SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

November 27, 2013

Pope’s “Manifesto”

ANDREW MEDICHINI ASSOCIATED PRESS Pope Francis criticized an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy” in the church and called for more female involvement in decision-making and support for women in poverty or turmoil.

Pope wants his church more ‘out on the street’

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church should concentrate less on procedures and liturgy and get “dirty” and “bruised” by reaching out to people in the street, Pope Francis wrote in a document that was released yesterday and is seen as a manifesto for his papacy.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella presented the mission statement for Pope Francis’ papacy.

The 224-page “apostolic exhortation,” called The Joy of the Gospel, summarized many of the themes and ideas that the Argentine-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has raised since his election in March.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” the pontiff wrote.

Francis, who has consistently shunned papal pomp and protocol, railed against an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy … without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people.”

“In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few,” he warned.

  • Hinting at potentially far-reaching reforms in the Vatican’s male-dominated world, the pope called for “a more incisive female presence in the Church,” especially “where important decisions are made.”

At the same time, he signaled an intention to delegate power to bishops around the globe, going as far as saying that the pope should not “be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the church and the world.”

  • Francis also renewed his well-known criticism of unbridled capitalism, denouncing inequality as “the root of social ills.”  He said there will be “no solution” to world ills until the problems of the poor are addressed by rejecting “the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality.”

While pleading for better relations with Jews and Muslims , he “humbly” asked Islamic countries “to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith.” He noted that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.”

On family issues, the pope reasserted the church’s traditional stances.

Speaking out against divorce, he said marriage “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple” and criticized those who see it “as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.”

On abortion, he said it is “not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.” But he added that the church had “done little” to support women “in very difficult situations,” such as those suffering from extreme poverty or pregnancy from rape.

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Stunningly Beautiful Apostolic Exhortation

In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. (Pope Francis)


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – It will take your breath away in its evangelical fervor, spiritual insight, beauty, profound theology and depth of insight. Officially released this morning, the first Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope Francis is entitled The Joy of the Gospel and it will send shockwaves of the Holy Spirit when its impact is fully experienced.

The Exhortation was offered to the faithful on the Feast of Christ the King when Francis symbolically handed it to a Bishop, a Priest, a Deacon and a Lay leader in a public gesture. As with everything he does, he was, in those words attributed to his namesake, Francis of Assisi, “preaching the gospel at all times and when necessary using words”. The symbolic gesture indicated what this extraordinary exhortation, already being hailed as the manifesto of this Pope, confirms – this exhortation contains the marching orders for a new missionary age of the Church in the Third Millennium.

I will spend the Thanksgiving break praying through this beautiful gift to the whole Church.I suggest all of my readers do the same. The Exhortation is 224 pages along, including a wonderful topical index, available at the beginning or the end, depending on the version. It is made for prayerful meditation as well as deep, continual study. A review of it this morning brought me to tears and made me grateful to be alive in this age. However, it is more than a piece for reflection, it is a manifesto for action, a call to mission, and a blueprint.

  • You can print the apostolic exhortation off for yourself in HTML format here.Or, in PDF format here.I strongly advise every one of my readers to do so, immediately. Put it in a three ring binder and let it rock your world.

It will make for wonderful Thanksgiving reflective prayer and reading. It will also lend itself to resolutions as the new Church year, as well as the new secular year, both begin. It will soon be available in book format from several great sources. DO NOT WAIT! You will want to read this immediately – and prayerfully.Then, you will want to begin to live it. You will also want it with you  for continual reference next to where you pray.That is when the paperback version will be especially useful. Get those highlighters ready! I end with a short quote from the exhortation:

*     *     *     *     *

Beginning of the Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

1. THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

I. A JOY EVER NEW, A JOY WHICH IS SHARED
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven.

Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!…

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2013
General Intention:
Suffering Priests. That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity.
Missionary Intention: Latin American Churches. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.

(My comment:

It may be hard to realize this, but I am not a member of the Catholic Church, tho this may be the 5th or more of the posts I’ve done on this beloved man.  I am so taken with his mission and the quality of him which shines through in his every action.  If one could join this church by heart content alone, I might reconsider my iconoclastic stance on all things religiously organized. To me, that says something about the power this persona generates and unleashes to the world — which can only uplift. 

An internet search rewarded me with a source which would allow us to print out this document, for I feel it arrives at a significant time in our world’s struggle and his insight is healing and needed and most certainly comes from on high.  You’ll find it easily, as I bulleted the line.

He continues to be an amazing blessing.   Jan)

November 26, 2013

Mental Health?. .anyone

Crime & the courts

Pediatric doctor pleads guilty to viewing child-porn    at home, job

By Kathy Lynn Gray THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Christopher Pelloski

Dr. Christopher E. Pelloski rocketed into the rarefied air of top-notch oncology programs as soon as he became a doctor in 2001.   He found his niche treating children whose lives were threatened — and often taken — by brain cancer and eventually was recruited to a top position in the pediatric radiation-oncology program at Ohio State University’s Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital.

Yesterday, he crashed to the ground.   “I plead guilty, your honor,” Pelloski told U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley as he admitted viewing child pornography on his home computer and his work laptop.

Pelloski, 39, was arrested in July and charged with one count of accessing child pornography after a yearlong investigation by the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.   “It’s tragic for everybody,” R. William Meeks, Pelloski’s attorney, said after the hearing. “He had extraordinary medical talents.”

Grove City police detective Rick Stiller testified that the Pelloski investigation began in October 2012 when investigators linked his computer address to a pornographic movie featuring a 7-year-old girl performing oral sex on an adult male.   Pelloski’s Roxbury Road home in Upper Arlington was searched in July, and 85 child-porn files were found on the doctor’s computer. Pelloski reached an agreement with U.S. attorneys that led to the guilty plea in federal court yesterday.

Marbley allowed Pelloski to remain free on bond. He is on electronic monitoring at home and must have another adult in the room when he has contact with his 6-year-old twins.

Meeks said his client has accepted full responsibility for his actions.   “It’s almost impossible to explain the circumstances, but clearly it’s a mental-health issue,” Meeks said. “It’s a real struggle to balance the good he’s done for 95 percent of his life with this crime.”

Meeks said his client is under mental-health care.

A conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set. kgray@dispatch.com

(My Comment:  

The parents among us will no doubt have a tendency to recoil from this post. I think it might be a natural reaction.  We start imagining what we might do if such an awful thing happened with our child — that we learn  our pediatrician pled guilty to such a charge.  Anger,  indignation, disgust. . . sickened?   Careful. . . how healthy are we?   More than anything, I am confused, how could this be? 

Read it again — it’s a short  piece.  This is a brilliant man with everything going for him.  People openly admire him in his professional life, he was exemplary.    I agree with his attorney, its a struggle to balance this  excellent good which he has lived and done with the evident sexual interest.  The word “crime” is used in connection with all this which took place in federal court.  This is a really big deal. 

To me or you, his interest in pornographic movies may seem prurient, but thousands of people enjoy that sort of thing. Its allowed and legal.  What makes this different is the fact that it is children who are performing.  He isn’t making the movies, he watching what others have made.  I’m just hard pressed to see a possible 10 year sentence being discussed and a possible $250,000 fine – – how does it come to this? Don’t think he will ever practice again.  

I personally feel like taking a whip in each hand and beating anyone to death who subjects children to this disgusting activity.  They’ll have mostly , too much to overcome, if they survive their childhood.  But that’s me,  I’ve had some difficult moments as a child and some things don’t leave, if you’re lucky, you separate from them, eventually.  

Apparently, Dr Pelloski has not injured anyone, nor was he described as having any offensive behavior.  There would be no issue whatsoever, had not people been spying on him and invading his personal space.  What’s next, . .  the thought police?  And yet, a murderer like George Zimmerman walks free after killing unarmed, innocent Trayvon Martin.  Our justice system sucks.  

So I’m sad and angry at the same time.  This is a pathetic case. This doctor is a vital man, contributing to society, but he has a weird pastime which is incongruent with his livelihood.  One wonders if this mental disparity will maybe cause him to snap one day and hurt a child.  So does he get labeled a predator even tho he has never hurt anyone and probably never would.  I have no answers on any of it.  But I do have a gnawing discontent that it ain’t right.  Hate it.  And the world should not rush to judgement because what is needed is understanding. . . . .  just sayin’. . . .Jan)

Bulletproof Coffee, clarity -pep

So Much More to Coffee than we ever knew

Thought I did this post a few weeks ago, but I can’t find it.  So I’m doing it again because I’d like you all to get this (if you don’t already).  I knew that my son Jeff makes “Bulletproof” coffee and swears by it. .  . that its so good and he feels so much better — you can’t buy anything which comes close to it in any of the upscale coffee shops, he says.   Well, he gave me a link and I went the whole nine yards, did it! 

Looking at the recipe and how it’s done (sounded awful to me), but Jeff is seldom wrong which made me willing to try it.  But what got me serious about it is the coconut oil.  I need any way I can find to get it INTO my body.  Used to put it in my oatmeal and still do once in a while if I make it,  and also use it in morning shakes, but not up for those cold things during these winter months.  So need a new way.   Am giving two links here for Bulletproofexec.com.  I want to add —  be sure  follow the links where they are offered as one of them gives an interview with an Israeli man Ori something or other who speaks with quite an accent, but has such good tips  and valuable advice.  It seems to be in 3 parts.

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/category/coffee-2/

Can’t remember the price per pound of his coffee but I’m thinking $16 to $20.  It easier for me to go to Whole Foods — their organic is cheaper and excellent and what I use.  

I’ve known about the pesticides and the mold issue for quite a while which is why I use organic in the first place.    It is good  to know regular commercial coffee is a highly sprayed crop and the manufacturing process debases many of the valuable constituents in the coffee bean.which are highly prized as a health booster.

My habit has been to imbibe a few cups in the morning and have been using the non-dairy creamer (with all the chemicals).  If one goes the BP coffee route — 1 cup is all you need and no creamer (or indulge and use the real thing, organic cream with no chemicals and a little is all you need).  You feel “Up” all day, greatly energized and mentally, more clear.  Not hard to take!      Jan

November 25, 2013

Seattle elects 1st Socialist

Populism

Seattle elects Socialist to council

By Maria L. La Ganga • LOS ANGELES TIMES

SEATTLE — The rain was cold, dripping down her blue poncho, but the newly elected city councilwoman’s words sizzled. Surrounded by union workers gathered to support Boeing’s machinists, Kshama Sawantdenounced the two-party political  system,  corporate greed, military contracts and the leaders of the aerospace giant whose name has long been synonymous with Puget Sound.

“We don’t need the executives!” cried Seattle’s first elected Socialist in living memory, as the damp crowd cheered and rush-hour traffic hummed slowly by. “We need Boeing to be under democratic public ownership by workers — by the community!”

Sawant is the rare elected official with roots in the Occupy movement — the leaderless resistance effort that drew thousands of protesters around the globe to encampments including those at Wall Street, Los Angeles City Hall, the Mexican Stock Exchange and Seattle’s Westlake Park, where they demonstrated against income inequality in 2011. Her ascendance is an indicator of shifting Seattle politics — of how elections are run here and what voters are thinking.

Seattle’s City Council — ostensibly nonpartisan but stocked with Democrats — will soon be a two-party body. And there isn’t a Republican in sight.

Two weeks ago, on Election Day, the 41-year-old software-engineer-turned-far-left-sweetheart was trailing longtime incumbent Richard Conlin, 46 percent to 54 percent, and it looked as if the environmentalist who rode his bike to City Hall had won a fifth term.

But Washington is a vote-by-mail state, only a fraction of the ballots had been counted, and Sawant swore that she would unseat the fleece-vest-wearing Democrat — if not this time, then the next. She was certain, she told supporters, that late voters would break with tradition and veer left instead of right.

On Nov. 15, trailing his challenger by 1,640 votes, Conlin conceded. Last Sunday, Sawant held a victory rally. And on Monday, she was out with the proletariat, declaring, “It is time, high time, that we workers opt for a mass political alternative to the two big-business parties!”

Historian John Findlay, a University of Washington professor who specializes in the Pacific Northwest, calls this a stark moment in the Seattle story, one that underscores “the clash between different visions of economic justice.”

Yes, this has long been a liberal city, a place where great concern has been voiced, he said, about big corporations and “the power of capital.” One clear example came in 1999, when anti-globalization demonstrators swarmed the World Trade Organization gathering, shutting down the city. The National Guard was called out.

At the end of a campaign that saw Sawant promise to push for a $15-an-hour municipal minimum wage, Boeing announced that unless it got major concessions from the machinists and deep tax breaks from the state Legislature, it would look elsewhere for a site to build its 777X airliner.

Olympia said yes; the machinists said no. The fate of thousands of Pacific Northwest aerospace jobs is now an open question.

“We’ve just elected a City Council member who’s a socialist, and the Boeing Co. is wanting the machinists to give back what was won with bargaining,” Findlay said. “It’s a moment where there’s a lot of conflict over what economic justice is and who deserves what and what corporations will get away with.”

Just look at Seattle, Sawant said in an interview Tuesday afternoon: “It has become an unaffordable city for the vast majority. We have a proliferation of low-wage jobs. The cost of housing has been rising astronomically. … There is a deep dissatisfaction and disgust that the system does not offer much for working people.”

  • Sawant did not officially call herself a Socialist until after she moved here in 2006, but she says she thinks she always leaned that way. “I just didn’t know it for most of my childhood ,” she said. “My earliest memory growing up in Mumbai was looking at the ocean of poverty and misery around me and seeing great wealth at the same time.”

The “Meet Kshama” section of her campaign website begins with an angry quote from the candidate: “At a time of budget cuts, the Seattle City Council pays themselves nearly $120,000 a year, more than any other council in the U.S. except LA!” she says. “If elected, I will only take the average worker’s wage and donate the rest to building social movements.”

After working as a programmer for a year and a half, she enrolled in graduate school at North Carolina State University, where she earned a doctorate in economics. She teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College. She does not know whether she will continue there after she is sworn in this January.

  • She does know that she is “one of the 20 percent of (her) union who are forced to accept part-time jobs” because of what she calls the “abysmal state of public education funding.”

“I was offered a class for the fall quarter but I declined it,” said Sawant, who wanted to focus on the campaign instead. “I just get offered classes, quarter by quarter.”

Which brings the Socialist Alternative party member back to her comfort zone: the campaign and what she wants people to take away from it. Hope, the possibility of power, “a political alternative that represents us, not the corporate bosses.”

Or as she told the crowd in downtown Seattle on Monday night, standing in support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:

“Brothers and sisters, let’s work on this together.

“Let’s stand with Boeing workers, and we will end with a chant. When workers’ rights are under attack, what do we do?” she hollered.

“Stand up!” the group cried as one. ”Fight back!”

(My Comment: 

I don’t know if this piece tickled my funny bone or what — but it made me happy.  As many know, I have been so extremely distraught over our recent political system and it’s desperate determination to do nothing whatever for the people, but continue to serve their political masters who have bought and paid for them.  Well, I’m not going to leave my own country, but am really into the “independence thing” of the Independent party.  Nuts about Bernie Sanders — the soul and intelligence he shows and the amount he seems to be able to accomplish.  Is it just him, or because he is allowed more leeway within the framework of this party?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But others have tried running for President from this party and never got much going on.   

I will say, however, the citizens of our nation have never been this disenfranchised before. When even the Supreme Court shows such extreme bias and openly lies about “established precedent” and so on it is clear that they too have been drinking from the same ‘special tea’.  There’s no question about it.  This has been an orchestrated effort across our entire nation,  redistricting the political lines to limit and reshape the results of our voting efforts.  The limiting of voting rights in rules, location and length of time — all fully designed to deter voters who would challenge their comfortable perches. We are being whacked to pieces right before our own eyes.

Oh, so much more, but I just wanted to say Hey Kshama Sawant, go girl, can’t wait to hear more about you and what you do once you take your position up fully.  You’ve got my attention!    I had been hoping many more would come out of the “Occupy Movement,”  maybe you’ll stir some action. . .just sayin’. . .  Jan)

November 24, 2013

Infant mortality, a mystery

Infant mortality

Babies’ deaths frustrating

Baby deaths in Columbus and Franklin County exceed state and      national averages. A task force is out to find solutions.

By Misti Crane • THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

If the well-being of a community can be measured by the survival of its most-vulnerable residents, Columbus and Franklin County are in an undeniable crisis. On average, three babies who’ve not yet seen their first birthdays die each week in this county. Today, Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther is to announce a broad community effort to drive down the number of babies who die. An Infant Mortality Task Force — 18 people had agreed to be on it as of Friday — will begin meeting in January and is expected to have a plan by June, Ginther said.

The goal is to cut infant mortality in half in the next decade and erase disparities that make the outlook today much worse for black infants.

Some deaths can’t be avoided. But many can, primarily through prevention of premature births and making certain that babies sleep in safe environments — alone, on their backs and without toys and bedding that bring risks of suffocation. Much work already is being done in these areas, both statewide and locally.

  • But progress has been frustratingly slow for those who’ve long looked at infant mortality here and wondered how it can be so high — higher than the state’s, twice as high as New York City’s and higher than the nation’s.

In the third quarter of this year, there were 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in Franklin County. So far this year, the overall rate has been 8.3. Almost 13 percent of babies are premature, and more than 9 percent have a low birth weight. If you look at certain neighborhoods, the numbers get far worse.

“Why in God’s name do we have third-world infant-mortality rates in parts of our city?” Ginther said.

He and experts on the task force acknowledge socioeconomic obstacles that can be daunting. But they also know of communities — Baltimore and New York, for example — where challenges, including housing, poor nutrition and inadequate health care, have been met with change that is keeping more babies alive.

“We know we can do better,” said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long, who is part of the task force. “This is a prosperous, well-educated, caring city, and having high rates of infant mortality doesn’t reflect the values that we hold.”

People with expertise in health, housing, business, education, government and social services will be part of the group, as will parents, religious leaders and philanthropic organizations. The group also will rely on outside experts to guide its work.

Long said other communities have made headway in a variety of ways, including through legislative change.

This past summer saw the beginning of a Maryland law banning the sale of crib bumper pads, which are a suffocation risk. Baltimore residents on jury duty watch safe-sleep videos.

“There’s a growing understanding that it’s not just about health care,” Long said.

Dr. Steven Gabbe, CEO of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, along with leaders from the other hospital systems, is a task-force member. He well understands the obstacles to improving death rates. His wife, Dr. Pat Temple-Gabbe, works with expectant moms in parts of the city with some of the highest infant-mortality rates.

He once worked on a Pennsylvania study in which he and his team did everything they could think of to lower premature births in a group of women at high risk, and the numbers didn’t budge. Poverty, poor nutrition, lack of transportation and child-care challenges all likely stood in their way, Gabbe said.

@MistiCrane

Ireconsilable inequality

The economy

Profits not dented by recovery’s slow pace

By Christopher S. Rugaber and Ken Sweet ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — Look at the U.S. economy, and you’ll notice an unusual disconnect.    The economy is being slowed by a tight job market, scant pay raises and weak business investment. Yet corporate profits are reaching record highs and fueling record stock prices.

What gives?   How are companies managing to earn so much money in a sluggish economy? And why aren’t their profits goosing the economy?

For starters, weak job growth has held down pay. And since the recession struck six years ago, businesses have been relentless in cutting costs. They’ve also stockpiled cash rather than make new products or add lines of business. And they’ve been earning larger chunks of their profits abroad.

All this is a recipe for solid profits and tepid economic growth. The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first half of 2013. The unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, far above the 5 percent to 6 percent considered healthy.

Even so, corporate profits equaled 12.5 percent of the economy in the April-June quarter, just below a 60-year high reached two years ago. Profits of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 have nearly doubled since June 2009. Earnings appear to have risen again in the July-September quarter.

Big companies such as Kellogg, FedEx and Best Buy have been slashing costs in the face of slowing revenue. Their strategy has been working: Despite sluggish revenue, their profits are up.

Burger King’s sales dropped last quarter as competition intensified. Yet its earnings surged because it cut expenses and enjoyed growth abroad.

  • “Corporations have more market power than workers have, and have kept wage growth to subdued levels,” said Dean Maki, an economist at Barclays. “That’s left more for corporate profits.”

Those solid earnings have helped boost stock prices.  So has the Federal Reserve’s drive to keep long-term interest rates near record lows: Lower bond yields have led many investors to shift money out of bonds and into stocks, thereby boosting stock prices.

  • The Dow Jones industrial average has jumped about 22 percent this year, closing at a record-high 15,961.70 on Friday.

“If we ended the year at these levels, it would be a phenomenal year,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist with Nuveen Asset Management.

Factors that economists cite for the gap between profits and growth:

  • Flat pay
  • Wages and salaries equaled just 42.6 percent of the economy in the April-June quarter, near a record low set in 2011.
  • More than 8.5 million jobs were lost in the recession and its aftermath, leaving workforces leaner and more productive. Corporate revenue rose as the economy recovered.
  • But workers have benefited little. With unemployment still high, they’ve had little leverage to demand higher pay.
  • “We’ve just had a very lopsided economic recovery,” said Ethan Harris, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • Smaller paychecks have deprived Americans of money to spend. In the 30 years before the recession, consumer spending grew an average of 3.4 percent a year. Since 2010, just after the recovery began, it has risen just 2.2 percent a year.
  • “If workers don’t have any money, businesses don’t have any customers,” said Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur who has written about U.S. economic disparities.
  • The stock market’s gains have boosted total U.S. household wealth. But they haven’t enriched most Americans. The wealthiest 10 percent of households own about 80 percent of stocks.
  • Cost cutting

Last week, Kellogg said it would cut about 7 percent of its workforce — 2,200 jobs — by 2017. The cuts are part of a “global efficiency and effectiveness program,” the company said.

Even though Kellogg’s sales were flat in the July-September quarter compared with a year earlier, it squeezed out 2.5 percent more net income. A key factor: It cut administrative and borrowing costs. Its shares have risen 15 percent in the past year.

FedEx is cutting jobs, too. As its quarterly revenue rose 2 percent, its earnings grew 7 percent. The company has cut maintenance costs by replacing older aircraft with more fuel-efficient planes. The shift helped reduce maintenance costs 11 percent in the June-to-August quarter.

The average sales growth of an S&P 500 company was 2.35 percent in the first six months of 2013, down from 3.76 percent in 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ. The average profit margin for an S&P 500 company widened from 8.1 percent to 9.1 percent in the same period.

  • Cash hoarding

Higher profits could help the economy if corporations plowed them back into new plants, equipment and other projects. That hasn’t happened.

  • “Corporations have been extremely cautious in their spending in this recovery,” said Maki of Barclays.

Business spending on big-ticket items such as computers, industrial machinery and capital goods has remained about one-third below the average in previous recoveries, Harris estimates.

Instead, companies have stockpiled a record $1.8 trillion in cash, the Fed says, up nearly 10 percent since the recession ended in 2009. And thanks to the Fed’s drive to keep rates low, big companies have been able to borrow cheaply and replace their higher-cost debt.

All that has bolstered corporate finances and helped boost stock prices.     Why are companies holding back?

Economists say chronic budget fights in Washington and Europe’s financial crisis have left executives reluctant to commit to big projects. So have the uncertain consequences of the Obama administration’s health-care law, said Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

  • Globalization

Rising international competition has lowered wages as a share of the economy in most developed countries, says the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, a research group in Paris. About one-tenth of the decline is because of competition from lower-wage countries, the group found.

Big U.S. companies are earning a larger share of their sales and profits abroad than in previous decades. That means their profits and stock prices can grow even when growth in the United States is weak.

Nearly half of all sales earned by companies in the S&P 500 index — 46.6 percent — are produced outside the United States. In 2003, the figure was 41.8 percent.

“It used to be that U.S. companies lived off the U.S. economy, and French stocks lived off the French economy,” said Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Now, stock markets are more reflections of the global economy.”

(My Comment: 

It seems to be a useless pursuit to await the conscience of American Corporations to begin to play fair, to recognize  that America is based on so many equitable principles.  Ain’t gonna happen. 

Only Regulations and rule changes and tax code fairness are able to intercede so that ordinary people once again also have the right to follow their dreams and create a good life and have choice.    But today all is stacked against the families across our nation.  Enough already.  If civil reorganization and common sense can’t survive the way things are now, then perhaps revolution is all that’s left.  We are not lemmings.  Be damned if we are all going to jump off the cliff because the power brokers don’t want to share the pie any more. 

If I wasn’t witnessing this, I wouldn’t believe it to be possible.  In retrospect one can actually observe all the stupid developments as they happened.    Like Wall Street  almost going under, being bailed out. . . . and the low cost of money (still), when only the wealthy can borrow – the rest of us have no way to pay a loan back, so we aren’t doing any borrowing.   WOW,  so this is the 21rst Century!   . . .it really sucks.   Jan)

November 22, 2013

Congress, close Guantanamo NOW!

Terrorism

Obama pushing again to ease Gitmo transfers

By Nedra Pickler ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is pushing to overcome obstacles to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, setting the White House on a collision course with Congress in its bid to loosen restrictions for moving out detainees.

Administration officials say a Senate defense-policy bill coming up for debate within days would allow them to move out prisoners who long have been cleared for transfer overseas but are still held, in part because of a complicated Pentagon certification process.

  • The bill would ease those restrictions and lift a ban on bringing suspected terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States for detention, trial or emergency medical treatment.

Obama has wanted to close Guantanamo since taking office, but restrictions imposed by Congress have slowed movement out of the prison to a virtual standstill. The White House effort to lighten those barriers faces dogged resistance, with opponents pointing out that some former detainees have joined terrorist efforts after being released from the remote U.S. naval prison in Cuba.

Even if the Senate passes the White House-backed legislation, the House this year approved a measure that further restricts transfers, including an outright ban on sending detainees to Yemen. More than half of the 164 detainees are from Yemen, which is also home to the world’s most-active al-Qaida branch.

Obama himself imposed a ban on Yemeni transfers from Guantanamo after a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a U.S.-bound flight on Christmas 2009 with explosives hidden in his underwear on instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. But Obama lifted that moratorium in his speech on May 23 at National Defense University in which he said Guantanamo “has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”

In a letter to Congress last week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listed examples of al-Qaida citing Guantanamo to justify its activities.

“Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility would deprive al-Qaida’s leaders of the ability to use the alleged ongoing mistreatment of detainees to further their global jihadist narrative,” Clapper wrote.

  • The administration also points to Guantanamo’s high cost. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress that annual spending on Guantanamo was $454 million — or about $2.7 million per detainee.

(My Comment: 

This is, in fact one of the most stupid calculations on the part of Congress with all the games they like to play in their childish moves — too ignorant even for the level of understanding of childhood play-ground activity. 

Everyone gets the message, Congress.  All of us know what you are after — the total annilalation of anything Barack Obama might want to do.  No system in the world can function properly without it’s justice system, yet you have mercilessly blocked any and all of the highly qualified individuals being put up. 

An urgent  goal was to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison.  No matter that these humans are being submitted to torturous conditions beyond what death offers them.  They would rather die than accept what is being foisted on them.  The height of cruelty and faulty thinking. So many were already set for release before Obama’s “win,” and the arrival of resultant hatred of this man with the staggering sweep into office became their #1 goal in their political life.  The real scam is all the newly elected Republicans falling into line behind all these misguided leaders whose passion runs so deeply that they are willing to inflict pain on anyone at any time for any reason that gets in their way. How can anyone hate that much?   Or be so “racist” as to lose all perspective?    One would think the ability for ‘critical thinking’ to be a prerequisite for membership in Congress — a Hallowed Hall.  Great men have stood there who love our nation and “all the people in it”.  It is inconceivable to me that anyone with a thinking, working brain could take any pleasure in bringing a country down by eating away at it’s core principles.  It is hard to imagine what “God” you think you are serving. 

If the prez couldn’t make a dent in almost 5 years, chances are slim that you and I can do anything worth mentioning.    If it matters to any of you, why not try giving your representatives a call and a “wake-up” to the fact that it does matter to you;  and that your vote has sent them to Washington to do the People’s work,   not to destroy what has been built by millions over the centuries!  And these are based on justice and equality.  Remind them that America is against ‘torture’ — it’s not our way. .  . just sayin’. .     .  Jan

Almost Paleo Pumpkin Pie

We can celebrate/indulge with ‘Gratitude’

If we keep our health prioritized as #1

and this timely gift from Healing Gourmet should help us keep perspective

 
Almost Paleo Pumpkin Pie 
 
The inviting smell of baking spices wafting through the house… a still-warm slice of pumpkin pie caressed by a dollop of whipped cream…
 
The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it!
 
But if you follow a low sugar diet, have eliminated gluten or dairy or gone “Paleo”, you may think this old holiday tradition would be a thing of the past.
 
After all, store bought pumpkin pies are packed with sugar (and typically contain a crust filled with trans fats). And the so-called “healthy” varieties are made with grains and dairy which simply aren’t an option for many people these days.
 
But the good news is that pumpkin pie really can be one of the healthiest dishes on your Thanksgiving spread. And you can eliminate the sugar, gluten and dairy… and still get deliciously sweet, traditional-tasting results.
 

(Adapted from Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust in Guilt Free Desserts)

Start to Finish: 1.5 hours

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp. Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch
  • 1 1/2 cups organic pecans
  • 3 tsp. Simply Organic Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp. Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Zero or Sinless Sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp SweetLeaf Stevia Extract
  • 1 cup Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk
  • 1-15 oz. can organic canned pumpkin (or 1.75 cups fresh cooked pumpkin*)
  • 3 large organic pastured eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Nutiva Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. First, prepare the crust. Pulse pecans in a food processor until the consistency of almond meal. Add the melted coconut oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Blend until combined. Scrape the batter into a 9-inch pie or tart pan, smoothing and patting the batter out evenly. Spread the batter thinner across the bottom of the pan and thicker around the edges of the crust.
  3. Place the crust on a cookie sheet (to prevent the bottom from burning) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. Add remaining ingredients for filling (pumpkin, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, coconut milk, vanilla, arrowroot, stevia, erythritol and salt) into a food processor or blender. Blend well to fully combine ingredients.
  5. Pour into the crust, but do not overfill. (Note: You will have some filling left over)
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake 45-50 minutes.The center of the pie should be rather firm and only jiggle slightly if you shake the pan.
  7. Cool completely and serve with homemade whipped cream or whipped coconut cream. 

*Buy two organic sugar baby pumpkins. Cut each into eighths, scrape out seeds, and steam or bake. Cool, remove skin, and blend in a food processor to a puree.


Nutrition Information per Serving
241 calories, 0 g fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 1 mg sodium, 8 carbohydrates, 3 g sugars, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
 
BEST BRAND: Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk
 
If you’ve gone dairy free or adopted a Paleo style of eating, coconut milk may have become one of your main culinary staples.
 
And while coconut milk is low in carbohydrates and provides a bevy of health benefits – including a rich source of metabolism-boosting healthy fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), and anti-fungal compound like lauric acid – there’s something you should know.
 
Most canned coconut milk is contaminated with bisphenol-a (BPA) – a known endocrine disruptor linked to chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, early puberty and obesity… just to name a few. 
 
Unfortunately, this insidious compound is found in the liners of almost ALL canned foods. But not Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk! You can enjoy all of the health benefits coconut milk… without the BPA. Look for it at your local health food store (or Whole Foods market) for around $3.29/can. Or buy direct from their website and get a discount of $2.96/can when you buy 12 or more.
 
Stay tuned for more healthy holiday tips, comfort food makeovers and festive seasonal delights!  

Wishing You & Yours a Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Kelley Herring
CEO & Editor-in-Chief
Healing Gourmet

November 21, 2013

Osteo (bone) woes, again

Massive Bone Rip-off

Want to discuss this infernal osteoporosis,  osteopenia arthritis,  thing one more time.  Then so help me, I’m gonna be done with it.  Please don’t misunderstand, I never blamed the cows,  God bless them, I love everything which we have profited  from cows except the loss of their natural lives, the freedom to exist the way they prefer and understand.   But these days, unless bovines are free-range and grass fed, nothing they provide to us is doing humanity any good, but rather is harming most who use it (sooner or later) 

Factory farming has completely changed the entire scenario, all know — unless you have had a very long nap.  Often covered in may previous posts.  Additionally, historical evidence has proven to us that humanity doesn’t drink milk beyond the weaning stage — no mammal does.  But of course, it’s big business in America, where it is more than an acquired taste – it’s a way of life.    Who doesn’t love ice cream, cheesecake, yogurt, milk, cream, kefir  and  sour cream plus an amazing variety of cheeses?  We are all so hooked. And don’t we love it?   Kinda like we love our bread.   

Dairy and grains, once the pillars of our American cuisine are now injuring most of us.  Is it because we have changed so radically?  Nope, our genes are fine, it’s what  the corporate complex in the name of sound business practice have done to make their own ends work the way they choose, while uncaring regarding the public good or outcome.   Don’t want to dwell on the dairy grief or the grain thing which we now understand is the biggest culprit in promoting so many of our worst epidemics — obesity, diabetes and Alzheimers, which by impinging our hormonal, cardio and immune functions and wreaking havoc on the gut and all it’s function and triggering inflammation throughout.  These pillars are doing us in.  We are all having to relearn what is good to eat and what is no longer safe (unless we can do everything our selves). but who can really do all that?  It can be hard teaching old dogs new tricks.. . . just sayin’

Those who Have been Leading our way

This brings us to trusted medical advisers and Governmental Leaders. Some of these agencies entrusted to protect the safety and well-being of the ‘people’  have only recently begun to make any sounds like they  hear us, which is hard to determine why.  Why now?  Do they finally see the distrust and indignation of ordinary people who pay their salaries?  Well, if not soon, I suggest, in time they will — they’ll have to!  All these people have given us the Pyramid thing on which to base our food choices and observe what this has produced.  I’ve been beating up on the medical profession so much lately for their shortcomings, that I almost don’t want to approach the subject.  They are after all doing what they were taught, which is so lacking in common sense and ethics, let alone good outcomes.We can blame all of these.  And I do.  But that doesn’t change things.  People are responsible for themselves and had better learn that.  Quickly. For no one will ever care for your health the way you do.  And if you don’t,  well, then, you get what you deserve.  

The Bone Rip-off    

Quite apart from all the lack of training as to what the body needs to be healthy in the first place,  our doctors have been stellar in always probing for new areas of disorder which can become profitable new avenues for revenue.  The Bone density scan was one such:  what a great thrust it became.  Far too many were termed as having osteopenia which is loosely a slight bone thinning  (which would be absolutely normal as one advances in age), and while not worrisome, many were begun on mild meds as a preventive.  Trouble is, it doesn’t work that way.  Next is full on arthritis.  Meanwhile, everyone keeps on doing what they’ve always done, so nothing changes. This is lost time where nutritional adjustments could have been made had one seen a nutritionally trained therapist in the first place. (like Hippocrates advocated).  Pretty much the same conditions would have also corrected deficits in all other parts of the body, not just the bones.  A healthy body with an in tact immune system can fend off most offenses on a temporary basis, but once  pharmaceuticals start invading the system with their known and (unknown) side effects,  real problems do come about. 

Finally, the newer, bigger guns are prescribed  and there are so many of them, (no company likes to be left behind on such a party as this);   there is Actonel, Aclasta,  Boniva,  Evista,  Fosamax, Miacalcin and Prolia. The base ingredient is Bisphosphonates.  All of these stop new bone from forming. (some never learn — you can’t fool mother nature).  And the bone one has becomes older, drier and more brittle which is why all the breaks — not to mention that it has interrupted natures own pattern of tearing down the old making room for the new.  All they do is make bone harder, don’t make any new bone.That’s what nature has always done – just observe “anything” natural.  The state of one’s bones is not being helped, no matter what Blythe Danner or Sally Field say. 

Do you know where this Bisphosphonate comes from?  From the industrial complex;  used in laundry detergents,  commercial fertilizers and as industrial lubricants mainly as corrosion inhibitors, and also as a complexing agent in the textile industry.  None of which sounds in any way suitable for the human body. 

I feel that much has been dedicated to the bone problem here at “smokinchoices”, tho, I admit, most of it is hard to find.  It is generally here, somewhere, if you can just figure out what I called it – the title. Dr McDougall spoke of bones,  Dr Loren Cordain  who I am so enamored with, and David Wolfe, as have I in post after post.    Even so,  Got this email from  Kelly Herring of Healing Gourmet in which she is speaking of an associate of hers whom she admires by the name of Vivian Goldschmidt, M.A. with a program she has created  called Save Our Bones.  It is interesting, scanned thru it;  sounds quite good and may be what some of you need –  a how to do this thing kind of project.  It’s worth a look – you be the judge.  Jan

 
November 21, 2013
 Television commercials and advice from your doctor might lead you to believe the secret to strong, healthy bones is drinking milk and taking drugs.

But that’s a huge misconception and a big lie, according to Vivian Goldschmidt, who has a background in nutritional science and biochemistry. Vivian is the founder of Save Our Bones – the world’s largest natural osteoporosis community.

Of course, your bones need calcium. But if you consume large quantities of milk, you’re actually draining your bones of this much needed mineral, she says.

Here’s why milk is a brutal bone thief:

Milk has an acidifying effect on your body. Everything we put into our body gets processed and alters its acid/alkaline balance. And like everything in nature, the body tries to correct the imbalance. Because milk has an acidifying effect, your body automatically pulls calcium out of your bones to neutralize the acid attack.

Why calcium?

Because it is a potent neutralizer. That’s why the main ingredient in some antacids is calcium.

Even though milk contains 300 mg of calcium in one cup, unfortunately, the net result is a calcium deficit in your bones.

So what should you drink instead?

Vivian recommends drinking unsweetened almond or rice milk as a delicious alternative. She also recommends unsweetened fermented or cultured dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir, and sour cream.

This is just some of the information I found interesting in Vivian Goldschmidt’s Save Our Bones Program (actually, some of it is quite shocking).

In her program, Vivian proves that your bone health is in your hands. If you give them what you need and stop consuming bone-thieving foods and drinks, you can have the bone health and strength you had when you were younger – without the need for doctors or drugs.

Since 2007, her program has helped over 200,000 people who sufferer with osteoporosis and osteopenia to naturally increase their bone density without pills, pain, or cost.

And now, she’d like to show you how you can do the same.

Click here to discover how you can cure osteoporosis naturally…

Her revolutionary Save Our Bones Program is packed with content and the step-by-step actions you need to take to reverse bone loss. It’s all based on studies and in many cases, information you won’t find anywhere else.

To your health,
 
Kelley Herring
CEO & Editor-in-Chief
Healing Gourmet

P.S. More than 200,000 people have found success with Vivian’s program. You can check out many real life testimonials by clicking here…

 

November 18, 2013

Positive resistance we need

The state of Medicine today

Like many people today, I used to be in the middle class, but after leaving the work force, I no longer qualify.  I am indeed grateful that social security and Medicare has been there for me.   As a nit-picky rebel however, I am among those not well served since I don’t use pharmaceuticals nor do I use most of the highly recommended preventive measures.  Wouldn’t dream of taking ANY vaccinations of any type,  don’t use mammograms.   The coverage available doesn’t include the herbal, natural and/organic supplementation I prefer and use. Its all on me.   

The Affordable care act is no better than what I’ve had for all these years, and will probably become even leaner.  There is only one way to handle medicine in our country – – do what all other industrialized nations do – cover everyone  with the single payer system (which we already have in Medicare), so all we would have to do is expand what already is and is working just fine.  Of course, other countries accept ALL the forms of healing labelled “alternative” here as if they were some inferior choice.  But that is our power structure in U.S. with a dominant BIG PhRMA at work and in control.  Forget insurance plans, insurance companies.  Gets real simple.  Everybody gets to go to a doctor when they need or want to.   

How do we pay for it?   Just raise the tax rate on everybody, proportionally.  Our ‘free’ medical care is covered automatically – no worries.   

An additional point I need to make here is one of need.  People need their doctors.  Doctors need to step up and become more relevant than just being pill pushers.  Hundreds if not thousands of doctors are realizing that they have been short-changed in their training and seeing their limitations have gone deeper and become worthy of the name “physician”. When one realizes that nature has provided the perfect sustenance for all the life forms on earth, it gets a lot easier.  All the worst, chronic diseases are stemming entirely from a dietary cause — never a deficiency of pharmaceuticals-  these are toxic to the body.  All of it.   But most are not like me.  Perhaps, don’t even want to be.Too hard,. . .where to start. . . .what to do?  So, we NEED Medical Care that works for everybody.  

In the video below coming from Bill Moyers (and Co), there are two fantastic lady doctors who are making waves, stirring things up and getting people engaged to these very ends,  They personify courage, purpose and commitment.  Jan

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