Saturday, 27 August 2011

America the Beautiful.. Thank you all those migrants who continue to make this country GREAT

I am spending a few days in Miami, enjoying the sunshine, relaxing at the beaches and eating well. The last item brought me to the Whole Food Stores in Aventura, where shopping carefully for organic foods is always a pleasure.
But this post is not about eating well or organic food but about the kindness of Americans. I have been traveling to USA on so a regular basis that I no longer feel a stranger here, I am never here long enough to get deeply involved in the superficiality but long enough to understand the nature of the people who inhabit this country.
On this visit to the USA, I have already been to Seattle, Portland, Omaha, American Indians and now South Florida. This is the microcosm of the world, where the world is treated well. Immigrants in no other country can hope to be treated with such dignity as in the USA. I have been watching the Latins walking with their heads up high, whether they spent their childhoods in Pinar del Rio or Cochabamba! Somalis in Seattle, Asians so fresh to Portland that the mist of that continent still clung to their persons.. and South Florida where I can get by with Spanish and Portugese…
In a few years time, the “white” americans outside of the Midwest will have lost its meaning, the mixing of the immigrant population and the diversity is such that there would be an economic distinction between people, such as poor and rich , and the colour and national origin would be lost amidst that.
I had stocked the required food stuff from Whole Foods and walked towards the rented Avis car and deposited the various packages in the boot (trunk) of the car. Decided to pop into Best Buy for a minute, and within about a short span of time was back at the car.
That is when I realized that I had lost the keys to the car. Fortunately I had the local cellular phone that I use. Before making any frantic calls, I decided to go back to the shops I had been a few minutes earlier to enquire whether or not any one had turned in the keys. I went back to the car to check, to find out that the newer cars are virtually burglar proof and once they are locked, you do need a professional to come and open it.
Ah well, is this happening to me? I am in the parking lot of a shopping mall, not anywhere near a residential area, with a rental car full of food sitting there locked.
I am staying at the beach house of my sister just five miles away and the AVIS rent a car facility at the Fort Lauderdale airport is less than 10 miles away. And there was no help in sight, in terms of a taxi or a machinist or a person with knowledge of breaking into cars!
After waiting for a few minutes, I called the number of AVIS at Fort Lauderdale airport. The automated query system wanted to know whether I needed roadside assistance, I pressed 1 and very quickly a voice came over. I had difficulty understanding the accent, since it was a local American accent, very strong. He was not connected to AVIS but a contractor who does the roadside help for AVIS rent a car company. I knew that he was strange to the rental car business when he didn't understand anything about Frequent Renters or the AvisFirst Programme. Before I could explain, he was in a hurry to tell me how much his services would cost me. I tried not to be overcome by the magisterial pronouncements.
375 dollars for the lost key
150 dollars for towing the car to AVIS
Loss of the contract with the company or extra payment for bringing another car, which would mean an extra 200 dollars.
I said to myself without getting upset, I know that I am in the land of such exploitation of transport difficulties but 800 dollars is it a fine or punishment for loosing keys? Is this man telling me the truth or is it a joke?
As a recent practitioner of Classical Yoga Psychology, I said to myself, no need to get upset about this, but watch this as you are watching a movie, detach your self from this.
I felt I was in a theatrical production and I was trying to act my part, Boot for trunk, Z instead of Zee, so the other person on the phone knows and judges a foreigner.
But this parasite on the society, for those who exploit the situations such as this are parasite who do not provide a serive but they do it at an exaggerated price, was kind enough to listen to me
I am a frequent renter from Avis, could you please call them at Fort Lauderdale airport location and ask them what concessions I am entitled to.
If he had not made that telephone call, the story would have had a much sadder ending.
I was holding on to my telephone, hoping it had enough battery for this long, at times incoherent conversation. He comes back, Hello Sir, I spoke to them, they said someone in the area would bring the key to you. His name is Mr Edwards. Before I could ask for an explanation, the slimiest example of exploitative humanity had hung up to attend to other unfortunates. I thought, AVIS recognizing my status as a Frequent Renter is sending a man from Fort Lauderdale office, which is only a short distance away with a master key.
I had given the intermediary all the details, the car, the plate number, my mobile phone number, the vague address of Whole Foods ( US 1, across from Aventura hospital which I could see from the parking lot). I was wondering what will happen. Would Avis come? Would they send someone? At least I felt that I had escaped a shark who wanted to charge me close to 800 dollars and that I was in the safe hands of a legitimate business such as AVIS.
But I was not prepared for the surprise the next telephone call brought me.
The telephone rang a few minutes later. It was a sweet voice form Avis in Fort Lauderdale.
Hello, Sir, a Mr. Edwards who was in the parking lot of Whole Foods found the keys and he called us and he has volunteered to return back to the Whole Foods to bring you the keys.
Could this be really happening? Doesn't this happen only in the movies?
All Life’s but a stage, did Shakespeare said that?
I was astounded by this. This was better a solution than I had hoped for. Someone finding the keys and finding a way to return to me.
She also gave me a telephone number which I called. A gentle voice, American one, answered, he said, he will be at the Café at Whole Food in a few minutes.
He found the keys, I kept on thinking, he could easily find the car, since the keys are equipped with alarms, he could have driven away in it or taken what was inside, but this gentleman is not like that, otherwise why did he call Avis? Why didn't he just throw away the keys or just take it to one of the shops and go on with his business. Somehow, from the beginning I had a good feeling about mr E. that he had gone the extra mile to help a fellow human being.
What makes us want to help another person? A personal experience? A genuine desire? An empathy? Modern lives are so full of commitments and a time urgency that it is better not to get involved and go on your way. Obviously Mr. E was not like that.
A few minutes later, I met Mr. E at the café of the Whole Foods. He came over and he had the keys in his hands.
He found the keys in the parking lot, sure enough; it said AVIS and a toll free number, and also the license plates of the car. He looked around and he couldn't find a Chevrolet Impala nearby, so he decided to go home and went on line and was able to track the car down to Avis rent a car company in Fort Lauderdale. Remember, Avis is located in every single metropolitan area and there are thousands of Avis locations, but without his investigation, he couldn't have found out that this Chevrolet Impala with the said license plates belonged to Avis at Fort Lauderdale Airport.
He decided to call them and they confirmed his doubts, yes the car was Avis rental car and it matched the records and confirmed that it had been rented to me.
So this kind man, Mr. E, he must have been busy all the time since he left the parking lot, it was all well under one hour, decides to drive back to the Whole Foods and wait for me at the Café.
I am a traveler and I have been very lucky in my travels but Americans are just an unique breed of people. They are very kind to foreigners. And I can tell you this proudly, in my twenty years of traveling to this country, I am yet to have a bad experience, despite the locations I travel to, the frequency with which I travel.
Thank You, America the Beautiful.
The kindness was not to end there. When I went to return the car at the Avis Fort Lauderdale Airport Counter, the person behind the counter, with whom I had conversed in French earlier was efficient, professional and very very helpful. Thank you Avia, just for this gentleman and his efficiency I might even fly into Fort Lauderdale and rent from Avis there the next time, rather than Miami.
One thing for sure, after completing between 100 and 200 rentals with AVIS rent a car, there is no need for another choice for me, I am loyal to AVIS, because they are loyal to me…

Thursday, 25 August 2011

one in four adult americans are taking Statin Medications.. eat peanuts instead..

Study says dietary changes more effective to lower bad cholesterol

A diet rich in nuts can help lower bad cholesterol, according to a Canadian study.Picture: AFP
Thursday, August 25, 2011 - Page B16

A DIET packed full of "cholesterol-lowering" ingredients such as nuts, beans and high-fiber grains cut bad cholesterol better than a low-saturated-fat diet, even though both diets were vegetarian, according to a Canadian study.!

The drop in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the so-called bad cholesterol — was big enough that dietary changes could be an alternative to statin medications for many people, said researchers led by David Jenkins at the University of Toronto.!

"There's no question that statins have made a major difference in terms of cardiovascular disease control," he told Reuters Health of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.!

But at least for now, "we can only get so far with statins."!

One in four adults aged 45 and older in the United States takes the cholesterol-lowering drugs.!

Jenkins and his colleagues wanted to see how big an effect a diet based on the pillars of cholesterol lowering foods could have on LDL numbers without statins.!

They randomly split 351 Canadians with high cholesterol into three groups, all of whom were assigned to vegetarian diets. One group got nutrition counseling promoting a low-saturated-fat died for six months. !

In the other two groups, dieticians helped participants fit more cholesterol-lowering foods — including soy milk, tofu, nuts, oats, peas and beans — into a healthy diet. The dieticians met with some people twice, others seven times.!

After six months, people on the low-saturated-fat diet saw a drop in LDL cholesterol of 8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) on average.!

That compared to decreases of 24 mg/dL and 26 mg/dL in participants on the cholesterol-lowering diets. The average starting LDL was about 170 mg/dL, where a number 160 mg/dL and up is considered high.!

"That drop is really a lot," said Yunsheng Ma, a nutrition and heart disease researcher from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, who was not involved in the study.!

"A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually," he told Reuters Health.!

"People ignore that. They think if they're on statins, they can do anything they want, they can eat the high-fat foods because the statins are going to take care of that. "!

One in five of the participants dropped out before the full six months, and even those that didn't had a hard time sticking closely to the diet plans — but many still saw cholesterol benefits.!

The researchers had everyone in the study who was taking statins to go off the medication for the diet intervention. Jenkins said the question of how diet and statins could lower LDL in tandem is one for future research.!

But for those who like the idea of changing their diet instead of going on medications, this is a reasonable option, and doctors should try to encourage patients with high cholesterol to change their diets, Jenkins said.!

"While genetics or very high cholesterol may mean that diet isn't enough to get LDL down without statins for some people, a majority of patients could benefit from a dietary change," said Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California.!

"By changing the diet and their lifestyle he can establish good control of their cholesterol," she added.

Friday, 19 August 2011


By Amy Norton
NEW YORK | Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:15pm EDT
(Reuters Health) - People with relatively high levels of certain pesticides in their blood may have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes -- particularly if they are overweight, a new study suggests.

The study, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, is not the first to link chemical pollutants to diabetes.

A number of studies have found a connection between diabetes risk and exposure to older pesticides known as organochlorines, PCBs and other chemicals that fall into the category of "persistent organic pollutants."

Organochlorines are now banned or restricted in the U.S. and other developed countries, after research linked them to cancer and other potential health risks. PCBs, which were once used in everything from appliances to fluorescent lighting to insecticides, were banned in the 1970s.

However, as the name suggests, persistent organic pollutants remain in the environment for years and build up in animal and human body fat.

In the U.S., diet is the main potential source of exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- with fatty foods, like dairy products and oily fish, topping the list.

Lab research has suggested that some persistent organic pollutants impair the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, which could help explain the link to type 2 diabetes.

Some of the compounds also have been shown to promote obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for diabetes, noted Riikka Airaksinen of Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare, who led the new study.

For the study, Airaksinen's team measured blood levels of several persistent organic pollutants in about 2,000 older adults.

Just over 15 percent had type 2 diabetes. The risk was higher, the researchers found, among people with the highest levels of organochlorine pesticides.

Those with levels in the top 10 percent were about twice as likely to have diabetes as their counterparts in the bottom 10 percent.

But the link appeared to be limited to people who were overweight or obese.

That, the researchers write, suggests that the pollutants and body fat "may have a synergistic effect on the risk of type 2 diabetes."

The results alone do not prove that organochlorine pesticides were the reason for the higher diabetes risk, Airaksinen told Reuters Health in an email.

The researchers accounted for participants' age, sex, waist size and blood pressure levels. But they had no information on things like diet and exercise habits -- which might help explain the pesticide-diabetes link.

But the overall body of research, according to Airaksinen, is pointing toward a cause-and-effect relationship.

The findings are "highly concordant" with past studies on persistent organic pollutants and diabetes risk, agreed Dr. David R. Jacobs, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who has worked on some of that research.

"I fear that the association of chlorinated persistent organic pollutants with diabetes is causal," Jacobs, who was not involved in the current study, told Reuters Health in an email.

"There is a large scientific background of cell-based and animal research that shows that these compounds disrupt endocrine (hormonal) function," he noted.

And unlike the current study, which was done at one time-point, some others have found that people's levels of persistent organic pollutants predict their odds of developing diabetes in the future, Jacobs said.

Experts say that one way to limit your exposure to the chemicals is to limit the animal fat in your diet.

The fat in fish like salmon and tuna, however, is considered generally healthy.

"In Finland," Airaksinen noted, "we have studied a group of professional fishermen who consume a lot of fish in their diet, and have found that their mortality from various common diseases is actually lower than the general Finnish population. This suggests that the health benefit from eating fish surpasses the potential health risks."

Though most persistent organic pollutants have been long banned, Jacobs said, "they are generally all around us in fatty tissues of living organisms." Those chemicals are released in various ways, he said, and are being constantly recycled.

Pesticides and other industrial chemicals in use now are safer, in the sense of not being persistent, Jacobs said.

"But," he added, "a chemical that is bad for the health of one life form -- say insects and weeds -- is not likely to be good for humans. We need much better and more thorough safety testing for substances that we use in industry and for pest control."

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Bacon 'can increase diabetes threat'

New research has suggested that eating bacon regularly can drastically increase the chances of diabetes, with members of the public urged to keep a close eye on their dietary habits.

According to a study conducted by scientists at Harvard University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming 100g of red meat daily can leave individuals 19 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Processed meats - including mince, salami and ham as well as bacon - were found to be more harmful, with 50g per day increasing the risk by in excess of 50 per cent. However, one expert played down the findings.

"Based on analysis of previous studies, this research simply suggests eating a daily portion of red meat may increase someone's risk of developing type 2 diabetes," said Dr Iain Frame of Diabetes UK.

Earlier in the week, Association of International Cancer Research scientific co-ordinator Dr Mark Matfield observed that recent surveys have indicated bad diet can also play a role in causing cancer.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Increased Psychiatric Hospital Admissions for Children in the USA

More US children hospitalised for mental illness

Sunday, August 7, 2011

US CHILDREN are increasingly likely to be admitted to the hospital for mental problems, although the rates of non-psychiatric hospitalisations have remained flat, according to a study.!

From 1996 to 2007, the rate of psychiatric hospital discharges rose by more than 80 per cent for five to 13-year-olds and by 42 per cent for older teens, the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, said.!

"This occurs despite numerous efforts to make outpatient services for the more vulnerable kids more widely available," said Joseph Blader of Stony Brook State University of New York, the study's author.!

"It (hospitalisation) is a pretty traumatic thing for a family when your child is admitted to a psych unit," he added, noting that such moves were a last resort.!

Overall, short-term hospital admissions for mental illness rose from 156 to 283 per 100,000 children per year over the ten years of the study, which was based on data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey.!

For adolescents, the rate increased from 683 to 969 per 100,000, while it went up from 921 to 996 for adults and dropped from 978 to 808 for people aged 65 and older.!

For youngsters, bipolar disorder showed the steepest increase, while anxiety diagnoses dropped.!

Although there have been concerns about over diagnosis of bipolar disorder and other mental problems among children, Blader said that was unlikely to be hiking the rates since hospitalisations are based on whether or not people are considered a danger to themselves or others, not psychiatric labels.!

"Most typically it's volatile and aggressive behavior, or over reaction to minor provocations that lead to assaults on family members or peers," Blader told Reuters health.!

"Whereas before we had hoped that more outpatient services would lead to a decrease in hospitalisations, the findings suggest a pressing need to learn what might have reversed that trend."Reuters