The Power Of Music For Health

( Exceprt

June 30, 2014 by 

The Power Of Music For Health


This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

There was one aspect of my childhood that was especially lucky. My parents insisted that I learn how to play a musical instrument at a young age. I think that eventually I would have played an instrument in any case. Music, in my gene pool, seems to be a genetic disease (but a good one).

Still, without my parents early prodding, I might not have started playing music as early I did. And I might not have been as disciplined in my musical endeavors if I hadn’t been trained in elementary school.

My mother had been a professional pianist and music teacher, and she just took it for granted that every kid should learn music. But I’m sure she never considered the health benefits of music.

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For just about anyone with a computer, the expansion of the Internet has bestowed unprecedented access to a mind-blowing variety of different types of music. Browsing among selections on websites like YouTube, I sometimes think a dedicated music lover could tune into most of the music written during the past 300 years.

My personal obsession with music extends to playing a number of instruments. Maybe I don’t play any particular instrument that well; but I find that emotionally and physically, playing for a while every day on the guitar or piano just plain makes me feel better.

And research into the effects of music — listening to it and performing it — shows that the activity produces measurable health benefits.

Brain Help

When scientists at the University of Liverpool measured changes in blood flow in people’s brains after taking music lessons, they found that a single lesson, even for just half an hour, shuttles more blood into the left hemisphere of the brain. That suggests that doing music activates the part of the brain that takes part in both music and language.

The probable conclusion: Singing and playing music may improve your language skills.

According to researcher Amy Spray: “The areas of our brain that process music and language are thought to be shared and previous research has suggested that musical training can lead to the increased use of the left hemisphere of the brain.”

Exercise To Music

Other researchers have found that listening to music while you exercise can improve your brain function significantly.

In a study at Ohio State University, scientists decided to see what kind of effect exercise and music would have on patients with heart disease. As researcher Charles Emery notes, “Evidence suggests that exercise improves the cognitive performance of people with coronary artery disease. And listening to music is thought to enhance brain power. We wanted to put the two results together.”

When they had heart patients walk or run on a treadmill, the researchers found that the 33 participants in the study reported improvements in their moods and mental outlook whether they listened to music or not. But their improvement on verbal fluency tests after listening to classical music while exercising was more than double what they could do without music.

“Exercise seems to cause positive changes in the nervous system, and these changes may have a direct effect on cognitive ability,” Emery says. “Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output.”

Musical Benefits

If you don’t have a lot of music in your life, now’s the time to put this activity to work to boost the health of your body and brain. Even if you just listen and you don’t play, you can benefit.

And it doesn’t hurt to sing along.

Other research indicates that:

  • Musical training keeps your brain younger as you age. A study at Northwestern showed that people who receive early musical training do better on brain tests as they grow older. This benefit persists even if you haven’t played much music since your early years.
  • Listening to your favorite music can lower your blood pressure. Research at New Westminster College in Canada shows that when heart patients listen to music they enjoy, their blood vessels relax and function more efficiently. The music produces measurable improvement in relaxation of vessel walls.
  • Listening to religious music you like can improve your mental health. When scientists from the University of Texas-San Antonio studied older adults who listen to religious music, they found that these seniors enjoy more life satisfaction and less anxiety.

Morning Music

Years ago, when I was still living with my parents, my father used to listen to a news radio station every morning. Talk about irritating. I can still hear the tinny voice on that radio speaker telling everyone within earshot to pay attention to the weather and traffic on the eights.

Nowadays, when I get ready for work in the morning, the news is about the last thing I want to hear. Instead I listen to music. And even if researchers hadn’t confirmed that music fine tunes your health, I’d still have a healthy appetite for a bounty of bouncy tunes.

Stay Healthy In An Emergency

( Exceprt

June 30, 2014 by 

Stay Healthy In An Emergency

Fish Mox Forte is actually amoxicillin.

When it comes to alternatives to medication, you need to be really careful. After all, if something isn’t Food and Drug Administration-approved, then there’s no guarantee that it’s gone through the years of testing required to prove that it’s fit for human use. However, during an emergency situation, you might not have the benefit of being able to acquire your regular prescription medications. When that happens, you’ll be thankful for whatever alternatives you might have sequestered away in your emergency storage.

Here are five ways to stay healthy during a disaster situation:

  1. Prescription medication: If you have a good enough relationship with your doctors, you may be able to convince them to prescribe a surplus of your needed medications so that you can have extra to place in emergency food storage. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on your medications’ expiration dates, as expired medication can cause unintended side effects.
  2. Fish antibiotics: Infection can be a real danger in any emergency situation, both from sickness and injuries. However, most physicians tend to keep a tight rein on their antibiotics. This is because there are people who want to use antibiotic treatments to combat everything from allergies and common colds to more serious diseases. However, antibiotics are effective only when dealing with bacterial infections. What’s more, overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistant strains of bacteria. However, if you have the medical know-how to accurately assess an infection, then having antibiotics around could literally save a life. So, how can you get your hands on antibiotics for your emergency storage? It’s simple. Head to a pet store or a fish supplier and pick up some fish antibiotics. The fact is that, chemically, fish antibiotics are identical to prescription human antibiotics (for example, Fish Mox Forte is actually amoxicillin). You’ll need to check dosage, but beyond that, there really isn’t any difference. Fish antibiotics can be purchased over the counter. Be warned, however, because the official stance on fish antibiotics is that they are not for human use. Yes, they’re exactly the same as prescription antibiotics, but if you decide to take them, you’re doing so at your own risk.
  3. Over-the-counter drugs: Many over the counter drugs fulfill the same function as prescription drugs. For example, most prescription painkillers use either acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen, which can easily be purchased over the counter without a prescription in the form of Tylenol, Advil or Aleve. As for other medications, ask your doctor about over-the-counter alternatives that you could use in an emergency storage. You might be surprised what’s available. Just be careful to follow all instruction and heed any warnings printed on the packaging; these drugs may be sold without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t also dangerous.
  4. Foods: Certain foods have been known to have immunity boosting properties and curative effects. Onions, for example, contain high amounts of the antioxidant quercetin, which help speed up the repair of damaged cells. Raw garlic can act as a blood thinner for heart attack victims, reducing pressure on clogged arteries. Honey can provide quick relief to sore throats. Really, there are too many to list here. But if you do a little research, you’ll be able to find all sorts of foods that can double as medication in a pinch.
  5. Water: Invariably, when doctors wants their patients to get over a minor ailment, they generally recommend the same thing: Rest and plenty of fluids. Water makes up about 60 percent of the human body; yet it is constantly being lost throughout the day thanks to evaporation, waste excretion and a number of other factors. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got more than enough clean drinking water in your food storage. Water helps oxygenate the blood and remove toxins from the body. It also aids in the production of lymph, which is a necessary component of the immune system. Water helps digestion, keeps your kidneys healthy, provides energy to your muscles and can be used to treat chronic ailments such as arthritis and even leukemia.

–Lee Flynn

Local Law Enforcement More Dangerous, Thanks To Trickle Down Of Military Equipment, Militarized Mindset

(Excerpt 30, 2014 by 


Local Law Enforcement More Dangerous, Thanks To Trickle Down Of Military Equipment, Militarized Mindset


For a mere $2,500, the Walton County, Fla., Sheriff’s Department purchased a military surplus mine-resistant, ambush-protected(MRAP) vehicle — that cost more than $500,000 to build — to help with its law enforcement activities. This is the same vehicle that the U.S. military deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq to use against insurgents.

The Florida county is just one in a long line of communities using Federal programs designed to militarize local law enforcement by providing them with military equipment and military training. Studies estimate as many as 500 communities have acquired MRAPs. The result has helped to turn local police and sheriff’s departments — originally tasked to protect and serve their public — into violent, shoot-first quasi-military organizations terrorizing and abusing the public. This is not hyperbole, as we show regularly in our Power Of The State section.

Walton County is so idyllic and peaceful that residents feel no need to lock their doors, and its peaceful nature is so over-the-top unusual that one of its communities was chosen as the location for filming “The Truman Show.” Yet Sheriff Mike Adkinson said the MRAP was needed as an “insurance policy” to keep deputies safe in dangerous situations.

The problem with police departments acquiring new military “toys” comes in the fact that, when toys are acquired, they are wont to be used. And therein lies the rub. Police use flimsy evidence to suggest “threats” exist, and the military tactics escalate encounters and create more violence.

The American Civil Liberties Union recentlycompleted a study of 800 deployments by heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams from 20 law enforcement agencies over the period 2011-2012. It found that more than three-fourths of the deployments were executed — often using MRAPs — to search a person’s home, and more than 60 percent of the time the searches were for drugs. But in at least 36 percent of the SWAT raids studied, no drugs were found. And because police reports were often incomplete, the ACLU notes that the actual figure could be as high as 65 percent.

SWAT teams were originally created to respond to hostage, barricade or active shooter scenarios. But only 7 percent of deployments in the ACLU study were employed for SWAT teams’ original intent.

Records provided the ACLU by 63 responding law enforcement agencies showed they received “a total of 15,054 items of battle uniforms or personal protective equipment” in 2011-2012.

In addition to battle uniforms and gear, officers are increasingly trained in military tactics and they increasingly come from the ranks of military units previously deployed in war zones. Their training “encourages them to adopt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of people they are supposed to serve as enemies.” And the equipment they use includes battering rams, flashbang grenades and the aforementioned MRAPS or other armored personnel carriers.

It’s not unusual for the raids to be carried out late at night to increase the confusion among the occupants who are startled from sleep. But it also increases the likelihood innocents are in the house, which increases the danger to them.

To put into perspective just how twisted local law enforcement agencies have become, consider this quote from Sgt. Dan Downing of the Morgan County, Indiana Sheriff’s Department. Regarding his agency’s acquisition of an MRAP, he said: “The weaponry is totally different now that it was in the beginning of my career, plus, you have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build IEDs and to defeat law enforcement techniques.”

This straw man argument is increasingly being promoted by the Federal government in propaganda pieces distributed by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as I’ve reported before. But to hear it come from a member of a local law enforcement agency, the ranks of which contain many “people who are coming out of the military,” is mind-boggling. Plus, I have yet to see an instance reported of a U.S. veteran employing IEDs against local police.

In fact, attacks on police are down. Firearm-related deaths of police officers reached a 126-year low in 2013, according to a report by the national Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. It’s the second year in a row for a decline, and the number of firearm-related police fatalities has dropped each decade since the 1970s.

The creation of the DHS after 9/11 has contributed to the militarization of local police departments by dispersing grant money and eliciting their assistance in so-called anti-terrorism enforcement. These grants have enabled local departments to stockpile specialized equipment in order to facilitate “readiness” for a terror event. It also increased the contact between a quasi-military agency — the DHS — and local departments.

Violent SWAT raids have resulted in death and injury of innocents — including women and children — often in homes targeted by mistake. Even pets aren’t safe around SWAT teams and patrol officers.

A 2012 report by the CATO Institute found that “40,000 [SWAT raids] per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.”

The DHS long ago jumped the shark in regard to considering all Americans as potential terrorists, and this mindset has increasingly filtered into local police departments through their ongoing contacts and training with DHS. But as we’ve told you before, most, if not all, U.S. terror plots are actually instigated and planned by the FBI.

The militarized mindset is not just reserved to SWAT officers, but has trickled down into all reaches of law enforcement, as evidenced by the increased prevalence of violent encounters between police and peaceful citizens.

Cops have come to think of themselves as gods above the law whose commands are to be obeyed immediately and without question. Any hesitation often leads to the “suspect” being left bleeding and broken or quivering from electricity introduced by a Taser. It doesn’t matter if the person was unable to understand the command because of a language barrier or if the person was unable to comply due to disability or defect. Officers expect immediate and complete compliance with no questions asked.

They are increasingly shooting dogs for barking, shocking with Tasers (see here and here) and pepper spraying children in schools, and shooting wheelchair-bound men in the streets. They apparently feel they operate above the law.

And their militarized appearance, backed by their militarized vehicles and overbearingly intimidating demeanor and the increasingly violent interactions they are having with the public, is creating a sense of fear. And that fear is justified, given that public safety is no longer the number one goal of local police.

How do I know that? By the actions and words of police departments acquiring the weaponry and using the tactics.

“I know that if somebody was in harm’s way, I wouldn’t let public opinion decide the safety of my deputy,” Adkinson said. “Safety is my number one priority.”

“At the end of the day, it gives the guys the ability to go home safely,” said Downing, “So, no matter what the price tag is on it, as long as they get to go home, that’s all that really matters.”

Note that it’s the safety of law enforcement that is the “number one priority” and “that’s all that really matters.”

Anti-Assad rebels said to seize 95% of Syrian Golan Heights

( excerpt

almost the entire Syrian side of the Golan Heights is now under the control of rebel forces, including radical Islamist groups, a senior Israeli military commander in the area said Friday.

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Only the Quneitra border area is still in the hands of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, Lt.-Col. Anan Abbas, deputy commander of the Golan Brigade, told Israel’s Channel 10. About 95 percent of the Syrian side of the Golan is in the hands of anti-Assad rebels, including radical Islamic groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaeda, a rival of the burgeoning Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, better known as ISIL or ISIS.

One of two Syrian army brigades that used to control the area has completely disappeared, the officer said.

At present, the Islamist groups in the area are focused on the war against Assad, he said, “but we know their goal is to harm Israel; we’ve seen their propaganda material.”

The Israeli officer said that the dramatic gains made by the rebel forces in the area appeared to explain why Syrian troops fired a missile on Sunday that killed a 15-year-old boy on the Israeli side of the border.

Apparently forces loyal to Assad, stationed some five kilometers inside Syrian territory, erroneously calculated that a civilian truck, delivering water to Israeli contractors who were working on the border fence, was actually a rebel truck on the Syrian side of the border, and opened fire on it with an anti-tank missile. The attack killed 15-year-old Mohammad Karkara, who had accompanied his father, a civilian contractor, to work that day.

In response to the attack, Israel that night launched a series of retaliatory air strikes that killed a reported 10 Syrian soldiers, though Damascus put the number at four.

Subsequently, the TV report said, Syria conveyed the message to Israel, via UN liaison personnel stationed on the Golan, that the anti-tank missile was fired in error. Israel “is inclined to accept the explanation,” the report said.

The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau on the Israeli-Syrian border. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 war, having been attacked from the Golan over the previous 20 years, and extended Israeli law to the area in 1981. Unsuccessful peace efforts over the years have seen Israel ready to trade most of the Golan for a permanent accord with Damascus, but the notion of Israeli-Syrian peace has all but disappeared as Syria collapsed into anarchy over the past three years of civil war.

Read more: Anti-Assad rebels said to seize 95% of Syrian Golan Heights | The Times of Israel
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ISIS Cutting Off Baghdad in Strategic Victories

By Ari Yashar

ISIS fighters (file)

ISIS fighters (file)

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), now in the second week of its lightning offensive that put large portions of Iraq under its control, continues to tighten its noose on the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Kurdish official on Tuesday stated that two towns on a crucial supply route linking Baghdad with the Shi’ite majority south of the country have been captured by Sunni rebels including ISIS, reports the news site Breitbart, referencing unconfirmed reports.

The official, Jabbar Yawar, said that by capturing the towns of Iskandariyah and Mahmudiyah, ISIS is as close as six miles from Baghdad. By capturing the supply route, it was predicted that the ability of Shi’ite reinforcements to the capital could be cut off and leave Baghdad isolated.

Meanwhile Iraqi security sources on Friday told Al Arabiya that ISIS had captured the town of Al-Mansuriya near Baghdad in the Diyala province, to the immediate east of the capital.

The town is only an hour’s distance from Baghdad.

Reports by the Stratford Global Intelligence agency state that ISIS is currently staging an attack on Balad Air Base (formerly Camp Anaconda) located 35 miles north of Baghdad, and has already overrun part of the facility.

The report cites anonymous Iraqi defense officials saying that seven divisions, a full half of the Iraqi army ahead of the June 10 ISIS conquest of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, have been defeated or deserted.

Shi’ites have brutal militias too

As the Sunni ISIS Islamists approach Baghdad sectarian violence has been skyrocketing in the capital, with numerous reports of assassinations and atrocities being committed by local Shi’ite militias against Sunni residents.

One Sunni resident of Baghdad, Muthan al-Ani, told the New York Times that Shi’ite militias are patrolling the city in unmarked vehicles and capturing citizens without any reason or any explanation as to where they were being taken. He added that Iraqi soldiers are hesitant to confront the militias “because they are more powerful than us.”

The United Nations (UN) reported that last week at least 21 unidentified bodies, most of them shot in the head, were found in Baghdad, while police officials said they found 23 bodies. Many more simply disappeared.

The killings are chillingly reminiscent of the worst days of sectarian violence in Iraq after the 2003 Coalition invasion, when Shi’ite death squads engaged in the systematic “cleansing” of neighborhoods, kidnapping and murdering hundreds of Sunni residents on a weekly basis.

“We certainly acknowledge there are unidentified bodies being found in Baghdad, and some evidence is emerging that people have been tortured,” said Jacqueline Badcock, deputy representative of the UN secretary general for Humanitarian and Development Affairs in Iraq.

A regional issue

The fighting in Iraq, which threatens to spill over into neighboring countries, has already killed 1,075 in Iraq in June, according to the UN.

The UN added the number is an “absolute minimum.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry told BBC on Tuesday that “every country in the region will combine in order to take on and expel ISIS because it is simply unacceptable to have a terrorist organization grabbing territory and challenging the legitimacy of governments.”

Kerry emphasized his push for a “political solution.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met with on Thursday in Paris, and stated Israel is offering to aid “moderate” Arab states to push back against the jihadis.