SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

March 31, 2011

Speaking of “earmarks”

Filed under: jobs/budget both important — Jan Turner @ 11:24 pm

(“Earmarks” are one of my pet peeves also, but in this case it happens to be one of my favorite senators – Sharrod Brown.  And I certainly can understand his apparent reasoning – Ohio can not afford to loose any more jobs!  Where is the “greater good” if we ALL  allow our thinking to go down this path?  Jan)

Pentagon wants Ohio jet project halted

By Lisa Cornwell ASSOCIATED PRESS

CINCINNATI — The Defense Department yesterday ordered work to stop on an alternate engine being developed at a GE Aviation plant in southwestern Ohio for the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet.

The Obama administration and the department   say the program is a waste of money, and the president’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal to Congress does not include funding for it.

GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said the Defense Department took action with Congress still working to complete the 2011 budget, and the company will continue to “self-fund the project.”   The program is linked to about 1,000 jobs at the GE Aviation plant in the Cincinnati suburb of Evendale. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown,   D-Ohio, who strongly supports the program, said the Senate’s approval last week of a stopgap appropriations bill fully funds programs — including the engine program — at previous levels through April 8.

Eliminating funds for the Joint Strike Fighter wastes billions of taxpayer dollars and threatens national security, Brown said.      U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the Obama administration is “attempting an end run around Congress” and that he would work to restore funding.    “Competition, not sole-sourced contracts, is what will drive down costs and serve the taxpayers’ best interest in the long run,” Portman said in a statement.

March 30, 2011

Kasich to cut Cons. Protect.

(It is difficult for me to add my two cents anymore, no matter what it may be worth with regard to the political climate.   Many states are quagmired, not just Ohio and Wisconsin – the pain is everywhere.   I’ve as much as admitted to you recently that I have lost steam with my love of blogging.    My personal m.o. demands that I not linger over the negatives, but try for something finer.  This is increasingly harder to do.

If I do not speak out, it is tantamount to condoning or accepting the status-quo.  I do not.  My gut tells me that I am witnessing the cruel indifference of the agents of the “gestapo” – moving about re-writing history, changing rules, altering the meaning of our sacred political documents.   Fairness and justice are out the window, perhaps gone with the like of Citizens United from our Supreme Court (and other recent rulings).  The demand from the GOP to shrink government, limit regulation giving the corporate structure ever more power;   tightening the screws on the masses to the point of helplessness.  With no income for working people, there is no hope for healing our American Economy.

Available solutions such as negotiating pharmaceuticals (which was abandoned by Obama),  establishing the single-payer solution for health-care (also abandoned by Obama),   and the total denial of the obscene “tax relief” for the richest among us which was expiring – but President Obama caved on that one too at the Republican “demand,”  are but a few choices which have not been discussed, arbitrated or tried.  Lastly, of course is the unspeakable cost to the endless fighting through our defense department.  We can afford none of these things.  We can’t do them.  Everybody knows it.

Abandoned are efforts to try to save our planet – stop poisoning it.   Everyone knows that “people” are sick, fat and diseased with the pollution of our earth,  genetically modified EVERYTHING which is grown today and touted as our food. But we are mal-nourished – there is no nutrition in the garbage which we able to buy at the market.  With our shrinking wallets, most of us cannot afford to purchase “organic” which by rights and the laws of nature, we should be able to do.

This article from a recent Columbus Dispatch discusses the ongoing onslaught from Kasich to take away still one more “protection” from our general population in favor of the corporate structure.  The Ohio Consumers Counsel  has done a herculean job fighting off the demand for increasing rates year after year.  Our rates have gone up dramatically, but without  the consumer protections, we won’t have a chance .      Jan)

OHIO CONSUMERS’ COUNSEL

Utilities’ foe faces uncertain future

Customers’ watchdog may get 51% budget cut

By Dan Gearino THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Ohio utility customers might soon find out what happens when a watchdog loses its bite.

Gov. John Kasich has proposed a 51 percent budget cut for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the state’s advocate for the people who pay for electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications.    Critics say the Consumers’ Counsel spends too much energy on lawsuits that do little to reduce customer costs. Supporters say the office has been a formidable adversary of utilities, helping to win hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for customers, while making powerful enemies.

The governor says the annual cut of $4.4 million would reduce overlap with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Both offices operate call centers and have programs to educate consumers about ways to save money on utilities.    But the proposal would go much deeper, threatening the office’s core function, which is representing the public when utilities seek to raise rates, said Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander. “We would be down to bare bones,” she said.

  • Also, the budget cut would have no effect on the state’s $8 billion budget deficit.   The office is funded through a fee in utility bills, which is separate from the general fund.

The measure that created the Consumers’ Counsel in 1976 was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, when he was a state legislator.    “This is about making sure working Ohioans get a fair shake, even against powerful corporations,” Brown says today of the agency’s work.

The critics speak

The case against the Consumers’ Counsel can be summed up by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, in his written opinion in December in a case involving the office: “The OCC’s office continues to tilt at windmills, when it could instead be engaging in a practical way to help Ohioans contain their energy costs,” he said.

The agency has gone before the court about 20 times since 2007, and it has either lost or withdrawn all but a few times. Almost every case was an appeal of a PUCO decision. Migden-Ostrander defends this record, noting that Pfeifer’s comments were part of a long battle over natural-gas companies’ ability to charge a flat fee for some services, a fight she thinks was worthwhile even if her office was unsuccessful.    Such procedural challenges are often a waste of taxpayer resources, said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols. “Utility customers are paying for the high-priced lawyers at the OCC who litigate everything,” he said.

But Kasich’s main rationale for the cut is the overlap of some services with the PUCO, such as the call centers. The PUCO’s call center has 33 operators, while the Consumers’ Counsel has 10. The difference, Migden-Ostrander said, is that her call center is solely focused on protecting residential customers.    The PUCO call center, and the agency as a whole, has a broad mandate to serve all parties, said Todd Snitchler, the newly appointed PUCO chairman.    “I think this agency has a history of striking an appropriate balance,” he said.    The Consumers’ Counsel’s main opponents are the utilities, which are some of the largest companies in the state. Utility officials declined comment on the budget. “That’s a legislative decision, and we would defer to their expertise,” said Ellen Raines, spokeswoman for Akron-based FirstEnergy.

Her company’s CEO, Anthony Alexander, was among the top individual donors to Kasich’s campaign, with $21,000. The FirstEnergy political-action committee gave an additional $11,300. But utilities also made large donations to Kasich’s opponent, Ted Strickland.

Customer savings

Midgen-Ostrander says that her office, which has about 75 employees, pays for itself in the savings it wins for customers.    In the past two years, the agency has gotten $54.8 million shaved off of customers’   bills by successfully preventing utilities from charging for those costs, she said, citing specific cases.    Often the victories were a matter of degree, with the utilities merely charging less than they otherwise wanted to, but Migden-Ostrander said the outcome would have been much worse for customers if her attorneys had not been there. The office also responded to 45,988 customers last year, through the call center, public meetings or website inquiries.

She also cites $1.9 billion in shared savings, meaning her office was one of several parties that negotiated lower charges for customers.    “If it were not for them, we would have had a 37 percent increase in our water rates last year and a total of 60 percent in the last three or four years,” said Joy Neff of Westerville, whose subdivision is served by Ohio American Water.

The Consumers’ Counsel helped to secure much smaller rate increases. Neff has concerns that the proposed budget cut would take away the resources to help on relatively small cases such as hers because the Consumers’ Counsel would be “too busy with the big guys” such as American Electric Power and Columbia Gas of Ohio.    A weaker Consumers’ Counsel would be a “real kick in the stomach” for consumers, said Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

Since its founding, the Consumers’ Counsel has been targeted for cuts or elimination several times, only to survive. In many ways, the office sows the seeds of its demise merely by doing its job, said Thomas V. Chema, the president of Hiram College who served as PUCO chairman from 1985 to 1989.    “The Consumers’ Counsel is basically an adversary,” he said. By advocating for residential customers, the office can’t help but make enemies of commercial and industrial customers and the utilities. Those groups have tremendous political power, he said. He fought with the Consumers’ Counsel when he was PUCO chairman, but he thinks consumers need a watchdog. The problem is its status as a government agency, he said.    His solution, which he describes as radical, would be to spin off the office from the government and make it a private, nonprofit company that still would be funded by a fee on utility bills.  He doesn’t know if this approach would have any support from legislators.    The point, he said, is that something needs to happen to change the dynamics of the funding debate or else the same arguments will be repeated each budget season for as long as the Consumers’ Counsel exists.

dgearino@dispatch.com

Redundancy?

Gov. John Kasich wants to cut more than half the budget of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, saying that the office duplicates too many functions of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. A look at the two agencies:   

OFFICE OF THE OHIO CONSUMERS’ COUNSEL • Employees: 75.        • Budget: $8.5 million in 2011; $4.1 million proposed for 2012.         • Funding source: A charge that gets passed on to customers through utility bills.          • Top executive: Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander, appointed in 2004.       • Governed by: Nine-member panel appointed by the attorney general, with three members each representing residential consumers, farmers and organized labor; chairman is Jerome G. Solove of Powell.        • Chief functions: The office works on behalf of residential utility consumers in the courts and within state and federal regulatory agencies. It also monitors utility companies’ compliance with regulatory standards and orders and educates customers about utility issues and services.    • Call center: Customers can get help with utility issues by calling the office at 1-877-742-5622.         • Public outreach: The office holds public events across the state to talk about ways to save money on utilities and also provides information on its website,  www.pickocc.org     

PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF OHIO • Employees: 355.       • Budget: $95.6 million in 2011; $90.3 million proposed for 2012.         • Funding source: A charge that gets passed on to customers through utility bills.         • Top executive: Chairman Todd Snitchler.          • Governed by: Five-member board, one of whom is chairman; members are selected by the governor.          • Chief functions: Serves as chief regulator of public-utility issues, including the enforcement of state rules, monitoring of utilities’ reliability, approval of rate plans and resolving disputes. Unlike the Consumers’ Counsel, which exclusively works for residential customers, the PUCO has a mandate to work for all parties in the utility world, including residential and business customers, utilities and others. In addition to utilities, the agency regulates motor carriers, railroads and household-good movers.         • Call center: Customers can make a complaint or seek information by calling the office at 1-800-686-7826.          • Public outreach: The office holds public hearings on major utility proposals and also provides information on its website,  www.puco.ohio.gov  .

Sources: Agency records and Dispatch research

March 29, 2011

Scotts trying to help

Scotts to remove phosphorus in fertilizer

By Tracy Turner THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

ScottsMiracle-Gro will remove all phosphorus from its lawn-maintenance fertilizers sold in the U.S. by the end of next year, the company said today.    The Marysville-based lawn–care and garden-product company said it has reformulated its products and will focus on creating more “efficient and optimized” ways to use nitrogen in its lawn fertilizers.

Phosphorus is associated with algae blooms that last summer closed lakes, reservoirs and beaches in Ohio and have created “dead zones” in Lake Erie.    “We want to provide customers with the tools they need to create the lawn and garden they want while also being stewards of the environment,” Jim Hagedorn, Scotts chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Making sure consumers know how they can get great results from our products while also protecting and preserving water is critical.”

The move comes as states enact or consider bans on the use of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.    Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have enacted or are planning restrictions     on use of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus.

The level of phosphorus in lawn fertilizer is not high, but in healthy lawns it isn’t necessary, said Peter Richards, a research scientist with the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Tiffin.    “We have problems with too much phosphorus going into Lake Erie,” Richards said. “While lawn fertilizer is not the main source, the decision by Scotts to remove it from its fertilizer is important symbolically and an important step in the right direction.”

Scotts began reducing phosphorus in its lawn-fertilizer products in 2006 as a result of conversations it had with officials regarding Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. At that time, the company agreed to reduce phosphorus levels by 50 percent over three years.    But Rich Shank, Scotts’ chief environmental officer, said the latest decision takes the company’s commitment even further.    “Established lawns, for the most part, already contain enough phosphorus to maintain a healthy grass,” he said. “So with proper care, you really don’t need phosphorus. This allows us to make a more environmentally friendly product as well.”    Scotts will keep phosphorus in its starter-fertilizer products for new lawns, because phosphorus is essential to the initial root development of grass, Shank said.

Phosphorus will also remain in ScottsMiracle-Gro’s organic lawn food as it naturally occurs in the materials contained in the products, he said.    Scotts will launch a website to educate consumers on the reformulated product, to make sure “the public is comfortable with this and understands why” the company made the change, Shank said.    This could quell the type of consumers’ concerns that arose when some detergent-makers eliminated phosphorus from their products.

Shank said he’s confident a similar situation won’t occur with Scotts products, saying, “Consumers shouldn’t have a problem using our product or notice any difference in how their lawn responds.    “We are as responsible for the environment as anyone, so if there is any way we (make changes) without affecting the efficacy of our product, then that is the direction we’ll take.”

tturner@dispatch.com

March 28, 2011

“Active” sitting

‘PHYSIO BALL’ SEATS

Benefit of balancing act noted in classes

SHARI LEWIS DISPATCH    Eighth-grade twins Kent, left, and Brent Cole, 14, sit on physio balls during class at Heritage Middle School in Westerville. Student use of the physio balls is optional.

By Charlie Boss                                                                                                                                                                                                                         THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Brent Cole walked into his seventh-period class at Heritage Middle School and headed toward the cluster of giant red and green balls. The 14-year-old eighth-grader rolled a red one to a desk, sat on the ball and started bouncing. His twin, Kent, was sitting nearby on a ball of his own.    The balls “are awesome,” Brent said. “They help me focus and pay attention in class. I get my homework done much faster. “I have more energy sitting on the ball than sitting on a chair.”

Since January, a handful of students at Heritage in Westerville have been able to replace their desk chairs with physio balls, often used for core training in fitness classes. The idea is that giving students the freedom to roll, bounce and shimmy provides an outlet for movement that will help them focus, stay alert and perform better.

  • “I want to be able to prove that we do need movement for learning,” said Angi Up-dyke, an occupational therapist at Heritage and three other Westerville schools.

A $720 grant from the Westerville Education Association  is helping her conduct research at Heritage. The money paid for the balls for two classrooms serving students with extra learning needs.    At the start of the project, Updyke gave students a lesson on how to sit on the balls safely. They were then asked to use the balls daily for two weeks.   After that, use of the balls was optional, Updyke said.

Adolescents can get tired and have a hard time focusing throughout the school day because their bodies are changing, Updyke said.   Movement can help their brains stay on task. Fatigue “will affect your thinking and the ability to retain information,” she said. “Giving their bodies extra input through movement and exercise will help (them)”  Research has put some stock in the theory.

John Kilbourne, a movement-sciences professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, studied the use of physio balls with his students in 2008 and 2009.    His research, published in the Chronicle of Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education in 2009, noted that students who sat on the balls showed improved ability to pay attention, concentrate, take notes, engage in classroom discussions and take exams.

Other schools are trying out the alternative seating.    In Summit County in northeastern Ohio,  Our Lady of the Elms School replaced chairs with balls in a first-grade classroom last year, and fourth-and fifth-graders at Silver Lake Elementary have used balls for years, according to a story in the Akron Beacon Journal.    Updyke plans to study students’ behavior, handwriting and performance in class to see whether the balls make a difference.   She has noticed that the balls have calmed those who tend to be overexcited during the day and alerted others who have a hard time staying awake.

Teacher Kristine Smith said the students tend to choose the balls when they know they’ll be sitting at their desks for a long time or during a lecture.  A few rock on the balls in the morning or bounce after lunch.    In a recent poll of the 29 students in the two classrooms,  86 percent said the balls helped them to learn;   41 percent said they “need” the balls and don’t want them removed; and 45 percent said they like the balls but don’t need them.    For Brent Cole, the verdict on the balls is simple.    “I love them,” he said.

cboss@dispatch.com

(I am so pleased to share this article with you as I have been using one for several years now and very much enjoy it.  A physical therapist who was helping me with special attention to a hip problem told me to acquire one as part of my therapy, saying it was invaluable for strengthening the core muscles.   Funny, that’s just what my son said when he advised me to use one several years prior to that.
Since I spend perhaps too much time at the computer, it has proved   not only helpful, but enjoyable.  I agree with young Brent Cole – – I love it.      Jan)

March 27, 2011

Libya grateful to U.S.

Libyans appear grateful for U.S.-led intervention

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively   for bombing their country.    Even though some villagers were hit by American shrapnel, one gamely told an Associated Press reporter that he bore no grudges. Then, on Wednesday in Benghazi, the major city in eastern Libya   whose streets would almost certainly be running with blood now if it weren’t for the American-led military intervention, residents held a “thank you rally.” They wanted to express gratitude to coalition forces for helping save their lives.

Doubts are reverberating across America about the military intervention in Libya. Those questions are legitimate, and the uncertainties are huge. But let’s not forget that a humanitarian catastrophe has been averted for now.    This is also one of the few times in history when outside forces have intervened militarily to save the lives of citizens from their government. More commonly, we wring our hands for years as victims are massacred, and then, when it is too late, earnestly declare, “Never again.”

In 2005, the United Nations approved a new doctrine called the “responsibility to protect,” nicknamed R2P, declaring that world powers have the right and obligation to intervene when a dictator devours his people. The Libyan intervention is putting teeth into that fledgling concept, and here’s one definition of progress: The world took 3 1/2 years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about 3 1/2 weeks to respond in Libya.    Granted, intervention will be inconsistent. We’re more likely to intervene where there are also oil or security interests at stake. But just as it’s worthwhile to feed some starving children even if we can’t reach them all, it’s worth preventing some massacres or genocides even if we can’t intervene every time.

I opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion because my reporting convinced me that most Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein but didn’t want U.S. forces on their soil. This time my reporting persuades me that most Libyans welcome outside intervention.    “Opinion was unanimous,” Michel Gabaudan, the president of Refugees International, told me Wednesday after a visit to Libya. Gabaudan said that every Libyan he spoke to agreed that the military  strikes had averted “a major humanitarian disaster.”    “Men, women and children, they are ecstatic about the role of the coalition but worried that it may not continue,” he said.

Some critics complain that President Barack Obama should have consulted Congress more thoroughly.  Fair enough.  But remember that the intervention was almost too late because forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi were already in Benghazi. Indeed, there was a firefight Sunday right outside the hotel in Benghazi where foreign journalists are staying. A couple of days of dutiful consultation would have resulted in a bloodbath and, perhaps, the collapse of the rebel government.    Just before the air-strikes, Libyans were pouring across the border into Egypt at seven times the normal rate. Once the strikes began, the exodus ended and the flow reversed. For all the concern about civilian casualties, Libyans are voting with their feet — going toward the air-strikes because they feel safer thanks to them.

Critics of the intervention make valid arguments. It’s true that there are enormous uncertainties:   Can the rebels now topple Gadhafi? What’s the exit strategy? How much will this cost?    But weighed against those uncertainties are a few certainties:  If not for this intervention, Libyan   civilians would be dying on a huge scale;   Gadhafi’s family would be locked in place for years;   and the message would have gone out to all dictators that ruthlessness works.

The momentum has reversed. Further air-strikes on Gadhafi’s artillery and armor will help.   So would jamming Gadhafi’s radio and television broadcasts.  Arab countries are already delivering weapons and ammunition to the rebels, boosting their capabilities and morale. In short, there are risks ahead, but also opportunities.

A senior White House official says that the humanitarian argument was decisive for Obama: “The president was chilled by what would happen to the people of Benghazi and Tobruk. There were critical national security and national interest reasons to do this, but what compelled the president to act so quickly was the immediate prospect of mass atrocities against the people of Benghazi and the east. He was well aware of the risks of military action, but he also feared the costs of inaction.”

I’ve seen war up close, and I detest it. But there are things I’ve seen that are even worse — such as the systematic slaughter of civilians as the world turns a blind eye. Thank God that isn’t happening this time.

Nicholas D. Kristof writes for The New York Times.

(Well said, Mr. Kristof. and I couldn’t agree more!   Jan)

Geese be gone

Dixie, a boarder collie with Go Geese Go, educates a few geese to nest somewhere beyond a Westerville field

G E E S E   b e   G O N E

Dogs often successful at making the flying pests vamoose

By Amy Saunders THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
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The three Canada geese resting on the placid water began honking in alarm:    Predators, they warned one another.
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Two border collies approached stealthily, their heads lowered and eyes locked on the objects of their herding instincts.
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“Come-bye,” Pat Lee directed one of his dogs, sending him sprinting clockwise around the pond as the geese began to swim.
“Away,” he told the other, who took off to confront the geese from the opposite direction. Suddenly trapped in a corner of the pond, the geese felt threatened enough to fly away and out of sight. Lee calls the process “educating the geese”: The Westerville Community Center, they should know, is not a safe residence. “That’ll do here,” he said to Dixie and Cutter, using another call for herding sheep — and now geese.

Pat Lee cleans Cutter after a job at Hoff Woods Park in Westerville.

Last year, hundreds of geese lived around the recreation center. This spring, Randy Auler — director of Westerville Parks and Recreation — has counted a maximum of eight since the city hired Lee’s business, Go Geese Go, with two people and five dogs.
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Dogs, which have proved themselves effectively scary in places such as Central Park in New York and the lake beaches of Chicago, represent a type of goose-fighting ammunition recommended by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (along with shell crackers and propane cannons.)    “The whole idea behind harassment is to make those geese feel so uncomfortable in an area that they don’t want to be there,” said Gary Ludwig, a wildlife biologist for the Division of Wildlife.
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“That fear of a predator, that eye contact with the dog — that’s what really unnerves geese.”    This month marks the start of mating season, when the division’s central Ohio office typically receives about 180 complaints of “goose conflicts.” A gander, trying to protect his mate sitting on her nest, sometimes flies directly at people, hissing and trying to strike them with his feet and wings.
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Hunting season for geese starts in September but not within the city, where geese have found comfortable homes near office buildings, apartment complexes and other places where developers have created ponds as scenic lunch spots.    “What they really need to do is build something really nasty,” Lee said. “You give them manicured grass, and you give them a clear line of sight so they see there are no predators around — and it’s goose heaven right there.”
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Lee became obsessed with scare tactics in 2000, when bottle rockets and actual wild-goose chases failed to deter the birds from taking over his backyard pond in Pataskala.    Learning about the use of herding dogs, he found a solution to his problemand an idea for a business that has grown to include 45 clients. A few other Columbus-area companies also use dogs as goose fighters, each with its own plan of attack.
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Lee’s dogs stalk the geese slowly and silently, not wanting the herding game to end.    Meanwhile, Fred Buxton’s Labrador retriever, his partner at Duck Duck Goose, starts barking on the drive to the property, then sprints directly at the geese when given the chance.    “I’ve seen as many as 1,000 geese, where it looked like someone took a goose pepper shaker and just shook them out everywhere,” he said. “I let my dog out, and . . . he ran them clear off.    “I was kind of upset because I got some new pyrotechnics and I didn’t get to use them.”
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The Wildlife Control Co., which also handles other animal problems, owns three dogs, but owner Dick Shearer also likes to repel geese with fireworks or barriers he installs.    “Handling Canada geese is kind of like going to war,” he said. “If you only use one tactic, you’re probably going to fail.”
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Lee’s war on geese can make for 12-hour workdays as he visits properties twice a day, six days a week.    He wouldn’t disclose his rates, which are based on the time and “infestation level” of the property.    Westerville, Auler said, pays a monthly fee of $750 a property in hopes of alleviating residents’ No. 1 complaint to the department: goose poop. On Lee’s rounds last week, he visited a goose-free office building in Dublin where, before his company was hired, the mess required that the sidewalks be power-washed every morning.    Geese were also absent at a nearby medical office, where   employees had been inadvertently tracking the toxic droppings inside. During his first year there, Lee found 17 nests on the property.
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Property owners who have tried other goose deterrents can apply for a state permit to destroy nests or shake the eggs inside. (The mother will continue to sit on the nest, not realizing that the eggs won’t hatch.)    And, when all else fails, the Department of Natural Resources also issues permits allowing adult geese to be captured and euthanized.
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For now, though, Lee and his dogs are working to prevent the birds from building a nest in the first place.    Some geese immediately recognized them as a threat, honking as soon as they saw Lee’s familiar white SUV pull up to a Dublin office building last week. They flew away when he walked behind the car to let the dogs out.    Others put up a good fight, scrambling to rebuild nests between Lee’s two daily visits and, on the day that the dogs stay home, turning the property into “goose party central,” Lee said.    At Hoff Woods Park in Westerville, the dogs had scared several geese out of the pond when, a few minutes later, an emboldened goose returned to make another landing on the water.    “Get in there, Dixie!” called Lee, sending the dogs into the pond.    “Walk up! Good girl!”    The goose led his chasers in a 50-yard swim before again flying away, apparently feeling defeated.    “That’s what we love to see,” he said. “The geese can only take so much pressure.”
asaunders@dispatch.com

March 26, 2011

EFT on PTSD

Filed under: Carol Look - EFT Master,EFT for PTSD — Jan Turner @ 2:14 am
Tags: ,

EFT Newsletter 23 Mar 2011 Home |   Order |   Archives |   Subscribe The “Sharing My Experiences with EFT” series of articles: March, 2011 marks the third anniversary of what is the single largest EFT project ever documented. In March, 2008 a group of volunteer combat veterans, each diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress or PTSD, some accompanied with a family member, were joined by an elite team of EFT practitioners headed up by Gray Craig to conduct a week-long intensive therapy project. That effort, and subsequent therapeutic intensives, resulted in a major feature-length documentary film and an outreach effort known as the OPERATION: Emotional Freedom Project. This unprecedented documenting of EFT for the treatment of complex PTSD provides everyone studying, using, or simply looking into energy therapy numerous and long term, evidence-based examples of this protocol at work on one of the most difficult and persistent conditions. The OPERATION: Emotional Freedom story stands as a testament to what is possible when dedicated, skilled practitioners and courageous subjects come together. Follow-up research studies and presentations on this work have already found their way to the halls of Congress in the U.S. and to audiences of practitioners, veterans and the interested public around the world. EFT Universe is pleased to present a series of articles by some of the participants in the project offering their reflections and accounts of this milestone effort in the use of EFT.

Sharing My Experience using EFT – Carol Look

EFT Master Carol Look speaks of her experience working with war veterans using EFT to reduce Post Traumatic Stress. In her words, “The intensity of the program schedule allowed for minimal downtime or rest, but I couldn’t focus on that when I was witnessing such dramatic emotional changes in these veterans.” Visit Carol’s website


by Carol Look

The Challenge of a Lifetime:

Carol LookWhen Gary Craig invited me to be a part of the trauma team for the Veterans’ retreat, my first thought was “Absolutely, I know we can help them and change their lives!” My second thought was “But… I’m not sure I can handle all the trauma, death, and stories about blown up bodies from the veterans…” and my third thought was “but I have EFT, of course I can handle it!”  And I answered with a resounding “yes” to participating in the project.

Why PTSD Veterans for the Intensive Pilot Project?

The biggest attraction to the pilot therapy project for me was my confidence that the team could provide significant healing to the veterans with PTSD.  I had experienced enough results in my long term practice and more than a decade of providing EFT workshops, and I knew this group of veterans was in desperate need of help.  I had been hearing how they had been underserved and inadvertently neglected by healing communities, and knew we could change this sad fact.  If these veterans with severe symptoms of PTSD could be helped, I knew the project would encourage thousands of lay people who had not been in war battles to use EFT or ask their doctors and health care workers for this “new” and sometimes odd looking treatment.

VeteransNot only are the veterans overwhelmed when they return home, health care workers get overwhelmed by helping them and feeling inadequate to affect any real change.  Medications have not proven that useful, and the therapeutic techniques available to date for them haven’t done enough to relieve their suffering in any measurable ways.  (We heard even more grim stories about inadequate treatment from the veterans themselves during the retreat.)

After our team meeting where we read and discussed the bios of the participating veterans, I knew we had a very steep uphill battle!  These veterans had been suffering for years, some of them for decades, and were on multiple medications with multiple diagnoses, and viewed, sadly, by the medical establishment as virtually incurable.  The medications were used sometimes in desperation to “stabilize” the symptoms or the patient’s mental health, but the veterans often appeared to be barely hanging on.  VeteransI still felt confident we could make significant strides and reduce their suffering from PTSD syndromes and symptoms, but I knew we had a really tough job ahead of us.

I was bolstered by my hope that once people saw what EFT could do for these veterans, other traumatized clients might be open and willing to try this new treatment.

As the Therapy Week Progressed:

In my sessions and in others, team members saw significant progress on Day One of the retreat.  My remaining yes but what if…fears and doubts quickly subsided as I focused on the work ahead and on helping the veterans reduce the flashbacks, nightmares, and torturous visions they had been suffering from on a daily basis.  What we witnessed was progressive improvement as the veterans reported feeling and looked incrementally better with each successive session.

The way I work is to tap on myself while the client sits in front of me and taps on him/herself.  This of course greatly reduced the “secondary trauma” that I was exposed to during the sessions.  I heard stories and witnessed pain I had never experienced before in my life, in spite of years of working with clients with trauma, addictions, and abuse.  So throughout the week, I continued to tap on myself during and outside of the sessions I was conducting. I often had to “clean up” leftover emotional trauma after having listened to the stories I heard.  I am a “visual” and some of the scenes described to me left images that were horrific, anxiety provoking and stomach-turning.

The veterans’ emotional progress was visible immediately.  Many veterans and their family members were astonished by the reduced symptoms and improved moods during the group gatherings.  Several had called home and heard responses from other family members noting their obvious progress.  Many reported sleeping better the first night after their initial introduction to tapping. The momentum of success and hope was building, as it always does with EFT.  Small as well as significant successes encouraged each veteran and confirmed team members’ confidence that we could make huge inroads into these troubling symptoms that were destroying lives.

CarlinThe 26 year old veteran, Carlin, who had completed two tours of duty in Iraq appeared “stone cold” the first night we all gathered.  His stories were gruesome and haunted him nightly.  He had admitted to basically trying to obliterate his life with alcohol.  He was completely emoti  onless, and looked as if he wasn’t present at all.  The observing psychiatrist present throughout the week long intensive said Carlin had what was known as the “thousand yard stare” of traumatized patients.  He was visibly shaking during our first session on Day One, terrified that while we were offering him “help” it required that he revisit some or many of his wartime memories. During the first session, Carlin opened up and divulged several haunting memories.  Carlin2His affect, demeanor, voice and attitude was vastly improved after one short session.  He reported sleeping without alcohol for the first time in months or years, and felt peaceful and relaxed.  His mother, who also attended the retreat, said his progress was noticeable and uplifting.

Art Fritog, a Vietnam vet with severe PTSD issues, was also making significant progress;  his emotional and physical pains had been reduced on the first day.  Art’s wife Carole who suffered from debilitating migraines also showed immediate improvement.  I watched as Art and his wife started tapping with and on each other in between the sessions provided by the team.

Carole

I knew that for Art and Carole to continue their progress and experience success at home after the week long retreat, they would need couples sessions as well, which proved to be very successful later in the retreat.

By Day Two of the Retreat, several other veterans were also looking different, their moods seemed lighter, some of them actually laughed or smiled for the first time since we met them Sunday night.  The extreme hyper-vigilance, a hallmark of PTSD, had lifted.

Carlin2The entire group had opened up emotionally and were able to give each other support and feedback about their behavior, their demeanor, mood, and interpersonal interactions.  My fellow trauma team members seemed exhausted from the tough schedule, but determined to continue and elated by the signs of movement and progress.  I know I felt that way.  The intensity of the program schedule allowed for minimal downtime or rest, but I couldn’t focus on that when I was witnessing such dramatic emotional changes in these veterans.

The Legacy of the Project

The film documenting this project, OPERATION: Emotional Freedom, offers an extraordinary account of progress, success, hope and triumph over debilitating psychological and physiological symptoms as a result of witnessing or participating in trauma, torture, abuse and war.  The film is at times painful, moving, touching and exciting – the “take away” is that in spite of the mental health field’s history of providing inadequate tools for military veterans, there is now irrefutable evidence that a tool exists to restore them to mental and physical health.

The project accomplished more than I could have dreamed possible, even though we knew the value and strength of EFT for treating PTSD ahead of time. For veterans and their families, it offers hope and encouragement that there is “life after combat” – and not just a life of merely existing, but a life of joy and peace.  For me as an EFT practitioner, I know I will never be the same again.  The intensity, the trauma stories and the exhilarating success of reducing the veterans’ PTSD symptoms has literally changed every cell in my body.  I am truly grateful to the veterans for their vulnerability, willingness to share their pain, hard work and continuous tapping.

This work was not just important for the mental and physical health of the volunteer veterans, but for the future of EFT.  The record of this pilot project, now on film, gives the EFT population a tangible results-oriented success story to offer up as evidence of the possibilities this treatment protocol is capable of delivering.  While the traditional therapy community continues to dismiss EFT and Energy Psychology as fringe or even useless therapies for PTSD and other challenges, the documentation of this work (including follow up interviews with the veterans and their family members) will be instrumental in spreading the word to the self help, therapy, as well as veterans’ communities worldwide.

Health CareFor health care workers, I hope the project is deeply inspiring – it’s hard to believe that after viewing this film, any health care worker would ever give up on anyone with deep and supposedly “incurable” PTSD!  EFT is a serious therapeutic tool that could literally change thousands of lives of returning veterans who are suffering from the disorientation of re-entering civilian life, as well as traditional PTSD. We know the extent to which tapping can relieve trauma, flashbacks, nightmares, violent memories, physical responses to trauma and constant hyper-vigilance.  Healthcare workers deserve to have this tool available to them, and veterans and others suffering from PTSD deserve to have the tool available for self-help use as well as during sessions with their counselors.

The documentary has introduced EFT and tapping to thousands of newcomers who would never have heard of Energy Psychology unless they were interested in or related to someone in the veterans communities across the world.  DVDs have been sold and donated to dozens of countries.

The film has of course attracted more interest to the EFT community, and I and the other trauma trained therapists have done radio interviews about the project, and have made important contacts for collaborating with VA therapists in our various states.  The potential for follow up training for already established EFT practitioners as well as new mental health care workers is vast.

I had several follow up telephone sessions with Carlin as he navigated being back living with his father and working out his relationship with his girlfriend and fellow veterans.  The most important point I made at the end of our sessions was that he needed to continue using this tool for the stressors in his life.  He didn’t need to be reminded, as he recognized how dramatically different he felt and behaved after the retreat.  I also participated in one of the group calls with the veterans and have spoken to Bob on the telephone.

Carlin3

Working with PTSD

While we were all taught to “try it on everything” with EFT there are some important cautions for practitioners.  I consider the PTSD group of clients in the world among the most challenging to treat.  First, the material they have been haunted by and bring up in sessions can be surprising and emotionally overwhelming for the practitioner.  (As much as I had heard on the news about the wars over years, I had never talked to someone face to face who discussed and described body parts and death in this unique way.)  Second of all, since a key feature of PTSD is not trusting outsiders and having a near phobic fear of addressing the old wounds, getting them to open up in the first place is difficult and problematic.  Third, practitioners who do not have adequate trauma training may be unprepared for sudden and unpredictable reactions of someone with severe PTSD, such as sudden suicidal thoughts and feelings, rage, the sudden onset of  physical symptoms, hostility, panic attacks).  With this in mind, I collaborated with film director Eric Huurre to create the follow up PTSD series for advanced Energy Psychology students who want to pursue their training in the treatment of trauma.

Creating a PTSD Training Series

While the film is a fantastic introduction to the potential for successful trauma treatment for veterans, I was passionate about exploring the PTSD training set with the Vietnam veteran Art Fritog and his wife, Carole.  Not only had they suffered the longest out of the veterans in the group (4 decades) they had immediate concerns and at risk issues that needed addressing at home.  They had 10 children and several grandchildren under their care, and the escalation of Art’s symptoms was truly dangerous for the family.  In addition, Carole’s debilitating migraine syndrome and unhealthy patterns of trying to calm her husband down while in the midst of a PTSD episode/reaction, were not and had never worked well for either of them.

ArtIn my opinion, serious trauma training has been missing from the available training products in the energy psychology world. Practitioners end up treating traumas “accidentally” – for instance, a smoker attends sessions for smoking cessation, and unbeknownst to the practitioner, deep and troubling traumas are right under the surface of the cravings and anxiety when cigarettes are taken away.  We bump into traumas all the time, and while EFT is an exceptional tool, details about what trauma looks like, feels like, and how it affects the clients has been missing for most of us.

Carole2The PTSD training set is a must see for and mental health practitioner serious about treating any kind of trauma – not just veteran trauma.  The sessions portrayed in the 18 hours of DVD instruction are so powerful in their immediacy and as evidenced in the follow up videos, instrumental in saving this family from further hurt and pain.  Practitioners will immediately advance their skills as trauma practitioners, and can learn the how-to’s of advanced trauma treatment with EFT on even the most challenging cases.  While showing slightly different styles, hour by hour, the PTSD training set details how different advanced practitioners work to unpack a trauma gently, definitively and successfully so the clients are left with peace, forgiveness and insight into their own psyche and reactions to their environments.

ThanksPersonal Thanks

The success of the EFT sessions with the Fritog family are shown in subtle as well as obvious changes in their attitudes, behaviors, perceptions, and the follow up maintenance of their symptom reduction when they returned home to their family.  I can’t express my gratitude enough to this family for allowing us a window into their pain, thereby allowing us a way to teach others how to relieve this pain and spread the effectiveness of EFT to treat PTSD throughout the veteran and trauma communities.

Carol Look, EFT Master

Tea Party on Waste

Tea party gets credit for reining in waste

FROMA HARROP

When it comes to my sanity, the tea party often taketh away. I go nuts when they throw out huge sums to cut from budgets without getting into details. Ditto when they bash the scraps spent on  poor children, then defend their plush Medicare benefits. Double ditto when they insist that they’ve paid for said Medicare bennies through their payroll taxes and subscriber costs. (They haven’t come   close.) Then you have their naive claim that the budget crisis can be fixed without new taxes.

But I haven’t come here to complain about the tea party.   Nay.   There are times when the movement has delivered totally “giveth” moments. Let me cite some.    Republicans have a hard time wrapping their brains around the idea that defense spending can be wasteful. Thus, congressional Republicans find it politically handy to hide their little job-creation programs behind the banner of national security. Some tea party members have decided to call them on the practice.

Case in point, several tea party Republicans helped Congress ditch an alternate fighter jet engine that the Pentagon didn’t want to spend money on but that Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner did.  The engine represented 1,000 jobs in Boener’s  Ohio.   Bravo to the 44 Republican freshmen who voted against it. (Let the record also note that nine Republican freshmen from Ohio and Indiana, where the engine was also being developed, voted in favor.)

The tea party’s finest hour was when it forced Congress to at least temporarily do away with earmarks, the nice word for “pork.”   Earmarks help politicians skirt normal budgeting procedures to fund their pet projects, often at the behest of campaign contributors.    The pork-meisters insisted that earmarks add relatively little to budget deficits, which is true. Last year, they amounted to less than 1 percent of total spending.    But even a small slice off the mega-billion pie is still serious money. Remember when House Republicans sought spending cuts for a temporary plan to avert a government shutdown? They looked in the pile set aside for earmarks and,  lo and behold,  found nearly $3 billion.

More worrisome than the actual cost of earmarks is the way they can feed huge spending elsewhere. Here’s how it works: A powerful member of the appropriations committee grants Rep. X   $1 million in pork for a museum back home, but with this condition:     Rep. X must agree to vote for the committee’s spending bill, however bloated it may be.    Both parties have long taken great pleasure in handing out pork.   Happily, the tea party movement was able to scare both sides of the aisle into giving it up this year. To be specific, it forced two powerful pork-loving senators — Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada — to hoist the white flag on earmarks.

Bravo, guys. I raise my cup to you.

The next spending frontier for the tea party movement should be farm subsidies. Many so-called conservative lawmakers support them because they represent  rural areas where these government handouts are big money. Thus, they may need a swift kick from the tea party crowd.    After President Barack Obama proposed cutting farm subsidies for the richest agribusinesses, nine Republican senators wrote to complain. And various tea parties have backed candidates who were personally taking hundreds of thousands out of the program.  One would be Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who actually leads the House Tea Party Caucus.

No group is better positioned to put conservative lawmakers’ feet to the fire on addressing wasteful farm subsidies. Do tea party members with principles have the guts to go there? Nothing else they do would earneth more praise.

Froma Harrop writes for Creators Syndicate.  fharrop@projo.com

March 25, 2011

Millions vs Monsanto

Filed under: Organic Consumers Assoc — Jan Turner @ 3:40 pm
Tags: ,

ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOC

Video of the Week

Millions Against Monsanto

This is the first OCA Millions Against Monsanto Campaign video that we’ve created in-house. Look for more videos from OCA in the future! Visit our YouTube channel, too.

Watch

March 24, 2011

50yr old drug/new Windfall

ALLIANCE FOR NATURAL HEALTH usa

How the FDA Turned a $10 Treatment into a $30,000-Per-Pregnancy Pharmaceutical Money-Maker

March 22, 2011

big pharmaWhen a new FDA drug-and-money scandal has doctors, US senators, and even the March of Dimes in an uproar, you know it’s bad. A new Action Alert!

A drug which the FDA approved more than half a century ago—which doctors have been prescribing for their patients with high-risk pregnancies through compounding pharmacies with great success—was designated by the FDA an “orphan drug.” Now KV Pharmaceutical has been given the exclusive right of production and sale (not to mention drug trial tax breaks!). They immediately raised the price from $10 per dose to $1,500—simply because they could.

The drug is a synthetic form of progesterone given as a weekly injection. It has been made cheaply for years and produced in compounding pharmacies. The price hike means that the total cost during a pregnancy could be as much as $30,000.

Doctors say the $30,000 price tag will almost certainly deter low-income women from getting the drug, leading to more premature births. Dr. Roger Snow, deputy medical director for Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, was quoted as saying, “That’s a huge increase for something that can’t be costing them that much to make. For crying out loud, this is about making money!” And Dr. Arnold Cohen, an obstetrician at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, observed, “I’ve never seen anything as outrageous as this.”

Besides the grave jeopardy placed on the mothers and their infants, this will create a huge financial burden for the health insurance companies, private citizens, and government programs that have to pay for it. In the long run, because of birth complications, the babies will need to be hospitalized for perhaps months—and, for low-income mothers, all at the expense of taxpayers.    On top of that, lung issues at birth can have lifelong repercussions on the individual’s health with an increased propensity toward asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia, among other early birth issues.

The March of Dimes—a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing birth defects—received funding from KV Pharmaceutical and supported the company’s New Drug Application. Now the organization has started backtracking in the face of all the public outrage. They just sent a letter to KV “expressing our serious concern about the price of Makena.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has sent a letter to KV Pharmaceutical asking the company to “immediately reconsider” its pricing. “I am deeply concerned that your company appears to be taking advantage of FDA approval at the expense of women, children and federal and state budgets,” Brown wrote. “By ratcheting up prices, fewer women will be able to afford the drug, increasing rates of preterm birth nationwide. This isn’t in the interest of children, new mothers, or taxpayers.” Sen. Brown, along with Sen. Klobuchar, followed this with a letter to the FTC commission to investigate potential anticompetitive conduct by KV Pharmaceutical from the increase in price.

Not surprisingly, the backlash over the unconscionable price hike has been significant—so much that KV hired the public relations firm Golin Harris to handle the mess.

Compounding Pharmacies to the Rescue

The FDA originally approved 17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17OHPC, or 17P for short) under the trade name Delalutin in 1956 to halt impending miscarriages. It was deemed safe but the manufacturer took it off the market in 2000 because it was eventually shown to be ineffective in stopping miscarriages.

When the drug was no longer available, compounding pharmacies were able to compound 17P’s ingredients and sell the product to patients whose physicians had prescribed it. Pharmacists can legally compound FDA-approved products when a drug is not commercially available (as was the case when the manufacturer pulled it from the market), or when a prescriber determines that the compounded preparation is more clinically appropriate for an individual patient (as when someone is allergic to one particular element in the preparation but another can easily be substituted).

After large controlled trials in the mid-2000s showed that 17P could prevent premature births, the compound was given “orphan drug” status by the FDA.    An orphan drug is a pharmaceutical agent that has been developed specifically to treat a relatively rare medical condition, and the designation gives the manufacturer clinical trial tax incentives. It also gives the manufacturer the exclusive right for seven years to manufacture and sell the drug. Of course in this case, premature birth is not a rare condition at all.

As soon as FDA gave the drug (now trademarked as Makena) orphan drug status, its manufacturer, KV Pharmaceutical, sent a cease-and-desist letter to compounding pharmacists, stating that “FDA…views compounded drugs to be ‘new drugs’ within the meaning of 21 U.S.C 312(p) and as such they may not be introduced into interstate commerce without FDA approval.”

The Orphan Drug Act is meant to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for diseases that have a small market, and it has resulted in medical breakthroughs that may not have otherwise been achieved due to the economics of drug research and development. But this is a drug which was already developed, already approved, already in use, and has been costing $10 per treatment for many years. To raise the price to $1,500 per injection just because they can is unconscionable.

This is just another attempt by Big Pharma to monopolize substances. You may recall our campaign to keep pharmaceutical companies’ hands off bioidentical estriol and bioavailable B6.

Please take action on this issue! Ask the FDA to allow compounding pharmacies to continue making a compounded version of 17P. Even if KV Pharmaceutical now has exclusive right to sell the original formulation that was developed in 1954, compounding pharmacies should be allowed—since it is their legal right to do so—to make and sell compounded formulations that are similar but more clinically appropriate for an individual patient.

TO SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FDA

Click THIS LINK to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress, the FDA, etc.

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