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HOPKINS VILLAGE, Belize — Sitting down here in Central America, happily abusing my health, occasionally, between the hangovers and the bouts with sand fleas and mosquitoes comes an insight or two, or at least what passes for insight in my lowbrow take on life. One of these is just how damned lucky the Third World is that it cannot afford a sophisticated mental health system. By that I mean the kind like in the “developed countries,” where murder and suicide rates are quintuple what they are here in this village. Not that we are without own village resources. My Garifuna buddy Eljay, was in what we would call a depressed state a few months ago and went to a local “spirit doctor.” The wizened old spirit mojo man cured Eljay with a single utterance: “Quit smokin’ da ganja for one month.” It worked. Total cost: About $2.50 and a pound of red beans.


James Ridgeway of Mother Jones-A test case for the new government will be how it deals with the pharmaceutical industry, which rivals the gun manufacturers and tobacco companies for the position of most amoral industry in America.

Democrats have long been promising to stand up to Big Pharma on issues like Medicare drug pricing and importing drugs from Canada, but they’ve accomplished little since they won Congressional majorities in 2006. If they truly want to reign in the drugmakers now that they have the clout, they’ll need to not only move forward on these hot-button issues, but also completely overhaul the Food and Drug Administration, which stands as one of the most corrupt and compromised bodies in the federal government today.

Last week offered a glimmer of hope, with a bipartisan bill aimed at one of the many scurrilous practices employed by drug companies to win swift approval for their products and push them on the public. Called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, the legislation was introduced last Thursday by Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chair of the Senate Special Committee on the Aging, and Charles Grassley (R-IA), in the past a rare Republican voice opposing some of Big Pharma’s outrages. They are calling for establishment of ”a nationwide standard requiring drug, device and biologic makers to report payments to doctors to the Department of Health and Human Services and for those payments to be posted online in a user friendly way for public consumption.”



(Illseed News) A recent study will have men shaking in their boxers if they choked the chicken a bit too much in their younger years.  Researchers at the University of Nottingham have determined that men who masturbate often in their 20s and 30s are far more prone to developing prostate cancer. The scientists surveyed 800 men and about half of them had suffered from prostate cancer. The same data could be attributed to gentlemen that got their mack on frequently with the ladies, but the higher sexual activity was generally credited the act of self-love. Ironically, men over 40 that masturbate or shag a lot of babes can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Could this be why republicans have twice the prostate cancer rates of democrats?

Tim Craig-RICHMOND, Jan. 23 — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran vowed Thursday to fight a proposal to build a coal-fired power plant in southern Virginia, breaking with political leaders who have tried to shore up the once-powerful mining industry.

In a news conference near the state Capitol, Moran said the proposed plant in Surry County would contribute to global warming, worsen air quality in Richmond and Hampton Roads, and contribute to nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

“The approval of this plant will occur under the watch of Virginia’s next governor. I think it is important for Virginians to know where their governor stands on this issue,” Moran said. “We should be investing and developing clean sources of energy. We need to harness the energy of wind and solar.”



The south costs us in so many ways……………….
ATLANTA (AP) — Kentucky and West Virginia — where people traditionally smoke the most — have the highest death rates from smoking, a new federal study has found.
Rounding out the 10 states with the highest average annual smoking death rates were Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama,  and Missouri.

The lowest death rates were in Utah and Hawaii, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The smoking death rate in Kentucky was about 371 deaths out of every 100,000 adults age 35 and older.

That was nearly one-and-a-half times higher than the national median of 263 per 100,000. And it was nearly three times the rate for Utah, which was 138 per 100,000.


A new study shows that some of the most vulnerable babies are exposed to high levels of the chemical bisphenol A before they even leave the hospital.

Many manufacturers have taken BPA out of plastic baby bottles in the past year because of concerns that the estrogen-like chemical could harm young children. Studies have linked high levels in adults to heart disease and diabetes.

CDC researchers had detected BPA in more than 90% of Americans tested (read the pdf report).


Stephanie Mencimer-The election of George W. Bush came as a boon to the tobacco industry. Cigarette companies helped pay for his election, and Bush repaid them handsomely once in office. Right off the bat, in 2001, his Justice Department tried to derail a major federal racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco companies before it went to trial. A few years later, the administration tried to scupper the first international tobacco control treaty (which the U.S. still hasn’t ratified). And in 2007, Bush issued two of the 12 vetoes of his entire presidency to twice kill off bipartisan legislation to increase health insurance coverage for poor kids. Why? Because it would have raised taxes on cigarettes.

What a difference an election makes! Today, President elect Obama nominated William Corr as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Corr is currently the executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a major foe of Bush’s favored industry. More important than his public health advocacy, though: Corr actually has extensive experience with health care policy, a key component of HHS’s responsibilities and one of Obama’s top priorities. Corr started his career running nonprofit health clinics in Appalachia, and, in a major departure from the last eight years, he has actually worked inside the agency he’s been chosen to run.


I recently posted this on my blog,

I don’t know about you but I’m tired….tired of the hate, the doom and gloom, and the constant anger that had become our country, this is not what I want for my chlidren nor what I expect of this great country..  I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to multiple cultures and have traveled all over this world from dozens of trips to the Caribbean and Central/South America, to the far reaches of the Middle East, Muslim nations and even Communist ones.  Arrogantly we think that they suffer because they don’t live in America, the land of  pepsi, KFC and McDonalds. But I can tell you NO ONE in those countries are as uptight and scared as the imploding and cowardly US. 

Sadly, Although the US government and media play a big role in constantly reminding us of our perceived dismal future, (control technique?) , I happen to know better,from experience, and the ability to look beyond the corporate media as if they are the only window to the world.  Did you know that Americans only take about 10 days of vacation each year while Europe takes 6-7 WEEKS as an average!  Which would you rather do? Are you surprised that they have a longer life expectancy? Oh, and by the way they don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars a years on paying back student loans or health care. Hmm.

I’m tired of busting my butt just to have someone like GBW piss it away…just because he can, and because he and his rich advisors has no concept of “middle class.”  I want better for me, my wife and my kids.  I grew up believing that the US was the greates place on Earth and that there was this concept of the “American Dream.”  Well reality has struck, truth be  told the dream is a myth to keep us spending so that the wealthy can have THEIR dream of unlimited greed and wealth.  Its time for american’s to wake up, stand up, and stop rationalizing their pathetic, over stressed existence.   More importantly, understand that better lives exist (gasp!) elsewhere.  There is a reason why American emmigration is at an all time high! I still love America and want so desperately to restore it to the glory days, but corporate america and lobbyists have destroyed that.  My parents, grandparents and immigrant great-grandparents would roll over in their grave if they knew that this is what has become of their beloved country.

To this end I’m in the process of becoming an American ex-patriot.  I’ve spent weeks, even months,  researching other countries to move to.  I think Central America is the place to go.  Surprisingly Panama is the fastest growing american ex-pat country.  I’m looking at the Bahamas and Costa Rica.  I’ve fould a GOURGEOUS 7,000sqf estate on a mountain overlooking the pristine waters (with a master bath with floor to ceiling windows with this view…its breathtaking), complete with maid and gardener for less than $800,000 US.  For another $100,000 I’ll have the boat of my dreams. The cost of living is so low that we can get by  this house, and pay for all our bills, for about $1,500/month.  Can you do that here in the US?

My kids can sail, scuba, fish and surf every day!  There is an American School for them to go to, and their degree will get them into any College in the US.  Did I mention that the health care is top notch AND free? No more spending 20-30 thousand dollars on medical insurance. Life for them will be as it was for me as a child. No more buy, buy, buy.  No more Nintendo and reality shows.  Reality for them will be fresh fruit, running on an endless beach, diving a wreck, and exploring the rain firests.   I grew up loving and respecting  the ocean and the planet, Sadly most of today’s Americans don’t respect either. I can’t think of a better environment to raise my children than Costa Rica.  Its time for me to practice what I preach and not just rationalize my temporary existence in Harrisonburg where people want to discuss the relevence of…well…nothing…. truly important.  I want better for my family and to teach them the really important things in life.  And I’m blessed that I can do that.  I truly feel sad for those who are so tied to this part of the SV, or too scared to consider otherwise, the beauty and righteousness of other places in the world.

So, as a proud expatriot to-be within the next 5 years, I say to you enjoy your stress, enjoy your hate, your simple minded angry blogs and pettiness, your heart disease, ludicrous health care system, your debt, and your decreasing life expectancy, I’m finally at some sort of peace.  If however you want to experience the world as I perceive God intended, then let me know.  You can leave the smog & congestion, high gas prices, political irrelevence, Paris Hilton, Hollywood, and the anal-retentive BS behind. I’ll have a cold marguarita, a Jimmy Buffet tune, fresh grilled fish dinner with local herbs, and the most gorgeous sunset waiting……….peace.


WASHINGTON (CNN) — President-elect Barack Obama’s point man on health care reform wasted no time in portraying a sense of urgency on the issue at his confirmation hearing Thursday.

“The flaws in our health system are pervasive and corrosive. They threaten our health and economic security,” Tom Daschle, Obama’s choice for secretary of health and human services, said in his opening statement.

The incoming Obama administration, Daschle said, “realizes that change cannot be dictated from the White House or from Washington out but must come from the grass roots of this country and involve as many Americans as possible in the process of reform.”


Remember Lee  Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes?  He’s now 82 years old and has a new book, ‘Where Have All The Leaders Gone?’.


Lee Iacocca Says: 

‘Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’


Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned, ‘Titanic’. I’ll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’


You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in  Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the ‘America’ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?


I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have. The Biggest ‘C’ is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C’s of leadership, with crisis being the first.)


Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.


On September 11, 2001, we needed a  strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here’s where we stand.


We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. 

We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.


We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia,


 while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. 

Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy.

 Our schools are in trouble. 

Our borders are like sieves. 


The middle class is being squeezed every which way.


These are times that cry out for leadership


But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense?


 I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the  point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?


We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.


Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. 


Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.


Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three’ referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.


I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of?


That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?


Had Enough? Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here.  I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope – I believe in America. In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of living through some of  America ‘s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: The ‘Great Depression,’ ‘World War  II,’ the ‘Korean War,’ the ‘Kennedy Assassination,’ the ‘Vietnam War,’ the 1970’s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.


If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: ‘You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a “Call to Action” for people who, like me, believe in America’. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work. Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had ‘enough.’


Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It’s our country, folks, and it’s our future. Our future is at stake!!



“Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to,” Morrissey once sang. It’s a wonder that this classic Smiths song was never used in an ad for Paxil, the Prozac also-ran that GlaxoSmithKline successfully repurposed into a magic bullet for people with “social anxiety disorder,” a.k.a. shyness—now the third most common psychiatric disorder in America behind depression and alcoholism.


TVA: Waste pond in Alabama ruptures

STEVENSON, Ala. (AP) — A waste pond at a coal-burning power plant in northeast Alabama ruptured early Friday, but the spill was quickly contained, utility officials said.

The spill, about 30 miles southwest of Chattanooga, Tenn., was the second rupture at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in recent weeks. In late December, a dike burst at a plant near Kingston, Tenn., releasing more than 1 billion gallons of toxic-laden ash into a neighborhood.

The leak was discovered at about 6 a.m. Friday at the plant near Stevenson, said TVA spokesman John Moulton. Most of the material from the leak flowed into a settling pond at the plant site, but some spilled into nearby Widows Creek, he said.


Rep. John Conyers has written a letter to Democratic colleagues urging them to join him in publicly opposing the nomination of Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General.

Conyers, the veteran Judiciary Committee chairman, writes that Gupta “lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance,” and requests that fellow Democrats join him “in signing a letter to President-Elect Barack Obama that Dr. Sunjay Gupta not be nominated for the post.”

Here’s the bulk of the Dear Colleague letter:

I join in opposition with respected Noble Peace Prize award wining economist Paul Krugman, who has very serious concerns with having Dr. Gupta be the nation’s Surgeon General. […] Also, there are highly experienced medical professionals who question whether Dr. Gupta has the necessary experience or even the medical background to be in charge of some 6,000 physicians or more who work in the United States Public Health Service.

Another reason to oppose Gupta is that, as a classically trained (brainwashed) US physician beholden to the pharmaceutical industry, he does not believe in holistic or homeopathic therapies and he is in denial regarding the broken  US medical delivery/insurance system that we have today.  How can Obama truly change the system if his senior doc is “old school” and will resist any change?


Virginia Naturally provides citizens with “one-stop” shopping to programs and information to learn about Virginia ’s environment. At this gateway site, you’ll find links to more than 800 organizations which provide environmental education programs and services in Virginia including volunteer and funding opportunities, teacher workshops and lesson plans, conferences, and community events to name a few. You can also find out what your ecological footprint is based on your lifestyle and what you can do to help reduce your impact on the environment. 

Adopted in 2000 as the official environmental education initiative of the Commonwealth, Virginia Naturally also recognizes schools and communities that are making extraordinary efforts to help citizens of all ages understand our world and lessen the negative impact on Virginia’s natural and historic resources.

VaNaturally is all about Partners and Networking
Public and private organizations and agencies are the heart of this initiative to link people to Virginia’s natural and historic resources. Anyone interested in education can become a partner and participate in a statewide network and join others to build knowledge and skills and an appreciation for life-long learning and personal responsibility to conservation. Partners can advertise their programs and events on this website and share their success stories. They can also receive free materials, a monthly newsletter, educational kits and participate in professional development. VaNaturally staff can help your organization find collaborators in your community.

Interested in signing up as a VaN partner? It’s quick, easy and FREE! Just email your contact information. 

Whether you need information or want to help others find it, Virginia Naturally is your gateway to information and resources about Virginia ’s environment.

* If you would like your events posted on the Virginia Naturally website, email the name, location, date, a short description and a contact for your event.

Individuals, homeowners

If you break a fluorescent light bulb (including compact fluorescent lights), you can minimize any risks by following cleanup and disposal recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The following information includes tips on how to manage burned out compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) appropriately:

  • Two retailers – Home Depot and Ikea – currently take back CFLs from homeowners. Take your burned out CFL to any Home Depot orange box store returns desk and hand it to an associate who will recycle it for you. Ikea has a collection area in its stores where customers can place fluorescent light bulbs including CFLs to be recycled. 
  • You can purchase boxes online or in retail stores and mail your used CFLs to be recycled: Mail-in programs for CFLs
  • Check directly with your local waste management agency on the recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community: Local government recycling contacts  
  • If your community has a household hazardous waste drop-off center or offers household hazardous waste collection events, check to see if CFLs are accepted. Please contact your local government for more information on these events: Hazardous household waste contacts.
  • If recycling is not an option where you live, simply place the CFL bulb in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in your trash. However, you should not dispose of CFLs or any mercury-containing device in your trash if it is destined for a waste incinerator as this increases the risk of mercury emissions to the environment. Ask your local waste management agency for specific guidance in this situation.


Businesses are required by Virginia’s laws and regulations to recycle fluorescent lights or handle them as hazardous wastes. Additional information is available on DEQ’s waste and pollution prevention websites.

Partner Website
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"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"
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