Let Us Talk

August 6, 2009

Stand Up, Speak Up! Let’s Mobilize for Healthcare Reform!!!

Organizing for America is putting together thousands of events this month where you can reach out to neighbors, show your support, and make certain your members of Congress know that you’re counting on them to act.

But these canvasses, town halls, and gatherings only make a difference if you turn up to knock on doors, share your views, and show your support. So here’s what I need from you:

Can you sign up to attend an event near you?

Passing comprehensive health insurance reform will not be easy. Every President since Harry Truman has talked about it, and the most powerful and experienced lobbyists in Washington stand in the way.

Fixing this crisis will not be easy. Our opponents will attack us every day for daring to try. It will require time, and hard work, and there will be days when we don’t know if we have anything more to give. But there comes a moment when we all have to choose between doing what’s easy, and doing what’s right.

This is one of those times. 

Please RSVP for an event in your community to build support for health insurance reform:

http://my.barackobama.com/AugustAttend

Now is the time.  Let’s seize this moment and win this historic victory for our economy, our health and our families.

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March 30, 2009

Washington Bans Dishwashing Liquids

dishwashing-liquidIn an effort to improve water quality in Washington waters, the state is reducing one of the most common causes of pollution:  phosphorus in household products.

There are over 260 bodies of water polluted because of nutrients like phosphorus in Washington State.  Phosphorus is a common ingredient in household detergents and fertilizers, where it is often described as “phosphate.” It is used in many industrial processes. Phosphorus also occurs naturally in soil and human and animal wastes.

In water, phosphorus behaves as a fertilizer, accelerating plant and algae growth. When those plants and algae die in the water, bacteria consume oxygen that is dissolved in the water. When this happens, less oxygen is available for fish and aquatic life that need oxygen to survive. Excess phosphorus in drinking water is difficult to remove, and also can require an increase in treatment chemicals which adds cost.

Industry and wastewater treatment plants account for about fifty percent of the phosphorus contributed to Washington waters. The other half comes from a variety of “nonpoint” sources which are hard to trace such as such as storm-water runoff, septic tanks and agriculture.

When we reduce our use of phosphorus-based products we can considerably improve this pollution problem. The best way to protect our water sources is to avoid putting phosphorus into it to begin with.

There are alternatives to phosphorus-containing detergents that can be just as effective at food removal and spot reduction as phosphorus-containing soaps – Palmolive has a phosphorus free version.  Ask your supermarket(s) about phosphorus free products.

Even if your state isn’t regulating phosphorus in its water systems (as yet) we all need to start protecting our lakes and ground water. I believe that regulators should also ban phosphorus from our laundry detergents.

March 24, 2009

Buying Your First Home In 2009? Claim $8K In Tax Credit!!!

house-on-money  Now is the time to purchase your first home!

Last month, President Obama signed into legislation a $789 billion economic stimulus package that included something very important: an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers!

This credit is a far cry from the one passed last summer.

Last summer Congress passed a $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers that sounded good at first glance. However, a closer look at the details revealed that buyers actually had to pay the tax credit back. It really was just a zero interest loan. Just 111 people in the whole country applied for the program.

But this new program is making it a real deal to purchase a first home. The tax credit does not have to be repaid and is for 10 percent (up to $8,000) of the price of the home.

A “first-time home buyer” is anyone who has not owned a principal residence for the last three years. Even if you’ve owned a vacation home, but not a principal residence, within the last three years you can still qualify for the credit. So if the last date you owned a home was three years ago from today, you could buy a home and qualify.

An important part of the program that everyone needs to understand is that to qualify, you have to buy the home before Dec 1, 2009. It’s retroactive to Jan. 1, so if you bought your first home any time after the first of the year you can still qualify.

There are income limits, though. Single people who buy their first home cannot make more than $75,000 to qualify for a full credit. And if you are married, you cannot have a household adjusted gross income of more than $150,000. If you make more than that, you may still be eligible for reduced credits.

There is a requirement that buyers must live in the new home for at least three years. If it is sold within three years the credit must be returned to the government. Exceptions will be made in certain cases such as death or divorce.

So, how does someone take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit? If you buy a new home between January 1 and December 1, 2009, you claim the credit when you file your 2008 taxes (before April 15 this year so you can get your money back now!) or when you file your 2009 taxes early next year.

Now is the time to purchase a home.  An $8,000 tax credit coupled with the lowest interest rates in 30 years, joined by an unusually large inventory of homes from which to choose, offered by sellers who have lowered their prices well below what they were worth just two years ago.

This perfect storm won’t last long; the buyer’s market window will be closing before the end of 2009. It’s time to buy.

For more information, including guidance for people who bought their first homes in 2008, visit IRS.gov.

To learn more about the overall implementation of the Recovery Act, visit Recovery.gov.

March 21, 2009

A Garden Grows At The White House

flotus-garden-2    First lady Michelle Obama broke ground on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables for meals.

flotus-garden-3-students-bancroft She was joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project including planting herbs, vegetables and fruits in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.

flotus-garden-1  “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers.

Such a White House garden has been a dream of noted California chef Alice Waters, considered a leader in the movement to encourage consumption of locally grown, organic food. She has been appealing for change through the taste buds since the 1960s.

She organized a series of fundraising dinners in Washington before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January that served foods purchased from local producers at an area farmer’s market to show how it can be done.

Reached Thursday at her Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, Waters said she was thrilled by the news.

“It just tells you that this country cares about people’s good health and about the care of the land,” she said. To have this sort of ‘victory garden’, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food.”

Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during the world wars with encouragement from the government to make sure there was enough food for civilians and the troops. Waters says her family had such a garden.

Waters has been lobbying for a vegetable garden at the White House since 1992. Recent White Houses have grown some herbs and have practiced limited container gardening on the mansion’s roof to supply it with tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. The new garden will be the first on the White House grounds in many decades, Waters said.

She said Michelle Obama always has been receptive to the idea.

“She talks about food in connection with children, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Waters said.

Waters also has pushed the administration to adopt her Edible Schoolyard project in which children plant their own produce to eat in the school cafeteria. Most public schools are serving too much processed food that is contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic which can lead to chronic health issues, she argues.

Alice Waters on 60 Minutes:

 

 

Original post:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090319/ap_on_go_pr_wh/white_house_garden

 

daffodils

 Happy Spring!

March 3, 2009

HIV On The Rise For 50+ Age Group

The rate of HIV infection is “surprisingly high” among people over 50 years, the World Health Organization announced today warning that cases among older people seem to be growing worldwide.

According to WHO’s March bulletin, “The scant data that exist suggest a surprisingly high prevalence and incidence of HIV among individuals 50 years of age and over.”

The authors of the study from the United States said that the percentage of people over 50 with HIV in the U.S. soared from 20 percent in 2003 to 25 percent in 2006. In Europe, only eight percent of reported cases arise from older people. In Brazil, the number of people over 50 with HIV doubled between 1996 and 2006 — from 7.5 to 15.7 cases per 100,000 residents.

With all the awareness of HIV in the United States why is our infection rate higher than in Brazil – a country known for its promiscuity?

“The frequency of infection with HIV in older people is worrying. We need to understand why and when these people are becoming infected so that public health campaigns can be better targeted to prevent such infections,” said George Schmid, a WHO scientist.

Public perception of the disease may be part of the reason since AIDS is still being viewed as a “disease of young people” and therefore older people don’t ask to be tested when they go for their annual check-up which leads to delayed diagnosis. In addition primary care physicians hardly ever consider screening their older patients for HIV so again an opportunity for diagnosis is missed and delayed. In addition older people have lower immunity, which could lead to more rapid deterioration from an HIV infection to AIDS.

The life expectancy of those infected at age 65 or older is just four years, while people who are infected at age five to 14 have life expectancies of over 13 years.

The authors noted that sexual activity remains the most likely mode of transmission for older people.

Potency drugs such as Viagra emerging in the 1990s have extended the sex life of older people, who are also less likely than younger people to use condoms and practice safe sex.

No matter YOUR age, and even if you’re in a monogamous relationship please get tested.

 

 

 

December 1, 2008

Did George Bush Fall Off The Wagon?

bush-pisco-sour-brandy-peru Last weekend, President Bush attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Lima, Peru. Turns out you can’t do anything in Peru without someone handing you Peru’s national drink, the Pisco Sour (made with pisco, a brandy-like liquor). It’s a pretty potent drink and President Bush has supposedly been abstaining from alcohol for 22 years. He avoided an international incident and did not snub his hosts by happily guzzling down the cocktail.

Peru successfully promoted its national drink “Pisco Sour” during the entire Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, Peru’s Environment Minister Antonio Brack said Sunday.

He noted that the flagship drink of Peru was well accepted by international guests, including Japan’s Prime Minister, Taro Aso.

“Pisco Sour has been the “star” of the APEC Summit, the drink was served in several meetings at the Government Palace and the APEC Summit venue,” he told CPN Radio.

“We have achieved to place our products including pisco on international markets, but also kiwicha, sweet potatoes and traditional Peruvian potatoes”, said Brack.

Bush who allegedly quit drinking at 40 was photographed drinking the Peruvian cocktail during a meeting on Saturday.

happy-holidays-4

Photo: ANDINA/Carlos Lezama

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Reflections

On this Thanksgiving, the table will be full and inviting as always but the prospect of very hard times to come is at the back of many of our minds.

We’ll enjoy each other’s company today. We will declare our gratitude for all the blessings we’ve received – and we should.

We’ll enjoy the smell of turkey in the oven, we’ll feast on delicious stuffing, and we’ll savor the lightest fluffiest mash and relish delicious cranberries and take pleasure in the bouquet and taste of warm apple and pumpkin pie. There will be plenty to go around, as always.

But this is a difficult Thanksgiving. The horizon is clouded. What seems likely is that in the months and, perhaps years ahead, many of us will lose jobs, lose investments, lose the prospect of the futures we’ve worked and saved for…I hope I’m wrong.

It is possible that we’re at a low point  in the business cycle, that the economy will rebound, that the recession will be short-lived. No one knows. But most of us who work for a living are scared. We’ve seen enough to know we’ve not seen this before.

We are thankful today. What matters most is the support and company of family and friends, the joy that comes from a deep faith in God and the hope that lies ahead. In these times, we need to reflect more deeply on the meaning of giving thanks.

During the Great Depression President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The future of many generations of mankind will be greatly guided by our acts in these present years. We hew a new trail. Let us then on the day appointed offer our devotions and our humble thanks to Almighty God and pray that the people of America will be guided by Him in helping their fellow men.”

So as difficult as it maybe today or tomorrow or the day after – someone is worse off than you. Someone may need a little help or your time or your ears. You can help without giving money. So in these times remember to appreciate what you have and dwell less on what you think you don’t have.

So let’s look outward and look ahead as FDR advised. Let us give thanks for the opportunity to share and depend on each other in new ways, for our faith in each other and for the idealism that makes our America great.

We do indeed have cause to worry. But we also have an obligation – to each other – to hold on to hope. We may face the greatest test of our lifetimes. But as long as we have each other and that deep sense of what really matters in life and hope we have reason to give thanks.

Help a family member.  Help a friend.  Help a neighbor. Help a stranger.

Give thanks!

 happy-thanksgiving

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