EU bans South African citrus imports over disease fears - ( 53L385 )


By Charlie Dunmore

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Thursday banned most imports of South African citrus for the remainder of this year over fears that a fungal disease found in dozens of shipments could spread to the 28-nation bloc.

The ban follows the interception of 36 citrus consignments this year from the EU’s chief summer supplier that were contaminated with the fungal black spot disease, which is not currently found in Europe.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the European Commission was set to propose the ban following pressure from citrus growers in southern Europe.

“The introduction of citrus black spot into the EU territory would pose a serious threat to the EU’s citrus-producing areas. For that reason, it is necessary to further restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa,” the Commission said in a statement confirming the move.

The ban will apply to all South African citrus shipments from regions where the disease is present, which covers the bulk of the country’s production.

Initially the ban will apply only to the 2012-2013 harvest, which ended in October. It will, therefore, have little immediate impact because the exports to Europe dry up around October anyway.

But EU officials have warned that the restrictions could be extended into next year if an ongoing study by the bloc’s food safety watchdog finds that the disease could take hold in Europe’s estimated 500,000 hectares of citrus groves.

That would threaten South Africa’s 600,000 tonnes of citrus fruit exports to Europe each year – mainly oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines – worth some 1 billion euros ($ 1.3 billion).

South Africa supplies about a third of the bloc’s total citrus imports and is the main source of oranges for the juice drunk by consumers in Britain, Germany and France during the European summer months.

The ban comes at a sensitive time, because the European Union is seeking South Africa’s support to unlock stalled trade deals with sub-Saharan Africa.

While harmless to humans, citrus black spot causes unsightly lesions on the fruit and leaves, reducing both harvest quality and quantity. There is no known cure, but fungicides can be used to control the spread of the disease.

It is found in many citrus-growing regions in the southern hemisphere as well as in China and the United States but has never established itself in Europe.

In a draft scientific opinion published in July, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said the chance of citrus black spot taking in hold in Europe was “moderately likely”.

But it added there was a high level of uncertainty due to a lack of knowledge over how the disease would respond to the EU climate.

EFSA’s assessment is due to be completed by the end of this year.

(editing by Jane Baird)

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Some South African clinics running short of HIV/AIDS drugs: MSF - ( 53L385 )


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – One in five South African clinics are running short of life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs, affecting nearly half a million people and undermining the success of the world’s largest treatment program, medical charities said on Thursday.

With about 6 million people infected with the virus – more than 10 percent of the population – South Africa carries the world’s heaviest HIV/AIDS caseload and has around 2.5 million people taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs daily.

However, the huge numbers are causing the system to creak, health researchers say.

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières surveyed more than 2,300 of South Africa’s 3,800 public health facilities and found that one in five had either run short or run out of drugs in the previous three months.

Of the affected clinics, catering for 420,000 patients, 20 percent said they had had to turn away patients, putting the effectiveness of the ARV treatment plan at risk, MSF said.

“The sheer scale of the problem shows stock-outs to be one of the principal barriers to maintaining an effective treatment program,” said Anele Yawa of the Treatment Action Campaign, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group that took part in the research.

The health ministry acknowledged some problems but said MSF was exaggerating the situation.

“When you are running a project as big as this, you’re likely to have some challenges,” said health ministry spokesman Joe Maila. “We accept there’s a problem but the level at which they pitched it is an extreme over-exaggeration.”

A year ago, South Africa awarded a $ 667 million two-year contract to pharmaceutical firms including Aspen Pharmacare, Abbott Laboratories and Adcock Ingram to supply HIV/AIDS medication.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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Tank Top TV lets you find where to stream or download box sets, instantly - ( 53L385 )

Tank Top TV is a website that houses links to over 2500 digital TV box sets. It’s a bit like a Google search that only links to videos and has everything you could want to watch. That’s over 73,000 episodes of TV at your fingertips.

Imagine you want to watch a box set your mate has recommended. When you search on Google you’ll be met with countless websites selling the physical box set. What if you want to watch it now? Check Netflix and Lovefilm? Then what? Blinkbox, iTunes, iPlayer, NOW TV? It’s going to take a while. So Tank Top TV has taken the leg work out and put them all in one place.

Once you’ve found a box set, from searching or just browsing, all the links to where that can be streamed or downloaded from are right there. It’s simple and easy. Obviously with illegal downloading as an option for many this might simply serve as a menu, but for those willing to pay it’s a great way to find and access shows instantly.

This is an expansion to the company’s current list of over 13,000 digitally available movies also listed on the site.

Tank Top TV CEO and co-founder Liz Rice says: “Our free listings offer a clear choice of TV favourites, hidden gems people may have missed and currently popular shows. They can either be viewed immediately or added to a watch list for later.”

Check it out for yourself at the link below.

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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Get 25 per cent off buying out your O2 contract and upgrade phones with Speed to Refresh - ( 53L385 )

O2 already offers a Refresh contract that allows you to upgrade your handset whenever you feel like it. Now it’s extending that to other O2 users with Speed to Refresh.

Not only does Speed to Refresh allow current customers to change their deal to the Refresh contract, and get a new mobile, but O2 is currently discounting 25 per cent off the remainder of their current contract as a welcome. This amount is deducted from the contract which the person is buying out in order to start the O2 Refresh contract.

O2 Refresh works by splitting the monthly contract into two: one part for the airtime bundle and one for the phone. This means you can upgrade your phone whenever you want without having to waste money paying off an old line rental contract. And if you hang onto your handset for the full two year contract the bill will half as you only pay for the airtime bundle.

“Our customers love O2 Refresh and since we launched it more than 95 per cent of customers who could buy O2 Refresh have chosen to,” said Gary Booker, O2′s interim Marketing and Consumer Director.

Speed to Refresh is available to any existing O2 Pay Monthly customer who signed up to a consumer tariff between 1 January 2011 and 31 March 2013, are still within the minimum term length of their contract for at least three months and are looking to move onto a new O2 Refresh contract.

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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Britain announces independent review of plain tobacco packaging - ( 53L385 )


LONDON (Reuters) – Britain announced an independent review of tobacco packaging on Thursday and said it was ready to introduce new laws banning branding on cigarette packets if the report found sufficient evidence to support it.

The government, which in July delayed a decision on the issue, said the review was due to report back in March 2014 and would look into whether standardized packaging is likely to have an effect on public health, particularly in relation to children.

The long-standing debate on the issue pits health campaigners, who back the move, against big tobacco firms which say it would put jobs at risk and encourage smuggling. In Britain, the subject has also prompted criticism from the opposition Labour party over the extent to which the tobacco industry is able to influence government policy.

The news hit stocks of British tobacco firms. British American Tobacco shares were down 0.9 percent at 3243.5 pence at 5:09 a.m. ET, while smaller rival Imperial Tobacco Group’s shares were down 2.5 percent at 2304 pence.

After a lengthy public consultation, Prime Minister David Cameron in July delayed a move to force manufacturers to sell tobacco in plain packets, saying he wanted to see more evidence from other countries on the effectiveness of such a move.

Almost exactly a year ago, Australia passed a law saying cigarettes must be sold in dark brown packets with no colors or logos, with the name of the product printed in a standardized small font.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Britain announces independent review of plain tobacco packaging - ( 53L385 )


LONDON (Reuters) – Britain launched an independent review on tobacco packaging on Thursday and said it was ready to introduce new laws banning branding on cigarette packets if the report found sufficient evidence to support it.

The government, which in July delayed a decision on the issue, said the review was due to report back in March 2014 and would look into whether standardised packaging is likely to have an effect on public health, and particularly in relation to children.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Travel agent Thomas Cook makes first profit since 2010 - ( 53L385 )

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Britain set to review cigarette packaging: media - ( 53L385 )


(Reuters) – The UK government is set to announce a review of cigarette packaging in an effort to deter youngsters from smoking, British media reports said on Wednesday citing sources.

The David Cameron government in July delayed plans to ban company branding on cigarette packets, a move that was strongly criticised by health campaigners.

The government distanced itself earlier, saying it wanted to first see the impact of a similar decision in Australia.

The Times on Wednesday reported that the British government will announce a review, the findings of which are expected to strongly back the case for plain packaging, and plain cigarette packets are expected to be on shop shelves before the 2015 election.

“We need immediate legislation for standard cigarette packaging, not another review. The Government needs to stand up to the tobacco industry’s vested interests,” Labour Party’s Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger said on Wednesday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in July that plain packaging would increase the impact of health warnings, stop consumers from thinking some products were less harmful, and make tobacco products less attractive for adults and children.

Six million people die every year from smoking and the toll is projected to rise to eight million by 2030, according to the WHO.

(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Kim Kardashian lässt Kleidung auf eBay für Charity ve - ( 53L385 )


von






Cinya Burton






| Übersetzt von Elke Bernd

23. November 2013 – 00:04

Victoria Beckham ist nicht die Einzige, die ausgemistete Kleidungsstücke (und Schuhe!) für einen guten Zweck spendet. Auch Kim Kardashian lässt auf eBay Kleider aus ihrer Garderobe versteigern, um Opfern des Taifuns in den Philippinen zu helfen.

Auf ihrer Webseite fordert sie:

„Hi Leute, diese Auktion liegt mir sehr am Herzen, da ein Teil des Erlöses dieser eBay-Versteigerung an das International Medical Corps geht, eine Wohltätigkeitsorganisation, die Familien, die auf entfernten Inseln leben, nicht nur medizinisch, sondern auch mit Grundlebensmitteln, sauberem Trinkwasser und wichtigen Medikamenten versorgen wird. Die Einnahmen kommen den Gemeinden, mit denen sie auf den Philippinen zusammenarbeiten, zugute und werden den Überlebenden des Taifuns Zugang zu medizinischer Versorgung bieten und somit Leben retten. Meine Gedanken und Gebete sind bei den Taifun-Opfern. Werft einen Blick auf meine eBay-Auktion und unterstützt diejenigen auf den Philippinen, die unsere Hilfe benötigen. Xo.”

Kim teilt neues Foto von Baby Norths „Mädeltag”

Was es zu ersteigern gibt? Alles was das Designerklamotten-Herz begehrt, angefangen von einem blaugrünen Bleistiftrock von L’Wren Scott, bis hin zu einer Spitzen-Bluse von Dolce & Gabbana. Und selbstverständlich gibt es auch eine Vielzahl weißer Outfits (ihre aktuelle Lieblingsfarbe!), inklusive einem Kleid aus der Kardashian Kollection.

Kim Kardashians Stil nach der Geburt

VIDEOS:

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Scott Morrison in Nauru TV news report – video - ( 53L385 )

A recording of a Nauruan TV news report shows the minister for immigration and border protection, Scott Morrison, addressing a group of asylum seekers who had been transferred to Nauru detention. Morrison informs them they will not be settled in Australia and should pass on the message to family and friends. The video was reportedly filmed from Nauruan television in October

  • Source: Bronwyn McNamee
  • Length: 3min 52sec
  • theguardian.com
  • Thursday 28 November 2013
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U.S. judge dismisses Apple consumer lawsuit over data privacy - ( 53L385 )

By Casey Sullivan

(Reuters) – A California federal judge has dismissed a consumer lawsuit over data privacy against Apple Inc, saying the plaintiffs had failed to show they had relied on any alleged company misrepresentations and that they had suffered harm.

The four plaintiffs claimed in 2011 that Apple had violated its privacy policy, saying the iPhone maker had designed its iOS environment to easily transmit personal information to third parties that collect and analyze such data without user consent or detection.

They also claimed that they suffered damages by paying too much money for their iPhones and by losing storage space, among other things, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California dismissed the case.

“Plaintiffs must be able to provide some evidence that they saw one or more of Apple’s alleged misrepresentations, that they actually relied on those misrepresentations, and that they were harmed thereby,” Koh said in the November 25 ruling.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Apple either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

The case is one part of nationwide litigation Koh is overseeing that consolidates 19 related lawsuits.

The case is In re Apple Inc. iPhone/iPad Application Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-md-02250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

(Reporting by Casey Sullivan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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U.S. judge dismisses Apple consumer lawsuit over data privacy - ( 53L385 )

By Casey Sullivan

(Reuters) – A California federal judge has dismissed a consumer lawsuit over data privacy against Apple Inc, saying the plaintiffs had failed to show they had relied on any alleged company misrepresentations and that they had suffered harm.

The four plaintiffs claimed in 2011 that Apple had violated its privacy policy, saying the iPhone maker had designed its iOS environment to easily transmit personal information to third parties that collect and analyze such data without user consent or detection.

They also claimed that they suffered damages by paying too much money for their iPhones and by losing storage space, among other things, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California dismissed the case.

“Plaintiffs must be able to provide some evidence that they saw one or more of Apple’s alleged misrepresentations, that they actually relied on those misrepresentations, and that they were harmed thereby,” Koh said in the November 25 ruling.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Apple either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

The case is one part of nationwide litigation Koh is overseeing that consolidates 19 related lawsuits.

The case is In re Apple Inc. iPhone/iPad Application Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-md-02250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

(Reporting by Casey Sullivan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Troubled HealthCare.gov to switch website hosting to HP - ( 53L385 )


By Margaret Chadbourn and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The agency in charge of the troubled HealthCare.gov website said on Wednesday is it switching providers of Web hosting services, the latest change for the website at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it is replacing data center services from Verizon Communications Inc’s Terremark subsidiary, with services from Hewlett-Packard Co.

Terremark’s data center experienced issues in late October that caused outages across the system, prompting embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to phone Verizon’s chief executive to discuss the problems.

Obama and Sebelius had promised the website would make it easy to shop for health insurance required under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Instead, slow response times, error messages and outages like the ones seen at Terremark’s data center meant few Americans have been able to enroll so far.

The disaster has fueled Republican criticism of the law, and alarmed Democrats who supported it. The administration has had to scramble to make fixes in the hopes enough Americans sign up by deadlines in December and March.

Both Verizon and HP declined comment on the contract change, as did the White House, which referred questions about the contract to CMS.

CMS said its contract with Terremark had been set to end in March 2014. Last summer, several months before the botched October 1 launch of HealthCare.gov, the agency issued a “task order” asking for bids. HP was awarded that contract, a CMS spokesman said in a statement.

The contract change was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Now, CMS needs to transition its data center to HP at a time when it is just beginning to dig out from a mountain of problems with the website, which is designed to let consumers shop for health insurance required under Obama’s signature health care law.

The complexity of the switch between data center providers could be an additional challenge for the project. A CMS spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the transition would affect the website.

The Obama administration has said it plans to have the website working smoothly for most users by this weekend.

Part of that upgrade involves doubling capacity so the website can handle 50,000 users at once.

A source close to the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are some concerns about the website’s ability to handle so many users because of problems with switches and servers maintained by Terremark.

“CMS has begun the necessary activities to transition the data center over to HP. We are working to ensure a smooth transition between the two contractors,” the CMS spokesman said in a statement.

Verizon has received $ 55.4 million for its work on the healthcare marketplaces since its contract started in 2011, according to federal contracting records.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Lisa Shumaker)

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Typhoon aid appeal response hailed - ( 53L385 )

Tech-savvy Britons have donated a record £6 million to Philippines typhoon victims via tablets and smartphones.

The new method of donating has helped pushed the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) overall donation total to £65 million.

The DEC said when its appeal was launched over two weeks ago, more than £750,000 was raised via text messages alone in the first hour. In comparison, roughly £100,000 was raised during the same period for the East Africa crisis.

Further text donation surges followed, including during an England football fixture on November 15 and an appeal on X Factor.

The charity said the push towards mobile donations represents an overall trend towards electronic donations.

The DEC said £3.5 million donations have been through tablets, £1.3 million via texts and £5.7 million through PayPal, which included £1.75 from tablets and smart phones.

“It is now even easier to make a donation to DEC appeals wherever and whenever you want,” DEC Head of Fundraising Adil Husseini said.

“We have made sure there are a number of different ways to quickly and efficiently give money so that it can be raised as fast as possible and ensure that aid reaches people in desperate need right now.

“We have seen that sending text donations is increasingly popular, and offering people the choice to give via PayPal accounts has also made the process of donating via mobiles, tablets and computers much faster and hassle free for many.

“More than one million people have given money since the appeal began, and the public’s generous donations have helped enabled our member aid agencies to reach hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines who have had their lives torn apart by this disaster.”

The DEC said a £25 donation would buy water purification tablets for 10 families for a month, £50 would feed a family for two weeks, while £100 would buy emergency shelter and bedding for one family.

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Dear @LuckyDiamond – What should I get my best cat fr - ( 53L385 )

Cats go wild for catnip!

If you have a doggy dilemma or  a confused cat looking for advice, don't hesistate to ask Dearlucky.com @ lucky@animalfair.com. Baby Hope has taken on the legacy of Lucky – she has been around the block so no worries she is just as clever and can answer all your questions!

cat jewish

Dear Lucky,
Chanukah is here, and I cannot decide what present to get for my new best friend Kitty Kat. Being a puppy, I know what kind of presents dogs like, but I have no idea what to get for a cat. Do you have any suggestions?

–Brody, Dayton, OH

Dear Brody,

Happy Chanukah! I used to have the toughest time trying to buy presents for my dear cat pal, Pasha, but I'd like to think that I've become quite an expert over the years. Cats love catnip. If you see anything with catnip stuffed in it, buy it! I'm sure Kitty Kat will have a lot of fun with her new present! Good luck! In fact, buy eight of them!

For the Best that Pet Lifestyle and Animal Welfare has to offer follow Wendy Diamond on Facebook, Twitterand right here at AnimalFair.com!



Bark about it!

comments

Tags: animal fair, catnip, chanukah, dear lucky, lucky diamond, wendy diamond

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Giving Thanks for the Service of Alzheimer’s Caregivers This Holiday Season - ( 53L385 )

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many people are taking the time to give thanks for those they have in their lives. While some may be giving thanks to friends, family or co-workers this holiday season, for others, this is a time to reflect on the work done by professional caregivers. There are millions of families in the United States who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and the nation has seen first-hand the work that caregivers do, and now is a great time to reflect on their work and give thanks to all these selfless individuals do.

November is not only the month of Thanksgiving, but it is also National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Caregiver month. For the millions of families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, the caregivers that help care for these individuals are some of the most important people to give thanks for this holiday season. These special individuals do a great deal to help individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. There are more than 15 million Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers living in the United States today and they all provide an often overlooked service that truly helps change the lives of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease.

These are the individuals that not only help take care of the daily health needs of Alzheimer’s patients, but these are the individuals that provide Alzheimer’s patients with much needed love and support. Alzheimer’s disease not only presents many changes for the diagnosed individual and their loved ones, but for caregivers as well, who must change and adapt nearly everyday to meet the unique demands of their role. Being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is a position that comes with a great deal of stress, yet these dedicated individuals still find themselves working around the clock to meet the full time demands of being a caregiver. These caregivers act as a friend, companion, caretaker, support system and more to those with Alzheimer’s disease and they become an important part of these individuals’ lives.

For many Alzheimer’s patients, their caregivers become family to them. Whether the caregiver is a professional, family member or friend, they must dedicate themselves to helping these individuals and their family members handle their everyday tasks, recall important memories and cope with the stress that comes with having dementia. Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease that impacts the lives of millions, but its repercussions would be much more severe if it weren’t for the dedicated support of these caregivers.

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those living with a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. This holiday season spend time to not only give thanks for the friends and family around you but for the Alzheimer’s caregivers that help keep these loved ones happy and healthy during this most wonderful time of the year.


 


Follow Eric J. Hall on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/ericjhall2

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US abortions had slower decline in 2010 than 2009 - ( 53L385 )


ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. abortions have continued to decline, but not quite as steeply as before.

The number and rate of reported abortions fell 3 percent in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Those statistics had fallen 5 percent in 2009 — the biggest one-year decrease in a decade.

Before 2009, abortions seemed to have leveled off. Some experts attributed the recent numbers to better use of contraception and a tough economic environment for raising children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday released the latest statistics, drawing from about 45 states and cities that sent in data consistently for at least 10 years. They reported about 753,000 abortions in 2010. About 60 percent of the women were in their 20s.

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Online:

CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_ss/ss_cvol.html

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Turning to the Bible for Weight Loss with the Daniel Diet - ( 53L385 )

PHOTO: The Daniel Fast is a bible-based diet that is growing in popularity among Christians.

The new bible for dieting is, for many, the Bible.

The Daniel Diet, inspired by the Biblical prophet Daniel, has become a popular diet among some U.S. Protestant congregations to help encourage healthy eating.

According to two passages in the Bible, Daniel fasted twice. During the first fast, he ate only vegetables and water to set himself apart for God. For a second fast mentioned in a later chapter, Daniel stopped eating meat, wine and other rich foods.

Pastors across the country are encouraging their congregations to participate in similar fasts or diets inspired by these passages to kick start weight loss and to strengthen their faith.

In Hawaii, the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu at Ko’olau holds an annual 21 “Daniel Fast” for congregants to not only encourage healthy eating, but to help people keep their faith by refocusing their attention on their diet.

Diet and Weightloss News

“We hope the Fast[sic] will help reset your spiritual compass, which can get rusty and out of whack because of everyday cares and concerns,” First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu Pastor Dan Chun wrote on his diet support website.

The Saddleback Church, which has a congregation of at least 20,000, has launched a website and book, co-written by head pastor Rick Warren, to promote a long term version of the diet renamed “The Daniel Plan.”

At a rally for the Daniel Plan last year, Warren said he was inspired to start the fast after performing 800 baptisms in one day and realizing most people he baptized were overweight.

“I had this thought, it wasn’t very spiritual, but it was ‘We’re all fat,’” said Warren.

Although the Saddleback church version of the Daniel Plan has specific diet directions, most versions of the Daniel diet are slightly improvised since the Bible doesn’t give exactly detailed instructions. Versions of the fast include eating only raw vegetables or fruits for 10-21 days with water.

Jessica Bennett, a dietician at Vanderbilt Medical Center, said she believes that trying a version of the Daniel diet can potentially kick start healthier habits or weight loss for some people.

“I definitely think it makes people more aware of what they’re eating and what they’re putting in their body,” said Bennett. “I say more power to them.”

Bennett does caution that very strict versions of the diet could be frustrating for people, since it will drastically change their diet quickly. Although she says by being a group setting, people on the diet can draw strength and support from one another.

“Most congregations tend to bond over food and people tend to go to lunch or dinner right after church,” said Bennett. By focusing on the social aspect, people don’t fixate on food restrictions. “People can tell me exactly what they ate or lunch or dinner but can’t tell me what the conversation was. They’re focusing too much on food.”

Additionally Bennett said these diets might be particularly helpful for certain subsections of the U.S. Protestant congregations, since some studies have found that people of certain Protestant faiths are more likely to be overweight.

A 2006 study found that Baptist women tended to have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) than other women not part of that religion and a 2003 study found that conservative Protestant men tended to have a higher BMI.

As for people using fasts to strengthen their faith, Bennett said one reason people may feel closer to God is that they no longer have food to rely on as a coping mechanism.

“I think also people use foods to deal with emotions and things in their life,” said Bennett. “If they’re looking to God instead they may feel a closer relationship.”

Summer Diet Tips That Work in the Fall

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Pig-Out Prophylaxis - ( 53L385 )

The average American gains between 1 and 3 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas — more if you’re already overweight. It’s a scary statistic. Parties, family gatherings, stress, alcohol and fatigue are all to blame. Being inundated with goodies — gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven, caramel covered anything and (my all time favorite) pecan pie with vanilla ice cream — is also a factor, generating nostalgia for the good old days when we were young and well care for.

When stress rises during the holidays we are especially vulnerable to overeating foods we associate with fond memories.

With all the cheer and good will in the air, the holidays often raise expectations and lead to wishful thinking. Maybe your usually grumpy mother-in-law will recognize how wonderful you are, your boss will give you that well-deserved raise or everyone in your family will get along. The reality may be disappointing and all the more painful during the holidays.

Overeating can be thought of as a form of self-medicating, but it is short-lived and inevitably followed by self-loathing and guilt. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are a few tips for keeping things in perspective this holiday season:

Make a list of your stress triggers:
Have an alternative: Instead of turning to food for comfort, consider calling a friend, listening to your favorite song, looking at a photograph of someone you love, leafing through an art book or a magazine or going for a walk.

Beware the collective holiday mindset:
“Life is on hold until Jan. 1.” Don’t skip the gym or eat the second piece of pie. Make a pact to exercise with a few friends. Encouragement and support will keep you going.

Keep a log of every morsel you put in your mouth:
Record your calories, exercise and weight every day. Self-monitoring is an effective tool. There are easy-to-use apps that do this.

Survey the entire buffet before serving yourself:
You will eat less.

Rest:
There is a link between lack of sleep and weight gain.

Savor it:
Rushing through a meal makes you more prone to heartburn, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Relish each bite. Not only will you eat less, you’ll spend more time with friends and loved ones.

And now a success story:

I have a friend who gained 8 to 10 pounds every holiday season for 10 years. She referred to it as her “month-long feeding frenzy.” Holiday cookies and hot chocolate were her weakness and conjured up memories of Christmas spent in Vermont as a child.

Last year she decided to break this destructive pattern. She set a realistic goal to gain less than three pounds. She woke up an hour earlier each morning to walk to work; she skipped a few holiday parties; she kept a food diary, and she and a friend joined a local program that delivers food to homebound elderly New Yorkers (running up and down the stairs of walk-ups was an added exercise benefit).

She actually lost one pound. Jan. 1 was a New Year for her in more ways than one.


 


Follow Samantha Boardman MD on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/@sambmd

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Gamers face queue marathon for PS4 - ( 53L385 )

UK gamers eager to get their hands on the new PlayStation 4 console will begin queuing up in central London from tomorrow morning.

The games device is officially launched in the UK on Friday, but Sony has announced those who have not already pre-ordered a console will be able to buy one at a midnight launch event being held at the PS4 Lounge #4ThePlayers event in Covent Garden.

Launch day pre-orders for the console sold out in August. The consoles available at the PS4 lounge will be on a first come, first served basis from midnight and are tipped to be the last opportunity to have one before Christmas without preordering.

Gamers queuing for their consoles from Thursday morning will be treated to a performance by rapper Tinie Tempah and will be given Domino’s Pizza and Red Bull to keep their energy up during what will be a long wait.

Sony UK & Ireland managing director Fergal Gara said the event was a ray of hope for gamers who did not preorder.

“We really wanted to offer some way for people to buy on launch day, and this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone that hasn’t already pre-ordered to get their hands on a PS4 on day one,” he said.

“The excitement in the run-up to our UK launch has been phenomenal, and we want to thank gamers for their support by giving them the chance to take a PS4 home at the earliest opportunity.”

Martyn Gibbs, CEO of retailer GAME, said the excitement for the PS4 launch was “absolutely massive”.

“We’re stepping into the next generation of gaming and this really is a fundamental shift for the industry,” he said.

“The PS4 launch is going to surpass anything Playstation has done before – our pre-order numbers are around four times higher than the PS3 and we’re seeing those numbers grow every day.

“We’re delighted that we are able to bring additional last-minute stock to the UK market and keep delivering for the UK gaming communities and we can’t wait for the official launch.”

The PS4 is being marketed as 10 times faster than its predecessor, the PlayStation 3, which was released in 2006.

It features a Blu-Ray/DVD optical drive, digital video recording, 8GB DDR5 RAM, an 8 core single-chip x86 AMD “Jaguar” CPU, AMD Radeon graphics core next engine GPU, 500GB removable hard drive and internal power supply.

The new console launches across the UK on November 29, priced at £349, with over 400 stores hosting special midnight openings on November 28.

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Patients, be wary of herbal supplements sold in bottles – Delmarva Now - ( 53L385 )

O2 to offer PS4 bundle that includes Sony Xperia Z1, could be last chance to get one before Christmas - ( 53L385 )

O2 has announced that it will be carrying limited stock of the PlayStation 4 in 65 of its high stores up and down the UK. However, it won’t be selling the next-generation games console on its own.

Instead, it will be available through the network as part of a bundle that includes a Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone, a 5-inch Android handset that is currently the brand’s flagship device.

READ: Sony Xperia Z1 review

The bundle also includes Killzone: Shadow Fall, one of the first-party launch titles, 12 months free access to PlayStation Plus, which would normally set you back £39.99, and unlimited minutes, texts and 1GB of data on the phone’s price plan.

This is all available for an £89.99 upfront cost and then £52 a month for a 24-month contract.

READ: PlayStation 4 review

The plan is part of the O2 Refresh tariff, which splits the amount you pay for the phone and the minutes, texts and data. Therefore you can upgrade early – before the 24-month contract is up – by paying the remaining balance on just the phone, not the whole contract.

The limited stock of PS4 consoles will be available from UK launch day, Friday, 24 November. Check with O2 for a list of participating stores.

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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O2 to offer PS4 bundle that includes Sony Xperia Z1, could be last chance to get one before Christmas - ( 53L385 )

O2 has announced that it will be carrying limited stock of the PlayStation 4 in 65 of its high stores up and down the UK. However, it won’t be selling the next-generation games console on its own.

Instead, it will be available through the network as part of a bundle that includes a Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone, a 5-inch Android handset that is currently the brand’s flagship device.

READ: Sony Xperia Z1 review

The bundle also includes Killzone: Shadow Fall, one of the first-party launch titles, 12 months free access to PlayStation Plus, which would normally set you back £39.99, and unlimited minutes, texts and 1GB of data on the phone’s price plan.

This is all available for an £89.99 upfront cost and then £52 a month for a 24-month contract.

READ: PlayStation 4 review

The plan is part of the O2 Refresh tariff, which splits the amount you pay for the phone and the minutes, texts and data. Therefore you can upgrade early – before the 24-month contract is up – by paying the remaining balance on just the phone, not the whole contract.

The limited stock of PS4 consoles will be available from UK launch day, Friday, 24 November. Check with O2 for a list of participating stores.

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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Now TV box gets 4oD to expand catch-up and on demand offering - ( 53L385 )

Owners of a Now TV set-top-box will find a new app alongside the existing catch-up and on demand offerings from BBC iPlayer and Demand 5. Channel 4′s 4oD service is now accessible through the box, leaving just ITV as the last major terrestrial TV broadcaster in the UK to be featured.

The Now TV box, which costs £9.99, hooks up to the internet and provides over-the-top access to Sky’s Now TV subscription service.

As well as on demand and live streamed movies, the Now TV service also offers an Entertainment Month Pass, which is a non-contract subscription to a wide variety of channels, including Sky One and Sky Atlantic.

READ: Now TV box review

Sports programming can also be accessed on a pay-per-view basis, whereby you pay for access to all Sky Sports channels for a day. If you just want to watch one football match, for example, this allows you to do so without having to pay for a full satellite or cable subscription.

The Sky Movies Month Pass costs £8.99 a month for access to all movie channels and the films individually to stream when you want. The Sky Sports Day Pass costs £9.99. And the Now TV Entertainment Month Pass costs £4.99 a month at present, as an introductory price.

You do not have to pay for access to 4oD, BBC iPlayer or Demand 5.

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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South Africa’s Adcock says CFR takeover vital to its survival - ( 53L385 )


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African drug maker Adcock Ingram said a $ 1.2 billion takeover by Chile’s CFR Pharmaceuticals, which is opposed by its biggest shareholder, was vital to its long-term survival.

State pension fund Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is opposing CFR’s cash-and-shares offer because of concerns about foreign control and the share component of the deal, a source familiar with the fund’s thinking said earlier this month.

Adcock, South Africa’s second-largest drug maker by market value, on Tuesday said it needed to pursue a tie-up with an international pharmaceutical company to compete with larger rivals.

With 90 percent of sales made at home, Adcock has been dwarfed by rival Aspen Pharmacare, which has made an aggressive push into overseas markets via acquisitions in recent years.

“The continuing consolidation of the global pharmaceutical market has again challenged the long-term sustainability of Adcock Ingram’s business,” Adcock said.

Santiago-based CFR last week said it was confident of winning shareholder support for the deal, which would create an emerging-market drugs powerhouse spanning 23 countries.

The takeover needs to get backing from 75 percent of Adcock’s shareholders in a vote next month. PIC holds about 19 percent of Adcock’s shares.

Adcock posted a worse-than-expected 17 percent fall in full-year profit on Thursday as the weaker rand currency made imports of chemicals used to make drugs more expensive. The rand has depreciated by about 20 percent against the dollar since January.

Headline earnings per share (EPS) fell to 350 cents in the year ended September, well below a 388 cents estimate in a Reuters poll of five analysts.

Adcock, the country’s biggest over-the-counter medicines maker, has also been squeezed as cash-strapped consumers cut the size of their purchases or move to cheaper products.

The company suspended dividends as part of an agreement with its suitor CFR.

Costs from the deal of around $ 56 million, or nearly all the net profit the company made this year, are expected to weigh on Adcock’s profitability or its ability to resume dividends next year.

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London PS4 queue starts, as gamers brace the cold to be first - ( 53L385 )

A queue has already started forming outside of the PS4 Lounge in Covent Garden, London, as keen gamers who’ve failed to bag a pre-order hope to get the PlayStation 4 when it launches on Friday.

Those intrepid or stupid gamers, depending on how you see it, are braving cold November nights, where temperatures will drop to around 4 degrees Celsius to get their hands on the console that’s already seen an explosive launch in the US, selling 1 million units in 24 hours. 

The need to fall “in-line” makes sense, as the chance to order a PlayStation 4 has pretty much ended from most retailers in the UK, partly thanks to huge demand and short supply.

READ: PlayStation 4 review

Sony has already confirmed to Pocket-lint that their will be “hundreds of PlayStation 4 consoles and a selection of games available to purchase on the night” for late comers. 

A temporary home, the PS4 Lounge will be open until 1 December at 17 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9HE allowing gamers to try before they buy as well as play “players” i.e celebrities. 

The PlayStation 4 officially launches on the 29 November in the UK. The official queue doesn’t open until Thursday, where those customers will be given a wristband that guarantees a chance to purchase a PS4. 

© copyright Pocket-lint 2013

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Gov’t to keep ban on paying bone marrow donors - ( 53L385 )


WASHINGTON (AP) — Proponents of paying donors for bone marrow cells believe it could boost the number of people willing to participate in the current not-for-pay system.

The Obama administration is taking steps to block a federal court ruling that had opened a way to find out.

Buying or selling organs has long been illegal, and the 1984 ban also included bone marrow transplants.

The libertarian Institute for Justice sued the government to challenge the donor system, arguing that more people with rare marrow types might register to donate if they had a financial incentive.

Ultimately, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that some, not all, marrow donors could be compensated — citing a technological reason.

The government now has proposed a regulation to keep the ban intact.

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Readers’ tips: winter sun dive spots - ( 53L385 )

As winter sets in, it’s nice to dream of a beautiful beach and warm, crystal clear waters teeming with sea life waiting to be explored. But if you’ve actually made this a reality with a winter diving trip, head to GuardianWitness to post a tip of your break and be in with a chance of winning this week’s competition.

Up for grabs is a Force Ten Vortex 300 tent from Vango worth £450. Submit your tips by clicking on the blue button and using the text tab. Try and include as much detail as possible – location, website address etc – and feel free to add a photo if you own the copyright to it, but it will be the text we’re judging! Your tip should be around 100 words. Terms and conditions.

Closes 4 December at 6am GMT

  • GuardianWitness is the home of user-generated content on the Guardian. Contribute your video, pictures and stories, and browse news, reviews and creations submitted by others. Posts will be reviewed prior to publication on GuardianWitness, and the best pieces will feature on the Guardian site.

Follow Guardian Travel on Twitter

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Hewlett-Packard, CEO Whitman ordered to defend securities class action - ( 53L385 )

By Casey Sullivan

(Reuters) – A California federal judge has ordered Hewlett-Packard Co and Chief Executive Meg Whitman to defend a securities shareholder class action that claims they knew statements about HP’s acquisition of software company Autonomy were misleading.

At the heart of the lawsuit are claims that HP, its executives and directors made misleading statements about the acquisition of the British company, bought in 2011 for $ 11.1 billion, and the subsequent write-down of roughly $ 9 billion of HP’s assets.

Senior District Judge Charles Breyer issued his ruling in San Francisco federal court on Tuesday. The ruling also dismissed claims against five other former directors and executives of the information technology supplier, including one-time CEO Leo Apotheker.

The securities class action against HP and its executives was brought last November by investors including lead plaintiff PGGM Vermogensbeheer B.V., a Dutch pension administrator operating in the healthcare and social work sectors.

Though ordering HP and Whitman to defend the action, Judge Breyer took issue with the plaintiffs’ arguments in the 20-page ruling.

“The complaint fails to establish any coherent motive as to why defendants would knowingly purchase a company for several times its actual value or that they knew Autonomy’s accounting was problematic,” said Breyer.

The judge also limited the claims that can be brought against Whitman and HP. Breyer said that the investors’ claims against the company and its CEO are limited to the period after May 23, 2012, not before.

Lawyers for HP, Whitman, the plaintiffs and the other HP defendants did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting By Casey Sullivan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Don’t Forget Your Umbrella! “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” ! - ( 53L385 )

Looks like Wendy's safe under that Umbrella no matter what's Falling from the Sky!

Sure, we've all heard the famous expression, but does anyone really know where this silly saying got its start? Wendy and the team have hit the books and have come up with a few possible answers to this cat and canine conundrum. From the interesting, to the silly, to the strange and even grotesque, the origins of this popular phrase will definitely make you feel glad that you brought your umbrella!

Explanation 1: The Medieval Slip and Slide

The most common theory suggests that in old England during the middle ages, cats and dogs would sleep on the hay roofs of their owners.  During rainstorms they would slide down the wet hay.  Another similar theory suggests that stray animals would hide in hay roofs at night to keep warm, and during heavy rainstorms the roofs' poor construction would lead to the animals falling through into the houses.

Rain dog cute raincoat

Explanation 2: Luxurious Linguistics

The archaic French word, "catdoupe" is a waterfall or cataract and could potentially be mistaken for 'cat/dog' by English speaking foreigners.

Explanation 3: The Big Kennel in the Sky

Some simply shrug and say that lightning and thunder sounds sort of like a cat and dog fighting

Explanation 4: Holy Hound Dog!

Another theory suggests that this phrase could have stemmed from the Norse Mythology. Cats were believed to represent the wind and dogs represented rain. Different animals represented different weather and natural phenomenon. Wolves according to Norse Mythology attended to the sky dog Odin.

Explanation 5: And you Thought Cleaning out the Litter Box was Bad!

Long before plumbing, when people's cats and dogs died they would simply throw them into the gutter or alley with the garbage. If a strong enough rain came through it would flood the gutters and alleys to the point where all the dead cats and dogs would begin to float down the streets. Therefore very harsh rains were associated with cats and dogs.

For the Best that Pet Lifestyle has to offer follow Wendy Diamond on Facebook, Twitter, and right here at AnimalFair.com!



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Tags: animal fair, cats, dog, Dogd, history, It's Raining Cats and Dogs, lucky diamond, origin, Origins, Trivia, wendy diamond

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Atheist group erects ‘Good without God’ billboards in California - ( 53L385 )


By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) – As the Christmas season approaches in the United States, a group of non-believers in the California capital are planning to erect billboards explaining why they are atheists in hopes of bringing broader visibility to their lack of religious faith.

The 55 billboards that will soon dot the Sacramento landscape will feature pictures of local residents and slogans such as “Good without God,” and follow similar campaigns in other major U.S. cities in recent years.

“Those of us who are free from religion, who work to keep dogma out of government, science, medicine and education, have a lot to offer society,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which sponsored the ads.

The billboards set to go up in Sacramento on the day after Thanksgiving are part of the increasingly loud arguments between many deeply religious Christians whose faith has informed U.S. conservative politics for a generation, and a vocal cohort of secular, often younger voters who want to keep religion out of public life.

The foundation also plans to place a large version of the letter “A,” for atheism, in Chicago’s Daley Plaza, the site of an annual Christmas display.

The aim of the campaign is to show people who are not religious that they don’t have to hide their views in a polarized nation where atheists and agnostics often feel isolated, Gaylor said.

The Sacramento billboards show smiling capital-area residents against softly colored backgrounds, listing their names and the communities in which they live.

“Doing good is my religion,” says a sign featuring Mashariki Lawson, who identifies herself on the billboard as a “humanist.”

“Believe in yourself,” says another sign, featuring Sacramento resident Julia Verdugo.

Monsigneur James Murphy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento said he found it ironic that the billboards were planned to go up the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday he said showed that U.S. culture was deeply rooted in religion.

Murphy said he agreed that people can do good without being religious, and said that atheists have a right to express their opinions – on billboards and elsewhere.

“I wish they weren’t up there … but I’m not going to fight their rights,” Murphy said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Doina Chiacu)

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Falling Back to Earth: a simple message of survival - ( 53L385 )



We're taken into the Qagoma archives to look at an artificial kangaroo and panda, the first two parts of the highly-anticipated piece Heritage by Cai Guo-Qiang to arrive from China. Source: Guardian

Clad in his customary Prada, Cai Guo-Qiang cuts a handsome and charismatic figure at the opening of his new exhibition at Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art. The Chinese-born artist who designed the spectacular opening and closing pyrotechnics at the Beijing Olympics is perhaps best known for his "explosion events" which use fireworks that are specially-designed for daytime viewing. Falling Back to Earth is also a crowd-pleaser: it comprises just five works in total, but each is spectacular and exquisitely crafted. This is the kind of show that looks great in photographs and even better in real life – but best of all, the ideas are right on the surface.

There are two major works: Eucalyptus (2013) – a 31-metre-long gumtree that's been moved from a Brisbane building site, sanded down, tipped on its side and placed in the centre atrium; and Head On (2006), a massive installation work in which 99 lifesize fake wolves form a wave of growling faces and sleek bodies that hurls itself against a glass wall. There's also a special piece made for Goma's children's gallery, a tearoom and some video screens showing Cai's fireworks.

Head On

Head On: a massive installation work in which 99 lifesize fake wolves form a wave of growling faces and sleek bodies. Photograph: PR

But the big draw is the installation Heritage (2013), a 47.8m x 23m fake waterhole surrounded by 99 replica animals – pandas and kangaroos, a horse, an elephant, zebras, monkeys and many more – all with their heads down and tongues sticking out, a strange collection of wild animals captured at the moment just before their thirsts are quenched.

The work took a long time to conceive and produce, says Cai. "It's like being pregnant – once you give birth, your child has a life of their own and they are no longer a part of your body. They have their own destiny." And what does he think of his baby? "It looks better and exceeds my expectations. When I first conceived this work I thought it would be related to environmental issues that we have here on Earth. But once the work was finished I realised that it relates to broader issues, such as our position within the universe."

The animals in Heritage are intended as metaphors. They draw you in for a closer look. Each was handmade by workers in Quanzhou city, Fujian Province, Cai's hometown, from goatskins mounted over interior armatures. From a distance they look convincingly real but up close this menagerie seems more cute than wild. After a few moments the creature's faces slip from a forlorn sadness to an uncanny grotesqueness; the effect disturbing. It is as though Cai's animals represent the idea of animals rather than living breathing things.

"I'm more comfortable expressing ideas through animals," says Cai. "The animals here are both predator and prey but the way they're presented they're all concentrating on surviving. They are lowering their heads in a way that is religious and sombre. In reality, this would be impossible." The faces of the animals are very cuddly and touchable. "Yes," Cai laughs. "That's because it's a work of art".

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus (2013): a 31-metre-long gumtree that's been moved from a Brisbane building site, sanded down, tipped on its side and placed in the centre atrium. Photograph: PR

The message of the show is simple: we all need to live together and care about the planet. "When I was growing up in China I saw a lot of art that depicted lots of people," he says. "You would see many workers, peasants, soldiers and leaders of war and revolution. On the other hand, with animals you can use them as metaphors for humans or place them in the landscape and create a scene like this one. Animals look more poetic than humans."

And it seems that the message of the work is very direct. "The way I make my art is a bit the way little boys make their work," he says. "I always make something shocking I would like to see myself … I look at things through the eyes of a child and I'm sure that visitors have in their hearts inner children so that they can understand the pieces quite easily."

The scale of Falling Back to Earth is impressive. But as we swept into the first gallery behind the artist at the launch – for which journalists have been flown in from across Australia and, for the first time at any domestic opening I've been to, China – I was struck by how the project heightened many of the unfortunate ironies of the art world. Not least the conceptual conflict between the artist's sincere message of conservation, tolerance and peace and the fact that the exhibition's corporate sponsor, Santos, has been heavily criticised for its coal seam gas projects.

There is also the niggle that Cai's exhibition is probably bigger and more costly than any solo show by an Australian artist in history. Even with a pragmatic understanding of how the international art world works, that's a little hard to swallow – even with the help of launch party wine.

Visitors are encouraged to contemplate nature through Eucalyptus's giant dead tree, and to write down on a piece of paper what good purpose the timber might be used for once the show finishes in May. I wondered how an artist justifies the scale of resources used for a show about nature. "When artists make artworks with either wood or stone or paper, it's nearly always in conflict with nature," says Cai. "But if you use nature as an appropriate theme, there is nothing wrong with that. It's like with flowers – their beauty is only appreciated when people are looking at them."

And what is Cai's role in the process? "My job is to make something fun that makes people go 'Oh!' and 'That's how it is'." It seems like a pretty good life. "Yes, you could say that, but I do have conflicted feelings," Cai says.

"It looks fun – that I am making things I want to see myself. But after these works are made I realise the ideas behind them are sombre and quite grave. And maybe we humans, that's just the way we are. The world might be filled with all kinds of hypes and excitements, but behind the works I make I am quite a lonely person."

• Falling Back to Earth is at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, until May 11. Tickets $ 15/11/8

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Panasonic to sell three Japan chip factories to Israel’s TowerJazz – sources - ( 53L385 )

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Panasonic Corp will sell three domestic semiconductor factories to Israel’s TowerJazz as early as the current business year ending March, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, bringing the embattled electronics giant closer to completing the overhaul of its loss-making businesses.

Panasonic is also in talks with another company to sell its five overseas chip plants, the sources said on Wednesday, declining to be identified because the information is not public yet.

Panasonic said in a statement it was studying various options for its chip business but that nothing had been decided.

(Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Dominic Lau)

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Belgium to debate giving children right to euthanasia - ( 53L385 )


By Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian lawmakers will on Wednesday vote on whether to support a proposed new bill to give extremely sick children the right to euthanasia, a move certain to fan the divisive debate on the practice worldwide.

The new bill would make Belgium the first country to remove the age limit for the procedure – though it would insist parents have a role in their child’s decision to die.

“We want to provide the freedom of choice, also to minors who are able to make up their own mind,” said one of the bill’s backers, Jean-Jacques De Gucht, from the Flemish liberals, who form part of the ruling coalition.

Tomorrow’s senate panel will vote whether to support the bill allowing the killing of a young patient suffering from an extreme condition, and pass the legislation on to parliament.

The committee will not have the power to make the bill law. But the panel’s backing would be an important move in that direction as the committee shares the same political makeup as the broader parliament.

Backers say the law would give a merciful way out for youngsters suffering from debilitating conditions, and legalize a practice that they say is already going on in secret.

“Imagine a cancer or leukemia patient, a child whom we have already treated for eight years and in which we reach a stage where we know there is nothing more that we can do to cure him,” said Marc Cosyns, lecturer of medical ethics at Ghent University.

“MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH”

Opponents say it would open the door to infanticide and leave the ultimate decision in the hands of someone too young to make it. Euthanasia is outlawed altogether in most countries.

“Once the possibility for euthanasia exists for children, demand is likely to rise. It’s clear among adults that it is difficult to keep euthanasia within limits once the taboo of killing has fallen,” said oncologist Benoit Beuselinck, founder of euthanasiestop.be.

Some religious groups have also come out against the legislation.

Belgium’s neighbor the Netherlands already lets terminally ill children seek euthanasia. But the age limit is 12, and anyone aged up to 16 has to get full parental consent.

Analysts said there was a good chance the bill would get backing from the senate’s joint justice and social affairs panel, as it had already been proposed by members of the Flemish and Walloon arms of the coalitions liberal and socialist parties.

The third coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, has acknowledged there is a broad political consensus to extend euthanasia to minors, but is pushing for a minimum age limit of 15 and tighter rules on medical panels reviewing euthanasia requests.

“In matters of life and death it is no mistake to think a bit longer about the law we are creating,” said senator Els Van Hoof, of the Flemish Christian Democrats.

The proposed law already says children choosing to die would have to be of “sound mind and judgment”, effectively ruling out infants.

Dutch data suggest youngsters make up just a tiny fraction of people seeking euthanasia. Only five minors requested it between 2002 and 2013, only one of them under 16.

Belgium is already seen as one of the world’s most liberal countries when it comes to euthanasia, and allows it for people who are not terminally ill.

(Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Andrew Heavens)

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In Praise of Different - ( 53L385 )

I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling as if I don’t belong.

The truth is, I don’t fit in, and I’m just not like most other people.

I never have been. There are many times when I’ve truly believed that I was born at the wrong time, or on the wrong planet in the wrong form. I simply don’t see the world and how we do things the same way that others do.

Fact: I will always feel different, because I am different.

When I was younger, this felt like a bad thing to me. Why wasn’t I like the other kids? Why didn’t I understand why we all did the things we did? Why didn’t I seem to care about the seemingly “important” things that everyone else cared so much about? Why couldn’t I just fit in?

I became very good at pretending… I learned how to seem interested, mastered the art of small talk, went to the mall and pretended it was the best thing ever, discussed celebrities like they mattered, acted as if I was like everyone else, and adopted a life path that society highly favored. This, as you may already know, lead me straight to my quarter-life crisis at 21 years old. I lost sight of myself by trying to fit in.

Now that I’ve rediscovered myself, I realize what a waste of time and energy it is to try and fit in. It’s so much better to just show up and be yourself.

It’s not always easy, especially when you’ve spent years trying to fit in and, quite honestly, can’t remember who you really are. That happens, believe me I know! It’s worth starting, even if, just for today, you wear something you really want to wear, no matter how unfashionable or weird it is. Even if, just for today, you say what you really think about the conversation topics that surround you. Even if, just for today, you do something you want to do, even if it’s uncool and totally not your friends’ style.

Here’s what I’ve learned about stepping into your truth:

1) No matter how different you are, that authentic version of you is so much more lovable than the facade you put on to fit in.

It wasn’t until I really started stepping into my truth, speaking my truth and following my heart that I met people who I truly connect with. I have the most amazing friends in my life. Friends who know and love me in all my weird, quirky, spiritual, feisty and passionate ways. I have a better connection with my family and I feel very supported in following a path that lights my soul on fire, though it’s untraditional and sometimes hard. I have a tribe of amazing people, like you, who cheer me on, read my words, support me and participate in this movement I’m creating. I have a guy who is so amazing, so in love with me, and so perfect for who I am and what I want in my life.

I’ve never felt so connected, fulfilled, truthful and in love with life as I do now. If I’d continued to try to fit in, I wouldn’t have these amazing people in my life. I’d have fake, surface level relationships that left me feeling empty and isolated. That’s no fun, is it?

2) Life is so much better when you just show up as you are, even if other people don’t like or get it.

I’ve never been happier as a human being than I am right now, and I’m still stepping further and further into my truth. I’m still working to align my life on all levels with what I believe I’m here to do. Even on bad days, even when everything falls apart, even when it’s hard… I’m filled with joy.

Being yourself is just such a load off! You can just love what you love, focus on what matters to you, spend time with the people that adore you and enjoy a life that fulfills you on a deep level. There’s no effort involved. No working to fit in, trying to love something you hate, or fake conversations with people you don’t really connect with. It’s just love, connection, fun, truth, joy, passion and fulfillment.

3) It really doesn’t matter if you piss someone off, alienate others or lose “friends” by becoming true to yourself.

It will seem like it does, it will probably even hurt (quite possibly hurt a lot), but in the long run, it’s so worth it. When you step into your truth, you may lose some people. Friends that don’t like it or “get” you anymore. A significant other that’s threatened by the changes, or maybe just isn’t into the person you’re becoming. Family who has a clear and firm expectation of who you “should” be.

You have to remember that you’re changing the game on people when you step away from the facade and start being true to you. It’s normal for this to shift the relationships you have in your life. However, when we let the wrong people fall away it creates space for the amazing people to show up. The ones I talked about above that truly love, adore, get and support the real you fully and completely. That is so fulfilling in and of itself. You might feel a little lonely at first, even more isolated and sad, but stay the course. It’s so worth it in the end.

Take action now!

I want you to own your truth, right now. Even if that doesn’t mean anything changes just yet, or that you step into it fully, you’re going to start by owning it right here in the comments. What makes you different? How are you weird? What is unique about you? What do you really care about, or really not care about?

I’ll start…

I’m extremely intuitive and borderline psychic (I would say “I am psychic,” but then you’d ask me to tell you your future and that’s just not how it works). I’m deathly allergic to small talk (it kills my soul). It’s impossible for me to actually, truly care about things like sports, celebrities or anything that I don’t personally deem meaningful, inspiring, or truly important to this world (what’s meaningful is subjective, remember that). I’m in a constant state of contradiction because I can feel and believe one thing, while feeling and believing it’s exact opposite with equal intensity (I can literally feel my way into both sides of any situation or argument, it’s exhausting). I care deeply about making a difference in the world and it can be all consuming. I’m intense. I’m deep. I’m passionate. I’m opinionated. I’m feisty. I’m wired to challenge beliefs, ideas, authority figures and structures. I also tend to make my own rules where maybe I shouldn’t. I do what I want and I’m as stubborn as they come. I love animals, all of them. I’m not a phone person and if you call me I won’t answer, nor will I likely listen to your voicemail. I believe anything’s possible, always have. I’m absolutely ridiculous. I dream big. Really big.

Okay, your turn! Share with me what makes you different (and therefore incredibly amazing, because it does).

And if you haven’t seen it, I love this Apple commercial from 1997 that features some amazing people in a beautiful salute to thinking (being!) different.

Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com;, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique. Here she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help young women build passion-based businesses. Click here to download her free guide, “The Unexpected Trick to Transforming Your Life With ONE Single Question.”

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Stop Sharing on Thanksgiving - ( 53L385 )

May I so boldly suggest that this Thanksgiving, we focus on one-on-one conversations, instead of broadcasting our lives to the masses.

Yes, I do mean eating your Thanksgiving dinner instead of live-updating from the table. And calling or Skyping a loved one directly instead of shouting “Happy Thanksgiving” to your followers. This year, let’s take a day off from sharing our every thought and feeling with the world. Give thanks for the people in your life by giving them your undivided attention. The most meaningful thing we have to give is our time. Stop broadcasting and start listening.

In my recent book, Dot Complicated, I talk a lot about how tech brings us closer to friends but can also keep us further from friendship. Thanksgiving is a great time to let go of the constant distractions that keep us from connecting on a deeper level. When we focus on listening to others, it’s easier to break through the carefully crafted online image and get to know the actual person inside.

The tech that keeps us happily connected throughout the year can separate us come holiday season, or even get us in trouble, as I discovered this past Christmas after quickly uploading a funny family photo. I find myself robotically scrolling through my feeds rather than having a deep conversation with one of my sisters. The kids play on Mommy’s phone instead of singing karaoke or stomping on leaves outside. People share videos at the table regularly, rather than telling an animated story. And I know my family isn’t much different than anyone else in this digital era.

We spend so much of the year wishing we were together and then spend that precious time together checking in with other people online. I don’t mean to do it, and when I catch myself I immediately put the phone down. But it’s a habit that more and more of us can’t seem to break. It’s really, really hard to stop. We’re not gonna change this behavior all at once — you might be the only one at your table who doesn’t occasionally sneak a peek at their phone. But good behavior is contagious. This year, challenge yourself to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Initially, I was going to suggest a total Internet black-out for Thanksgiving, but a tech boycott isn’t the answer. Our devices and our social networks do keep us connected, when we use them thoughtfully. It’s pretty amazing that I can see a relative’s face from across the country, or see photos instantly from a special event I wasn’t able to attend. Tech connects us when we use it mindfully.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving (and, for some of us, Hanukkah) celebrations with the people — not the things — that matter most.

 

Herbal remedies: A blueprint for modern medicine – Western Front - ( 53L385 )

Round glass containers filled with a grainy green longevity remedy sit atop a clover green tablecloth among an assortment of other homemade herbal treatments, adding a spark of color to the gray winter weather. 


Another glass container holds chyawanprash, a compound of various herbs and spices, which increases longevity and is infused with raspberry leaves grown in Bellingham, Wash. It includes a medley of sweet and spicy herbs such as honey and cayenne pepper.

Cheeks slightly flushed from the cold air, Western Washington University senior Alyson Simeone is wrapped in a puffy black coat and smiles while she talks to shoppers and neighboring jewelry vendors about her homemade Ayurvedic remedies at the Bellingham Farmers Market.

Ayurvedic herbal medicine is a lifestyle choice that incorporates meals, yoga exercises and herbal remedies, Simeone said. It’s the blueprint for modern medicine and the oldest written medical system in the world, stemming from India 5,000 years ago, Simeone said. 

Simeone began selling her products at the market Nov. 9, and averaged about $ 50 to $ 75 each of the two times she was a vendor, she said. Simeone plans to use the money to donate to Sarita Shrestha, the first female Ayurvedic doctor in Nepal and Simeone’s mentor, she said. 

In October 2011, Simeone started on a year- and-a-half-internship in India and Nepal after she was chosen for Fairhaven College’s Adventure Learning Grant in 2011. The program allows students to explore their country of choice without being on a strict study or intern regime, she said. During this time, she interned at clinics and hospitals in Nepal, assisting with gynecological exams and Ayurvedic herbal treatments. 

Living in India gave Simeone a better understanding of how herbal medicine nourishes the body from the inside out, she said.

In the U.S., Simeone makes her products by using a mixture of local herbs and traditional plants and spices that promote a natural way to heal and center the body with nature, she said. 

“[Ayurvedic medicine] treats the cause of the disease rather than just the symptoms,” she said. “So it’s getting to the root of the problem, and it’s going to provide long-term results rather than just putting a Band-Aid on something.”  

Traveling to Ayurveda’s birthplace

During her internship in India, Simeone was immersed in a culture centered around natural healing where Ayurveda began, she said. 

While interning for Shrestha at various clinics, Simeone remembers some of the exhaustive 13-hour days treating patient after patient from morning to night, she said.

“It’s a total marriage between Himalayan mountain peaks and the turbulence of being a devoted, committed healer,” she said.

The clinics and hospitals she interned at were clean, but worked with the most basic materials, she said. 

Once while giving a gynecological exam, Shrestha didn’t have any lights so she improvised by borrowing a nurse’s phone as a light instead, Simeone said. 

“When you’re in a third-world country, you’re able to access and see procedures that you would never be allowed to here as an undergraduate, non-medical student,” Simeone said 

 During her 2011 trip to India, after being in the country for only a couple days, Simeone came across a street vendor selling fresh pomegranate-lime juice. 

The juice is one of her favorites from a previous trip to India, but her body wasn’t acclimated to street food yet and she contracted Giardia — an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic parasite. 

After a month of terrible stomach pain and nausea, Simeone sought ayurvedic treatment, she said. A 12-day Panchakarma cleanse rid her body of toxins, and she no longer had Giardia, Simeone said. 

“It was a really good way for me to experientially learn,” Simeone said. 

A full-circle health plan

A key difference between Ayurveda and Western medicine is the customized aspect that focuses on each person’s individual needs, said Juliet Jivanti, owner and director of Bellingham’s  Ayurvedic Health Center and Wellness Shop.

“I always think of them more in conjunction because, honestly, both work well,” Jivanti said. “In the U.S., Ayurveda works as preventative medicine and Western medicine works more as acute medicine.”

Western medicine has specialized the surgical field, but Ayurveda works better for treating disease of the body and mind because it works with the body’s natural healing process instead of trying to halt it with medications, Simeone said. 

“I think the downfall with Western medicine is that it operates under this philosophy that it is the finest medical system and can eventually treat everything,” Simeone said. “I don’t believe that.”

In general, Western medicine is more one-size-fits-all than Ayurvedic medicine, Jivanti said. 

Ayurveda customizes a specific wellness plan that works best for each person and uses healing properties of food, plant supplements and exercise, she said.

 There is not a universal solution, such as a type of food or herb, which every person can take to have a dramatic change in their life, she said. 

“In the West, we love the idea of super foods to counter all the stresses of regular life,” she said. “But from an Ayurvedic perspective, there is no super food because it does depend upon the person.” 

Plants are helpers on the path toward optimum health, but food is also a cornerstone of good health, said Kate LaSpina, an herbalist at Wonderland Herbs, Teas and Spices on Railroad Avenue.

People have become increasingly afraid of saturated fats because they are thought to be extremely unhealthy, LaSpina said. 

By turning to veganism and vegetarianism, people are cutting out foods that humans have been eating for thousands of years and are replacing them with refined carbohydrates and tofu, she said. 

Moving on

Even as the weather becomes colder, Simeone will continue to sell her products at the fringe of the Bellingham Farmers Market until it closes for winter on Saturday, Dec. 21, she said. 

After graduating from Fairhaven College this quarter, Simeone will join her boyfriend in Asturias, Spain on the lower slopes of the Picos de Europa mountains in a small house in the forest. 

Her devoted years of studying Ayurveda affirms nature’s perfection as an avenue for body healing, she said.  

“[Ayurveda] feels like something I innately know,” Simeone said. “I think when we’re guided by that and when we listen to that feeling in ourselves and follow it, that’s when we’re able to resonate and that’s where we’re led to truth.” 

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