Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Health Benefits of Purple Grape Juice

Medical studies show that purple (Concord) grape juice slows LDL cholesterol oxidation, improves arterial elasticitiy, helps reduce blood pressure and fights atherosclerosis. Read more.

Monday, December 17, 2007

3 Stress-Reduction Techniques You Can Practice Every Morning

The morning is an ideal time to incorporate stress reduction strategies that will set the tone for the rest of the day. Read more.

5 Good Mood Foods to Have Around

Rather than turning to the pharmacy for relief from a bout of the blues, you can turn to the supermarket instead. Here are five foods that are loaded with mood-elevating vitamins and minerals. Read more.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Culture Wars

Activists on all sides of the political spectrum are taking shots at various aspects of the Holiday season. For example, environmentalists are pushing Buy Nothing Day, an international moratorium on shopping that urges people to curtail their consumption in the interest of the environment. On the other side of the isle we have the American Family Association's Project Merry Christmas, who have targeted stores like Lowe's for advertising "family trees" instead of Christmas trees in its catalog. Lowe's capitulated and offered that it was a "breakdown" in their proofreading that led to the use of "family trees" in place of Christmas trees.

In Australia, a department-store Santa Claus was told not to say "Ho, ho, ho" because it might be offensive to women. Swerving to the right again we have Pat Robertson, who feels that wreaths and Christmas trees are pagan relics and not an important part of the Christian tradition.

All of this bickering over which Christmas symbols and traditions are worthy has put retailers in a precarious situation. And making matters worse are factors such as rising gas prices, a sinking dollar and the credit crises. As a result, 27% of shoppers say they will be spending less this year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

National Handwashing Awareness Week (Dec. 2-8)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 million elementary, middle and high school days are lost each year due to the common cold. Since the germs that cause the illness usually enter the body via dirty hands, the Clean Hands Coalition is promoting National Handwashing Awareness Week. Dr. Will Sawyer, a founding member of the CHC, has created "Henry the Hand, Champion Handwasher." The online program (www.henrythehand.com) includes free downloadable songs, a video and posters that teach the four principles of hand awareness:

1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
2. Do not cough into your hands.
3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
4. Above all, do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.

Check out the website for information on additional Henry the Hand products and details regarding a handwashing competition for families and schools during National Handwashing Awareness Week.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Issue of Immigration: What is a Sanctuary City?

It seems as though the term, "sanctuary city" has acquired a number of different meanings. Initially, the term was coined by American churches in the 1980s, and referred to humanitarian efforts to create havens in U.S. communities for the victims of civil wars in South and Central America. These cities put forward policies under which police officers and other city employees were not obligated to report illegal immigrants to immigration authorities.

What was the rationale for these policies? Well, this is where the definition of "sanctuary city" gets a little murky. Some contend that the protection was needed to prevent illegal immigrants from being targeted by criminals. (absent the policies, these criminals would not have to fear that their victims would report them to the police.) Others emphasize the notion that if illegals were not allowed to report crimes without the fear of deportation, a lot of criminals would go free.

Many cities extended protections and decided to not deny services on the basis of immigration status. Thus, illegal immigrants could have access to public libraries or send their children to public schools. Some cities, such as New York and Cambridge, Mass., allow illegals to use the public health system and, as noted above, allow them to report crimes without fear of deportation. So there is no real working definition of the term, "sanctuary city." Rather, there are gradations of different policies.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Berkeley Cracks Down on the Homeless

The City of Berkeley, California, a town known for its very liberal-leaning policies, has done something of an about face: It has just adopting a get-tough policy with respect to its homeless population. The Berkeley City Council passed a law that will hire dozens of "monitors" to patrol city streets and parks to root out and report any suspicious or untoward behavior (think aggressive panhandling, public defecation, etc.) by the homeless. The new policy will make it easier for police to enforce various laws, including those banning camping in public places and lying down on commercial streets during the day.

It should come as no surprise that many members of the council had a hard time with the decision. After all, Berkeley is the home to the Free Speech Movement and all manner of anti-establishment causes. Indeed, it was Berkeley's reputation for tolerance and abundant social services that drew a lot of the homeless to the city in the first place.