Washington, Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare for their first 2020 primary debate this week, 74 medical and public health groups aligned on Monday to push for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, bluntly defined by the organizations as "a health emergency."
The new climate change agenda released by the groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, comes amid early jostling among Democratic candidates over whose environmental platform is more progressive. The health organizations' policy recommendations, while a stark departure from President Donald Trump's approach, represent a back-to-basics approach for an internal Democratic climate debate that has so far revolved around the liberal precepts of the Green New Deal .
"The health, safety and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change," the medical and public health groups wrote in their climate agenda, shared with The Associated Press in advance of its release.
Among other things, the groups are pressing elected officials and presidential candidates to "meet and strengthen U.S. commitments" under the 2015 United Nations climate agreement from which Trump has vowed to withdraw. They're also pushing for some form of carbon pricing, although without any reference to potential taxation of emissions, and "a plan and timeline for reduction of fossil fuel extraction in the U.S."
Former Vice President Joe Biden's climate change plan, released earlier this month, tracks broadly with several of the medical and public health groups' priorities. While the groups call for a reduction in petroleum and natural gas use in transportation, they do not go as far as several of Biden's rivals in supporting an outright ban on the oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock.
Other groups signing onto the list of climate policy priorities include the American Lung Association, the American College of Physicians and multiple state-level and academic public health organizations. That the agenda's endorsing groups do not operate with "a political axe to grind" could help them draw more attention to climate change, said Ed Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
For voters who view climate change "primarily as a threat to things in the environment, like polar bears," talking about the issue as a health problem could reframe their thinking, Maibach said.
"It's incredibly helpful when health professionals point out the actual reality of the situation, point out that this is also a threat to our health and well-being now ... and it's likely to get worse, much worse, if we don't take action to address it," he said.
Dhaka, Jun 24 (UNB) - It’s essential to take time out for travelling as vacations not only help release stress but also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, reveals a new study, reports the Indian Express.
The study, published in Psychology and Health journal, found that a vacation can help people reduce their metabolic symptoms and therefore their risk of cardiovascular disease.
“What we found is that people who vacation more frequently in the past 12 months have a lowered risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms,” said Bryce Hruska, Assistant Professor at Syracuse University, US.
“Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you have more of them you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is important because we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease the more vacationing a person does. Because metabolic symptoms are modifiable, it means they can change or be eliminated,” Hruska added.
For the study, the researchers included 63 employees eligible for paid vacation. The participants underwent blood tests and completed an interview assessing vacationing behaviour in the past 12 months.
The study’s findings showed that the risk for metabolic syndrome decreased by nearly a quarter with each additional vacation taken by participants.
Researchers suggest it is important for people to use the vacation time available to them.
“One of the important takeaways is that vacation time is available to nearly 80 per cent of full-time employees, but fewer than half utilize all the time available to them. Our research suggests that if people use more of this benefit, one that’s already available to them, it would translate into a tangible health benefit,” Hruska concluded.
Dhaka, June 23 (UNB) - The holiday season is here. Time for more outings, more playtime and precious moments with loved ones. Unfortunately, it can also be a period of mindless binging. It is advisable that you include something healthy in your diet. Something that is easy on the palate and could help us sail through the scorching summers, reports The Indian Express.
Here is one of the most loved summery mocktail from my workshop. I love picking up the most unused and the most boycotted ingredients of all times. This time I opted for beetroot. People either like it or dislike it. But despite its taste, the plethora of health benefits that this red beauty offers, makes it one of the coolest superfoods of today’s time.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of the Beetroot Float recipe.
8 medium beetroots, peeled and grated
Salt to taste
2 tsp – Sugar
2 cups – Yoghurt
3 tsp – Roasted cumin powder
Black salt to taste
Brown sugar to decorate
A piece of muslin cloth
Note: I used a wine glass for the mocktail.
Please note that the leftover grated beetroot can be an interesting ingredient for some spicy Beetroot Cutlets or Parathas.
Health benefits of beetroot:
It is often advised to consume beetroot in its raw form, which naturally retains all the essential nutrients. Beetroot is packed with Vitamins A, C, K, beta-carotene, polyphenols, antioxidants and folate, all of which helps to boost blood count and immunity. Consumption of beetroot helps lower blood pressure. Beetroot has anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties that help flush out toxins from the body, which reflects as a healthy and glowing skin.
Columbia, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — Twenty Democratic presidential candidates attending a Planned Parenthood forum on Saturday vowed to defend abortion rights under nearly any circumstance while largely ignoring nuances around the issue that have already roiled their party heading into the 2020 election.
The event sponsored by Planned Parenthood Action Fund — the group’s political arm — was the first of the election season centered on abortion. It came on the sidelines of the South Carolina Democratic Party’s state convention, a pivotal gathering of the party faithful in the South’s first primary state.
The candidates were united in decrying a series of tough, recent abortion restrictions approved by Republican-controlled legislatures around the country geared to ultimately provoke a Supreme Court case that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Those efforts have come alongside attempts to strip taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, which abortion rights advocates and some leading medical groups say would make it harder for low-income women to get access to basic health care, not only abortion.
“We’ve been on defense for 47 years and it’s not working,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Warren, who turned 70 on Saturday, said trying to restrict abortion usually boils down to sexism.
“You’re not going to lock women back in the kitchen. You’re not going to tell us what to do,” she declared, eliciting a standing ovation from hundreds in the crowd, many sporting pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts.
Most Democratic voters support abortion rights, though the issue doesn’t always energize the party’s base in South Carolina and other conservative states. Despite that, the Democrats vying for the chance to try and unseat President Donald Trump next year were unwavering in their support for the procedure and in their defense of Planned Parenthood — showing just how far the party has moved compared to presidential races in recent memory.
“If President Trump wants a war on America’s women, it’s a war he’s going to have and it’s a war he’s going to lose,” declared New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
California Sen. Kamala Harris promised to create a federal system of “preclearance” mandating that states passing major abortion restrictions be subject to federal review, similar to how states with histories of racial discrimination long had their electoral rules scrutinized under the Voting Rights Act.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said things have come a long way since even the 2016 Democratic primary, when activists had to fight to get moderators at general subject debates to ask about abortion and often faced responses like, “They’re all pro-choice so why should we would waste time talking to that?’”
Even as the party’s top candidates more openly embrace abortion rights, tensions around them have nonetheless already shaken up the 2020 Democratic field. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in early polls, long supported the “Hyde Amendment,” a congressional ban on using taxpayer money to pay for most abortions. But Biden dramatically reversed himself earlier this month amid intense criticism from his fellow Democrats.
Pressed by forum moderators about that change of heart and his overall “mixed record” on abortion rights, Biden responded, “I’m not sure about the mixed record part.”
Later, a tearful audience member declared that the Hyde Amendment did disproportional damage to low-income women who rely on government funding for many health care services, including abortion.
Biden noted that he helped former President Barack Obama pass that administration’s signature health care law which expanded women’s health insurance coverage, including improved access to birth control. He also referred several times to written notes and seemed unnerved by the forum’s 15-minute per candidate limit, joking, “What, do I have 10 seconds left or something?”
The other candidates avoided mentioning Biden by name, and most didn’t reference his Hyde Amendment flip-flop. An exception was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who told the crowd, “Can we just be clear that, if you’re a Democrat you’re against the Hyde Amendment, period?”
The forum comes before the field gathers in Miami next week for the first Democratic presidential debates. Gillibrand suggested that the success of male candidates could keep female and minority White House hopefuls from subsequent debates since they’ve struggled to meet minimum, required thresholds in fundraising and polling support to secure invites.
“Pick your top five. Send them money. Make sure they make it to the debate stage,” Gillibrand said of female and minority candidates.
The forum drew some protesters who spent part of the morning outside it, waving black-and-white signs reading, “I am the Pro-life Generation” and “Defund Planned Parenthood.” South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick called the Democratic candidates “a group of radicals.”
“In what is many of these Democrats first visit to South Carolina, it’s amazing to see that their first stop is to go pay homage to the radical pro-abortion lobby at Planned Parenthood,” McKissick said in a statement.
Dhaka, June 22 (UNB) - Is your kitchen bin or recycling overflowing with plastic bags, containers and produce wrapping? Plastic has become so commonplace that it's easy to overlook how much of it you use and to forget that it doesn’t just disappear when it leaves your home, reports BBC.
More than 320 million tonnes of plastic was produced globally in 2015, over 40 per cent of which was single-use. Recycling helps to tackle the problem, but as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Anita Rani explain in BBC One's War on Plastic, the plastic you put in a recycling bin doesn't always get recycled.
How can you ditch plastic in favour of more sustainable kitchen habits? It could be simpler than you think.
Which bag is best?
Once upon a time, the average person in England got through 140 single-use plastic carrier bags a year. We have slashed this by a staggering 86 per cent, partly due to the plastic bag tax and a heightened awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic on the environment. But major retailers in England still sold 1.75 billion plastic bags between April 2017 and April 2018.
When it comes to choosing a bag, do you know your options?
It takes more than four times as much energy to produce a paper bag as it does a plastic bag. Paper also weighs more than plastic, making transport emissions higher.
The Environment Agency finds that paper bags need to be used at least three times to have lower global warming potential than standard plastic bags used only once. But paper bags do not tend to be reused. However, paper is recycled at a higher rate than plastic, so landfill is less of a problem.
By comparison, a bag for life, made of low-density polyethylene, needs to be used at least four times. While this seems doable, it still adds to plastic pollution if you throw it away. Cotton bags need to be used 131 times, but they last well and cut down on plastic pollution dramatically.
Whatever type of bags you use, the key to minimising environmental impact is to use them as often as possible until they break and then return them to a supermarket bag collection point, which many chains now provide. Lots of these 'bins' also accept plastic wrap from bread, cereal boxes, toilet roll, freezer bags, ring-joiners and lots of other single-use plastic items. Ask in store if you're not sure if your shop has one or what it accepts.
Is plastic ever better?
Some vegetables, such as cucumbers, bananas, peppers and potatoes, and meats such as beef, can last much longer when wrapped in plastic. This is due to the oxygen-free environment or micro-climate that can be created.
So which is worse for the environment – plastic or food waste? We enter the plastic paradox.
According to anti-waste charity WRAP, increasing the shelf life of produce by just one day would save UK shoppers up to £500 million per year by cutting back on their food waste.
One way to avoid the need for long-life fresh ingredients is to shop for them locally so that you can easily pop back when you want something. “Veg box deliveries and local markets or greengrocers are a way of ditching packaging while supporting local businesses”, says Emma Priestland, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
Kathryn Kellogg, the founder of Going Zero Waste and author of '101 Ways to Go Zero Waste', recommends shopping for whole foods rather than processed. "Most of the processed foods we buy come in a lot of packaging and fruits and vegetables tend to come with less. Bring your own container to buy meat and cheese from the deli and butcher. If available, you can also grab staples like nuts, grains and legumes from bulk bins”.
Pasta, rice and dried beans and pulses are often sold wrapped in plastic and if they weren’t they could be spoiled by water damage or breakage, creating food waste. Check if there is a plastic-free shop offering refill schemes near to you, then take along reusable containers.
To keep food fresh without plastic at home, Kathryn suggests you store “kale, herbs and asparagus like bouquets in a glass jar half full of water. Submerge your carrots and celery completely in water and they'll stay crisp for weeks! Store greens wrapped in a towel in a mixing bowl with a lid on and they'll stay crunchy. Keep berries in a mason jar with a lid that prevents air or moisture from getting inside so they'll stay fresh all week.”
Many major UK supermarkets have pledged to reduce avoidable unrecyclable plastic packaging while slashing the amount of food waste produced. So in the future we could start seeing better alternatives and new solutions to plastic that increase shelf-life.
Utensils and storage
“When it comes to spoons, spatulas, cutlery and everything else you use to cook and eat, opt for wooden or metal utensils. But don’t go to your kitchen right now and chuck out all your plastic utensils. Keep on using the plastic items you already have, and then when they reach the end of their life, look at replacing them with plastic-free alternatives”, says plastics campaigner Emma Priestland.
If you're taking your own food to work, school or college, you're already on the right track. Purchasing lunches such as sandwiches, soups and meals-to-go from shops involves a lot of single-use plastic. Reusing a box, no matter what it's made from, is key. “A steel lunchbox is perfect for taking your food to work – it won’t be prone to cracks or discolouring in the same way as a plastic one”, says Emma.
For those who can afford them, beeswax wraps are an alternative to clingfilm – you can wipe them down and if the wax starts to come off or you accidentally melt it, you can recoat the wrap with wax yourself. However, the environmental impact of them at scale is not clear.
It's best to freeze leftovers in reusable boxes rather than freezer bags or cling film. But try not to forget it’s in the freezer and label everything clearly so you know what you're defrosting!
If you buy a lot of bottled fizzy water or drinks, consider investing in a water carbonator. It will allow you to carbonate tap water instantly and store it in a glass bottle, rather than buying single-use plastic bottles.
The key is to use all your belongings until they break. When you have to buy something new, weigh up the options and decide what works best for you and the planet. Kathryn Kellogg says “of course, we don't live in a perfect zero-waste and plastic-free world. We can only do the best we can.”