Deepak Chopra Says Bacteria Listen To Our Thoughts.

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Deepak Chopra Says Bacteria Listen To Our Thoughts.

Deepak Chopra, author, public speaker and alternative medicine advocate who shot to fame on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the 90s, was the first guest at this week’s “Fat Summit” online conference. Hosted by Mark Hyman, celebrity doctor, long time Clinton family advisor and author of upcoming book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, the Fat Summit’s tagline– “Separating Fat From Fiction”– is clever fluff.

While “leaky gut syndrome” is poorly understood and is not a diagnosis taught in medical school, Chopra blames stress and an “inflamed microbiome” for causing the condition, which he implicates in a raft of health problems. Though “leaky gut syndrome” is largely promoted by pseudoscientists and is not recognized by the mainstream medical community, scientists are learning that “the gut,” or intestinal tract, can “leak,” allowing substances through microscopic openings in its lining and into the rest of the body. And although our understanding of intestinal permeability is changing, Chopra’s misinformation-laden messaging is a far cry from evidence-based.

According to Chopra, that pesky inflamed microbiome is sentient. The genome, microbiome and epigenome, which the author collectively calls the “super gene,” are referenced throughout the interview. His book, Super Genes: The Key to Health and Well-Being, was published last year.

In the world of science, the genome is the entirety of the genetic information, contained in the nucleus of each somatic cell in any organism’s body, coding for the functions of life. The microbiome is a term used to describe the entirety of all of the microorganisms in any environment, as well as the genetic information contained therein, with those myriad little guys’ genes outnumbering the human genes in our body by 100 to 1. The epigenome is an array of structural compounds that don’t code for proteins the way genes do, but that interact with and affect gene activity.

The functions, interactions and inner workings of these “omes” are complex, with our understanding of them still at an infant stage. In other words, what we know about the microbiome, epigenome and genome is dwarfed by what we have yet to learn, and Deepak Chopra exploits this, taking brazen liberties to fill in the gaps.


El Salvador battling a Zika virus epidemic asks women to wait until 2018 to get pregnant.

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El Salvador battling a Zika virus epidemic asks women to wait until 2018 to get pregnant.

When in human history has an epidemic become so alarming that a nation feels compelled to urge its people not to have children for two years?

Grappling with a mosquito-borne virus linked to brain damage in infants, El Salvador is doing just that, advising all women in the country not to get pregnant until 2018 — the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass that, to many here, only illustrates their government’s desperation.

“It’s not up to the government, it’s up to God,” said Vanessa Iraheta, 30, who is seven months pregnant with her second child. “I don’t think the youth will stop having children.”

The virus, known as Zika, has rattled Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly Brazil, where more than 1 million people have been infected and nearly 4,000 children have been born with microcephaly, a rare condition in which babies have unusually small heads.

Other nations around the region have issued warnings similar to El Salvador’s, with officials in Colombia and Ecuador urging women to put off becoming pregnant for months, or until the dangers of the virus are better understood.

But El Salvador’s advice to stop having children for two full years struck many experts as particularly sweeping, leaving them to wonder when else a nation has tried to halt its birthrate in the face of an epidemic.

“I can tell you that I have never read, heard, or encountered a public request like that,” said David Bloom, a professor of economics and demography at the Harvard School of Public Health.

If El Salvador’s advice sounds like a cry for help, critics say, that’s because it is.

“I mean, the futility of saying something like this,” said Dr. Ernesto Selva Sutter, a leading public health expert in El Salvador, shaking his head. “Are you going to stop having sex?”

This small nation is already home to an epidemic of gang violence, pushing tens of thousands of its young people to flee north every year and stretching the government’s resources. By one estimate, El Salvador earned the unenviable title of being the Western Hemisphere’s most violent country.

Now the Zika virus is crashing through its doors. With at least 5,000 cases of Zika in a nation of 6 million, more than 1,500 in the last month alone, the government has been scrambling for solutions. It has dispatched teams of fumigators and treated water supplies to combat the Aedes mosquito, which also carries diseases like dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

Standing water, which allows the insects to breed, is a fact of life here, as are the pools of trash cloaking many city streets in the dense neighbourhoods that carve through the hillsides of the capital.

One community leader said that a government clinic in his neighbourhood shut down three months ago after repeated threats from the gangs, the kind of conditions that experts say make it harder to treat and combat the virus.

The country’s vice minister of health, Eduardo Espinoza, said that the recommendation to stop having children is not the government’s principal approach to the epidemic, but rather a “secondary” strategy stemming from “the fact that these mosquitoes exist and transmit this disease.”

“We see ourselves obligated to make this recommendation to partners trying to get pregnant,” he said.

The World Health Organization said it would not recommend suspending pregnancies for two years.

“There are many questions that need to be answered before making that recommendation,” said Dr. Marcos Espinal, the director of communicable diseases for the Pan American Health Organization.

One of the most important, he said, is whether the country is at the peak of its epidemic. “You have to assess the risk in making such a recommendation of how it will impact the birthrate of a country,” he said.

Other experts said that Zika had brought nations like El Salvador into uncharted territory.

“I have never seen or read of any instance of a government warning its citizens not to get pregnant,” said Dr. Howard Markel, who teaches the history of medicine at the University of Michigan.

Markel cited other medical warnings related to pregnancy: Pregnant women are cautioned by doctors to stay away from anyone with rubella, for instance, because it causes devastating birth defects, including microcephaly.

Early in the AIDS epidemic, when there was no treatment and mothers frequently passed HIV to their babies, he added, “there was some sotto voce debate about whether it was morally ethical for a doctor to advise a woman not to get pregnant because of the risk to her child.”

“But no one said, ‘It’s verboten, don’t do it.'”

The government’s advice to postpone pregnancy for years is a delicate issue in this conservative, religious nation. It would require the ubiquitous use of contraception, which can be complicated in a country that is more than 50 percent Roman Catholic.

Espinoza, the vice health minister, said that the government had not held specific talks about its request for women to refrain from having children. It has, however, asked various religious leaders to press their congregations to clear standing water and clean up trash, as well as use repellent and take other precautionary measures.

“Even if the religious leaders can help us combat these mosquitoes, we still feel obliged to make this recommendation to the couples,” he said, referring to the advice to avoid getting pregnant.

Like the government, the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador seems unprepared for a confrontation. The archbishop has yet to weigh in. Over the weekend, when many expected him to discuss the issue, he was sick and unable to say Sunday mass. The auxiliary bishop, Gregorio Rosa Chavez, indicated that there would be a meeting of bishops next week that might yield some answers.

“Certainly this is a new theme, and it has to be looked at calmly,” he said in an interview. “I think that the church is going to take this very seriously. I would just wait a little.”

Waiting does not appear to be a problem for some women. Unlike many developing nations, the birthrate in El Salvador is already low, and the fear of Zika infecting a child seemed to rank third or fourth on the list of reasons many women cited for why they did not want to get pregnant.

First, they say, is the violence. Gangs operate with impunity and the war between them, as well as with the police, has produced homicide levels not seen since the country’s civil war that ended in 1992.

Women also mentioned economic fears, with severe underemployment and more than a third of the population living under the poverty line.

“It’s not a question of this disease,” said Sara Galdamez, 21, accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter and husband. “Honestly, it’s a question of economics and, well, the state of security.”

Despite the church’s influence, contraception does not appear to be especially stigmatized in El Salvador. Data from the US government suggests that its use here is on par with the United States.


Planned Parenthood cleared in court of any wrong doing and maker of slanderous videos has been indicted.

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Planned Parenthood cleared of any wrong doing. Maker of slanderous videos indicted.

A Texas grand jury has indicted two anti-abortion activists in a case involving covert videos on fetal tissue procurement talks with Planned Parenthood and found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the health group, a district attorney said on Monday.

The grand jury decision was a result of a probe launched last year under Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, who accused Planned Parenthood of the “gruesome harvesting of baby body parts.” No evidence was provided by Texas to back the claim.

The videos released last summer led Texas and several other Republican-controlled states to try to halt funding for local Planned Parenthood operations.

“After a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston Police Department, a Harris County grand jury took no action Monday against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” the Harris County District Attorney’s office said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood has denied the accusation and called the probe politically motivated.


Portrait of David Daleiden, founder of The Center for Medical Progress at the Value Voters Summit on September 25, 2015 in Washington DC. (Charles Omm...

Portrait of David Daleiden, founder of The Center for Medical Progress at the Value Voters Summit on September …

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located.

The two were involved in covert videos last year in which a discussion was held with a Planned Parenthood official on the procurement of fetal tissue.

Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress that released the videos, was also charged with violating a prohibition on the purchase and sale of human organs, a misdemeanor, the Harris County District Attorney said.

The videos purported to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to negotiate prices for aborted fetal tissue. Under federal law, donated human fetal tissue may be used for research, but profiting from its sale is prohibited.

Shortly after the release, Texas, the most populous Republican-controlled U.S. state, said it would launch a probe of Planned Parenthood.

“These people broke the law to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood in order to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of Communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable,” he said.

The Texas governor said: “Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation.”

In October, Texas raided several Planned Parenthood facilities in the state.


Environmental Crisis: The Oceans Will Contain More Plastic Than Fish by 2050

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Environmental Crisis: The Oceans Will Contain More Plastic Than Fish by 2050

By 2050, the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish by weight. The steady leakage of plastic packaging into the oceans—at the rate of one garbage truck full of plastic per minute—has been aided by the lack of a unified global effort to reuse the plastic produced every year. Currently, only 14% of plastic packaging waste is recycled.

But a new initiative, introduced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in a report published in advance of the World Economic Forum, proposes creating a circular economy for plastics. The New Plastics Economy presents three key platforms: creating an effective after-use plastics economy by improving global recycling efforts, reducing the leakage of plastic waste into the environment, and decoupling plastic from the fossil fuels used to create it.

“This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy,” the World Economic Forum’s Dominic Waughray said in a press release.

While the report concedes that the New Plastics Economy is not entirely attainable yet, it promises “an attractive target state for the global value chain and governments to collaboratively innovate towards.” But in contrast to the report’s hopeful plan, the recycling business in the United States is in a period of crisis. With the collapse of global oil prices, the largest recyclers like Waste Management have reported sharp drops in recycling revenue and stagnated recycling rates across the country.



Experts find Sean Penn’s article on Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” appalling and insulting to journalism.

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Experts find Sean Penn’s article on Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” appalling and insulting to journalism. 

Bestselling novelist Don Winslow has written two epics about the Drug War: 2005’s The Power of The Dog and The Cartel, the latter of which was one of the best reviewed novels of 2015 and sold to Fox for a film that will be directed by Ridley Scott. Winslow has spent nearly 20 years researching the Mexican cartels, and the most of the violence in The Cartel is based on real events. He dedicated the book to the more than 100 journalists killed in cartel violence, and named every slain reporter in his intro. He agreed to write for Deadline why he was so appalled by Sean Penn’s El Chapo encounter and subsequent 60 Minutes interview.

“My article failed.”

So Sean Penn tells Charlie Rose.

Well, yes.

As someone who has researched and written about the Mexican cartels and the futile ‘war on drugs’ for coming on twenty years, I know how tough a subject it is. Mind-bending, soul-warping, heartbreaking, it challenges your intellect, your beliefs, your faith in humanity and God. No journalist or writer who has ever tackled it has emerged quite the same – and all too many have not survived at all, but been tortured, mutilated and killed on the orders of such as Joaquin Guzman. (I resist the cute sobriquet of ‘Chapo.’ He is not one of the Seven Dwarfs – not Dopey, or Sneezy or Bashful. He’s a mass murderer.)

When I first heard that Penn had done an interview with Guzman, I was wondering what terms were demanded to grant that interview. Penn has a reputation of not shying away from controversy or hard, unpopular stances. I was hoping that he would ask Guzman questions that would matter.

Mr. Penn tells Charlie Rose that he considers the article a failure because it did not succeed in addressing his real issue – our policies of the ‘war on drugs.’ But in an article of 10,500 words, the phrase ‘war on drugs’ appears three times. It was not the purpose or focus of Penn’s horribly misguided piece.

Sean Penn Charlie Rose

Penn’s article had nothing to do with the forty year, trillion dollar failure that is the ‘war on drugs’ — it was instead a brutally simplistic and unfortunately sympathetic portrait of a mass murderer. Penn thought he had scored a journalistic coup – instead his interview was the by-product of Guzman’s infatuation with a soap-opera actress (Guzman didn’t even know who Penn was) and told the exact story that Guzman wanted – with line by line editorial approval courtesy of Penn and Rolling Stone.

Guzman was never called to answer the hard questions. That’s a shame, because these questions need answers.

I was hoping to hear Guzman explain why, after his first so-called ‘escape’ (I use single-quotes because the word ‘escape’ does not normally encompass the active complicity of one’s jailers and government) in 2001, he launched a campaign of conquest to take over rival cartels’ territories – a brutal war with a body count of over 100,000 lives.

In his article, Penn refers to Guzman’s “unguarded will to speak freely.” Well, I wish I had heard Guzman “speak freely” about the under-aged girls who were routinely brought to him in his luxurious prison ‘cell’ (as Francisco Goldman reported in his excellent New Yorker article, ‘El Chapo III – The Farce Awakens’); about the hit he ordered on rival cartel boss Rodolfo Carillo Fuentes that also killed Fuentes’ wife and launched yet another round of violence that killed thousands.

An entry-level journalist would have pushed Guzman on the many millions of dollars in bribes he has paid to co-opt police, judges and politicians, about his treaty with the sadistic and hideously violent Zetas when it was convenient to him. I would like to have heard about the people on his payroll who dissolved their victims’ bodies in acid, about the decapitations and mutilations, about the blood soaked bodies displayed in public places as intimidation and propaganda. I would like to have known, for instance, how Guzman feels about the 35 people (including 12 women) he had slaughtered because they were allegedly Zetas (this was when he was at war, not peace, with them) only to discover later that they were innocent.

Any thoughts about that, Mr. Guzman? Any feelings?

A reporter less concerned with ‘experiential journalism’ would have asked this “Robin Hood” about being a rat. Would have asked him whether it’s true that starting in 2000, when he was still in prison, Guzman, through his lawyers, gave information to the DEA about rivals. Or that it was a tip from Guzman in 2002 that led to the capture of his rival Benjamin Arellano Felix? Or asked him how he feels about betraying friends and partners to the police, as he did in 2008 when he turned on the Beltran-Leyva brothers, causing yet another ‘war’ that killed hundreds.

Those questions might have wiped the smile off Guzman’s face, which Penn reported he had for over seven hours during their interview.

Seven hours, and Guzman was not asked about the 17 unarmed people his gunmen slaughtered at a drug rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez, again on the suspicion that they were working for a rival cartel. Or, as Oscar Martinez has reported, about the kidnapping, forced labor, mass rape and murder of hundreds of Central American migrants.

Instead we were told by Penn that Guzman “only resorts to violence when he deems it advantageous to himself or his business interests.” I guess that makes it all right, then; and, of course, will be of great comfort to the families of his victims. You know, Guzman ‘needed’ to do it.

Incredibly, there were no questions asked about the murders of many Mexican journalists with their horrifically mutilated bodies left out in public like garbage.

Likewise, Penn failed to ask the hard questions about Guzman’s export of mass amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine to the United States and around the world. Instead, Guzman was allowed to brag about being the world’s biggest drug exporter (a claim his lawyers now deny that he made) without a moral challenge. Guzman and his Sinaloa Cartel partners are directly responsible for the heroin epidemic now causing a record number of overdose deaths in the United States.

But we learned that Guzman has no responsibility for these real-life consequences, because he grew up poor and had no choice, which is an insult to his own people and the many rural Mexicans who have gone on to lead useful, positive lives in which they didn’t kill thousands. Some of them are doctors who have treated his victims, others are nurses who have been murdered in emergency rooms, still others are journalists who gave their lives reporting the truths that this interview neglected.

Instead, we hear about how nice Guzman’s shirt is, how he comes across as a bashful teenager, that he loves his children (including, ostensibly, the son who was killed when he followed his father into the drug trade), that his children love him, that he provides “much needed services in the Sinaloa mountains, funding everything from food and roads to medical relief.”

El ChapoThis last bit is true, but let’s not stop there. Guzman and his cartel have also built clinics, churches and playgrounds. (It’s nice that kids have someplace to play when not being gunned down in cartel crossfires or orphaned in Guzman’s endless wars of ‘self-defense.’) But this tired rationalization of an impoverished youth and the justification of subsequent good deeds have been used by every murderous gangster since the beginning of time.

We learn that this “simple man from a simple place, surrounded by the simple affection of his sons to their father, and his toward them [pardon me while I go vomit] does not strike [Penn] as the big bad wolf of lore.”

It’s not “lore.”

By any objective standard, Joaquin Guzman Loera is an evil man who has caused untold suffering for others.

At some point in time, he will be asked to answer for this.

But not in the article that Penn wrote, and one of the most important issues is why Penn didn’t ask these questions. Penn was clearly so enamored of his subject and the article was further compromised by topics excluded under the agreement and questions that were never asked. Mr. Penn has said that Guzman didn’t request any changes. Why would he? He got to tell the story exactly the way he wanted to tell it.

And I’m shocked that Rolling Stone – fresh off the scandal from its UVA rape debacle – would give editorial approval to a mass murderer in exchange for an interview.

Penn’s story was not a failure because people failed to understand it, as he claimed on 60 Minutes. It is a failure because he failed to understand who he was interviewing, the crimes his subject committed and the responsibility he had to ask real questions. Penn’s failure is further compounded by his 60 Minutes interview, which was as misguided and self-serving as the Rolling Stone article.

I applaud Sean Penn for his important work in New Orleans and Haiti, but I condemn what he did here.

He should apologize and stop trying to explain it. Sometimes wrong is just wrong.


Pakistan rejects a law that would ban child marriage because it’s “un-Islamic”

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Pakistan rejects a law that would ban child marriage because it’s “un-Islamic”

Pakistani lawmakers had to withdraw a bill aimed at curbing the practice of child marriage after a prominent religious body declared the legislation un-Islamic.

The bill, which proposed raising the marriage age for females from 16 to 18, also called for harsher penalties for those who would arrange marriages involving children. Despite the laws in place, child marriages, particularly involving young female brides, are common in parts of the country. It’s estimated that some 20 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.

But the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body which gives advice to parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, appeared to slap down the legislation after deeming it “un-Islamic” and “blasphemous,” according toAgence France Presse. It had already handed down a similar ruling in 2014.

The council has garnered opprobrium in the past. In 2013, reports AFP, “it suggested making DNA inadmissible evidence in rape cases, instead calling for the revival of an Islamic law that makes it mandatory for a survivor to provide four witnesses to back their claims.”

Girls Not Brides, an international coalition of civil society organizations working against child marriage, cited this religious body as an obstacle toward reform. A number of provinces in Pakistan have pushed for legislation cracking down on child marriages, but implementing the law is more difficult.

Clerics on the council object to minimum age requirements, arguing instead that an individual can marry once reaching puberty, which can be as early as the age of 9.


How To Spot A “Spiritual” Sexual Predator.

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How To Spot A Spiritual Sexual Predator
Written by: Chaya Kurtz

The talk of the town last week was about a New York Times profile of an (accused) rapist/serial womanizer/wife-abuser ex-rabbi who essentially got kicked out of the Jewish world and has successfully resurrected himself as a new-age guru. His name is Marc Gafni, and I actually know/know-people-who-know women whom he messed with. I heard about him years ago at a Shabbos table — some people who had left his sphere of influence were discussing his move to Boulder and said, “I don’t know why he keeps trying to work in the Jewish world. He should go to the new age — they don’t care about sexual propriety.” Apparently he had the same idea.

It surprises me not an iota that a sexual predator would become a prominent new-age guru. The guru-student relationship is fertile land for sexual misbehavior to flourish in. There are too many guru sexual predators to list, but I’ll highlight a few who were exposed relatively recently: John Friend of Anusara Yoga, Bikram Choudury of Bikram Yoga, Eido Shimano Roshi of New York Zen Studies Society, Joshu Sasaki Roshi of Rinzai-ji, Swami Shankarananda of Shiva School Of Meditation And Yoga, and Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.

They’re not just gurus. There are also mystics, sensitive new age guys, extremely “spiritual” people who are actually lowlifes, and activists/idealists who are in it for the booty. There are certain things they do; certain men they are. Look out for:

The Spiritual Man Who Thinks You’re Special: You are a light in the darkness to him. He is your teacher, and he sees soooooo much brilliance and potential in you. You are what he needs, and he is what you need — spiritually, of course. Or he wants to personally help you. You, more than anyone, are worth his precious spiritual energy and time.

The Spiritual Man Who Wants To See You Outside Of Class: Why would a charismatic, “enlightened” man want to see you outside of class? Why would he invite you into his home, into his inner-circle, into his family, or to his most exclusive retreats? Because he wants to do something inappropriate and he’s getting you used to being alone with him.

The Man Who Wants To Spiritually Connect With You — Through Your Body: This guy can take any scripture of any spiritual tradition and twist it to convincingly to mean that spiritual connection is best experienced through sexual connection. Selling teenagers into prostitution? Having multiple wives and mistresses? He’s got scripture to back it up.

The Spiritual Man Who Pierces You With His Eyes: His gaze is unbelievably powerful. When he looks at you, you swear he can see right to your soul. Why do they always pierce you with their eyes? It’s a move of control and dominance. I once had a creepy swami try to pierce me with his eyes, and I left his ashram within 10 minutes.

The Spiritual Man Who Wants To Touch You: Eyes on you turns into hands on you. He’s so spiritual that he wants to heal you hands-on. Or he invites you in for a private session only to reach up your shirt. Since he thinks he’s G-d, he feels entitled to your body. Question what he’s doing and he’ll back it up with scripture, or explain to you that it’s part of the teacher-student relationship.

The Spiritual Man Whose Love And Non-Attachment Are Superior To Everyone Else’s: He challenges you to be strong enough to handle his love. He’s not sure if you have what it takes to be loved by him, and he wants you to prove it. And/or he is a master of non-attachment. He wants to prove how good he is at not getting attached by getting intimate with you and not giving a crap. He convinces you that you are weak because you have human feelings, and he is strong and enlightened because he is a master of non-attachment. He’s not a womanizer — he’s just really good at not getting attached!

The Humble Man Who Talks About Himself — A Lot: I’ve met way too many of these guys. All conversations lead back to him. He is so humble that he doesn’t even have his own possessions or home — instead, he’s going to mooch off of you and other women. Counter something he says, and he’s going to throw the humble card at you: If you don’t agree with him (or you don’t flatter him), you’re arrogant. Since he is so humble, you are assaulting him by disagreeing with him.

The Very, Very Sensitive New Age Guy: This man has feelings. His feelings are very strong. You must never hurt his feelings, though he is free to hurt yours. He is a master of using psycho-babble and “non-violent communication”. You make him feel a certain way — he is never responsible for controlling his own feelings.

The Religious Man To Whom The Rules Don’t Apply: He sure knows all the rules. He can recite them backward and forward, in multiple languages (Sanskrit! Hebrew! Hindi!). He is fastidious in tiny details that inconvenience other people (his special way of washing his hands! his special diet!), but when it comes to, you know, like, not raping people, the rules don’t apply to him. His spiritual position entitles him to exploit you however he wants to!

The Crusader For Justice Who Makes You Feel Dumb: This man knows everything about justice. He knows the key to world peace. He quotes Marx, Mandela, and Maimonides in the same sentence. He knows Angela Davis personally. If there was a big protest, he was not only there but he was on the front lines fighting the cops and he has a scar on his inner thigh that he wants to show you to prove it. This man is committed to The Cause above all. So lofty is his goal that he doesn’t need to be nice to regular people like you. He can be nasty, denigrating, rude — all in the name of The Cause. Call him out on it and you’re siding with the oppressor.

The Married Man Who Tells His Marital Problems To You: This spiritual master has a spiritual advisor — a very famous guru — but even that guru can’t empathize with his marital problems. Thank the goddess that you can, though. It turns out that in every way that his wife lacks, you are just brimming over. Why can’t his wife be more like you, he asks you.

The Enlightened Man Who Tells You All About How Men & Women Are Supposed To Relate To Each Other/How Women Should Be: This guy is an expert on gender. He knows every religious or spiritual reason why women should be subservient to men. He presents his “knowledge” as absolute truth. If you don’t relate to him on his terms, he’ll educate you on how to be a better woman. He’s on a special mission to teach very young women (even girls) how to be women.

The Clergy Man/Guru Who Wants Your Money: He can convince almost anyone (and especially women) to financially support his “mission”. If it’s not by promising salvation if you give him money, it’s by inviting you to very, very expensive retreats. Want private healing sessions or lessons in spiritual practice? One way or another, you’ll pay for them.

Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?

The Healer Who Has A Special Treatment Just For You: This man has identified that something is wrong with you. There is something wrong with you that only he has identified because he is so enlightened. It is critical that he, and only he, heal you. What? Having sex with him is part of the treatment? How surprising!

A final word: These creepy guys are out there in droves, and almost everyone who is involved in religion and/or spirituality will meet one at some point. Nobody who is on a high spiritual level will pressure you for sex. Period. People who are genuine spiritual teachers or activists will speak to you respectfully. Full stop. There is a big difference between being wowed by the intelligent way a man speaks and being treated respectfully by that man. Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, get out.


The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

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The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

By now, you’ve probably heard of gluten-free diets. They’re a necessity for the estimated 2 million Americans with celiac disease. For them, eating gluten can trigger an immune response in their small intestines, damaging the organ’s villi that help absorb nutrients. Excluding the protein from their diets saves celiac disease sufferers from intense bouts of intestinal discomfort and other symptoms.

But for many other Americans, eliminating gluten probably does little to ease their symptoms.


Bread made from wheat contains the protein gluten.

That finding comes from a new study led by Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia. Gibson is the same researcher who published a paper in 2011 that reported gluten sensitivity in non-celiac patients. The results of that paper didn’t sit well with him, so he designed a more rigorous study involving 37 patients who didn’t have celiac disease but reported feeling better when on a gluten-free diet.

Ross Pomeroy, writing at Real Clear Science:

Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. […]

They were first fed a diet low in FODMAPs for two weeks (baseline), then were given one of three diets for a week with either 16 grams per day of added gluten (high-gluten), 2 grams of gluten and 14 grams of whey protein isolate (low-gluten), or 16 grams of whey protein isolate (placebo). Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating. After the main experiment, a second was conducted to ensure that the whey protein placebo was suitable. In this one, 22 of the original subjects shuffled through three different diets — 16 grams of added gluten, 16 grams of added whey protein isolate, or the baseline diet — for three days each.

After the subjects moved off the baseline diet and onto one of the treatment diets, they reported more intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea, regardless of whether the treatment diet was high-gluten, low-gluten, or placebo.

The placebo results were what really stood out to Gibson—patients who received the same diet in the baseline and treatment phases still reported a worsening of symptoms. Gibson says this is a nocebo effect—in other words, it was all in their heads.

So what’s causing these symptoms? Gibson and his co-authors Jessica Biesiekierski and Jane Muir think FODMAPs are a leading candidate. Gluten-free diets seem to help people who report gluten sensitivity because those foods often happen to be free of FODMAPs, the researchers report. Though FODMAP may be an ominous sounding acronym, compounds in the group are found in many everyday foods, nearly all of which are unprocessed and include apples, asparagus, artichokes, milk, pistachios, pears, and lentils.


Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa.

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Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa. 

The largest statue of Jesus in Africa was unveiled on Friday in the country of Nigeria, with hundreds of spectators present.

According to Christian Today, the statue is nearly 30 feet tall and weighs 40 tons. It has been named “Jesus de Greatest.”

It was commissioned by a local businessman named Obinna Onunoha who had previously funded the building of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Abajah, Nigeria. The statue was erected on the grounds of St. Aloysius.

When asked why he commissioned the statue Onunoha stated, “Asking why I constructed this statue is like asking how do I came to this world, I am a Christian and a Catholic and Jesus statue represents my faith. I believe we are here on earth for different purposes and each person moves with his/her instincts, and I was motivated to do this to build up the faith of this community.”

The population of Nigeria is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims. The terrorist attacks of Muslim extremist group Boko Haram have caused unrest, especially in the northern region of the country.

Onunoha believes that the Jesus statue will bring tourists to the church to see the statue.

Bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma of St. Aloysius said the statue will be a “great symbol of Christian faith.”


One Year Later – Honoring Charlie Hebdo, and all who challenge society with a pen.

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On the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo we must defend the right to blaspheme.

The names of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office which occurred a year ago today, are at the beginning of a long and bloody list of people who faced violence in 2015 for supposedly blasphemous speech.

Similarly-motivated attacks were not uncommon.

Four secular bloggers were slaughtered with machetes in Bangladesh because of their writing; a woman wrongly accused of blasphemy was beaten to death, run over with a car, and set on fire by a crowd in Afghanistan; gunmen targeted events critical of Islam in Denmark and Texas.

Even more alarming is the prevalence of violence against blasphemers perpetrated not by vigilantes, but by governments. A 2012 study found that almost a quarter of the world’s countries maintain blasphemy laws. These laws—often deployed to silence critics of government as well as religion—are dangerous even when they’re not enforced. Their very existence inspires self-censorship from people who rightly fear violent consequences for expressing themselves freely. Unfortunately, such laws have been used to do much more than simply chill speech.

Only days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Saudi Arabia—a leading country on a United Nations human rights panel—began the flogging punishments of blogger Raif Badawi for “insulting Islam.” The lashings have been halted, but could begin again at any time, and Badawi remains in prison. Saudi Arabia also sentenced another man to death for ripping up a Koran and hitting it with a shoe, and arrested an Indian man for ‘liking’ a post with “blasphemous content” on social media.

In Pakistan, two men were given the death sentence for blasphemy, and more were arrested for the same crime.

Nigeria sentenced Muslim cleric Aminu Abdul Nyass and eight of his devotees to death for—you guessed it—blasphemy.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait considered or passed laws strengthening their ability to punish speech that insults the sensitivities of gods and their adherents.

Poland, upheld its blasphemy law in October, reaffirming that it would punish “whoever offends religious feelings of other people by publicly insulting an object of religious cult.”

Last January, the world witnessed numerous declarations of unwavering support for the principles of freedom of speech. But as we look back at how religious dissent was suppressed in the past year, those words ring empty. Dissidents around the world are still being violently silenced simply because their mere words about the divine depart from the views of the majority. That’s not a state of affairs we should find tolerable. The right to voice opposition to other people’s gods is as important as their right to express belief in them.

The best way to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack is to renew our condemnations of threats to freedom of expression, whether those threats strike close to home or far away, and to call on leaders to stand firm against violent censorship, whatever its form.


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