Why A Stranger’s Comments In A Fast Food Restaurant Were So Important

3 months, 1 day ago

It is likely you don’t understand the ramifications of your comment. It is likely you didn’t put much stock in it, either at the moment you said it, or at any point afterward. It is very possible that the incident never crossed your mind again.

The scene that inspired it was simple: you saw my son run up to the counter and ask for stickers. I stopped him and asked him to repeat himself, but this time to ask while making eye contact with the woman at the register. He paused, connected, thanked her, and ran off to create his sticker masterpiece.

That’s when you said it.

It is likely that you didn’t know I had spent many hours and numerous occasions working on this social skill with my son. It is likely that you didn’t realize this is one of the indicators that led his doctor to diagnose him with autism.

Even if you had simply been praising a mother for encouraging her child to make eye contact with the counter attendant, that would have been enough to deserve this letter. It made it just that much for meaningful to me.

Our Parent-Shaming Culture

It’s all too rare that parents hear praise from strangers, and yet that simple act was a powerful one, so powerful that I’ve remembered it for months and finally decided to write about it.

Parenting is often described as a thankless job, but in my experience, the most thankless element is not that our kids don’t yet get the gravity of what we do for them. It’s that everyone else doesn’t.

People who watch us on the street as our kids have meltdowns, utter curse words, run out in front of cars, or roll their eyes at our well-meaning affections — in other words, act like kids — often write us off as negligent, irresponsible, poor disciplinarians, or worse.

Judging parents is so automatic that there is often no lag time between the offending action and the judgment, no moment of pause that might otherwise be an opportunity for compassion, understanding, or simply neutral curiosity about the context that parent and child might be living in.

The fact is, most environments in the modern world are designed for adults, have adult rules, and tacitly expect adult behavior. This makes bringing kids almost anywhere a challenge. There is a secret, unspoken class divide between the parent and the non-parent.

For a moment, you bridged this gap.

I was on my way home from work waiting for a train when a little boy who looked to be between the ages of four and six bounced up the stairs to the platform with his parents, humming and singing and hopping around like a ball of sheer delight.

A nearby elderly woman made a snide remark to her husband about moving away from the “nuisance” and getting on a different car. “If I had a son,” she said, “he would never act like that”.

For some reason, overhearing that judgmental comment lit me on fire, and I even considered shooting one back. Obviously, that wouldn’t have done much good.

Luckily, the parents and their son were out of earshot and continued on blissful and oblivious. There is justice in the world.

Where Have All The Children Gone?

The thing that struck me most about this woman was how entitled she felt to have a certain kind of experience even in this very public place, an experience that was patently un-childlike.

It also struck me how simple and natural this little boy’s behavior was, and how even the most basic understanding of child development would support that conclusion.

My unposed question to this woman is, what if this attitude were taken to its logical extreme? What if we, as a society, were to sequester “childish” behavior even further than we already have?

What would it actually take for that bouncy, cheerful little boy to suppress his natural behaviors and “act like an adult” at the train station? I shudder to think.

Kids are already relegated to parks and plastic play places, or expensive indoor museums and experiences that aren’t accessible to every income bracket. We’ve already compartmentalized family life so much that, in a way, it’s becoming fringe.

What does it mean that we, as a culture, are developing such an aversion to kids? Why are we trying to expunge the spontaneous and causeless joy that an energetic, playful little boy expresses at a train station? Does it remind us of something lost in ourselves that is too uncomfortable to see?

And even if we aren’t going so far, there is a growing number of people who identify as “not a kid person.” There was a time when I counted myself as part of their ranks. Interestingly, it wasn’t motherhood that changed it for me but inadvertently teaching preschool.

After a long stint in academia, being around these little humans who were completely logic-and-rhetoric-free bundles of feelings, impulses, and reactions had a profound effect on me. It did something to my heart, and I no longer identified as being a person who isn’t into kids.

In fact, I imagine that the way I began to see those little kids is the way that God might see us: completely irrational, dramatic, exhausting, inconsistent, and maybe even a little bonkers.

But say what you will — those little kids running around, screaming, jumping on each other, wetting their pants, and falling asleep on our shoulders are nothing if not love embodied. And if we let them, they can elicit in us the most unadulterated kind of love there is.

Finding Joy In Kids And The Kids In Ourselves

From an evolutionary perspective, disliking the young of our own species is pathological. It’s kind of that simple.

Certainly, animals in the wild abandon their young for various reasons, but we are basically programmed to be nurturing and affectionate to not only our own progeny but those of other species, as well.

In some cases we’re even favoring the latter; after all, “fur babies” don’t talk back, they don’t have teenage angst, and they don’t usually force us to confront things about ourselves we might not like to see.

It took me a while to recognize that my general avoidance of kids said much more about me and what I was avoiding in myself than it said about kid behavior in general. I’m grateful every day that falling into the preschool-teaching profession shook me up and taught me to reflect, and more than anything, to open my heart.

After all, that is the quality in you, the anonymous man at In-N-Out, which led you to spontaneously thank a mom — a total stranger — for encouraging her son to make eye contact. Your open heart touched mine and opened it further.

I’ve noticed that the more my heart opens, the more I become a better mother. Heck, a better friend, sister, daughter, coworker, neighbor, customer, even fellow driver, too (none of us are immune to road rage).

Parents deserve to get a little lift to their hearts because theirs is some of the greatest emotional work that there is to do as a human being. Parents are raising the future, the workforce, the culture-makers, the inventors, the creators, and the stewards of the earth. Thank you, if only for an instant, for recognizing that.

Parent or not, love and compassion is our greatest emotional labor, and it doesn’t always come easily. Somehow, in that moment at In-N-Out, you nailed it.

You have my deepest gratitude for your seemingly inconsequential act of kindness and respect that has already rippled this far. May I do it justice and allow it to ripple even further.

The post Why A Stranger’s Comments In A Fast Food Restaurant Were So Important appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Read more: scarymommy.com

Eating Organic Significantly Reduces Health Risks

4 months, 14 days ago

According to polls, the No. 1 reason people choose organic food is to avoid pesticide exposure.1 Not only do these chemicals threaten the environment, but they also pose a very clear and direct risk to human health.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, has made headlines because it’s the most used agricultural chemical in history and because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified it as a probable human carcinogen.

New Meta-Analysis Strengthens Link Between Glyphosate and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

A meta-analysis2,3,4,5,6 of six epidemiological studies published between 2001 and 2018 now adds further weight to such suspicions, showing glyphosate increases the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) — a group of blood cancers — by 41 percent in highly exposed subjects.

According to the research team, led by Luoping Zhang, a University of California, Berkeley toxicologist and a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific advisory panel (SAP) on glyphosate carcinogenicity,7 there is indeed a “compelling link” between glyphosate exposure and NHL.

Two other researchers on the team were also members of the EPA SAP that met in 2016. At the time, all three expressed concerns about the EPA’s determination that glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans,8 noting the EPA failed to follow proper scientific practices in its assessment of the chemical.9

Senior author professor Lianne Sheppard told Investigative journalist Carey Gillam,10 “It was pretty obvious they didn’t follow their own rules. Is there evidence that it is carcinogenic? The answer is yes.”

Evidence also emerged suggesting the EPA had colluded with Monsanto to protect the company’s interests by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential.

Of the six studies included in this new analysis, five showed a positive correlation. One of the studies, known as the Agricultural Health Study11 (AHS), published in 2018, found no effect.

However, the team points out that results were watered down in that study due to the inclusion of people with very low exposure. It’s only when you look at high-exposure groups independently that a clear link between exposure and NHL emerges.

Scientists Convinced Glyphosate Is a Dangerous Carcinogen

These findings are bad news for Bayer, which now owns Monsanto and its toxic product line. At present, some 9,000 individuals have lawsuits pending against Monsanto-Bayer. All blame their NHL on Roundup exposure. In its defense, Monsanto has relied heavily on the AHS study’s findings showing no correlation between exposure and NHL risk.

However, as noted in the new meta-analysis, published online February 10, 2019:12

“Using the highest exposure groups when available in each study, we report the overall meta-relative risk (meta-RR) of NHL in [glyphosate-based herbicide-exposed] GBH-exposed individuals was increased by 41 percent …

For comparison, we also performed a secondary meta-analysis using high-exposure groups with the earlier AHS (2005), and we determined a meta-RR for NHL of 1.45, which was higher than the meta-RRs reported previously. Multiple sensitivity tests conducted to assess the validity of our findings did not reveal meaningful differences from our primary estimated meta-RR.

To contextualize our findings of an increased NHL risk in individuals with high GBH exposure, we reviewed available animal and mechanistic studies, which provided supporting evidence for the carcinogenic potential of GBH.

We documented further support from studies of malignant lymphoma incidence in mice treated with pure glyphosate, as well as potential links between GBH exposure and immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, and genetic alterations that are commonly associated with NHL.

Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs and increased risk for NHL.”

Sheppard told Sustainable Pulse,13 “Our analysis focused on providing the best possible answer to the question of whether or not glyphosate is carcinogenic. As a result of this research, I am even more convinced that it is.” Gillam also quotes Sheppard, saying,14 “This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure. From a population health point of view there are some real concerns.”

New Lawsuit Focuses on Roundup’s Effect on Gut Bacteria

Even if you’re not exposed to glyphosate-based herbicides via application (which is the case with most who claim glyphosate exposure caused their NHL), your health is still at risk, as most foods (processed foods in particular) are contaminated with this chemical, and more than 70 percent of Americans have detectable levels of glyphosate in their body.15

A limited food testing program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016 revealed virtually all foods tested were contaminated with Roundup.16 The Health Research Institute Labs (HRI Labs), an independent laboratory that tests both micronutrients and toxins found in food, has also discovered widespread glyphosate contamination.

According to HRI data, people who eat oats on a regular basis have twice as much glyphosate in their system as people who don’t (likely because oats are desiccated with glyphosate before harvest), and people who eat organic food on a regular basis have an 80 percent lower level of glyphosate than those who rarely eat organic.

Glyphosate kills weeds by inhibiting the shikimate pathway in the plant, and Monsanto has long defended the chemical’s safety, saying it cannot affect humans because we do not have this pathway. However, the shikimate pathway is found in human gut bacteria, which we now know play a vital role in human health.

As reported by Bloomberg,17 a lawsuit filed against Monsanto February 13 now specifically focuses on this link. But glyphosate can also affect your health via a number of other mechanisms. For example, research has shown glyphosate also:18,19,20

Mimics glycine, an amino acid your body uses to make proteins. By acting as a substitute for glycine in your body, glyphosate can cause damaged proteins to be produced.

Glycine also plays a role in quenching inflammation, as explained in “Glycine Quells Oxidative Damage by Inhibiting NOX Superoxide Production and Boosting NADPH,” and is used up in the detoxification process. As a result of glyphosate toxicity, many of us may not have enough glycine for efficient detoxification.

Interferes with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes, required for activation of vitamin D in the liver, and the creation of both nitric oxide and cholesterol sulfate, the latter of which is needed for red blood cell integrity.

Chelates important minerals, including iron, cobalt and manganese. Manganese deficiency, in turn, impairs mitochondrial function and can lead to glutamate toxicity in the brain.

Interferes with the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, which results in shortages in critical neurotransmitters and folate.

Disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport.

Disrupts and destroys the gut microbiome via its antibiotic activity.

Inhibits sulfur metabolism.

Impairs methylation pathways.

Inhibits pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to hypothyroidism.

How Much Glyphosate Do You Have in Your Body?

HRI Labs has developed home test kits for both water and urine, available in my online store. If your levels are high, you would be wise to address your diet and consider buying more organic foods.

You may also want to consider some form of detoxification protocol, and take steps to repair the damage to your gut caused by glyphosate and other agrochemicals. Chances are, if your glyphosate levels are high, you probably have a number of other pesticides in your system as well.

Fermented foods, particularly kimchi, are potent chelators of these kinds of chemicals. Taking activated charcoal after a questionable meal can help bind and excrete chemicals as well. Remember to stay well-hydrated to facilitate the removal of toxins through your liver, kidneys and skin.

Glycine is an important detox aid for glyphosate in particular. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, recognized as an international authority on metal toxicity and its connection with chronic infections, recommends taking 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glycine powder twice a day for a few weeks and then lower the dose to one-fourth teaspoon (1 gram) twice a day. The least expensive way to do this is purchase glycine bulk powder,21 which is very inexpensive.

This forces the glyphosate out of your system, allowing it to be eliminated through your urine. Using a sauna on a regular basis is also recommended to help eliminate both pesticides and heavy metals you may have accumulated.

Organic Diet Significantly Lowers Your Pesticide Load, Study Finds

An obvious answer to concerns about glyphosate exposure via your diet is to switch to organic foods. A study22,23 published in the journal Environmental Research, February 12, 2019, again confirms you can significantly reduce your toxic pesticide load by going organic, and results can be rapid.

On average, pesticide and pesticide metabolite level for neonicotinoids, organophosphate pesticides (OP), pyrethroid, 2,4-D and others (14 compounds in all, representing about 40 different pesticides) were reduced by more than 60 percent, on average, in just six days of eating an all-organic diet.

Urine samples were collected from four “racially and geographically diverse” U.S. families — seven adults and nine children in all — before and after they were switched to an all-organic diet. As a group, OP’s were reduced the most, dropping by 70 percent overall.

Chlorpyrifos, linked to autism and reduced IQ in children, was reduced by an average of 61 percent, and malathion, a probable human carcinogen, was reduced by 95 percent while 2,4-D dropped by just 37 percent. The fact that 2,4-D appears to stay in the body longer could be a concern, considering we’re bound to see far more of it in our food in coming years as genetically engineered crops are now being developed with 2,4-D resistant traits.

According to the authors:24

“We observed significant reductions in urinary levels of 13 pesticide metabolites and parent compounds representing OP, neonicotinoid and pyrethroid insecticides and the herbicide 2,4-D following the introduction of an organic diet.

The greatest reductions were observed for clothianidin … malathion dicarboxylic acid, a metabolite of malathion … and 3,5,6-trichlor-2-pyridinol, a metabolite of chlorpyrifos … This study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that an organic diet may reduce exposure to a range of pesticides in children and adults.”

To Avoid Toxic Pesticides, Go Organic

Other studies have found very similar results, including:

A 2006 study25 in Environmental Health Perspectives, which found OP pesticide levels were lowered to undetectable levels in elementary school-aged children fed an all-organic diet for five days; levels rose as soon as a conventional diet was reintroduced
An Australian study26 published in 2014, which found a diet of at least 80 percent organic food lowered pesticide levels by 89 percent in seven days
A 2015 study,27 which found OP pesticide levels were reduced between 25 and 49 percent in Mexican-American children aged 3 to 6, after being fed organic food for seven days

Bruce Lanphear, a professor at Simon Fraser University who was not part of the study told Civil Eats,28 “Families need this type of information. In the absence of a robust regulatory system that protects consumers, these types of studies are critical for consumers or families to make these choices.”

Many Studies Support Eating Organic to Minimize Pesticide Exposure and Improve Nutrition

A 2016 report29 by the European Parliament, “Human Health Implications of Organic Food and Organic Agriculture,” detailed the many benefits of organic farming, based on a global literature search. The report is unusually comprehensive in that it also reviews a wide range of effects of organics, from nutritional content and the benefits of fewer pesticides to environmental impacts and sustainability.

Its conclusions are based on hundreds of epidemiological and laboratory studies and food analyses. Again, the clearest benefits of organics on human health were found to be related to lowered pesticide, antibiotic and cadmium exposure. And, while U.S. regulators insist that set limits on pesticide residues in conventional produce are enough to protect the public’s health, the report found negative health effects may occur in children even at current levels of exposure.30

According to research31 presented at a 2017 Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) conference in Washington, D.C., women exposed to higher glyphosate levels during pregnancy had babies born earlier and with lower adjusted birth weights.

What’s more, the chemical was detected in more than 90 percent of the mothers in the study. Studies have also demonstrated that an organic diet provides better nutrition. Among them:

A Hungarian study32 published in 2006, which compared the nutritional value of organically and conventionally grown plant foods, found organics contained “significantly higher amounts of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals.”

A 2010 study33 looking at grass fed beef versus grain fed beef found the former had healthier fat composition and higher CLA levels. As noted by the authors, “[C]hanges in finishing diets of conventional cattle can alter the lipid profile in such a way as to improve upon this nutritional package.

Although there are genetic, age-related and gender differences among the various meat producing species with respect to lipid profiles and ratios, the effect of animal nutrition is quite significant.”

A 2013 study34 found organic milk contains about 25 percent less omega-6 fats and 62 percent more omega-3 fats than conventional milk, along with more vitamin E, beta-carotene and beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

A British study35 published in 2014 found organically grown foods contain “significantly” higher levels of antioxidants than the conventionally grown variety, including beneficial compounds linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

A group of scientists at Newcastle University in the U.K. evaluated 343 studies published over several decades. The analysis,36 published in 2014, found that while many nutrient levels were comparable, a key nutritional difference between conventional and organics was their antioxidant content, with organic fruits and vegetables containing anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally grown varieties.

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture37 in Frick, Switzerland, has confirmed organic apples contain higher levels of antioxidants than conventional varieties.

A 2010 study38 partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than conventional strawberries.

Research has also found that true organic free-range eggs typically contain about two-thirds more vitamin A, double the amount of omega-3, three times more vitamin E, and as much as seven times more beta carotene than conventional eggs.39

Organic Food Resources

While most people tend to think of organics only in terms of produce (fruits and vegetables), it’s important to remember to buy organic, grass fed beef, poultry and dairy, as well, as conventionally raised animals are routinely fed a diet of genetically engineered grains that are loaded with glyphosate and other potentially hazardous ingredients.

If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods grown in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner:

Demeter USA — Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands. This directory can also be found on BiodynamicFood.org.

American Grassfed Association — The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

Weston A. Price Foundation — Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange — The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest — This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets — A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

The Cornucopia Institute — The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com — If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund40 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.41 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

Why Cigarette Butts Are Still Among the Worst Forms of Pollution

4 months, 19 days ago

There are multiple reasons you should not start smoking, or you should quit. Despite decades of warnings by the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to call tobacco the “single largest preventable cause of cancer and disease in the United States.”1

Today, cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 people every year and nearly 41,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke.2 There are short-term and long-term side effects. Smoking stains your teeth, changes your physical appearance and increases your risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

After years of smoking, you’ll experience irreversible health damage to your heart, brain, respiratory system and reproductive health. The good news is when you stop smoking the beneficial changes begin in the first 24 hours and continue to mount over the coming days, weeks and years as your body clears out the damage done by nicotine and hundreds of other chemicals.3

Smoking also severely impacts the environment. While you might have thought cigarettes were completely biodegradable, it turns out the filters are made of plastic — not paper or biodegradable fibers — that can take up to 10 years to decompose.4

Marketing Tool Greatest Contributor to Plastic Pollution

In the 1950s, fears of lung cancer emerged. At this point cigarette companies initiated a shift in design from unfiltered to filtered cigarettes in an effort to allay fears of consumers.5 Tobacco smoke from cigarettes contain nearly 250 harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and polonium-210, a radioactive chemical element.6

Cigarette filters were reportedly engineered to reduce lung cancer by blocking toxic exposure. However, this created a problem for cigarette companies as the filter also reduced the smoker’s level of satisfaction with the cigarette.

In response, the companies redesigned the filters so they were not as effective, essentially creating a marketing tool in an attempt to assure smokers of the health benefits associated with filters, while still giving the smoker the nicotine hit. These claims were called fraudulent by the World Health Organization (WHO).7

While filters do block some toxins, they also make smoking smoother, encouraging smokers to puff more frequently and smoke more cigarettes. The tobacco industry recruited smokers under the guise that filtered cigarettes would protect their health.

However, when scientists analyzed the number of lung cancers based on the year of birth, they found the most common type of lung cancer in the 1960s and 1970s was squamous cell carcinoma, accounting for two-thirds of the cases. Today, with an increasing number smoking filtered cigarettes, the rate of adenocarcinoma is increasing.8 

Dr. David Wilson, pulmonologist at the University of Pittsburgh, comments the survival rates of the two types are nearly the same, demonstrating there is no persuasive evidence filters “have a beneficial impact on overall lung cancer survival.”9 However, while the filters don’t improve a smoker’s health, they do have a significant negative impact on the environment.

European Union Cracks Down on Plastics and Cigarette Butts

Although plastic straws and bags receive widespread attention, an even larger problem are the plastic filters on cigarette butts. Today, they rank as the most littered item in the world. Nearly 6 trillion cigarettes are manufactured each year and over 90 percent of them contain plastic filters.10

Some cities have levied fees on cigarette packets to fund street cleaning, and others have levied fees against those who litter. Although some experts advocate for the development and implementation of biodegradable filters, others believe these also contain toxins that take a long time to degrade, and biodegradable cigarettes may increase littering as smokers feel “permitted” to drop them into the environment.

In late 2018, the European Parliament11 proposed widespread reduction in plastic use, including reducing plastic in tobacco products by 50 percent by 2025, bumping this to 80 percent by 2030. These targets were later rejected in lieu of tobacco companies being made responsible for funding campaigns to raise awareness about the problem of cigarette butt litter.

More recently, the European Chemical Agency12 proposed phasing out over 39,000 tons of plastics per year intentionally added into the environment, beginning in 2020. These include microplastic fibers and fragments in cigarette filters, cosmetics, detergents and coatings.13

This draft targets microplastics not considered necessary, but have been added for convenience or profit. Although the U.K. imposed a limited ban on plastic microbeads, the measure by the European Union is more comprehensive.

A scientific committee will review the proposal for slightly over a year before sending their opinion to the European Commission. At that time, the Commission will have three months to prepare legislation and it could take up to eight months after this before the use restrictions would come into force.14

WHO Calls Cigarette Butts the Most Acceptable Form of Littering

The Truth Initiative15 believes visible cigarette litter is so commonplace, even in areas where smoking rates have gone down, in part because they take so many years to decompose. Even under the most optimal conditions, it takes at least nine months for a cigarette butt to decompose and in many cases it takes years.

Unfortunately, littering is also one of the most common ways smokers dispose of their butts. Some communities have attempted to curb cigarette litter with disposable receptacles and smoke-free policies. But, littering is so common nearly 75 percent of smokers report doing it and studies estimate as much as 65 percent of all cigarette butts are littered.16

According to the WHO,17 tossing a cigarette butt out your car window or on the ground is one of the most acceptable forms of littering. Many are stubbed out on the pavement or dropped into gutters where they’re carried through storm drains to rivers, streams and oceans.

Decreasing smoking rates may contribute to a lack of public awareness, especially in geographical areas more prone to experiencing a reduction in smoking rates. Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition Cochair, Rachel Kippen, comments:18

“Most of us have used a plastic bag or plastic straw, so we feel a sense of responsibility for how those products are revised, reused or recycled to be more environmentally friendly. However, most of us don’t smoke. In fact, less than 12 percent of California residents smoke. That leaves 88 percent wondering how to make a difference.”

According to Ocean Conservancy, the results of the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) reports for the first time, in more than 30 years of the ICC, the top 10 items collected around the world were made of plastic.19

More than 780,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries collected 20.5 million pounds of trash. Cigarette butts topped a list that also included food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, bottle caps and plastic grocery bags.

Plastics Damaging and Killing Aquatic Life

In a recent study published in the BMJ,20 scientists evaluated the effect cigarette butts are having on aquatic life. They placed fish in water where cigarette butts had been soaked and then removed. After four days, half the fish had died, demonstrating deadly toxins from the butts seep into the environment.21

Small pieces of plastic found in fibers or fragments and microbeads are also making their way into wild-caught and farmed fish alike. Fish appear to be confused by small plastic debris in the ocean and seek it out for food. In one study, scientists found behavioral evidence marine organisms are attracted to the chemical signature in plastic debris.22

Fish that feed by filtering sea water for plankton are ingesting large amounts of plastic, blocking their ability to absorb nutrients and having toxic side effects.23 By examining the bodies of beached whales, scientists have found large pieces of plastic, but the effects of microplastics, though less obvious, may be just as harmful.

According to the United Nations, at least 800 species around the world are affected by marine debris, 80 percent of which is plastic. Not all damage is done from ingestion as sea creatures can also become entangled in plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation and drowning. A recent study found sea turtles ingesting just 14 pieces of plastic have an increased risk of death.24

Fish in the Pacific Northwest eat up to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, causing intestinal injury and death. The plastic also bioaccumulates up the food chain, often landing on your food plate. In a recent study25 of California fish markets, researchers found 25 percent of fish had plastic microfibers in their gut.

Microplastics Found in Tap Water, Bottled Water and Food Sources

Research commissioned by media outlet Orb revealed alarming data about plastic pollution in tap water, with 83 percent of samples tested worldwide coming back as contaminated. In the U.S., 94 percent of tap water samples were found to contain plastic — the most out of all the locations tested.26

For example, 16 fibers in tap water taken at the visitor’s center in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., along with fibers in samples taken from Trump Tower in New York, were part of the findings. Plastic fibers were also found in water taken from Indonesia, India, Ecuador, Uganda, England and Lebanon.

Orb noted six primary sources of “invisible plastics,”27 one of which is synthetic microfibers from clothing, up to 1 million tons of which are released during washing each year. It’s unknown what the environmental effects of microfiber pollution may be, but their irregular shape may make them harder for marine life to excrete than other microplastics such as microbeads.

Researchers at the State University of New York also tested 259 bottles of 11 popular bottled water brands for the presence of microscopic plastic.28 Brands included Aquafina, Nestle Pure Life, Evian, Dasani and San Pelligerino. On average, the bottled water tested contained 325 pieces of microplastic per liter; just over 10 of those pieces were at least 100 microns in size, the rest were smaller.

Much of the research on microplastic pollution focuses on marine environments, but the toxins are also likely accumulating on land. According to research published in Science of the Total Environment,29 “Annual plastic release to land is estimated at four to 23 times that released to oceans.”

The use of sewage sludge, or biosolids, as fertilizer may be particularly problematic, as it is basically made up of whatever’s left over after sewage is treated and processed.

Become Part of the Solution Instead of Part of the Problem

On a global scale, a variety of efforts are underway to curb plastic waste and pollution. From turning plastic waste into liquid fuel to creating synthetic fibers that don’t shed, enterprising entrepreneurs are seeking ways to keep plastics out of the environment. Some manufacturers are also looking to create easily recycled packaging materials.30

You can take a stand on an individual level, making a conscious choice to use less plastic and stop littering. To become part of the solution instead of part of the problem, consider taking the following steps:31

Stop the litter — If you smoke, consider stopping. While it is a difficult addiction to break, it is also a dangerous habit to continue. Don’t throw cigarette butts or any other litter out your car window or on the ground.

Avoid using plastic bags — This includes plastic sandwich bags. Consider purchasing reusable produce bags for produce you purchase at the store or farmers market and insulated reusable grocery bags for your shopping.

Avoid disposable straws — Choose reusable straws made from widely available stainless steel, bamboo and even glass.

Wash synthetic clothes less frequently — When you do wash, use a gentle cycle to reduce the number of fibers released; consider using products to catch laundry fibers in your washing machine.

Choose a nonplastic toothbrush — Alternatives include toothbrushes made from bamboo or flax.

Avoid disposable plastic bottles — Bring your own reusable glass bottle instead, reducing plastic waste and your exposure to plastic pollution.

Washing paint brushes — Capture rinse water in a jar and dispose of it at your local landfill in designated spots for paint (don’t let it go down the drain).

Make your own paint — You can make your own milk paint instead of plastic-based latex and acrylics by “add[ing] lemon juice to skim milk and filter out the curd, adding natural pigment to what is left.”32

Read more: articles.mercola.com

A Week In Paris, France, On A $101,000 Salary

6 months, 5 days ago

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

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Today: a communications director working in software development who makes $101,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on roses. Editor’s note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.

Occupation: Communications Director Industry: Software Development Age: 39Location: Paris, France Salary: $101,000Paycheck Amount (Month): $5,000 (I also get food vouchers as part of my company benefits — about $200/month.)

Monthly ExpensesMortgage: $1,235 ($1,185 a month on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage at 1.15%, with homeowner’s insurance at $50/month)Utilities: $485 for electricity, gas, and waterInternet: $43.75 (includes international calls, TV, and broadband)Cell Phone: $0 ($96 paid for by my work)Navigo Pass: $94Gym Membership: $200Subscriptions: $31.25 (This includes newsletters and business tools for my side business in communications consulting.)House Emergency Fund: $490Savings: $1,000

Day One

5:30 a.m. — On Mondays I take the train to Paris, which costs $15 if I buy my ticket ahead of time online. It’s three times as much if you buy it at the station, so I avoid that whenever possible. I can’t afford property in Paris, but there’s no work in my field where I live, so I work in Paris and live in a rural region about two hours away. My boyfriend, R., and our infant daughter will follow in the afternoon by car. We’ll spend Monday through Thursday afternoon in Paris, where my boyfriend owns a small two-bedroom apartment. $15

7:50 a.m. — It’s my first day back in the office since maternity leave started four months ago. No one else is here yet. I caffeinate with free office coffee and grab some fruit and nuts.

12:21 p.m. — Morning meetings are over, so I duck outside for lunch. I head to the supermarket to stock up on soup, yogurt, and bars for the next week. Paris is a lunchtime minefield, and if I’m not careful, I know I’ll end up spending more money than I can afford. I used to watch my expenses in this area and stick to a strict food budget, but I don’t anymore. It was unrealistic while I was single and working all the time, and it’s unrealistic now that we’re a family of three. When she was my age, my mother had two children and cooked three square meals a day, all while working. Despite the current constraints of my life, I feel like I should be, too, and feel halfway guilty when I cop out by buying bricks of soup. $21.17

5:17 p.m. — I can’t seem to settle down, so I go out for a quick walk around the block. I duck into a Starbucks for an herbal tea, as I’m trying to go to bed earlier and don’t need caffeine right now. I immediately regret throwing away money on vegetable-tasting water. I leave work early. Well, it feels early. I used to stay until 8 or 9 p.m. several days a week, and that’s just not possible anymore with a kiddo. So I get in two or three hours before everyone in the morning and leave around 5. $5.25

5:41 p.m. — I walk to the express train stop right at the Grands Boulevards next to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I top up my Navigo pass with a monthly subscription before taking the express train to R.’s place. It’s $94 for monthly access to the Paris metro, trams, buses, and suburban trains across a 60-mile radius of the city. Not great value if you’re just using it to commute within the city, but a steal if you use the suburban stations like I do. There are so many exquisite things in the store windows. When I first moved to Paris, I redid my budget to bump up the amount I thought I’d be spending on clothes and personal maintenance. Living here had the opposite effect, though. For one, everyone seems to wear the same thing all the time. Also, there’s so much trash and junk covering this city — even the pretty, touristy parts — that I’m put off by the idea of buying more stuff and adding more waste to the pile. Black sweaters, Chapstick lips, and eyeliner it is.

6:40 p.m. — We live at R.’s place three days a week, although “live” is a pretty big word for what we do, which is squeeze into his tiny two-bedroom and watch TV until we fall asleep. Before we moved to the country, he was supposed to renovate his place. This hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure how long I can live without a basic kitchen and a shower that doesn’t leak. I run some numbers in my head and figure that it will take at least $7,500 to redo the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom, put in an oven and fridge, and finish the rest of his move. I don’t have that money just sitting around right now, so it’ll have to wait a few months. It wouldn’t bother me that much, but it’s different with a kid.

7:45 p.m. — R. and our daughter, B., have arrived. I consider stepping out to get noodles from the Chinese restaurant down the street, but R. has just finished an early dinner at his parents’ place a few miles across town. I’m not that hungry, so I eat an apple, make some tea, and answer some emails before it’s time to get B. ready for bed. Goal: no screen time at all while she’s awake. Nighttime is precious. I’m in bed and drifting off to an old episode of House by 9 pm.

Daily Total: $41.42

Day Two

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off at 5:07 a.m. I lie around for five minutes or so before I drag myself out of bed and set off for the 15-minute walk to the express train. I change metros and get off at Strasbourg-Saint Denis to go to the gym. A few bars and sex clubs are still open, and the bakeries are just pulling up their shutters. I realize that the gym has changed its hours since I was last here, pre-birth, and now opens at 7. I grab a seat at Sarah Baker and send a few emails over a double espresso until it opens. $3.30

7:47 a.m. — Finish working out and showering. Time for a quick hop into the steam room before dressing. This gym membership, at $200/month, is my only real indulgence. Unlimited entry to the steam room and sauna alone are worth the price.

8:18 a.m. — At my desk with a free office coffee. I have meetings all morning and afternoon, but I block off an hour from 10 to 11 to squeeze in some writing reports and plans.

9:49 a.m. — Coffee break on the second floor patio. I half want a cigarette, but there’s no way I’d go back to smoking now that I’m nearly 40, have a child, and work to stay in reasonably decent health.

12:23 p.m. — Time for lunch. I heat up a soup and then go out for some bread and a walk. End up getting a cheese roll from the bakery. $1.50

12:39 p.m. — On my way back from the bakery, I see a can of B.’s formula in the window of a pharmacy. I had problems breastfeeding, and as a result, B. started full-time on formula at two months when her weight gain lagged. We use an organic goat milk-based one, which is $37.50 a can here at the pharmacy. I can get it for $17 online by ordering a pack of six cans and using a promo code. I stop in anyway to pick up some ibuprofen for my back and shoulders, which have pretty much been in constant pain since I gave birth. $6.68

1 p.m. — I call a physical therapist when I get back to the office – I have a doctor’s prescription for 15 sessions for my back and shoulders, which will be covered by national health insurance. This therapist comes recommended, but part of his fee isn’t covered by insurance. (Guess that’s why I got an appointment so quickly). I decide I don’t mind paying the extra $50 per session fee out of pocket. My back has been bothering me for years. I can only imagine what it would cost me to get it fixed in the States. $750 isn’t so bad, especially since the payments will be spread out over four months.

1:19 p.m. — R. sends me a text message to let me know to meet him at his parents’ place after I leave work. He doesn’t have a full-time job, and when he’s in Paris, he spends a lot of time hanging out with his retired parents. (He has a net worth 10x mine, mostly in property and stocks, but is cash-poor. His family’s generosity has allowed him to not work full-time or pursue a career over the years.) He and his mother take care of B. during the day. We’re lucky to have this childcare arrangement, I just don’t know how long it’s going to last. I get off one stop before R.’s parents’ place to go by the florist’s shop, where I pick up a small bunch of miniature roses for his mother. $12.50

6:41 p.m. — R., B., and I are in the car on the way home to the apartment. We park a block away and I stop by the Chinese takeout place for fried rice and dumplings to split. We can’t cook in the apartment, so if we eat a full meal at night it’s usually Chinese takeout or sushi. $22.50

Daily Total: $46.48

Day Three

4:43 a.m. — I manage to sleep from about 8:20 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., when I hear B. cooing. I mix up a bottle, feed her, and change her diaper. I probably won’t go back to sleep before I get up and go into town. I hop online and place an order for more formula. It’ll arrive at my house in time for the weekend. $127.43

5:45 a.m. — Out the door as quietly as possible so as not to wake R. and B. I leave $62.50 on the table for R. He’ll probably need to buy diapers for B. and lunch for himself. I don’t mind leaving him money, but it makes both of us feel weird. I don’t like feeling like I’m giving him an allowance, but he has expensive tastes that I can’t afford, and aside from housing, gas, and food, we don’t agree on priorities. Money is a huge sore point between us. We don’t share finances per se, and neither of us has debt, but I pay all of our basics and 90% of other expenses. Plus I contribute to my own retirement. $62.50

7 a.m. — Gym. Treadmill. Listening to RTL through my headphones. I want to start lifting again but I’m not ready. Pregnancy and childbirth were rougher on my body than I was expecting. I hate admitting that I just can’t get up again and bounce back.

9:14 a.m. — At my desk with breakfast eggs and lentil salad from Prêt à Manger ($10), plus free fruit and coffee from the office kitchen, when I get a phone call from R., who wants to know what the money is doing on the table. He “doesn’t need money,” except I know that he does, and the next time we need something or he wants something while we’re out, we’re going to play some stupid game of “Mother May I” that’s going to leave both of us with hurt feelings. He hangs up in a huff. $10

11:15 a.m. — Macarons! One of our favorite partners has stopped by with goodies from Pierre Hermé. Time for an office coffee and a salted caramel macaron. I feel defeated about the R. situation; I can’t win. My salary package finally reached six figures last year, but four years ago I was making a grand total of $34,000. Living in substandard housing for many years and being worried about how I would pay for groceries at the end of the month took a toll on me. It’s why I usually drink office coffee. The idea of going to Starbucks so much that you would want a loyalty card horrifies me. (No judgment, just the residual effect of years of being poor.)

12:30 p.m. — I heat up some soup purchased earlier this week, supplement with a veggie salad and cheese roll takeout from the bakery, grab a pot of yogurt from my stash in the fridge, and head to the lounge to check out the FIFA action happening on the big screen. $6.50

2:20 p.m. — Long distance calls with an American client, who congratulates me on how well I speak English. I’ve learned not to say anything other than “thanks.” Men at my level never get these kinds of questions, like where they’re from or how long they’ve been wherever, whether or not it’s hard to move somewhere completely different, and do they like living in France?

3:35 p.m. — Seven minutes until my next meeting. I order a cool poster of wine — I’m a wine lover and a map geek and want to cover the bare walls of my house with all kinds of maps and graphics. I leave the office at 4:15 p.m. I worked straight through with 20 total minutes of break, so I’m out early to go to pilates at the gym. $24.75

7 p.m. — Pilates is over, I’m showered, and we’re at R.’s parents’ place waiting for traffic to die down so that we can get in the car and drive to mine. I’ll work from home tomorrow. I stopped at Franprix to bring some fruit and chocolate to the in-laws and pick up some diapers for B. She’s gone up a size in the last week, and for some reason the next size up is nearly three times as expensive as the ones she was wearing. I can’t really compare, though, since the packs of diapers have different quantities. This frustrates the comparison-shopping American in me. $26.84

9:21 p.m. — On the road with a sleeping B. in the backseat. We stop to fill up the car and I knock out a few emails before losing the 4G signal about an hour down the highway. $108.51

Daily Total: $366.53

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — Up early and caffeinated with B. fed and diapered. I check emails from my desk downstairs. I remember that I still need to send back a bunch of holiday orders for R. and B. that didn’t fit.

9:15 a.m. — Break for more coffee and a trip to the bakery ($6.25) and post office. I open the huge shutters facing the street and watch the light flood in. This place is so pretty (and cheap), but over the past few months I’ve had the nagging feeling that it was the wrong decision, for lots of reasons. $6.25

9:20 a.m. — Spend more than expected sending back the holiday items and buying stamps. Sending a letter will go up to around $1.25 this year. Crazy. On the way back from the post office, I see our neighbor coming out of the bakery. He’s a mysterious figure who, like me, works in the city. Sharp and well-dressed, in his mid-60s. I have no idea what he actually does or what he’s doing here in this poky little town. His girlfriend is closer to my age, and I’ve been wanting to hang out with her for a few weeks. I make a note to call her. I’m back on calls from 9:30 straight until noon. $45

12:07 p.m. — R. runs downstairs in a panic that we’re going to miss the Friday market. The market comes to town twice a week. Today it’s the fruit and veg wagon, plus the cheese van. R.’s thing is cheese. I’m in the middle of something, so I hand him $40 and tell him to get whatever he likes. He comes back 30 minutes later with two and a half pounds of cheese and $15 worth of muscle car magazines. “Some light reading for the lady,” he smiles triumphantly as he hands them to me. His cheek is incredible, but so is his ability to make me laugh. Market haul includes potatoes, pears, salad, and clementines. And two and a half pounds of cheese. We’ll probably do a raclette tonight. $40

4:40 p.m. — I finish up work, we pile in the car, and drive the 10 miles down the road to the butcher shop. It’s the kind of place that tourists love to come for the authenticity. We buy some beef for stroganoff, some smoked sausage for freezing and quick weekend dinners, and a couple of slices of pâté for snacking. Everything is local. $34.76

5:17 p.m. — On the way back, we veer off toward a neighboring village and pass in front of Cédric’s bar to see if it’s open. It is, so we go inside and share a pint of the local microbrew while showing B. around to the regulars we haven’t seen since she was born. We’re back home by 6:30 p.m. I start messing around with a communications plan for the local organic grocery store, which is in danger of closing. It’s not really clear why, but inexperienced management seems to be a factor. It’s one of the few oases of progressive thinking here, and it would be a shame if it went under. I attended the last co-op meeting and volunteered to help where I could: marketing, communications, sales. I stop to make the stroganoff around 8 p.m., then call it a day around 10 after B. is fed and things are reasonably clean. We drift off to an old episode of House. $5

Daily Total: $131.01

Day Five

6:13 a.m. — Wake up to B. glurgling happily beside me. She’s not hungry or dirty, so I check messages before heading downstairs. There’s a WhatsApp from a number I don’t recognize. Then I remember it’s M., a 20-something investment banker I met last summer shortly after R. left me. We had a few dates before R. came back. M. didn’t mind that I was single mom-to-be in my late 30s, but he was scared off by the fact that I was moving to the country part-time. I told him that R. was coming back and we dropped out of contact soon after. He kind of ghosted me on WhatsApp, which is why I’m surprised to see the message. Decide to wait awhile before replying.

6:30 a.m. — M.’s avatar is once again greyed out and there’s no status. I don’t have the mental energy to wonder what just happened. He’s a sweet guy, and I hope he finds someone.

8:17 a.m. — I ‘m caffeinated and the baby is changed, fed, and entertained. R. goes down the street for bread and pastries. $6.98

10:15 a.m. — Working on grocery store messaging when the doorbell rings. It’s the postal carrier with a package. I ask her to wait a second so that I can get her tube of homemade cookies and her yearly tip. In France, it’s traditional to tip service workers a little something at the end of the year. The concept is completely foreign to me as an American, but I play along. Connections mean a lot in a small place like this, and if you’re cheap, crazy, or strange, word gets around fast. $25

11:14 a.m. — Browsing clothes for B. I order a couple more pants and another jacket in a warm, comfy style I bought for her a few weeks ago. She looks and feels like a cuddly little penguin in them. $59.96

12 p.m. — Pâté sandwiches with goods from the butcher, fruit from the market haul, and tea. Then story time with baby, which turns into nap time.

2:30 p.m. — Get up and realize I’m late for a meeting with R.’s real estate agent. He bought a property to renovate in the same town at the same time as I was buying my house. I want to drop off a gift for her since she went out of her way to introduce us to people here, and since the transaction had a lot of ups and downs. Normally I wouldn’t pick up this particular chore, but R.’s not going to do it because it’s a “waste of money” — his words. But I know how hard she worked to get the deal done and smooth things over when things went belly-up with the owners. I want her to know that someone noticed and appreciated the extra effort that she made. $64.44

4:45 p.m. — Just discovered the air wash function of my washing machine. How did I not know about this?! This is going to save a ton on dry cleaning. I also discover that moths have eaten my new-last-season cashmere sweaters that were in storage this summer. I bought them on Grana, but I’m not sure I want to shell out $100 each to replace them. That’s not expensive for a decent cashmere, but it’s still more than I’m used to paying for a basic sweater. I may go with some merino Uniqlo ones for $29 a pop.

5:30 p.m. — Laundry and Columbo marathon until the late hours of the evening. I make a pot of tea and sandwiches, and a bottle for B.

Daily Total: $156.38

Day Six

1:24 a.m. — Can’t sleep. Browsing Amazon for The Feynman Lectures on Physics. I’m looking for something to do; a longer, bigger thing that is greater than the sum of its parts. Raising a child is part of it, but I feel like my intellect is going unchallenged. The last 10 years of my life have been about money and career. I grew up in an unglamorous place on the frugal end of middle class. No one had any particular expectations of me. I arrived at adulthood with no idea of what I should do, and no idea how to do it. Somehow – and most of the time I don’t know how – I arrived here at this place I never expected to be. Mostly because I was tired of worrying if I was going to be able to afford groceries and a house one day. I came to France with dreams of making a living from my translation and writing, but gave up during yet another year of grinding anxiety about finances. I just didn’t have the personal fortitude to push through. I feel like I failed sometimes, and wish that I had pushed anyway.

1:30 a.m. — The Lectures are over $100 for a box set, plus shipping. It’s an unnecessary expense I don’t feel like I can afford right now. I add them to my wish list. I keep thinking about the whole work-money-life thing. We often judge people who synchronize their lives to the fluctuations of the balance sheet and promotion cycle (I used to), but when you’re on the other side of that looking in and hungry…damn it feels good to even get within striking distance. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve pulled it off.

5:32 a.m. — Up and on the train. I got my ticket early, so it was only $15. I put on my noise-canceling headphones and try to sleep. Today’s a big day: the usual Monday meetings plus lunch out. $15

7:20 a.m. — Arrival in Paris. I take the metro to Grands Boulevards and pop into the Prêt à Manger on Haussmann. Get some eggs, a sandwich, and a small bar of chocolate. Fruit, coffee, and sparkling water will be free at work. $11.01

7:51 a.m. — At my desk and answering emails with office coffee.

8:22 a.m. — Scheduling all the little moving parts of an announcement this week. There’s a lot to coordinate and a lot of areas where information can potentially fall through the cracks. I got into marketing and communications by default. Good communication is a real job and an art, though. If I’m doing my job right, everything should look and feel seamless. That’s the part that takes the most work – making the rough edges invisible in order to create and highlight the main messages.

10:05 a.m. — Coffee break with the guys from finance. They’re talking about their next vacations. Realize that I’m happy enough going home on the weekends and don’t feel the need for anything more exotic than pushing a stroller through the forest at the edge of town.

12:03 p.m. — Meet a new friend at a Parisian corner bistro where we’re getting lunch. We met on a Facebook group for single parents a few months ago after R. left me, and she recently wrote to ask me for advice about buying an apartment. It’s the first time we’ve met in person. I also want to ask her about her family lawyer and her experience in the court system here. So far R. has been good with B., but I haven’t been able to get over the fact that he left while I was pregnant, and the fact that there’s increasing tension in our household — especially his badgering about money and our lifestyle in general. $20.08

1:20 p.m. — I stop at a Starbucks on my way back to the office. After hearing my friend’s story, I’m more resolved to at least contact a lawyer. Lately, there have also been some temper fits that leave me feeling on edge and unsafe. On the one hand, I feel gutted knowing that my daughter will probably not grow up with her two parents living under one roof. On the other, I know that this leads nowhere good in the long run, and that I need to sort things out now rather than wait until they get worse. Also, I don’t want her to grow up believing this is okay. It’s going to take a long time to get unstuck from this particular situation, but I’ve resolved to do it this year. $5.75

3 p.m. — Two pieces of fruit from the kitchen to get me through the rest of the afternoon of meetings. I call it a day around 6 p.m., think about going to the gym but am too tired, and get on the suburban train.

8 p.m. — I call in a sushi order for R. and me. One order is more than I can eat by myself, and he’s already eaten at his parents’ house, so we’ll split one order of sushi, tempura, rice, soup, and salad. It’s not great, but it’s food. I’m in bed by 9. $22.50

Daily Total: $74.34

Day Seven

7 a.m. — At the gym and on the treadmill after a 5:40 wake-up call. My goal is to be showered, dressed, and in the office by 8:20. Hope I’ll have time for the steam room. Even five minutes would be great.

11:07 a.m. — See an envelope lying in my bag and realize it’s the check for the plumber. Why have I not sent that back yet? I remember that there’s some complicated tax form that comes along with it that also needs to be completed. I want R.’s dad to take a look at it before I mess something up. I shoot his dad a quick email.

11:32 a.m. — Takeout lunch of pesto salad, lemonade, and a yogurt pot from M&S. I also pick up some chocolates for my team and a can of double-acting baking powder for some cookies I want to make this coming weekend. I text with R. He’s trying to entertain B. with some rudimentary version of a puppet show. It sounds cute, and I’m sorry to be missing it. $20.01

2:45 p.m. — Office fruit won’t cut it today. I’m famished, so I head out for one of those prepackaged triangle sandwiches with egg salad and bacon. $4.50

5 p.m. — My friend T. texts me to let me know he’ll be a few minutes late picking me up. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Paris. We went out twice but weren’t right for each other, and he’s now dating another friend. We drive to a bar over on the Left Bank where we catch up over drinks every month or two. It’s one of those typically Parisian places with gold-plated furniture, glass tabletops, saucy service, and classics like Picon bières, rosé in pitchers, and vermouth by the glass.

5:22 p.m. — T. orders us each a glass of champagne. We’re celebrating a career accomplishment of his today. I admire his resilience and work ethic.

7:20 p.m. — R. and B. get home about 30 minutes after I do. R. is hungry and wants Chinese. I go across the street, order, and sit down to wait for another our fried rice and dumplings. Takeout and lunches out are a bigger portion of our budget than I’d like, but we really can’t do any differently right now living in a place without a kitchen four days a week. $22.50

7:25 p.m. — Making lists in my head of stuff I need to get within the next week. I order some baby pictures of B. $73.75

7:31 p.m. — I go ahead and buy my train ticket for next Monday. The online price has inexplicably gone from $15 to more than double. The national rail service is trying out dynamic pricing, except it’s not dynamic, it’s just bad and half-baked. $31.25

7:45 p.m. — Back at home, eating with one hand and cuddling B. with the other. I make a deposit on some baby books at Shakespeare & Co. I’m trying to get B. into a bedtime routine. She has some books in French, but only one or two in English. I’ll go pick up the books during one of my lunch hours next week. $25

11:41 p.m. — My eyes snap open after sleeping for two hours. I can’t sleep. This has been happening a lot lately. As usual for the past few months at night, I’m worried about something. Objectively, life is good. It hasn’t felt this way in a long time, though – last year was horrible and full of fear of instability. But then I look at the result: a beautiful, healthy baby girl, and my health is good. My salary and career are better than they’ve ever been. I’ve bought a house I can afford and have been careful to not squander the seeds of long-term financial security. I’m making new friends and volunteering again. I just wish I could relax.

Daily Total: $177.01

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Prenatal Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Increased Risk for Schizophrenia

6 months, 24 days ago

Despite being simple and inexpensive to address, vitamin D deficiency is epidemic around the world, and evidence suggests vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy plays an important role in the development of several chronic health problems, and raises the risk of complications for the mother as well.

For example, research1 by GrassrootsHealth shows 40 to 60 percent of preterm births could be prevented by raising pregnant women’s vitamin D to a level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Vitamin D optimization also reduces the mother’s risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and prenatal infections by approximately 50 percent.2

Research also confirms there is a lifelong impact for children born of vitamin D deficient mothers, ranging from childhood allergies and more frequent colds and flu, to a greater risk for diabetes, autism, strokes, cardiovascular disease,3,4,5 and, as recently confirmed, schizophrenia — a mental condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive impairment.

Schizophrenia Is Caused by Faulty Brain Construction

Last year, research6 concluded schizophrenia might have its origins in pregnancy; the groundwork being laid as early as the first trimester. The scientists were able to demonstrate that schizophrenia has a physiological basis, beginning with improperly distributed neural progenitor cells in the developing brain.

As a result, few mature neurons appear in the cortex — an area associated with memory, attention and processing of language — in the schizophrenic brain. One of the researchers explained:7

“Our research shows that the disease likely starts during the first trimester and involves accelerated cell divisions, excessive migration and premature differentiation of the neuroectodermal cells into neurons.

Neurons that connect different regions of the cortex, the so-called interneurons, become misdirected in the schizophrenia cortex, causing cortical regions to be misconnected, like an improperly wired computer.

We now can state that schizophrenia is a disorder of faulty brain construction that occurs early in development, corresponding to the first trimester, and involving specific malformation of neuronal circuits in the cortex.”

Schizophrenia Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency in Utero

Knowing that schizophrenia has its roots in abnormal brain development during early pregnancy, it makes sense to look at what might influence brain development. Vitamin D appears to be one crucial factor.

The human brain contains vitamin D receptors, suggesting vitamin D is important for proper brain development and function, and recent research appears to confirm suspicions that vitamin D plays a role in this tragic and difficult to treat condition.

More than 2,600 individuals with schizophrenia were included in the study,8 which concluded that children who were vitamin D deficient at birth had a 44 percent increased risk of developing schizophrenia as adults. According to the researchers, vitamin D status could account for 8 percent of the schizophrenia cases in Denmark, where the study took place. As reported by Science Alert:9

“The clue was a previously identified link between being born in winter or spring in high-latitude regions such as Denmark — a time when there is considerably less sunlight, which promotes vitamin D production in the body — and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

They hypothesized that the reason might be a vitamin D deficiency, and used the Denmark database to investigate … Previous studies have also identified a genetic link between schizophrenia and autism, and a link between autism and prenatal vitamin D deficiency.”

The research team, led by neuroscientist John McGrath, is now planning randomized clinical trials to determine whether vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy might lower the incidence of schizophrenia in the offspring. McGrath told Science Alert:10

“The holy grail is to prevent individuals going on to get schizophrenia in the first place, and I think the experience with the links between folate and spina bifida is a good example that sometimes safe, simple, cheap public health interventions can prevent brain disorders.”

The idea that vitamin D might play a role in schizophrenia is not entirely new. A clinical review11 published in 2016 noted that “Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia,” and that “The biological mechanism is most likely related to vitamin D’s action on the regulation of inflammatory and immunological processes, consequently affecting the manifestation of clinical symptoms and treatment response of schizophrenia.”

B Vitamins Are Also Important for Psychiatric Health


Download Interview Transcript

Several vitamin B deficiencies also have the ability to produce symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders and can be a valuable adjunct in the treatment of everything from attention deficit disorder (ADD) and anxiety to schizophrenia and dementia. This includes vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9 and B12.

B12 deficiency can trigger mania, psychosis and paranoid delusions, 12,13 and research14,15,16 has shown high doses of vitamins B6, B9 and B12 in combination are very effective for improving schizophrenic symptoms — more so than standard drug treatments alone, and particularly when implemented early on. Low doses were ineffective. 

Previous research and work by the late Dr. Abram Hoffer linked psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia with severe and chronic niacin (B3) deficiency or niacin dependency specifically — a state that necessitates far more niacin on a regular basis than normal.

To learn more, see my interview with Dr. Andrew W. Saul (above), who cowrote an excellent book on this topic, “Niacin: The Real Story,” with Hoffer. As noted by Saul:

“When vitamin B3 or niacin was first added as an enrichment or as a fortification to flour, about half of the people in mental institutions went home. This is not a well-known fact. They were there not because they were mentally ill — because of genetic, environment or social reasons — but because they were malnourished …

He wondered about the half that didn’t go home. What about the people that had a little bit of niacin, but didn’t get better? … [H]e started giving what at the time were preposterously high doses of niacin: 3,000 milligrams a day.

And he was curing schizophrenia in 80 percent of the cases. This is astonishing. The cure rate for schizophrenia with drug therapy is not particularly good. Hoffer saw again and again that niacin worked.” 

One of the reasons for B vitamins’ effect on a wide range of mood disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions relates to the fact that these vitamins have a direct impact on the methylation cycle, and are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding your nerve cells.

Without this protective coating, nerve signals become slow and sporadic, which can lead to motor function problems, cognitive losses and changes in mood. B8 also aids in cell communication, allowing your cells to properly interpret chemical messages and respond accordingly.17

Meanwhile, B6, folate (B9) and B12 (in combination with S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals involved in mood control, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Hence, a deficiency in one or more of these B vitamins can also play a role in depression.18

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is also an important precursor of NAD+ which helps redox regulation as explained in the next section. This is likely why Hoffer’s high dose niacin therapy was so effective in schizophrenics.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Schizophrenia

Another recent study19 points out links between schizophrenia and mitochondrial dysfunction, which also makes sense, considering these energy-producing organelles inside your cells are crucial for the normal functioning of cells, including your brain cells.

More specifically, schizophrenia is associated with high oxidation in cells, which impedes cellular energy production and triggers inflammation and adverse immune responses. As explained in the abstract:

“Balance between the redox pair of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotides (oxidized NAD+ and reduced NADH), reflects the oxidative state of cells and the ability of biological systems to carry out energy production.

A growing body of evidence suggests that an “immuno-oxidative” pathway including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and cell-mediated immune response may contribute to disruption in brain activity in schizophrenia …

We found a significant reduction in the NAD+/NADH ratio in chronically ill schizophrenic patients compared to a matched healthy control group … These findings provide evidence for redox imbalance in the brain in all phases of schizophrenia, potentially reflecting oxidative stress.”

The answer here is part and parcel of my metabolic mitochondrial therapy (MMT) detailed in “Fat for Fuel.” My MMT program specifically focuses on strategies that optimize mitochondrial function and minimize oxidative stress.

Prenatal Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Autism

According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data collected from the 2007 and 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health suggested 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 had autism spectrum disorder (ASD).20,21

In April 2016, the CDC reported an ASD rate of 1 in 68.22 However, that rate is based only on 8-year-olds in 11 states. Despite that limitation, the 1 in 68 prevalence is the one listed on the CDC’s Autism Data and Statistics website,23 and the one most frequently reported in the news. Meanwhile, a government survey issued in 2015 claims the ASD rate may be as high as 1 in 45 children between the ages of 3 and 17.24,25

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at MIT, projects that within the next two decades, half of all children born will have some form of autistic disorder if the current trend continues unabated.26 Here, vitamin D may again turn out to be a crucial piece of the puzzle.

A large multi-ethnic population-based cohort study27 published in 2016 found that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy was associated with an increase in autism-related traits in 6-year-old children. McGrath was also part of this investigation, which was the first study examining the association between gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism in general population samples. According to McGrath and his coauthors:

“[T]hose who were 25OHD [25-hydroxyvitamin D] deficient had significantly higher (more abnormal) SRS [Social Responsiveness Scale] scores.

The findings persisted (a) when we restricted the models to offspring with European ancestry, (b) when we adjusted for sample structure using genetic data, (c) when 25OHD was entered as a continuous measure in the models and (d) when we corrected for the effect of season of blood sampling …  

It is feasible that a safe, cheap and publicly accessible vitamin D supplement in at risk groups may reduce the prevalence of this risk factor. Just as prenatal folate supplementation has reduced the incidence of spina bifida, we speculate that prenatal vitamin D supplementation may reduce the incidence of autism.”

How Vitamin D Influences Autism Risk

Download Interview Transcript

Biological scientist Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., has published two papers28,29 in which she presents a hypothesis for how vitamin D may influence autism. In summary:

• Vitamin D gets converted into a steroid hormone. As such it regulates over 1,000 different physiological processes, and is thought to control at least 5 percent of the human genome. When you have enough vitamin D in your body, it binds to vitamin D receptors located throughout your body, thereby acting like a key that opens the proverbial door.

The vitamin D receptor complex can go deep inside the DNA, where it recognizes the telltale sequence of code that instructs the vitamin D receptor complex to either turn the gene on (making it active), or off (making it inactive).

• There’s a vitamin D-regulated gene that encodes tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), an enzyme responsible for converting tryptophan (which you get from dietary protein) into serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and brain development.

You have two different TPH genes in your body — one in your brain and one in your gut. The one in your brain makes serotonin in the brain, and the one in your gut converts tryptophan into serotonin in the gut.

Here, scientific opinion is mixed: Some, including Patrick, claim serotonin made in your gut is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier to get into your brain and therefore cannot influence brain function. Others claim gut serotonin is released from the gut into your bloodstream, and that it does act on your brain, particularly your hypothalamus, which is involved in the regulation of emotions.30

Be that as it may, gut serotonin has a number of important functions, but too much of it will activate T-cells, causing them to proliferate and promote inflammation. Gut inflammation, in turn, is a common symptom associated with autism, and is thought to play a role in its development by flooding the brain with toxins.

• What Patrick discovered is that, in the gut, vitamin D deactivates the gene responsible for making TPH (the enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin). In this way, vitamin D helps combat inflammation in your gut caused by excessive serotonin levels.

Meanwhile, in the brain, the TPH gene has a sequence that causes the opposite reaction. Here vitamin D activates the gene, thereby increasing serotonin production. In other words, when you have sufficient amounts of vitamin D, two things happen simultaneously that improve brain function:

• Gut inflammation is reduced, courtesy of deactivating the gene associated with serotonin production

• Serotonin levels in the brain are increased by gene activation, and in the brain, serotonin plays an important role in mood, impulse control, long-term planning, long-term behavior, anxiety, memory and many other cognitive functions and behaviors, including sensory gating — the ability to filter out extraneous or unimportant stimuli

Since the publication of Patrick’s first paper31 in 2014, an independent group at the University of Arizona has biochemically validated her findings, confirming that vitamin D does activate the tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) gene in a variety of neuronal cell types.

Prior to the publication of that paper, this simply wasn’t known, and it’s a significant finding that can help shed a great deal of light on vitamin D’s influence in autism, as a majority of autistic kids have not only brain dysfunction, but also gut inflammation. Her research clearly shows how important it is to have enough vitamin D to prevent and treat both of these problems. To learn more, please listen to Patrick’s interview, included above for your convenience.

Optimizing Vitamin D During Pregnancy Is a Simple, Inexpensive Way to Safeguard Your Child’s Health

Based on the evidence, it seems clear that optimizing your vitamin D is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to reduce not only your risk of pregnancy complications but also your child’s risk of brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, not to mention a number of other chronic health conditions.

So please, make sure you get your vitamin D level tested — ideally before you get pregnant and routinely during pregnancy and breastfeeding — and take whatever amount of vitamin D3 you need to reach and maintain a level of 60 to 80 ng/mL. Certainly, it should be no lower than 40 ng/mL.

Although vitamin D testing is not yet a routine part of prenatal care, you can request a vitamin D blood test from your health care provider or enroll in GrassrootsHealth’s Protect Our Children NOW! project, which seeks to resolve vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and children, and raise global awareness about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency.

While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and indoor work prevent a large majority of people from achieving ideal levels without supplementation. Just remember to also increase your vitamin K2 and magnesium intake (either from food or supplements) when taking oral vitamin D3, as these nutrients all work in tandem.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

For F***’s Sake: Why Is Modern Flying Such A Soul-Crushing Time Suck?

7 months, 24 days ago

“It was an unforgettable nightmare,” says Donna Beegle. In 2015, she and her family were attempting to travel in coach class from Houston to Portland on a United flight. Midway through, they were removed from the aircraft by police. The reason? The pilot “didn’t feel safe” flying with Beegle’s then-15-year-old daughter, Juliette, who has autism.

Juliette was experiencing low blood sugar that day. Like many people with autism, she has some specific sensory issues, one of which being that she only eats hot food. The family hadn’t been able to get her anything prior to the flight, and when they politely asked if they might be able to purchase one of the extra hot meals being served to first class passengers, they were repeatedly told no by crew members. Over the course of about an hour, Juliette began crying and was visibly agitated. Eventually, Beegle says, they were given some rice from one of the meals.

After that, Juliette was able to calm down, and by the time the plane made an emergency landing in Utah, she had settled quietly into a movie. “My husband and I both turned to each other thinking, oh my gosh, somebody probably had a heart attack or something,” Beegle remembers. But suddenly, the paramedics arrived at their aisle. Beegle explained the situation and said that Juliette was fine now. “[The paramedic] rolled his eyes and he said, ‘Oh my God, another over-reactive flight attendant.’”

That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. The police were summoned. About ten minutes later, Beegle and her family were removed from the plane. They were eventually rebooked on a Delta flight. Beegle says both she and Juliette were “crushed” by in the incident and the lack of compassion displayed by United staff. They initially filed charges against the airline, but after the National Autism Society got involved and used the incident to broker with the airline for a staff training on how to better interact with people with developmental disabilities, they dropped all charges. Nevertheless, the interaction haunts them. “I cried and cried. I cried for the ignorance toward my daughter. It just broke my heart,” Beegle says.

This is just one entry on an ever-growing list of people who have been shamed, discriminated against, and otherwise wronged by major corporate airlines. There was the passenger who was violently dragged off an overbooked United flight, the dog who died on another flight by the same carrier after its owners were forced by staff to store it in an overhead bin, and the family with a toddler that was kicked off a Southwest flight because the child wouldn’t stop crying. A flight attendant reportedly instructed the two-year-old to “shut up.” All of these instances occurred in just the past year. This month, a passenger on a Delta flight sat in dog poop that had somehow been left in his seat from a service animal on a previous flight.

These stories and videos often go viral, followed by a brief period of outrage. We talk of boycotting. Sometimes there’s a lawsuit. (It’s usually settled out of court.) But rarely does any meaningful, lasting change occur. A few days or weeks pass, and there’s another ugly confrontation. Another child or animal or person with disabilities is mistreated. Another pile of dog shit, metaphorical or otherwise, waits atop a seat. The specifics may change, but the moral of the story does not: flying sucks.

Even if you’ve never personally experienced anything quite as dramatic as the Beegles did, air travel is, for many of us, a necessary inconvenience at best. If you have family members that live in different parts of the country or world, or have a job that requires you to visit different places regularly, you really don’t have much of a choice but to fly. Plus, traveling is fun and enriching. It expands our minds, fosters acceptance, and helps us to grow as human beings. But these days it feels like there are a lot of reasons to be wary of getting on a plane. There are the often inexplicable delays, which according to the Department of Transportation, happen on 15% of flights. There are the tiny seats, which have shrunken up to four inches over the past two decades, even as Americans themselves have gotten larger.

“The industry could make flying more comfortable, that meaning the bigger seats bigger with more legroom,” says Annette, a flight attendant with an unnamed carrier who asked that we not use her last name. “That would make it better for the passengers and the flight attendants. That would reduce revenue for the company and drastically increase airfares. We probably will never see this.”

The worst part, though, is that “you have to take whatever they give you because they can just take you off, and so you people put up with things they wouldn’t normally put up with,” says Beegle. “When you’re on a plane, you have no power.”

Illustration by Louisa Cannell 

The fact that we’re able to move people and objects from one place to another through the air is, if you think about it, very impressive. It’s safe to say air travel ranks pretty high within the canon of human achievement. But the evolution of flying from something absurdly rarefied to something increasingly akin to an airborne dictatorship leaves a lot of room for inquiry into why things are the way the are, what made them that way, and how they need to change.

There’s a constant push-pull within the airline industry that makes it feel like as soon as one thing gets better, another gets worse. For example, while an increasing number of planes have TV screens and charging ports, flights are still regularly delayed and overbooked. It’s the same with airports: While there are healthier food options and more electrical outlets, TSA security is time-consuming and seems to randomly change requirements based on which airport you’re in and even who happens to be on duty that day. There are many Band-Aids, but few opportunities to get at the larger issues of air travel, some of which have been festering below the surface for decades.

Kelsey Myers, a new mom who was traveling in May of this year, was attempting to board an already-delayed American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Chicago when she was told she’d have to check a bag containing her breast pump, even though she’d checked the rules on American’s website before the flight and the pump and its accoutrements had not been an issue when she had gone through her TSA screening that day.

It didn’t matter. The man in charge of boarding the flight was unfamiliar with all of this, and he wasn’t about to take Myers’ word for it. After an increasingly heated exchange, she requested he call his supervisor, who arrived on the scene seemingly uninterested in her side of the story.

“You’d think if it was a supervisor, they would know the rules, but also, if you are coming into a situation, that you would ask both parties involved what’s going on,” she remembers.

After more heated back-and-forth, she gave up and said she’d check the bag with the breast pump equipment in it, despite the fact that she needed it, and later observed there was plenty of room in the overhead bins. But that wasn’t the end of it.

He asked her: “‘do you have extra breast pump stuff in your luggage too?'” Myers recalls. “And I was like, actually I do have pumps in there. And then that’s when she responded with: ‘uh, lady, how many boobs do you have?’”

Illustration by Louisa Cannell 

Perhaps you’ve heard stories from your parents or grandparents about the golden days of air travel. In the 1950s and ‘60s, flying was a glamorous affair worth getting dressed up for. So-called “flying boats” glided through the sky as well-heeled passengers sipped stiff cocktails from the comfort of their plush, roomy seats. “Air hostesses” were, in a way, the equivalent of today’s Instagram influencers — young, beautiful, well-travelled and even better dressed. People smoked and socialized and ate three-course meals from 35,000 feet. It was like a cocktail party in the sky, and the sentimentality over this era is well-established in everything from Chrissy Teigen’s 2017 birthday party to a Pan Am-themed restaurant in Los Angeles, which for $300 a head recreates the experience of flying in the ‘50s.

But for all the storied glitz and glamour, flying was also prohibitively expensive, a luxury only afforded to the upper class. “The full fare was probably the equivalent of a secretary’s monthly salary,” according to Guillaume de Syon, Ph.D, a professor of history at Albright College. “Very few people could afford it.” And those pretty young airline staffers faced sexism and discrimination, forced to, according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, meet job requirements like being unmarried, maintaining a maximum weight of 135 pounds, and wearing a “well-fitted girdle” at all times.

Competition between airlines to make flying more accessible began in the late ‘60s, De Syon says. The proliferation of fanjets enabled planes that could both fly faster and carry more passengers. Propeller planes faded away, and airlines began flying to a wider range of destinations.

A deregulation act passed in 1978 dissolved the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had strictly regulated airlines as a public utility, including disallowing them to sell tickets below a certain price point, and only approving one or two carriers to fly on a given route. For years, the government had hoped to curtail competition between airlines through these regulations.

Suddenly, it was a free market — meaning carriers could more or less fly where they wanted, charge what they wanted, and serve passengers how they wanted. The pomp and circumstance didn’t immediately disappear, but many in the industry see this as the beginning of the end for flying’s glamorous days. By the early 1980s, ultra low-cost airlines had sprung up everywhere, and others had to struggle to compete.

Deregulation also led to the shrinking of seats, which have been whittled down over the years from 18 to just 16 inches wide. The “pitch” of the seat, which accounts for legroom, has shrunk from 35 to 31 inches on average in coach class. Some seats, on budget airlines like Frontier and Spirit, have pitches that go as low as 28 inches. Meanwhile, American men and women are both significantly heavier on average than they were in 1960. Consumer advocates have been arguing against the so-called “incredible shrinking airline seat” for years, but earlier this summer, the Federal Aviation Administration rejected a rule that would have imposed a minimum size restriction on seats, arguing that seat size has no impact on passenger safety.

This isn’t to say that deregulation was a bad thing. Without it, the vast majority of people would probably not be able to afford to fly today. But by the time four planes were hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the experience of flying was already trending toward the unpleasant. Then—quite literally overnight—there was an extreme tightening of security measures, which extended from the substantial pre-boarding procedures we’ve grown accustomed to today (shoes off, laptops out, pockets empty, etc.) to heightened levels of caution from staffers when dealing with passengers aboard the aircrafts themselves.

There was also a sudden, drastic reduction in passenger demand. According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines experienced a $22 billion revenue drop between 2000 and 2001. That led to a government bailout of several airlines, lest the whole American air travel system effectively collapse.

In an effort to recoup funds lost after the attacks, airlines began charging extra for things like checked luggage, and even as their profit margins have corrected, those fees have mysteriously stuck around. A joint study by IdeaWorks Company and Cartrawler revealed that in 2017, global airline carriers took home a whopping $82 billion from these kinds of fees, with $57 billion of that going to US-based carriers.

“It’s a bit of a cliche, but 9/11 took away the innocence of flying — the sense that you could go and, for example, meet your party at the plane in United States. There were some very civilized elements that still existed in the US that were gone after that,” de Syon says.

Meanwhile, in the past decade, mega-mergers of airlines have led to decreased competition, which means pricier flights and increasingly lackluster customer service. “You have four airlines that control over 80 percent of traffic [in the US],” explains Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare, a company that curates deals on flights and hotels. “So the fact that each of those airlines has effectively divided up the country by city and there’s only a handful of cities with really, really good competition has essentially made it more difficult for people to find a cheaper ticket there.”

The so-called “big four” that Seaney refers to are American, United, Delta, and Southwest, and it’s estimated that nine out of ten domestic flights are operated by one of those carriers. If you wanted to boycott one of these airlines, but you still want to visit your parents without defaulting on your student loan, the logistics are not in your favor.

From the perspective of flight attendants, it’s passenger behavior that is at the root of the problem.

“We are to de-escalate when we can, and assume we are being videoed. If I am unable to de-escalate, I would leave and have a flying partner step in. She may have a totally different approach that works. We do not want any confrontations onboard,” explains Annette, the flight attendant. She says that within the company she works for, there have been numerous conversations about how to minimize these type of flare-ups between employees and passengers. And that the first priority is to focus on safety, not comfort.

Annette cites factors like sleep deprivation, stress, and excessive consumption of alcohol as common reasons why some passengers become aggravated on and around airplanes, and take their anger out on them. The high cost of airport food and parking, hassles they may have experienced getting through TSA, and confusion navigating the concourse can also rev up passengers, she explains. None of these are factors the airlines themselves have much control over, but, flight attendants bare the brunt of the complaints, she says. “A passenger finally finds their gate, and they hustle to get onboard, find their seat, and put their bag in the overhead compartment. Just as they think they get to relax, here I come, asking them to put their tray table up.”

Illustration by Louisa Cannell 

And yet, it’s likely none of this will ever get fixed. Because even in an era where everything from feminine hygiene products to money transfers have been “disrupted” by eagle-eyed innovators, no Elon Musk-type has really emerged with big promises to do it all better. The closest is Richard Branson, whose beloved airline Virgin was absorbed and then retired by Alaska Airlines in 2017 following a struggle for profitability. Branson referred to the watering down and eventual termination of the brand as a “castration.” Because Virgin was a US-registered airline, Branson and his foreign businesses were unable to control voting interests during the acquisition

“It was a long and hard journey but in the end you are the best consumer airline in America. You invented concepts like ‘moodlighting’ and ‘on-demand food,’ you reinvented cabin amenities from seat-to-seat chat to Netflix in the sky. You chose warm and soothing pink to purple moodlighting that transitions based on outside light,” Branson wrote in a farewell letter to the airline. “You proved it is possible to run a business with a strategy that does not rely on low fares and a dominant position alone: you attracted premium flyers with a fun and beautiful guest experience.”

There are several companies, including FareCompare, Hopper, and Hipmunk, who purport to make finding a deal on flights easier. And, hey, when you’re paying something like $200 (as opposed to $500) for a flight, maybe you’re less likely to be annoyed when the seat is small and the food is bad and it’s delayed an hour and a half.

But when it comes to actually revamping the experience of flying, that’s easier said than done, apparently even for someone with the resources, vision, and business acumen of Richard Branson. As you might imagine, it costs a lot to run an airline. There are countless regulations and tons of red tape to navigate. And it’s almost impossible to compete with industry behemoths like American and United, even as they continue to bungle interactions with passengers. While most airlines do undoubtedly want to create better PR for themselves, there’s little financial reason for them to make real, substantive changes. For a country that so values competition and choice, we have very little of it.

A 2016 survey by Airlines for America shows that, for all we like to complain, more people are flying than ever before. As Annette revealed, the biggest thing on carrier’s minds isn’t how to make flying more pleasant, or even how to cut down on heated altercations between their staff and passengers, but simply how to squeeze more people onto aircrafts to meet this demand (and, yes, turn a profit).

Thatcher A. Stone, a prominent aviation lawyer who has argued cases for people discriminated against or harmed by airlines, thinks there are accessible solutions: “If they gave you a box of chocolates, a pair of earplugs and either a toy for a kid or a newspaper for an adult as you walked on the airplane or as you left the gate… [Passengers would] have a sugar high from the chocolates. They’d plug their earphones in and they wouldn’t bother anybody. They’d listen instead of talk, and then they’d read and watch, the kids would play with the toy. But [the airlines are] not smart enough to do that, which is unfortunate.”

To be fair, certain airlines are taking small steps in that direction: Delta, which already offers complimentary beer and wine on all international flights, recently revealed that it’s testing out offering three-course meals and gratis champagne in economy class on flights between Portland and Tokyo. American has decided to allow early boarding for people with nut allergies, giving them time to properly sterilize their seat and tray table. These small comforts probably won’t do a lot to mitigate the stress felt by people regularly victimized by racial profiling, sizeism, and other types of discrimination that still run rampant on planes, in airports, and during TSA screenings. And they also won’t fix the problem of delayed flights and insensitive staffers and insulting $75 vouchers. But they are, at least, an acknowledgment on the parts of airlines that a lot of people are pissed off — and that if there is, for example, the ever-looming threat of accidentally sitting in dog poop (or something like that), they have every right to be.

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Life at the Time: 1930s America and the 1940 United States Census

8 months, 11 days ago

feature

Have you ever wondered what events in 1930s America affected your ancestors who were listed in the 1940 U.S. census? Social history is an important part of any family’s history, and learning what was going on in the world around your ancestors can add interest and insight to their life stories.

The people listed in 1940 U.S. census records were greatly affected by what was going on in 1930s America. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the start of World War II on the European front were some of the most impactful historical events of the time. These events influenced what our ancestors wore, what they did for work, how they managed their homes, where they lived, what they did for fun, and much more. If your ancestors were included in the 1940 census records, these events likely played a role in their lives.

 

You can search for your ancestors in the 1940 United States census for free on FamilySearch.org. Find out how they were employed, where they lived, and if they had migrated—all life experiences that were likely shaped by the major historical events of the 1930s.

Search 1940 U.S. Census Records

 

To understand what life might have been like for your ancestors, let’s take a look at some of the historical events in the 1930s leading up to the 1940 United States census.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression (1929 to 1939) was brought on by many factors, but its catalyst was the October 1929 stock market crash. The effects were felt not only in the United States, but in virtually every country of the world. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25 percent, and other countries experienced similar or worse unemployment rates.

When people lost their jobs during the depression, they stopped earning money, and as a result, they stopped spending money. The adage “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” reflected the spirit of the times. Frugality and resourcefulness helped many families withstand the economic crisis of the 1930s. Women started transforming flour and feed sacks (made out of cotton) into dresses, underwear, dish towels, curtains, and other items for the home. Some manufacturers noticed this trend and began creating flour and feed sacks with appealing, colorful designs so the sacks could be multipurposed as attractive clothing fabric.

A 1930s woman wearing a flour-sack shirt, next to a man in 1930s fashion.

1930s America culture 1930s Clothing and Entertainment

While the Great Depression ended up having a major impact on 1930s culture and fashion, people still found ways to enjoy life with what they had. The common house dress was quite practical, and feed-sack dresses became a popular trend of the time. Some women in the 1930s still wanted to “look smart” when going out, however. Afternoon tea might call for a dress of silk or rayon crepe with puffed sleeves and belted waists. And don’t forget the hat!

Though fashionable suits with padded shoulders and tapered sleeves were popular for men, the average man wore work clothes most of the day because of the hard times. Work attire sometimes meant a white button-up shirt, slacks, and a tie. A jacket and cap were also very practical for men in the early 1930s. Trench coats and waistcoats also became quite popular.

Though life was difficult and money was tight, some entertainment options still grew in popularity during the 1930s—particularly the radio. Many found a way to purchase a radio set, knowing it would provide unlimited free entertainment. The whole family could sit together around the radio at home and enjoy big band music, sporting events, and comedy programs, such as Amos ’n’ Andy.

Not surprisingly, people still enjoyed going to the movies as well, if only to escape the pressures of life for a little while. To draw in viewers during this era, Hollywood would hold sweepstakes and drawings for prize money at movie theaters. The beloved Wizard of Oz was released toward the end of the Great Depression, in August 1939, and sung by Judy Garland, won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The Dust Bowl

1930s America was also devastated by the Dust Bowl, a series of dust storms brought on by a lengthy drought in the Midwest and Southern Plains regions of the United States. Heavy wind conditions across millions of acres of overcultivated and dry ground in the country’s agricultural belt caused massive dust storms that killed people, livestock, and crops.

Many farming families of the plains left their land in search of work and better living conditions. Nicknamed “Okies” because many came from Oklahoma, they actually came from other states as well, including Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. An estimated 2.5 million people fled the Dust Bowl, making this migration the largest in American history.

1930s america and the new deal, great depression, and WWIIMany refugees went to California, which at the time had a reputation for abundant opportunities and resources. However, there weren’t enough jobs in California for the refugees who arrived there, and pay was low. As a result, many continued living in poverty, making their homes in tents and makeshift towns.

These events of the “Dirty Thirties” influenced many artists. For example, the Dust Bowl and the plight of the Okies was the inspiration behind John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath. Woody Guthrie, a folk musician, created an album titled Dust Bowl Ballads in 1940 that told about the hardships the refugees endured.

The Dust Bowl compounded the effects of the Great Depression. To counteract these effects, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced The New Deal, a series of programs, projects, and reforms intended to help Americans get back on their feet. One of the notable projects of the New Deal was the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided jobs to the unemployed. These jobs focused on building the nation’s infrastructure and promoting the arts. The Social Security Act was also introduced in the New Deal.

The United States Social Security Death Index, available for free on FamilySearch.org, is another resource to research your ancestors.

The Start of World War II

On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Two days later, on September 3, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and New Zealand declared war on Germany. World War II had begun. Other countries joined both sides of the war in the months and years that followed, with the United States entering the conflict in December 1941.

At the end of the 1930s in America, having survived a depression and a severe drought, our ancestors would again prove their resilience in the 1940s. With the Second World War looming internationally, the American people rallied around a common cause. The war marked the end of the Great Depression. With government-funded factories and millions of soldiers deployed overseas, employment rates slowly rose, and the standard of living rose with it.

At the beginning of this turning point in American history and culture, census takers arrived in 1940 on our ancestors’ doorsteps.

How did your ancestors answer the questions in the 1940 census? Find out by searching the 1940 United States census records for free on FamilySearch.org.

Search 1940 U.S. Census Records

 

Learn More about the 1940 U.S. Census

The 1940 U.S. Census

Learn about the 1940 U.S. census and how it can provide important clues about your family history.

Questions on the 1940 Census

What questions were on the 1940 census form? How was it different from other U.S. censuses?

1940 us census

1940 US census questions

Read more: familysearch.org

‘Vaxxed’ — The Hidden Story of How Vaccine Safety Has Been Undermined and Suppressed

8 months, 29 days ago

Can vaccines trigger autism? This is the topic of the film “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,”1 directed by Andrew Wakefield and produced by Del Bigtree, an Emmy Award-winning producer of “The Doctors” talk show.

The film became the center of controversy when it was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival lineup in 2016 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, the two founders of the well-known film festival. According to Rosenthal, other filmmakers had threatened to withdraw their films from the festival if “Vaxxed” was shown.

While De Niro admitted feeling pressured to pull the film, he urged people to see it, saying there are many issues relating to the way the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evaluates and monitors the safety of vaccines that are not being openly spoken about, and really should be addressed.

Are Vaccines as Thoroughly Researched as Claimed?

The official stance repeated by most mainstream media is that vaccines have been thoroughly researched, that “hundreds” of studies have proven their safety, and that no link between vaccines and health problems, such as autism, have ever been found.

Again and again, you hear that the autism-vaccine link was based on a single study published in 1998 by a now-discredited doctor (Wakefield), and the hypothetical association between vaccines and autism has since been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. It sounds definitive enough, and is often repeated as established fact. Yet it’s far from the whole truth.

Importantly, the vaccine industry has long shied away from evaluating vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations to determine potential differences in general health outcomes. The few independent scientists who have attempted such an investigation have little comfort to give to those who believe vaccines are essential for health, and mandatory use of vaccines by all children is the only way to protect society from disease.

One such study,2 published just last year, examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s. This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered “DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated.” According to the authors, “All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis.”

In other words, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children’s immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

Other clinical trials in West Africa revealed that a high titer measles vaccine interacted with the DTP vaccine, resulting in a 33 percent increase in infant mortality.3 In this case, the finding led to the withdrawal of that experimental measles vaccine targeting very young infants, but what would have happened had those studies never been done? Clearly, we need many more like them.

In the U.S., the CDC now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they’re 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of six.4 How does this affect their health? And is anyone actually tracking the health outcomes of children adhering to the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule and state mandatory vaccination programs?

The answer is no. We do not know if or how all of these vaccinations are affecting the general health and mortality of our children.

We do, however, know that the U.S. has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed nation,5,6 and we also have the highest vaccination rates with 94 to 96 percent of children entering kindergarten having received multiple doses of vaccines.7 This high vaccination rate among kindergarten children, mostly due to state vaccine laws that require vaccinations for school attendance, has been maintained in the U.S. since the 1980s.8

Whistleblower Admits CDC Manipulated Data

A central part of “Vaxxed” storyline centers around William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases (NCIR), who confessed that he conspired with colleagues to cover up links found between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

According to Thompson, this scientific fraud was committed for the express purpose of covering up potential safety problems so the agency would be able to maintain that the MMR vaccine had been proven safe to give to all children. Thompson explained they simply eliminated the incriminating data, thereby vanishing the link.

How FDA Hid Evidence of Mercury Poisoning

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of the World Mercury Project, has also released and written about documents showing that officials at the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “knew that infant vaccines were exposing American children to mercury far in excess of all federal safety guidelines since 1999.”9 According to Kennedy:

“[T]he regulators realized that a [6]-month-old infant who received thimerosal-preserved vaccines following the recommended CDC vaccine schedule would have received a jaw dropping 187.5 micrograms [mcg] of mercury …

There was no point in time from birth to approximately 16 to 18 months of age that infants were below the EPA guidelines for allowable mercury exposure.

In fact, according to the models, blood-and-body burden levels of mercury peaked at [6] months of age at a shockingly high level of 120 nanograms/liter [ng/L]. To put this in perspective, the CDC classifies mercury poisoning as blood levels of mercury greater than 10 ng/L.”

The reason you’ve never heard about this is because federal health officials concealed it with a statistical trick. By averaging the mercury exposure over a period of six months, the spikes in mercury on the days of vaccination disappeared. By massaging the way the data are reported the effect went from being 12 times over the level of mercury poisoning to being inconsequential. As noted by Kennedy:

“An analogy would be to compare taking two Tylenol tablets a day for a month to taking 60 Tylenol tablets in one day; the first exposure is acceptable, while the other is lethal.”

This is why journalists who merely parrot the approved FDA and CDC talking points do readers such a tremendous disservice. Both federal health agencies have been accused of malfeasance and cover-up of important drug and vaccine safety data and, until the truth is known, it is unwise to blindly accept them as the final arbiters of what’s safe and what’s not. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which includes the CDC, FDA and NIH, also owns a number of vaccine patents and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines each year while simultaneously being responsible for vaccine regulation, policymaking, monitoring of vaccine safety and promotion of universal use of all CDC-recommended vaccines.

How can these federal health agencies effectively meet all of these different goals when they have inherent conflicts of interest? They cannot. Yet, these conflicts of interest are rarely if ever mentioned by the media.

What You Need to Know About Wakefield’s ‘Discredited Autism Study’

In the film, Wakefield explains the genesis of his now infamous paper, the so-called “discredited autism study” that vaccine advocates insist is the sole evidence for a link between autism and vaccines.

What many people don’t know is that Wakefield and 12 other coauthors of the paper never actually performed a study to ascertain whether the MMR vaccine caused autism. They also did not state that MMR vaccine causes autism in the paper, but simply called for more research into the potential association.

It all began when a mother contacted Wakefield about her son, whose gastrointestinal and autism symptoms began after he received his MMR vaccination. An academic gastroenterologist, Wakefield told her he couldn’t help, as he had no knowledge about autism. She insisted, saying her son had terrible digestive problems but no one was taking them seriously.

Wakefield decided to look into it and, in 1998, he and 12 colleagues published a case series paper in The Lancet, reporting that parents of 9 of 12 children, who had been seen for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, reported their children’s health deterioration began shortly after MMR vaccination.

It’s important to realize that a case series paper is very different from a case control study. A case series simply describes the experiences of a single patient or group of patients with a similar diagnosis.

As Wakefield points out in his book, “Callous Disregard,” the purpose of a case study is to “generate new hypotheses.” It is not supposed to determine or investigate possible causality — and Wakefield’s paper did not make any causal claims. Rather, he and his colleagues concluded:10

“We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella immuni[z]ation.

Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”

The paper also explicitly stated that:

“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described …

If there is a causal link between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the U.K. in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there’s a change in incidence or a link with measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.”

Was Wakefield’s Paper Fraudulent?

Wakefield’s paper was eventually retracted after generating massive international controversy and denials by public health officials and doctors giving vaccines to children, who claimed the paper unnecessarily frightened and caused parents to question the safety of MMR and many other vaccines.

But to use Wakefield’s case series paper as “proof” that there is no link between vaccination and autism simply because this paper was retracted is grossly misleading.

It wasn’t a case-controlled clinical study designed to investigate or determine causation by comparing health outcomes of two different groups of patients; it was merely a case series paper that described similar health outcomes in patients and presented a hypothesis, nothing more.

According to detractors, including Bill Gates, Wakefield’s paper was based on fraudulent, completely made-up data, but such accusations have been rebutted by David Lewis, Ph.D.,11 a research microbiologist and director of the Research Misconduct Project12 of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, DC.

A summary of the Wakefield case can be found on AHRP.org in the article, “How the Case Against Andrew Wakefield Was Concocted.”13 In fact, Lewis’ investigation led him to accuse The British Medical Journal of institutional research misconduct14 for publishing false accusations of fraud against Wakefield. According to Lewis:15

“Documents recovered from Dr. Wakefield’s files during my investigation at the National Whistleblowers Center reveal that a pathologist associated with the study, Dr. Andrew Anthony, interpreted a number of the children’s biopsies as evidence of colitis.

Altogether, the evidence contained in Wakefield’s files suggested to me that the BMJ’s fraud theory was more tabloid news than science.”

In the end, what happened to Wakefield is powerful testimony of the danger that research scientists and physicians face if they draw the ire of the vaccine industry, government health officials and medical organizations promoting mandatory vaccination. The threat to one’s livelihood is in and of itself a factor that prevents much-needed independent vaccine safety research.

Does Age of Exposure to MMR Vaccine Influence Autism Risk?

According to Wakefield, the history of the MMR vaccine may offer valuable clues to its safety, or lack thereof. The original MMR vaccine was linked to meningitis,16,17,18 and the filmmakers cite research suggested the age of exposure was a significant factor. The younger the patient at time of the vaccination, the higher the risk of developing meningitis.

Wakefield wondered if perhaps there might be a similar age-related link between MMR vaccine and autism. This research was ultimately done by the CDC, and Thompson was part of that team. As explained in the film, CDC whistleblower Thompson ended up contacting Brian Hooker, Ph.D., and advising him on how to obtain this and other vaccine data from the CDC.19

Copies of the files Hooker obtained from the CDC — about 10,000 in all — can be downloaded from the Vaxxed website.20 While Thompson could not legally give the studies to Hooker, he told Hooker to file a citizen’s request to the CDC, and guided him on which studies and data sets to ask for.

Among them was a study21 Thompson cowrote that looked at autism rates and time of MMR vaccine administration, and found evidence for a heightened risk for autism when the first MMR dose was given at 15 months — a finding that was subsequently covered up.

A letter22 requesting the retraction of this study has been sent, based on the evidence of fraud presented by Thompson.

Protecting MMR Vaccine Program More Important Than Protecting Children’s Health

Wakefield also describes the research he did into the testing and licensing of the MMR vaccine and how, based on that research, he could no longer support the use of the combination MMR vaccine. After he urged parents to avoid the triple vaccine and get the single vaccines (i.e., the individual vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella), demand for the single vaccines dramatically increased.

However, rather than allowing parents to choose between MMR and individual vaccines, the U.K. stopped importing the single vaccines and Merck decided to cease production of the single vaccines in the U.S. This action effectively removed parental choice altogether, compelling parents to use the combination MMR vaccine if they wanted to vaccinate their children.

When Wakefield questioned the rationale behind the U.K.’s decision to eliminate the single vaccines, a senior representative at the British department of health told him that if parents were allowed to choose between the triple MMR and single vaccines, it would destroy the MMR program. “In other words, the concern was for the protection of the program, over and above the protection of children,” Wakefield said.

CDC Whistleblower Admits Omitting Data Showing MMR-Autism Link in African-American Boys

Thompson also cowrote a widely cited 2004 CDC study23 that concluded there was no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. However, Thompson admitted this conclusion is actually false, as the team simply excluded the data that showed a link.

According to Thompson, he and the other scientists who worked on the study were pressured “from the top” to come to conclusions that would support the government’s policy on MMR vaccine safety. The omitted data, Thompson claimed, showed a distinct link between early MMR vaccination and a risk for the development of autism in young African-American boys.

Hooker published a reanalysis of the 2004 CDC data set in 2014, in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration,24 concluding that African-American boys who receive their first MMR vaccine before the age of 36 months have a 3.36 times greater risk of developing autism, compared to those who receive the vaccine after the age of 36 months. (The CDC’s childhood vaccination schedule recommends getting the MMR vaccine between 12 and 18 months.)

For males in general, regardless of race, the risk for autism was 1.69 times greater when MMR was given prior to 36 months of age. Just how was Thompson’s team able to hide this rather obvious connection? In short, data was originally obtained on 2,583 children living in Atlanta, Georgia, born between 1986 and 1993.

The original scientific analysis plan specified that school records and/or birth certificates were to be used to obtain race data. By excluding children who did not have a valid state of Georgia birth certificate, they were able to reduce the cohort size by more than 40 percent, and by including fewer subjects — through the introduction of the arbitrary criteria of a valid birth certificate to ascertain race — the statistical power of the findings were eliminated.

How Vaccines May Cause Harm

While a lot of attention has been given to thimerosal, a mercury compound used in some vaccines as a preservative, it’s a mistake to think thimerosal is the sole problem when it comes to vaccine safety.

Thimerosal preservatives are not present in live virus vaccines such as MMR, and are not even included in significant amounts in most inactivated childhood vaccines anymore, yet vaccine-related injury and death, including the unexplained big increase in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders among children in the past three decades, is still a pressing reality.

What’s more, vaccine safety is not simply a matter of proving or disproving the link between vaccines in general and autism specifically. There are many other, potentially severe vaccine side effects, including immune system dysfunction, that can lead to or exacerbate any number of health problems.

Examples of other vaccine ingredients and factors related to vaccination that may be harmful to health include:

Lack of research into the safety of the CDC’s recommended childhood vaccine schedule that subjects infants and young children to 50 doses of 14 vaccines during the first six years of life, starting on the day of birth, including receipt of six to 10 vaccines on the same day.25

Failure of one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and laws to acknowledge increased individual susceptibility to harm from vaccination that include genetic, biological and environmental high-risk factors often not identified, or, dismissed as unimportant by doctors and other vaccine providers.26

Research27 showing an increase in death following receipt of inactivated vaccines. Aluminum adjuvants might be a factor, but it appears inactivated vaccines may also program your immune system in a way that decreases your body’s ability to fight off disease later. To learn more about this, please follow the hyperlink provided.

The gut-brain axis, and the compelling synergy between compromised gut flora and autism, where vaccines can act as a trigger. To learn more, please see the hyperlinks, as I’ve written about this on previous occasions.

The association between autism increases and the introduction of vaccines using human fetal cell lines and retroviral contaminants.28

The potential for DNA fragments in vaccines to produce an exaggerated and potentially fatal immune response.29

What Do Statistics Suggest About Vaccine Safety?

Barring large-scale studies comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated populations, general health statistics can give us an inkling as to how well the U.S. vaccination program protects our children’s health, and it doesn’t look promising. 

One in 6 children today has a developmental disability,30 which includes ADD/ADHD, autism, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental and behavior disorders and seizures, which have been associated with vaccine side effects.
Fifty-four percent of children have a diagnosed chronic illness,31,32 including anxiety, asthma, behavioral problems, bone and muscle disorders, chronic ear infections, depression, diabetes, food and/or environmental allergies and epilepsy.

This list again mirrors brain and immune system dysfunction that has been reported following vaccination. The rise in prevalence of these chronic diseases among children and young adults parallels the rise in the numbers of required vaccines, yet promoters of mandatory vaccination insist that these illnesses are in no way associated with vaccinations.

In his book, “Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies,” Neil Z. Miller also provides eye-opening information about vaccine safety. He downloaded the entire vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) database and created a program to extract all reports involving infants. In all, the reports of 38,000 infants who experienced an adverse reaction following the receipt of one or more vaccines were extracted.

Another program was then created that was able to determine the number of vaccines each infant had received before suffering an adverse reaction.

Next, reports were stratified by the number of vaccines (anywhere from one to eight) the infants had received simultaneously before the reaction took place. They specifically homed in on serious adverse reactions requiring hospitalization or that led to death. Here’s what he found:

Infants who received three vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving their vaccines than children who received two vaccines at the same time
Infants who received four vaccines simultaneously were statistically and significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who received three or two vaccines, and so on all the way up to eight vaccines
Children who received eight vaccines simultaneously were “off-the-charts” statistically in that they were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die after receiving those vaccines
Children who received vaccines at an earlier age were significantly more likely to be hospitalized or die than children who receive those vaccines at a later age

Why We Must Protect Vaccine Exemptions

All of these facts are why we simply must protect the legal right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination and to obtain vaccine exemptions in the U.S. We must have the right to choose, which includes the right to refuse one or more vaccines for ourselves or our children if we determine the risks are too great.

Make sure you take action to protect and expand the legal right to make voluntary vaccine decisions in your state by signing up to use the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Moreover, when an individual experiences a deterioration in health after vaccination, doctors need to understand the danger of giving more vaccinations until or unless the vaccine can be conclusively exonerated as a causative or contributing factor to that health deterioration.

Physicians who recommend and administer vaccines to people, particularly to vulnerable infants and children, need to apply the precautionary principle of “first do no harm.” This is critically important when the foundation of science supporting the safety of any given vaccine, alone or in combination, for any given individual is so weak — and in some cases, based on outright fraud.

If you haven’t watched “Vaxxed” yet, I hope you will take the time to view it now, while you can watch it for free.

As an exclusive offer, Mercola readers will receive 15 percent off the single “Vaxxed” DVD by entering the discount code MERCOLA15 at checkout. Want to share the important information in this film with friends and family? “Vaxxed” 10-packs are now available! To receive free worldwide shipping on the “Vaxxed” 10-pack, enter MERCOLA10PACK at checkout. CLICK HERE to purchase the single DVD or 10-pack of Vaxxed.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

My Personal Journey on How I Went From Sick to Healthy

11 months, 4 days ago

By Dr. Mercola

This website was created 21 years ago, in 1997, when I combined my two primary passions in life — health and technology — and made it my mission to share exciting new developments in natural health with a wider audience.

Thanks to you, this site has become one of the most visited natural health websites in the world for the last 12 years, with more than 10 million unique visitors each month and more than 80 million unique visitors annually.

Because of your loyal support, we’ve slowly but surely awakened the world to the false promises of the fatally flawed conventional medical view, which claims disease is best treated with drugs, and that the government knows what’s best for your health and should be allowed to dictate your health options.

In the video above, I discuss my own journey toward health, which ultimately led me to my present-day philosophies and recommendations.

This video and article were initially published during three years ago during anniversary week. It was a big hit, and since we’ve had a significant influx of new subscribers since then, I’m rerunning it for those who missed it.

Learning Through Experience

Experience is a formidable teacher, and much of what I’m teaching today grew out of the lessons I learned as I tried to get healthier. I made plenty of mistakes, and fell for many of the lies, deceptions and confusion of conventional medicine.

Like so many others, I grew up eating cereal for breakfast, and I fully believed margarine was healthy. My diet was high in carbs and sugars and low in fat, and there’s little doubt this played a significant role in dental decay, which I struggled with throughout a large portion of my life.

By the time I was an adult, I had a mouth full of amalgam fillings. Eventually, I discovered the truth about amalgam — that it’s actually 50 percent mercury — and in 2009 I approached Charlie Brown (president of the Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry) at a Health Freedom Expo in Chicago.

At that event, I offered to partner with him to raise awareness about mercury in dentistry and to help get this toxin out of dentistry for good.

It’s been a highly successful partnership, and on October 10, 2013, a legally binding international treaty to control the use of this toxic metal was signed into action, thanks largely to the work of the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry, the project organized and led by Charlie Brown.

The treaty, named the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products by 2020. Importantly, the treaty marks the beginning of the end for dental amalgam around the world, as it mandates each nation phase down amalgam use, effective immediately.

Since then, I’ve partnered with a number of select health and research organizations that are true health advocates and educators, including GrassrootsHealth, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

Together, we’ve formed a nonprofit coalition known as Health Liberty, dedicated to improving fundamental education to all on important health, food safety, and informed consent issues.

A Lifelong Passion for Exercise Got Me Into Medicine

My mother instilled in me a passion for reading. In 1968 I picked up Dr. Ken Cooper’s book, “Aerobics,” which sparked a lifelong passion for exercise as I have been exercising regularly for the last 48 years, never taking more than a few days off at any one time.

Cooper actually designed the exercise program for the NASA astronauts, but aside from keeping astronauts fit in an antigravity environment, exercise wasn’t viewed very favorably down here on Earth.

When I first took up running, people would throw things at me because they thought I was some kind of hooligan or criminal running from the scene of a crime! People simply did not run “for no reason” back in the ’60s.

I was a freshman in high school when the first man landed on the moon. Along with the rest of the nation, this event captured my attention and I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. The quickest way to do that was to join the Air Force Academy.

Unfortunately, it was tough getting a congressional appointment to get in, so in the meantime, I continued my education, focusing on engineering. I later switched to pre-med — in large part because I was so excited about exercise and health.

At the very beginning of med school, one of my professors told our class that by the time we graduated, most of what we were being taught would be outdated or obsolete.

The key element of our education was really teaching us how to learn, and that has stuck with me ever since. I never reached a point where I thought I know it all and don’t need to learn any more. In essence, med school taught me how to become a perpetual student, and that attitude has served me well.

Unfortunately, most doctors ignore that message and get stuck practicing what in essence is outdated medicine.

Nutrition as Medicine

Conventional medicine is excellent at diagnosing disease, but where it fails miserably is in the treatment approaches. It typically focuses on treating the symptoms, not the root cause, and it does so using toxic drugs that frequently cause problems that are more dangerous than the original complaint.

The discovery of nutrition as a method of healing was nothing short of revolutionary for me. It really opened my eyes and gave me a whole different perspective on health and healing.

I began scouring the medical and lay literature on nutrition, and started attending conferences on alternative healing modalities, typically every month, to acquire the knowledge and skills to help people heal.

I would then apply what I’d learned in my medical practice and get tremendous results — so much so I finally reached the point where I said, “This stuff really works!” and with that, I made a commitment to practice medicine without drugs.

When I notified my patients of this new direction, 70 percent of them left. They were unwilling to quit using the drugs they were on and to address their health problems with nutrition and other lifestyle changes.

This turned out to be a blessing, as the patients I had left really wanted to get better and were willing to do the work. Eventually, word spread about their healing successes, and over the years I ended up treating patients from all over the world.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Over the past 21 years, I’ve often been among the first in the media to communicate commonsense strategies of healing and staying well naturally to the wider audience. The truth is your body has an innate ability to heal. It is designed to move toward health and away from disease, provided you give it the basic support it needs in terms of nutrition, physical movement, exposure to sunlight and myriad other natural health strategies.

For example, I began talking about the importance of vitamin D for health beyond rickets back in 2000, and have warned people about the adverse effects of shunning sun exposure for over 18 years. Thankfully, the medical literature has now firmly established that vitamin D is essential for health, and that deficiency plays a role in dozens of chronic diseases.

Eighteen years ago I also began blowing the whistle on genetically engineered (GE) foods, warning people to avoid them in order to protect their health. Now, the public discussion about GE foods has finally been brought to the fore, and grassroots efforts have led to ballot initiatives to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in dozens of states, with major media outlets like National Geographic reporting that genetically engineered foods are a dangerous fraud.

Fight Against Mercury and Fluoride Continues

In 1998, I warned my readers to avoid dentists who still use mercury amalgams in their practice, having learned that painful lesson myself. Amalgams really have no place in modern dentistry. It’s an antiquated practice, and it simply makes no sense to place a known neurotoxin inches away from your brain. As noted earlier, the international treaty on mercury now heralds the beginning of the end of mercury in dentistry.

Also in 1998, I began writing about the hazards of water fluoridation, pointing out that fluoride is a toxic drug that accumulates in your body and can destroy human enzymes. Since then, the evidence against fluoride as a panacea for dental caries has only gotten stronger, and the fight to get fluoride out of municipal water supplies continues. Here, we’re partnered with FAN, which is intent (as am I) to eliminate fluoride from drinking water not just in the U.S., but around the world.

As all of these examples show, it usually takes a decade or more to reverse deeply ingrained medical myths, no matter how unscientific their basis. But eventually, the truth does tend to prevail, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before water fluoridation is seen for what it really is — one of the biggest public health blunders in U.S. history, opposed to being one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

Last year, the U.S. government finally admitted Americans have been overexposed to fluoride, and for the first time since 1962 lowered the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water. It’s not enough, but it’s a move in the right direction. I’ve also begun working with an organization in Mexico that is developing a low-tech fluoride removal system that even poorer rural communities will be able to use to make their drinking water safer.

Early Warnings Issued — Years in Advance

In 2006, I began warning about the artificial sweetener aspartame, convinced it was one of the most dangerous additives in the food supply. Since then, the medical literature has become filled with studies demonstrating its harmful effects. Not only do artificial sweeteners actually promote obesity, they also worsen diabetes, and it’s fraught with side effects. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more health complaints stemming from aspartame than ALL other food additives combined.

I was the first in the media to issue a stern warning against Vioxx. In 1999 I uncovered a study that showed people taking this drug were at massively increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, and I published this information in my newsletter.

I actually issued the first public warning about Vioxx while it was still in clinical trials — a year before it became available by prescription. I predicted Vioxx would be pulled from the market once the increased cardiac deaths were finally recognized and, indeed, that’s exactly what happened — but not before more than 60,000 people had died from taking the blockbuster drug.

Take Control of Your Health, for Life!

I would encourage anyone who feels skeptical to really evaluate the evidence and put some of these healthy lifestyle principles to the test, because the ultimate proof for most people is their own experience. It either works or it doesn’t. You feel better and get healthier, or you don’t. My mantra is “Take Control of Your Health,” and my goal is to teach you how to get off the merry-go-round of drugs, which typically treat only the symptoms while actually deteriorating your health.

Drugs can also be lethal, and even when properly prescribed and administered they kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. My message is: There are safer, less expensive alternatives that can truly address the root cause of your disease. Invariably, reclaiming health and treating disease involves addressing your diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors, most of which cost little or nothing.

Read more: articles.mercola.com

15 movie roles that had stars seriously considering giving up acting

1 year, 15 days ago

lord of the rings gandalfAllMoviePhoto

Christian Bale yelled at several members of the crew and threatened to leave the production of “Terminator Salvation.”
Jeremy Renner was so frustrated by playing the brainwashed version of Hawkeye that he asked the producers to off his character.

There was an infamous incident on the set of Terminator Salvation where Christian Bale snapped at the director of photography for changing the lighting levels during the filming of an important scene. Bale proceeded to yell at several members of the crew (including the director) and threatened to leave the production if things didn’t change.

Christian Bale’s tirade on the set of Terminator Salvation may sound like an overreaction to most people, but it can come off as just another day at the office to those who have worked on a movie set.

This is due to how stressful such productions are for all involved, especially as the length of time spent on set is costing the project more money with each passing hour.

The production of a major Hollywood movie can be stressful for all involved, so it’s no surprise that certain scenes can cause actors to want to quit the movie industry altogether. There have even been times when scenes have been so hard to film that the actors have risked their career by walking off the set and going home.

We are here today to look at the movie scenes that caused famous actors to rethink their career options.

From the wizard of Middle-Earth who almost got on the boat to the West a few years early to the member of The Avengers who wanted to bow out during the team’s finest hour, here are the 15 Movies That Made Actors Want To Quit!

“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” – Jessica Alba
20th Century Fox

The Fantastic Four movie franchise seems to be cursed due to the numerous behind-the-scenes drama that has plagued each new entry in the series.

The Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie was a low-budget affair that was created to keep hold of the movie rights, while the recent Fantastic Four movie was critically panned and dogged by rumors of director Josh Trank acting like a lunatic during its production.

The two Fantastic Four movies that were made in 2005 and 2007 had their fair share of behind-the-scenes drama. There was one particular incident that almost made Jessica Alba quit acting altogether.

The incident involved a scene in the second Fantastic Four movie where Sue Storm was supposed to cry. According to Jessica Alba, Tim Story (the director of the movie) told her that her crying acting looked too real and too painful.

He wanted her to cry in a way that still made her look pretty, so he asked her to keep her face flat, as they could add the tears in later using CGI.

It was during the filming of this scene that Jessica Alba began to doubt her acting ability and was worried that Tim Story didn’t trust enough in her instincts to work with her properly.

“Interview with the Vampire” – Brad Pitt
Columbia

One of the most difficult aspects of making any vampire-centric movie or TV show is the lack of natural light. Vampires are burned by sunlight, which means that they exclusively hang out at nighttime or in dark venues. This can be tricky for movie productions, as it costs more money for film crews to work at night.

Brad Pitt has talked about how much he suffered on the set of Interview with the Vampire due to how he spent almost six months working in the dark.

Pitt spent the bulk of the production wearing an uncomfortable costume, as well as thick yellow contact lenses, but these were only a minor annoyance compared to his time in Pinewood Studios.

The production of Interview with the Vampire used the legendary Pinewood Studios in London for the scenes involving the Théâtre des Vampires, as well as the resting place of the Parisian vampires.

It was during the filming of these scenes that Brad Pitt seriously considered quitting the production, to the point where he called David Geffen (one of the producers of the movie) and asked how much money it would cost to quit the movie.

Geffen told Pitt that it would personally cost him over forty-million dollars to leave the movie at that late stage, which convinced Pitt to stay.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” – Ian McKellen
Peter Jackson / Google+

The Fellowship of the Ring was made up of members that varied greatly in size, as Frodo and the hobbits were as small as children, while the rest were of a regular height.

This led to Peter Jackson and his crew using several forced perspective tricks in order to make it seem like the hobbit actors were a lot smaller than they actually were.

The Hobbit movies were filmed using specal cameras that recorded at forty-eight frames-per-second, which meant that a lot of the tricks used on The Lord of the Rings would no longer work. This meant that a lot of the trilogy had to be filmed using green screens in order to facilitate the higher quality of the visuals.

The increased usage of green screens came as a shock to Ian McKellen, who was now given a lot less material to work with as an actor.

He almost quit the production within the first few days of filming, as he felt that he couldn’t do his job if he was acting on his own.

The crew of The Hobbit did their best to keep Ian McKellen’s spirits high, which resulted in a “Gandalf Appreciation Day” for him. McKellen remained with The Hobbit movies and is considered to be one of the highlights of the trilogy.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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