Moms hold nurse-in at Arizona McDonalds

Dozens of Valley moms converged Saturday on a McDonald’s in Phoenix to breastfeed their infants in protest of a woman who was asked to leave the establishment for doing the same.

An assistant manager of the McDonald’s at 51st Avenue and Cactus Road asked Clarissa Bradford and her children to leave when Bradford began nursing her 6-month-old child on Aug. 11.

Although the restaurant this week issued an apology saying it would never happen again, demonstrators were upset at public reaction to the story and wanted to respond to critics who say mothers shouldn’t breastfeed in public…

A restaurant employee stood outside the entrance, shooing members of the media away. Starchman and another woman, Alisa Ilardo, came out to speak with reporters. They estimated there were about 100 people in the restaurant at the time, mostly mothers with infant children.

There was no sign of resistance from restaurant employees, Starchman said, characterizing the atmosphere as relaxed with most of the women using the time to have casual conversation. Once inside, a few of them even bought food, she said.

Alisa Ilardo said the group was not upset with McDonald’s, but they wanted to make a statement.

“It was just someone’s bad judgment, but we need to keep people from treating moms like this,” she said.

Right on!

Fear of falling linked to future falls in the elderly

Elderly people who are very worried about falling are more likely to have a fall – even if they are in reasonable health and their physical risk of falling seems low, new research has found. In contrast, those with a higher physical risk, but who were unconcerned about falling, were actually less likely to fall…

Doctors have spent a lot of time looking at the physical factors that affect risk of falling – for example, people’s eyesight, balance, muscle strength, and the type of medication they take. But it’s been recognised for some time that fear of falling is closely associated with likelihood of having a fall.

What doctors didn’t know was whether fear of falling was simply a rational response to the person’s actual, physical risk. Also, if people were encouraged to be less fearful of falling, would that actually increase their risk of a fall, by allowing them to take more risks..?

About one third of the people in the study had either an overly optimistic or overly pessimistic view of their chances of having a fall, compared with their assessed physical risk.

The people who had a low physical risk, but were very fearful of falling, were much more likely to have a fall than the people with the same level of physical risk, but a low fear of falling.

Perhaps surprisingly, the people who had a high risk on the physical assessment, but who weren’t worried about falling, were much less likely to fall, compared with people with both a high risk and a high fear of falling.

The factors that seemed to increase people’s fear of falls were symptoms of depression, self-perceived poor health, a poorer quality of life, and symptoms of anxiety. People with a lower fear of falling were more likely to have an active lifestyle, less likely to take medicine that could affect their balance, had a higher quality of life, and rated their overall health as good…

However, we can’t be sure that it was simply fear that made the difference to people’s likelihood of falling. It could be that fear was related to something not measured in the study, which affected falls risk. The study doesn’t explain why fear of falling is linked to a higher risk of falling.

This article actually makes me smile. I had a strong fear of falling when I was a kid; but, ended up doing a fair bit of high altitude hill-walking and rough climbing. Reason and acquired skills overcame the fear. Mostly.

Now, at an advanced age and with a chronic condition or two that increases the risk of falling, I wouldn’t say I have a heightened fear of falling – but, I’m more aware of circumstances that might promote a fall.

Yes, I carry a cane – though I use it only a small percentage of the time. I find it useful to get me standing more erect when setting out for one of my dog walks along the fence line. I grabbed this article because I thought it may have moved forward to greater understanding of the phenomenon. At best, it’s confirmation. A start.

Young Afghan couple stoned to death

Life inside an ideological cave

The young lovers didn’t stand a chance.

In a desolate field on the edge of their village in northern Afghanistan, hundreds of men, stones in hand, closed in to carry out the mullah’s death sentence, handed down after the pair eloped against the wishes of their families.

It was an act of great cruelty,” said Mutasem Khan, an uncle of Abdul Qayuum, the 28-year-old man who was stoned to death this month in Kunduz province along with the village woman he had wooed, identified only as 19-year-old Siddiqa…

Even as hard-line village mullahs loosely aligned with the Taliban seek a return to the harshest forms of physical punishment permitted under Sharia, or Islamic law, the Taliban leadership has been trying to rally public support by painting itself as a defender of civilian lives.

In a highly unusual move, the Taliban this month even offered to create and participate in a joint commission with the Western military, the United Nations and the Afghan government to investigate the deaths and injuries of noncombatants. That offer came soon after the insurgents issued a “code of conduct” that discouraged the killings of civilians…

For countries contributing troops to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force, such a settlement could set the stage for an exit from what has become an increasingly unpopular war. But the West says, echoed by the government of President Hamid Karzai, that negotiations can take place only with insurgents who promise to renounce violence and respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and legal system, which call at least in theory for due process under the law.

At the village level, however, matters of crime and punishment almost always encompass family honor and deeply held tribal traditions.

Summary justice, governing everything from land disputes to adultery, was a feature of daily life long before the Taliban rose to power in the 1990s and will probably remain part of the landscape regardless of how long the Western military presence lasts.

Someone remind me: Which group of Stone Age ideologues is on “our” side?

Why are we there? And who invited us to stay forever?

Steadily, public opinion marches past politicians and courts

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Gay marriage is not going away as a highly emotional, contested issue. Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage, has seen to that, as it winds its way through the federal courts.

But perhaps the public has reached a turning point.

A CNN poll this month found that a narrow majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage — the first poll to find majority support. Other poll results did not go that far, but still, on average, showed that support for gay marriage had risen to 45 percent or more (with the rest either opposed or undecided).

That’s a big change from 1996, when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. At that time, only 25 percent of Americans said that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry, according to an average of national polls.

The more important turning points in public opinion, however, may be occurring at the state level, especially if states continue to control who can get married.

According to our research, as recently as 2004, same-sex marriage did not have majority support in any state. By 2008, three states had crossed the 50 percent line. *

Today, 17 states are over that line (more if you consider the CNN estimate correct that just over 50 percent of the country supports gay marriage).

These are numbers comparable to what happened in previous civil rights struggles in our nation’s history. Suffrage for women, equal opportunity before the law for Black Americans, advanced at similar rates.

The premise of political leadership by the best of our elected officials dwindled and disappeared years ago. Conservative-mandated freedom of the Hill for lobbyists took care of that.

Leadership in the courts has been hindered by a willing coalition of conservative Democrats and Republican bigots tracking back to Nixon appointees. Opportunist corruption and fear of courts assuming leadership over political hacks guaranteed complicity.

Gandhi’s dicho about getting back ahead of the people “for I am supposed to be their leader” is as true as ever in the heart of the “progressive” Obama administration.

Fixing a world that fosters fat

Why are Americans getting fatter and fatter? The simple explanation is that we eat too much junk food and spend too much time in front of screens — be they television, phone or computer — to burn off all those empty calories.

One handy prescription for healthier lives is behavior modification. If people only ate more fresh produce. (Thank you, Michael Pollan.) If only children exercised more. (Ditto, Michelle Obama.)

Unfortunately, behavior changes won’t work on their own without seismic societal shifts, health experts say, because eating too much and exercising too little are merely symptoms of a much larger malady. The real problem is a landscape littered with inexpensive fast-food meals; saturation advertising for fatty, sugary products; inner cities that lack supermarkets; and unhealthy, high-stress workplaces.

In other words: it’s the environment, stupid.

“Everyone knows that you shouldn’t eat junk food and you should exercise,” says Kelly D. Brownell, the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. “But the environment makes it so difficult that fewer people can do these things, and then you have a public health catastrophe.”

Dr. Brownell, who has a doctorate in psychology, is among a number of leading researchers who are proposing large-scale changes to food pricing, advertising and availability, all in the hope of creating an environment conducive to healthier diet and exercise choices…

So what kind of disruptive changes might help nudge Americans into healthier routines? Equalizing food pricing, for one.

Fast-food restaurants can charge lower prices for value meals of hamburgers and French fries than for salad because the government subsidizes the corn and soybeans used for animal feed and vegetable oil, says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…

RTFA. More depth and detail in the article.

My own very subjective take from the decades I spent on the road relies quite simply on marketing 101. Make food cheap and accessible, fast food succeeds. It succeeded so well it dominates the landscape.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have done so well if it all was noticeably crap – but, it ain’t. Taste buds are taste buds and fat and salt are food groups our species figured out were enjoyable back in cave-mouth-barbecue days. Social pressure alone has prompted the best of the fast food vendors to offer alternatives. Will that be sufficient?

As some of us have learned to walk away from other leftovers from our primitive past, we have the capacity to reason and decide upon what we eat no matter the source.

Ejaculating into co-worker’s water bottle makes identification easy

An Orange County man has been arrested, accused of ejaculating into his female co-worker’s water bottle on two separate occasions.

Michael Kevin Lallana, 31, of Fullerton, is charged with two misdemeanor counts each of releasing an offensive material in a public place and assault, with sentencing allegations for committing a crime for sexual gratification…

The incident happened on January 14, 2010, at the Northwestern Mutual Mortgage Company in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Investigators say Lallana entered the victim’s office and deposited his semen into a water bottle that was on his co-worker’s desk. The defendant is accused of leaving the semen-filled water bottle on the victim’s desk which she drank when she returned to her office.

The unidentified victim, who was unaware of the bottle’s contents, drank the contaminated water. She threw it away after feeling sick, investigators say.

Three months later, the victim and six other employees, including the defendant, were transferred to the Northwestern Mutual Mortgage Company’s Orange branch. That’s where a second incident occurred, according to officials.

On April 9, 2010, Lallana is accused of assaulting the same victim by depositing his ejaculation into another water bottle that the victim left on her desk. The victim took a sip from the bottle, then felt sick. She decided to send the specimen to a private lab to be tested.

The lab contacted her and told her the water bottle contained semen, police said. And – she then notified the Orange Police Department.

DNA tests confirmed the semen belonged to Lallana.

Har! Wonder if he can spell D-N-A?

Non-geek dumb crook of the day

A German bank robber led his pursuers straight to him after taunting police in an email over their efforts to catch him. Authorities in the southern city of Wuerzburg said on Wednesday the 19-year-old sent emails to police and two newspapers to point out factual errors in the report of his bank raid in the town of Roettingen a week ago.

According to daily Bild, he mocked the police for getting his age, height and accent wrong then pointed out he escaped in a car, not on foot.

“His game of cat and mouse went all wrong,” a Wuerzburg police spokesman said.

Police traced his email and arrested him in a gambling hall in Hamburg just a few hours later.

“He was completely shocked,” the spokesman said.