Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Terrorism again, 03, 2010

Today, another terrorist attack in Moscow. I must admit I really liked that city and particularly the subway - it's so efficient and fast and deep. It's one of the things I enjoyed the most in Moscow - the spaces above ground combined with the speed underground. And the stations were all so pretty. It made me very sad to see the news today - the smoke and the victims.

I wanted to take a little time off from blogging, because I'm quite exhausted right now, but I had to express my condolences to the people in Moscow. If I lived there, I'd find it very upsetting to not be able to feel like I'm in a normal, big city in a developed country. Because Moscow is BIG. And so diverse and interesting and exciting. But this is not the first explosion there. It's not the first terrorist attack, there or in Russia as a whole. It's sad not to be able to feel safe in your own country. Not that I feel particularly safe in mine - safety is an illusion anyway, but when such events happen every now and then, the feeling is quite different. It's a feeling of helplessness. You just forget about the threat, because you don't have any other choice. But the fear cannot be so easily forgotten. Of course, I'm sure people are quite happy there, it's not the point. The point is that Russia is big country with so much to offer. Yet, it is unsafe. You can't just go and have fun. There's always something on the back of your mind that warns you. And this is not the way it should be.

And the worst is that the only thing that the deaths and pains of all those people will serve, will be for another increase in the security measures and another decrease in the personal rights of people. And maybe some slaughtering to "wipe out terrorism". Is this what those terrorists are fighting for? Isn't it strange? I mean,  that's all terrorists in Russia (or most places on the planet) have ever achieved! People die, but nothing changes for their "cause". It's pretty clear this isn't a way to do whatever they want to do. But they continue to do it nonetheless. It's like they do it not to provoke a change, but quite the contrary - to stop the change. 

Of course, you could ask the question why they do it, you could ask also, how come the victims in a rush hour in a subway that transports million of people each day, are not more, is it luck or something else, but who cares. It doesn't matter for their families.  It doesn't matter for all those people who we saw in the news injured and scared. What actually matters is why, in 21st century, we still think that killing can be called politics. That killing "the others" is better than killing "our own". I spent some time thinking on this. In the Cold War, USA and Russia were READY to destroy the whole planet in case of attack by the other country. Why? If the rockets are flying to your country and you can't stop them and you know it's over for you, but you have the choice to decide whether to send your rockets too and put an end to our civillisation, or to accept your destiny and give a chance to the world, why you would think it's justified to take the first option. It is not! It's not fair or right for any country to wipe out another, and we should fight to avoid such scenarios, but it's not more right to kill billions of people, just because you know you're going down and you want them with you. This is simply wrong. 

Why I'm saying this now? Because terrorists do absolutely the same, they think that they have the right to kill. They don't. Nobody has. Sure, there are situations, when the situation is freedom or death, but those situations are quite few. And even then, there is a choice who to kill - innocent people, or the aggressors. There is a choice how to fight each battle and I'm absolutely sure, that in 90% of the cases, terrorists chose the stupidest and least effective way to fight their battles (not meaning less effective in killing, but in achieving their goal). Because it's easy to die for a cause, it's hard to live for it. It's easy to pull the trigger and blow yourself up, taking people with you. It's hard to work all your life, for what you believe in, whether an idea or freedom, and to stay hidden and unappreciated and to give each moment of your life for that cause. It's easy to spill blood and cause panic, it's harder to create and to make people happy and to give them a reason to live and to believe that life can and will be better. 

I hope the souls of the ones that died today find peace. I hope whoever payed for those attacks get what they deserve. But most importantly, I hope people understand there is no "them" and "us". "They" are just like "us". And if they suffer, we all suffer. 

I'm not so naive to believe war is entirely in our past. But I'm smart enough to know that people change and with everything else, the wars also change. In 90% of the times, there is no real need for physical aggression or killing of people or in the worst case, of killing of civil people. And I can only hope that people will also understand that sooner rather than later. And that news as those of today, would become a rarity. 

The pedophilia case, 03, 2010

For a second time, recently, I get into discussions, trying to convince people why pedophilia is something bad. And I can't stop wondering what's wrong with those people. Interestingly enough, women tend to understand the problem more easily than men. Which is probably not very surprising. So, the first time I stumbled on this, I thought it's just peculiarity of the people I was talking to. But then, I had this unbelievable discussion in physorg. And I simply couldn't believe my eyes. Some of those people even told me that pedophiles are just like gays few decades ago - misunderstood and hurt and we have to find a way to provide them child porn, so that they can feel satisfied and not hurt anyone. Because otherwise, if they molest a child, IT'S OUR FAULT!!!

I can hardly express my indignation on such idiot claim. But because I tend to believe the people I talk to are sane, I'll try to convince anyone reading at least my blog, why this is something bad. For the ones that are already convinced, I'll be happy to read your additional comments, because I'm really really amazed someone could doubt that.

First of all, what are pedophiles? Obviously, people who want to have sex with children. And we of course recall Lolita and the story of the good-hearted yet pervert Humbert Humbert who takes care of her, love her and have sex with her, even though she's what... 12?
He ends up in jail, she ends up as spoiled bitch. It's a nice book, a nice movie. But this is fiction.

In reality children are not protected by the good heart of the writer, who makes sure they are not harmed. In reality, a child is helpless and easy to be convinced to do whatever, depending of the age of the child. Candies, toys, money, care - it's easy to lie a child about what s/he really wants and to abuse his/her lack of experience and judgment. That is why, sex with children is illegal. That is why underage children are not responsible for their actions. Because the society judged them too young to bear the burden of that responsibility. Sure enough, a 16 years old person can marry and have children, s/he can work and live normally. A 15 years will be able to survive as well. Even a little kid can eventually survive without proper care. But is this a question of survival? Should a child be put into that position? What kind of citizen such a child will make?

Unfortunately, there are many abused children. Some of them grow up to be normal and happy. Most of them don't. But the very fact that some of them survive ok, doesn't mean abuse on children is ok. That we have to push everyone to the extremes of misery by default. If we want our society to become better and happier, that's hardly a good idea. Most children victims of abuse, grow up just like the people who hurt them. Do we need more abusers? And sexual abuses are quite nasty, because they leave you confused. The child may know it's wrong, but still to love his/her father (or other abuser), just because the abuser is the one (or one of the people) who takes case or him/her. You can't hate someone who provide your needs. Yet, you'll hate him(or maybe her), because you know it's wrong and that you have to. In the end, you'll end up pretty messed up, even if generally alive.

Second point - the question of when a person should be legally free to participate in sex (age of consent). The law in most countries sets this age between 14 and 16, meaning any sex under that age is RAPE! Nothing more and nothing less. That doesn't mean young people don't have sexual desires - they do. The important point is that they are not responsible for their desires, the adults are. In which case a person under 14 cannot seduce an adult (even if/when s/he wants to), because it's the adult who's in charge. You have sex with a person under 14 - you go in jail. No exceptions! (of course, there can be exceptions under certain circumstances, but it's not the point - it's still a rape!) I spent some time talking to a person arguing that if the child wanted it, it's not rape. It was about a 11 years old gypsy girl in Bulgaria who got pregnant and gave birth. The father was 26. And that person claimed that a 11 years old child can desire sexual intercourse and can be responsible for that. Which is crazy. Even if that girl knew what sex is (which she by the way didn't know - because she said "we went to sleep and then I got pregnant", she didn't even know what a condom is or how not to get pregnant), even if she had the idea she may want to try it, that doesn't mean that someone should show her what it is. If she's desperate about sex, she can get it without involving other people. Because according to law, anyone who has sex with her will be a criminal and a rapist. And again, should go to jail and spend some happy time with his inmates.

Now - let's move on to child pornography. As defined by law: "

Under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), child pornography is defined as any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where

  • the production of the visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or

  • the visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or

  • the visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct. "
The age of "minors" is 18! First why should it be 18? Because on that age, one will be sued like adult in court. People under that age are not supposed to be in filmed having sex at least because they will require a parent permission to do so, and the law cannot distinguish between the will of the person or his/her parents which may lead to violations. Note, such pornography is illegal not only for filming, it's also illegal for watching or distributing. Why? Because the very filming is a crime. That crime is filmed for profit, thus if you watch it, you're an accomplice (you're paying for it). And you're heading for jail as well.

Now, I absolutely agree with that law, with the slight comment that when we're talking for the age 16-18, it's hard for the viewer to be sure about the age of the porno stars. So in these cases, maybe watching the movies shouldn't be illegal (as long as the actors look above 18 and the movie claims they are above 18) , only producing it. But this is just an opinion, the law is preventive and that's not bad in that case. However, when we're speaking of obviously minor participants, for me it's more than obvious why people who watch this and don't report it, should head for jail too. I'm sure you all know what kind of perversions exist - there are all over the news, I don't intend to repeat them here. Any such act of violation should lead to a lot of years in prison for the one who did it and for everyone who paid for it.

So what pissed me off in the discussion in physorg? That some people think it's ok to show such pornography to pedophiles, just to keep them away from children! That it's ok to sacrifice someone's pictures of abuses, to keep those perverts satisfied! I can't even imagine how sick you have to be to say this. Their argument "the molestation is already a fact, anyway, thus we can use it to prevent another one from happening". NO! A child may not have all the rights of an adult, but s/he still owns his/her body and the rights over his/her images. Recently a victim of abuse who now is adult sued everyone who watched her abuse for very good money. Is this what should happen for such sick people to understand this is wrong? You can't show the images of someone without an explicit consent, and since a child cannot give that consent, it's forbidden. Period. And the way to deal with pedophiles is to put them in jail if they have harmed anyone or under treatment and observation if they still haven't. You don't feed their desires with visual stimulation - that's not going to sooth them, but it will make them even more hungry. You don't sacrifice one child for another! You pay the police to protect each and everyone of us. They are the ones that have to protect the children, this is their duty.

The very fact I'm writing this makes me feel dirty. This should be obvious to everyone. Yet, people fail to understand why child pornography is wrong. They fail to understand why watching it and distributing it is wrong. They say - "it's not a crime to watch a crime". No, it's not, when there's nothing you can do to stop it. But when you pay to watch it, then you're an accomplice. And even if you downloaded it for free, it's still a crime. Because you're being a part of the network.

Finally, the ultimate argument that made me stop participating in that discussion was the comparison of pedophiles with gays. No, it's not the same. Gays have sex with each other, being adults and thus having the right to consent. Nobody gets hurt, nobody get abused. It's not the same like the SM-guys too. As long as you have the right of consent and you give it, it's ok. But a child is helpless. S/he cannot protect him/herself. The only option children have is the society to make sure no one abuses them. And that's why the laws are so severe. There is NO comparison with any other forms of sex. The key word is consent - voluntary sex is ok, abuse is wrong. And pedophiles are not a minority that the majority abuses - if we didn't leave in democracy and a society, the moment they touch a child, his/her parents will make very sure that guy would never EVER lay a finger on another child. But since we live in a society and we don't encourage physical justice, then we have to be sure our laws are just as strict. Sure, there always will be abused people, the key moment is what we do with the offenders. And that's send them to jail. I won't sorry for them. I may sorry only people who voluntarily go to treatment, because they know their desires are wrong and they want to fight them. Those are the real people who deserve respect for their honesty and their willingness not to harm other people. Anyone else - in jail.

Below are few points of my futile attempt to convince some people they are VERY wrong.

"While normal porn is showing consenting adults, there is no such thing like a consenting child in porn (at least not legally). Every child filmed into porn is molested and thus, there is no thing like "harmless child pornography". That's why even watching it without reporting it should be a crime. Because even if the pedophile isn't molesting his nephew, a child is being molested to film the porn"
.PinkElephant - 20 hours ago

By the time pornographic images or videos are being distributed, the child in question already has been molested. Whether or not anyone is watching the record of that crime, doesn't change that fact: the crime has already long since occurred. Therefore, watching child porn is NOT equivalent to commission of child abuse: not any more so, than watching a film of murder is equivalent to actually committing the murder.

But here's the main point: perhaps widely available recordings of past crimes, could help reduce the incidence of future crimes, by preventive fulfillment of pedophiles' sexual fantasies.

denijane:
As for "preventive fulfillment of pedophiles' sexual fantasies", the only fulfillment they should have should be by their mates in prison.

Because this isn't a harmless fantasy, this is something that HARMS people, just like a fantasy of a murder can't be harmless. You don't kill people, YET. But there's no guarantee you won't do it, if you feel ok to imagine it with details.

@denijane,
  • Pedophiles are in the closet, analogous to how gays used to be. They keep it inside, and they keep it secret. How do you propose to offer them therapy, or put surveillance on them, when you don't know who they are? The sad reality is, you only discover them after they boil over and actually start committing crimes.
    ...how would you feel if your daughter(or son) or husband/wife are being showed on this past crimes thing
    If it could prevent the same from happening to someone else, then maybe some good can come of it.
  • denijane:
  • What is WRONG wit you!!! You cannot compare this with gays! Gays WANT to have sex with each other, they are consenting adults, they have right to have sex with each other! While the only way for an adult to have sex with a child is to rape him/her. Is this so hard for you to get it?!

    Pedophiles=rapist! There are no Lolitas in reality, this is fiction, the story of a sick man and a stupid girl. In reality Lolita cannot be under 14, at least legally, because the law doesn't accept children can have sexual desires. A child is a child and s/he's not responsible for her/his actions. You're the adult, you're responsible and if you're idiot enough to touch a child, you must be in jail. Gays have nothing to do with it.
source

You think censorship is something limited to China and third world countries? Think again!
Censorship is a whole new frontier in the control over the public. The usual excuse is that they want to filter porn, especially child pornography (which is a crime in almost every country on the world) or maybe terrorists sites. Or of course Nazi's sites.
Now, I'm in no way defender of child pornography or Nazis, but I don't buy their explanation. At all!
Child pornography is a crime and sites which offer it should be prosecuted, not filtered. Wherever the sites are located, they are very rarely free, so there is enough reasons to get their owners in jail and the sites themselves - down. But to make search engines watchdogs for sites you don't like, that's avoiding to be in charge. Because you ban the sites for the viewers (or more likely you make them more difficult to be found but after all most people don't find pedophile sites on Google - they find them from friends with similar interests, who give them the url-s), but you're not dealing with their owners. Thus, you're not actually fighting the crime, because you're not prosecuting the criminals, you're merely limiting the effect of this crime! It's ridiculous. Is this what we pay taxes for? I don't know about you, but I want to see the authorities fighting criminals, not limiting my actions, so that I don't stumble on criminals. It's like forbidding you to go outside your house after 8pm, to keep you safe. It's not me who they have to limit, it's the criminals! I must be able to get outside of my house at any time I want and be safe! Otherwise, it's not prevention, it's childcare!
As for terrorists - let's see, if you ask China, information about Tibet should be censored, because that's terrorist state and so on. But for the rest of the world, Tibet is just a country like any other. My point - terrorism is something very subjective. The example I gave on physorg - I don't support any kind of murder, so for me death penalty may be regarded also as a form of terrorism. So what we do - ban sites talking about death penalty and claiming that's terrorism. - that's obviously nonsense. I'm not saying that terrorist propaganda should be online, I'm saying that it's not the search engines who should fight it, but the police!

Thus, it's so easy to to use terrorism and child pornography as an excuse for filtering. The problem is that this excuse is wrong. Yes, there are laws that must be obeyed. But if a site is related to Nazis or child pornography or anything else that is a crime under certain laws, then its owners should be prosecuted, not the content. And the content will be down after the authors are in jail. Otherwise, this isn't justice, it's censorship. Ok, make a safe-search a default on search engines. But still, offer the option for full search for anyone that requests it. This seems the right thing for me.

I simply can't believe that a country like Australia is censoring content! That's so wrong. And I wonder why nobody is protesting! Crimes must be prosecuted, not be hidden.

And the second article is about police wanting the access without warranty to data that will provide your location. I don't even have to comment it. The only thing that I will say - it's high time that people realise that we're all innocent until proven guilty. So you can't have my location, you can't have my internet/phone data, you can't have my DNA! I'm innocent - go find someone else to harass!

Australia defends mandatory Internet filter

March 14, 2010
Australia Sunday defended its plan to block some Internet content, such as that featuring child sex abuse or advocating terrorism, after a media rights watchdog warned it may hurt free speech.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday listed , along with , Turkey and Russia, as countries "under surveillance" in its "Internet Enemies" report.

While Australia does not rank alongside Iran or in terms of , its proposal to place a mandatory filter on the web to remove illegal and extreme material has raised concerns, RSF said.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter the web to bring the online world in line with censorship standards applied in Australia to material such as films, books and DVDs.

"The government does not support Refused Classification (RC) content being available on the Internet," a spokeswoman for the minister told AFP.

"This content includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act."

Under Australia's existing classification rules, this material is not available in news publications or libraries, and cannot be viewed at the cinema or on television and is not available on Australian-hosted websites.

"There are no plans to block any other material that is not RC," she added.

But Geordie Guy, spokesman for the online rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the filter was still a bad idea.

"In the construction of a censorship system like this, Australia will be building the framework for a broader censorship system if this government, or any future government, sees that that is what they wish to do," he told AFP. source

Justice Dept. wants phone locales without warrant

February 12, 2010 By MARYCLAIRE DALE , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Should the government be allowed to track a person's movements based on cell phone records, without evidence of criminal wrongdoing?

A showdown on the issue unfolded Friday in a federal appeals court in Philadelphia, as the Justice Department battled electronic-privacy groups.

The privacy groups say the information could reveal when someone goes to a religious service, medical clinic or political rally, or is having an extramarital affair. Third U.S. Circuit Judge Dolores Sloviter seemed to share that concern.

Law enforcement agencies hope to obtain cell phone location data from cellular providers without first showing probable cause of a crime - and without the customer's knowledge. The data comes from cell phone towers, and in densely populated cities can pinpoint a person's location to within a few hundred yards.

The issue is not whether the government can obtain the information, but whether a probable-cause warrant should be required first.

"An individual has no Fourth Amendment-protected privacy interest in business records, such as cell-site usage information, that are kept, maintained and used by a cell phone company," Eckenwiler wrote in his brief.

Sloviter countered by asking Eckenwiler why there was a need to skip a probable-cause showing, saying that she knew no magistrates reluctant to grant search warrant applications.

He replied that the relevant law does not require them. Eckenwiler said probable-cause warrants are only needed to obtain the contents of electronic communications, such as a text or e-mail, or to wiretap a phone. He believes the 1986 Electronics Communications Privacy Act allows police to obtain "non-content" data without a warrant.

After Friday's hearing, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chief author of the 1986 law, said his committee would revisit the legislation this year.

Eckenwiler challenged the notion that government access to location data would turn a person's phone into a "tracking device." He said the ATF was only seeking past cell phone use in the drug case.

However, a professor of cyberspace law called the distinction negligible. Police could ask a cell phone provider for historical data and then ask again a month later - thereby achieving the same end, argued Susan Freiwald, a University of San Francisco law professor. source

Hello all!
First I thought this post would be for the corruption in the Health Bill (Deep in Health Bill, Very Specific Beneficiaries ), but I changed my mind. I urge you to read the article, however, since it's very enlightening about how politics functions in the USA. You get to write a new bill and you manage to include all the desires and wishes of the people who might support you. Even if it's ridiculous (like few millions for unknown college fulfilling some criteria - come on!). But this is not the important issue.
Today, let's talk about antibiotics. It's clear that antibiotics along with the revolution in agriculture are what helped us to get the society we currently have. They saved so many people, it's hard to even count them. Antibiotics are the crucial discovery of our civilization along with electricity. So, what we see today? Bacteria grow more and more resistant to antibiotics and more and more people die because of that resistance. They tell us it's because we over-use antibiotics, they tell us to stop using them if possible, but what tells the statistics? That all this are lies. Or at least half-truths. Because we're not the major reason for that antibiotic resistance. It's the farms!
I must clear up something before continuing. People really should use antibiotics only when there is no other way. And when they work. For example, it's stupid to take antibiotics when you have flu, because antibiotics don't work on viruses. Simply because the virus is not alive - the anti-bio-part in antibiotics won't help. You also shouldn't take antibiotics if you don't know what you're doing. Meaning, we have to be responsible users, with that I completely agree. But many people tend to have similar conditions over the years - similar pulmonary diseases, or ear infections or whatever. And for some of them, the same antibiotics works well in all the cases. So for those people, I think it's wrong to make antibiotics available only after a doctor prescribes them. It's simply not fair to chain antibiotics to health insurance - after all, each of us have the right to access of medicines (just like each of us has the right to access to most of what our civilization discovered). We should be free to help or harm ourselves as we like, as long as we take the responsibility for that. That is why for me is so unacceptable that they blame humans for resistant strains of bacterias. But that's another story.
For now I want to focus on farms. If you read the two articles I pasted below, you probably will get very worried (if not even scared). Because the problem is quite real. Farmers tend to give antibiotics to their animals A LOT. They do it to ensure bigger profits or just to minimize the troubles. But if antibiotics in humans may lead to resistance, when we take them few times a year for a 10 days courses, what happens in animals that take them constantly trough the year?! How could this not lead to resistance. The livestock takes antibiotics, hormones and eats GMO plants. What do you think the effect is? What are we eating? And even worst, what kind of freaky resistances could those animals develop. And as you know, bacteria are hard to restrain - they spread. They are so durable, they live near volcanoes or other totally weird places. Once the bacteria figures out how to survive, it will do it. So if the bacteria is in the farms, it will spread. Little by little but it will. Just like swine flu spread from a farm. First it will be the workers, then their families and until you know it, the bacteria will be all around. It's a threat that is very very hard and unwise to ignore.
And as the second article reminds us, bacteria can go (and eventually do go) to the soils. They can contaminate everything. So, in short, it will be the meat, the eggs, the plants - everything will be resistant. You doubt that? I don't. Because studies usually take only one product and focus on its effects on human health in moderate quantities. But we don't talk here about one product - we talk about many products that we consume for decades. The production line is so complicated, it's hard to separate one product from the other. For example, you might not eat GMO plants, but the animal whose meat you consume did eat them. And the genes can transfer, or they can alter the cellular structure of the meat. You cannot isolate yourself from all the bad things just by being a vegetarian or eating only meat or buying healthy food. You can't hide! And that's very dangerous. Because once the bacteria get resistant it will be very very hard for us to survive. Companies do develop new types of antibiotics but once they get into use, bacteria will again find a way to avoid them. And then, we'll be dead. Because every little wound on our skin infected with bacteria will become deadly. And that's not fun at all.
So the purpose of this post is only one. To make you see why we shouldn't give in to farmers. They will want to defend their business, I understand them. But there should be another way. Because once bacteria get resistant, no one will profit. We're all going to be in a very bad situation. And nobody wants that. So let's try to convince the authorities they should regulate the use of antibiotics (and hormones and GMO food) in farms. We have the power to do it and we have to do it, because this is our lives and our futures. I had a resistant pneumonia once, it was very nasty. I don't wish that to anyone. So let's all try to minimize the risk.

  1. Pressure rises to stop antibiotics in agriculture
  2. Evidence of increasing antibiotic resistance

Pressure rises to stop antibiotics in agriculture

December 28, 2009 By MARGIE MASON AND MARTHA MENDOZA , Associated Press Writers
(AP) -- The mystery started the day farmer Russ Kremer got between a jealous boar and a sow in heat.

The gored Kremer in the knee with a razor-sharp tusk. The burly pig farmer shrugged it off, figuring: "You pour the blood out of your boot and go on."

But Kremer's red-hot leg ballooned to double its size. A spread, threatening his life and baffling doctors. Two months of multiple did virtually nothing.

The answer was flowing in the veins of the boar. The animal had been fed low doses of penicillin, spawning a strain of strep that was resistant to other antibiotics. That drug-resistant germ passed to Kremer.

Like Kremer, more and more Americans - many of them living far from barns and pastures - are at risk from the widespread practice of feeding livestock antibiotics. These animals grow faster, but they can also develop drug-resistant infections that are passed on to people. The issue is now gaining attention because of interest from a new White House administration and a flurry of new research tying antibiotic use in animals to in people.

Researchers say the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to a plague of drug-resistant infections that killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year - more than prostate and combined. And in a nation that used about 35 million pounds of antibiotics last year, 70 percent of the drugs - 28 million pounds - went to pigs, chickens and cows. Worldwide, it's 50 percent.

The rise in the use of antibiotics is part of a growing problem of soaring drug resistance worldwide, The Associated Press found in a six-month look at the issue. As a result, killer diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and staph are resurging in new and more deadly forms.

In response, the pressure against the use of antibiotics in agriculture is rising. The World Health Organization concluded this year that surging antibiotic resistance is one of the leading threats to human health, and the White House last month said the problem is "urgent."

Also this year, the three federal agencies tasked with protecting public health - the Food and Drug Administration, CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture - declared drug-resistant diseases stemming from antibiotic use in animals a "serious emerging concern." And FDA deputy commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein told Congress this summer that farmers need to stop feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals.

Farm groups and pharmaceutical companies argue that drugs keep animals healthy and meat costs low, and have defeated a series of proposed limits on their use.

America's farmers give their pigs, cows and chickens about 8 percent more antibiotics each year, usually to heal lung, skin or blood infections. However, 13 percent of the antibiotics administered on farms last year were fed to healthy animals to make them grow faster. Antibiotics also save as much as 30 percent in feed costs among young swine, although the savings fade as pigs get older, according to a new USDA study.

However, these animals can develop germs that are immune to the antibiotics. The germs then rub into scratches on farmworkers' arms, causing oozing infections. They blow into neighboring communities in dust clouds, run off into lakes and rivers during heavy rains, and are sliced into roasts, chops and hocks and sent to our dinner tables.

More than 20 percent of all human cases of a deadly drug-resistant staph infection in the Netherlands could be traced to an animal strain, according to a study published online in a CDC journal. Federal food safety studies routinely find drug resistant bacteria in beef, chicken and pork sold in supermarkets, and 20 percent of people who get salmonella have a drug resistant strain, according to the CDC.

Here's how it happens: In the early '90s, farmers in several countries, including the U.S., started feeding animals fluoroquinolones, a family of antibiotics that includes drugs such as ciprofloxacin. In the following years, the once powerful antibiotic Cipro stopped working 80 percent of the time on some of the deadliest human infections it used to wipe out. Twelve years later, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study linking people infected with a Cipro-resistant bacteria to pork they had eaten.

Johns Hopkins University health sciences professor Ellen Silbergeld, who has reviewed every major study on this issue, said there's no doubt drug use in farm animals is a "major driver of antimicrobial resistance worldwide."

Farmer Craig Rowles remains unconvinced.

Antibiotics are a crucial part of Rowles' business, speeding growth and warding off disease.

"Now the public doesn't see that," he said. "They're only concerned about resistance, and they don't care about economics because, 'As long as I can buy a pork chop for a buck 69 a pound, I really don't care.' But we live in a world where you have to consider economics in the decision-making process of what we do."

Rowles gives his pigs virginiamycin, which has been used in livestock for decades and is not absorbed by the gut. He withdraws the drug three weeks before his hogs are sent for slaughter. He also monitors his herd for signs of drug resistance to ensure they are getting the most effective doses.

Some U.S. lawmakers are fighting for a new law that would ban farmers like Rowles from feeding antibiotics to their animals unless they are sick.

"If you mixed an antibiotic in your child's cereal, people would think you're crazy," said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y.

Renewed pressure is on from Capitol Hill from Slaughter's bill and new rules discussed in regulatory agencies. There is also pressure from trade issues: The European Union and other developed countries have adopted strong limits against antibiotics. Russia recently banned pork imports from two U.S. plants after detecting levels of tetracycline that the USDA said met American standards.

Farmers and drugmakers are battling back. Pharmaceutical companies have spent $135 million lobbying so far this year, and agribusiness companies another $70 million, on a handful of issues including fighting the proposed new limits. Opponents, many from farm states, say Slaughter's law is misguided.

Back in Missouri, farmer Kremer finally found an antibiotic that worked on his leg. After being released from the hospital, Kremer tested his pigs. The results showed they were resistant to all the same drugs he was.

Kremer tossed his hypodermic needles, sacked his buckets of antibiotic-laced feed, slaughtered his herd and started anew.

Kremer sells about 1,200 pigs annually. And a year after "kicking the habit," he says he saved about $16,000 in vet bills, vaccinations and antibiotics. source

Evidence of increasing antibiotic resistance

March 3, 2010
A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are reporting disturbing evidence that soil microbes have become progressively more resistant to antibiotics over the last 60 years. Surprisingly, this trend continues despite apparent more stringent rules on use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, and improved sewage treatment technology that broadly improves water quality in surrounding environments.

David Graham and colleagues note that, although scientists have known for years that resistance was increasing in clinical situations, this is the first study to quantify the same problem in the natural environment over long time-scales. They express concern that increased antibiotic resistance in soils could have broad consequences to public health through potential exposure through water and food supplies. Their results "imply there may be a progressively increasing chance of encountering organisms in nature that are resistant to antimicrobial therapy."

The study involved an analysis of 18 different antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) to four different classes of antibiotics in soil samples collected in the Netherlands from 1940 to 2008. ARGs are genes chosen to assess potential changes in resistance in microbes. Using data from sites around the Netherlands, the scientists found increasing levels in 78 percent of the ARG tested, clearly indicating increased potential for resistance over time. source



Yesterday, I wrote a post on the battle for the maternity leaves in the EU(http://myeuropeandream.blogspot.com). And the fierce opposition that the idea of 20 week full paid leave meets in the UK. And I couldn't but wonder, are those people blind? Or maybe stupid?
What is it about? Well, we observe growing retirement age across Europe. It makes some sense - as people live longer, they can stay active for longer. The population is aging anyway and someone has to work. So far so good. But as the article below(the second) tell us, it's not so good, at all. People really live longer, due to the improved health care, but they don't stay active for longer. A lot of the people get dementia in one form or another, some simply forget, other get Alzheimer and are of no use at all. This is a serious problem! According to the study, every third person at age 65 will develop dementia in some form! How those people are going to work until the get 67 or 70? Which is what the retirement reforms suggest. That could mean a lot for the economy, in the case where people hire workers at age more that 60 at all. We know how severe age discrimination is. Here in Bulgaria, most of the stores require girls aged less than 25. I can't even imagine what a 65 years old lady with possible dementia can work. With men, it's easier, because they can work as guards or something.
But the problem is very real - we keep the retirements age high, however we do not invest more money in preventing old age diseases, we don't invest into research that could keep old people healthy and active, we don't invest into making laws that protect old people from age discrimination on the work place, we don't stimulate the business to hire such people. And the worst of all - we don't make laws that will stimulate women and men to have babies! What we do can lead to a disaster. That is why, I'm all for both maternity and paternity leaves regulated by the law. European population is getting older and older. We have to fight this. We have to find a way to handle this, to make people have children, to make fathers more responsible, so that mothers will want to give birth.
It's easy to suppose women just want to have children and they will sacrifice everything to do that. Yes, but more and more women prefer not to do that. More and more women wait until they get 35 before starting to have children and at that age it's more risky and more costly in terms of healthcare. Why it should be like that? When it would be so easy to stimulate young parents to have children before they get in their 30s, so that both the mother and the baby will remain healthy and the population will get younger and fresher. Will it cost a lot? Sure! But as you can see the dementia crisis already cost a lot. What will happen when most of the workforce of the country get in their 60s? The country will lose 1/3d of that workforce to dementia and related diseases. We HAVE to invest in both preventing old-age diseases and stimulating the young to have babies. That's the only way to guarantee a healthy society. Not only for the UK, but for the whole Europe, because this problem is not only British. It's European. True, some countries have higher birthrates, but that's only temporary state. Under those laws, most people just prefer not to risk with a baby. Most women prefer not to. And that's bad. That's disastrous. We have to change it.
P.S. Science claims there is a way to prevent dementia to certain extent:

Learning keeps brain healthy: study

UC Irvine neurobiologists are providing the first visual evidence that learning promotes brain health - and, therefore, that mental stimulation could limit the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind. source

Britain ignoring its dementia crisis, Oxford study finds

Disease costs more than cancer and heart disease combined but receives a fraction of research funding

Britain's dementia crisis is worse than feared and costs Britain £23bn a year – more than cancer and heart disease combined – but receives a fraction of the funding, according to a study published today.

The number of people with dementia, at 822,000, is 17% higher than has previously been estimated and will pass the 1 million mark before 2025, the Oxford university study has found.

Researchers calculated that for every pound spent on dementia studies, £12 is spent on investigating cancer and £3 on heart disease. They said the ageing population was largely behind the rise in dementia and public attitude contributed to the relative lack of research funding.

"People do consider dementia as an inevitable part of getting old. People who reach the age of 65 have a one in three chance of having dementia before they die," said the report's author, Professor Alastair Gray of the university's Health Economics Research Centre.

The Dementia 2010 report compares the condition's overall annual cost of £23bn with £12bn for cancer care and the £8bn for heart disease.

The £23bn includes £9bn for social care, £12bn for unpaid care and £1.2bn in healthcare costs.

At £590m, cancer research funding is 12 times the £50m devoted to dementia, while heart disease receives more than three times as much. Stroke research receives less.

Each dementia patient costs the economy £27,647 each year, researchers found, nearly five times more than a cancer patient and eight times more than someone with from heart disease.

The expense is driven mainly by the extent of unpaid care and long-term institutional care – in contrast to cancer and heart disease, where costs are mainly taken care of by the NHS. source

Happy Baba Marta, everyone! I love this holiday and I wish you all to be white and red as martenichki and to be very happy, healthy and wealthy :)

Мартеница

Because of the beautiful bright day, this post will be all about happiness and health. These are 7 articles dedicated to that and I urge you to read them, only the 1st and the 7th are longer, the rest are just few lines long ( I shortened them a lot so please check the sources for more). But it's worthy! Enjoy!
  1. The Miracle of Vitamin D: Sound Science, or Hype?
  2. Zen meditation fends off pain
  3. Confidence key in gauging impressions we leave
  4. Powerful New 3-Minute Exercise Improves Memory and Brain Power
  5. 10 Habits of Highly Effective Brains
  6. Anthony Robbins' 12 Reasons People Don't Get Wealthy
  7. The Super Suggestion Technique for Creating Whatever You Desire

The Miracle of Vitamin D: Sound Science, or Hype?


By TARA PARKER-POPE , February 1, 2010

Imagine a treatment that could build bones, strengthen the immune system and lower the risks of illnesses like diabetes, heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

Some research suggests that such a wonder treatment already exists. It’s vitamin D, a nutrient that the body makes from sunlight and that is also found in fish and fortified milk.

Yet despite the health potential of vitamin D, as many as half of all adults and children are said to have less than optimum levels and as many as 10 percent of children are highly deficient, according to a 2008 report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

As a result, doctors are increasingly testing their patients’ vitamin D levels and prescribing daily supplements to raise them. According to the lab company Quest Diagnostics, orders for vitamin D tests surged more than 50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from the same quarter a year earlier. And in 2008, consumers bought $235 million worth of vitamin D supplements, up from $40 million in 2001, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

Although numerous studies have been promising, there are scant data from randomized clinical trials. Little is known about what the ideal level of vitamin D really is, whether raising it can improve health, and what potential side effects are caused by high doses.

Dr. Manson is leading a major study over the next five years that should provide answers to these questions and more. The nationwide clinical trial is recruiting 20,000 older adults, including men 60 and older and women 65 and older, to study whether high doses of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from fish-oil supplements will lower risk for heart disease and cancer. (Learn about taking part in the study at www.vitalstudy.org.)

Dr. Manson said fish-oil supplements were included in the study because they are another promising treatment that suffers from a dearth of clinical trial evidence. In addition, both vitamin D and fish oil are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect, but each works through a different pathway in the body, so there may be an added health benefit in combining them.

Vitamin D is found throughout the body and acts as a signaling mechanism to turn cells on and off. Right now, the recommended dose from food and supplements is about 400 international units a day for most people, but most experts agree that is probably too low. The Institute of Medicine is reviewing guidelines for vitamin D and is expected to raise the recommended daily dose.

Study participants will take 2,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D3, believed to be the form most easily used by the body. The study will use one-gram supplements of omega-3 fish oil, about 5 to 10 times the average daily intake.

Although consumers may be tempted to rush out and start taking 2,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D a day, doctors warn against it. Several recent studies of nutrients, including vitamins E and B, selenium and beta carotene, have proved disappointing — even suggesting that high doses do more harm than good, increasing risk for heart problems, diabetes and cancer, depending on the supplement.

People most at risk for vitamin D deficiency are older, have diabetes or kidney disease, stay indoors or have darker skin. African-American teenagers are at particularly high risk, possibly because in addition to their dark skin, they are less likely at that age to drink milk or play outside.

The ideal level isn’t known, nor is it known at what point a person is getting too much vitamin D, which can lead to kidney stones, calcification in blood vessels and other problems.

People’s vitamin D levels are influenced by whether they have light or dark skin, where they live, how much time they spend outdoors and by fish and milk consumption. To raise vitamin D without supplements, a person could increase sun exposure for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Eating more fish can help — a 3.5-ounce serving of wild fresh salmon has 600 to 1,000 I.U.’s of vitamin D — but it would take a quart of milk a day to get the recommended dose of vitamin D. source

"“…signs of toxicity can occur with ingestion of 0.5 mg/kg (20,000 IU/kg ), while the oral LD50 (the dose it takes to kill half the animals) for cholecalciferol in dogs is about 88 mg/kg, or 3,520,000 IU/kg. (An Overview of Cholecalciferol Toxicosis. The American Board of Veterinary Toxicology (ABVT). This would be equivalent to a 110-pound adult taking 176,000,000 IU or 440,000 of the 400 unit cholecalciferol capsules. Vieth reports human toxicity probably begins to occur after chronic daily consumption of approximately 40,000 IU/day (100 of the 400 IU capsules).” (Note that “chronic” in medical terms means “sustained over a period of time.”)"
See the comment on this page!

Zen meditation fends off pain

February 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- People can reduce their sensitivity to pain by thickening their brain, according to a new study published in a special issue of the American Psychological Association journal, Emotion. Researchers from the Université de Montréal made their discovery by comparing the grey matter thickness of Zen meditators and non-meditators. They found evidence that practicing the centuries-old discipline of Zen can reinforce a central brain region (anterior cingulate) that regulates pain. source



Powerful New 3-Minute Exercise Improves Memory and Brain Power


With your feet pointing straight ahead, spread them apart about shoulder width. Grab your right earlobe with the thumb and finger of your left hand. Cross over your left arm and do the same using your right hand on the left earlobe. Then squat as fully as you can, breathing in. That's a little counter intuitive, but that's what you do. Breathe in as you squat.

Then breathe out as you stand. So the breathing needs to be synchronized with the squats. Continue this motion repetitively while holding both earlobes for three minutes.

Los Angeles physician Dr. Eric Robins says that the brain cells and neurons are energized with this simple exercise. He prescribes it to his patients and has had excellent results. One example of his is a youngster doing poorly in school. After being introduced to the exercise, that child went on to become an A student.

According to Yale neurobiologist Dr. Eugenius Ang, the earlobes grabbed are acupuncture points that stimulate neural pathways in the brain. The brain's hemispheres are in opposite sides of the earlobes. Using opposite hands for pinching the earlobes may have something to do with the way our subtle energies are arranged.

Ang showed that the results from EEG (electroencephalography) readings after doing this exercise indicate the right and left hemispheres of the brain had become synchronized. EEG readings measure the neuron firings in the brain via electrodes on the scalp, and are used to determine brain wave normalcies and abnormalities. source

Confidence key in gauging impressions we leave

February 23, 2010 By Tony Fitzpatrick

(PhysOrg.com) -- The gift of "seeing ourselves as others see us" is particularly beneficial when we judge how we’ve made a first impression - in a job interview, during a sales pitch, on a first date.

Now, psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis and Wake Forest University have tested in first impression settings in the laboratory and have found that confidence makes all the difference in knowing whether you’ve hit a homerun or struck out.

Erika N. Carlson, Washington University doctoral candidate in psychology, her advisor Simine Vazire, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, and Wake Forest University’s R. Michael Furr, engaged some 280 students in opposite-sex pairings from both universities in five-minute conversation after which impressions (your rating of your partner’s ) and meta-perceptions (your rating of how you think your partner rated your personality traits) were recorded on 60 personality items (such as nice, funny, outgoing), which were rated on a scale from 1 to 7.

There was a twist to their study. The researchers asked a confidence question: How confident are you in your estimation of how your partner sees your personality?

“We found that people who were poor at making good meta-impressions were less confident than people who made accurate ones. So, after making a first impression, if you’re confident in your judgment, you’re likely to be right.”

The research was recently published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. source

10 Habits of Highly Effective Brains

By Alvaro Fernandez
Source:
Huffington Post

1. Learn what is the "It" in "Use It or Lose It".

2. Take care of your nutrition.

3. Remember that the brain is part of the body.

4. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every new day in a constructive way.

5. Thrive on Learning and Mental Challenges.

6. We are (as far as we know) the only self-directed organisms in this planet. Aim high. (and keep learning)

7. Explore, travel.

8. Don't Outsource Your Brain. (Make your own decisions, and mistakes. And learn from them.)

9. Develop and maintain stimulating friendships.

10. Laugh. Often. source


Anthony Robbins' 12 Reasons People Don't Get Wealthy

By Anthony Robbins

According to Wallace Wattles, in his popular wealth treatise called the Science of Getting Rich, "There is a science of getting rich, and it is an exact science, like algebra or arithmetic. There are certain laws which govern the process of acquiring riches, and once these laws are learned and obeyed by anyone, that person will get rich with mathematical certainty."

It is true. Those who make wealth know that it comes about by application of simple rules and principles. Those who don't make wealth don't know about these simple things, and so they assume that wealth is a result of luck or pure chance or something just as superstitious or silly.

Anthony Robbins is one of the top success coaches in the world, having coached star sports players, heads of states and Fortune 500 executives. In his Get The Edge program, he listed down 12 specific reasons he has come to observe to be the leading causes for most people's lack of wealth. Here they are:

1. They never decide and really define, very specifically, what wealth means for them.

2. They make wealth a moving target instead of a fixed one (this is related to point one above).

3. They define it in a way that seems unreachable. You only achieve what you believe. No more, no less. So you must make it believable for you.

4. They never start.(!)

5. They never make it a must.

6. They don't have a realistic plan.

7. If they have a realistic plan, they never follow through on the plan.

8. They give responsibility to others ("experts") instead of to themselves.

9. They give up when they face challenges.

10. They fail to conduct their lives as a business; they never ensure that they make a profit year by year.

11. They allow other people's ideas to affect their decisions unreasonably.

12. They don't get quality coaching. source


The Super Suggestion Technique for Creating Whatever You Desire

By Song Chengxiang
Excerpt from:
The Core Solution Special Report

Two of the most powerful strategies for changing your
Inadequate Self Image and live your fullest potential
.

1. THE DAILY DECLARATION TECHNIQUE

This is similar to affirmation, but much more powerful and much more effective. Here are the steps to help you setup your own daily declarations.

STEP ONE: List every thing that you need
Suggestions:
New furniture, Bills paid ...
Write down everything you need.

STEP TWO: List every thing that you want
Suggestions:
$1,000,000 in the bank, A $500,000 house
Write down everything you want.

REMEMBER: DON’T limit yourself, write EVERYTHING that you truly want.

STEP THREE: List the personal qualities you need or want
Suggestions:
Ability to concentrate, Ability to finish what I start...
Write down every personal quality that you need or want.

STEP FOUR: Turn lists into goals
Write all your three lists in the form of goals. Here is Joe Karbo’s check list for writing goals.

1. Do you really want it?
2. Does this goal contradict any other goal I am setting?
3. Any problem with goal cooperation? (would your family be against your goals)
4. Is it positive rather than negative?
5. Is it expressed in total detail?
6. Is it realistic?
7. Is this goal high enough?
8. Am I including the personality factors necessary to goal achievement?
9. Is each goal stated as though already accomplished?

Use this checklist to help you write your goals. Your possible goals will look like this...

Tangible goal: I live in a $500,000 house.
Intangible goal: I am calm and cheerful, I share my inner peace and happiness
with others.

Then you are ready for "Daily Declaration"

Each morning:

1. Immediately upon awakening, read your list of goals as you prepared. READ ALOUD, if this is not possible, then move your lips as you read silently. This is IMPORTANT.
2. After reading each goal, pause, and visualize in your mind your goals already accomplished.

Each evening:

Just before you go to sleep, repeat the morning process.

That is all you need to do to use the daily declaration to change your self image.
As an added bonus, all the goals that you have written down for your daily declaration will come true.

CAUTIONS:
1. Don’t tell anyone about your goals. The minute you start telling others, the energy that you’ve build up is gone.
2. You must do it daily, if you miss a day, the effectiveness will drop dramatically.

2. THE SUPER SUGGESTION TECHNIQUE

A WORD OF CAUTION: The super suggestion technique can only be applied to your intangible goals, and CANNOT be applied to tangible goals. The reason is that this technique works at the lower level of consciousness, if the subconscious mind is conditioned to believe that your have already had your dream house, dream cars, etc, it will stop helping you to achieve that.

Sit in a comfortable position, scan your body from head to toe. Feel your muscles relaxing as you scan each part. As you feel yourself become quieter, and more relaxed, start count from 1 to 20. Feel yourself go deeper into the relaxed state, and once you reach 20, you will be in the state that you want to be.

That’s how you prepare yourself into the lower level of consciousness. Here are the steps for super suggestion.

1. Take one intangible goal from your daily declaration goal list. Intangible goals are those regarding to your basic personality or character qualities, such as the ability to concentrate, the ability to read faster etc. Choose ONE goal only!

2. Take one or two keywords from your goal statement that you choose. You will use the keywords instead of the whole statement while you are in the lower state of consciousness, so that you don’t have to commit the entire statement into memory.

3. Read your entire goal statement

4. Go to the lower level of consciousness using the method I just described.

5. Repeat the keywords several times.

6. Come back to the normal state by counting from 20 to 1. When you reach 1, tell yourself you feel fully awake, totally alert.

NOTE: Both daily declaration and super suggestion must be carried out each day.
Daily declaration is for both tangible goals and intangible goals. Super suggestion is
for intangible goals only. Daily declaration should be done every morning and
evening, and as many times as you want throughout the day. Super suggestion needs only be done once a day, suggested time is before lunchtime. And with super suggestion, you work on ONE goal at a time. source

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