5 Drug-Free Ways to Control High Blood Pressure

30 September, 2014 at 08:17 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food, health | Leave a comment
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By Shubhra Krishan, http://www.care2.com

Fresh CoconutWe do know that high blood pressure can cause heart disease. But it does not stop there. This silent killer has been liked to serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, dementia, and kidney failure, among others. It is, in fact, the No. 1 killer in America, affecting almost 25 percent of the population, according to extensive research conducted at the University of New Mexico.

The good news is that high blood pressure can be kept in check, and it need not always be done using drugs. Here are some tried and tested ways to maintain healthy blood pressure:

  1. Eat almonds: Almonds are low in sodium, which is notorious for sending up blood pressure. At the same time, they area rich source of potassium, which helps the heart muscles contract and nerve transmissions strong. The result of this improved heart function is that your blood pressure does not get a chance to rise above normal levels. Two ounces or one quarter cup of almonds daily is the perfect amount to consume, say nutritionists.
  2. Drink coconut water: A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal shows that its potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C content make it a very heart-healthy drink. The best coconut water comes from young coconuts, which can be found in health stores and international markets.
  3. Cook with turmeric: results of a study published in the Nutrition Journal conclusively showed that 80 mg of turmeric per day significantly lowered high blood pressure. Not only that, the curcumin in turmeric was seen to lower the risk of liver disease and Alzheimer’s too. Time to reach out for that bowl of curry!
  4. Move more:  If you exercise regularly, you are unlikely to suffer from high blood pressure. Here’s why: Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. Moderate intensity exercise performed for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is adequate for helping you maintain both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, say experts.
  5. Sing in the shower. Pummel a pillow when you’re angry. Dance. Let your stress find release, but in harmless ways. When you are feeling stressed, your heart starts beating faster. As a result, your blood vessels narrow, and blood pressure shoots up. Prolonged stress can cause long-term hypertension. So, try and be mindful of your stress, and find ways to deal with it before it sets in too deep. I find watching a comedy show or spending time with children very efficient ways of reducing stress. You?

This article was originally published on www.care2.com. Read the original here.

via 5 Drug-Free Ways to Control High Blood Pressure

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China Stumbles Into Future of Genetically Modified Food

29 September, 2014 at 07:23 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, health, Science, sustainable development | 6 Comments
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Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing

By Zhang Hong
Epoch Times

On Aug. 17 safety certificates for genetically modified GMO varieties of corn and rice were due to be renewed by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, but the deadline came and went with no action being taken.

The failure to act was apparently not an oversight. Huang Dafang, a researcher from the Biotechnology Research Institute and a member of China’s Biosafety Committee, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Sept. 4 that the central authorities have an attitude of “active research and careful promotion” of GMOs.

Because local authorities fear public opinion against GMOs, Huang said, there was “a very slow procedure in getting approval” and the Aug. 17 deadline was missed.

The failure to act in this case amounts to a de facto approval. The curious handling of these safety certificates fits a general pattern of the Chinese regime moving toward a broad adoption of GMO food without publicly acknowledging this is happening.

Although authorities have never approved the commercial distribution of GMO rice in China, the environmental group Greenpeace reported that GMO rice was found in 4 of 15 samples bought by activists in randomly chosen supermarkets in November 2013 in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.

Last year, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported that 27 countries in Europe have found GMO-contaminated rice among Chinese exports, including 46 shipments in 2010, and 19 shipments in the first 10 months in 2011. According to People’s Daily, although all of the shipments were returned and supposedly destroyed, they were actually sold on the domestic Chinese market.

On July 31, China News published an article headlined, “GMO Rice Grown in Hubei on a Large Scale, Growers Refuse to Eat It Themselves.”

According to the article, farmers who grow GMO rice sell all of it, refusing themselves to eat it. Instead, they grow a small amount of conventional rice for themselves and their families. As a result, GMO rice has taken over.

A rice farmer named Dong Kejiang told China News, “It is now difficult to find conventional rice seeds.”

Not Just Rice

The Economic Observer, a magazine in mainland China, reported in June 2011 that a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture that GMO crops such as corn and rice have been illegally grown in China for a long time.

GMO corn varieties were found all over the country including in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Liaoning, and Jilin, according to the Economic Observer.

Much of the GMO food consumed in China is imported.

Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University Department of Economics told Epoch Times the Communist Party imports large quantities of GMO crops to alleviate food shortages, since GMO foods are relatively inexpensive. The Party intentionally conceals data such as the varieties of and lab results for GMO foods, according to Sun.

According to China-based Science Net, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China imports over 70 percent of its soybeans and more than 90 percent of its vegetable seeds, and most of them are genetically modified.

The extent to which the state is pushing GMO food can be seen in budgetary figures mentioned in a 2010 report.

China-based Science and Technology Daily quoted a member of the National People’s Congress who is also a director of a research institute for rice as saying that the central government had approved 30 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) for the research and development of GMO crops, but only 180 million yuan (US$29 million) for non-GMO crops.

The state’s official data doesn’t reveal the extent of the use of GMO in China.

According to the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, China has issued GMO Safety Certificates for eight domestically developed, genetically modified crops, including varieties of tomato, cotton, petunia, sweet pepper, chili pepper, papaya, rice, and corn.

However, according to the Plant Genetic Engineering Center in Hebei Province, a government-funded research center, the Ministry of Agriculture has in fact issued as many as 1,110 certificates since 1996.

This plunge into GMOs may have presented Chinese society with a fait accompli.

“GMO has entered so many areas of society, it’s almost impossible to ban it now,” said Li Guoxiang.

Safety

The GMO rice whose safety certificate expired on Aug. 17 is named Bt Shanyou 63. It has a protein called Bt added to it, which helps the rice resist pests.

Dr. Wang Yuedan of the Department of Medicine at Beijing University noted that Bt is a type of bacterial protein that kills insects and bugs by dissolving and “melting” their intestines.

“The Bt protein is not a natural component of rice,” Wang said. “It is a bacterial protein. There have not been sufficient laboratory tests on the safety of this variety of rice.”

“We do not yet know what possible effects eating this variety of rice will have on human physiology, especially when this bacterial protein is absorbed into the blood stream,” Wang said. “This bacterial protein, when fully integrated into the human body, may cause allergies and may weaken the immune system.”

After Wang injected his lab rats with the Bt protein four times over a four-month period, he found their immune systems became abnormal, their spleens atrophied, and their white blood cell counts changed. He said this shows the Bt protein seriously affects mammals.

Yuan Longping is an agricultural scientist and popularly known as China’s “father of hybrid rice.” He is also a critic of the Bt rice.

During the China Development Forum 2014 Yuan told Xinhua, “A number of transgenic, insect-resistant rice varieties contain a toxic protein. If insects die after ingesting it, what happens when humans eat it? We have to be especially careful.”

Fudan University life sciences professor Yang Jinshui recently told Shanghai Daily, “The bacteria genes in GMO rice cannot be completely metabolized and eliminated.” Yang is a member of the genetic research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

“Rice is the staple food of the Chinese,” Yang said. “If [GMO rice is] industrialized and commercialized on a large scale, there is no turning back in our country. So we have to be extremely careful.”

via China Stumbles Into Future of Genetically Modified Food

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China Markets Tools of Torture

28 September, 2014 at 07:33 | Posted in China, Falun Dafa/Falun Gong, human rights, persecution, slave labor camps, Society | Leave a comment
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By Carol Wickenkamp
Epoch Times

Electric shock weapons, dart guns, stun shields, thumb cuffs, restraint chairs, and spiked batons are just some of the specialty weapons designed to inflict pain being exported by Chinese companies closely aligned with, or owned by the state, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Some of the equipment discussed in the report, such as ordinary handcuffs and restraints, a limited number of controlled stun weapons, and certain blunt striking instruments, all have legitimate law enforcement purposes, the report says.

But many of the weapons are “intrinsically cruel, inhuman and degrading, and therefore should be prohibited” from manufacture in the first place, the report says.

There are currently no comprehensive international covenants governing the manufacture and export of police weapons, and part of Amnesty’s advocacy work following the report will be to begin establishing such a mechanism—with China perhaps serving as a negative example.

Read more: China Markets Tools of Torture

Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPhones or iPads: Why Not?

27 September, 2014 at 07:44 | Posted in Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, Technology | Leave a comment
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By Zachary Stieber
Epoch Times

Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.

Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.

New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.

“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.

“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”

Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.

“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.

“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.

via Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPhones or iPads: Why Not?

8 of the Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe

26 September, 2014 at 13:24 | Posted in Travels | Leave a comment
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By Stephen Schreck, A Backpackers Tale

Europe is one of my top travel destinations. When I travel Europe cheap, often at a fraction of the price, it only makes it better.It is also one of the places that people ask me about the most. One question that I have been asked over and over is, “Just how expensive is it to travel across Europe?”

Although it is one of my favorite destinations, I have to be honest.

There are much cheaper places in the world to visit, but the chance to travel Europe is absolutely wonderful and should be experienced at least once by everyone.
Basically, if you let the expense of Europe dampen your sense of adventure, you will be missing out on a spectacular part of the world.

Plus, there are many ways to cut costs and travel Europe at a fraction of the price.

Let’s dive into a few travel tips and give your wallet a much-needed rest.

Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe

This travel guide will equip you with two things.

  • 1- The best ways to travel Europe
  • 2- Cheapest way to travel Europe

Read more: 8 of the Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe

How to be a Good Man During Confrontations

25 September, 2014 at 09:35 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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By Derek Markham, naturalpapa.com

It sometimes feels as if we’re caught between the old model of aggressive and combative manhood, where everything is a battle, and the new, kinder, gentler man, for whom everything is a compromise. And we don’t have a whole lot of examples of men walking the middle path in our modern culture.

It’s either Die Hard or the Simpsons.

So in real life, where confrontations are everywhere, from our kids to our spouse to our boss to a nosy neighbor, how does a good man stay rooted during heated conversations? And does it matter what the age or gender of the other party is?

I’ve also been wondering the same thing…

Anyone else tired of being a yes-man to their boss, their wife, their peers? Are you equally tired of backing down or avoiding confrontations with the know-it-alls, the bad-mouthing gossipers, and the self-righteous proselytizers? Or maybe you’re the one always getting in someone’s face?

Sometimes we don’t even know when we’re being too easy or too domineering in a situation, and in the course of trying to figure some of this out for myself, I came up with some guidelines that have helped me.

A Good Man’s Guide to Dealing with Confrontations:

Know your values. If you focus on what you stand for, instead of on what you’re against, just about any confrontation becomes quite a bit easier. We’re not as concerned with what others think is true for themselves if we’re well grounded in our own values.

Lead, don’t follow. Letting the other person lead you in a conversation or argument is giving away your half of the confrontation. You don’t have to follow. Instead, lead from your values.

Speak softly. Leave the big stick at home. This can be a very hard lesson to learn, and sometimes a painful one. Usually it’s because the other party has a bigger stick. Our deeper voices and tendency to ratchet up the volume when we get angry can also backfire on us by escalating a situation that could best be served by a calm, soft voice.

Toe the line. How would you act if you were in the presence of someone older and wiser than you? If our actions are out of line with our words and our relations, they would call us on it, and we probably need to seriously re-think things.

Keep your cool. Letting anger speak for you will just about always end up with your foot in your mouth (or worse). Cultivate and maintain your own internal reservoir of calm for times when you start to see red, and focus on that instead. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a couple of deep breaths, and other times, it takes all your effort. But it really, really helps.

Know when to fold or go all in. It seems obvious to say that there are more broke gamblers than rich ones, but I’m still surprised how many of us make bad bets every single day. For me, the difference has been in knowing when to cut my losses and just fold. Not too many times will we come across a situation where we know we need to bet the farm, and getting the guts to do that comes from acknowledging how many times we don’t have to. We can walk away.

Think of the children. Even if our kids aren’t around us at the time, they might be the best guides for us. How would they react to our posture and tone of voice? And is that what we want to embody?

Life is full of confrontations. How we deal with them helps to define who we are. Let’s be good men.

Originally published on NaturalPapa

via How to be a Good Man During Confrontations

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Scientific Proof for Karma? York U Study Finds Small Acts of Kindness Have Big Impact on Emotional Well-Being

16 September, 2014 at 10:04 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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York University

TORONTO, May 17, 2011 – Practicing small acts of kindness will make you a happier person, and the boost in mood stays with you for months, according to research out of York University.

More than 700 people took part in a study which charted the effects of being nice to others, in small doses, over the course of a week. Researchers asked participants to act compassionately towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day, by actively helping or interacting with them in a supportive and considerate manner. Six months later, participants reported increased happiness and self-esteem.

“The concept of compassion and kindness resonates with so many religious traditions, yet it has received little empirical evidence until recently,” says lead author Myriam Mongrain, associate professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health. “What’s amazing is that the time investment required for these changes to occur is so small. We’re talking about mere minutes a day,” she says.

Participants’ levels of depression, happiness, and self-esteem were assessed at the study’s onset, and at four subsequent points over the following six months; those in the compassionate condition reported significantly greater increases in self-esteem and happiness at six months compared to those in the control group.

So why does doing good for others make us feel good about ourselves?

Read more: Scientific proof for karma? York U study finds small acts of kindness have big impact on emotional well-being | York Media Relations

Smart Chopsticks in China Test for Adulterated Foods

15 September, 2014 at 09:02 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food, health, Technology | Leave a comment
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By Lu Chen
Epoch Times

In ancient China, as the myths goes, the Emperor would use silver chopsticks to eat his food—because they would turn black if the food they touched contained poison.

Modern China now has an app for that: Smart Chopsticks, which promise to detect contaminated water, “gutter oil,” and chemicals in foods.

The product aims to respond to Chinese peoples’ general wariness about what they eat in the face of constant scandals of fake meat, gutter oil—that is, the stuff produced by underground workshops that use leftover oils and animal fats collected from the gutters outside restaurants—and chemical-laced rice and baby formulas.

Like the newest smartphone, the product was unveiled at a tech presentation held by Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine. The chopsticks connect to a phone app using Bluetooth.

“Bringing Chinese people healthy living,” the slogan said at the Baidu Technology Innovation Conference in Beijing on Sept. 3.

“They can detect gutter oil,” Li said, to audience applause.

The device has three basic functions: it can analyze the quality of oil it touches and grade it superior, good, or bad. It can identify the pH levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, of liquids. Finally, it is supposed to be able to analyze the level of sweetness and even origin of fruits.

Data collected by the chopsticks is then beamed to the phone app, which analyzes the information and sends a conclusion to the chopsticks. An LED on the devices then lights up: blue means good quality, red means stay away.

Baidu released a video of the Smart Chopsticks on April Fool’s Day this year. The video went viral online, but was taken as a prank.

“But now we have the product made,” Robin Li said. Baidu hasn’t given a timeline for when it will be put on the market.

Reaction online was a mixture of excitement at the product and disappointment that such a product was necessary. “If the safety of our food is guaranteed, would we need something like these chopsticks??” wrote cheer_liu.

Food safety has become a major social issue in China in recent years. The regime on Wednesday announced prison sentences for up to eight years of 39 people in 17 food safety cases. They were guilty of adding chemical contaminants, like industrial salt, during the processing of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even medications. The court says one group produced and sold three tons of contaminated bean sprouts per day.

In 2013, police in the coastal city of Wenzhou uncovered 10 underground mills that used massive amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to clean out-of-date meat and sell it to the public. The Ministry of Public Security in 2013 released a warning to consumers in Shanghai that recent lamb products may have been either rat, fox, or mink meat.

One of China’s biggest dairy companies, the Sanlu Group, was found to have produced baby formula containing melamine, a deadly chemical, in 2008. The poisoning led to the deaths of six babies and illnesses of over 300,000.

“There’s no food for us to eat,” wrote Internet user KathieCANke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Everything’s poisoned.”

via Smart Chopsticks in China Test for Adulterated Foods – The Epoch Times

Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

9 September, 2014 at 11:12 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

By Susanne W. Lamm
Epoch Times Staff

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—A Swedish prison, specialized in treating drug offenders, offered the inmates meditation – under the label of “mindfulness” – as an addition to their regular treatment program. The idea was that prisoners would be able to cope better with everyday life after their release. The method is called “The Path of Freedom”, and has received high praise from inmates and prison staff alike.

Ulrika Lilljegren, former manager of the Högsbo prison facility, says that inmates seem to be more responsive to the other treatment programs if they are combined with yoga or meditation, for instance.

According to Lilljegren, many inmates most likely suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, like ADHD, or are damaged from long-term drug abuse. They often find it difficult to focus and concentrate.

“We had a guy like that [in the "Path of Freedom"-project],” she says. “Watching him sit still for half an hour, was a completely new experience. He was always very active, just bouncing around the ward, but he had found something in this meditation practice that allowed him to sit still.

Meditation provides new tools for the participants, helping them to perhaps stop and think before they act. They discover ways to adjust their behavior in a way that helps them not get into trouble all the time.

“Of course, different people had different reactions, but for a couple of them, it had a huge impact, and a great influence,” Lilljegren says.

Pake Hall from the Gothenburg Zen Center led the classes. He thinks the prison is a great environment for meditation.

“It’s such a difficult environment,” he mentions. “But you become aware of the fact that you need to face your own dark sides. They emerge when you’re locked up like that, and have nowhere to go. There is also plenty of time for practice. In many ways, it’s like a monastery.”

Hall feels a connection to society’s less fortunate. He often ended up with people that have social problems, with individuals whose behavior is on the borderline between what is and isn’t functional in society. He worked at treatment centers, and also with children with different kinds of difficulties.

When he began to meditate earnestly, he felt there was something in it he wanted to pass on to others. He thought about all the people who were locked up, who might be interested in meditation, but who don’t have a chance to learn it.

He joined an American network called Prison Dharma Network.  Here he became the mentor of a young American man, serving a double-life sentence for gang-related murders, and who had become interested in practising Buddhism. Their exchange was limited to letters, but the Prison Dharma Network later held a class that would allow Hall to hold Path of Freedom-classes at Swedish criminal facilities.

“The Path of Freedom is based on a very simple idea,” he says. “It’s all about helping people who are locked up.

“It’s about questioning whether these walls really are what’s keeping us from being free, or if there is something else standing in our way,” Hall explains. “Maybe we’re stuck in our own prisons, no matter if we’re sitting in our home in Gothenburg, with unlimited freedom, or locked up in a high-security prison? Maybe we’re all trapped by desire and aversion? This is a way to work with these issues, regardless of your surroundings.”

But shouldn’t society’s resources be used for helping people who fall prey to criminals and their actions, rather than the criminals themselves? Hall has a different perspective.

“I see nothing but victims here,” he says. “As soon as we commit an act that leads to another person’s suffering, that person suffers, but we suffer too, because we have to live with the consequences of that action. There are two victims, not one.”

He adds that the prison is in fact a great place for breaking the patterns of human existence. Many people in prison have deeply rooted patterns of hurting themselves and others. If you can somehow help them get out of these ruts, suffering may be reduced, both for them and for those around them.

The class consisted of 12 sessions. In order to motivate the inmates, they were scheduled in the middle of the week, which meant they could attend mindfulness classes instead of working. Each session lasted between 1 and 1,5 hours, and consisted of both theory and practice, one-on-one talks, and sharing experiences with the group.

Subjects like compassion, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and conflict resolution were at the center of the curriculum. Between the sessions, inmates would have “cell practice”, where they put into practice what they had learned.

“You don’t know how these people are going to take what you’re teaching them,” Hall says. “You sow little seeds during these short sessions. It’s a very, very dull environment. We’re in a locked room, with guards present at all times, for security reasons. New people join all the time, and many participants are having major problems with restlessness and anxiety.”

The “us and them”-culture of the prison was also an obstacle. To inmates, it’s important to not appear vulnerable, to be tough and to maintain their status.

“A mindfulness class is very much about just letting go and opening up,” Hall explains. “It’s about looking at what you’ve got, so of course the group can get sensitive at times. Once you’ve done a few sessions, though, something happens. It becomes a safe place, a ‘container’ for sharing things, or just listening to the teacher without making smart remarks to your neighbor. But as soon as new people enter the group, their masks are put on again, more or less.”

Being a neutral, third party in between prisoners, management and staff was also tricky, according to Hall.

“Everyone wants you to be their ally,” he explains. “The guards want to influence the inmates in a certain direction. Some thoughts and ideas are supposed to be ‘wrong’ from their perspective. And during the sharing with the inmates after the meditation, they would vent their anger with the guards. Not agreeing with them, yet not contradicting them, being there with them and not making them feel like you’re distancing yourself or disrespecting how they feel… It was very interesting, the way that game was always on.”

Overall, the project was a success. The response from the participants was positive. One of them wrote:

“My head is like a (…) ping pong game all the time, with balls flying all over the place, and now I’ve realized I don’t need to return all those balls.”

Another participant described how, when another inmate was “eyeballing him” in the cafeteria line, he remembered what he had learned in class, and just moved his attention down to his feet, instead of resorting to violence.

“That’s great, of course,” Hall says. “Those little seeds you sow, and when they tell you that they really liked it, and wanted more of it. It was worth the time I spent there.”

Read the original Swedish article here

via Meditation a Path of Freedom in Swedish Prisons

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7 Ways GMOs are Destroying Humanity and the Planet

8 September, 2014 at 07:49 | Posted in Environmental issues, Food, Nature, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Jonathan Benson, contributing writer to Natural News

No matter what personal views you might have on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), these relatively new biological creations are wreaking havoc on both the environment and human health, as thoroughly demonstrated in the scientific literature. And here are seven concrete examples of why:

1) GMOs lead to superbugs and superweeds. There is no denying the massive ecological changes that occur as a result of GMOs and their respective growing chemicals. Farmers all across North America now face a steadily increasing onslaught of “superweeds” and “superpests” that have spawned as a direct result of biotechnology.

Among 13 major pests examined as part of a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, five of them were found to be completely immune to the poisons genetically implanted into Bt corn and cotton, for instance. And more recently, Brazilian farmers have reported that GMO corn is no longer resistant to pests.

2) GMOs are killing off our pollinators. GMO proponents often argue that, without biotechnology, the world would starve. But weedkillers and other chemicals applied to GMOs are killing off bees, butterflies and other pollinators that are vital in the production of one-third of the world’s food crops.

According to the latest data, honeybees, which are responsible for roughly 80 percent of the pollinating duties, are dying off at a rate of 30 percent per year. Neonicotinoids and other pesticides leave residues on crops, which are then picked up by pollinators, destroying their insides and causing them to eventually die. German professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz told SPIEGEL ONLINE that GMO crop chemicals appears to alter bees’ intestines, making them highly susceptible to parasites and infections.

3) GMOs allow corporations to control life. With natural seeds, farmers are free to save and reuse them year after year in self-sufficiency. But GMOs require seeds to be repurchased year after year, placing control of food and life into the hands of a select few transnational corporations, who, since they maintain an oligopoly, can charge high prices and keep farmers in their servitude.

4) GMOs cross-contaminate natural crops. If GMOs could exist in their own private, agrarian bubbles, their threat to humanity might be containable. But because they grow in the open air alongside other natural and organic crops that require pollination, the threat of cross-contamination is almost certain, which means the entire global food supply stands to eventually become contaminated.

5) Accidentally growing GMOs is a crime. Believe it or not, biotech corporations like Monsanto have actually sued non-GMO farmers whose crops were damaged as a result of genetic drift. This is because GMOs are patented intellectual property, meaning they can’t be grown without permission and payment.

6) GMOs place an unmanageable burden of debt on farmers. Farmers are typically lured into growing GMOs based on empty promises of increased yields and fewer crop losses. But when this doesn’t pan out, they become locked into a system of debt that, especially in poorer countries, often leads to total bankruptcy. This is part of the reason why some 1,000 Indian farmers now commit suicide every month, as they are left with no way out but to pay the piper money that they don’t have.

7) GMOs destroy biodiversity, the life-force of our planet. The viability of our planet is dependent upon a rich stock of plant life that is varied, abundant and well-balanced within the confines of a biodiverse ecosystem. But GMOs are the antithesis of all this, perpetuating a system of unsustainable monoculture that breeds soil erosion, mineral loss and, ultimately, death.

via 7 Ways GMOs are Destroying Humanity and the Planet

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Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

6 September, 2014 at 09:29 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Li Zhen
Epoch Times

HONG KONG—For decades Hong Kong democrats have dreamed of universal suffrage. On Aug. 31, the Chinese communist regime officially shut the door on this possibility for the next election, infuriating Hong Kongers and moving them to action.

Since Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China in 1984, democracy supporters in the city-state have hoped to someday elect their chief executive and Legislative Council members by true universal suffrage without control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP has repeatedly postponed its promise of true universal suffrage. Their most recent decision is that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage as long as a Beijing-controlled nominating committee selects the chief executive candidates and Beijing gets the final say in the election.

As a result, many Hong Kongers feel that they have been deceived for 30 years.

One Lie Too Many

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, broke into tears during a rally on the evening of Aug. 31.

“We were all saddened at how much the efforts of young men have been wasted for the past 30 years, going around in circles on the issue of democratic development,” Chow said. “After this battle, the majority who support democracy, including the moderates, have been pushed into a dead end by the CCP.”

“Who would still hold out hope of negotiating with the Communist Party? Who would still believe in the lie of ‘one country, two systems’ and the high degree of autonomy?”

Chow was referring to the CCP’s promise in 1984 that Hong Kong would have a high degree of independence from mainland China, with the principle of “one country, two systems.”

Chow told Epoch Times that in the future Hong Kongers will fight for their autonomy, including launching student strikes, instead of trusting the CCP.

Nearly 800 thousand Hong Kong people voted for democracy in June during an informal civil referendum held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a nonviolent movement for universal suffrage. With their hopes of democracy dashed, Hong Kong citizens are rallying together to oppose the CCP.

“This is not the darkest day in Hong Kong, but the beginning day of Hong Kongers’ awakening,” said Occupy Central co-organizer Chan Kin-man.

Chan has participated in politics for years as a moderate scholar, attempting to negotiate with the CCP to carry forward Hong Kong’s democratic development. He supported Hong Kong’s political reforms in 2005 and 2010.

Now Chan is deeply upset with the decision by the CCP’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to deny true universal suffrage. He said the decision shows that the CCP would never grant any real power to Hong Kong.

Chan said that in the early 1980s some students from the University of Hong Kong were concerned with Hong Kong’s future after the handover, so they demanded democracy.

“[Former Chinese premier] Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to the students and promised there would be universal suffrage in Hong Kong’s future. But to this day, you can tell that the universal suffrage is in fact a fully manipulated election,” Chan said.

After the handover in 1997, Hong Kongers continued to put their hopes in Beijing for universal suffrage. Chan said that they knew it wouldn’t be granted in the first ten years after the handover, so they pinned their hopes on 2007. In 2004, however, the NPC vetoed the plan of universal suffrage for 2007.

Later the hope was to achieve universal suffrage in 2012, but the CCP delayed it again. Chan said that the moderates and the democrats, including the Democratic Party, all feel like they have been deceived.

“When we accepted the time frame, we thought 2017 was the finishing point. But now 2017 is just a starting point, and democratic development is to be carried forward slowly, step by step [according to the CCP],” Chan said.

However, Chan sees hope in the darkness.

“We are willing to protect our way of life with the power of the people, which is a gratifying thing,” he said. “We hope that society will not develop a pessimistic mood just because the political reform has encountered a dead end. I hope we all stay in this place to protect our homeland, making this the beginning of a new chapter.”

Double Deception

Cheng Yu-shek, convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, thinks the CCP has deceived Hong Kong in two major aspects in the past 30 years. The first is the promise of a high degree of autonomy.

“Now some Beijing officials have said Beijing must take control over Hong Kong. This is a dramatic change,” Cheng said.

The second deception is the promise to achieve democracy in Hong Kong step by step. The NPC’s recent decision is a regression, Cheng said.

“How is ‘step-by-step’ reflected in this? They often say that Hong Kong will have democracy when conditions are ripe, but how to tell when the conditions are ripe?” Cheng said. “Therefore, we can see clearly that the Party will hold on to the power over Hong Kong, and it will certainly not allow genuine democracy in Hong Kong.”

Cheng places his hope in long-term and persistent fighting, and never giving up.

“We shall safeguard our core values, lifestyle, and dignity,” he said. “We refuse to let Hong Kong become another mainland city.”

Taiwan political critic Lin Baohua held a press conference in Taiwan echoing Hong Kong’s democratic campaign. He said the NPC’s decision has shown that the CCP no longer needs to make Hong Kong an example of “one country two systems” to show to Taiwan.

Lin said the CCP is deceptive by nature, putting on a show for the public and letting them have fantasies. Before the NPC meeting, both Beijing officials and Hong Kong CCP supporter Lau Siu-kai said that NPC’s decision wasn’t final, and there was still room for discussion.

“However, this [political reform] draft was a step backward,” Lin said.

According to Lin, the previous rule “allows one to become a chief executive candidate with just one-eighth of all nominating committee votes, but now at least a 50 percent nomination is required.”

‘CCP Must Be Overthrown’

Lin added that only by disintegrating the CCP will Hong Kong have democracy.

“The CCP must be overthrown,” he said. “The CCP itself is opposing democracy, and it’s impossible to let Hong Kong develop democracy.”

“If it did, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai would all want democracy, and then what? So it’s impossible to grant democracy to HK,” Lin said.

Senior political commentator Lin Yuet-tsang wrote in his column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal that political circumstances have entered a sharp downturn. He said the CCP has shown its true nature, shocking many moderates, centrists, and those who are not usually concerned with political affairs.

Lin Yuet-tsang said he never believed Hong Kong could obtain democracy from the CCP’s hands. He added that he has been fighting for three decades, and it is important to spread democratic awareness.

Epoch Times columnist Xia Xiaoqiang said Hong Kong’s democratic system has demonstrated the universal values of freedom and human rights to the mainland Chinese people. This is what the CCP fears, Xia said.

Translated by Michelle Tsun. Written in English by Sally Appert.

via Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

New Study Finds 5 Days Away From Electronic Devices has Dramatic Effects on Children

26 August, 2014 at 14:02 | Posted in Body & Mind, Children, IT and Media, Science, sustainable development, Technology | 1 Comment
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PsyBlog

Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.

The UCLA study suggests that children’s social skills are hurt by spending less and less time interacting face-to-face (Uhls et al., 2014).

Professor Patricia Greenfield, who co-authored the study, said:

“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs.

Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs.

The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

Read more: Why You Should Take a Week-Long Break From All Screens

 

The Amazing Power of Your Mind

22 August, 2014 at 09:54 | Posted in Body & Mind | 1 Comment
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Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says

18 August, 2014 at 11:20 | Posted in China, Gao Zhisheng, human rights, persecution, Society | Leave a comment
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Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says: photo 2

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times

Once dubbed the “conscience of China,” Gao Zhisheng spoke out powerfully for the persecuted and dispossessed. Now, after five years of abuse, the voice that challenged injustice is, for the moment at least, almost silenced.

Since Gao, a celebrated Chinese human rights lawyer, was released from custody last week, news about his condition has trickled out through his wife, Geng He, who lives in California with their two children.

Geng He has only been able to have a few brief conversations with her husband, but she has spoken extensively to her sister, who is with Gao in Urumqi. Chinese security officials live in their home and monitor them, while others are stationed outside.

Geng He described her conversations with Gao both on Twitter and in discussions with a family friend, Sherry Zhang, who visits and spends time with the family in the Bay Area, where they live. Geng He has declined interviews with the media, but publishes updates about Gao’s condition on Twitter.

A note from Aug. 12 is chilling in its depiction of Gao’s degraded faculties: “When I was speaking with Gao the phone cut off, so I called him back and asked: ‘What were we talking about?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I asked: ‘How did the call get cut off?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I said: ‘Look, do you understand what I’m saying or not? Can you not hear, or do you not understand?’”

At that point the phone passed to Geng He’s sister, who said: “He’s been locked in a dark cell by himself for five years, fed a steamed bun and a bowl of cabbage every day. You have to patiently help him learn to speak again,” according to Geng He’s account on Twitter.

Tianyu, Gao Zhisheng’s young son, was disappointed and confused after attempting to speak with his father on the telephone. He had been practicing Chinese in order to speak with his dad, but after getting off the phone simply said: “Dad can’t speak Chinese!” according to Sherry Zhang, who visited the family.

“He can barely talk—and only in very short sentences—most of the time he is unintelligible,” Zhang said in an email viewed by the Epoch Times. “Gao’s son was incredibly excited to speak to him on the phone, and was completely shocked that he barely understood his father, that his voice was monotone, and that he was only giving 2 or 3 word answers to questions and wasn’t initiating any of the discussion,” the email continued.

“Gao has been utterly destroyed,” said a recent statement from Freedom Now, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which has followed Gao’s case for several years. “Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him. He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. … He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”

Jared Genser, president of Freedom Now and a pro bono attorney for the Gao family, said in a telephone interview, “We hope the U.S. impresses on China the need to allow him to leave for medical treatment in the U.S. Without that help and support, Gao’s future physical and mental health is very much in question.”

Genser continued: “The only thing worse than Gao being killed was for him to be horrifically mentally and physically tortured. He’s a shell of his former self, and it’s devastating for Geng He and her family. She just wants to take care of him, and that’s what we’re hoping will happen. But the Chinese government doesn’t make anything easy there.”

Additional reporting by Ma Youzhi

via Abuse Leaves Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Barely Able to Speak, Wife Says

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Letting It Go: Take Responsibility, Make Amends, and Forgive Yourself

15 August, 2014 at 08:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science | Leave a comment
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By Baylor University

Forgiving ourselves for hurting another is easier if we first make amends—thus giving our inner selves a “moral OK,” according to Baylor University psychology researchers.

The research, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, is significant because previous studies show that the inability to self-forgive can be a factor in depression, anxiety, and a weakened immune system, researchers said.

“One of the barriers people face in forgiving themselves appears to be that people feel morally obligated to hang on to those feelings. They feel they deserve to feel bad. Our study found that making amends gives us permission to let go,” said researcher Thomas Carpenter, a doctoral student in psychology in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The research article was based on two studies. In the first, 269 participants recalled diverse “real-world” offenses they had committed, ranging from romantic betrayals to physical injury to gossip to rejection. In the second study, 208 participants were asked about a hypothetical wrong.

In the first study, participants were asked how much they have forgiven themselves for an actual offense; how much they had tried such efforts as apology, asking forgiveness and restitution; how much they felt the other person had forgiven them; and how much they saw self-forgiveness as morally appropriate.

The more they made amends, the more they felt self-forgiveness was morally permissible. Further, receiving forgiveness also appeared to help people feel it was all right.

Researchers said one limitation of the first study was that the offenses varied from person to person. So to further test their hypotheses, in Study 2 they used a standardized hypothetical offense—failing to take the blame for the action that caused a friend’s firing. This study revealed similar results to the first, although—unlike in Study 1—receiving forgiveness from someone else had little effect on whether one forgave oneself.

The research also showed that the guiltier a person felt and the more serious the wrong, the less he or she was likely to self-forgive. Making amends also appeared to help people self-forgive by reducing those feelings, the researchers found. Also, women were generally less self-forgiving than men.

Self-forgiveness may be “morally ambiguous territory,” researchers wrote, and “individuals may, at times, believe that they deserve to continue to pay for their wrongs.” But by making amends, they may be able to “tip the scales of justice.”

Funding for the research was supported in part by a grant from the Fetzer Institute. Study co-authors are Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Robert D. Carlisle, Ph.D., an analyst at Mesa Public Schools and formerly of the department of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor.

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution.

From Newswise

via Letting It Go: Take Responsibility, Make Amends, and Forgive Yourself

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