Hoodwinking the Innocent in the Name of Jesus and The Holy Spirit


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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An innocent Congo boy

In the New Testament in Mark 10:13-16 we read:

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

If your heart is physically weak please do not view these videos.

The images you see in these videos are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where self-styled pastors hoodwink ignorant rural folk using the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These criminals who call themselves “pastors” resort to so-called “exorcism” of infants and children to fatten themselves by levying a high fee equal to US$50 or more to drive out the evil spirits in the innocent children. The government officials in Congo do not bother to intervene and arrest these extortionists because they receive their kickbacks under the table.

In India too, there are in every nook and corner, many crooked Christian pastors such as these, who inveigle ignorant people to their churches and fleece them in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

These felons should be stripped bare and molten lead should be poured into their blasphemous mouths for Exodus 20:7 says:

You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.

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Imagine Finding Me: Photographer Chino Otsuka Meets Herself as a Child


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” – Chino Otsuka 

In today’s globalized world, each one of us yearn for a personal identity. Self-portrait in photography is one of the means to meet that goal.

Memoriography

A photographic exhibition titled “Memoriography” was run throughout the British Library from October 2 to December 30, 2008. It displayed works of Chino Otsuka, a London-based Japanese photographer. The exhibition was a sensory experience that encouraged visitors to relate their own memories with hers.

In 1982, at age 10, Chino Otsuka moved from Japan to the United Kingdom. She left the strict traditional Japanese school system for Summerhill School in Suffolk, England. There, for the first two years, she attended no lessons at all. When she left the school she had certificates in English, Chemistry and Photography. She studied photography at the University of Westminster. She received a post-graduate degree in Fine Art Photography from the Royal College of Art.

She has exhibited her work in the UK, Europe and Asia. She had a major solo show at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam.

Chino Otsuka’s adolescent experience in the new country – its people, language and customs – shaped her writing. She has published four books in Japan. Her first autobiography published at the age of 15 was much acclaimed.

Imagine Finding Me

Chino Otsuka uses photography and video, to explore the seamless relationship between time and lingering memory.

Chino Otsuka wondered what it might be like to meet herself as a child. Her series “Imagine Finding Me” consists of twelve digitally manipulated composite double self-portraits of her present and past selves. She visits her younger self by digitally amalgamating recent photographs of herself, taken in 2005 and 2009, with photographs of her journeys with her parents when she was a child. This evokes a subtle and wistful realization of transience of time.

Her choice of transitional objects such as parks, bridges, vacation spots, hotels, trains, etc., was deliberate. She says:

“things are not quite past or present, or somewhere in between… that has reflected from my upbringing, where I’m neither here nor there, and I’m not really Japanese or English.”

The series “Imagine Finding Me” has become her most exhibited work shown over 14 countries.

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India Celebrates Children’s Day 2013


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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I wish all children in India “A Happy Children’s Day!”

In 1925, The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 as International Children’s Day and then established universally in 1954. Now, many countries around the world, celebrate Children’s Day, but on different days each year.

Universal Children’s Day

A major global variant of Children’s Day is the Universal Children’s Day celebrated on November 20 every year.

The United Nations General Assembly recommended this day in 1954 to urge all its member countries to institute a day, with the aim to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children, and to initiate action to help and promote the welfare of children globally as outlined in the Charter.

On November 20, 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and on November 20, 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

India celebrates Children’s Day on November 14

Children’s Day (ISource: ndianEagle.com)

Children’s Day (Source: IndianEagle.com)

Today, November 14, India celebrates Children’s Day. On this day, India remembers and honours the country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The children of India fondly called him “Chacha Nehru” (Hindi: चाचा नेहरू)) or Uncle Nehru.

Nehru consistently emphasized the importance of showering love and affection on children. He saw in them the future of India.

On Children’s Day, the Kids in India engage themselves in the fun and frolic. Various educational, cultural, social, institutions organize functions and conduct competitions for children all over the country. The State and the Central governments organize film festivals in many parts of the country to showcase Children’s films.

In many schools, the children themselves arrange the cultural activities on this day. Teachers also get involved; in many schools, they sing and dance for their students.

First Day Covers for commemorating Children's Day 2012 in India

First Day Cover for commemorating Children’s Day 2012 in India

Every year, India Post issues special stamps of paintings  by children and First Day Covers for commemorating Children’s Day in India. Here are the commemorative stamps issued from year 2006 to 2012. Please note that these images of the postage stamps are not to scale.

Children's Day November 14, 2012- Rs 5

Children’s Day 2012

Children's Day November 14, 2011 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2011

Children's Day November 14, 2011 - Rs 20

Children’s Day 2011

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day November 14, 2010 - Rs 5

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day Nov 14, 2010

Children’s Day 2010

Children's Day 2009

Children’s Day 2009

Children's Day 2009

Children’s Day 2009

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2008

Children’s Day 2008

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

Children's Day 2006

Children’s Day 2006

Children's Day 2007

Children’s Day 2007

 

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All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and The Celtic Festival of Samhain


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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All Saints

All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:16-17)

Even though the word Halloween has its origin from Christianity, according to some scholars it owes its origin to the pagan harvest festivals such as the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or to Parentalia, the festival of the dead or to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Old Irish word for “summer’s end”.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1, halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

In some Gaelic languages, Samhain is the word for November.

All Saints Day, introduced in the year 609 AD, was originally celebrated on May 13. In 1835 AD, at the behest of Pope Gregory IV, it was changed to November 1, the same date as Samhain. Some suggest the change was due to Celtic influence in Christianity, while others suggest it as a Germanic idea.

Some early Irish literatures mention that many important events in their mythology happened on Samhain. The festival of Samhain observed in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Asturias and Galicia. Samhain, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh make up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. The Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) also held kindred festivals at the same time of the year such as Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall) and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

Samhain Ritual

Samhain Ritual

During Samhain, the Gaelic took stock, readied for the cold winter ahead, brought the cattle back down from the summer pastures, slaughtered livestock, lit bonfires, enacted rituals along with divination games. As a cleansing ritual, they would walk with their livestock between two bonfires, cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into its flames.

All Souls' Day  night vigil

All Souls’ Day night vigil

The Gaelic believed, that during Samhain, the door to the nether worlds or realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world. They beckoned souls of the dead kin to attend the feast by setting a place at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. Lewis Spence in his book “The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain” described it as a “feast of the dead” and “festival of the fairies.”

Divination also took place during Samhain. The tradition says that in places like Asturias, “Güestia,” a group of spirits from the world of the dead, go out that night, walking in the forests and on roads. People drew circles on the floor and remained within those circles until the spirits passed them.

 

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The Traditions of Halloween


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On October 31, the Eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ (or All Saints’) Day, most people in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and a few in Asia and Africa celebrate “All Hallows’ Evening.” This celebration is also known as Halloween or Hallowe’en or Hallowmas.

All Saints’ Day, to honour the saints, falls on November 1, and the All Souls’ Day, the day to pray for the recently departed kith and kin, falls on November 2.

The word “Halloween” was first used by the Scottish around 1556 AD, as a variant of “All Hallows’ Even,” to mean the night before All Hallows’ Day or All Saints’ Day.

The Tradition of Guising

The Gaels or Goidels speak one of the Gaelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and later spread to neighbouring regions. Celtic languages are most commonly spoken on the north-western edge of Europe, notably in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Cape Breton Island.

The Gaelic festival of Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset of October 31 to sunset of November 1.

The ancient Gaelic believed that during Samhain, the door to the nether worlds and realms of supernatural beings and the dead, opened just enough for the souls of the dead and other weird entities, to enter our world; so, they protected themselves from harmful spirits and fairies active in Samhain by taking various steps to allay or ward-off the harmful entities. One such act was the custom of Guising that influenced today’s Halloween costumes.

Were wolves and a skeleton

Were wolves and a skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Little Red Devil (Photo: Subas Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Red Devil in 2011 (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)

My grandson Rohan dressed as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan ‘guising‘ as Peter Pan in 2012 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

My grandson Rohan, the Little Pirate in 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

In Scotland and Ireland, during Halloween, children go from a house to house, dressed up in various costumes. They receive gifts in the form of food, coins or apples or nuts and recently chocolates.

A Witch, Maid, Imps, and a Skeleton

A Witch, a Maid, Astronauts, and a Skeleton (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The earliest record of Guising at Halloween comes from Scotland. In 1895, masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made by scooping out turnips, visited homes and were rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. It predates trick or treat.

The Tradition of Trick-or-Treating

In Scotland and Ireland, the people in the households expect the children who come to their houses to perform before they receive treats. The children sing or recite a joke or a funny poem which they had memorized before setting out. Some talented children may do card tricks, play the mouth organ, or do something impressive. Often the children get a treat, even if they did not perform.

IMG_4338

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

While going from door-to-door in disguise, it has now become common for the children to pose the question: “Trick or treat?” The “trick” in this question happens to be an idle threat to perpetrate mischief on the homeowners or their property if they do not get the treat.

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Trick or Treating (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, in the article “‘Trick or Treat’ Is Demand,” Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta), November 4, 1927, p. 5, dateline Blackie, Alberta, Nov. 3.

Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at the back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The Tradition of Souling

Soul cakes

Soul cakes

The tradition of going from door to door to receive food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”. The soulers, mainly consisting of children and the poor, would go from door to door on Halloween singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for small round soul cakes, simply called souls, traditionally made for All Saints Day or All Souls’ Day to celebrate the dead. Each cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes perhaps might be the origin of modern trick-or-treating.

The Tradition of Making Jack-o’-lanterns

The tradition of making lanterns during Halloween may have sprung from Samhain and Celtic beliefs. In the 19th century in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands people made turnip lanterns sometimes with faces carved into them during Samhain. The lanterns may serve three ways: to light one’s way while outside on Samhain night, to represent the spirits and otherworldly beings and entities, to protect oneself and one’s home from them.

Traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern Modern carving of a Cornish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Jack-o’-lantern lit from within by a candle.

Jack-o’-lanterns derived their names from the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern.

A modern jack-o’-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. After cutting the top of the pumpkin, the flesh inside is scooped out. An image, usually a monstrous face, is carved out, and the lid replaced.

And as a passing thought I give you this Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor. Thanks to Ms. Sheila Ribeiro, a mutual friend who posted this on Facebook.

A Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)

Pumpkin Bowl: A cool, creative Halloween idea to hold your liquor (Source: http://www.freshomedecor.com)

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Teacher’s Day 2013 in India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Teachers like being appreciated, but they usually don’t expect recognition from students. When they get it, it does feel good,
– Suma Padmanaban, Principal of Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School.

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Happy Teacher's Day

During the 20th century, the concept of celebrating Teachers’ Day took root independently in many countries. Unlike many other international days, people in many countries celebrate Teachers’ Day as a unique day to appreciate the contributions made by teachers within the field of teaching or for their service to their community. They celebrate a local educator who is or was an important milestone in education in their country or region. This is the primary reason countries are celebrating this day on different dates though the World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on October 5th every year.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Since 1962, India celebrates Teachers’ Day on September 5, the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a philosopher, statesman and the second president of India from 1962 to 1967.

According to UNESCO, the teaching profession is currently losing its status in many parts of the world.

The Voice of the Teacher Survey 2013, conducted by education service provider Pearson and market intelligence firm Spire Research and Consulting represents the views of 3,262 teachers from 223 cities across 25 states, collected between July and August.

This nationwide survey reveals that three out of four teachers rated gratitude from students as a form of recognition more valuable than the salary or praise from their employers.

Happy Teachers Day

While the study found that a majority (72%) of teachers in the south feel students adequately acknowledge them for success, 61% teachers in northern India feel there has been a decline in gratitude over the past decade.

Among cities, Jaipur has the highest percentage (85%) of teachers who feel that students thank them enough for their success. Next comes Bangalore (82%) and Chennai (78%) is listed third.

The job satisfaction levels of teachers in TN (82%) and Chennai (80%) is higher than the national average at 66%.

Happy Teacher's Day

Teachers can trim, shape and mould or maul the minds of their students the way they want. Ha Ha …  I know this because I was a teacher too…

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God speaks in Volkswagen Polo ad


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By Manjit Pahuja

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Will God punish your child if the home work is not completed while you are out for dinner!

A Volkswagen advertisement says so in its latest ad.

GOD SPEAKS IN VOLKSWAGEN POLO AD - 01The German car maker’s TV commercial for its ‘Polo’ version shows a mother picking up her son from school. As her son sits in the car, she informs that he will have to do his home work all by himself as she will be going out with his dad. She warns him that if he doesn’t do his homework, God will punish him. The child then asks her if God would have time to notice and punish him. There comes the answer via the Bluetooth installed in the car as the child’s father changes his voice and says, “I am busy, but I am sure I can take some time to come punish you.” The child is left surprised and the commercial ends after introducing the car’s features.

GOD SPEAKS IN VOLKSWAGEN POLO AD - 02How many of us scare kids in the name of God? It could have sounded better if the mother said that you would make God and us happy if you were a good boy and do your work on your own.

GOD SPEAKS IN VOLKSWAGEN POLO AD - 03

The voice heard by the child in the car scares him and the mother has been shown happy doing that.

As parents, we always give a beautiful picture of God to our kids and by making a small child hear a forceful voice is like going back to old ways like, ‘buddha baba aa jayega’ (‘that scary man is due anytime). Why can’t TV ads show kids a better picture of lot of things and issues?

We all believe in making our kids smart, but at the same time we don’t want to scare them.

Why do kids love Santa Claus? It’s because kids see an old man with a long beard getting them gifts, which of course parents keep. Haven’t we all done that!

A twinkle and a smile on our kids face make us happy. What is God for our kids? They see us praying and they follow the same. We tell them that He will always be there for you and they believe us. Many kids remember God before and after exams or any other work.

It’s their innocence. In addition, even if they do not get the desired result, as parents we guide them by asking them to work hard next time.

The advertisement in question shows a child not more than 4 or 5 years, an age where they need a parent’s help for homework. We always teach our kids that God punishes those who do bad and evil things. Not doing homework is not a punishable act by God.

Let us deliver good messages to our young and smart generation. or would you be amused by the defence published by Business Line newspaper: “The look of awe on the face of the little one makes the film. And the innovative way of conveying the message about the new feature-laden Polo works rather well.”

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Re-posted from g caffè 

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India – She Has High Scores in Plus Two Exams but No Money to Realize Her Dream


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By M.K. ANANTH

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Gayathri has 197/200 cut off marks for medicine, but poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager.

S. Gayathri

S. Gayathri

S. Gayathri (17) of Chinnamaruthur in Pilikalpalayam panchayat, Paramathi Velur taluk, about 35 km from Namakkal town, has scored 1,129 (94 per cent) in the recent Plus Two exams. She aspires to become a doctor and she has 197/200 cut off for medicine. As she belongs to Scheduled Caste (Arunthathiyar) community, she has brighter chance to realise her dream.

But poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager so that she can earn Rs. 100 a day to support her family.

When she came to know that she scored 199 in biology, 198 in chemistry, 197 in maths, 192 in physics, 179 in Tamil and 164 in English she hardly had time to celebrate as her father asked her to discontinue her studies as it would not be possible for him to support her higher education. Her mother, however, wanted the girl to pursue some degree course in a nearby government aided arts and science college.

Her parents K. Selvaraj (42) and S. Sumathi (35) have never been to school and are daily wage farm labourers. Gayathri is the eldest child and has two sisters and a brother.

The family always had trouble meeting their day to day needs as her father often fell sick and on many occasions Sumathi was the sole breadwinner of the family.

Becoming a doctor was Gayathri’s childhood dream. “I suffered from breathing difficulty and chest pain from the age of one and was badly affected till I was 13. I know the pain of living as a patient from a poor family and so I want to treat poor patients if I become a doctor. I want to specialise in gynaecology,” she adds.

She studied in the Aanangur Government High School and scored 470/500 in the Class X examination.

Her teacher Ranganathan took her to Malar Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Paramathi where she was enrolled for higher secondary. Her tuition fee was fully waived.

Teachers, who saw the girl’s interest in studies, pooled in money to pay the transportation fees.

“In 2012, the lowest cut off score for a candidate from the SC (A) community to get a medical seat in a government medical college was 188.25. With a much better cut off, Gayathri has a better chance. The school will extend support to her, but she would need more financial assistance to pursue her higher education,” M. Palaniappan , president of Malar school, said.

Persons interested in helping Gayathri can contact her father at +91 98436 87990.

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Re-posted from THE HINDU

 

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Plan B Now Available Even for 15-Year-Olds Who Have Proper IDs


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Plan B One-Step

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On Tuesday, April 30, 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of the contraceptive known as Plan B or also popularly known as the “morning after pill” for all women aged 15 and older.

The FDA said it was responding to an application, long under review, from the maker of Plan B One-Step, Teva Women’s Health, based in North Wales, Montgomery County which asked for an over-the-counter access of this medication for women of all ages. When the FDA refused to agree to the request in December 2011, the company amended the request, adding the age threshold of 15.

Plan B One-Step® is just one brand of emergency birth control that uses the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy after known or suspected contraceptive failure or unprotected intercourse by blocking ovulation and impeding the mobility of sperm. The manufacturers claim that it does not cause an abortion in women who are already pregnant, nor does it harm a developing fetus.

In a statement, the FDA said the approval of Plan B One-Step for use without a prescription by women 15 years of age and older is based on an actual use study and label comprehension data submitted by Teva which shows that women aged 15 and older understood that Plan B One-Step was not for routine use and would not protect them against sexually-transmitted diseases.

For more than a decade, reproductive rights groups have urged the FDA to make the drug available to all consumers without a prescription. As a result of litigation, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York ordered that all levonorgestrel-based emergency birth control drugs be made available over the counter to all consumers by Monday, May 6, 2013. Some advocates of contraceptives said the FDA action was promising.

On May 1, 2013, the Department of Justice announced that it was seeking to overturn Korman’s order in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. U.S. attorneys have also asked that the judge’s order be stayed, pending resolution of the appeal.

While critics argue that easy access to the drug would encourage sexual activity and promote the spread of sexually transmitted infections, Nita Chaudhary, of the organization Ultraviolet said: “While President Obama has been a champion for women, he is behind the curve when it comes to Plan B … We need him to catch up. Plan B should be available over-the-counter to women of all ages. It’s the right thing to do.”

Women’s rights advocates said the FDA announcement requires girls and women to show ID at the cash register; if not sale would be denied to them.

Now, the question is: “where will a 15-year-old get a valid ID to purchase ‘Plan B One-Step’ over the counter?”

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Lawsuit Seeks Evacuation of Fukushima Children


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AP –  April 14, 2013

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan.

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan. Their demand: The right to live free of radiation. The plaintiffs who started the legal battle: 14 children. A Japanese appeals court is expected to rule soon on this unusual lawsuit, filed on behalf of the children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011 in a district court in Fukushima city. — FILE PHOTO: AP/KYODO NEWS

THEIR demand: The right to live free of radiation. The plaintiffs who started the legal battle: 14 children.

A Japanese appeals court is expected to rule soon on this unusual lawsuit, filed on behalf of the children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011 in a district court in Fukushima city, about 60 kilometres west of the crippled nuclear plant that spewed radiation when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit it more than two years ago.

The lawsuit argues that Koriyama, a city of 330,000, should evacuate its children to an area where radiation levels are no higher than natural background levels in the rest of Japan, or about 1 millisievert annual exposure.

In a culture that frowns upon challenging the authorities, the lawsuit highlights the rift in public opinion created by the baffling range in experts’ views on the health impact of low dose radiation. Although some experts say there is no need for children to be evacuated, parents are worried about the long-term impact on their children, who are more vulnerable to radiation than adults. Consuming contaminated food and water are additional risks.

After the Fukushima accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl, Japan set an annual exposure limit of 20 millisieverts for determining whether people can live in an area or not. The average radiation for Koriyama is far below this cutoff point, but some “hot spots” around the city are above that level.

“This is the level at which there are no major effects on health and people can live there,” said Keita Kawamori, an official with the Japanese Cabinet Office. “Academic experts decided this was the safe level.”

A prominent medical doctor in charge of health safety in Fukushima has repeatedly urged calm, noting damage is measurable only at annual exposure of 100 millisieverts, or 100 times the normal level, and higher.

A lower court rejected the lawsuit’s demands in a December 2011 decision, saying radiation had not reached the 100-millisievert cutoff. The International Commission on Radiological Protection, the academic organisation on health and radiation, says risks decline with a drop exposure, but does not believe there is a cutoff below which there is no risk.

An appeal filed is still before Sendai High Court in nearby Miyagi Prefecture more than a year later.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which emitted more radiation than the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the Soviet government made it a priority to evacuate women and children from within a 30-kilometre radius of the plant, bigger than the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

The number of children behind the original lawsuit dwindled to 10 for the appeal, and is now down to one as families left the prefecture voluntarily or the children grew older. Legally in Japan, a city has responsibility for children only through junior high (7th-9th grades), since high school is not compulsory.

But the case serves as a precedent for other Fukushima children.

Toshio Yanagihara

Toshio Yanagihara, a lawyer representing 14 children from Fukushima who started a legal battle for the right to live free of radiation, holds a leaflet urging quick action be taken. Picture: Yuri Kageyama Source: AP

Toshio Yanagihara, one of the lawyers, criticised the government as appearing more worried about a population exodus than in saving the children.

“I don’t understand why an economic power like Japan won’t evacuate the children – something even the fascist government did during World War II,” he said, referring to the mass evacuation of children during the 1940s to avoid air bombings. “This is child abuse.”

After Chernobyl, thousands of children got thyroid cancer. Some medical experts say leukemia, heart failure and other diseases that followed may be linked to radiation.

In Fukushima, at least three cases of thyroid cancer have been diagnosed among children, although there’s no evidence of a link with the nuclear disaster. There are no comparative figures on thyroid cancer in other areas of Japan.

The children in the lawsuit and their families are all anonymous, and details about them are not disclosed, to protect them from possible backlash of ostracism and bullying.

“Why is Japan, our Fukushima, about to repeat the mistakes of Chernobyl?” wrote a mother of one of the children in a statement submitted to the court. “Isn’t it up to us adults to protect our children?”

The trial has attracted scant attention in the mainstream Japanese media but it has drawn support from anti-nuclear protesters, who have periodically held massive rallies.

Among the high-profile supporters are musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, Manga artist Tetsuya Chiba and American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky.

“There is no better measure of the moral health of a society than how it treats the most vulnerable people within it, and none or more vulnerable, or more precious, than children who are the victims of unconscionable actions,” Chomsky wrote in a message.

A 12-year-old, among those who filed the lawsuit but have since left the area, said she was worried.

“Even if I am careful, I may get cancer, and the baby I have may be hurt,” she said in a hand-written statement.

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