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Values
05/13/2010
IconAsked by the Pew Research Organization why they choose to eat so much junk food, the respondents overwhelmingly say it's due to its convenience.' The second most common reason is junk food's good flavor, and the third reason is because it is so heavily advertised.' Fourth is its affordability, and the final reason why people eat so much junk food is "ignorance of food values."' Yeah, I really believe that last reason!Since approximately three-quarters of the respondents eat junk food out of convenience, it seems a good time for them to re-work their lives so that breakfast and dinner are family meals at home, and lunch is considered a lighter repast to keep the engines going during the day.Want to really relieve stress?' Take off your figurative plate all the overscheduling - running around with too many activities and piling on too many responsibilities.' Two-career homes leave little time for the lovely, "home-y" amenities.' Rethink your lives and you'll probably live longer, while being healthier and happier.' Having lots of personal possessions and living beyond your means is a disastrous recipe for stress that leads to all kinds of self-destructive behaviors. More >>

Tags: CharacterCharacter-Courage-ConscienceHealthSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
Icon"Beijing officials have distributed 4.3 million copies of an etiquette book, outlining rules on good manners and foreign customs, including rules about what not to wear," according to The Wall Street Journal (8/1/08)' "Among the no-nos:' more than three color shades in an outfit, white socks with black shoes, and pajamas and slippers in public." It should be interesting for the Chinese citizens who obey these rules to see the foreigners in sweat pants, jeans and flip-flops.Another issue for the Chinese government is the crackdown on any protesting during the Olympics.' China just doesn't want to look bad to the almost half-million tourists who are there for the festivities.' According to the Associated Press, probably several thousand Chinese protestors have already been locked up for the duration so they don't behave "inappropriately."' Also, protestors had to apply for permission to demonstrate some five days in advance and had to acknowledge that they would not harm national interests.' They were supposed to be relegated to one of three parks which are several miles from the main Olympic stadium, but in a report on Saturday, August 8 in the Los Angeles Times , the three parks where demonstrators were to be allowed were totally quiet.' There were no signs of protest areas or of protesters, and, according to the Times ,' there were more security personnel than visitors at the parks.' Foreigners who protested over the past week were deported, and the heavy security measures have forced most of the demonstrations to be held in other countries, including Tibet, India, Hong Kong, England, France, and Germany. More >>

Tags: CharacterCharacter-Courage-ConsciencePoliticsSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconA new draft regulation (which is still being revised and debated) from the Department of Health and Human Services will label most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as "abortion," because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus.' The regulation would consider those items as devices for destroying "the life of a human being." The current administration could enact the regulation at any point without Congressional approval.' The next President will have the power to reverse it.The regulation's stated purpose is to improve enforcement of existing Federal laws that protect some medical professionals' "right to refuse to participate or assist in abortion." Evidently, the draft argues that "state laws too often coerce health-care workers into providing services they find immoral: requirements that emergency rooms offer rape victims the 'morning-after' pill, insurance plans cover contraception as part of prescription-drug benefits, and pharmacists fill prescriptions for birth control.' The draft regulation would weaken these laws by expanding the right of conscientious objection." (Wall Street Journal, 7/31/08). I've been aggravated by the objections of "Un"-Planned Parenthood and most women's activist groups to the required 24 hour waiting period, after a woman receives a consultation and mandated description and visualization of her fetus, before a final decision about abortion is made.' I would equally be aggravated if women were not given sufficient informed consent to know what their options were, including the option of contraception.If a health-care provider believes in good faith that any of these techniques is "killing a child," then they have the moral and ethical obligation to make a referral, so that any woman can know all of her legal options.I'd like Planned Parenthood to put an adoption service in every one of their clinics. More >>

Tags: BehaviorCivilitySocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconBeing able to breathe seems to be a high priority for Olympic athletes - and in Beijing, that's going to be a bit of a challenge.' However, according to Associated Press sources, China is working hard at it....cough...cough.Last week, Beijing's air pollution index dropped to 44 from its more typical number which is double that.' A reading below 50 is considered "good," and between 51 and 100 is "moderate," but "moderate" is still above the World Heath Organization's guidelines for healthy air.Their polluted air has prompted the government to begin drastic measures, including the halting of most construction, the closing of machinery, chemical and construction factories, and the imposition of restrictions on half the city's 3.3 million vehicles.'Many of the 10,500 Olympic athletes are heading to South Korea, Japan and other places to avoid Beijing's air for as long as possible.' This is a kind of "reverse doping," as the impact of the city's pollution on the health and performance of these athletes is in question.Yet another risk is that of Islamic terrorism.' Some of you have been led to believe that jihadism is a reaction or reasonable payback to America and her friends for being bad, bad places.' So it might seem strange to you to find out that a Muslim group, claiming responsibility for a series of explosions in Chinese cities, is allegedly planning to attack the Beijing Olympic Games. According to the AP, "earlier this year, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said it had disrupted two plots to attack the Olympics.' It claimed one group had been planning to kidnap athletes, foreign journalists, and other visitors, while a second had been manufacturing explosives and was plotting to attack hotels, government offices, and military targets in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities...." Just yesterday we heard about sixteen Chinese policemen who were killed in an attack on a border post in the Muslim region of Xinjiang.As if that were not enough, the Chinese government was planning to censor the' Internet during the games.' Reporters already in Beijing have been unable to access scores of web pages - particularly politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession and Taiwanese independence, as well as the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers.Oh, you should know that the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to the Internet limitations...that is, the blocking of sites that were not Games-related.' There was such an uproarfrom other countries, however, that China has backed off on this deal, and on Friday, the Chinese government announced that it will not censor the Internet during the competition.In 2001, when China won the right to host the Games, it made the commitment that it would improve its record on human rights and provide athletes with clean air.' Without Friday's announcement (made only because of outside pressure), that would have made the score zero for two. More >>

Tags: PoliticsSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconAndrew Klavan, an award-winning author of mystery novels, wrote a brilliant op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (7/25/08) in which he stated exactly what I believe.'He pointed out that liberal Hollywood films about the war on terror ( In the Valley of Elah, Rendition , and Redacted ) have all failed, largely because they propose to make the actions and philosophies of terrorists and coalition forces moral "equivalents," because they disrespect the military, and "seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism." These films depict "good" guys as indistinguishable from "bad" guys, ultimately "denigrating the very heroes who defend us." Klavan points out that the big blockbuster The Dark Knight , is a conservative movie about the war, like 300 before it, and these films value morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right.' Liberal, ultimately anti-American, films are realistic and direct, while conservative, pro-values films are usually fantasies using comic-inspired heroes ( Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Spiderman 3 ).What makes the real world difficult is that "good" guys must defend values in a world that does not universally embrace them, and that puts "good" guys in the awful position of sometimes having to be intolerant, unkind, and brutal in order to ultimately defend the "good" values we love.As a psychotherapist, I talk to people on the air every day who try to keep out of the way of conflict, confrontation, and judgment, so they will be liked and seen as "good" guys.' I remind them that "good" guys risk, and sometimes cross the line, to stand between evil and the innocent who need protection from the few.Instead, as Klavan points out, "When heroes arise who take those difficulties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness.' We prosecute and execute the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve." That means that sometimes good men have to kill ("murder" is to kill an innocent) to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate values in order to maintain those values.' That's just a fact of real life in which good and evil have always co-existed. More >>

Tags: CharityInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMilitaryMovie ReviewMoviesParentingReligionValues
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05/13/2010
IconAt this point, every news outlet has discussed the conclusions of some researchers from the University of North Carolina.' The researchers insist that three genes "may" play a strong role in determining why some young men raised in rough neighborhoods or deprived families become violent criminals, while others do not.The research team studied only boys, and used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a U.S. nationally representative sample of about 20,000 adolescents in grades 7 - 12.' They found specific variations in three genes that appeared to be associated with bad behavior, but only when the boys suffered some other stresses. "But if people with the same gene have a parent who has regular meals with them, then the risk is gone," said one of the researchers.Genes give us a range of potential - the interaction of those genes with real life determines the outcome - and it appears like family is everything with respect to raising decent, adjusted, functional children. More >>

Tags: FamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyHealthParentingRelativesValues
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05/13/2010
IconTwo year ago, a Danish journalist/cartoonist gave his political opinion with a newspaper cartoon that depicted a caricature of Muhammed, and there were death threats and rioting by those who described themselves as "offended."' The cartoonist was arrested on charges of discrimination against Muslims.A Paris court also handed down a $23,325 fine against Brigitte Bardot, the former screen sex symbol and current animal rights campaigner.' She was also ordered to pay $1,555 in damages to MRAP, a prominent French "anti-racist" group which filed a lawsuit over a letter she published in her animal rights foundation newsletter and which she also had sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.' Evidently, she had criticized the Muslim feast of Aid-el-Kebir, which is celebrated by the slaughtering of sheep, and had expressed her concern that Muslim laws were beginning to dominate French culture and jurisprudence. French anti-racism laws prevent the incitement of hatred and discrimination on racial and/or religious grounds.' Bardot had previously been convicted four times for "inciting racial hatred."' Her attorney said, "She is tired of this type of proceeding.' She has the impression that people want to silence her." No kidding.English courts are now becoming a popular destination for libel suits against American authors.' The cases have largely been brought against American writers and scholars for criticizing Islam or "naming names" of those who appear to support and fund terrorism.' To avoid costly litigation, some American publishers are withdrawing the publication of those books.' Unlike in American law, in Britain, the burden of proof in libel cases is on the author , since British law considers the disputed information as false until proven true.'Here in the United States, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Joseph Lieberman (Ind/D-CT) have introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, which bars U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law.' The bill also permits American authors and publishers to countersue if the material is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.' This legislation wouldn't protect those who recklessly or maliciously print false information, but it would ensure that Americans are held to and protected by American standards.According to Specter and Lieberman as quoted in The Wall Street Journal (7/14/08) : "The 1964 Supreme Court decision in NY Times vs. Sullivan established that journalists must be free to report on newsworthy events unless they recklessly or maliciously publish falsehoods.' At that time, opponents of civil rights were filing libel suits to silence news organizations that exposed state officials' refusal to enforce federal civil rights laws.' Now we are engaged in another great struggle - this time against Islamic terror - and again, the enemies of freedom seek to silence free speech.' Our legislation will help ensure that they do not succeed." The anti-free speech forces have accomplished a lot in Europe and in our own universities (with their tyranny of the "politically correct").' This is the time to draw that line in the sand. More >>

Tags: Morals, Ethics, ValuesparentingRacismReligionSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconEach year, billions of food wrappers and drink cartons end up in landfills because the material they're made of is geared to keep their products fresh, and not necessarily to decompose.' Kraft Foods, Kellogg's, Clif Bars, and Coca Cola, to name a few biggies, have teamed up with TerraCycle ( www.terracycle.net ), a company that takes their packaging waste and sews, fuses or weaves it into products such as totebags, lunchboxes, showercurtains, pencil cases, backpacks and more.' The Chips Ahoy! umbrella caught my attention, as did the Oreo cookie wrapper shower curtain! More >>

Tags: BehaviorgratitudeSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconThe teen pregnancy rate is up for the first time since 1991, according to a report released by the National Institutes of Health, and is a cause for concern. "This is one of the key indicators for the health of the teen population," said Edward Sondik, Director of the National Center for Health Statistics. "Not only does this affect teen health at this point, but their health and well being for the next 20 to 40 years, as well as the health and well-being of their children." This is one of the most self-centered actions a female can take.' It is obviously not in the best interest of a child to be robbed of a father, a two-parent home, and a committed relationship which would give the child the security and role-modeling he or she needs to fulfill hopes and plans for a loving, secure marital future.It's very "in" lately to be a pregnant Hollywood star, and lots of money is offered for exclusive pictures of the heirs to celebrity notoriety or fame.' It doesn't seem to matter if the star is married or not - there is no judgment, no condemnation, no "clucking," no criticism, no shame, and no consequences.' It is just all "okay."'When people do the wrong thing, repent, and then do the right thing, you'd think that they would be idolized.' Nope.' The media tends to humiliate and denounce them as hypocrites.' So, the "act" is irrelevant; the only thing that is relevant in current day society is that you must never say that anything is "wrong."' If you do dare to call anything "wrong," then you will be attacked.'But back to the children.' Children having children is in no way a positive thing for either child.' There is sufficient research and practical experience to confirm the problems encountered by children without an intact family.' Why is this ignored?' Why is this denigrated or dismissed?' Why doesn't anybody care about the children?' Why is it all about how the female "feels" - which, I'm sure, isn't too great, once the reality sinks in that caring for an infant involves a lot of sacrifice and stress.Kids have very little to connect to these days.' That might sound like an odd comment considering all the means of communication available:' email, text messages, cell phones, and Internet social networking sites, but paradoxically, as the number of technological advances continues to grow, the sense of truly being bonded and connected one-on-one in the non-virtual space continues to diminish...significantly.' When one has a site with 200 "friends," one really doesn't have a true friend.With parents not around to connect with kids because of busy careers or divorce, or because they're shacking up or never got married, having a baby of one's own seems like an obvious way for a kid to get attention, bond to someone, and have some "hands-on" love.' Unfortunately, it doesn't play out that way as the child-mothers discover that children are seriously dependent beings.I remember when actresses like Ingrid Bergman (who left her husband and child to go to Europe to have an affair with one of her directors) were shunned from Hollywood for such behavior,' Now, having affairs, abandoning children, and giving birth out-of-wedlock are met with magazine covers and more job offers based on increased visibility.When children have children, it's largely because nobody is taking care of them; they're lonely and lost.' But we should never point a finger or suggest fault - after all, someone's feelings might be hurt!' And we all know that "feelings" are the most important value - right?' Dead wrong. More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - TeensMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPersonal ResponsibilityPregnancySocial IssuesTeensValues
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05/13/2010
IconI am relieved that the Supreme Court finally clarified that the Second Amendment permits individual gun ownership and not just for those individuals in a national militia.' However, now that there are non-lethal alternatives readily available on the market, people using their guns in self-defense are going to be under more scrutiny than before.'The states impose carefully defined limitations (known as "proportionality requirements") on the use of deadly force in self defense:' a person may use only as much force as is necessary in that immediate situation.' You can defend yourself with deadly force only to prevent death, rape, kidnapping, or bodily injury serious enough to cause long-term loss or impairment.' That gives district attorneys some potential for leeway in filing criminal charges against individuals who have used deadly force to defend themselves.Interestingly, a non -deadly weapon can be used to defend against any threat of unlawful force, which is why I've bought a Taser even though I've already taken classes and training in handgun use and safety.' The Taser fires a dart that delivers a painful electrical shock, resulting in an instant and incapacitating muscular spasm that generally gives you about 30 seconds to get out of the situation.' The Taser works anywhere on the attacker's body; bullets have to hit vulnerable spots to stop a bad guy.Advanced-model Tasers also allow you to respond from up to 35 feet away.' Using a handgun on an attacker from 35 feet away, however, raises questions as to whether "deadly force" is necessary at such a distance.My Taser is pink.....couldn't resist. More >>

Tags: PoliticsSocial IssuesValues
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