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.