Tag Archives: Health

Is Your Urine Yellow?


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

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Urine (Source: sciencedaily.com)
Urine (Source: sciencedaily.com)

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Many people feel that urine is not a proper subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.

For most people, urine is not a subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.

Yet, since the earliest days of medicine, urine has been a useful tool for diagnosis of diseases. Changes in its color, consistency, and odor can provide important clues about the health status of our body. Urine can reveal what we have been eating, drinking, and also what diseases we have.

In Ayurveda system of Hindu traditional medicine, there are eight ways to diagnose illness: Nadi (pulse), Moothra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses.

Tibetan medicine approaches the diagnosis of illness  through three methods: questioning (asking the patient), feeling (pulse diagnosis), and seeing (observing urine, tongue, eyes, and skin). The first urine of the morning gives indications of the hot or cold nature of a disease and nyepa imbalances. Urine is analyzed for its smell, steam, bubbles, color, and a sediment known as kuya, formed in the production of bile, appears as sediment in healthy urine.

In modern western medicine, the color, density, and smell of urine can reveal much about the state of our health.

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Color of urine (Source: kasperka.co.za)
Color of urine (Source: kasperka.co.za)

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Today I came across a humorous video on Facebook titled “How Yellow is Your Urine?” posted by my Taiwanese friend Angel Chen. I have included that video below.

The video is funny and at the same time educative. It stresses that the Taiwanese are “truly a ‘good’ bunch of workers.” It says that one of Taiwan’s wealthiest entrepreneurs often asks his employees: “How Yellow is Your Urine?” because he thinks that if an employee is truly hard at work, he would not have time to drink water, leaving more time to focus on his work. As a result, his urine would simmer inside his bladder to a beautiful amber color. And, he believes that a worker with potential bladder problems would be a good employee.

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Are You Addicted to Unwanted Calories?


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj
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Photo: ALAMY
Photo: ALAMY

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There are people who eat plenty of sugar and sugar products. Worldwide people are consuming sugar equal to about 500 extra calories per day. That is just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. No wonder we have many obese men, women and children around us.

Perhaps they think that the lack of sodium or fat in sugar makes it less harmful. They harbour a false notion that the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories in their diet. Some even espouse the adage “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Many people know that excessive sugar in the diet is not good for healthy living and consume it in recommended amounts and place it at the top of their list of “foods to avoid”.

Sugar specifically promotes obesity. In the past 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has doubled and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. The main factor is fat accumulation in the trunk of the body. One cause may be the wide consumption of fructose-laden beverages. In 2010, a study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) caused visceral fat cells to mature that set the stage for obesity at a young age leading to heart disease and diabetes.

Dietitians and nutritionists have established that four grams of white granulated sugar is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. The recommended daily allowance from The American Heart Association is no more than six teaspoons a day for the average woman and no more than nine teaspoons for the average man. And, an average American consumes about 27 teaspoons of sugar per day.

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Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)
Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)

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A typical sugar packet in the United States contains two grams of sugar. Coca-Cola contains 10.6g or five sachets of sugar per 100ml – so that’s 31.8g or 16 sachets in a 330ml can, and 26.5g or 13 sachets in a 250ml can with absolutely no nutritional advantage?

To curb rising obesity, some sectors want drinks having high sugar content taxed in the same way as cigarettes.

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Jeremy Paxman speaks with James Quincey, president of Coca Cola Europe on  BBC Newsnight.
Jeremy Paxman speaks with James Quincey, president of Coca Cola Europe on BBC Newsnight.

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In the following video, Jeremy Paxman with his forthright and abrasive interviewing style speaks to James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola Europe about the sugar content in their regular Coke on BBC Two’s Newsnight.

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How to Clear the Sinuses


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sinusitis, also known as rhinosinusitis, is the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses. It is a common condition. In the United States alone, over 30 million people are affected each year by sinusitis.

Sinuses” = air-filled cavities and “itis” = inflammation. So, sinusitis is the inflammation of the mucous membranes of the paranasal sinuses due to the accumulation of undrained pus.

Source: blog.perfectspace.com
Source: blog.perfectspace.com

In most cases, a person can be affected by food and environmental allergy, viral infections such as colds and flu, bacterial and fungus infections, or autoimmune problems. These factors can induce edema of the mucous membranes, resulting in the obstruction of drainage of pus, and that may lead to sinus problems. The transudate serves as a suitable medium for bacterial overgrowth.

A clinical study in 1999 revealed that out of 101 consecutive nasal surgeries, 96% of patients had chronic inflammation of the paranasal sinuses due to infection by fungus or yeast.

The paranasal sinuses (Source: carlygoogles.blogspot.in)
The paranasal sinuses (Source: carlygoogles.blogspot.in)

Paranasal sinuses are a group of four paired air-filled spaces. The sinuses are named for the facial bones in which they are located. They are:

  1. Maxillary sinuses are found on either side of the nostrils in the cheekbones. It is present at birth as rudimentary air cells and develops throughout childhood. The pyramid-shaped maxillary sinuses (or antrum of Highmore) are the largest of the paranasal sinuses and drain into the middle meatus of the nose.
  2. Frontal sinuses are located above the eyes in the region of the forehead behind the brow ridges. They develop around 7 years of age. Sinuses are mucosa-lined airspaces within the bones of the face and skull. Each frontal sinus opens into the hiatus semilunaris in the middle meatus of the nose through the frontonasal duct that traverses the anterior part of the labyrinth of the ethmoid.
  3. Ethmoidal sinuses orethmoidal air cells of the ethmoid boneare located behind the bridge of the nose and at the “root” of the nose between the eyes. Formed at birth, they grow as the person grows. Theyare divided into the anterior, middle and posterior groups:The posterior group or the posteriorethmoidal sinus drains into the superior meatus above the middle nasal concha. Sometimes one or more open into thesphenoidal sinus.The middle group or the middle ethmoidal sinus drains into the middle meatus of the nose on or above the bulla ethmoidalis.The anterior group or the anterior ethmoidal sinus drains into the middle meatus of the nose by way of the infundibulum.
  4. Sphenoid sinuses are located deeper in the skull behind the ethmoid sinuses and the eyes. The sphenoid sinus cavities develop only during adolescence. They vary in size and shape. Owing to the lateral displacement of the intervening septum they are rarely symmetrical. Each sinus opens into the roof of the nasal cavity via apertures in the posterior wall of the sphenoethmoidal recess directly above the choana. The apertures are located high on the anterior walls of the sinuses themselves.

We humans inhale 23,000 times per day. The nose and sinuses have to work full-time protecting the lungs. The sinuses are the frontline defense system of the lungs. As such, the health of the lung is  much dependent on the health of the sinuses. As chief protector of the lungs, the sinuses have three main duties: to filter, to regulate temperature, and to humidify the air we inhale.

Fortunately, there are many natural and effective remedies for a sinus infection. In the following 60-minute video titled “Squeezing the Stuffiness Out of Sinuses,” Dr. Chad Krier explains the underlying causes of sinusitis. He then explores botanical medicines and  homeopathy medicines. Next he introduces us to hands-on techniques for relieving sinusitis using pressure combining Chiropractic and Naturopathic methods.

Recently, I came across the following technique in the article “How to Clear Your Sinuses with Your Tongue and Your Thumb in 20 Seconds Plus 4 Home Remedies For Sinus Infection” in the website Healthy Holistic Living.

How to Clear Your Sinuses with Your Tongue and Your Thumb in 20 Seconds (Source: healthy-holistic-living.com)
How to Clear Your Sinuses with Your Tongue and Your Thumb in 20 Seconds (Source: healthy-holistic-living.com)

Push your tongue against the top of your mouth and place a finger between your eyebrows and apply pressure. Hold it for about 20 seconds and your sinuses will begin to drain.

Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine, says this exercise causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth and the motion loosens congestion. And, after 20 seconds, you will feel your sinuses start to drain.

I would like to know how effective this procedure is. So, I invite you to tell us whether this technique does work for you or not. Also, if you have your own natural solutions for overcoming sinusitis, please feel free to share them with us.

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Fatu Kekula: the Brave Ebola Lifesaver


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The rampant spreading of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, has created a chaos in that country. As on October 18, 2014, out of the 4,665 patients diagnosed for Ebola in Liberia, 2,705 died. In the past week alone Monrovia reported 305 new EVD cases. Out of the 15 counties in Liberia 14 have reported cases of Ebola. Only Grand Gedeh county has yet to report an EVD case.

Even before the outbreak of the Ebola virus, Liberia faced a health crisis. It had only 50 physicians in the entire country – one for every 70,000 citizens. In September 2014, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that some hospitals in Liberia had been abandoned, and the hospitals which were still functioning lacked basic facilities. They did not have running water, rubber gloves, and sanitizing supplies.

At the end of August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Liberia fell short of 1,550 beds to treat EVD patients. In September, a new 150-bed treatment clinic opened in the capital, Monrovia. At the time of the opening ceremony six ambulances were already waiting with potential Ebola patients. More patients were waiting by the clinic after making their way on foot with the help of relatives.

The treatment of EVD in other parts of the country is more pathetic. To add to the woes, on October 12, 2014, Liberian nurses threatened a strike over wages.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse (Source: edition.cnn.com)
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse (Source: edition.cnn.com)

Amidst this chaos comes the story of Fatu Kekula, a brave 22-year-old Liberian nursing student.  She took care of four relatives affected by the Ebola virus by herself. She managed to save three out of the four patients, she cared for. That is a whopping 25% death rate, far better than the estimated average Ebola death rate of 58% in Liberia. Now, her unique methods for survival are being taught all over West Africa.

In July 2014, Fatu’s father, Moses Kekula, experienced high blood pressure. She took him to the local hospital in Kakata. After admitting Moses, the crowded hospital provided a bed that had become free. At that time, none of Fatu’s family members knew that the previous occupant of the bed had died from EVD. Soon after, Moses showed symptoms of EVD. He developed a fever. He started vomiting and had diarrhoea. A few days later the authorities shut down the hospital because nurses started dying of EVD.

Fatu then took her father to Monrovia. Three hospitals turned him away because they were already filled over capacity. So, Fatu took her father back to Kakata and got him admitted in another hospital. There they said he had typhoid fever and did little for him. Frustrated, Fatu returned home with her father.

At home Moses infected three other family members: his wife Victoria (57), elder daughter Vivian (28), and nephew Alfred Winnie (14). Fatu was the only unaffected family member.

Fatu contacted their family doctor. But he refused to come to their home, fearing the possibility of getting infected. Taking the next best option, Fatu requested the doctor to for directions. She got the medicines and fluids prescribed by the doctor from a local clinic. Her training at the nursing school helped her create her own intravenous lines.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse  saved her father's life in this makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home. - MCT
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse saved her father’s life in this makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home. – MCT

Fatu then began to take care of her father, mother, sister, and cousin, all by herself. She put her three patients – father, mother and cousin in makeshift isolation ward in a spare unfinished room at home.

Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask. (Source: edition.cnn.com)
Fatu Kekula, 22-year-old Liberian student nurse. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask. (Source: edition.cnn.com)

She did not have personal protection equipment such as those white space suits and goggles used in Ebola treatment units. She invented her own protective gear. She came up with the trash bag method. She took all the precautions for avoiding contact by using layers of trash bags on her feet and hair. She wore rubber boots, four pairs of gloves, and a face mask.

She fed her patients, gave them medicines, and cleaned them, all by herself day in and day out. It is a miracle that Fatu herself was not infected in the two weeks she was taking care of her family though she was in close contact with them.

On August 17, 2014, space became available at John F. Kennedy Medical Center, the national medical center of Liberia, located in the Sinkor district of Monrovia. Fatu’s father, mother, and sister recovered, but her cousin Alfred Winnie succumbed to the disease at the hospital the following day.

Fatu Kekula’s father is trying to find a scholarship for her that so she can finish her final year of nursing school. He has no doubt his daughter will go on to save more lives in the future.

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Dr. Cyril Broderick and the Ebola Virus


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Scientists allege deadly diseases such as Ebola and AIDS are bio weapons being tested on Africans. Other reports have linked the Ebola virus outbreak to an attempt to reduce Africa’s population. Liberia happens to be the continents’s fastest growing population.

Ebola virus (Source: liberianobvserver.com)
Ebola virus (Source: liberianobvserver.com)

The Liberian Daily Observer, a newspaper based in Monrovia, published an article on September 9, 2014 titled “Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

This controversial article was authored by Dr. Cyril E. Broderick, a Liberian-born former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture plant pathology and Forestry. He was also the former Observer Farmer in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Firestone spotted him and offered him the position of Director of Research. Dr. Cyril Broderick was for many years an Associate Professor at the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences of the University of Delaware.

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick (Source - desu.edu)
Dr. Cyril E. Broderick (Source – desu.edu)

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick points an accusing finger at the United States for the outbreak of Ebola. The sprawling haemorrhagic virus has killed close to 3,000 and infected close to 6,000 in West Africa since March this year. The countries seriously affected are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, DR Congo and Senegal.

He says Ebola, a genetically modified organism (GMO), is a biological weapon of mass destruction, just like AIDS. Ebola, he says, was created in collaboration with Western transnational pharmaceutical firms, secret military bio-warfare bases of the US Department of Defence (DoD), as well as some Universities. He accuses the United States for testing the virus using Africans as guinea pigs for secret human trials.

He also imputed that the UN and the WHO have been tacitly complicit in the testing of Ebola and other viruses on human guinea pigs in Africa.

Professor Broderick said that he decided to publish the article in response to various Internet reports that implied that the African people are gullible and ignorant.

Here is Broderick’s full unedited article.

Ebola, AIDS Manufactured By Western Pharmaceuticals, US DoD?

By Dr. Cyril Broderick, Professor of Plant Pathology

Dear World Citizens:

I have read a number of articles from your Internet outreach as well as articles from other sources about the casualties in Liberia and other West African countries about the human devastation caused by the Ebola virus. About a week ago, I read an article published in the Internet news summary publication of the Friends of Liberia that said that there was an agreement that the initiation of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was due to the contact of a two-year old child with bats that had flown in from the Congo. That report made me disconcerted with the reporting about Ebola, and it stimulated a response to the “Friends of Liberia,” saying that African people are not ignorant and gullible, as is being implicated. A response from Dr. Verlon Stone said that the article was not theirs, and that “Friends of Liberia” was simply providing a service. He then asked if he could publish my letter in their Internet forum. I gave my permission, but I have not seen it published. Because of the widespread loss of life, fear, physiological trauma, and despair among Liberians and other West African citizens, it is incumbent that I make a contribution to the resolution of this devastating situation, which may continue to recur, if it is not properly and adequately confronted. I will address the situation in five (5) points:

1. EBOLA IS A GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM (GMO)

Horowitz (1998) was deliberate and unambiguous when he explained the threat of new diseases in his text, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola – Nature, Accident or Intentional. In his interview with Dr. Robert Strecker in Chapter 7, the discussion, in the early 1970s, made it obvious that the war was between countries that hosted the KGB and the CIA, and the ‘manufacture’ of ‘AIDS-Like Viruses’ was clearly directed at the other. In passing during the Interview, mention was made of Fort Detrick, “the Ebola Building,” and ‘a lot of problems with strange illnesses’ in “Frederick [Maryland].” By Chapter 12 in his text, he had confirmed the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise of administering vaccinations to control diseases and improve the health of “black Africans overseas.” The book is an excellent text, and all leaders plus anyone who has interest in science, health, people, and intrigue should study it. I am amazed that African leaders are making no acknowledgements or reference to these documents.

2. EBOLA HAS A TERRIBLE HISTORY, AND TESTING HAS BEEN SECRETLY TAKING PLACE IN AFRICA

I am now reading The Hot Zone, a novel, by Richard Preston (copyrighted 1989 and 1994); it is heart-rending. The prolific and prominent writer, Steven King, is quoted as saying that the book is “One of the most horrifying things I have ever read. What a remarkable piece of work.” As a New York Times bestseller, The Hot Zone is presented as “A terrifying true story.” Terrifying, yes, because the pathological description of what was found in animals killed by the Ebola virus is what the virus has been doing to citizens of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in its most recent outbreak: Ebola virus destroys peoples’ internal organs and the body deteriorates rapidly after death. It softens and the tissues turn into jelly, even if it is refrigerated to keep it cold. Spontaneous liquefaction is what happens to the body of people killed by the Ebola virus! The author noted in Point 1, Dr. Horowitz, chides The Hot Zone for writing to be politically correct; I understand because his book makes every effort to be very factual. The 1976 Ebola incident in Zaire, during President Mobutu Sese Seko, was the introduction of the GMO Ebola to Africa.

3. SITES AROUND AFRICA, AND IN WEST AFRICA, HAVE OVER THE YEARS BEEN SET UP FOR TESTING EMERGING DISEASES, ESPECIALLY EBOLA

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN Agencies have been implicated in selecting and enticing African countries to participate in the testing events, promoting vaccinations, but pursuing various testing regiments. The August 2, 2014 article, West Africa: What are US Biological Warfare Researchers Doing in the Ebola Zone? by Jon Rappoport of Global Research pinpoints the problem that is facing African governments.

Obvious in this and other reports are, among others:

(a) The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), a well-known centre for bio-war research, located at Fort Detrick, Maryland;

(b) Tulane University, in New Orleans, USA, winner of research grants, including a grant of more than $7 million the National Institute of Health (NIH) to fund research with the Lassa viral hemorrhagic fever;

(c) the US Center for Disease Control (CDC);

(d) Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French name, Medicins Sans Frontiers);

(e) Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company;

(f) The UK’s GlaxoSmithKline; and

(g) the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

Reports narrate stories of the US Department of Defense (DoD) funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March. Disturbingly, many reports also conclude that the US government has a viral fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Kenema, a town at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The only relevant positive and ethical olive-branch seen in all of my reading is that Theguardian.com reported, “The US government funding of Ebola trials on healthy humans comes amid warnings by top scientists in Harvard and Yale that such virus experiments risk triggering a worldwide pandemic.” That threat still persists.

4. THE NEED FOR LEGAL ACTION TO OBTAIN REDRESS FOR DAMAGES INCURRED DUE TO THE PERPETUATION OF INJUSTICE IN THE DEATH, INJURY AND TRAUMA IMPOSED ON LIBERIANS AND OTHER AFRICANS BY THE EBOLA AND OTHER DISEASE AGENTS.

The U. S., Canada, France, and the U. K. are all implicated in the detestable and devilish deeds that these Ebola tests are. There is the need to pursue criminal and civil redress for damages, and African countries and people should secure legal representation to seek damages from these countries, some corporations, and the United Nations. Evidence seems abundant against Tulane University, and suits should start there. Yoichi Shimatsu’s article, The Ebola Breakout Coincided with UN Vaccine Campaigns, as published on August 18, 2014, in the Liberty Beacon.

5. AFRICAN LEADERS AND AFRICAN COUNTRIES NEED TO TAKE THE LEAD IN DEFENDING BABIES, CHILDREN, AFRICAN WOMEN, AFRICAN MEN, AND THE ELDERLY. THESE CITIZENS DO NOT DESERVE TO BE USED AS GUINEA PIGS!

Africa must not relegate the Continent to become the locality for disposal and the deposition of hazardous chemicals, dangerous drugs, and chemical or biological agents of emerging diseases. There is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons. It is most disturbing that the U. S. Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone. Are there others? Wherever they exist, it is time to terminate them. If any other sites exist, it is advisable to follow the delayed but essential step: Sierra Leone closed the US bioweapons lab and stopped Tulane University for further testing.

The world must be alarmed. All Africans, Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners, Asians, and people from every conclave on Earth should be astonished. African people, notably citizens more particularly of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are victimized and are dying every day. Listen to the people who distrust the hospitals, who cannot shake hands, hug their relatives and friends. Innocent people are dying, and they need our help. The countries are poor and cannot afford the whole lot of personal protection equipment (PPE) that the situation requires. The threat is real, and it is larger than a few African countries. The challenge is global, and we request assistance from everywhere, including China, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, and even kind-hearted people in the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else whose desire is to help. The situation is bleaker than we on the outside can imagine, and we must provide assistance however we can. To ensure a future that has less of this kind of drama, it is important that we now demand that our leaders and governments be honest, transparent, fair, and productively engaged. They must answer to the people. Please stand up to stop Ebola testing and the spread of this dastardly disease.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cyril E. Broderick, Sr.

Source: liberianobserver.com

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

 My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.
My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.
Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)
Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965). It serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rain water and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)
A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump over one-third of the garbage, almost 2,600 tonnes per day, of the ever-growing metropolis here in this climactic wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)
Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

At present the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.

Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article The mired marshby Shaju John. This article was augmented by photographs  captured by him in the post Photo file: The mired marsh.

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse.

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums frequent the garbage dump.

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)
The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Continual inhaling of the ever-present malodorous germ and virus bound air, the stifling smoke, polluted and poisoned ground water subject the people living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.

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The incredible rate of development, such as the rampant construction of sanctioned IT parks, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) campus, Hospitals, Colleges, high-rise office and residential buildings, the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland also have immensely contributed to the shrinking of the water spread.

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road.  (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)
A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)
One of the flyovers constructed  in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)
One of the flyovers constructed in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)
Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo - Simply CVR)
Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo – Simply CVR)

With policies in place to crackdown on poaching, encroachment and illegal waste disposal, there is yet hope for the Pallikaranai wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo:  M. Karunakaran)
Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo: M. Karunakaran)

In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve  showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh
Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.

However, even now, dumping of garbage by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 1 – Flora and Fauna


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Last Sunday I posted an article titled “February 2, 2014 is World Wetlands Day.”

Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

A wetland is technically defined as:

“An ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes, which, in turn, forces the biota, particularly rooted plants, to adapt to flooding.”

The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation that adapts to its unique soil conditions. Primarily, wetlands consist of hydric soil, which supports aquatic plants

There are four main kinds of wetlands: marsh, swamp, bog and fen. Sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea. Some experts also include wet meadows and aquatic ecosystems as additional wetland types.

The Pallikaranai Wetland 

City in the background of Pallikaranai wetland (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)
City in the background of Pallikaranai wetland (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Historically, a large part of South Chennai was a flood plain composed of the large Pallikaranai wetland, smaller satellite wetlands, large tracts of pasture land and patches of dry forest.

The Pallikaranai wetland is a freshwater marshland spanning 31 square miles (80 sq Km). It is the Chennai city’s natural primary aquifer recharge system.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

The original expanse of the marsh, estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965) was about 5,500 hectares, which has now been reduced to about 600 hectares. Situated next to the Bay of Bengal, about 12.5 miles (20 Km) south of the city centre, it is bounded by Velachery (north), Kovilambakkam (west), Okkiyam Thuraipakkam (east), and Medavakkam (south). It is the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city and is among the few and last remaining natural wetlands of South India. It is one of the three in the state of Tamilnadu, the other two being Point Calimere and Kazhuveli.

Map of Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest.
Map of Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest.

The Pallikaranai wetland is one of the 94 identified wetlands in India under the National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme (NWCMP) of the Government of India that came into operation in 1985–86.

The terrain consists of fresh/saline water bodies, reed beds, mud flats and floating vegetation.

Flora and Fauna

This wetland is literally a treasury of bio-diversity that is almost four times that of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary in the Kancheepuram District of the state of Tamil Nadu, India, 47 miles (75 km) from Chennai where more than 40,000 birds (including 26 rare species), from various parts of the world visit during the migratory season every year.

The Pallikaranai wetland contains several rare and endangered species of plants and animals. It acts as a forage and breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds from various places within and outside the country. Bird watchers opine that the number of bird species sighted in the wetland is definitely more than in the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.

Figures of the number of fauna and flora found in the Pallikaranai wetland differ among scholars conducting research here.

Among the many quiet contributors to the mapping of India’s natural treasures is Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan, Smithsonian Fellow and researcher, and managing trustee of Care Earth Trust. She obtained a Ph.D. in Biodiversity and Biotechnology from the University of Madras. She is best-known for her research work on biodiversity, and studies wetland ecology.

Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan
Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan

In 2003, the Tamilnadu State Pollution Control Board assigned her the task of conducting a detailed study of Chennai’s last remaining wetland – the Pallikaranai marsh, which is suffering from degradation caused by human impact. The study had two components — to document the biodiversity and to map the extent of the marsh to define or identify a viable unit of management.

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In her work “Protecting wetlands” published on August 10, 2007, Current Science 93 (3): 288–290, she states that the heterogeneous ecosystem of the Pallikaranai marshland supports about 337 species of floras and faunas:

GROUP NUMBER OF SPECIES
Birds 115
Plants 114
Fishes 46
Reptiles 21
Mammals 10
Amphibians 10
Molluscs 9
Butterflies 7
Crustaceans 5
Total 337

Birds, fishes and reptiles are the most prominent of the faunal groups.

Dr. K .Venkataraman, Director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)
Dr. K. Venkataraman

However, on August 9, 2013, P. Oppili reported in The Hindu that Dr. K. Venkataraman, Director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) while discussing the diversity of species in the marshland, as nine species of amphibians, 21 species of reptiles, 72 species of birds, five species of mammals, 38 species of fish, nine species of shells and 59 species of aquatic and terrestrial insects had been recorded, besides a good number of plankton.

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The Pallikaranai wetland is the home to some of the most endangered birds such as the glossy ibis, gray-headed Lapwings and pheasant-tailed Jacana.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana spotted in Pallikaranai Wetland, Chennai (Photo: Sudharsun Jayaraj)
Pheasant-tailed Jacana spotted in Pallikaranai Wetland, Chennai (Photo: Sudharsun Jayaraj)

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Purple Swamphen-Moorhen in Pallikaranai wetland, Chennai (Photo - Sudharsun Jayaraj)
Purple Swamphen-Moorhen in Pallikaranai wetland, Chennai (Photo – Sudharsun Jayaraj)

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FulvourWhistlingDucks (Photo: GnanaskandanK)
FulvourWhistlingDucks (Photo: GnanaskandanK)

Cormorants, darters, herons, egrets, open-billed storks, spoonbills, white ibis, little grebe, Indian moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, purple moorhens, warblers, coots and dabchicks have been spotted in large numbers in the marshland.

Russel's Viper (Source:  umich.edu)
Russel’s Viper (Source: umich.edu)

The Pallikaranai wetland is also home to some of the most endangered reptiles such as the Russell’s viper.

About 114 species of plants are found in the wetland, including 29 species of grass. These plant species include some exotic floating vegetation such as water hyacinth and water lettuce.

Since 2002,  presence of new plants and  reptiles have been recorded.

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Next → The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!

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Robert Gibbs, the Morbidly Obese Californian, Has Shed 254 Pounds of Unwanted Fat


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“If you can still breathe and have a heartbeat there is still time to save your life.” – Robert Gibbs

 On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)

On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)

The obese Californian, Robert Gibbs, 23, fearing he would lose his life to obesity, recorded a three-minute tearful plea for help and posted it as “ragingrobert” on YouTube in March 2012. The clip was an instant hit. It went viral and was viewed more than 200,000 times in 24 hours.

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To date, the above clip has been viewed 1,512,570 times.

Dr. Phil
Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show.

In 2012, Robert Gibbs weighed 764 pounds (346.5 kg) when he first met Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show. Phil arranged for Robert to go to one of the Wellspring Academies (formerly Academy of the Sierras), in Reedley, California.

“I am glad to see less of you,” Phil said when he met Robert again in 2013. Here is the video from Dr. Phil Show uploaded to YouTube on June 4, 2013.

Robert credits his astonishing loss of weight to diet and exercise and admits that getting started was tough. He climbs stairs at home every day.

Robert  Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source:  dailymail.co.uk)
Robert Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

He says that he wants to be an inspiration and instil hope in people who are in the same predicament he was in two years back.

How much weight has Robert lost?

He has shed 254 Pound (115.2 kg) unwanted fat. However, he is still overweight at 510 pounds (231 kg).

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Can Squeezing Breasts Stop the Growth of Cancer Cells?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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According to a new research study, squeezing breasts can prevent malignant breast cells from causing cancer. Really?

Squeezing breasts 'can stop cancer'

The research team at the University of California in Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, believe that new laboratory experiments provide clues to prevent malignant breast cells that trigger the formation of breast cancer. The university wrote in a release, “The manipulation of cell development through physical force instead of the typical drug-focused methods, shows for the first time that application of physical pressure to the breasts can stop the out-of-control growth of cancerous cells and revert them back to normal growth.”

Gautham Venugopalan, a leading member of the research team said: “People have known for centuries that physical force can influence our bodies, When we lift weights our muscles get bigger. The force of gravity is essential to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that physical force can play a role in the growth – and reversion – of cancer cells.”

The researchers grew malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers. Next, they applied compression during the first stages of cell growth, and effectively squashed the cells. After some time, the squeezed malignant cells began to grow in a more normal and organised way. Once the breast tissue structure was formed the cells stopped growing, even when the compressive force was removed. Non-compressed cells continued to display the haphazard and uncontrolled growth that leads to cancer.

“Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern,” said Mr. Venugopalan.

On Monday, December 17, 2012, the findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco..

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Japan Hosts Charity Breast Squeeze Event

In a lighter vein, a charity event took place in Toky, Japan, on Saturday and Sunday August 25-26, 2012, as part of the “Erotica will Save the World” event a 24-hour live-streamed fundraising event took place.

Japanese men and women thronged to enjoy two days of erotically-charged festivities.

The most popular event was the “Breast Fundraiser”, that encouraged people to donate to charity. When people donated money they were allowed to squeeze the breasts of one of ten adult film stars.

All money raised were donated to STOP!AIDS, a charity aimed at promoting the awareness, treatment, and prevention of AIDS.

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A letter to Angelina Jolie by an Indian Transman


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By Satya

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

Dear Angelina Jolie,

Thank you for coming out. I mean about your mastectomy. You have no idea what this can mean for a transman like me who went through the exact same procedure as yours; well almost!

You didn’t have to come out, but you did. Especially since during your mastectomies you kept it private and carried on with your work. I know how difficult it gets with film producer types. I am a filmmaker in Mumbai and you won’t believe it, but once during an edit session, Mr. Moneybags, finding me alone in the cutting room, asked if we could compare our d*** sizes! He giggled and said he hadn’t ever seen one of someone who has had a sex change operation.

Your piece in the New York Times ‘My Medical Choice’, undoubtedly must have been that  – a medical choice. You spent three months, since this February, on a procedure called ‘Preventive Bilateral Mastectomy; ‘Preventive’ since you are the carrier of the BRCA1 gene that puts you at 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer. I spent several years trying to convince doctors that I needed a mastectomy for preventive reasons too. Years of forced living in a gender identity that wasn’t my own, began to immobilize me. In a society that understands only two genders and in a medical system that sees abnormality in everything outside of it, going on is eventually impossible. But your risk of celebrity cancer turned out to be higher than my risk of a commoner suicide. Still, I am happy for you. The mere idea that someone can remove their breasts, at 87% risk or no risk, is just good enough for me for now.

And of course you wrote this piece for women! And I am hoping that you meant transwomen too, some of whom I know would kill to have your new breast implants. How atrocious is the idea being peddled that you wrote it to benefit the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where your procedure was performed, or for the biotech company, Myriad Genetics, which owns a patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes giving them exclusive right to develop diagnostic tests for, at a current cost of more than $3000 in the USA. The fact that most breast cancer seems to be sporadic and has nothing to do with a BRCA1 mutation, pales beautifully in front of your sheer courage to talk about your own mastectomy in the media.

It is interesting though that all the media attention has been on your courage in losing your breasts, and not equally on your desire to have them reconstructed. Your doctors could have expected you to simply get back to the business of life without them. After all they were lost to a very high possibility of a most dreaded disease. But they didn’t. If you were non accepting of your loss, they could have put you through that monster of an American psychiatric-diagnostic-manual called ‘DSM-4 ‘ to prove your mental illness and therefore the need to cure you through breast reconstruction. But they didn’t. On the contrary, they became your facilitators. They saw you, as you saw yourself, a woman, one with those very definitive markers of femininity : breasts. Why do cosmetic surgeries for women skip the pathologisation that is mandatory for trans people all over the world? Why is it that medicine cannot facilitate trans people in the same way and grant them the same dignity of self identity?

Just like many of my trans brothers, sisters and lovers, I become complicit. I agreed to pathologize my gender identity. I agreed to let the psychiatrist issue me a certificate for Gender Identity Dysphoria [GID]. If I was to lose my breasts, I needed those gatekeepers to let me in. You had the BRCA1 to open the big wide doors of reconstructive surgery for you. And I had my GID certificate. I let them say, I am mentally ill. I let them say it on paper. I signed on an affidavit stating this was my consent and that I was totally responsible for whatever the surgeries would result in.

In a world with greater understanding, removing my breasts should have been seen as my ‘aesthetic choice’ ; a choice exercised in the severely limited societal understanding of gender, as being either only male or only female. But you’d agree that medicine being organized on the central idea of disease or, as you now have made so public, the possibility of it, is ill equipped at the moment, for such fine abstractions as mine. I knew success when I saw my psychiatrist scribble on his over qualified letterhead: “Diagnosis: G.I.D.’ Just like you, I too finally, made a ‘medical choice’. That I was as smart in 1997, as you are in 2013, makes me feel rather pleased with myself! Perhaps, this is a sign? Perhaps I will be a celebrity soon! Perhaps I will meet you at the next Cannes film festival and we can rule the world together?! Two Celebrity Bilateral Mastectomy Survivors, with reconstructed breasts on one, is better than none?! No?!

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Re-posted from THE TIMES OF INDIA

The author Satya is the founder & facilitator of the Indian Trans Group, Sampoorna.

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