Category Archives: PUR

Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

Mother Jones

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It’s laughable watching President Trump whine endlessly this afternoon about how his health care bill didn’t get any Democratic votes. Not one! The Democrats just wouldn’t work with him to craft a bill! Boy, that sure makes things tough.

Needless to say, neither Trump nor Paul Ryan ever tried to bring Democrats into this bill. It was purely a Republican plan from the start, and neither of them wanted any Democratic input. That’s just the opposite of Obamacare, where Democrats tried mightily to get Republican buy-in, and still ended up getting no Republican votes in the end. Not one!

Anyway, Trump’s plan now is to wait for Obamacare to implode and then Democrats will have to do a deal. I guess it hasn’t occurred to him that he could do a deal with Democrats right now if he were really serious about fixing health care. But no. Trump says he intends to move on to tax reform, because that’s something he actually cares about.

In the meantime, it’s very unclear what will happen to Obamacare. With so much uncertainty surrounding it, it’s hard to say how insurance companies will respond. They might give up and pull out. Or they might stick it out and wait. It’s pretty close to a profitable business now, so there’s probably no urgency one way or the other for most of them. And anyway, somewhere there’s an equilibrium. Having only one insurer in a particular county might be bad for residents of that county, but it’s great for the insurer: they can raise their prices with no worries. There are no competitors to steal their business, and the federal subsidies mean that customers on the exchanges won’t see much of a change even if prices go up. In places where they have these mini-monopolies, Obamacare should be a nice money spinner.

April will be a key month, as insurers begin to announce their plans for 2018. We’ll see what happens.

POSTSCRIPT: It was also amusing to hear Trump say that he learned a lot during this process about “arcane” procedures in the House and Senate. Like what? Filibusters? Having to persuade people to vote for your bill? The fact that the opposition party isn’t going to give you any votes for a bill that destroys one of their signature achievements? Reconciliation and the Byrd rule? I believe him when he says this was all new to him, which means he never had the slightest clue what was in this bill or how it was going to pass.

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Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

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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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Americans Have Officially Reduced Their Beef Consumption by 19 Percent

Turns out, Americans may be making smart, eco-friendly decisions in the grocery store after all.

The National Resources Defense Council recently released a report on American food consumption, which found that Americans reduced their intake of beef famously the most carbon-intense food on the planet by 19 percent between 2005 and 2014. For anyone who cares about the environmental footprint of their food choices, this is decidedly good news.

Americas Changes in Consumption

Americans chose to eat a lot less meat in 2014 than they did in 2005. In fact, they ate about ⅕ less meat in the former year than they did in the latter. According to the NRDC, this will result in a huge reduction in carbon emissions from the US.

Americans consumed 19 percent less beef, avoiding an estimated 185 MMT of climate-warming pollution or roughly the equivalent of the annual tailpipe pollution of 39 million cars, the report states.

And it wasnt just beef that saw decreased consumption. Milk, pork, high-fructose corn syrup and shellfish consumption also went down.

Image via NRDC

The reason behind the shift is still up for debate. According to the New York Times, some industry experts attribute the changes to steeper prices of red meat. Droughts that plagued the region increased the cost of beef, as did increasing rates of export to other countries. Additionally, about one quarter of consumers attested that it was concerns about cholesterol and saturated fat that had them reaching for alternative protein sources.

Beef vs. Alternatives

Beef is notoriously horrible for the environment. In addition to the methane gasses released by cattle, numerous other factors make beef an unsustainable option (at least, beef as it is raised today). In order to feed cows, farmers must harvest millions of acres of corn and soy, resource-intensive crops that are often heavily treated with fossil fuel-based pesticides and insecticides. Then, of course, there is the loss of arable land associated with massive Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, often known as CAFOs.

In fact, even just switching from beef to chicken can have a massive positive impact on the environment. In simplified terms, beef production emits 26.45 kilogram equivalents of CO₂ for every 1 kg of beef, which chicken only emits 5.05.

What Foods to Eat (And What Foods Not to Eat) To Save the Planet

When it comes to a diet that can improve the state of the planet by reducing carbon emissions, the waters are murky. One thing, however, is certain: Eating mainstream beef is bad for the planet. Swap out beef for plant-based proteins whenever possible, but dont swap it out for dairy. (In fact, most types of dairy have a C02 emissions rating higher than chicken or pork!). You should also avoid some resource-intensive vegetables, like asparagus (big shocker: asparagus is worse for the planet than chicken!), as much as possible. Here are some swaps you might consider making, according to the EWG:

Swap out salmon (11.9 kgs carbon emissions) for beans (2 kgs)
Swap out cheese (13.5 kgs) for eggs (4.8 kgs)
Swap out pork (12.1 kgs) for tofu (2.0 kgs)
Swap out turkey (10.9 kgs) for peanut butter (2.5 kgs)
Swap out canned tuna (6.1 kgs) for lentils (our clear winner at 0.9 kgs)

Finally, eating local should be your first priority if youre trying to go gentle on planet Earth. Even if you just cant give up eating a burger once in awhile, youll be doing the earth a huge favor by simply choosing a local, grass-fed producer.

Most beef cattle in the United States today are finished on grain in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), states the NRDC report. Growing this cattle feed (primarily corn and soy) requires large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, which, in turn, require significant inputs of fossil fuels. Alternative models of beef production, such as intensive rotational cattle grazing, can help sequester carbon in the soil and provide numerous other health and environmental benefits compared to CAFOs.

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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Americans Have Officially Reduced Their Beef Consumption by 19 Percent

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This Climate Denying Lawmaker Has Proposed a Bill to Protect Climate Deniers

Mother Jones

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A Maine lawmaker has introduced a bill that will safeguard political speech—with a special focus on climate change deniers.

Republican Rep. Lawrence Lockman, who told the Associated Press that whether or not human activity is causing global warming is an open question, proposed legislation that would ban the state from prosecuting people for their “climate change policy preferences.” The measure prohibits the state from discriminating against climate change deniers with respect to employment and hiring, and bars any state agencies or departments from refusing to purchase goods and services, or awarding grants and contracts, on the basis of a person’s opinion regarding climate change.

According to NASA, 97 percent of scientists acknowledge that our planet is getting warmer due to human activity.

The bill is in response the lawsuit filed by a group of state attorneys general, including Maine’s Janet Mills, against Exxon Mobil in 2016. The suit alleges that the oil giant misled the public about global warming and should pay a financial penalty.

Lockman told the Associated Press that the bill wasn’t just for climate deniers, because it would protect the free speech of others as well. “I don’t want to see a Republican attorney general issuing subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal think tanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech,” he said.

But Democratic lawmakers do not seem convinced. Lois Galgay Reckitt, a Democrat in the state legislature, said that the entire Democratic caucus would oppose the bill, as would some Republicans.

“The issue for me is I’m a scientist and I live near the ocean,” she said to the Associated Press. “It’s absolutely clear to me that climate change is happening and it worries me. I will fight this tooth and nail.”

A public hearing is scheduled for April 6.

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This Climate Denying Lawmaker Has Proposed a Bill to Protect Climate Deniers

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Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now

Mother Jones

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This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

As of this week, Bakken oil is expected to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This development comes as court proceedings continue over the high-profile battle over the pipeline that drew thousands of protestors to North Dakota last year. As law enforcement officers and Indigenous activists faced off near the construction site, the conflict played out in real time on social media, capturing international attention.

A District of Columbia court has yet to rule on the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes’ claims that the Army Corps of Engineers violated environmental, historic-preservation and religious-freedom laws in its approval of the pipeline. A ruling is likely still several weeks away. The tribes have tried for temporary restraining orders to stop the flow of oil until the case is decided, but judges have rejected those as well. Dakota Access, LLC, is required to update the court weekly on whether the pipeline operations have begun; on March 20, the company said they expected oil to flow this week.

The fact that the pipeline’s backers, Energy Transfer Partners, appears to be prevailing is not surprising. Although the Obama administration had put DAPL on hold in December and called for further environmental review, then-President-elect Donald Trump vowed to push the project through once he took office. But national attention the protests brought to the flaws of the current consultation process—the federal government’s responsibilities to consult with tribes before approving major infrastructure projects that affect tribal lands—may still bear fruit on future disputes. And recent legal proceedings remind us how difficult it is for tribes to argue for religious freedom in court.

Following Trump’s late-January executive order to allow the pipeline to be finished, the Cheyenne River Sioux, located just south of the Standing Rock Reservation, filed a motion for a restraining order against the pipeline. Unlike the Standing Rock Sioux complaint based more around environmental and historic preservation violations, Cheyenne River’s argument claims the government violated the Religious Freedom Reformation Act (RFRA). “The Lakota people believe that the mere existence of a crude oil pipeline under the waters of Lake Oahe will desecrate those waters and render them unsuitable for use in their religious sacraments,” court documents say.

RFRA has an unreliable track record for tribes in court. Congress created the law in 1993 in part as a response to two cases in which courts sided with the government. In 1988 Lyng vs. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association allowed the Forest Service to construct a logging road in California that would have disrupted an area sacred to several tribes. In 1990 Employment Division vs. Smith allowed two Native Americans in Oregon to be fired for failing a drug test because they had used peyote as an element of religious ceremony. But experts say RFRA’s original intention, to protect tribes from similar infringements, isn’t really bearing out in court. The most recent major failure was the case of the Snowbowl ski resort in Arizona in which reclaimed wastewater was being used to make snow on mountains sacred to several tribes. The tribes argued a violation of RFRA and ultimately lost.

RFRA has, however, worked for corporations such as Hobby Lobby. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled family-owned corporations should not be required to cover employees’ contraception because doing so may infringe on a company’s religious beliefs. Part of the challenge for tribes, says University of Colorado law professor Charles Wilkinson, is one of translation. “Most Americans are not used to the nature of tribal religions, of having ceremonies on particular land areas as being significant to their religion,” Wilkinson says. Court documents show Cheyenne River’s attorneys explaining how the tribe views the pipeline:

“Although there can be no way of knowing when this prophesy emerged into the Lakota worldview, Lakota religious adherents now in their 50s and 60s were warned of the Black Snake by their elders as children. The Black Snake prophecy is a source of terror and existential threat in the Lakota worldview…. Lakota adherents believe that the Black Snake poses an existential threat because it will cause critical imbalance in an essential resource of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe: the natural, ritually pure waters of Lake Oahe.”

“You can kind of get that sense, there’s some question raised in opposing parties arguments of ‘Do they really believe this,'” says Monte Mills, a University of Montana law professor. In court in February, Judge James Boasberg reportedly questioned how a pipeline would desecrate the Missouri River if the oil itself never touched the water.

The most lasting impact of the Dakota Access battle might be greater federal attention to the process through which the U.S. government is supposed to consult tribal governments about proposed infrastructure projects that might impact those nations, says Wilkinson. “(Tribes) see consultation as almost a four-letter word,” Wilkinson says. “It’s so often just checking a box.” A 38-page memo from former Obama administration Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins in December described in detail the ways in which the government failed to consult tribes that may be affected by the pipeline. At one point, Tompkins notes that a draft Environmental Assessment for DAPL “failed to even identify the reservation on its maps and incorrectly said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had no issue with the project.” (The Trump administration suspended the memo and removed it from the Interior website in February.)

Similarly, a 73-page report released in January by the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior about consultation—not limited to DAPL—highlighted flaws in the process, after seeking comment from 59 tribes across the country. The report includes problems with the way the federal government “tends to look at (infrastructure) projects in a segmented way…For example, in the Dakota Access Pipeline review, four different states, three separate districts of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service each looked at different parts of the project, but did not coordinate the impacts to Tribes.” That report requested further action from several federal agencies by April 2017, in establishing better consultation processes.

“Many federal statutes require consultations with states, counties and tribes,” Wilkinson says. “Maybe one way or another Standing Rock could be valuable as raising that issue.”

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Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now

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