S&P downgrades nine Eurozone nations and their bailout fund as crony capitalism crumbles

by J. D. Heyes (NaturalNews)

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for debt-ridden Europe, they have.

Last week, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of nine European nations. Then this week, as if to add insult to injury, S&P downgraded Europe’s bailout fund, saying in essence that even the fund set up to shield other nations from the debt crisis is in financial trouble. Check and mate.

It was an unprecedented move, with France and Austria having their top-tier ratings lowered a notch to AA+, while S&P downgraded Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus by two notches and Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia by one notch apiece. The move was especially daunting for Italy, because it put Italian bonds at BBB+, moving them perilously close to junk-bond level and making it harder for the government to raise money.

But look, it’s not like the downgrades weren’t a long time in the making. Socialist European nations have been overspending for decades because their politicians have over-promised benefits while creating mountainous hurdles to economic growth. Sooner or later it was bound to happen: Governments were paying out far more than they were taking in, but at the same time refused to make gradual cuts to programs in order to stem the bleeding. The result was obvious: A fiscal and debt crisis that threatens the very survival of these governments.

Worse, since the eurozone crisis began in 2008-2009, politicians have been unable – or unwilling – to take the concrete steps necessary to wean their people off the government dole, a troubling vicious circle not lost on S&P. The ratings agency said its decision to downgrade the eurozone base was grounded on a combination of economic and financial factors, along with “an open and prolonged dispute among European policymakers over the proper approach to address challenges”.

“Today’s rating actions are primarily driven by our assessment that the policy initiatives that have been taken by European policymakers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the eurozone,” S&P said in a statement last week following its downgrade decisions.

Meanwhile, a deepening economic stagnation continues to hold the zone in a vice grip, stifling growth and stunting any chance at a fiscal revival. That, coupled with continued high unemployment and stagnation in the United States, has led some analysts to conclude that Western-style capitalism is in decline, while in Asia the economic gauntlet has been picked up and China, Japan and others are beating us at our own game.

Worse, the future doesn’t seem very bright. In the U.S., our crushing debt has already resulted in a credit rating downgrade by S&P. Moreover, we’ll be lucky to see unemployment dip much below 8.5 percent this year, while the economy limps along at about 2 percent annual growth (compared with 7 percent for Japan and double digits for China). That will continue making it harder for the government to take in the kind of revenue it needs to put a substantial dent in that growing mountain of debt we have accumulated. And it will make borrowing money more expensive.

Europe’s future is even more pessimistic, as the latest round of downgrading proves.

“There’s no crisis of capitalism,” Meghnad Desai, emeritus professor at the London School of Economics, told the Financial Times. “There’s a crisis of western capitalism, which has gone geriatric. The dynamic capitalism, with its energy, innovation and sheer greed for growth has moved east.”

Western capitalism is dying, and what’s worse, our leaders don’t have a clue – or the statesmanship – to figure out how to rescue it.

Sources:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/1d92589a-3090-11e1-9436-00144feabdc0.html

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/13/markets/sandp_europe_downgrade/index.htm

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/16/markets/sandp_efsf_downgrade/

Advertisements

Study says refrigeration of packaged fresh spinach reduces toxic bacteria

by Donna Earnest Pravel ( Natural News )

Spinach has long been used as a natural healing aid. Spinach is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It boosts the immune system, builds red blood cells, provides energy, and is a good source of protein. Spinach has received a lot of negative press in the past due to an E. coli outbreak which was traced to a commercial grower. A recent clinical study indicates that spinach samples have been contaminated with over a thousand different kinds of bacteria. The 2011 study proved that proper refrigeration decreases the bacteria present on fresh spinach by over 50%.

Spinach has an extensive history as a healing aid

Pubmed has published a long list of experiments performed with spinach. Spinach has been proven to help heal osteoporosis, hypoglycemia, heart disease, and brain function.

Spinach is used traditionally as a detoxifier and helps to raise blood hematocrit levels due to the high iron content contained within its leaves.

A California CAFO was blamed for the 2006 contaminated spinach incident

In 2006, almost three hundred people fell ill after eating fresh, organic spinach which had been contaminated with E. coli. The spinach was traced to a small organic grower in California. Half of the people poisoned with E. coli were hospitalized, and three deaths were reported. The FDA ordered all bagged spinach to be removed from store shelves, strongly cautioning consumers not to eat fresh spinach.

At first, the Centers for Disease Control believed that the spinach was contaminated by irrigated water which contained cattle feces from a nearby Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Later it was determined that the contamination came from groundwater runoff from a nearby Angus cattle ranch.

Pyrosequencing is a ground-breaking new technology heralded by geneticists

Since the 2006 E. coli outbreak, there have been several research studies performed to determine the safety of fresh packaged spinach. The latest study was published in May, 2011 in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Using a new technology known as pyrosequencing, scientists found not only E. coli, but over 1000 different kinds of bacteria on fresh spinach leaves. A full 75% of these bacteria strains had never been described as being on spinach before.

Pyrosequencing is a new technology being used by geneticists. Using pyrosequencing, scientists are able to accurately analyze DNA sequences. In the spinach study, scientists found that keeping spinach below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) for a day cut the number of bacteria present on the spinach by over 50%.

Proper handling of fresh spinach

“Ready to eat” fresh spinach cannot be considered ready to eat. Because of the possibility that fresh spinach may be contaminated with toxic bacteria, safe handling procedures should be observed. Consumers of bagged spinach leaves should not eat it right out of the bag or container. All commercially grown fresh spinach should be thoroughly washed and refrigerated for a day before eating it.

Sources for this article include:

Mountain Rose Herbs.com.”Spinach Powder”
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/spinach_powder.php

Pubmed.gov. “Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage,” Y. Wang, et al. Experimental Neurology May 2005; 193(1): 75-84.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15817266

Environmental Protection Agency.gov. “What is a CAFO?”
http://www.epa.gov/region07/water/cafo/index.htm

San Francisco Gate.com. “San Benito County ranch source of tainted spinach,” by George Raine, March 23, 2007.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/23/BAGJDOQM1H8.DTL

Pyrosequencing.com, “The Principle of Pyrosequencing Technology”
http://www.pyrosequencing.com/DynPage.aspx?id=7454

Pubmed.gov. “Changes in spinach phylloepiphytic bacteria communities following minimal processing and refrigerated storage described using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons,” G. Lopez-Velasco, et al. Journal of Applied Microbiology May 2011; 110(5): 1203-14.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21371219

About the author:
This article is provided courtesy of Donna Earnest Pravel, owner and senior editor of Heart of Texas Copywriting Solutions.com. Get free biweekly tips on natural healing and herbs by visiting her blog, Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy.


Diet and specific nutrients prevent brain shrinkage and lower Alzheimer’s disease risk

by John Phillip ( Natural News )

Researchers reporting in the prestigious journal, Neurology have found that proper diet and specific nutrients can lower the risk of brain shrinkage by nearly forty percent. Other lifestyle factors including degree of education and elevated blood pressure combined with a healthy diet can slash brain shrinkage risk in half. Shrinking brain volume is very closely associated with the development of many forms of dementia including the most devastating affliction, Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to following weight management practices including calorie restriction with optimal nutrition (CRON), middle and advanced aging adults will want to ensure they consume a diet packed with marine derived Omega-3 fats and vitamins B, C, D and E to dramatically lower the risk of reduced brain volume, memory loss and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Gene Bowman from the Departments of Neurology and Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University and his team of researchers recruited 104 elderly people with an average age of 87 who had few risk factors for impaired memory and thinking. They performed blood tests to quantify and compare 30 different nutrient biomarkers considered important to support brain health and volume. All the participants also completed tests of memory and thinking, while 42 of them also underwent MRI scans that measured their brain volume.

Key vitamins and marine derived fats slow brain shrinkage and cognitive decline

An analysis of the results found that the participants ate an otherwise healthy diet, yet 25% were lacking in vitamin D and 7% were deficient in vitamin B12. Dr. Bowman noted that the results showed a significant amount of the variation in brain volume and scores on the thinking and memory tests were tied to levels of nutrient biomarkers.

Researchers determined the nutrient levels accounted for 17% of the variation in the scores, while 46% of the variation was tied to other factors such as age, number of years of education and blood pressure. For brain volume, the nutrient levels accounted for 37% of the variation. The study found that the vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers and have a direct impact on brain shrinkage, memory and cognition.

Dr. Bowman concluded “it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet…I’m a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better.” In addition to eating a natural, organic diet full of fresh vegetables, fish and fruit, some health-minded individuals may want to consider supplementing with vitamins B, C, D, E along with fish oil capsule to ensure optimal bioavailability of these critical nutrients.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2011/12/28/WNL.0b013e3182436598.abstract

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111229092036.htm

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/239762.php

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-12/osu-dnl122711.php

http://www.wellnessresources.com/studies/nutrient_status_and_brain_aging

About the author:
John Phillip is a Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of ‘Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan’, a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your Free 48 page copy of ‘Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan’.


Got neck pain? New study says chiropractic care and simple home exercises work better than painkillers

by Elizabeth Walling ( Natural News )

Painkilling drugs are associated with dangerous side effects, addiction and overdose. And it turns out they are also much less effective than harmless natural treatments. A new study shows that simple remedies like chiropractic treatments and home exercises relieve sub-acute neck pain better than pharmaceutical drugs – and without all the negative side effects.

Dangerous painkillers can (and should) be avoided

It’s estimated that 75 percent of Americans deal with neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain accounts for millions of trips to the doctor every year. The pain can be acute and severe enough to interfere with our everyday lives, but modern medicine offers little help. At best, you get over-the-counter pain relievers or narcotic drugs, all of which come with dangerous side effects and are often not effective enough to get rid of pain.

A new study published on January 3, 2012 in The Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates the power of alternative therapies for neck pain. Participants in the study were divided into three groups: one group made regular visits to the chiropractor, one group received traditional drug therapy, and the third group was instructed on how to perform therapeutic exercises at home to combat their neck pain.

At the end of 12 weeks, it was clear participants who engaged in non-drug therapy fared better than those who received painkillers. In the chiropractic group, 57 percent of individuals reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain. In the home exercise group, 48 percent reported similar pain relief. However, only 33 percent of the painkiller group saw such results.

The long term benefits are equally impressive. Even one year later, patients in the chiropractic and home exercise groups were still experiencing benefits. About 53 percent in each of these groups still saw at least a 75 percent reduction in pain. In the painkiller group, only 38 percent reported this kind of pain relief.

Besides being less effective, the painkiller group was also increasing their medication over time, which can lead to more serious side effects.

“The people in the medication group kept on using a higher amount of medication more frequently throughout the follow-up period, up to a year later,” says Dr. Gert Bronfort, research professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota and an author of the study.

He adds, “If you’re taking medication over a long time, then we’re running into more systemic side effects like gastrointestinal problems.”

It’s clear that pharmaceutical drugs are not only dangerous, but ineffective compared to safer natural alternatives for dealing with neck pain.

Sources for this article include:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/for-neck-pain-chiropractic-and-exercise-are-better-than-drugs/

http://www.annals.org/content/156/1_Part_1/1.abstract

About the author:
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:
www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welcome.html

Mold, rot, and filth: Why your child’s school could be making him or her sick

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer (Natural News)

It is a factor that many parents may not consider, but one that is turning out to play a significant role in aggravating, and potentially even causing, asthma symptoms, respiratory illness, and other chronic illness conditions that often afflict children. Mold, rotting building materials, and general filth at many of the nation’s deteriorating public schools appear to be taking a toll on students’ health — and unless parents and school authorities speak up and do something about it now, the problem will only get worse.

A recent CNN report cites the case of a young boy in Connecticut who routinely suffered from headaches, coughing, respiratory infections, and even pneumonia while in school. The young boy reportedly missed 53 days of class during a single school year because of poor indoor air quality, but was reportedly just fine during the summer when he was not in school.

The stark contrast between the boy’s persistent lethargy and sickly condition while in school, and his vibrant, energetic, and disease-free condition during the summer, caused his mother to pull him out of school entirely, once she made the connection. And now that the boy is home-schooled, he is reportedly in good health with no more chronic illness symptoms.

You can read the CNN entire report here:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution/index.html

Since one in ten American children now has asthma, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents need to understand the importance of high indoor air quality at their children’s schools. Whether it is because of greed and corruption, or just a simple lack of funds, many public schools across the country are in terrible disrepair, and the long-term health consequences are especially devastating for young students.

Several studies conducted in both New York and Massachusetts, for instance, have identified a clear link between schools in unhealthy disrepair, and the number of students that had to be hospitalized for asthma symptoms. Unmitigated mold growing as a result of leaky roofs and windows, rampant insect and rodent infestation in walls, and lack of proper sanitary maintenance, were all found to be contributors to elevated rates of asthma and other illnesses among students and teachers.

“It takes a lot to make you sick, but it takes very little exposure once you’re sensitized to provoke symptoms,” said Dr. John Santilli, a Connecticut allergist, to CNN concerning poor indoor air quality at some schools. “As time goes on, it takes more and more out of you, and you get sicker and sicker.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution/index.html

http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pdfs/publications/moldfactsheet.pdf

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-10-17/health/os-epa-mold-florida-schools-day1-20101016_1_mold-buildup-air-quality-humid-states



Mold, rot, and filth: Why your child’s school could be making him or her sick

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer  (Natural News)

It is a factor that many parents may not consider, but one that is turning out to play a significant role in aggravating, and potentially even causing, asthma symptoms, respiratory illness, and other chronic illness conditions that often afflict children. Mold, rotting building materials, and general filth at many of the nation’s deteriorating public schools appear to be taking a toll on students’ health — and unless parents and school authorities speak up and do something about it now, the problem will only get worse.

A recent CNN report cites the case of a young boy in Connecticut who routinely suffered from headaches, coughing, respiratory infections, and even pneumonia while in school. The young boy reportedly missed 53 days of class during a single school year because of poor indoor air quality, but was reportedly just fine during the summer when he was not in school.

The stark contrast between the boy’s persistent lethargy and sickly condition while in school, and his vibrant, energetic, and disease-free condition during the summer, caused his mother to pull him out of school entirely, once she made the connection. And now that the boy is home-schooled, he is reportedly in good health with no more chronic illness symptoms.

You can read the CNN entire report here:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution/index.html

Since one in ten American children now has asthma, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents need to understand the importance of high indoor air quality at their children’s schools. Whether it is because of greed and corruption, or just a simple lack of funds, many public schools across the country are in terrible disrepair, and the long-term health consequences are especially devastating for young students.

Several studies conducted in both New York and Massachusetts, for instance, have identified a clear link between schools in unhealthy disrepair, and the number of students that had to be hospitalized for asthma symptoms. Unmitigated mold growing as a result of leaky roofs and windows, rampant insect and rodent infestation in walls, and lack of proper sanitary maintenance, were all found to be contributors to elevated rates of asthma and other illnesses among students and teachers.

“It takes a lot to make you sick, but it takes very little exposure once you’re sensitized to provoke symptoms,” said Dr. John Santilli, a Connecticut allergist, to CNN concerning poor indoor air quality at some schools. “As time goes on, it takes more and more out of you, and you get sicker and sicker.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution/index.html

http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pdfs/publications/moldfactsheet.pdf

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-10-17/health/os-epa-mold-florida-schools-day1-20101016_1_mold-buildup-air-quality-humid-states


TSA ‘apology’ for illicit conduct against two elderly women filled with lies, say victims

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued an apology in response to two elderly women who were allegedly molested by TSA airport screeners at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York just before Christmas. But the apology only addresses the fact that TSA screeners violated protocol with regards to scanning the ladies’ private medical devices, and denies any further misconduct on behalf of the screeners, which the two victims say is a lie.

In December, 85-year-old Lenore Zimmerman, who uses a wheelchair, came out saying that TSA screeners forced her to take off her clothes in a private room as part of a strip search-type screening protocol. The screeners apparently took issue with Zimmerman’s back brace and an internal defibrillator, which led to their order that she disrobe (http://www.naturalnews.com/034323_National_Organization_for_Women_TSA_illegal_searches.html).

Around the same time, 88-year-old Ruth Sherman came forward and said TSA screeners essentially did the same thing to her by taking her into a private room for an “enhanced” screening. In Sherman’s case, screeners allegedly told her to drop her pants and underwear in order to inspect her colostomy bag (http://www.naturalnews.com/034415_TSA_elderly_women_strip_search.html).

In both of these incidents, the victims appear to have been personally violated by TSA agents who not only broke their own protocol by improperly handling the medical device screenings, but also by sexually molesting the women. But TSA officials are only “sorry” for the medical device protocol violations, and insist that neither Zimmerman or Sherman was strip-searched, molested, or violated in any other way.

“They asked me to pull my sweatpants down, and now they’re not telling you the truth,” said an outraged Sherman to reporters after Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Betsy Markey issued a written apology about the medical device issue, but denied the other charges.

“They’re lying,” said Zimmerman, also extremely upset about the TSA’s denial. “I don’t have a problem with [screeners checking] the back brace. I have a problem with being strip searched.”

Zimmerman is reportedly still moving forward with a lawsuit against the TSA for sexual assault, despite the agency’s denial of her claims. Sherman has not indicated whether or not she will press charges against the TSA.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/tsa-apologizes-elderly-women-strip-search-kennedy-airport-article-1.1007725