Category Archives: ALPHA

8 Ways to Detox Your Home

We are exposed to more synthetic chemicals in our food, air and water, than ever before. While many people avoid chemicals in their food, the sad fact remains that most people arent aware of the nasty toxins they may inadvertently invite into their homes. While there really are countless ways to give your home a detox, here are 8 of the best ways to eliminate excess toxins from your home:

1. Skip the So-called Air Fresheners: Dont be duped by commercials claiming that you may be suffering from “nose blindness,” declaring that you need to spray air fresheners to eliminate odors in your home. Does nose-blindness actually sound right to the advertisers, or anyone for that matter? Whether they come in ozone-depleting aerosol cans, plug-in, candle or spray bottle forms, the vast majority have been found to contain dangerous phthalates. These nasty chemicals are linked to abnormally-developed male genitalia, poor semen quality, low testosterone levels and other reproductive issues. And, if that isnt bad enough, they typically contain lighter fluid, acetone (the same ingredient that makes up nail polish remover), liquefied petroleum gas and a dizzying array of other toxic ingredients that increase the risk of breathing disorders.

2. Reduce the Amount of Plastic You Use: Just because you may have switched to BPA-Free (Bisphenol-A) plastic doesnt mean you are safe from the damage plastics can cause. Many manufacturers removed BPA from their plastics, replacing the toxic ingredient with equally damaging compounds known as EAs, which is short for estrogen activity. These synthetic chemicals pose a threat to human health, and to children in particular, increasing aggression, damaging the immune system, and wreaking havoc on hormones. Switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles, food storage containers, or other household items.

3. Stop Heating Food in Plastic Containers in a Microwave Oven: The heat increases the leaching of the toxic ingredients into the food stored in them. In research published in the journal Environmental Health, both BPA-free plastic and BPA-containing plastic were found to have estrogen activity, which means that they can throw off the delicate hormonal balance when they leech into our food or water.

4. Make the Laundry Switch: Most commercially-available laundry detergents and fabric softeners are loaded with harmful, and even cancer-causing, ingredients. While it may be tempting to assume that the amounts used were approved by the government as safe, the vast majority of ingredients used in laundry products were never tested for safety prior to their being allowed for use in consumer products. Heres a sampling of the chemicals in most laundry products: alpha-terpineol (linked to disorders of the brain and nervous system, loss of muscle control, depression and headaches), Benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer) and pentane (linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness and depression).

Related: How to Make Your Own Fabric Softener and Laundry Soap

5. Stop Cooking with Teflon-coated Cookware: Teflon, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, has been linked to cancer, birth defects and heart disease. DuPont, the makers of this nasty carcinogen, declared in an interview with the Washington Post over a decade ago, that: processes will be developed to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants. However, more and more research shows that were paying a high price for this non-stick cookwareits showing up in tissue samples from most humans along with the drinking water of over 6.5 million Americans. Some samples ranged between 5 and 175 times the level considered safe by new research. Simply choose Teflon-free cookware options, including many that seem to be much safer non-stick choices.

6. Start Filtering Your Drinking Water: Our tap water now contains a myriad of toxic ingredients, including: lead, chlorine, fluoride and even sometimes prescription medications and hormones. As you learned above, 6.5 million Americans now drink water with Teflon. Choose the best quality water filter you can afford. If thats a simple pitcher model, it is likely better than nothing at all (assuming you choose one that isnt loaded with all sorts of chemical ingredients).

7. Add a Water Filter to Your Showerhead: While youre picking up a water filter, be sure to add one to your shower head. There are many affordable options that simply attach to a standard showerhead. Most of our water now contains chlorine, which we breathe in and absorb through our skin in the shower; however, most showerhead filters remove chlorine.

8. Choose Sustainable and Healthier Flooring Options: Carpets contain a whole host of toxic ingredients including the carcinogen formaldehyde. Vinyl plank flooring and linoleum can off-gas chemicals for years after they are installed. Choose wood, tile, bamboo, cork or another type of healthy flooring option when you are renovating or building your home.

Related:
Dont Believe in Herbal Medicine? 10 Things to Change Your Mind
The 5 Best Herbs to Soothe Your Nerves
Should You Actually Starve a Fever?

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worlds Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8 Ways to Detox Your Home

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will host the opening reception Wednesday evening for a conference where a recently bankrupt coal company will be a guest of honor. The annual Distressed Investing Summit will bestow one of its “Restructuring Deal of the Year” awards to Arch Coal for clearing $5 billion in debt after it filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

“They emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 after shedding huge amount of debt, obligations to workers, and environmental cleanup,” Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt says. “When a company is in bankruptcy, you don’t have a lot of leverage in there with all the lawyers and stakeholders. To have them feted at Mar-a-Lago as a turnaround is salt in the wound for workers and people representing the public interest.”

The summit, hosted by financial company The M&A Advisor, has held its opening cocktail reception at Mar-a-Lago for the past two years, ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for president. In its invitation email, M&A Advisor names Arch Coal as one of its winners alongside a number of other firms, including energy companies Alpha Natural Resources, Midstates Petroleum Company, and Venoco, an oil and gas development company.

Here’s how the invitation describes Mar-a-Lago, “the new Winter White House”:

The agenda for roundtables that are held at a nearby hotel reads like a laundry list of Trump’s campaign themes: “Making America Great Again,” “Informing and Silencing The Media,” and the “Art of Dealmaking: Getting Deals Done In The New Economic Order.”

Not everyone agrees that Arch Coal’s 2016 bankruptcy deal warrants celebration. During the bankruptcy proceedings, environmental opposition forced the company to abandon its proposal that taxpayers should foot the entire bill to clean up its abandoned mines. The company also laid off hundreds of its miners that same year.

In the years before bankruptcy, United Mine Workers of America complained that Arch Coal moved 40 percent of its employees’ health care coverage to Patriot Coal, a volatile offshoot company. When Patriot went under, those health benefits were at risk and continue to be because of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy. Patriot and Arch Coal are only two examples of a larger problem. The union shop has been pressing Congress for a long-term solution for 22,000 miners’ benefits in jeopardy because of coal bankruptcies—an issue that won’t go away no matter what happens to federal environmental regulations.

The idea that the coal industry can recover is a cherished narrative for Trump. Earlier this week, at a campaign-style rally in Kentucky, the president claimed that he will “save our coal industry” and put miners back to work with executive orders that are expected any day. Trump likes to blame “terrible job-killing” regulations, but there are other pressures beyond federal regulation driving coal out of business, namely competitive natural gas.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday evening, a coal turnaround will be celebrated. Even though it might only be, as the Sierra Club’s Hitt notes, “one of many of the alternative facts they like to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago.”

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

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Meet the Latest Trump Aide Who’s Even Worse Than All the Other Trump Aides

Mother Jones

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The White House is like a rotten onion these days: every time we peel back a layer, it smells worse and worse. First we all heard about Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News CEO who plays the Rasputin role in the West Wing, whispering in Donald Trump’s ear about Muslim terrorists and Mexican rapists. Then we all learned about Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old wunderkind who is, if anything, even more glib and hardcore than Bannon. Now we’re all learning about Sebastian Gorka:

For years, Gorka had labored on the fringes of Washington and the far edge of acceptable debate as defined by the city’s Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite. Today, the former national security editor for the conservative Breitbart News outlet occupies a senior job in the White House and his controversial ideas — especially about Islam — drive Trump’s populist approach to counterterrorism and national security.

….For him, the terrorism problem has nothing to do with repression, alienation, torture, tribalism, poverty, or America’s foreign policy blunders and a messy and complex Middle East. “This is the famous approach that says it is all so nuanced and complicated,” Gorka said in an interview. “This is what I completely jettison.”

For him, the terror threat is rooted in Islam and “martial” parts of the Koran that he says predispose some Muslims to acts of terror. “Anybody who downplays the role of religious ideology . . . they are deleting reality to fit their own world,” he said.

Last month, as he celebrated at the inaugural ball…Gorka said he had one last message for America’s troops — “the guys inside the machine” — and its enemies. He turned toward the host, his medal glinting in the TV lights. “The alpha males are back,” he said.

It’s a sewer in there. But here’s the funny thing: Gorka might well be right but for entirely the wrong reasons. Young men who live in a wide swath of the world stretching from North Africa to Central Asia probably are more prone to violence than they are in the developed North. But it has nothing to do with Islam. That’s just the handiest thing to latch onto. It’s all about lead:

The Trumpies got struck down for temporarily banning immigration from a set of seven seemingly arbitrary countries, so instead they should create a rule that temporarily bans immigration from any country that phased out leaded gasoline later than, say, 2001. They might have to fiddle a bit with the numbers, which they have plenty of experience doing, and maybe add some weird second condition in order to get only the countries they want, but with a little creativity they could make it work. And it’s not based on ethnicity, religion, or even nationality. You’re welcome!

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Meet the Latest Trump Aide Who’s Even Worse Than All the Other Trump Aides

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The Private Prison Industry Is Licking Its Chops Over Trump’s Deportation Plans

Mother Jones

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Immigration agents sparked panic across the country last week, when a series of high-profile operations made it clear that a new era of crackdowns on undocumented immigrants had begun. Coming on the heels of a couple of major executive orders on immigration, the arrests and deportations were a very public reminder of President Donald Trump’s promise to deport upwards of 2 million immigrants upon taking office.

But given that America’s detention system for immigrants has been running at full capacity for some time now, where is the president going to put all of these people before deporting them?

In new jails, for starters. In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting “immediately,” his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies. The scale of that expansion became clearer on February 5, when the Los Angeles Times reported on a memo handed down in late January from White House immigration experts to top Homeland Security officials. The document called for raising the number of immigrants ICE incarcerates daily, nationwide, to 80,000 people.

Last year, ICE detained more than 352,000 people. The number of detainees held each day, typically between 31,000 and 34,000, reached a historic high of about 41,000 people in the fall, as Customs and Border Protection apprehended more people on the southwest border while seeing a simultaneous rise in asylum seekers. But doubling the daily capacity to 80,000 “would require ICE to sprint to add more capacity than the agency has ever added in its entire history,” says Carl Takei, staff attorney for the ACLU’s National Prison Project. It would also take an extra $2 billion in government funding per year, detention experts interviewed by Mother Jones estimated. And, Takei warned, “we don’t know if 80,000 is where he’ll stop.”

Yet even if ICE does not adopt an 80,000-person detention quota, other changes laid out in Trump’s executive orders suggest that vastly more people will be detained in the coming months and years. For example, Trump ordered ICE to prioritize deporting not only immigrants who been convicted or charged with crimes, but also those who had “committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense”—a category that could include entering the country illegally and driving without a license. Trump also ordered Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who oversees ICE, to take “all appropriate actions” to detain undocumented immigrants while their cases are pending.

Beyond that, ICE could stop granting parole to asylum seekers, explains Margo Schlanger, a former Obama administration official who served as Homeland Security’s top authority on civil rights. With ICE taking enforcement action against more categories of immigration offenders and releasing fewer of them, Schlanger says, “we could get to a very large sum of people in detention very quickly.”

It’s not difficult to guess who profits. In an earnings call last week, the private prison giant CoreCivic (formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) announced that it saw the ICE detention expansion as a business opportunity. “When coupled with the above average rate of crossings along the southwest border, these executive orders appear likely to significantly increase the need for safe, humane, and appropriate detention bed capacity that we have available,” CoreCivic President and CEO Damon Hininger said.

As of November, a whopping 65 percent of ICE detainees were held in facilities run by private prison companies, which typically earn a fee per detainee per night and whose business model depends upon minimizing costs to return profits to their shareholders. Since Trump’s election, private prison stocks have soared, and two new, for-profit detention centers are opening in Georgia and Texas.

Another private prison company, Management & Training Corp., is reportedly seeking a contract with ICE to reopen the Willacy County Correctional Institution, a troubled detention camp that held up to 2,000 ICE detainees in Kevlar tents between 2006 and 2011. “Historically, ICE has relied heavily on the private prison industry every time the detention system has expanded,” Takei says. “There’s little doubt in my mind that they will continue to rely on the private prison industry in what’s going to be the biggest expansion of the agency in history.”

The first new detention center contracts will likely take the form of arrangements between ICE and local governments to reopen empty prison facilities as detention centers or rent beds in existing local jails, Takei says. The arrangements, known intergovernmental service agreements, allow ICE to cut deals with local governments and private prison companies while avoiding a lengthy public bidding process. Occasionally, the local government agrees to hold ICE detainees alongside inmates in their publicly run jail—an arrangement a Department of Homeland Security subcommittee recently called “the most problematic” option for holding detainees. But most of the time, local governments simply act as middlemen in deals between ICE and private prison companies.

The opaque nature of the process allows all parties to avoid public outcry before the deals are signed, explains Silky Shah, co-director of the Detention Watch Network, an immigrant rights advocacy group. So far, immigration advocates haven’t gotten wind of many new contracts being negotiated or signed since Trump’s inauguration. “But that doesn’t mean contracting activity is not taking place,” Takei says. “I suspect there are closed-door meetings taking place across the country right now.”

Expanding detention quickly could have a high human cost. Schlanger is worried that conditions inside detention facilities could deteriorate without proper oversight from the Department of Homeland Security. “There are a lot of bad things that happen if the number of beds is ramped up fast, without appropriate controls, monitoring, supervision, and care,” she says, pointing to the potential overuse of solitary confinement, inadequate safety measures, poor nutrition, and insufficient medical care. “That means detainees could die.” Asylum seekers, she warns, will have a harder time fighting their immigration cases from inside detention centers, where it’s difficult to access lawyers and gather evidence. More could be coerced into voluntary deportation: “You’re vulnerable to the government saying to you, ‘Look, we’ll let you out from detention, but you have to give up your immigration case.'”

We don’t have to look far in the past to see the danger of rushing to open new detention facilities. Last year, as several thousand Haitian immigrants arrived on the southern border, fleeing natural disasters and poverty, the Department of Homeland Security began seeking contracts for new detention facilities to accommodate the surge. In their scramble to secure space for the new arrivals, ICE officials reportedly considered ignoring quality standards for the facilities—”scraping the bottom looking for beds,” as one official told the Wall Street Journal.

The bottom of the barrel, in this case, included a prison in Cibola County, New Mexico, owned by CoreCivic. Last summer, after an investigation by The Nation revealed a pattern of severe, longtime medical neglect in the 1,100-bed facility—which had gone months without a doctor—the US Bureau of Prisons decided to pull its inmates out and cancel its contract with CoreCivic. Yet less than a month after the last federal prisoner was transferred out, ICE was already negotiating an agreement with the county and CoreCivic to detain immigrants in the newly vacant facility. Four hundred immigrants are currently detained there. Takei notes that ICE contracted with the same company, for the same prison: “There weren’t any substantive changes.”

Shah expects to see familiar problems like poor medical care worsen as new deals for detention facilities are finalized. “One of the concerns we hear most often is that when people complain about ailments, officers will come back and just say, ‘Well, drink more water, or take an Advil and you’ll be fine,'” she says. “It’s a really harsh system already. If you’re going to expand at this level, it’s just going to become that much harsher.”

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The Private Prison Industry Is Licking Its Chops Over Trump’s Deportation Plans

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Trump’s environmental assault continues, and now he’ll have Pruitt as a henchman

Even as national security scandals and general chaos engulf the White House, President Trump continues to wreak environmental havoc. Your Trump Tracker columnist already told you what POTUS got up to in his first and second weeks; now here’s a roundup of the mayhem from weeks three and four.

Not-so-great Scott:
Oil industry ally taking helm at EPA

What happened? Scott Pruitt is expected to be confirmed by the Senate as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday. [UPDATE: Yep, he was confirmed.] He doesn’t lack for detractors. EPA employees are making unprecedented calls for senators to oppose his nomination. Maine Republican Susan Collins says she won’t vote for him. Democrats have been kicking up a fuss over Pruitt’s refusal to release emails from his time as Oklahoma attorney general, when he did the oil and gas industry’s bidding. On Thursday, an Oklahoma judge ordered Pruitt to release those emails by next Tuesday. But none of that will be enough to stop him from being confirmed.

So the EPA will be led by a man who appears to hate the EPA. Pruitt has sued the agency 14 times to challenge environmental rules, and couldn’t or wouldn’t name a single EPA rule he likes. His ties to oil and gas producers and the Koch brothers are notorious, and the donations he’s received from them have been bounteous. He sides with different kinds of polluters too, like the poultry industry.

In other cabinet news, Trump’s nominees for two more environment-related jobs — Rep. Ryan Zinke for interior secretary and Rick Perry for energy secretary — are expected to sail through confirmation once they get squeezed onto the Senate calendar. They will join a host of other climate deniers in the Trump cabinet, including recently confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

How much does it matter? Pruitt’s confirmation is a huge deal. The EPA is responsible for implementing federal laws that protect air and water, and determining what the latest science tells us about protecting human health. If Pruitt refuses to implement those laws or consider that science, the environment will get dirtier and Americans’ health will suffer. Which leads us to …

Something wicked this way comes:
Trump poised to bludgeon the EPA

What happened? The Trump team told EPA officials this week that the president is planning to sign executive orders to revamp the agency and curb its work on climate change. He’s just been waiting for Pruitt to be confirmed. As soon as next week, Trump is expected to hold a swearing-in ceremony for Pruitt at EPA headquarters and sign the orders, which may include one related to the State Department and the Paris climate deal. The orders could “suck the air out of the room,” a source told Inside EPA. And the agency is already gasping for breath. EPA Acting Administrator Catherine McCabe said on Tuesday that Trump’s federal hiring freeze is “creating some challenges to our ability to get the agency’s work done.”

How much does it matter? A ton. Reversing progress on climate change in particular will have massive, global impacts. If, as expected, Trump kills Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the U.S. will be unlikely to meet its emission-reduction pledge under the Paris deal, and if the U.S. flakes, other countries are more likely to flake on their pledges, too. If Trump tries to pull out of or undermine the Paris agreement, the repercussions will be even bigger.

If you build it …
Full speed ahead on Dakota Access

What happened? Construction started up on the controversial segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline last week, after the Trump administration officially granted an easement for the pipeline to be built on federal land. The disputed segment will run underneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Sioux and environmental allies have been trying various legal challenges to stop the construction, but none have worked so far and they’re increasingly looking like long shots. The pipeline could be completed and pumping oil by June 1.

Meanwhile, the company that wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline is also moving forward. Obama rejected the proposed pipeline in fall 2015, but Trump encouraged pipeline builder TransCanada to revive the project. On Thursday, the company made a step in that direction, applying to a Nebraska commission for approval of its proposed route through the state.

Trump said last week that his pipeline moves must not have been controversial because he hadn’t gotten a single phone call in opposition. Perhaps that’s because the White House wasn’t picking up the phones.

How much does it matter? A lot. Both pipelines pose local environmental risks and global climate threats, but more notably, stopping them had become a cause for the climate and environmental justice movements to rally around. Activists aren’t giving up, though: They’re continuing to fight both projects and ramping up battles against other pipelines around the U.S.

Breaking the rules:
Repealing regs to help pollutocrats

What happened? The House has been swiftly and giddily voting to repeal Obama-era environmental regulations, and the Senate has been following suit at a slightly slower pace. This week, Trump signed two of those rule revocations into law. The first one was a gift to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his oil industry buddies; Trump did away with a rule that had required oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments they made to foreign governments, with the aim of curbing corruption. The second was a gift to the coal industry; now mountaintop-removal mining companies will again be free to dump their waste into streams. And thanks to a provision in the law Congress used to make these repeals, the government is banned from issuing substantially similar regulations in the future.

The Trump administration has also delayed some regulations that the Obama team had put in place, including one to add the rusty patched bumble bee to the endangered species list.

How much does it matter? Some. We’ll now see more corruption in developing countries and more pollution in coal-mining communities. Trump may next sign repeals of regulations on methane leaks and public participation in land management. But the real danger is still to come. As Juliet Eilperin recently reported in the Washington Post, “Trump has embarked on the most aggressive campaign against government regulation in a generation.” We ain’t seen nothing yet.

On that note, have a happy long weekend!

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Trump’s environmental assault continues, and now he’ll have Pruitt as a henchman

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