Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our New Family of Raccoon .... a Delightful Addition to our Little Visitors

We've been feeding assorted critters right outside the living room for the past several months.

Two grown raccoon have been hanging around lately.

Much to our delight, Mom brought her 3 little ones over.  Stashed them in a tree about 5 feet from the food, then slowly, they climbed down to join her.  They were like little kittens... very unsure of their climbing skills.  Too cute!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The promise of stem cells

Shown above are some of the stem cells derived by scientists at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

Stem cells are the body’s “master” cells. They have two unique abilities: They can proliferate virtually without limit to produce an essentially infinite supply of their unspecialized cellular selves, and they can differentiate to produce any other cell types that can be used to repair or replace worn-out or damaged tissues. Combine those two superpowers, and you’ve got the proverbial medical magic bullet.

At the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, more than 200 faculty members are working to translate the promise of stem cells into viable treatments for some of society’s most vexing medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease, immune disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, autism, blindness and diabetes. Much of the work being done is supported by both private and institutional sources, including grants approaching $190 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The state agency was established in 2004 to fund translational stem-cell research at institutions throughout California with the goal of developing new therapies for deadly diseases and disorders.

Here are just a few examples of that work being done at the center at UCLA.

Jump to this Fascinating Story

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Groundbreaking New Study Links GMO to Leukemia: When Will Monsanto Stop Lying to Us?

There are lots of ‘scientists,’ otherwise known as the academics on Monsanto’s payroll, who keep spouting the preposterous statement that there is no real science to back up the claims that GMO are bad for our health, but yet another study says otherwise.

Recently published in the Journal of Hematology & Thromboembolic Diseases, the study underscores the potential ‘leukemogenic’ properties of the Bt toxin biopesticides used in almost all GMO foods that are currently planted on more than 3.9 million acres of crops in the US. Many of these crops are shipped to other countries who have not yet banned GM foods from their imports, so the prevalence of their use on US soil affects the whole planet.

Just a few months ago, references to GMO were made by scientists in France who conducted a study that pinpointed Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn, called NK603, as a major cancer-causing agent. Rats developed cancerous tumors the size of ping-pong balls. The study was called into question; however by academics under Monsanto’s reign.

Now, the study states that the biopesticides engineered into crops like corn, soy, sugar cane, etc. carry what is known as Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), also called Cry-toxins, which contribute to all sorts of health problems including:

*Blood abnormalities
*Hematological malignancies (blood cancers), i.e. leukemia
*Suppression of bone marrow proliferation
*Abnormal lymphocyte patterns

Furthermore, Bt toxins used in prevalent GMOs can target mammalian cells, particularly of the erythroid lineage (red blood cells) which results in damage to the cells that is significant enough to start as anemia, and end up as cancer. Also, Cry toxins were found to be capable of exerting their damaging effects even when suspended in distilled water, and did not require alkalinization through an insect’s physiological form to become activated.

Put simply, this means that while Cry toxins may have been developed to kill bugs, they kill us.

More Here

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Monsanto Menace

The feds see no evil as a belligerent strongman seeks control of America's food supply

When you're good at something, you want to leverage that. Monsanto's specialty is killing stuff.

In the early years, the St. Louis biotech giant helped pioneer such leading chemicals as DDT, PCBs, and Agent Orange. Unfortunately, these breakthroughs had a tendency to kill stuff. And the torrent of lawsuits that comes from random killing put a crimp on long-term profitability.

So Monsanto hatched a less lethal, more lucrative plan. The company would attempt to take control of the world's food supply.

It began in the mid-'90s, when Monsanto developed genetically modified (GM) crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets, and wheat. These Franken-crops were immune to its leading weed killer, Roundup. That meant that farmers no longer had to till the land to kill weeds, as they'd done for hundreds of years. They could simply blast their entire fields with chemicals, leaving GM crops the only thing standing. Problem solved.

The so-called no-till revolution promised greater yields, better profits for the family farm, and a heightened ability to feed a growing world. But there was one small problem: Agriculture had placed a belligerent strongman in charge of the buffet line.

Monsanto knew that it needed more than genetically modified crops to squeeze out competitors, so it also began buying the biggest seed businesses, spending $12 billion by the time its splurge concluded. The company was cornering agriculture by buying up the best shelf space and distribution channels. All its boasting about global benevolence began to look much more like a naked power grab.

Seed prices soared. Between 1995 and 2011, the cost of soybeans increased 325 percent. The price of corn rose 259 percent. And the cost of genetically modified cotton jumped a stunning 516 percent.

Instead of feeding the world, Monsanto simply drove prices through the roof, taking the biggest share for itself. A study by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University, found that rapidly increasing seed and pesticide costs were tamping farmers' incomes.

Much more here

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fighting for Her Life: MMRF CEO Creates Launch Pad for Multiple Myeloma Treatment

At 37 years old, Kathy Giusti was handed what amounted to a death sentence when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma: A rare, fatal blood cancer.

Her doctors told her she had only three years to live, and with no treatments available, and not a single drug in the pipeline, they told her to prepare for the last years of her life.

That was nearly two decades ago.

Fighting for Survival

After digesting the shock and sadness of her diagnosis, Giusti decided she wasn’t going to let myeloma get the best of her, and she settled in for the fight of her life.

“Having a one-year old daughter at home – when I wanted to pull the covers over my head, I would hear the pitter patter of little feet, and I would think to myself, ‘No. No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to fight to live as long as I can and see as many moments as I can with her,’” Giusti said.

She started the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in 1998 as a way to give herself – and others fighting the same fight – a glimmer of hope.

Armed with a business degree from Harvard, a high-powered career in the pharmaceutical industry and a background in medicine, she set out to find some kind of treatment that would give her more time for her daughter – at least long enough that her daughter would remember her mother.

“My dream was to jump-start enough research so that good things would happen to keep me living long enough to allow Nichole to remember me. When I started, it was a little bit selfish, but once I started it, I kept living and seeing the next challenge,” she said.

Giusti attributes the foundation’s success to her disease. She said being a cancer patient ignites a bigger spark to drive research and drug development.

“What happens when you are a patient running an organization like this, and you talk to other patients every day who have relapsed and run out of options, you have tremendous urgency to help save their lives,” she said.

Fixing a Broken Health-Care System

After receiving her diagnosis and vowing to do something to help those suffering with the same prognosis, Giusti faced one of her biggest challenges: Getting her foundation off the ground.  To do it, she tapped into her Harvard Business School connections, and her years of experience in the private sector, working for companies like Merck (MRK), Gillette, and G.D. Searle & Co. She worked with a team at Harvard to write a business plan for the foundation that focused on how she wanted to move into the world of research and drug development – a unique idea in 1998 when many foundations focused instead on patient advocacy, lobbying, and support groups.

But moving into that realm of the non-profit world wasn’t easy.

“The problem is the academic system where you have to ‘publish or perish,’” she said. “Incentives aren’t aligned at all. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just built this way. What we did was create our own model and laid it on top of this broken system and that inspired a community to work with us and that’s been our success.”

She said it’s a matter of identifying roles for all parties involved, from the doctors, patients and scientists, to the pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration.

But it’s not all just a matter of writing a compelling business plan and gathering a team of experts. Giusti said money is still what matters.

“The challenge is that 90% of non-profits never raise more than one million dollars. The secret is getting people to change behavior. You support people who write good business plans and identify the best partners, but you also have to have the funding…young scientists are out there wanting to do the right thing, and we’re funding them to come here. That’s what’s making a difference.”

MMRF has raised more than $225 million dollars and with it, created six FDA-approved drugs to fight multiple myeloma, with 25 more in the pipeline. Not only that, but the prognosis isn’t quite as grim for those diagnosed with the cancer thanks to recent medical advances. Patients are now given up to eight years to live instead of just three, and have the opportunity to fight with the drugs MMRF has helped create.

Inspiration for Future Progress

Though she’s managed to defy the odds for nearly two decades, Giusti knows myeloma will one day become too much for her to fight.

Despite her fate, she stays optimistic about her future, her family’s future, and the future of the MMRF.

In the short-term, Giusti said she believes it’s going to be the high quality data – live tissue banks, blood banks, electronic medical records, and data from myeloma patients – that will be the key to accelerating a cure.

“This whole field of where we’re pushing: Big data, open access, intellectual property rights, that was my dream and I really wanted to launch it and it needs a champion – a patient – saying it was no one’s fault but (instead caused by) not sharing data. The system is insanely broken, and it’s stifling the ability to find cures quickly,” she said.

The technology, she said, is now working in favor of a cure. And she said she’s proud MMRF is leading that charge.

In the long-term, whether she’s there to lead her foundation or not, Giusti said her ultimate goal is to find a cure for multiple myeloma and facilitate a transfer of knowledge.

“We have to take what we’ve learned and use it go across other forms of cancer,” she said. “And there are two ways to do that: Identify targets, new drugs that can be used for myeloma but also in other cancers because the drugs won’t be organ-specific anymore.”

For others who are fighting the same fight, Giusti said you don’t have to have a background in business and medicine to help eliminate the disease. She suggests finding a foundation to work with to help aid in the research and development processes – but that doesn’t mean you have to lead from the top.

“I think doing something (about the disease) makes you feel so much more empowered as a patient and gives you a lot more energy to fight your disease. Knowledge is power in understanding new therapies and treatments for your disease. People like to be in denial, but the more you learn, the better off you’ll be,” she said.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Understanding Genetically Modified Organisms

The increased reliance on genetically modified foods is a growing concern in the United States.  Currently, it is estimated that  genetically modified foods, or GMOs, are found in at least 75% of the processed foods sold in the United States.  Given the fact that nearly 60% of the population has little to no understanding of what GMOs are, and the use of GMOs is closely connected to the significant increases observed in rates of food allergies, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, consumers should be aware of the  health concerns associated with GMOs.

The fact that GMOs are restricted or banned in Europe, Australia and Japan, should raise alarm as to their use and function in foods produced and sold in the United States.  However, to date, the Food and Drug Administration does not require labeling or indication of the inclusion of GMOs in foods, leading many to believe that they are nothing more than harmless ingredients in their favorite foods.  While many view and promote GMOs as an advance in technology aimed at feeding more people at a lower cost, the long-term health implications of GMOs are starting to emerge – and so far, the news is not good.

What Are GMOs?

According to the National Institute of Health, genetically modified organisms are any source of food, including plants, animals and microorganisms, that have had foreign genes manually inserted into their genetic code.  While this may sound similar to cross-pollination and selective breeding, the difference is that the creation of GMOs remove the role of natural development, speeding up a process that once took hundreds, even thousands, of years to complete.

 Assumed Benefits of GMOs

On their surface, GMOs may seem to offer tremendous benefits to a rapidly-growing world population, including:

Producing large quantities of more nutritious foods;

Creating plants and animals that are resistant to disease and require less food and water;

Lowering the cost of food

Health Concerns of GMO

While the thought of more nutritious food at lower costs certainly seems promising, there appears to be significant and growing health concerns associated with the production and consumption of GMOs, these concerns include:

Increased Resistance to Pesticides and Herbicides

According to information from the Organic Consumers Association, the top four produced GM crops, corn, cotton, canola and soy are created to better withstand commercial pesticides and  herbicides; leading to higher levels of toxins contained in the plants and consumed by humans.

Increased Food Allergies

Reports indicate that GM foods, including soy and corn, have been associated with up to a 50% increase in the reported allergies to these foods.  Scientists have found that GM soy contains over 7 times the amount of a known allergen than soy produced in traditional methods.

Other reports indicate that the GM bacterial spray used to protect GM crops has resulted in significant immune system response and led to intestinal damage.  Further study found that the GM bacterial spray is designed to be more potent than natural comparable products, and is found to be over 1000 times more concentrated in GM foods.

 Immune and Digestive Issues

Proteins, whether natural or genetically modified,  digest as a slower rate in the body.  GMOs, especially GM soy, has demonstrated to reduce digestive enzyme production and increase allergies to several foods.

GMOs have also been linked to liver damage, weight gain, reproductive issues and cell damage.


Extreme Toxicity of Roundup Destroys GM/Non-GM 'Substantial Equivalence' Argument

If Monsanto's Roundup herbicide were actually 'safer than table salt' as they once advertised, the consumption of GM food wouldn't be nearly as controversial. The truth, however, is that virtually all GM food today contains residues of this toxic chemical, which disproves that GM and non-GM foods are 'substantially equivalent," which is the primary doctrinal justification behind why GM foods are not properly safety tested and millions in this country eating them are living and breathing guinea pigs. 

Indeed, within the scientific community and educated public alike, there is a growing awareness that Roundup herbicide, and its primary ingredient glyphosate, is actually a broad spectrum biocide, in the etymological sense of the word: "bio" (life) and "cide" (kill) – that is, it broadly, without discrimination kills living things, not just plants. 

 Moreover, it does not rapidly biodegrade as widely claimed, and exceedingly small amounts of this chemical – in concentration ranges found in recently sampled rain, air, groundwater, and human urine samples – have DNA-damaging and cancer cell proliferation stimulating effects.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dom Turned 4 Years Old Today!

Today is Dom's 4th "birthday".  We can't believe that it's been 4 years since his successful stem cell transplant.  (Over 5 years since diagnosis)

Honestly, it's been a big blur!

We're truly blessed and wish to thank all of you for your prayers and well wishes!

New surgical knife can instantly detect cancer

A knife can help surgeons make sure they removed all the cancerous tissue, doctors say.

LONDON — Surgeons may have a new way to smoke out cancer.

An experimental surgical knife can help surgeons make sure they've removed all the cancerous tissue, doctors reported Wednesday. Surgeons typically use knives that vaporize tumors as they cut, producing a sharp-smelling smoke. The new knife analyzes the smoke and can instantly signal whether the tissue is cancerous or healthy.

Now surgeons have to send the tissue to a lab and wait for the results.

Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London suspected the smoke produced during cancer surgery might contain some important cancer clues. So he designed a "smart" knife hooked up to a refrigerator-sized mass spectrometry device on wheels that analyzes the smoke from cauterizing tissue.

The smoke picked up by the smart knife is compared to a library of smoke "signatures" from cancerous and non-cancerous tissues, information appears on a monitor: green means the tissue is healthy, red means cancerous and yellow means unidentifiable.

To make sure they've removed the tumor, surgeons now send samples to a laboratory while the patient remains on the operating table. It can take about 30 minutes to get an answer in the best hospitals, but even then doctors cannot be entirely sure, so they often remove a bit more tissue than they think is strictly necessary. If some cancerous cells remain, patients may need to have another surgery or undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

"(The new knife) looks fabulous," said Emma King, a head and neck cancer surgeon at Cancer Research U.K., who was not connected to the project. The smoke contains broken-up bits of tumor tissue and "it makes sense to look at it more carefully," she said.

The new knife and its accompanying machines were made for about £250,000 ($380,486) but scientists said the price tag would likely drop if the technology is commercialized.

The most common treatment for cancers involving solid tumors is removing them in surgery. In the U.K., one in five breast cancer patients who have surgery will need further operations to get rid of the tumor entirely.

Scientists tested the new knife at three hospitals in between 2010 and 2012. Tissue samples were taken from 302 patients to create a database of which kinds of smoke contained cancers including those of the brain, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach. That was then used to analyze tumors from 91 patients; the smart knife correctly spotted cancer in every case. The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The research was paid for by groups including Imperial College London and the Hungarian government.
James Kinross, of Imperial College London, uses the experimental knife on a piece of animal muscle during Wednesday's demonstration at St. Mary's Hospital in London.(Photo: Sang Tan, AP)


Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 4th and 5th....The End of our Fun with Bro....FOR NOW!

As the Fourth was a total washout (LITERALLY), we postponed our seafood feast until the 5th.  I boiled up a couple of pounds of colossal shrimp, and enjoyed with some spicy cocktail sauce.

On the 5th, I cooked 4 lobster tails for Ric and I, and 5 snow crab clusters for Dom.  (He was nice enuf to share them with us....wish he ate lobster.  Then I could justify buying it more often)  Also sweetcorn, steamed new potatoes and coleslaw.  Very enjoyable!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Agent Orange – What Veterans Should Know

What every present day Veteran Should Know

Most of the veterans around today are of the Korean war, Vietnam war and Gulf war. In the past 10 to 11 years, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Those of past wars and those who served in peace time need to explain to their sons, daughters, grand kids and maybe for some great grand kids, who may be serving their Country. How important it is to maintain records.

Upon discharge from any branch of the Armed Forces, the service member receives a DD-214, release of service discharge. A very important document. Sometimes on that discharge document it might state medals earned and duty stations served at. It is not always the case. Often times the person typing up the DD-214 does not go through the members service record to record medals and duty stations.

Upon discharge from any branch of service along with receiving a DD-214, they should ask for copies of their medical records, record of medals earned and duty stations and or commands served under. Also they should keep copies of all transfer orders and travel orders. These are important documents.

You may ask why keep those documents? It can be very likely they may be needed at some point in time years after discharge from military service.

An old injury creeps up on you that might be service connected or an illness that could be service connected. So you submit a VA claim. The VA asks for evidence of your service that may have caused an injury or illness. They will want to know what medals you earned, especially combat medals. They will want you to prove what duty stations and or commands you were attached to. Injury’s that may be service connect you have to prove with your medical records as well as medical records from a health care provider. Illness’s that may be service connected and prove where you were that could attest to a location.

If you don’t have these records or did have them and threw them away or misplaced them, good luck. It is a nightmare to get those records of service, that holds true to all branches of service. I could take mountains of paperwork on your part to find what you need as evidence for a VA claim. It could take several months even a year or more to find the documents needed. Any documents relative to the above should be kept in a safe place. A family member, wife, child, father, mother, etc. should now where you keep those documents for any event. By having these documents, it will be so much easier to submit a VA claim if and when needed for disability. The VA will not search for these documents for you, you are on your own to present them.

I am a Vietnam war veteran and I had saved all of my service documents over my 22 years of service. When I came down with Agent Orange exposure, those documents I saved were like gold. I had every thing the VA asked for and then some. It only took me a year to be rated disabled. On the other hand, if I did not have those documents, it conceivably could have taken several years to be rated disabled, that is if I were able to find what was needed by the VA.

Another important thing a veteran upon discharge should do is register with the VA to be in the system. This can be done by a phone call or on-line to get a form of registration and sending it in with a copy of your DD-214. Also all documents you collect must show your SS#, just write it on the top of each page. There is the possibility you may one day need to submit a VA claim. Safe guard your service documents, they may one day be important to you. Don’t cause yourself a nightmare later in life when you find you need help.

This advice is given by: © John J. Bury, US Navy, retired, Vietnam War veteran
Author for COVVHA


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Great Deluge Over the Fourth of July

We experienced more than 20" of rain over just 36 hours on July 3rd and 4th.

Rain was coming down in sheets.  Roads were closed.  The streets were packed with police and roadblocks.  Fireworks were cancelled.

One of the worst areas hit in town was right across the street at the Gulf Highlands community.  Most, if not all of the condos were flooded.  UNREAL.  We've never experienced anything like this before:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto

When you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market. See if you can spot the pattern… 

#1 – Saccharin
#2 – PCBs
#3 – Polystyrene
#4 – Atom bomb and nuclear weapons
#5 – DDT
#6 – Dioxin
#7 – Agent Orange
#8 – Petroleum-Based Fertilizer
#9 – RoundUp
#10 – Aspartame (NutraSweet / Equal)
#11 – Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
#12 – Genetically Modified Crops / GMOs
A Baker’s Dozen: #13 – Terminator Seeds

Read descriptions of these horrid products here

Our Deep Sea Fishing Excursion- Big Fun!

Ric and I have always wanted to go Deep Sea Fishing, so we booked the 6 hour trip with Captain Anderson's Marina .

It was alot of fun.  Caught White Snapper, Vermillion Snapper, Lady Fish and some that I've since forgotten.

Ric's first catch was a big Red Snapper.  Unfortunately, they were out of season, so we snapped a picture and threw him back in.

Saw a bunch of sharks, dolphins, stingrays and flying fish.  Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. (My deckhand was baiting my squid for me!)  I highly recommend this trip!

Afterwards, we walked next door to the MARINA CANTINA for a great happy hour.

The guys at the marina only charged 50 cents per pound to clean and filet them for us.  We picked up our fish the next day, Dom drove into town, and I made us a fish fry.  I've never attempted to fry fish before, and was a little nervous.  But, they turned out "restaurant quality", or so said the boys!

A shout-out to Brian, owner of BUDDY'S SEAFOOD for coaching me on how to cook them during Happy Hour that afternoon.  :)

This will no doubt be an annual thing for us.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fun With Brother Ric in PCB

My brother flew into PCB for 10 days.  We had a delightful time, but were basically rained out.

Got over 20" of rain in a few days!