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Archive for April, 2007

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Sidewalk Sculpture Exhibit

Split Ring in Motion is the name of this impressive stainless steel sculpture created by American sculptor Rob Lorenson. Lorenson’s works have been shown in various exhibitions around the world, including the Pierwalk in Chicago, Illinois, the Sarasota Season of Sculpture
in Florida and The Convergence International Arts Festival in Providence,
Rhode Island, USA. His works are also housed in numerous public and private
collections.

And now, this particular sculpture, Split Ring in Motion, can be found on the Paseo de Montejo Boulevard between Calles 43 and 45, right in front of the Twin Houses, a half a block from the Musuem
of Anthropology. Split Ring in Motion is
one of the 50 sculptures that have been present on this majestic boulevard since April 15th. That was opening day of the exhibition that is the second exhibit of the program called Merida of Yucatan, City of Sculpture. This exhibit features works by both artists from the USA and from Mexico.

Want more outdoor sculpture? After you stroll the Paseo de Montejo, head down to the Main Plaza and visit the sculptures located between the Cathedral and the Ateneo Penisular Building where the Macay Museum is housed.

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For centuries, geography made it difficult for the Yucatecans to communicate with the rest of Mexico. As a result, architectural and cultural influences from Europe, the Caribbean and New Orleans were as strong or stronger in the growth of the city. To this day, the people who live here consider themselves Yucatecans first, Mexicans second. If you look carefully, you will see tshirts and bumper stickers proclaiming Orgulloso Yucateco, Yucatecan Pride.

The Yucatan is one of Mexico’s most tranquil and safest states, with a climate resembles that of Florida or Cuba. Yucatecans are good, tranquil and hospitable people who have strong roots and traditions. They take pride in their city, known as “The White City”, not only for the predominance of white limestone as a building material, but because of its streets, plazas and parks that are cleaned daily.

When I read this description of the Yucatan I realized the wonderful opportunity that had come my way. A chance to visit a long desired location in Mexico, meet local healers and stay with a family that still speaks the local Mayan dialect. This opportunity will add another layer of interest to my budding eco-travel business, Concentric Rings.

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Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic Amazonian plant brew. It has been used by native Indian and mestizo shamans in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador for healing and divination, for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Used as a sacrament in religious ceremonies, it is an integral component of their religious expression. The indigenous peoples who worship their gods with the use of Ayahuasca are having their religious freedom threatened by western culture whom in their zealous desire to control drug use (fueled by the so called “drug war”) are passing legislation that bans the use of this plant. Through pressure and manipulation by the United States, most countries have unilaterally criminalized any use of various plants and the compounds within them, Ayahuasca is one of them. These legislative bans have been made without analysis or consideration of the people involved or the religious significance of the use of these plants in spiritual ceremonies.

In the following essay, I will explore the history and spiritual significance of Ayahuasca to the indigenous people of South America, and I will defend their right to use Ayahuasca in religious ceremonies.

Ayahuasca comes from the Quechua language: huasca means ‘vine’ and aya meaning ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. This ‘Vine of the spirits’ is vital to spiritual tribal health and vitality. It is an integral part of their spiritual worship that has endured for centuries. The origins of the use of Ayahuasca in the Amazon Basin can be traced to prehistory. No one can say for certain where the practice originated but its widespread use among indigenous tribes throughout the Amazon Basin came to the attention of Western ethnographers in the mid-19th century. There is abundant archeological evidence (in the form of pottery vessels, anthropomorphic figurines, snuffing trays and tubes, etc.,) that plant hallucinogen use was well established in the Ecuadorian Amazon by 1500 – 2000 B.C. Suffice it to say, the use of Ayahuasca in worship is grounded in antiquity, it is a foundational component to Amazonian spiritual life.

Dimethyltryptamine or DMT is the active, mind altering compound of Ayahuasca. DMT can be found in relatively any life form, plants, animals, fungi or most astonishingly, secreted by the human brain. Despite its ubiquity, the role of DMT remains a mystery. It is believed that DMT fuels vivid dreams, mystical revelations, and religious exaltation, as well as having a role in memory. The difficulty in studying the effect of DMT in the body is that it is broken down quickly by the enzyme, monoamine oxidase. This enzyme quickly renders the compound useless in the gut before reaching the brain, unless taken with an MAO inhibitor. The role of MAO was only realized by scientists through the study of shamanic rituals in Ecuador, Brazil, and obscure areas of the Amazonian basin. Shamans have overcome MAO’s effects by careful combinations of wild Amazonian plants. One such plant is Psychotria viridis bush, which contains significant quantities of DMT. The other is the vine Banisteriopsis caapi, which contains Harmine, one of the most effective MAO inhibitors. This combination allows the DMT to pass the brain blood barrier causing a psychedelic effect.

Many Western trained physicians and psychologists have acknowledged that these substances can give access to spiritual dimensions of consciousness, even mystical experiences similar to classic religious mysticism. In spite of the fact that no harmful physiological effects have been found in association with Ayahuasca consumption, the US government has continued to pressure foreign governments to criminalize its use.

Anti-drug legislation has been particularly harsh with regard to hallucinogenic substances since the popularity of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in the 50’s. Legislation was pushed in part because the effects produced by psychedelic drugs are strikingly similar to the symptoms of psychosis. In the 1950s, these similarities led to the suggestion that psychoactive compounds like DMT were the cause of schizophrenia. This gross speculation was later found to be short sighted and erroneous.

Ayahuasca is not the latest party drug, but a foul-tasting plant concoction that Amazonian people have been consuming and using for religious purposes for centuries. The nausea and vomiting that ensues after consumption of the plant verifies that it is not a “party drug” but is used for a spiritual, personal journey.

Ayahuasca is a plant of many legends, credited by natives to yield visions of the future, communication with nature, and telepathic communication with the spirit realm. Today this bitter tea, also known as hoasca, has become the sacramental ritual of two modern religions in Brazil. One of them, the União do Vegetal (UDV) church, has begun a legal battle with modern pharmaceutical companies in an effort to invalidate patents they acquired through nefarious means. The conflict over the plant began more than 10 years ago, when Loren Miller, director of the small California-based International Plant Medicine Corporation, took a sample of a medicinal plant cultivated by an indigenous community in Ecuador. Miller returned to California and obtained a patent from the U.S. government in 1986, claiming a new plant variety, which gave him exclusive rights to sell and breed new varieties from the plant. U.S. patent law requires the person requesting the patent to be the original breeder of the new plant variety. Indigenous groups argue that the plant is widely used throughout the region and that Miller did nothing to the plant to improve it. Therefore, they say, he cannot claim to be the “inventor” of the plant, and is not eligible for a patent. “The root of the dispute is not the Foundation or Miller, but that the U.S. patenting process favors corporations over the rights of indigenous people” (Edward Hammond, a researcher with the Rural Advancement International Foundation (RAFI)). He says because the U.S. patent office does not thoroughly check to see if a plant variety is genuinely new or if the applicant is indeed the original breeder, corporations can easily claim patents on plants grown and bred in other countries by indigenous peoples.

The perceived theft of Ayahuasca is especially disturbing to indigenous groups because the vine, also known as Yage, is held sacred by many indigenous communities. It has been cultivated throughout the Amazon rainforest since the pre-Colombian era for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes. Only shamans are authorized to prepare it and no member of the community can drink it without the guidance of a shaman. “We would like to believe that, as the millennium is ending, so is the time of paternalism, protection and colonial practices — but it seems that we have the sin of optimism,” Augustin Grefa says (a leader of the Rio Blanco community, which is located 350 kilometers of Quito, Ecuador). “Commercializing an ingredient of the religious ceremonies and of healing for our people is a real affront for the over 400 cultures that populate the Amazon basin.”

There is much unrest and anger within tribes and groups in the Amazon basin and world wide. This anger I feel stems from the unfair, capitol driven, legislation of the US government. As globalization becomes more prevalent, US foreign policy must evolve as well.

For 35 years the federal government has allowed Native Americans to use peyote in their religious rituals (in spite of the fact that the drug is otherwise banned) while denying American members of Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal (UDV), a Brazil-based religious group, the use of Ayahuasca in their religious ceremonies . This is a double standard, both religious experiences are grounded in antiquity, neither substance has proven harmful after thousands of years of use, and both represent freedom of religious expression.

Freedom of religious expression is the cornerstone upon which the United States was founded. Yet laws are being passed that obstruct the religious freedoms of countless peoples. Through sanctions and political pressuring, the U.S. has managed to impose unilateral drug laws worldwide. Ayahuasca was placed under federal control in Schedule I (along with heroin and cocaine) when the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1971, this means it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute (sell, trade or give) without a DEA license. Since then, several countries have followed suit (Table A1) including all countries in the United Nations. The penalty for distribution could result in up to seven years imprisonment. There have been several developments in 1999, 2000, and 2001 which have affected the practical legal status of Ayahuasca. In the United States, Europe, and South America, Ayahuasca has become a part of the “War on Drugs” resulting in several arrests for possession of Ayahuasca or its component plants.

Shamans are spiritual guides and healers to the tribe’s people they represent. From crafting poisonous arrows for hunting, to healing those who suffer from physical or spiritual sickness, the shaman’s role is akin to that of professor, doctor, and pastor. They have endured the criminalization of their religious practices and suffered the loss of land and resources. Ayahuasca is the largest and possibly oldest psychedelic religion known. Thousands of years of knowledge and culture are represented by tribes that practice Huasca rituals. Whether Ayahuasca is truly a conduit for spiritual planes of existence or not, it is imperative that as a global community we protect the rights and culture of all people.

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Correa and Lula plot to cut down the forest and scoop out the rivers

In yesterday’s el Comercio, as in the other major Ecuadorian papers, the headlines were Correa’s visit with Lula in Brasil, which culminated in the signing of fifteen economic convenios (agreements) ordered in three categories: (i) to widen the energy cooperation; (ii) widen the financial integration (in Latin American, one of Correa’s main points); and (iii) a commission that shall analyse the situation of a corridor from Manta to Manaus.

!these are not tree-huggers, but loggers!

The corridors – and the devastating effect it is likely to have on the environment and the culture and livelihoods of the people who live along the roads and rivers to be turned into commodity highways – has been a topic in previous entries and this entry shall serve only to reiterate where Mr. Correa is taking his neo-socialist movement: to the destruction of the forest while ignoring the land and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon..

Correa’s visit in Brasil, as already mentioned, concluded with the signing of fifteen convenios and should be understood as a longer process that began before Correa had even taken his presidential seat in Quito and which extends plans of previous Ecuadorian governments.

One of the main points on the exclusively economic agenda of Correa’s neo-socialist revolution in Ecuador is the Manta-Manaus corridor and it was agreed, between Ecuador and Brasil, to set down a bi-national commission to analise “the situation”:

“Una comisión analizará la situación de la vía Manta-Manaos. Una vía que una el puerto de Manta en Ecuador con Manaos en Brasil y se convierta en la ruta de entrada para el Atlántico, en el caso ecuatoriano, y el Pacífico, en el caso brasilero, fue parte del discurso de ayer de los mandatarios Rafael Correa y Lula da Silva.

Ambos anunciaron que tomaron la resolución de formar una comisión binacional que se reunirá dentro de 15 días en Quito para empezar a trabajar en el proyecto, y que continuará con reuniones periódicas en ambos países. “

The commission is to commence working in Quito within fifteen days, that is, by now, fourteen and counting….

Hidrovias are a common Euro-American developmentalist paradigm phenomenon and is currently also debated in southern Brasil where evaluations of “the hydrologic impact of the Hidrovia project on the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, that is, the changes in water and sediment runoff to be expected as a result of project implementation” has been carried out.

A fairly “general” point made in the evaluation reads:

“# Channel modifications (straightening, dredging, and particularly blasting of rocky sills), will destabilize the river’s baseflow regime, and will demand future action in the river to continue to maintain the required minimum draft for navigation, i.e., it will set in place a vicious circle of channel interventions.”

The German “Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit” (GTZ) has been doing studies for the purposes of scooping out an hidrovia on the Rio Napo already, since the projected Manta-Manaus corridor was an idea of the late Gustavo Noboa government.

Rafael Correa has adopted the idea and it is now a central element in his plans for economic development and financial integration of Latin America, which also counts a Brasil-China-Ecuador collaboration to exploit some of Ecuador’s major oil fields, including investments by Petroleo Brasileiro SA in Ecuador reaching U$1 billion by 2010:

“Brazil’s Petrobras today signed a memorandum of understanding with Ecuador’s state-owned PetroEcuador to propose plans to explore the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

Chilean state oil company Empresa Nacional de Petroleo and a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s largest oil refiner, will bid with Petrobras to develop the ITT fields.”

¿¿So, yea, what’s left to say, other than, perhaps, to paraphrase an old hippie tune, Where do the children play in a neo-socialist economy?

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Natural Solutions Foundation
April 8, 2007
Could It Be That All The Problems Are Coincidence?

A couple of days ago The Natural Solutions Foundation sent out an Action Alert telling you that the FDA is at it again. Their “Proposed Guidance on CAM” will classify all natural therapies as “Medical Practices” so only licensed physicians will be able to practice them. Then the supplements and products used in those practices become “untested drugs” which are, in the US and elsewhere, illegal. Not only that, I can tell you as a physician that deviations from “practice guidelines” or “treatment algorithms” are increasingly cause for doctors to have their licenses pulled so few doctors will offer those modalities.

The Comments page , (http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/healthfreedomusa/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=7185) I set up for you to use to send your comments electronically to the FDA during the public comment period (which ends on April 30) was working perfectly and, at last count, 11,030 people had sent comments to the FDA using that page.

And then the emails began coming in that said things like, “When I click the “submit” button, I get an ‘Error 404’ message.” and “When I clicked on the link in your email, I got a “Page no longer available” message and similar emails.
Connect the Dots!
Dot:
On March 14 of this year our site, http://www.HealthFreedomUSA.org, was “locked” by our hosting company hours after we made it known that the huge number of drug-related deaths which are the leading cause of death in every developed country in the world fit in perfectly with the explicitly stated genocidal agenda of multinational and international organizations from the Council on Foreign Relations to the World Health Organization. We pointed out that this fits perfectly with the apparent underlying Codex agenda (http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/index.php/?p=322), coming as it does straight from Nazi Germany. (Check out the Nutricide Video on our home page, http://www.HealthFreedomUSA.org if you haven’t seen it! Email that link, too.)
Dot:
A temporary page telling people what happened after our site went down was mounted by our webmaster. Within hours his server and all of his sites were off the Internet because of a concerted, organized and illegal attack on our site and his hosting server. When he took our temporary site down, the attack ceased almost instantly and his sever and sites were back on line within minutes.
Dot:
Our Action Alert on the proposed New York legislation (http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/index.php/?page_id=351) which will limit access to nutrients and supplements in that state was number 1 in Google’s ranking on the topic one day and suddenly disappeared from the Internet search engine altogether overnight!
Dot:
More than 11,000 people have responded to our urgent request that they file their objections to this latest FDA end run around DSHEA (the 1994 law which says that supplements and herbs are foods and, as such, are presumed to be safe). Our Action Alert emails on the topic have been widely circulated and people are using this opportunity to create another uproar like the one that prevented Congress from taking away our right to supplements in 1994 and brought us DSHEA!

Dot to Dot to Dot:
Oh Look! There’s a Picture!

I think it is reasonable to conclude that our vigorous response and success is not particularly welcome to the FDA and their friends. And that means that we need to intensify our successful response right now! We only have until April 30, 2007 to let the FDA know that We, the People, want our health products, our health freedom and our self determination. The FDA also needs to know that we want Public Hearings on these issues and that we are willing to make our will loud and clear.
Here’s Your Part

You have been doing a great job of sending your comments to the FDA and circulating this information to your circle of influence. It may be hard to take in but if this “Guidance” goes through, there will be no more legal natural health and wellness modalities. There will be no more natural health and wellness products.
Our nutrients, if we are permitted any, will look very much like the low potency, no impact nutrients permitted in Europe under the Codex-Compliant European Food Supplements Directive (using any other nutrients in any other dosages is a crime). Our herbs, if we have any, will look very much like the very, very short list of herbs permitted ONLY FOR TRIVIAL COMPLAINTS in Europe under the European Medicinal Herbal Products Directive (using any other herbs for any other reasons is a crime). In other words, Big Pharma, like Big Brother at the end of George Orwell’s chillingly prophetic “1984” will have won.

We are That Close!

We are that close to loosing natural medicine. We are that close to loosing our health freedom.
It is imperative that you submit your comments to the FDA. If you value your health or your freedom (or both) you have only a narrow window of opportunity to raise your voice with all the other voices shouting for our right to make our own health decisions.
Use this link to access the page where you can submit your comments : http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/healthfreedomusa/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=7185
If there is a problem wit the link, write to me with your information at dr.laibow@gmail.com and I will personally make sure that your comments are submitedfor you. Every one of them!

After you have submitted you comments, the next step is critical. Spend some time contacting all of the people in your circle of influence and, with a short note at the top of the email, explain how dangerous this threat is, how short the window of opportunity is and what the consequences will be if the FDA and Big Pharma succeed this time around. Please include the makers and sellers of your vitamins, minerals, etc. as well as the practitioners whom you know in your emails. Ask people, practitioners, health food stores, organizations and companies to alert their customers, patients, suppliers, friends, etc. We need millions of responses and we CAN get them if we all work together on this.
Oh, and please, don’t forget to write to me to let me know if you have any further problems with the links or the sites. We will fix them if you do.

Actually, I take heart from these attacks: if we were not effective, there would be no need for sabotage!
Remember, the FDA’s goal is simple: through a “Guidance” about the regulation of “CAM” (which they conveniently define as “Complementary and Alternative MEDICINE” instead of “Complementary and Alternative Modalities” the FDA hopes to serve the interests of Big Pharma by eliminating all CAM practices and products. ALL of them.

Criminalizing Natural Health

The FDA is using a legal ploy to make all natural health criminal in either one way or another. You can’t engage in it if you are not a physician and you cannot use the products even if you are. That’s very similar to the laws recently introduced in Australia (5 year prison sentence for using, providing to another person or teaching the use of nutrients) and India (illegal to practice or teach acupuncture, energy healing, sound therapy, etc., etc.). Neither law passed but they will be back in Parliament again. It’s the same process: marginalize, then criminalize all competition to the deadly, expensive and oh-so-useful drugs!

In your email to your circle of influence, please remember to Include a link to the Natural Solutions Foundation website (www.HealthFreedomUSA.org ). Tell them that we are protecting their health freedoms and ask them to lend their support to the health freedom battle which threatens to criminalize natural health! Let them know that when you click on this link, http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/healthfreedomusa/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=7185, your comments will be automatically registered on the FDA site.
5,000,000

That’s our goal. Two weeks, five million comments to the FDA, all asserting our fundamental right to control our own health. Manufacturers, distributors, health food stores and natural practitioners pay close attention: the FDA is in the process of regulating your business out of existence. By April 30. If you value your work and your livelihood, ACT NOW!

Here’s the link:

http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/healthfreedomusa/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=7185

We are collectively doing a GREAT job. That’s the reason efforts to silence us crop up. We won’t be silent because we are right: our health and our freedom are worth speaking out for and we are doing it!

We ARE the Ones

We Have Been Waiting For!

Oh, yes. One other thing: The lawyer who wrote this comments document did it for free. Our other legal consultants work for free. I work for free. General Stubblebine works for free. Our wonderful volunteers and Board Members accept no compensation. Everyone else who is providing services wants to be paid for the work they do for us. And rightly so, by the way. So don’t forget to feed the health freedom kitty by making a tax deductible donation (http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/index.php?page_id=189) or shopping at our all-organic store! Thanks for all your wonderful support.

Yours in health and freedom,

Dr. Rima

Rima E. Laibow, MD

Medical Director

Natural Solutions Foundation

www.HealthFreedomUSA.org

dr.laibow@gmail.com

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There is a crisis in Health Freedom.

On April 30, 2007 the FDA will close the public comment period on a “Guidance” which will classify every alternative practice as medicine so that only licensed physicians can carry out the procedure AND vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc., will suddenly become “untested drugs” which will be forbidden.

Bad? Real Bad! But public outcry can stop this assault on your health and your freedom.

Spread the word! Tell everyone in your Circle of Influence, professionals, alternative practitioners, nutrient and herb companies, everyone! Let them know how important their participation is to make sure the FDA backs off from this repressive course.

Yours in health and freedom,

Rima E. Laibow, MD
Medical Director
Natural Solutions Foundation
http://www.HealthFreedomUSA.org

Please share this link with them and urge them to take action:

http://www.democracyinaction.org/healthfreedomusa/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=7185&t=

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“We have been taught that optimal health, deep healing, satisfaction, gratification, happiness and even God can be found out there somewhere. This concept of looking outside is simply not correct. All answers lie within.”

” Because times are changing, medicine must embrace change. It will do so for one simple reason: we, the people, want it to.”
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Here’s a Spring Salad that Dharma Singh Khalsa suggests to improve kidney function.

2 medium heads yellow endive
1 medium apple, sliced thin
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup watercress leaves
1/4 cup blue cheese

Dressings
1 tablespoon nonfat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons walnut oil
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Wash endive and watercress. Arrange leaves on serving plate, arrange apple slices on top of leaves.
Sprinkle walnuts and blue cheese on top of apple slices.

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor or blender and blend. Pour over salad

Watercress and endive are powerful cleansers for the intestinal and circulatory systems.

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