a secular or religious authority, Kevin Takenaga, chairman of the Libertarian Party of California, said, "By introducing the government into the sacred institution of marriage … we have spawned an ongoing cultural war that pits American against American."

"The Libertarian Party of California is proud to support the Domestic Partnership Initiative so that all Californians can be treated equally before the law," he added.

DPI was approved on March 9 by the California secretary of state for petition signature gathering. Supporters need approximately 700,000 signatures by August 8 to have the proposed constitutional amendment placed on the 2010 ballot.

Habeas Corpus Revived, Will It Survive?

In October 2006 President George W. Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, provisions of which trampled all over more than 230 years of American freedoms.

The bill, among other things, stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the Guantánamo Bay detainees seeking to challenge their designation as enemy combatants. Habeas corpus is the right defendants have to challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts.

Thankfully the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision last June, threw out provisions of the dreadful legislation, ruling that prisoners there do indeed have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their imprisonment.

You may have thought the provision a good one, because it applied to terrorists captured on the battlefield fighting the U.S. But it wasn’t restricted to foreigners. You can ask American citizen Jose Padilla, the accused “dirty bomb” suspect arrested as he stepped off an airliner at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in May 2002. He then spent three and half years in a military brig in South Carolina, plus two more in a federal prison before his trial in January 2008.

During his military confinement he was subjected to prolonged isolation and intensive interrogations in conditions a judge called harsh. Still, no evidence of a dirty bomb plot was ever uncovered and Padilla’s conviction was for conspiring to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad.

In writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

The ruling is a good one for freedom-loving Americans, and a repudiation of heavy-handed tactics of the Bush administration and members of congress that voted for the legislation.

But keep your eye on the ball, as the Supreme Court decision left some important questions unanswered. Among them, how much evidence did the government have to show to justify a prisoner’s detention, as well as how classified evidence is to be handled and to what degree of due process are detainees entitled.

And abuses of American freedoms under the guise of protecting the republic in a crisis aren’t unprecedented. During the American Civil War President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and arrested newspaper editors and state legislators who opposed the war. He then ignored the Supreme Court’s rulings to restore the right, and many of those arrested didn’t see the light of day until the war was over.

And now we have in office a new president, Barack Obama, who is already showing a proclivity to create a crisis and drum up fear for his own ends, freeze out members of the press he deems too critical, and is pushing harder toward freedom-crushing socialism than even Bush did.

Review casts skeptical eye on hormone replacement therapy

Review casts skeptical eye on hormone replacement therapyHormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms has been increasingly discredited, and a special report recounts the ups and downs of the therapy over the years.

According to the report published as a supplement to the March issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, there is much disagreement over the effectiveness of the therapy.

Until 1990s, doctors prescribed it to relieve menopause systems, prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. However, a large study from 2002 found that older women taking estrogen plus a synthetic form of progesterone had an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots.

The review also cautions against the so-called safe substitutes in the form of bioidentical hormones made from plant sources and chemically processed to be identical to hormones made in the body.

There is no evidence for their improved safety, it says, therefore "it should be assumed that bioidentical hormones have the same risks as conventional therapy."

Meanwhile, health practitioners have suggested that factors such as diet, exercise and nutritional supplements as well as massages and reflexology treatments may minimize unpleasant symptoms including hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, weight gain or fatigue.


FAIR: Anti-immigration efforts must not detract from interior enforcement

Anti-immigration efforts must not detract from interior enforcement, says FAIRThe Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has endorsed a new plan to reduce violence along the U.S.-Mexico border but cautioned the policy should not come at the expense of interior surveillance and enforcement.

In recent days, the government announced it will send hundreds of agents and additional high-tech gear, including helicopters, to the border to intercept weapons and drugs fuelling violence on both sides of the border.

In response, FAIR has pointed out that Mexican drug cartels operate in 230 cities across America and therefore without a strong interior enforcement of immigration policies the administration’s strategy is likely to fail.

"[The crisis] cannot be remedied by a strategy that abandons other immigration enforcement efforts, including worksite enforcement, cooperation with state and local police, and the elimination of non-essential benefits and services to people who are in the country illegally," says Dan Stein, president of FAIR.

FAIR was founded in 1979 and is the country’s largest immigration reform group. Its goal is to promote the idea that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.

Vaccine Guidelines—It’s All About Money

Adults Beware Vaccine Guidelines Released by Centers for Disease Control:

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released these recommended immunization schedules for adults in the U.S.

The schedule includes 11 different types of vaccines for adults, including:

  • Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Td/Tdap)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Influenza
  • Herpes zoster (shingles)

Key changes in this year’s recommendations include:

  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccination is recommended for all adults that have no apparent immunity to the virus.
  • Zoster (shingles) vaccination is advised for all adults 60 years of age and older, regardless of whether they have had a prior shingles episode.
  • HPV vaccine is recommended for women over the age of 26, who have not already completed the three-dose series.

It is recommended that flu vaccination be administered to anyone with the following medical conditions:

  • Chronic disorders of the cardiovascular or pulmonary systems, including asthma
  • Chronic metabolic diseases, such as diabetes
  • Renal or hepatic dysfunction
  • Immunosuppression, including suppression caused by medications or HIV
  • Pregnancy during flu season

This is not for the benefit of anybody. It’s all about money for big pharma.

EBRI finds positive trends in retirement savings

EBRI finds positive trends in retirement savings More than a third of 401(k) participants who are able to invest in target-date funds are doing so, according to a new EBRI report.

EBRI, a private nonprofit research institute, has found that 37 percent of 401(k) plan participants who were offered target-date funds had at least some fraction of their assets in those funds in 2007.

It also predicts that the popularity of this type of retirement investment will increase given the stress on better diversification of 401(k) assets by plan sponsors, policymakers and financial advisors.

Target-date funds are a type of mutual fund that automatically rebalances assets typically to a more conservative and income-producing mix as the participant’s date of retirement approaches.

The study, which appeared in the March 2009 EBRI Issue Brief has also found that younger workers were significantly more likely to invest in target-date funds than their older counterparts. Almost 44 percent of participants under the age of 30 had assets in a target-date fund, but only 27 percent of those over 60 did.

Participants in target-date funds were also less likely to have all-or-nothing equity allocations relative to those not in the funds.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 made it easier for retirement plan sponsors to automatically enroll new workers in a 401(k) plan, and target-date funds were approved for a ‘default’ investment if the participant does not make a choice.

Vitamin D may help fight colds

Vitamin D may help fight colds, doctors sayVitamin D is known to promote bone health, especially in children and menopausal woman, but a new study has found it also boosts the immune system.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has gathered evidence that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood are the most likely to catch colds, according to Ottawa Citizen.

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston analyzed blood samples from 19,000 U.S. adults who also underwent physical exams.

They found that those with the lowest vitamin D blood levels – under 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood – were 40 percent more likely to report recent colds or flu than those with vitamin D levels above 30 nanograms.

The study comes on the heels of another report which has found that the average blood levels of vitamin D appear to have decreased in the U.S. between 1994 and 2004.

For that reason, the scientists who conducted the study recommend an intake of 1,000 IUD or more of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months and at higher latitudes, which may improve the overall health of the U.S. population.

The richest sources of vitamin D include milk, certain types of fish and exposure to sunshine. It can also be obtained from dietary supplements.

Gingrich resents government intervention in banking sector

Newt Gingrich resents government intervention in banking sectorFormer Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has called on the government to return to capitalism’s basics by allowing failed companies to go into bankruptcy instead of pumping taxpayers’ money in to keep them afloat.

Gingrich’s call to abandon the strategy includes AIG which has paid its executives $165 million in bonuses while teetering on the brink of collapse for months.

"Thanks to the Bush-Obama-Geithner policy of bailing out failing companies, we now have the worst of all possible scenarios – a taxpayer subsidized, government supervised private company," he wrote in his weekly The Newt Gingrich Letter.

"[It has created] an unsustainable public – private hybrid that is too public to make its own decisions and too private to be responsible to the taxpayers that are keeping it alive," he added.

Despite the call, Treasury Secretary Geithner returned before Congress today to ask for greater regulatory powers over financial markets, including big hedge funds and derivatives trading.

On Monday, the administration unveiled a plan to buy back toxic assets weighing down banks’ balance sheets that may cost more than $1 trillion in order to stave off their collapse and restart the flow of credit.

The move follows several earlier rounds of bailouts which, as of mid-March, have seen $152.6 billion invested in nearly 500 institutions, not including giants like AIG, Citigroup and Bank of America.


Consumer advocates call for Geithner’s resignation

Consumer advocates call for Geithner's resignationFollowing the AIG bonuses debacle, two prominent consumer advocates have called on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign.

Harvey Rosenfield and Jim Donahue have written to President Obama to express their lack of confidence in Geithner’s ability to grapple with the ongoing financial crisis due to his previous association with Wall Street while chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and an author of the first round of bailouts.

They believe the Treasury Department was aware of the controversial bonuses and retention payments but failed to act until after AIG paid some $180 million worth of them.

"It is clear that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cannot provide the requisite independence that is required in an environment in which financial institutions and other businesses are demanding trillions of dollars of taxpayer money," the letter to the President states. "With respect, we urge you to ask for his resignation."

Recently, issued a report identifying policy decisions by the federal government that led to the current financial meltdown and how those policies were dictated by Wall Street through $5 billion in campaign donations and lobbying fees between 1998 and 2008.

It states that many of these firms are now receiving American taxpayer dollars.

North Dakota braces for ‘historic flood’

North Dakota braces for 'historic flood'NGOs are flocking to the area as North Dakota prepares for what may be unprecedented flooding.

The National Weather Service has warned that the Red River may reach record levels after new snowfall following six months of wet weather, according to media reports.

"What makes this snowfall special is the water content it holds," said Adnan Akyuz, assistant professor of meteorology at North Dakota State University in Fargo, quoted by Bloomberg.

"The wind is blowing 10 to 12 miles an hour, and that’s enough to create drifts up to four feet," he adds.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross has been getting ready for what could be a long disaster relief operation.

Volunteer teams have been preparing shelters, healthcare and mental health counseling. Neighboring chapters are also sending cots and blankets to help supply those shelters.

According to disaster expert Amanda Ripley, quoted by UK’s Daily Record, people in areas affected by flooding should get to high ground as quickly as possible without stopping for belongings.

They should make sure they get out of their cars before the doors become stuck, unless they are in moving water or do not know how deep it is. In that case, they should wait for help.

It is dangerous to walk in moving water as fast currents can knock a person over.

If swept away, a person should not fight the current but rather swim on their back, feet first, keeping feet up to avoid debris or obstacles.

Americans at risk of vitamin D deficiency

Americans are at risk of vitamin D deficiencyAn increasing number of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D, a new report has concluded.

Scientists from the University of Colorado compared levels of vitamin D in data collected for the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1988 and 1994 to those collected during a 2001-2004 survey and found the average blood levels of the vitamin appear to have decreased during that time.

The decline was particularly striking among African-Americans, only 3 percent of whom were found to have the recommended levels in 2004.

In addition to poor diet, the researchers believe, a decline in outdoor physical activity and improved campaigns to reduce sun exposure may have contributed to this phenomenon.

They also believe the recommended doses – 200 international units per day from birth to age 50, 400 IUD from age 51 to 70 and 600 IUD for adults age 71 and older – may be insufficient to address the deficit.

"Increased intake of vitamin D (1,000 IUD or more), particularly during the winter months and at higher latitudes, would improve vitamin D status and likely improve the overall health of the U.S. population," they wrote in the March 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine .

Clinicians believe that insufficient levels of vitamin D are not only associated with rickets and other bone problems in children, but have also been linked to disorders such as heart disease and cancer in adults.


A Bit of History About Dr. Harvey W. Wiley and Adulterated Food

Much of the information in this article was taken from the book, History of a Crime Against The Food Law by Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, 1911.

Dr. Wiley was the first head of the U.S. Bureau of The Chemistry, which later became the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Wiley was forced out of office by big food companies who had a vested interest in adulterating food for commerce instead of nutrition. Commerce has always been for money, not for health.

Dr. Wiley fought many battles against adulterated food, but probably his biggest was against synthetic sweeteners—mostly adulterated corn products like glucose to corn sugar and now fructose corn syrup. One challenge was to force the corn products company to stop using flourine in the making of wheat flour.

Corn syrup, now in almost every manufactured food, is a predigested food that requires no digestive enzymes. Predigestion of foods undermines and destroys public health.

Fructose corn syrup is a chemical way of force feeding the population. Human organs of digestion together with enzymes are vital to functional health. Fructose corn syrup bypasses natural digestive function.

A synthetic sweetener bypassing the pancreas will in time create a nation of diabetics. Look about you today!

Dr. Wiley called glucose and other synthetic corn sweeteners "champion adulterants." They are not foods but cheap fillers.

Predigested food has a place for sick people, but this is normally for a short period.

Predigested foods, especially fructose corn syrup, is a very high health risk that the public is totally unaware of. It is sweet and dangerous!

Mount Redoubt eruption provides lessons in survival

Mount Redoubt eruption provides lessons in survivalAlaska’s Mount Redoubt has been erupting intermittently since Sunday causing cancelled flights and prompting state authorities to issue warnings and survival tips.

The National Weather service has issued an ash warning, and residents are advised to have clean water supplies on hand because the ash may contaminate drinking water, according to

In addition to that, doors and windows should be thoroughly sealed as volcanic ash can be harmful if inhaled.

It is a good idea to wear disposable face masks, goggles and protective gear – or at least long sleeves – when outdoors, even after the eruption has ceased. However, the best option is to stay indoors until the danger has passed and secure livestock and pets.

The office of the mayor of Anchorage furthermore advises contact lens wearers to switch to traditional glasses to minimize eye irritation.

It also emphasizes that infants, children and those with asthma or chronic lung diseases such as emphysema are at particular risk from exposure to ash and should be careful to seek shelter during ash events. They should be evaluated by a heath provider if they experience any adverse symptoms.

Finally, volcanic eruptions are known to cause power outages and disrupt radio transmission in certain cases, so residents should be prepared for that contingency as well.

Most of the necessary equipment such as dust masks and flashlights can be purchased at local hardware stores.


Obama bank plan will ‘rob taxpayers,’ says expert

Obama bank plan will 'rob taxpayers,' says expert The administration unveiled a bank rescue plan yesterday that may cost more than $1 trillion and, according to one expert, ‘rob taxpayers.’

In an attempt to unfreeze the credit markets, the government has proposed using the $700 billion bank bailout to create the Public-Private Investment Program to help purchase ‘toxic’ assets, such as bad real estate loans and asset-backed securities weighing on banks’ balance sheets.

However, by the government’s own admission the program could eventually grow to as much as $1 trillion.

Today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared before the House Financial Services Committee and asked for greater regulatory authority over the financial system.

In response to the administration’s latest moves the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said the plan will "rob American taxpayers" by exposing them to huge risk and is unlikely to work if the economy remains weak.

The plan is deeply flawed, he told Reuters at a conference in Hong Kong, and offers "perverse incentives" by potentially allowing a small number of private investors to profit while the taxpayers are unlikely to benefit.

Company highlights tax benefits for homeowners

Company highlights tax benefits for homeownersAmong the few bright spots in the current economy are some tax breaks that homeowners may want to keep in mind during this tax filing season.

In addition to real estate tax benefits that can be applied to 2008 income tax returns there are also benefits that will be available for 2009, according to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, an industry insider.

"Homeowners want to make sure that when they visit with the tax preparer, they bring along all pertinent home-related documents," says Mark Steber, vice president of tax resources at Jackson Hewitt.

"Knowledgeable tax preparers will not only walk [them] through the credits and deductions they may qualify for this year, but also alert them to the documents that will be important [in 2009]."

This year’s benefits include an additional standard deduction for homeowners who are not eligible to itemize deductions. For 2008, they can increase their standard deduction amount by the lesser of either the real estate taxes paid in 2008 or $500 ($1,000 if married and filing jointly).

A first-time homebuyers credit of $7,500 is also available this year.

For 2009, there are new benefits to those who want to make improvements to their homes.

They include an energy credit whereby homeowners can claim 30 percent of the cost for energy-saving improvements to their main home.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 67 percent of U.S. residents owned homes at the end of 2008.