Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Beast in Beauty or How GMO's Got Into the Food Supply

Gmo's are most likely in our food supply due to the "job sharing" between a corporation and a government agency, in order to write policy favorable to the corporation at the expense of US citizens (our health and the environment while using our own tax dollars to do it). The following quotes are from Natural News (link below):

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food…. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” – Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto, quoted in the New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

“Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.”
– FDA, “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties”, (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 22991.

These statements seem unrelated, until you learn that Michael Taylor, as a Monsanto attorney, once worked to create the perfect regulatory system that would protect the interests of bio-tech companies, then moved to the FDA to head their policy department when they were writing gmo policy, then rejoined Monsanto as Vice President (information from Responsible Technology, link below). Nice reward for helping out his company, eh? For more information on Michael Taylor, follow this link:

The fact that FDA policy does not reflect the scientific findings of FDA scientists is both no surprise and a testimony to the efficacy of this corporate-government job sharing for corporations. There should be a law against this, as recusal often never occurs! This is only one example of many cases in which "job sharing" has occurred at the expense and to the detriment of human beings and the environment to maintain corporate profits and power. Who is protecting the interests of US citizens?

If you don't know about gmo's, do some research. This affects everyone who eats, is also related to the future of seeds, biodiversity, and the security of the world supply. Remember, corporations seek profits at any cost, and use their billions of dollars in profits to "educate" the public using the propaganda and lies of product defense. Don't buy into it by buying their products. Demand labeling of gmo products and then boycott them. Here's a partial list of products that contain gmo's and those that don't: There is also a list of safe foods by Mothers for Natural Law

Here are more links with which to begin your research:
The Biotech Brigade - more corporate-government connections

Raw Wisdom - gmo information and many links


Natural News

The Future of Food

FOX News Whistleblower

Vandana Shiva: "The Future of Food and Seed"

BBC's A Farm for the Future

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Response to a Comment That Inept Students Learn from Stupid Teachers

The educational system in America does not live in a vacuum containing only schools, teachers and students; it requires the support of a strong foundation of individual parents, extended family, culture, society, the economy, government, corporations, textbook publishers, health care, and politics. Therefore, when the educational system falls short of a passing grade, focusing solely on "fixing" schools by "holding teachers accountable" will not solve the problem, although it does provide a convenient scapegoat. All components of the foundation must be addressed and strengthened if we want our nation's children, teachers and schools to be high achieving. Children learn what they live while growing up in the world village, whose entire population is responsible for providing exceptional life experiences and education to its children. Finally, and most importantly, the children themselves must also be held accountable by the entire village to work hard, behave and learn in school.

What follows is my response to someone who commented on Facebook that students, who can't count/make change/face money or read/write in cursive, learn all they know from their stupid teachers. So this comment was about the apple from the teacher: Unfortunately, apples don't fall far from the tree, and when the trees don't value or support education, neither will their apples. Apples learn what they live, and many trees often spend little time with their apples, getting them ready for kindergarten and teaching their little apples the manners and life skills they need to acquire even an adequate education. The trees sit apples in front of tv's and video games, don't provide experiental learning opportunities for them, or teach them manners or respect. The cute little apples come to school years behind in both intellectual and social development, and the trees expect "stupid" teachers to make up the difference in care, teaching and responsible parenting that was sole responsibility of the trees. If trees expected their apples to be successful in school and life, they'd actively parent their apples and set high expectations for their apples to work hard, behave in school, and take responsibility for their own learning.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Conflict Resolution and Mediation Training Should Be Required for All People

People aren't born into this world knowing how to solve conflicts. Most of our parents weren't trained either, so they were unable to teach us what they didn't know. We all do the best we can with what we know. As children, we learned how to solve our problems by watching how the adults in our lives solved theirs. We watched everybody: our parents, siblings, other relatives, neighbors, friends, teachers, and our political and business leaders. So, as we matured, we began to randomly use different strategies out of the different problem-solving tools we saw and copied. We continued to use those that worked best, and discarded others that may actually have escalated the problem.

As we approached adulthood, we found there were times when nothing we tried worked to peacefully resolve the dispute. However, we continued doing the best we could, having no idea there could possibly be other methods that could have more peacefully and successfully resolved our disputes. Then, we grow up, are now adults and the stakes are much higher. We get into a relationship, begin a job or career, even lead a corporation or a country, and we continue to use the same conflict resolution and mediation strategies we learned as we grew up.

We all, at some time in our lives, may disagree with someone over something. This often results in arguments and intense verbal battles that may escalate to physical violence, enter the cycle of revenge, go to war, or simply kill all of our enemies in a mass genocide. We can even go to war with ourselves when we are overly self-critical and denigrate ourselves, and constantly feed ourselves negative self-talk. I know this personally, because I have used the same conflict reslution methods most of my life and watched others, even government leaders, do the same, without much consistent success. I never knew that such things as conflict resolution and mediation existed and were something that could be taught, studied and practiced. What a revelation! Many other people go through their lives without this revelation, and so the cycle continues. This war against ourselves and others, at whatever level of escalation in which we find ourselves, removes the dignity, respect, compassion, and sense of humanity and human rights that belong to ourselves and others. It's no wonder there's such a pandemic of bullying, domestic violence, abuse, litigation, violence, and war in the world!

I can't help but think, can we do better? Should people have to wait most of their lives to learn how to better solve disputes, simply by accident? Removing this huge deficit of knowledge on how to use mediation and conflict resolution strategies through widespread training and review would help in so many areas. At home, people would be better equipped to peacefully solve family disputes before they escalate into domestic violence or divorce. At school, students would know how to peacefully solve their own problems rather than resort to bullying or playground violence. This could be applied even in elementary schools when there is a simple disagreement on the playground or in the classroom over a ball or pencil. At work, we may have disputes with co-workers, management, contractors, or clients. In government, we may have disputes with other departments, branches of government, or other governments. If we were all taught, and consistently reviewed over time, how to peacefully resolve our conflicts, at any level of escalation, I honestly believe we would live in a very different, more peaceful world than we do now.

As a teacher, I just happened, by chance, to volunteer for my school's Peer Mediation Team to be trained to train others in how to guide people through the mediation process to peacefully solve their own disputes. All members of the team then trained a group of student volunteers to become peer mediators on the school playground during recess. Prior to the introduction of this program we, like many other schools, experienced problems on the playground ranging from disputes over turn-taking or possession of a ball, to outright bullying and the rare occasion of minor violence (shoving, pushing, etc.). These disputes would then follow the students into the classroom and sometimes off school premises after the school day had ended, growing into a much larger, angrier dispute that often now involved many other students, and sometimes their parents. Over the many years that I was a part of this team, we saw a significant decrease in playground disputes, as more and more untrained students were trained by their peer mediators. This program has also decreased problems in the classroom and after school incidents because students are resolving their disputes immediately. As a classroom teacher, I also model and teach the very same strategies to my students, as well as model this to their parents in meetings and phone conversations.

While I firmly believe that conflict resolution and mediation strategies should be taught to all people, I also know that this will not solve all disputes. If, at the same time, people also reflected more about themselves, learned the physical, emotional and experiential origins of their triggers for anger and other emotions, and then truly worked through these to resolve these internal wars, we could end all wars before they could begin. All members of humanity would finally be able to live in peace with themselves, each other, and our environment.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Health Care Reform

Please watch the videos, then hit the back button and read what I have to say.

Watch this to get the real truth about Canadian healthcare from the horse's mouth, supported by factual data, rather than the propaganda and lies promoted as truth by our insurance companies who are fighting tooth and nail to maintain their current status of power and level of profit.

Health Insurance
The propaganda being used by the insurance industries is called product defense, which was once very effectively used by tobacco companies - no difference. It's also currently being used by chemical and energy companies, as well. Think of who benefits the most from the status quo, and follow the money.

In the case of health care, here are additional facts to add to those you learned about from the video: 60% of all US bankruptcies are for medical reasons and, of those, 75% are for people who HAD medical insurance. It's rather obvious the status quo doesn't benefit the people; it benefits insurance companies who run up profits by offering physicians incentives to order unnecessary, expensive tests. The US health insurance companies are the ones who use cost-benefit analysis to determine whether or not to deny treatment and medicine to their insured, number crunchers essentially deciding who lives or dies. This has happened to me, my father and many other people I know.

Even if they don't deny care, then they are so slow in paying their claims, patients often end up in collections, which affects their credit rating. When this happens the patient must spend hours and, literally, days trying to call, fax, mail all parties involved to rectify the situation. Many patients don't have that kind of time, especially not in this economy in which many people are working 2-3 jobs to pay for necessities. This has happened to me and many other people I know. The insurance companies are also the ones who have chosen to pay doctors based upon a system in which they're required to see huge quantities of patients as if we were in a cattle call, rather than use a quality of care-based system.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with many of the 9.7% currently unemployed "schmucks" ( who are being marginalized and portrayed as lazy people who really don't want to work, most of whom do not have, nor can they afford the high cost of, health care and insurance. I have been there, so this really angers me, since I've been working since age 13. All working people, especially the unemployed, also face the issue of pre-existing conditions. People who would prefer to change jobs are trapped if they have an illness listed under insurance companies' pre-existing conditions clauses. Insurance companies utilize this way to deny the right to affordable health care to even more millions of human beings as a method of cost-cutting, while increasing corporate profits.

Health Care
As for our high quality of medical care, we rank below Cuba in infant mortality rate. We are also ranked below Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and most of Europe in both infant mortality and mortality for people age 15+ (both sexes). You can find these statistics in the CIA World Fact Book online and on the World Health Organization website. As for all the talk about socialized medicine in Europe, Germany's health care system is private.

I can personally attest to the not-so-high quality of health care in the US through direct experience since childhood. As a 7-year-old patient hospitalized for three weeks, I refused to take medicine I knew was not prescribed to me. The nurse got very angry, but she checked anyway, and found out I was right. The doctors at this hospital couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, released me into outpatient testing and care. My mother took me to the outpatient clinic for a short time to no avail, then took me to her best friend's doctor who determined what was wrong with a blood test. Many years later, I needed surgery and my doctor authorized a 48 hour stay in the hospital after the surgery. The hospital dismissed me after only 18 hours after spine surgery, telling me they needed my bed. Another time, as a newly-admitted patient in a hospital, I had a doctor come into my room to go over my current meds and he read off an incredibly long list of meds I'd never heard of and had been prescribed to another patient. Most recently, I was in a hospital and didn't see a doctor until 15 hours after I was admitted. By law my ER orders had been cancelled 12 hours after my admission, because a doctor is required to see patients within 12 hours of a patient's admission. Any medications or prescribed treatments are cancelled, essentially leaving the patient without any medical care. This could be potentially life-threatening, and the patient is still being billed for their hospitalization and "high-quality" of medical care. Honestly, if you or your loved ones end up in the hospital, please make certain there is always someone with the patient to look out for and protect them.

As for the experiences of people I know and love, my father would not have had multiple heart attacks after the initial one, if the attending physician at that decisive moment had not refused to do by-pass surgery on discriminatory grounds. He shortened my father's life, increased the number of heart attacks my father suffered thereafter, and increased the amount of heart damage and swelling around my father's heart by his refusal. I know this doctor caused enormous physical suffering and heart damage to my father, and because of this contributed to his death. When my father was dying in hospice, the insurance company decided he wasn't dying fast enough, so they made the hospice discharge him. My mother was forced to retire early and go on medicare, because of the extremely high cost of catastrophic medical illness. This is what I know of and have experienced personally, and this is only the tip of the iceburg of horror stories about American health care.

Does Any Citizen Benefit from the Status Quo in the Least?
The US health care system does not work well for so many employed, unemployed, insured, underinsured, and uninsured Americans. Which citizens does the US health insurance system work for, at least at a minimum? 1) The rich and powerful who can afford health care and who can also afford to go to another country to get necessary treatments and medicine; 2) Members of Congress, most of whom are guaranteed a lifetime of health care for serving either one 4-year term in the Senate or two 2-year terms in the House of Representatives, even if they are later tried and convicted of a crime; 3) Retired citizens who receive Medicare and/or fully-paid lifetime health insurance. This lifetime health insurance is being paid for by those currently working, who have seen increases to the cost of their own health care to pay for theirs. These current workers will never receive a pension or lifetime health insurance because most companies have gotten rid of these benefits for current employees (I don't understand why so many people put down the very same unions who fought for, and some of whose organizers and members even died, so that the average American, not just the rich and powerful, could receive these very same benefits).

Xenophobia, Marginalization and Health Care as a Human Right
Another major concern I have that is related to this is the recent trend in which ultra-conservative media outlets use hate propaganda to portray all African-Americans as lazy, shiftless, good-for-nothings and cast aspersions and doubt upon our duly-elected President, in order to incite violence against and marginalize these HUMAN BEINGS and to provoke someone to assassinate the President, all in order to further their own political causes. Some have even stated they hope President Obama fails, in which case our country would fail, as well.

All of this is racist and smacks of the tactics used in Hitler's pre-WWII Germany to unify its "master-race" citizens and incite hatred and distrust of its Jewish citizens who were HUMAN BEINGS, in order to promote agreement with and acceptance of the dehumanization and marginalization of the Jews. It is happening across Europe to the Roma people, and in Russia to immigrant workers from the former Soviet republics. This is similar to what has happened in our country to our own indigenous people, in Rwanda, Chechnya, and in many other countries. This trend of extremism, xenophobia and marginalization here and across the globe is extremely disturbing. I believe that many citizens of the United States have a deep and abiding appreciation for human rights, democracy, and ethics. However, it seems many other citizens are willing to look past the real reasons behind propaganda, and be persuaded by people who hate and will do anything to maintain and increase their position of wealth and power. I hope the majority of US citizens see the light before our country goes down that infamous path, once again.

Finally, the bottom line is that health care is not a choice or a commodity, it is a right that belongs to all human beings, regardless of age, sex, color, physical or intellectual ability, living condition, or bank account. Health care is a human right.

UPDATE 9/16/09:
Additional disturbing information has been recently reported about another pre-existing condition that health insurance companies have been using to deny insurance coverage to women: domestic violence! I find this marginalization and additional victimization of women absolutely egregious!!!

Additional links: