Saturday, May 24, 2008

A One-Week Cleansing and Detoxification Program
© Janet Zand L. Ac.

In both Chinese and Naturopathic medicine, the spring season is the optimal time of year for cleansing and detoxification. But remember, cleansing can be beneficial during all seasons of the year. An effective cleansing program targets two important organ systems -- the colon (for elimination) and the liver (for detoxification).

The herbs Psyllium and Cascara Sagrada are two of the most widely used remedies in colon cleansing programs. Psyllium (Plantago ovata seed and husk) is categorized as a bulk laxative -- its mucilaginous component acts as a bulking agent that cleanses the intestines. In addition, Psyllium has other important health benefits -- studies show that it reduces low density lipoproteins (the "bad" cholesterol) and regulates blood sugar levels. Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana bark) has been used for centuries to treat occasional constipation -- its active components stimulate the intestinal lining and relieve a sluggish colon. The combination of both Psyllium (as a bulking agent) and Cascara (as a stimulant laxative) is essential for an effective colon cleansing program.

Detoxification is best supported with herbs that target the liver, which is responsible for many of the important "detox" functions in the body. And Milk Thistle is the place to start. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum seed) is used to detoxify the liver and to protect it from harmful toxins. Studies show that this beneficial herb not only protects the liver but also promotes the regeneration of healthy new liver cells. Other herbs traditionally used to support the liver include Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale root), Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus root), and the Chinese herb Bupleurum (Radix Bupleurum).

Cleansing and detoxification encourage the body's natural internal processes which eliminate toxins from our system so that we can feel our best. In any cleansing program, diet and exercise should be emphasized in order to ensure optimal results! The following is a simple easy-to-follow program -- try it for one week, and see how you feel.

Diet and Exercise for a One-Week Cleansing Program
Fasting may be a useful way to detox, but it is difficult, especially for those who work and have families to care for. A cleansing diet, on the other hand, can be very beneficial and creates less stress on the body as it is purified. Cleansing foods include cooked whole grains, steamed vegetables, raw vegetable salads, fruit, and juices. Avoid sauces, dressings, butter, and oil. However, you may use lemon juice as a dressing for salads and vegetables. You should also limit your intake of flour or bread products. Whole grain wheat-free bread, wheat-free crackers, and rice cakes are acceptable.

And remember, drink lots of pure spring water-- at least 8 glasses a day!

Exercise is also a very important part of any cleansing program. This means exercising to the point of perspiration. The skin is the largest organ of elimination in the body, and sweating eliminates toxins. You may also consider using a loofa scrub to further stimulate elimination through the skin. Jogging, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming are all excellent forms of exercise to supplement this program.

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Docs list who would be allowed to die in a catastrophe

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won't get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding whom to let die.

In the event of a mass-casualty situation, medical resources woul be have to be rationed.

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn't be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.

The suggested list was compiled by a task force whose members come from prestigious universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies. They include the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint for hospitals "so that everybody will be thinking in the same way" when pandemic flu or another widespread health care disaster hits, said Dr. Asha Devereaux. She is a critical care specialist in San Diego, California, and lead writer of the task force report.

The idea is to try to make sure that scarce resources -- including ventilators, medicine and doctors and nurses -- are used in a uniform, objective way, task force members said.

Their recommendations appear in a report appearing Monday in the May edition of Chest, the medical journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

"If a mass casualty critical care event were to occur tomorrow, many people with clinical conditions that are survivable under usual health care system conditions may have to forgo life-sustaining interventions owing to deficiencies in supply or staffing," the report states.

To prepare, hospitals should designate a triage team with the Godlike task of deciding who will and who won't get lifesaving care, the task force wrote. Those out of luck are the people at high risk of death and a slim chance of long-term survival. But the recommendations get much more specific, and include:

• People older than 85.

• Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.

• Severely burned patients older than 60.

• Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.

• Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.

Dr. Kevin Yeskey, director of the preparedness and emergency operations office at the Department of Health and Human Services, was on the task force. He said the report would be among many the agency reviews as part of preparedness efforts.

Public health law expert Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University called the report an important initiative but also "a political minefield and a legal minefield."

The recommendations would probably violate federal laws against age discrimination and disability discrimination, said Gostin, who was not on the task force.

If followed to a tee, such rules could exclude care for the poorest, most disadvantaged citizens who suffer disproportionately from chronic disease and disability, he said. While health care rationing will be necessary in a mass disaster, "there are some real ethical concerns here."

James Bentley, a senior vice president at American Hospital Association, said the report will give guidance to hospitals in shaping their own preparedness plans even if they don't follow all the suggestions.

He said the proposals resemble a battlefield approach in which limited health care resources are reserved for those most likely to survive.

Bentley said it's not the first time this type of approach has been recommended for a catastrophic pandemic, but that "this is the most detailed one I have seen from a professional group."

While the notion of rationing health care is unpleasant, the report could help the public understand that it will be necessary, Bentley said.

Devereaux said compiling the list "was emotionally difficult for everyone."

That's partly because members believe it's just a matter of time before such a health care disaster hits, she said.

"You never know," Devereaux said. "SARS took a lot of folks by surprise. We didn't even know it existed."

Friday, May 23, 2008

4 Most Harmful Ingredients in Packaged Foods

Planning a frozen dinner tonight? Think again.


Recipe for Disaster

Ninety percent of Americans' household food budget is spent on processed foods, the majority of which are filled with additives and stripped of nutrients. Discover which common ingredients in the foods you eat pose the greatest risk to your health.

Grab the broccoli with cheese sauce from the freezer, the box of instant rice pilaf from the pantry, or the hot dogs from your fridge and squint at the ingredient list's fine print. You'll likely find food additives in every one.

Is this healthy? Compared to the foods our bodies were built to eat, definitely not.

Processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans. In fact, nearly 90 percent of our household food budget is spent on processed foods, according to industry estimates.

Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what's been added, but what's been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and "good" fats. Combine that with additives, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Here are the big four ingredients in processed foods you should look out for:

Trans fats are in moist bakery muffins and crispy crackers, microwave popcorn and fast-food French fries, even the stick margarine you may rely on as a "heart-healthy" alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter.

Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard, and coconut oil, trans fats have, in recent times, been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as "the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history." Why? Research now reveals trans fats are twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat, and cause an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 premature heart disease deaths each year.

Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and decrease "good" HDL cholesterol. That's double trouble for your arteries. And unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipoprotein and triglycerides.

Trans fats will be listed on the "Nutrition Facts" panel on food beginning in 2006. Until then, check the ingredient list for any of these words: "partially hydrogenated," "fractionated," or "hydrogenated" (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as "hydrogenated"). The higher up the phrase "partially hydrogenated oil" is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains.

Replacing trans fats with good fats could cut your heart attack risk by a whopping 53 percent.

Choosing refined grains such as white bread, rolls, sugary low-fiber cereal, white rice, or white pasta over whole grains can boost your heart attack risk by up to 30 percent. You've got to be a savvy shopper. Don't be fooled by deceptive label claims such as "made with wheat flour" or "seven grain." Or by white-flour breads topped with a sprinkling of oats, or colored brown with molasses. Often, they're just the same old refined stuff that raises risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, insulin resistance, diabetes, and belly fat.

At least seven major studies show that women and men who eat more whole grains (including dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereals, popcorn, cooked oatmeal, brown rice, bran, and other grains like bulgur or kasha) have 20 to 30 percent less heart disease. In contrast, those who opt for refined grains have more heart attacks, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.

Read the ingredient list on packaged grain products. If the product is one of those that are best for you, the first ingredients should be whole wheat or another whole grain, such as oats. The fiber content should be at least 3 grams per serving.

Two More to Check Labels For

Three-quarters of the sodium in our diets isn't from the saltshaker. It's hidden in processed foods, such as canned vegetables and soups, condiments like soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, fast-food burgers (and fries, of course), and cured or preserved meats like bacon, ham, and deli turkey.

Some sodium occurs naturally in unprocessed edibles, including milk, beets, celery, even some drinking water. And that's a good thing: Sodium is necessary for life. It helps regulate blood pressure, maintains the body's fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses, makes muscles -- including your heart -- contract, and keeps your senses of taste, smell, and touch working properly. You need a little every day to replace what's lost to sweat, tears, and other excretions.

But what happens when you eat more salt than your body needs? Your body retains fluid simply to dilute the extra sodium in your bloodstream. This raises blood volume, forcing your heart to work harder; at the same time, it makes veins and arteries constrict. The combination raises blood pressure.

Your limit should be 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, about the amount in three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt. (Table salt, by the way, is 40 percent sodium, 60 percent chloride.) Older people should eat even less, to counteract the natural rise in blood pressure that comes with age. People over 50 should strive for 1,300 mg; those over 70 should aim for 1,200 mg.

Only the "Nutrition Facts" panel on a food package will give you the real sodium count. Don't believe claims on the package front such as "sodium-free" (foods can still have 5 mg per serving); "reduced sodium" (it only means 25 percent less than usual); or "light in sodium" (half the amount you'd normally find).

Compared to traditional sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup costs less to make, is sweeter to the taste, and mixes more easily with other ingredients. Today, we consume nearly 63 pounds of it per person per year in drinks and sweets, as well as in other products. High-fructose corn syrup is in many frozen foods. It gives bread an inviting, brown color and soft texture, so it's also in whole-wheat bread, hamburger buns, and English muffins. It is in beer, bacon, spaghetti sauce, soft drinks, and even ketchup.

Research is beginning to suggest that this liquid sweetener may upset the human metabolism, raising the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers say that high-fructose corn syrup's chemical structure encourages overeating. It also seems to force the liver to pump more heart-threatening triglycerides into the bloodstream. In addition, fructose may zap your body's reserves of chromium, a mineral important for healthy levels of cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar.

To spot fructose on a food label, look for the words "corn sweetener," "corn syrup," or "corn syrup solids" as well as "high-fructose corn syrup."

25 Ways to Help a Fellow Human Being Today

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama Too often the trend in our society is for people to be separated from either other, to be cut off from the great mass of humanity, and in doing so to be dehumanized a little bit more with each step. Cars have taken us off the streets, where we used to greet each other and stop to chat. Cubicles have taken away a bit of the humanity in working, as have factories and even computers to some extent. Television has planted us firmly in our living rooms, instead of out with other people. Even movie theaters, where many people get together, cut us off from true conversation because we’re staring at a big screen. And while I’m not railing against any of these inventions (except perhaps the cubicle), what we must guard against is the tendency of that individuality to have us focused on ourselves to the exclusion of our fellow human beings. The tendency towards selfishness rather than giving, on helping ourselves rather than helping our brothers and sisters in humanity. I’m not saying we’re all like that, but it can happen, if we’re not careful. So strike back against the selfishness and greed of our modern world, and help out a fellow human being today. Not next month, but today. Helping a fellow human being, while it can be inconvenient, has a few humble advantages: 1. It makes you feel better about yourself; 2. It connects you with another person, at least for a moment, if not for life; 3. It improves the life of another, at least a little; 4. It makes the world a better place, one little step at a time; 5. And if that kindness is passed on, it can multiply, and multipy. So take just a few minutes today, and do a kindness for another person. It can be something small, or the start of something big. Ask them to pay it forward. Put a smile on someone’s face. Don’t know where to start? Here’s an extremely incomplete list, just to get you thinking — I’m sure you can come up with thousands more if you think about it. 1. Smile and be friendly. Sometimes a simple little thing like this can put a smile and warm feeling in someone else’s heart, and make their day a little better. They might then do the same for others. 2. Call a charity to volunteer. You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen today. Just look up the number, make the call, and make an appointment to volunteer sometime in the next month. It can be whatever charity you like. Volunteering is one of the most amazing things you can do. 3. Donate something you don’t use. Or a whole box of somethings. Drop them off at a charity — others can put your clutter to good use. 4. Make a donation. There are lots of ways to donate to charities online, or in your local community. Instead of buying yourself a new gadget or outfit, spend that money in a more positive way. 5. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a certain charity. 6. Stop to help. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or somehow in need of help, stop and ask how you can help. Sometimes all they need is a push, or the use of your cell phone. 7. Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your grandma to use email, teaching your child to ride a bike, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to clean the darn toilet. OK, that last one doesn’t count. 8. Comfort someone in grief. Often a hug, a helpful hand, a kind word, a listening ear, will go a long way when someone has lost a loved one or suffered some similar loss or tragedy. 9. Help them take action. If someone in grief seems to be lost and doesn’t know what to do, help them do something. It could be making funeral arrangements, it could be making a doctor’s appointment, it could be making phone calls. Don’t do it all yourself — let them take action too, because it helps in the healing process. 10. Buy food for a homeless person. Cash is often a bad idea if it’s going to be used for drugs, but buying a sandwich and chips or something like that is a good gesture. Be respectful and friendly. 11. Lend your ear. Often someone who is sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated just needs someone who will listen. Venting and talking through an issue is a huge help. 12. Help someone on the edge. If someone is suicidal, urge them to get help. If they don’t, call a suicide hotline or doctor yourself to get advice. 13. Help someone get active. A person in your life who wants to get healthy might need a helping hand — offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together. Once they get started, it can have profound effects. 14. Do a chore. Something small or big, like cleaning up or washing a car or doing the dishes or cutting a lawn. 15. Give a massage. Only when appropriate of course. But a massage can go a long way to making someone feel better. 16. Send a nice email. Just a quick note telling someone how much you appreciate them, or how proud you are of them, or just saying thank you for something they did. 17. Show appreciation, publicly. Praising someone on a blog, in front of coworkers, in front of family, or in some other public way, is a great way to make them feel better about themselves. 18. Donate food. Clean out your cupboard of canned goods, or buy a couple bags of groceries, and donate them to a homeless shelter. 19. Just be there. When someone you know is in need, sometimes it’s just good to be there. Sit with them. Talk. Help out if you can. 20. Be patient. Sometimes people can have difficulty understanding things, or learning to do something right. Learn to be patient with them. 21. Tutor a child. This might be difficult to do today, but often parents can’t afford to hire a tutor for their child in need of help. Call a school and volunteer your tutoring services. 22. Create a care package. Soup, reading material, tea, chocolate … anything you think the person might need or enjoy. Good for someone who is sick or otherwise in need of a pick-me-up. 23. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them. You don’t have to take on that cause by yourself, but join others in signing a petition, speaking up a a council meeting, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard. 24. Offer to babysit. Sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn’t get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. Set up an appointment. It can make a big difference. 25. Love. Simply finding ways to express your love to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger … just express your love. A hug, a kind word, spending time, showing little kindnesses, being friendly … it all matters more than you know. How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world. - William Shakespeare

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Student’s No Longer Crossing Raging River on a Cable

Not too long ago, we did an article about some Chinese school kids who had to cross a raging river on a steel cable everyday to get to their school.


We got a lot of visibility for that article and after the story was broke, people began to make donations to help the village build a real bridge.

Six months later, a 170 x 2 meter bridge now exists across the Nujiang River, near where the kids used to cross by cable.


Looks like the school children can finally go to school without risking their lives or getting stuck for hours in the middle of that old steel cable.


China: Emotional needs enormous as people come to grips with life after the earthquake

China: Emotional needs enormous as people come to grips with life after the earthquake
Author: International Committee of the Red Cross
Published on May 21, 2008 - 10:32:53 AM

Geneva 21 May, 2008 - Many survivors in Sichuan province - still nervous a week after a massive earthquake struck the region - are sleeping outside tonight worried by the latest reports of another possible major 6 or7 magnitude aftershock striking the area, according to the local seismological bureau.

With more than 40,000 dead and 4.8 million people left homeless, survivors are facing the daunting task of dealing with the emotional impact of the earthquake.

"Many people have lost so much - their loved ones, homes, and their livelihoods. Coupled with fears of another earthquake and an uncertain future, the psychosocial needs for are enormous," says Amgaa Oyungerel, regional health delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Chengdu. "Supporting the emotional recovery of survivors is urgently needed and the Red Cross is incorporating this support throughout its operations."

The Chinese Red Cross has sent a 19-person team to Mianyang, composed of medical experts and psychologists from major medical institutions in Beijing. They will offer counselling to survivors and training for Red Cross volunteers on techniques to provide additional emotional support to those affected. A second Red Cross team with 24 people arrived on Wednesday to assist with these efforts.

"It's truly moving to see a group of Red Cross volunteers comforting survivors after such a traumatic event," says Francis Markus, spokesperson for the International Federation in Chengdu. "With people so desperate for any information about their missing family members, it's important that the Red Cross can offer such a service."

The Red Cross is also providing support to families who do not know the fate of their loved ones. A Red Cross team left Beijing on 19 May to the affected areas to conduct assessments and focus on tracing missing family members.

"It is hard to eat or sleep or do anything for that matter, if you don't know what has happened to your family or friends," says Oyungerel.

The Chinese Red Cross, along with China Netcom, has established a hotline and website to help locate missing family members. The hotline is +86 11 61 14 and the website is People with missing loved ones must be able to provide contact details, such as a mobile phone number or address, for the missing person in order for a case to be opened.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

12,000 yr old Temple Found

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A temple dated to 9,500BC has been discovered in Turkey. The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated. Such a find has the potential to alter forever the existing paradigm of human development and demonstrates conclusively that complex societies existed in our most remote past, thousands of years before Stonehenge and the Giza Pyramids were built..

Here is the article reporting excavations at the Turkish site:

Nicholas Birch 4/17/08

Eurasianet. org

As a child, Klaus Schmidt used to grub around in caves in his native Germany in the hope of finding prehistoric paintings. Thirty years later, representing the German Archaeological Institute, he found something infinitely more important -- a temple complex almost twice as old as anything comparable on the planet..

"This place is a supernova", says Schmidt, standing under a lone tree on a windswept hilltop 35 miles north of Turkey's border with Syria. "Within a minute of first seeing it I knew I had two choices: go away and tell nobody, or spend the rest of my life working here.."

Behind him are the first folds of the Anatolian plateau. Ahead, the Mesopotamian plain, like a dust-colored sea, stretches south hundreds of miles to Baghdad and beyond. The stone circles of Gobekli Tepe are just in front, hidden under the brow of the hill..

Compared to Stonehenge, Britain's most famous prehistoric site, they are humble affairs. None of the circles excavated (four out of an estimated 20) are more than 30 meters across. What makes the discovery remarkable are the carvings of boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions, and their age. Dated at around 9,500 BC, these stones are 5,500 years older than the first cities of Mesopotamia, and 7,000 years older than Stonehenge..

Never mind circular patterns or the stone-etchings, the people who erected this site did not even have pottery or cultivate wheat. They lived in villages. But they were hunters, not farmers..

"Everybody used to think only complex, hierarchical civilizations could build such monumental sites, and that they only came about with the invention of agriculture", says Ian Hodder, a Stanford University Professor of Anthropology, who, since 1993, has directed digs at Catalhoyuk, Turkey's most famous Neolithic site. "Gobekli changes everything.

It's elaborate, it's complex and it is pre-agricultural. That fact alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time..

With only a fraction of the site opened up after a decade of excavations, Gobekli Tepe's significance to the people who built it remains unclear.

Some think the site was the center of a fertility rite, with the two tall stones at the center of each circle representing a man and woman..

It's a theory the tourist board in the nearby city of Urfa has taken up with alacrity. Visit the Garden of Eden, its brochures trumpet, see Adam and Eve..
Schmidt is skeptical about the fertility theory.

He agrees Gobekli Tepe may well be "the last flowering of a semi-nomadic world that farming was just about to destroy," and points out that if it is in near perfect condition today,

it is because those who built it buried it soon after under tons of soil, as though its wild animal-rich world had lost all meaning.

But the site is devoid of the fertility symbols that have been found at other Neolithic sites, and the T-shaped columns, while clearly semi-human, are sexless. "I think here we are face to face with the earliest representation of gods", says Schmidt, patting one of the biggest stones. "They have no eyes, no mouths, no faces. But they have arms and they have hands. They are makers..

"In my opinion, the people who carved them were asking themselves the biggest questions of all," Schmidt continued..

"What is this universe? Why are we here?"

With no evidence of houses or graves near the stones, Schmidt believes the hill top was a site of pilgrimage for communities within a radius of roughly a hundred miles. He notes how the tallest stones all face southeast, as if scanning plains that are scattered with archeological sites in many ways no less remarkable than Gobekli Tepe..

Last year, for instance, French archaeologists working at Djade al-Mughara in northern Syria uncovered the oldest mural ever found. "Two square meters of geometric shapes, in red, black and white - a bit like a Paul Klee painting," explains Eric Coqueugniot, the University of Lyon archaeologist who is leading the excavation..

Coqueugniot describes Schmidt's hypothesis that Gobekli Tepe was meeting point for feasts, rituals and sharing ideas as "tempting," given the site's spectacular position. But he emphasizes that surveys of the region are still in their infancy. "Tomorrow, somebody might find somewhere even more dramatic..

Director of a dig at Korpiktepe, on the Tigris River about 120 miles east of Urfa, Vecihi Ozkaya doubts the thousands of stone pots he has found since 2001 in hundreds of 11,500 year-old graves quite qualify as that. But his excitement fills his austere office at Dicle University in Diyarbakir..

"Look at this", he says, pointing at a photo of an exquisitely carved sculpture showing an animal, half-human, half-lion. "It's a sphinx, thousands of years before Egypt. Southeastern Turkey, northern Syria - this region saw the wedding night of our civilization..

Editor's Note: Nicolas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East..

Posted April 17, 2008 © Eurasianet

• • •
[link to www. eurasianet. org]

Photos of the site in southern Turkey and carvings at:

[link to www. lswn. it]

[link to www. thefirstpost. co. uk]

[link to www. thefirstpost. co. uk]

Possibly the oldest known statue of a human being, found at Gobekli Tepe:

[link to www. thefirstpost. co. uk]

[link to www. thefirstpost. co. uk]

• • •

7 Ways To Have The Greatest Day of Your Life

Written on 5/20/2008 by Alex Shalman, creator of the Practical Personal Development blog.

When I ask someone how their day is going, the response I get most often is, "Fine." Most people settle for fine, are happy when things are fine, but can't fathom the possibility of creating the greatest day of their life -- whenever they want!

I believe that people are scared of achieving greatness. Without giving it a second thought, the idea of being great seems as if it would come with a lot of work and huge responsibility. By now it's no secret that the things that have brought us the most pleasure in life are those that we've given more time to and put more work into. Even if you misfire and don't hit the greatest day of your life you could end up short at an awesome day. This will take much effort on your part.

It follows that in order to have a greatest day, whether overall or in a certain category, we must push ourselves harder than ever before. In order to reach that milestone we must earn it. Sometimes through sweat and tears, and sometimes through using our minds.

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up.~John C. Maxwell
  1. Decide that fine is bad. Fine means you aren't growing or swimming, which means that you are shrinking and sinking. Fine is being average, it's being defeated, and it's giving up. Fine means that nothing outstanding happened to you today and you should know that you deserve something miraculous in your life.

    Fine is also a relative term. A billionaire could feel fine about making only 2 million dollars today, or a middle class man could feel fine about having 3 square meals today. A poor person would be delighted out of their mind at a couple million bucks and a starving person would jump up and down at the thought of 3 square meals. The point is to decide what's fine for you and do everything in your mind to exceed this level.

  2. Relationship with self. Become aware of everything that had to happen in the universe in order to put your here right now. The big-bang, God, evolution, the earth revolving around the sun, the right sperm reaching the egg at just the right time. The fact that you are standing here is impossible!

    You're worth more than diamonds, castles, and spaceships and it's taken too many perfect coincidences to bring you here. On this day, when you become conscious of your self-worth, and acknowledge it as being more than you have ever said it to be before, you are having the greatest day of your life.

  3. Upgrade yourself. Become conscious and aware of your skills, talents, and character traits. Make it a point to become a little bit better. A better person, friend, artist, investor, parent, writer, or anything else that is important to you.

    When you've chiseled your character, sharpened your skill, or expressed your talents more so than ever before, you will have the greatest day ever. Such self-improvement, sitting on the shoulders of all previous self-improvement, will allow you to have the greatest day ever.

  4. Create huge possibilities. I've mentioned that striving for greatness could lead to a misfire and leave you off at awesome instead of best. Keeping this principle in mind create the biggest goals, dreams, and possibilities that you have ever made for yourself or your life.

    Think bigger and better than ever before. It is right now, during the planning and within the possibilities that you will have the greatest day of your life.

  5. Love your hardest. Love with more energy and passion than you have ever loved before. Listen harder, spend more time, and create greater workability in your relationships than on previous days.

    Do something unique, caring, or fun for the ones you loved. Just love them with all your might. When you've loved harder than you've ever loved before, you will have the greatest day of your life.

  6. Positive self-talk. Be optimistic in the way that you talk to yourself. Your mind will absorb the way you speak to yourself and process it as fact. Make sure those facts are aligned with greatness.

    When you've had the best conversations with yourself, you will be able to have better relationships, achieve more, try harder, and be happier than ever before. With the best positive self-talk you will have the greatest day of your life.

  7. Be God-like. Religion aside, think practically. On this day you will act more God-like. The practical thing to do is to be as giving as you can with your time, wisdom, and strength.

    That's what God does right? Gives selflessly, without expecting anything in return, and with love for his people. When you've given more than you've ever given before, you will have the greatest day of your life.
You certainly can prepare for the greatest day of your life by making sure you will be filled with vitality. Do this by drinking plenty of water the day before and the day of, doing some cardio to spread the endorphins throughout your body, and getting the right amount of rest for your body.
"Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars." ~Les Brown

Tibet and China: 7 questions
Tibet map

The six decades since China sent troops into Tibet in 1950 have been marked by periods of unrest and sporadic uprisings against Beijing's rule.

While China says it has an historic and cultural claim to the territory, Tibet's cause has been championed by many in the West.

Here, two leading academics analyse both sides of the dispute. Dr Steve Tsang specialises in Modern Chinese Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford. Andrew Fischer is an expert in Tibet at the Development Studies Institute, at the London School of Economics.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
The two sides disagree about the legal status of Tibet, which is governed as an autonomous region of China.

Beijing claims a centuries-old sovereignty over the region. But many Tibetans argue Chinese involvement in their country only dates back to the invasion of 1950.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
China has a specific definition of Tibet, which it refers to as the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

Campaigners say Tibet is actually much larger than that, taking in parts of neighbouring Chinese provinces which have large Tibetan populations.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
This is a highly controversial area, with human rights groups accusing China of repression.

China denies that, saying Tibetans are guaranteed political and religious freedom.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
Mass migration by Han Chinese to Tibetan areas has been encouraged by the government in Beijing, which claims that Tibet has benefited economically from the influx.

Tibetans still make up 93% of the population in the TAR, but there are complaints they are losing out to new arrivals.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
Tibetan communities launched a series of protests against Chinese rule in March 2008, marked by violent clashes.

Tibet's government-in-exile says some 140 people were killed in a crackdown by Chinese security forces. Beijing says 19 people were killed by rioters.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to Dharamsala in northern India in 1959, where his supporters set up a government in exile.

China insists that the Dalai Lama wants to separate Tibet from the motherland; the Dalai Lama says he only wants genuine autonomy for the region.

The issue Dr Steve Tsang Andrew Fischer
In recent years Beijing has been engaged in low-level talks with Tibet's government-in-exile, but the gulf between them is still wide.

The central issue to be resolved is how much autonomy the Tibetans will retain in the future.

Pakistan warning to food hoarders

A flour wholesaler waits to collect bags of flour at a flour mill in Pakistan
Wheat is a staple food in Pakistan

Authorities in Pakistan have warned that people hoarding wheat will have their stocks confiscated unless they sell it to government agencies.

The government says production of wheat will fall a million tonnes short of what the country requires this year.

There have been accusations that some Pakistani traders are illegally selling wheat intended for domestic use abroad.

The government has also said it will reward anyone who informs on people hoarding wheat, a staple food.

Authorities believe hoarding of wheat is one the main reasons for rising food prices.

Reports suggest that some traders are illegally selling wheat intended for domestic use to Afghanistan and Central Asia because they can get higher prices there.

In an effort to discourage people who hoard wheat, the government has warned that their stock will be confiscated if they fail to sell them to state agencies by Monday.

Farmers will also get incentives to sell their wheat to public sector agencies.

To meet the shortfall in supplies, the government has already approved a proposal to import 1.5 million tonnes of wheat to tackle the crisis.

The Best Way to Cook Your Vegetables

fruit-and-veggies.pngIf you've been following author Michael Pollan's simple eating philosophy—"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."—you're trying more than ever to incorporate vegetables in your diet. What you may not know, however, is how to best prepare those vegetables so you're getting the most nutritional value. From the New York Times:

"There is a misperception that raw foods are always going to be better," says Steven K. Clinton, a nutrition researcher and professor of internal medicine in the medical oncology division at Ohio State University. "For fruits and vegetables, a lot of times a little bit of cooking and a little bit of processing actually can be helpful."
Though the article emphasizes that no cooking method is best, it does explain the trade-offs you make when you make the decision to cook or not to cook. For example, boiling carrots increases carotenoid levels while decreasing polyphenol. Often you can cook better with your microwave than your stove, and—according to the article—microwaving can retain more vitamin C than other methods. You don't have to weigh the health options every time you decide to prepare a vegetable—you're eating vegetables, after all, which is already healthy—but do know that variety in your preparation methods is advantageous. Let's hear how you prefer to prepare your veggies in the comments.

Indian toxic alcohol toll soars

The bereaved wife of a victim of illegal liquor poisoning in Karnataka
This woman mourns for her husband, who drank the alcohol

The number of people who have died after drinking poisonous illegal alcohol in two southern Indian states has risen to about 150, police say.

A further 135 people who drank the illegally brewed liquor are in hospital, some in a critical condition.

Bootleggers sold the drink in a district on the border between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Most of the dead are poor, migrant workers. Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in South Asia.

Observers say the number of casualties in this case is shockingly high, even by Indian standards.


At least 107 deaths in the latest outbreak have been recorded in Karnataka, with another 41 in Tamil Nadu.

Some reports put the number of casualties higher and police have said they expect the death toll to rise.

Police in Karnataka say that the illegal liquor was brewed and sold by local bootleggers on Saturday after the authorities shut authorised alcohol shops and bars because of local elections.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says that is a routine step to prevent politicians from handing out free alcohol to win votes.

Most of the victims were poor migrant workers who fell sick after consuming the alcohol which was allegedly spiked with chemicals.

Sixteen people have been arrested for selling the alcohol and an investigation has been launched.

Senior Karnataka police official Shankar Bidri told the BBC that investigators were trying to determine whether all the deaths were caused by the same batch of illegal alcohol.

It is thought some of the liquor is still in circulation.

Illegally brewed alcohol is readily found across India, especially in villages where it is popular because it is cheap and said to be stronger than legal brews.

But it is often laced with chemicals and pesticides in an attempt to boost its strength and has often caused people to die, our correspondent says.