How to be a responsible steward of Democracy, Human Rights Capitalism and Planet Earth.



How to be a responsible steward of Planet Earth.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Give Thanks


“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

- (C.K. Chesterton)


Albert Einstein prescribes compassion for all living creatures and the whole of nature


A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

- Albert Einstein


Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Earth Day Puts a Face on Climate Change
Interactive Digital Mosaic Shown at Thousands of Events Worldwide as Over One Billion People Take Action to Protect the Environment




WASHINGTON – Today is Earth Day, and over one billion people in approximately 192 countries are taking action to protect the environment. From London to Sao Paolo, Seoul to Babylon City, New Delhi to New York, Rome to Cairo, people everywhere are mobilizing their communities and helping depict The Face of Climate Change, the theme of Earth Day 2013.

Earth Day Network, the organization that coordinates Earth Day around the world each year, is collecting images of people, animals and places affected by climate change, as well as images and stories from people doing their part in the fight against climate change. During the days surrounding Earth Day, an interactive digital display of all the images is being shown at thousands of events around the world as people continue to upload photos of their actions in real-time.

“This interactive mosaic is depicting the very real impact that climate change is having on people’s lives and uniting Earth Day events around the world into one call for climate action,” said Franklin Russell, director of Earth Day at Earth Day Network. “The stories we’ve collected so far have been inspiring.”

As of press time, the campaign had photo-testimonials from 128 countries and 46 U.S. states. And they will continue to pour in as events unfold today and throughout the week.

Examples of the thousands of user-submitted stories include a mountaineer in New Zealand who reported on receding glaciers and an organization in Thailand who installed solar panels at a refugee camp on the Myanmar border.

Organizers are encouraged by the level of participation and enthusiasm and plan to continue the campaign in an effort to build the climate movement.

Earth Day is the largest secular event in the world – and more people join in every year. On and around Earth Day, people of all ages and backgrounds come together to haul garbage, clean up coral reefs and mountain trails, show movies, sign petitions, march to solve the climate crises, hold town hall meetings to plan a better future, and rally to save endangered species. More than 100 million schoolchildren around the world learn about the importance of clean air and water. Thousands of federal, state, and local governments issue reports about their environmental achievements and make pledges to improve their environmental performance and invest in green technology. And tens of thousands of clergy members give sermons about the importance of protecting God's creation.

“In short, Earth Day participants not only get a lot done, they also demonstrate that human beings everywhere are driven by their faith, their conscience, their sense of duty, or by a moral imperative to save the planet,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “It is staggering to think about one billion people working together in a collective action.”

To view The Face of Climate Change photo display, go to www.earthday.org/faces. To learn more about Earth Day 2013 and The Face of Climate Change, go to www.earthday.org/2013. To see highlights from The Face of Climate Change and Earth Day events around the world, go to www.earthday.org/highlights-submissions.
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Earth Day Network mobilizes over one billion people in 192 countries through year-round advocacy, education, and public policy campaigns to protect the environment. www.earthday.org









Greenpeace app helps consumers find forest-friendly tissue products

This is one way to get to the practicalities of "voting with your dollars".  Never buy the RED products and the producers will be forced to make some changes... 

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Greenpeace’s app helps consumers find forest-friendly tissue products
22 April 2013 (Toronto) – Consumers have a new tool for making forest-friendly tissue product decisions, says Greenpeace Canada.

The organization launched its first Green Tissue Guide mobile application today, which features a catalogue of over 150 tissue products like paper towels, toilet paper, tissues and napkins found in Canadian stores across the country. The app is free to download from the App Store or Google Play store in both English and French.

Users can browse by rating, name, category or brand. Each item is displayed with a photo making it easy to identify the product in-store. It includes both generic and name brand items such as Bounty, Charmin and President’s Choice.

A product’s rating is determined by its percentage of recycled content and whether it is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. At a glance, users can see whether their favorite brand is forest-friendly with a simple green, amber and red icon assigned to each product.

The ratings are explained as follows:

Green: Made from 100 per cent recycled paper fibre. The best option for the environment.

 Amber: Less than 100 per cent recycled but FSC certified. FSC is designed to ensure responsible forest management. A smart choice when recycled products are not available.

Red: Contains no recycled fibre and likely comes from destructive logging operations. Avoid these products.

“Shopping aisles are piled high with tissue products making questionable sustainability claims, making it tough to know which ones are forest friendly,” said Shane Moffatt, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “The Green Tissue Guide allows you to confidently make the greenest choices at the counter, rewarding companies that take responsible sourcing seriously and holding accountable those that do not.”

With over 50 green rated products in the application, it’s easier than consumers may think to bring forest friendly products into their home.”
The app can be downloaded at greenpeace.ca/greentissueguide. Product suggestions, comments or questions can be emailed to guide@greenpeace.ca.
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Notes:
Screenshots from application: http://www.greenpeace.ca/images
For more information:
Holly Postlethwaite, Media and Public Relations Officer, (416) 524-8496
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meditate Twice a Day - It is Free!




Researchers are exploring the benefits of meditation on everything from heart disease to obesity. Sumathi Reddy and Dr. Aditi Nerurkar join Lunch Break.


Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day


At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, doctor's orders can include an unlikely prescription:
meditation.

"I recommend five minutes, twice a day, and then gradually increase," said Aditi Nerurkar, a primary-care doctor and assistant medical director of the Cheng & Tsui Center for Integrative Care, which offers alternative medical treatment at the Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. "It's basically the same way I prescribe medicine. I don't start you on a high dose right away." She recommends that patients eventually work up to about 20 minutes of meditating, twice a day, for conditions including insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Integrative medicine programs including meditation are increasingly showing up at hospitals and clinics across the country. Recent research has found that meditation can lower blood pressure and help patients with chronic illness cope with pain and depression.  

In a study published last year, meditation sharply reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke among a group of African-Americans with heart disease.

At Beth Israel Deaconess, meditation and other mind-body therapies are slowly being worked into the primary-care setting.
The program began offering some services over the past six months and hopes eventually to have group meditation classes, said Dr. Nerurkar.


Health experts say meditation shouldn't be used to replace traditional medical therapies, but rather to complement them. While it is clear that "when you breathe in a very slow, conscious way it temporarily lowers your blood pressure," such techniques shouldn't be used to substitute for medications to manage high blood pressure and other serious conditions, said Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. In general, she said, meditation can be useful for symptom management, not to cure or treat disease.
Dr. Briggs said the agency is funding a number of studies looking at meditation and breathing techniques and their effect on numerous conditions, including hot flashes that occur during menopause. If meditation is found to be beneficial, it could help women avoid using hormone treatments, which can have detrimental side effects, she said.
 


The most common type of meditation recommended by doctors and used in hospital programs is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was devised at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  
Dr. Nerurkar said she doesn't send patients to a class for training. Instead, she and other physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess will demonstrate the technique in the office. "Really it's just sitting in a quiet posture that's comfortable, closing your eyes and watching your breath," she said.
Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., says it isn't clearly understood how meditation works on the body. 


Some forms of meditation have been found to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates the body's relaxation response, improves blood supply, slows down heart rate and breathing and increases digestive activity, he said. It also slows down the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

Dr. Doraiswamy says he recommends meditation for people with depression, panic or anxiety disorders, ongoing stress, or for general health maintenance of brain alertness and cardiovascular health.

Thousands of studies have been published that look at meditation, Dr. Doraiswamy said. Of these, about 500 have been clinical trials testing meditation for various ailments, but only about 40 trials have been long-term studies. 

It isn't known whether there is an optimal amount of time for meditating that is most effective. And, it hasn't been conclusively shown that the practice causes people to live longer or prevents them from getting certain chronic diseases.

Some short-term studies have found meditation can improve cognitive abilities such as attention and memory, said Dr. Doraiswamy. 

Using imaging, scientists have shown that meditation can improve the functional performance of specific circuits in the brain and may reduce age-related shrinkage of several brain centers, particularly those that may be vulnerable in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
 

Recent research found that meditation can result in molecular changes affecting the length of telomeres, a protective covering at the end of chromosomes that gets shorter as people age. 


The study involved 40 family caregivers of dementia patients. Half of the participants meditated briefly on a daily basis and the other half listened to relaxing music for 12 minutes a day. 

The eight-week study found that people who meditated showed a 43% improvement in telomerase activity, an enzyme that regulates telomere length, compared with a 3.7% gain in the group listening to music. 

The participants meditating also showed improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression compared with the control group. The pilot study was published in January in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Government-funded research also is exploring meditation's effect on dieting and depression.






Write to Sumathi Reddy at sumathi.reddy@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared April 16, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Doctor's Orders: 20 Minutes Of Meditation Twice a Day.



More About the Mind and Body
Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain 11/15/2011
Anxiety Can Bring Out the Best 6/18/2012





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