Conservative Critics Say First Lady Contradicts Her Own Eating Initiative

Conservative critics say First Lady contradicts her own eating initiativeDuring her husband's first term as President, First Lady Michelle Obama has advocated for healthier diets and more active lifestyles among Americans. However, some critics have argued that the President's spouse is not heeding her own advice.

According to CNN, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh recently called the First Lady a "hypocrite," following a story that revealed that Obama ate ribs for dinner this past weekend.

"Leaders are supposed to be leaders," said Limbaugh, quoted by the media outlet. "If we are supposed to go out and eat nothing, if we are supposed to eat roots, berries and tree bark, show us how."

Earlier this month, the Obamas were criticized by Boston-based nutrition experts for serving mostly junk food at the White House Super Bowl party, according to The Boston Globe. Mitali Shah of the Boston Medical Center said that the First Lady could have set a better example by offering healthy alternatives such as salad or vegetables to balance the spread of hot dogs, pizza and Buffalo wings.

Mrs. Obama has also been criticized for her recent public comments about breastfeeding, in which she said the consumption of human milk can help children avoid obesity. Tea Party favorites Sarah Palin and Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) ridiculed the First Lady for making a political statement about a matter of personal choice.

NYC Cracks Down On Outdoor Smoking

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law that will outlaw smoking in the city's parks, beaches, boardwalks and other public locations.

According to media reports, Bloomberg approved the legislation after the city council voted 36 to 12 in support of the new restrictions earlier this month. The law, which goes into effect on May 23, allows NYC's parks department to issue $50 fines to individuals who smoke in these restricted areas.

The initiative is part of the city government's efforts to reduce potential health risks caused by second-hand smoke. In a written statement, Bloomberg said that the new laws will provide NYC residents and tourists alike with "a healthy place in which to relax and enjoy the surroundings."

In response, Audrey Silk, the director of New York Citizens Lobbying Against Smoke Harassment called the new law "tyranny, rationalized by a lie" that second-hand smoke is harming people outdoors, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, government officials in Hennepin County — the most populous county in Minnesota — are also making efforts to expand their anti-smoking laws. According to the Niles Daily Star, the new regulations, if approved, would ban smoking on all county-owned property, even if smokers are in their own cars.

"I don’t think this proposal is about health or cleanliness at all. It’s just an infringement on citizens’ rights," said Katie Rohman, a columnist for the news provider. "I don’t smoke and never have, but when government attempts to dictate something that is perfectly legal, that is overstepping its boundaries."

Preparation And Proper Course Of Action Can Save Lives During Earthquake

Preparation and proper course of action can save lives during earthquakeFollowing last week's string of minor earthquakes in Arkansas, a powerful tremor rocked New Zealand on Feb. 22, killing at least 75 people and injuring hundreds more. Prime Minister John Key described it as the "darkest day" in the nation's history.

Scientists are unable to predict where and when an earthquake is going to hit, so it is important to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster. California's Department of Conservation (DOC) recommends that residents stock up on the bare essentials — such as food, water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a portable radio and flashlights — because electricity, water, gas and telephone may not be in service after an earthquake.

Aside from securing heavy appliances to the ground or to wall studs, homeowners should also place hazardous materials in safe locations. For example, the DOC suggested that small, breakable objects and flammable liquids should be kept on low shelves or in secure cabinets.

Although the indoor procedure during an earthquake is well-known — get under a sturdy table or door frame while avoiding windows and outside walls — some people are apt to panic if they are outdoors and away from their families. However, the DOC advises individuals to get into an open space to avoid buildings, power lines or any other structures that could potentially fall.

If a person is in a car during a tremblor, Weather.com says that the driver should immediately move the vehicle out of traffic and park in an open area away from a bridge or an overpass. The passengers should then remain in the car until the shaking ceases, keeping in mind that aftershocks typically follow the initial earthquake.

Republicans Slam Obama For Weighing In On Wisconsin Budget Dispute

Republicans Slam Obama For Weighing In On Wisconsin Budget DisputePresident Barack Obama has described Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal as an "assault on unions." The Republican leader of the Badger State is pushing for collective bargaining reform for public employees in an effort to reduce the State's deficit.

Although the Obama administration has not publicly commented on the protests in Wisconsin, several Republicans have criticized the President for offering his opinion on a State issue. During a Feb. 20 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Obama's comments "inappropriate."

On FOX News Sunday, Walker suggested that the nation's commander-in-chief should worry about reducing his own deficit instead of interjecting in Wisconsin's affairs.

"The president ultimately should stay focused on fixing the Federal budget because they’ve got a huge deficit and, believe me, they got their hands full,” Walker told the news provider.

While Obama is trying to balance his allegiance to public workers with his efforts to appease budget-cutting conservatives, many Americans have sided against union organizations. According to media reports, a recent Rasmussen national poll reveals that 48 percent of respondents said that they agree with Governor Walker in the Wisconsin dispute, while 38 percent support unions and state employees.

Furthermore, a national Clarus Poll released earlier this month showed that 64 percent of voters said that government workers should not have union representation.

Nixon To Obama: America’s Disastrous War On Drugs

America is unsettled about the war in Afghanistan and with good reason; it has lasted almost a decade and victory is not in sight. Yet the nation has been fighting a more insidious war for 40 years. It is being waged along our borders, into our communities and next door to our homes. It is the War on Drugs; a conflict that continues to escalate and which threatens our institutions, friends and family.

I don’t pretend to suggest how we wage and win the War on Drugs, only that we must. Psychotropic drugs are eroding the American way of life. And if we don’t find a solution fast America will become the battlefield that Mexico has turned into.

Last week 40 people died in a bloody surge of drug-violence in major Mexican cities. The bloodshed is typical of the growing violence gripping Mexico as the government employs the police and army to crush drug cartels that grow richer and more powerful each passing year.

Last year, 15,000 Mexicans were murdered in the cartel battles that fought against each other and the Mexican authorities. What hasn’t been so widely reported is the increase in cartel activity on the United States side of the border.

In the wake of this infestation the Obama administration has said it has the resolve to win the drug war. If you think you have heard this message before it is because you have. President Richard M. Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” on June 17, 1971.

“America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive,” Nixon said in a national address.

Nixon went on to add: “I have asked the Congress to provide the legislative authority and the funds to fuel this kind of an offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive dealing with the problems of sources of supply, as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad, wherever they are in the world.”

To say it has been a costly and ineffective war is an understatement. The Los Angeles Times estimates that the U.S. has spent $1 trillion in the past 40 years fighting the war on drugs. That is roughly what World II cost the U.S. (According to www.threeworldwars.com, World War II cost the United States $2.1 trillion in 1990 dollars, or just over $1 trillion dollars in today’s money if you run the numbers at www.InflationCalculator.com.)

All this expenditure and yet we continue to lose this war; a war that Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush and Obama all promised to win.

How do we know we are losing it? The U.S. Justice Department reports that Mexican drug cartels now operate in 2,500 U.S. cities and towns.

There is also the U.S. prison rate. In 2008, more than 7.3 million people were in jail, on probation, parole or conditional release. That was 3.2 percent of the entire U.S. adult population or 1 in every 31 adults. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between one-third and one half of America’s prison population are incarcerated because of drug related offenses.

Obama likes to talk about meeting the nation’s healthcare crisis, but he has spent little time addressing the financial and spiritual cost of drugs.

Finally, on Jan. 27 Obama said the question of drug legalization and regulation is an "entirely legitimate topic for debate" — the first sitting president to do so since cocaine, heroin and marijuana were made illegal.

In a question-and-answer session on YouTube, the President focused on drug policy. Obama responded to a question from a representative of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of former law enforcement officers whose experience on the streets has led them to conclude that drug prohibition actually drives crime and does not solve drug problems. You can watch the video of this question and answer here.

Even though some conservatives, such as the late William F. Buckley Jr., provided reasoned arguments for the legalization of drugs, the President has stated he is not in favor of that. Instead he says drugs should be treated like a public health problem.

I am surprised that the White House and the First Lady have put more energy into promoting a healthy diet for our children than they have in saving our children from the ravages of drugs. After all, the President has mostly ignored the drug crisis. Only recently has Obama even addressed the problem, saying that more money will have to be spent on rehabilitation. This extra money, says Obama, will steer non-violent, first-time drug offenders "into the straight and narrow."

I have news for the President: America is not imperiled by the likes of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who was caught on camera smoking grass. The real threat comes from Mexican drug cartels that represent a clear and present danger. They are vast criminal organizations that smuggle unprecedented amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into the country.

The Obama administration denies the impact that cartels are having on America. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently told a crowd at the University of Texas at El Paso that it is, “inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry disagrees. Immediately after Napolitano’s speech in which she actually bragged that the Obama administration is protecting the nation from cartel crime, Perry’s office released this statement:

“The federal resources in Texas are woefully inadequate to secure the border with Mexico, and Gov. Perry will continue urging the Obama administration to do its job and protect our citizens from the ruthless drug cartels. It’s unfortunate that a former border governor, who knows the implications of a porous border, continues to downplay the fact that there is a war waging within a stone’s throw, or for that matter, firing range, from our border communities.”

Last year two U.S. consulate employees were assassinated in Juarez, Mexico. Perry ordered Texas National Guard Lakota helicopters to shore up the U.S./Mexican border.

Perry said that the deployment of the helicopters was meant to contain spill-over violence from Mexican drug cartels and that he was willing to put “additional resources on standby to combat any potential situation.”

But defending America’s borders is the President’s job. It seems that Obama is just another President in a long line who has failed to deal with America’s drug problem. The stakes have never been higher than they are for his administration.

Yours in good times and bad,

John Myers
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report

Weight Loss May Ease Knee Troubles

Weight loss may ease knee troublesResearch that was conducted at Penn State College of Medicine suggests that individuals with knee osteoarthritis may be able to alleviate their pain and other symptoms by losing weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 46 percent of the population will develop knee osteoarthritis over their lifetime, and that about 66 percent of obese people will eventually suffer from the joint disease.

Researchers examined 24 individuals for the study. All were classified as obese and had shown evidence of knee osteoarthritis.

The study showed that people who underwent bariatric surgery and lost about 55 pounds within six months experienced lessened knee pain and stiffness, and improved the physical function of their knees without supplemental arthritis treatment. Overall activity and quality of life also increased.

"Each individual had some kind of improvement in their pain from losing weight, some more than others," said Christopher Edwards, M.D., the study's lead author.

Authors of the study noted that this type of arthritis is common among obese people and retired professional athletes, especially football players.

Further research will test the long-term effects of weight loss, and whether the technique would be effective on people who are overweight but not obese.  

Tea Party Joins Protests In Wisconsin, Supports Governor’s Budget

Tea Party joins protests in Wisconsin, supports governor's budgetThousands of protesters have convened outside of the Wisconsin State House in recent days to pledge their support for, or opposition to, a bill that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

According to CNN, Tea Party activists have established their presence in a heated debate that has garnered national attention. Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed a budget that would increase state workers' contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits, as well as eliminate some of their bargaining power in contract negotiations.

The proposal has attracted staunch supporters and critics to the State's Capitol building. The news provider reported that approximately 55,000 people staged protests on Feb. 19.

Tea Party members, including the organization Americans for Prosperity, claim that this legislation is necessary to reduce the deficit. They hope that Wisconsin's proposal will serve as a model for other State budgets.

"Wisconsin is ground zero," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, told the media outlet. "I think it is going to determine largely whether the pampered nature of these public employees is finally reigned in."

Democratic State Senators have fled Wisconsin — residing at an Illinois hotel — in order to express their contempt for Walker's bill. The absence of 14 Democrats has prevented the chamber from having the quorum necessary to vote on the budget.

On Fox News Sunday, Walker said that the legislators are not participating in democracy by "hiding out in another State." 

Gun-Rights Group Says Bloomberg Billboard Distorts Reality

Gun-rights group says Bloomberg billboard distorts realityNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially launched a moving billboard campaign last week in an effort to advocate for stricter gun laws in the United States. The promotional truck, which is equipped with a running tally of gun-related deaths in America since the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz.., is slated to appear in at least 25 States.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), a nonprofit group that aims to protect 2nd Amendment rights, has called the billboard campaign misleading. The organization's chairman, Alan Gottlieb, said that the Mayors Against Illegal Guns' statistic that 34 Americans are "murdered with guns every day" is a scare tactic that fails to tell the whole story.

Gottlieb estimated that up to 2.5 million American lives are saved every year because of legal firearm ownership, and a majority of these incidents result in no shots being fired. Citing FBI data, he revealed that more than 6.2 million private citizens are legally carrying guns in more than 40 States. Meanwhile, violent crime has decreased in the U.S. as the number of gun-owners has increased.

"If Bloomberg was really interested in public safety rather than publicity, he would park that truck and take all the money he's spending on the billboard and the fuel, and give it to local gun clubs for firearms safety training and education," said Gottlieb.

The 100-Hour War

On Feb.27, 1991, an amazing thing happened: The President of the United States went on national television to announce that the United States had won a war.

President George H.W. Bush told a grateful nation, "Kuwait is liberated. Iraq’s army is defeated. I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight, exactly 100 hours since ground operations began and six weeks since the start of Operation Desert Storm, all U.S. and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations."

Would that his son had paid more attention to how quickly his daddy ended his Gulf War. (And would that daddy hadn’t stopped quite so quickly, but had gone into Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein.)

In the week following Bush’s remarks, the Dow gained 108 points. This capped a 20 percent surge in the stock market during the six-week Gulf War.

My, how times have changed.

– Chip Wood

More TSA Incompetence

The incompetence of the Transportation Security Administration’s airport screening porn show/gropefest is again on display.

According to news reports, an undercover TSA agent successfully passed through the naked body scanners at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport multiple times with a handgun concealed in her brassiere, and it was never discovered. The failed security test was leaked to news agencies by a high ranking TSA source.

This news comes on the heels of reports of TSA agents pocketing thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise looted from the suitcases of travelers, agents making lewd remarks about patting down travelers and agents abusing passengers who choose to opt out of the cancer-causing radiation machines.

TSA procedures are not just feckless, they are an abuse. They violate the Constitutional rights of travelers as the TSA considers all travelers to be potential terrorists until searches prove otherwise.

Of course, the TSA is not interested in catching terrorists, nor would TSA procedures stop an attack like the one carried out last month in Russia. As we’ve reported before here and here, the so-called attacks cited by TSA head John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were false flag attacks staged as an excuse to install more liberty-crushing procedures on the American public.

New York-Based Artist Claims Government Officials Have Violated 1st Amendment

New York-based artist claims government officials have violated 1st AmendmentAn artist in Greenwood Lake, New York has filed a lawsuit against the local government alleging that the town's mayor and board members have violated her 1st Amendment rights.

According to The New York Times, Melanie Gold received $4,000 in grants from the Orange County Tourism Board last year in order to complete a community art project on private property. However, Greenwood Lake Mayor Barbara Moore did not support the initiative and, as a result, the town's board enacted a moratorium on public art until May 1, which is the same day that Gold's grant expires.

After Gold displayed three art pieces on Feb. 6, the town fined the building owner and threatened imprisonment or more penalties if the paintings were not removed by Feb. 22. Gold contacted a group called Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and was granted free legal representation. Last week, the artist filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking an injunction that would remove the art ban and declare it unConstitutional.

"This moratorium is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment," said David Leichtman, one of Gold's attorneys. "It is astonishing that in 2011 a local government believes it has the authority to prohibit citizens from exercising their right to communicate with each other. The law is very clear that this is not a lawful exercise of police power."  

The Teachable Moment

Welcome to Madison, Wis., the capital of Cheesehead Country. Sorry about the mess.

Backed by money, volunteers and rhetoric from Democrats ranging from the ill-kempt professional protestor types all the way to President Barack Obama himself (“assault on unions”), the far left is out in force in Wisconsin’s capital bearing placards ranging from the now-ubiquitous “Republican-as-Hitler” mock-ups to images of sniper’s crosshairs superimposed over Governor Scott Walker’s face. So… I guess we can assume that Obama’s calls for “civility” were more of a guideline than an actual rule.

Among the thousands of Democrats loafing, lollygagging and otherwise doing nothing productive — no, I do not consider making “Walker = Mubarak” signs in what appears to be crayon productive — is a sizeable contingent of teachers. Note I didn’t say TEACHERS’ UNIONS, although Big Labor has spent thousands busing in on-call shriekers to join in the Big Wisconsin Whinefest; I said “teachers.”

Despite averaging a little more than $100,000 per year in compensation, the stewards of Madison’s youth are taking a little field trip. Wisconsin public schools are currently sitting idle as a result of a coordinated sick-out staged by the teachers. According to local teachers’ union executive director John Matthews:

“We have only one day where we can make a difference, and it’s because of the ridiculous means by which the governor tried to shove this down the throats of public employees…"

Here I was under the impression that teachers are supposed to make a difference EVERY DAY. Evidently, that maxim gets defenestrated (find me a teachers’ union victim who knows what THAT means without a dictionary and two wrong guesses) when the Governor of Wisconsin asks them to cover insurance premiums at a still-paltry 12 percent instead of their current 5 percent. By the way, the 12 percent number would still place the exceptionally well-compensated Madison teachers in the best-covered 15 percent of regional employees. I suppose the teachers could figure that out, but that might require basic math skills. Perhaps the sick-out participants are all social studies instructors.

But the Madison teachers are doing a great deal more than simply walking out on their charges. They’re also indoctrinating them. According to Madison school system policy:

“…teachers shall refrain from exploiting the institutional privileges of their professional positions to promote candidates or parties and activities…”

It would appear Madison-area teachers were playing hooky the day they taught “rules by which you must abide to keep your job” in union school. These fine folk are also forbidden from taking a personal day with less than three days’ notice. And as far as tantrums go, wait until all the sick-out-ers find out that their paychecks will be docked for their fake sick days.

Some of the teachers did go the extra mile, taking Matthews’ suggestion that their hissy-fit provided what he called a “teachable moment.” According to one teachers’ union victim at Madison East High School:

“…some (teachers) were telling students they wouldn’t be marked absent if they walked out.”

Get ‘em while they’re young, right? Other teachers actually dragged their charges to the protests where the fragile youth acknowledged their guides through the pitfalls of academe had done just as good a job teaching them about labor issues as they have teaching them the three R’s. East High students acknowledged they had been brought along on the walkout, but with a government school understanding of why:

“…You know, I don’t really even know! I guess we’re protesting today!”

OMG! Our teacher is so, like, you know, kickass?

“Um… we’re trying to stop whatever this dude is doing.”

Totally.

The students are far from the only participants failing “outrank Albania in academic achievement.” Big Labor has developed some serious delusions in Madison. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2412 President Gary Mitchell actually thinks the kids are getting involved in the demonstrations because they just love their teachers:

“The students have been so energized…”

I’m sure the students are in no way motivated by the fact that they’re getting extra “make out in Betty’s basement while her parents are at work” time.

Former teachers’ union president Albert Shanker said:

“"When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."

What happened to: “The children are our future?” Hey, Big Labor — you’re late for class.

Citrus Fruits Can Boost Your Mood

Feeling stressed out lately? Lucky for you relief may be as easy as looking in your kitchen. Studies indicate that some citrus fruits emit fragrances that can help ward off depression and stress. The scent triggers the release of a hormone called norepinephrine that boosts your mood. You can place oranges or lemons in and around your home, or carry a small bottle of essential citrus oil to use when you are on the run. Place a few drops on a handkerchief and sniff… your blues may just melt away. 

Rising Wholesale Prices Fuel Inflation Concerns

Rising wholesale prices fuel inflation concernsEarlier this month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that the United States' economy is "overheated," "growing too quickly" and "short on resources."

Recent data from the Labor Department affirms Bernanke's statements, as well as fuels many economists concerns regarding inflation. On Feb. 16, the agency revealed that wholesale prices in the U.S. increased for a seventh consecutive month in January as the producer price index rose 0.8 percent. The core measure, which excludes volatile foods and energy costs, increased by 0.5 percent, which is the largest jump since October 2008.

These trends have prompted many Americans to consider the need to protect their assets and wealth. Investing in gold and international real estate — commodities that have intrinsic value — are viable options for individuals who are concerned about the sinking value of the U.S. dollar.

Although the outlook for the American housing market is bleak, the UK real estate industry is on the upswing, according to MyIntroducer.com. The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) recently reported that the number of registered house-hunters in Britain reached its highest level in six months, making investment in properties attractive both for domestic and foreign investors, such as those from the U.S.

"The message at the end of January 2011 certainly has been that sensibly priced, well located properties will sell and that you will also be able to buy a property at a fair and reasonable price," said Mark Bentley, chairman of the NAEA's Birmingham branch, quoted by the news provider.

The DIY Approach To A Supple Spine

The spine plays a vital role in pain relief. Impulses from the brain travel through nerves that exit the spinal column and bring feeling into every part of the body. When the spine is supple and the paraspinal muscles are relaxed, nerve impulses are sent without interruption or agitation. When the spine is out of alignment or the muscles around it are contracted, there can be nerve irritation and/or compression. If the nerve signal is interrupted the brain cannot get a clear idea of what the body needs, and this can lead to pain, inflammation, tingling and numbness.

Many people reach for pain-relieving analgesics and toxic anti-inflammatory medications to bring relief from the pain and/or inflammation. For the tingling and numbness, they ask for a prescription of muscle relaxants or go for chiropractic or massage care. As a last resort, many opt for surgery.

While each of these options can offer some relief, they also have their drawbacks. When it comes to the spine, it is best to always begin with a do-it-yourself approach. Doing it yourself is easy and requires less time than the commute to the docs.

And if you stretch the entire spine from head to hip, you will have hit all the places where imbalances occur. With time the symptoms in your back, neck, arms or legs may disappear altogether. 

Neck And Upper Back Stretches
To make the neck supple you will want to stretch the cervical spine in four directions. Following are four exercises to accomplish this. In all cases, use gentle pulls and only go to the point where discomfort is first experienced. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds, then return to normal position before starting the next stretch. Repeat the series three times.

Chin to chest: Place your hands behind your head and gently pull your head downward, trying to touch your chin to your chest.

Ear to shoulder: Put your left hand in your pocket (if standing) or under your buttocks (if seated). Reach your right hand over your head, placing your fingers above your left ear. Gently pull your head to the right side, trying to touch your right ear to your right shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

Nose to underarm: Turn your head to the right and reach your right arm over the center of your face so that your forearm divides your face and your hand holds the back of your head. Pull your head diagonally downward, trying to touch your nose with your underarm. Repeat on the opposite side.

Head backward: Place your right fingers on your right temple area and gently push your head back toward the left side, trying to touch the left base of your skull with your left collarbone. Repeat on the opposite side.

Mid-Back Stretches
Stretching and rotating movements are necessary to keep the mid back supple. Here’s what to do.

Backhand press: Clasp your hands so your fingers of each hand are inserted between each other. Hold at chest level and slowly press your hands forward. It should feel as if something is expanding in the space between your arms pushing your arms/hands away from your body. This will round your back for a gentle stretch, hold for 15 seconds.

Palm press: Repeat as above, this time rotating your hands as you press out so that your palms face outward. This provides a deeper stretch of the mid spine.

Modified cobra: Lie face down on the floor, arms bent and palms flat, as if in a push-up starting position. Slowly flex your neck, curling it upward and to the back.

Keep flexing your spine in sequence from neck to upper back to mid back to lower back, until much of your torso is lifted up off the ground. Your hands are only used for balance and not for pushing. The stretch is in the flexing of the spine. Hold in full flex for five to 10 seconds, then slowly and gently extend back to the neutral starting position. Repeat six times.

Lower Back Stretches
The lower back is where most people feel their pain. This pain is generally caused by limited range of motion and muscle contraction from sitting all through the day. Bending and twisting motions are needed to make it supple.

Supported squat: Hold on to the back of a chair (weighted down) or a stable surface — like a desk or countertop — with legs shoulder width apart and feet pointing forward. Slowly and gently bend down.

You are essentially squatting here, but using the support to control speed and how far you go down. Only go as far as you can until the first sign of pain is felt. Hold for three seconds at the low position, then stand back up and repeat 10 times. Each time should bring you closer to the ground.

Thigh hug: While standing, bend your knees and grasp your thighs, like hugging them with your arms. Simply relax and hold this position for 20 seconds without moving, and your lower back will start to release its grip and let go. Slowly stand back up and repeat twice more.

Pretzel twist: Sit on the floor with your feet together, arms by your side. Place your left foot on the floor on the right side of your right leg, by the knee. Drape your right arm over your left knee, then twist to your left, using your left hand for support. Repeat on the other side.

These are just a few examples of hundreds of stretches you can use to begin to help make the length of your spine supple. Some of these are found in yoga and others in physical therapy and other bodywork schools. The main thing is to begin a DIY regime and use books, the Internet and practitioners to take you from there.

Some of my patients have complained that they are in so much pain they cannot actually do some of these stretches. For acute pain and inflammation I always suggest taking a natural approach by adding aromatic spices to the diet (e.g., turmeric, ginger, cloves, mustard), drinking 10 glasses of water per day, walking to keep the blood moving and engaging in mindful breathing for stress relief. 

Once you are able to get over the acute pain hump, these spinal stretches will do wonders to remove the imbalance causing the pain and keep you supple and your nerves sending proper signals to the brain. The cure is found in the prevention.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

Alaska Refuses Federal Aid To Implement Obamacare

Alaska Refuses Federal Aid To Implement ObamacareAlaska Governor Sean Parnell has said that his State will not pursue Federal grants related to the healthcare law because of a recent ruling in Florida that deemed the mandate unConstitutional.

Parnell, a Republican, announced on Feb. 17 that he does not want to "proceed down an unlawful course" to implement Obamacare, referring to the Jan. 31 ruling by United States District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida. Alaska was one of the 26 States that backed the lawsuit, which challenged the healthcare law's Constitutionality.

According to Reuters, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) awarded grants to 48 States and the District of Columbia to help them set up medical insurance exchanges. Although Parnell said that Alaska will not apply for grants, he reported that the State is "reviewing the potential for developing a health insurance exchange without Federal dollars."

Obamacare, which was signed by the President last year, will require most Americans to purchase health insurance or face monetary fines. Since gaining majority rule in the House of Representatives, GOP lawmakers have made efforts to repeal the controversial legislation.

On Feb. 17, the DHHS filed a motion asking Vinson to clarify his decision, which invalidated the entire law because "Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the act with the individual mandate," according to the South Florida Business Journal. The government claimed that the "sweeping nature of the declaratory judgment" may cause interpretation problems as States are implementing the law. 

String Of Earthquakes Shakes Arkansas

String of earthquakes shakes ArkansasA series of small earthquakes has shaken the ground in parts of Arkansas in recent weeks. Although no injuries or major damage have been reported, the tremors prompted some Americans to sharpen their survival skills in the event of a natural disaster.

According to CNN, a total of 23 earthquakes struck central Arkansas in a 36-hour span last week. The largest of the seismic activity was a 4.3-magnitude quake that occurred at 2:13 a.m. on Feb. 18.

ArkansasMatters.com reported that hundreds of small tremors have hit the region since last June. Some residents have sent pictures to the news provider that show cracks in the Earth that were caused by the earthquakes.

Large-scale temblors in the U.S. are rare, but recent disasters in Haiti and China have reminded Americans of the catastrophic impact of earthquakes. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are several protective measures citizens can take to prepare for the worst.

The agency recommends that homeowners repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines and inflexible utility connections, all of which can become safety hazards during an earthquake. Furthermore, large appliances such as a water heater, refrigerator and furnace should be secured to wall studs. If strong vibrations occur, these items may tip over or slide abruptly, potentially harming anyone in their path.

FEMA suggested that individuals who live in areas that are susceptible to earthquakes should hold regular drills with their families. During these exercises, safe spots in the house should be identified, including under a sturdy table or under a door frame. 

House Approves Amendment To Block ‘Net Neutrality’ Funding For FCC

House Approves Amendment To Block 'Net Neutrality' Funding For FCCHouse Republicans have succeeded in tacking on an amendment to the 2011 spending bill that strikes a blow to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) new "network neutrality" regulations.

The chamber voted 244-181 in favor of an amendment that would bar the FCC from using government money to enforce rules that the agency approved last year. The new regulations would require broadband providers to let subscribers access all Internet content and services over their wired networks.

The FCC aims to prohibit communication providers from favoring or discriminating against online content because it competes with their brand. GOP lawmakers claim that net neutrality rules will stifle phone and cable companies, and that the FCC overstepped its authority in enacting the rules.

Representative Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said that the amendment is "about keeping the government out of the business of running the Internet," quoted by The Huffington Post.

According to media reports, wireless service companies MetroPCS and Verizon have both filed lawsuits in an effort to overturn the FCC's new regulations.  

Barbour Refuses To Denounce Tribute To Former KKK Leader

Barbour refuses to denounce tribute to former KKK leaderMississippi Governor Haley Barbour has predicted that a State license plate honoring a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan will not be approved by lawmakers. However, the Republican official has not denounced the efforts to produce the controversial plate.

According to media reports, the Mississippi division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage group, has proposed a series of license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. One of the commemorative plates would recognize Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led a cavalry regiment and was one of the first to grasp the doctrines of mobile warfare. After the war he became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

However, it is widely believed that Forrest distanced himself from the KKK later in life and even promoted equal rights for African Americans. Nonetheless, the Mississippi branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has denounced the proposed plate. The group's president Derrick Johnson said it is "absurd" to honor a "racially divisive figure," quoted by The Huffington Post.

Barbour, who is a rumored GOP candidate for the 2012 Presidential election, said that the former KKK leader is a "historical figure."

"I don't go around denouncing people," Barbour said, quoted by the news provider. "That's not going to happen. I don't even denounce the news media."

Barbour was criticized late last year for his praise of the Citizens' Councils of Americans (CCA), a former white supremacy group that opposed racial integration, during an interview with The Weekly Standard. He also said that racial tensions were not "that bad" in Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s. 

Hawaii Legislature Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions

Hawaii legislature approves same-sex civil unionsHawaii has moved one step closer to becoming the seventh State to allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

On Feb. 16, lawmakers in Honolulu voted to approve the measure that would grant gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples many of the same rights of traditional unions without authorizing marriage itself. Five States and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

The civil unions bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie who has pledged to sign the measure, according to The Associated Press. If it is signed into law, same-sex civil unions will become legal in Hawaii beginning on Jan. 1, 2012.

Although many residents were overjoyed by the recent vote — some were moved to tears — there are critics of the legislation, as well. Opponents of same-sex unions believe that the new law may erode the concept of the traditional family.

"I feel very grieved for all of us. Now we'll need God even more in our islands," Stephanie Kon of Honolulu told the news provider.

According to The New York Times, the moment may be approaching when President Barack Obama has to take an official stance on the same-sex marriage issue. Two new lawsuits out of Connecticut and New York are challenging the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996 and denies gay couples the Federal benefits that are granted to straight couples.

The President's administration must file an official response to these lawsuits by March 11, the news provider reported.