Puerto Rico Receives Water Purification Kits

WaterStep, National Puerto Rico Leadership Council Education Fund join forces

In order to combat the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Louisville-based organization WaterStep and the National Puerto Rico Leadership Council Education Fund (NPRLCEF) have joined forces to install water purification units in all 78 Puerto Rican municipalities. The first 22 water purification kits will be deployed to Puerto Rico next week to provide safe drinking water and disinfectant to those affected by Hurricane Maria. The kits will be transported by truck to Fort Peirce, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 7, and to San Juan via Missionary Flights Intl. Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The NPRLCEF is coordinating training seminars where emergency response workers will gather to learn how to install and operate the simple and effective equipment. A five-person team from WaterStep, including founder and CEO Mark Hogg, will travel to Puerto Rico Tuesday, Oct. 10 to conduct the training sessions. Once trained, the emergency response workers will be given a kit to distribute throughout the hurricane affected communities. Another Louisville-based organization, Love the Hungry, is supporting this effort by sending more than 7,000 nutrient-rich meals and two energy-efficient rocket stoves to feed the response workers, volunteers and translators during the training.

Each WaterStep kit contains disaster-tested equipment that can provide thousands of gallons of safe drinking water each day. The kits include:

  • A hard case box and bag;
  • A portable bleach maker (an award-winning device that produces medical strength disinfectant used to sanitize clinics, kitchens, shelters);
  • A solar panel (also serves as a cell phone charging station);
  • An M-100 chlorine generator (an award-winning device that produces safe drinking water);
  • A 500-gal bladder tank for fast initial storage;
  • A generator power adapter in case electric is available;
  • A manifold to push water in to tank storage;
  • A two-stage filter pack for particulates; and
  • A guzzler pump to pump water into storage tanks.

WaterStep has created and deployed affordable, effective, and sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions in various international disasters since 2009. At the onset of any disaster, agencies work hard to collect and deliver bottled water to disaster victims and bottled bleach to response workers. Though an important step, there are critical problems with bottled water and bottled bleach long term—it’s expensive, heavy and not sustainable. Three cases of bottled water weigh 90 lb, and WaterStep’s disaster relief kit weighs less then 100 lb and can produce thousands of gallons of safe drinking water each day.

WaterStep’s aid for Puerto Rice is made possible thanks to an $81,000 grant from GE Appliances – a Haier company. The funding covers the cost of the first 22 disaster units and their transportation to Puerto Rico. To donate to WaterStep’s disaster relief fund, visit www.waterstep.org.

Managing Your Condition With Exercise Get Motivated to Exercise

Need a reason to work out? Here are 7 to start

What if someone told you that a thinner, healthier, and longer life was within your grasp? Sound too good to be true? According to a wealth of research, exercise is the silver bullet for a better quality of life.

Not only does regular exercise aid in weight loss, it reduces your risk for several chronic diseases and conditions. Finding activities that you enjoy and that become part of your daily routine is the key to a long and healthy life.

The list of health benefits is impressive, and the requirements are relatively simple — just do it.

Ward Off Disease

Research has confirmed that any amount of exercise, at any age, is beneficial. And, in general, the more you do, the greater the benefits. The National Academy of Sciences has recommended that everyone strive for a total of an hour per day of physical activity. Sounds like a lot, but the hour can be made up of several shorter bursts of activity (it can be walking, gardening, even heavy housecleaning) done throughout the day.

Physical activity is an essential part of any weight-loss program, to maximize your fat loss while keeping valuable muscle mass. But exercise has many other health and longevity benefits. It can help prevent or improve these conditions:

1. Heart Disease. Regular activity strengthens your heart muscle; lowers blood pressure; increases “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins or HDLs) and lowers “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins or LDLs); enhances blood flow; and helps your heart function more efficiently. All of these benefits reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Researchers at Duke University suggest that the amount of physical activity, rather than its intensity, has the biggest impact on improving blood lipids (cholesterol). According to The New England Journal of Medicine, these researchers also found that any exercise is better than none — although more is better.

2. Stroke. In an analysis of 23 studies, researchers found that being active reduces your risk of having and dying from a stroke. According to a study published in the journal Stroke, moderately active study participants had 20% less risk of stroke than less active participants.

3. Type II Diabetes. This disease is increasing at alarming rates — by 62% since 1990 — and 17 million Americans now have it. Physical activity can enhance weight loss and help prevent and/or control this condition. Losing weight can increase insulin sensitivity, improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure — all of which are very important to the health of people with diabetes.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Frank Hu, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health found that a brisk walk for one hour daily could reduce the risk of type II diabetes by 34%.

4. Obesity. Overweight and obese conditions can be prevented or treated with exercise along with a healthy diet. Activity helps to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass, thus improving your body’s ability to burn calories. The combination of reduced calories and daily exercise is the ticket to weight loss. And controlling obesity is critical, as it is a major risk factor for many diseases. Lowering your body mass index (BMI) is a sure way to reduce your risk of dying early and to live a healthier life.

5. Back Pain. Back pain can be managed or prevented with a fitness program that includes muscle strengthening and flexibility. Having good posture and a strong abdomen is the body’s best defense against back pain.

6. Osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise (such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, or lifting weights) strengthens bone formation and helps prevent the osteoporosis or bone loss often seen in women after menopause. Combine a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D with regular weight-bearing exercise for maximum results.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, data from the Nurses’ Health Study showed that women who walked four or more hours per week had 41% fewer hip fractures than those who walked less than an hour a week

7. Psychological Benefits. Improved self-esteem is one of the top benefits of regular physical activity. While exercising, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that can improve your mood and the way you feel about yourself. The feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric” and is accompanied by an energizing outlook. Exercise can help you cope with stress and ward off depression and anxiety.

And these are just a few of the ways exercise improves your health. Studies have suggested it can also help with certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and more.

Putting It All Together: Exercise and a Healthy Diet

Exercise alone produces modest weight loss; when combined with a reduced-calorie diet, the effects are much more impressive.

In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that people who exercised regularly and ate a healthy, modest-calorie diet lost weight and improved cardiorespiratory fitness regardless of the length or intensity of their workouts.

Another study published in JAMA showed that it is never too late to reap the benefits of physical activity. Sedentary women 65 years and older who began walking a mile a day cut their rates of death from all causes by 50%.

Resistance, Resistance

If exercise is so good for us, why aren’t people doing it?

Some 64% of men and 72% of women fail to fit in activity on a daily basis, according to data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. Americans today are no more active than they were a decade ago.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a combination of aerobic exercise (the type that makes you breathe harder, like walking or jogging) for cardiovascular conditioning; strength training (like lifting weights or calisthenics) for muscle toning, and stretching to improve your range of motion.

Strive for doing all three types, but remember that any exercise is better than nothing. Here are some easy ways to work physical activity into your life:

  • Adopt a dog and take it for walks every day.
  • Do things the old-fashioned way — get up and change the television channel; open the garage door manually; use a push lawnmower.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk briskly whenever you can.
  • Minimize use of your car; walk to destinations within a mile.
  • Take up tennis or any other game or sport you enjoy.
  • Join a gym or health club.

Next time you are tempted to skip exercising, keep these wonderful health benefits in mind and remember, every little bit helps. You may not feel up to a rigorous workout, but how about a walk in the neighborhood?

Don’t pass up a chance of a lifetime — that is, a longer and healthier one.

 

 

 

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Worried about Russian Collusion? Gerrymandering & Voter Suppression are worst threats

From Electoralgeographies.web

 Gerrymandering / Congressional Redistricting

Manipulating congressional districts through gerrymandering  has become a pervasive problem in the United States since its utilization by Elbridge Gerry in 1812. The point of gerrymandering is to cram “all of [your opponents’] supporters into a small number of districts. This method allows the legislature to spread its own supporters over a larger number of districts” (Ingraham, 2014b).

The graph above shows data on 8 states’ gerrymander index scores. It is clear that these data, in general, indicate that states are becoming more gerrymandered over time.

North Carolina and Maryland are regarded as the most gerrymandered states in the United States.  North Carolina’s 12th district is one of the worst in the nation, stretching over 77 miles from Winston-Salem to Charlotte in a snake-like pattern. (below)

NorthCarolinas12thcongressionaldistrict

There are certainly regional and demographic factors at play in the more recent gerrymandering efforts, such as those that we saw in 2010. Republicans gained a majority of House seats and state legislatures that year, and as a result were in charge of districting after the 2010 census. Redistricting’s original intent (after the census every 10 years) was to provide fair representation for people in different states as their populations increased or decreased, but it has largely become a political tool dominated by  whomever controls the state’s legislature.

From the graph below, you can see that the South, and the East Coast in general, is becoming more gerrymandered than the rest of the United States. The darker reds represent states that are more gerrymandered on the index score, and the lighter colored states represent those that are less gerrymandered.Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 7.51.11 PM

Gerrymandering the Electoral College?

Republican victories and the subsequent Congressional districts established by Republicans in 2010  gave the party momentum to propose legislation regarding alterations to the electoral college. Their goal is to set up a congressional district system in their respective states, which would ultimately determine the outcome of the Presidential election through dividing electors amongst state districts.

over-timegerrymander

Nebraska and Maine already have a congressional district system in place, and Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are all considering legislation (Henderson & Haines, 2013). Systems such as this in Ohio and Virginia, key swing states during the 2012 Presidential election, would have indicated a victory for Mitt Romney (Berman, 2012). But such law, if implemented, would also change presidential campaign strategies, and would generate and eliminate different battle-grounds.

Voter Suppression Laws 2014

Similar to gerrymandering, voter suppression laws are a way for political parties to gain an advantage through manipulation.  The 2014 midterms witnessed minority populations in the South, and other parts of the country being targeted by such legislation. A major issue at hand were voter ID laws. Many states introduced newly established ones this cycle. 11 states had new voter ID laws, which excludes states where these laws will be implemented in future elections-such as NC.imrsimrs

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 1.17.56 PM

21 states featured new voting laws more generally which included elimination of same day registration, elimination of out-of-precinct voting, limitation of early voting days, and longer wait times for criminals to regain their voting rights.

Research indicates that affected states “tend to have large black and Hispanic voter populations” (The Economist 2014). As an example, 1/3 of North Carolina’s African American voters utilized same day registration in 2012, a privilege which was eliminated in the state this cycle.  The portion of the Voting Rights Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court in a 2013 decision may be to blame for some of the problems in the South. Southern states are largely dominated by Republicans, and are no longer required to receive federal approval before changing legislation.

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Update from Puerto Rico…. ‘If anyone can hear us … help.’

By Samantha Schmidt and Daniel Cassady, Washington Post

In the northern Puerto Rican town of Vega Baja, the floodwaters reached more than 10 feet. Stranded residents screamed “save me, save me,” using the lights in their cellphones to help rescue teams find them in the darkness, the town’s mayor said.

In Loiza, a north coastal town that already had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma, 90 percent of homes — 3,000 — were destroyed by Hurricane Maria just days later. In communities across the island, bridges collapsed and highways were severely damaged, isolating many residents. In Rio Grande, officials had yet to access a number of families stuck in their homes, three days after the powerful storm made landfall.

When speaking about his town’s destruction, Ramon Hernandez Torres, mayor of the southern city of Juana Diaz, took a long pause, his voice catching and his eyes filling with tears.

“It’s a total disaster,” he said.

Hurricane Maria pounded the entire island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, but the scope of the damage had been speculative and unclear since, in large part because towns across the U.S. territory have been completely off the grid. Though images from the air showed incredible destruction, mayors were unable to reach central government for leadership and help because communication was impossible. No telephones, cellphones, or Internet. No power. No passage through roads that had been washed away or blocked with trees and power lines.

THIS IS HOW YOU CAN HELP

http://unitedforpuertorico.com

But on Saturday, for the first time in days, mayors and representatives from more than 50 municipalities across Puerto Rico met with government officials at the emergency operations command center here in the island’s capital city. Many of the mayors learned about the meeting through media reports over satellite radio the night before. One mayor said his staff was informed after a man ran to his offices with a note telling him to make his way to San Juan.

Approximately 20 other mayors across the island still have not been able to make contact with government officials, leaving major gaps in the broader understanding of the damage Maria left behind.

The mayors greeted each other with hugs and tears, and they pleaded with their governor for some of the things their communities need most: drinking water, prescription drugs, gasoline, oxygen tanks and satellite phones. The entire population remains without electricity. Families everywhere are unable to buy food or medical treatment. Roads remain waterlogged, and looting has begun to take place at night.

“There is horror in the streets,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said in a raw, emotional interview with The Washington Post. “People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes.”

“Whenever I walk through San Juan,” Cruz said, she sees the “sheer pain in people’s eyes. . . . They’re kind of glazed, not because of what has happened but because of the difficulty of what will come,” she said. “I know we’re not going to get to everybody in time. . . . Two days ago I said I was concerned about that. Now I know we won’t get to everybody in time.”

Oscar Santiago, mayor of the northern coastal city of Vega Alta, said many of his community’s families refused to evacuate their flooded homes. One little girl was standing barefoot with her family on a roof, which was littered with nails, he said. When he asked her to put on some sandals, she told him: “The hurricane took them.”

Marcos Cruz Molina, mayor of Vega Baja, said even his own wooden home was destroyed, and he has since sought shelter with his parents. Jose Rodriguez, mayor of Hatillo, in the northwest, said “hundreds and hundreds” of homes in his town were obliterated. “It’s catastrophic,” he said.

The meeting in San Juan came a day after the governor urged residents downstream from Lake Guajataca — a population of nearly 70,000 — to evacuate amid fears that a dam holding the lake back might fail because of damage from Hurricane Maria’s floodwaters. Officials said the dam’s structural damage was caused by a “fissure,” a crack that had grown to a significant “rupture” by Saturday. The dam’s failure could lead to massive amounts of water flowing through coastal communities along a river’s path to the ocean, and authorities believed evacuation was the only option.

Local authorities said the actual number of residents remaining in those towns at risk of destruction was most likely much lower because of early overestimates, officials said. Evacuations continued on Saturday.

Some Puerto Rico officials believe it could be months before the island recovers and that it will be at least a year before some sense of normalcy returns.

Officials estimate it will take three weeks for hospitals to regain power, and about six months for the rest of the island to have electricity. By Saturday, 25 percent of the population had telecommunications connections.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced efforts to centralize medical care and shelters for the elderly. He also plans to distribute 250 satellite phones among mayors to facilitate communication. He said he urged the mayors to develop a “buddy system” with other local officials.

Cruz, San Juan’s mayor, said she has never seen such devastation, but she also said she has never seen such determination to make it. She described a phrase she keeps hearing from residents: “Yo soy Boricua. I am from Puerto Rico.”

“That has become the very courageous way of saying we are going to overcome anything that comes our way,” she said.

A janitor stopped Cruz with a request on Friday: “Tell the world we’re here,” he said, Cruz recounted. “Tell everyone we’re fighting. Tell everyone that can listen that we are going to make it.”

Michael Bennett Says He Plans to Sue Las Vegas Metro Over August Incident on The Strip

By Monique Judge, Staff Writer, THE ROOT

Seattle Seahaws defensive end Michael Bennett says he was terrified during his encounter with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officers on Aug. 27, and he plans to sue the department for what he considers to be an incident that started because of the color of his skin.

“It felt like a movie almost because everything was happening so fast. People were like running, people were scared because nobody knew what was going on,” Bennett told Nightline’s Byron Pitts in his first interview since the incident happened.

Bennett told Pitts that word spread there were gunshots in the lobby of the Cromwell Casino, and people took off running. Bennett confirmed that no one saw a gun, but everyone saw panic.

“We saw police, we saw SWAT, and everybody’s on the ground crawling, and people are asking ‘what are we going to do? what are we going to do?’ so we started trying to get away,” Bennett said.

Bennett told Pitts that once he got outside, he was accosted by two police officers who he says singled him out because of the color of his skin.

“All of a sudden, I hear someone say ‘get on the ground’ and there’s a few guns already drawn, and at that point, I’m just thinking ‘is this really real?’”

Bennett said he was terrified to make a move. He asked the officer to tell him what he did because he was scared and wanted to go home. He says he told the officer that he was Michael Bennett from the Seattle Seahawks, but the officer told him to “Shut the fuck up before I blow your head off.”

Bennett says the officers eventually Googled to confirm he was who he said he was.

In that moment, Bennett says he went from being just a ‘black man’ to being a ‘football player.’

LVMPD contends that Bennett had been running and acting suspiciously. Bennett’s lawyer, John Burris, told Nightline that they want police to release all the videos related to the incident.

“Unless something changes drastically that we don’t know of, we are going to file a lawsuit,” Burris said.

Bennett said it was emotional to explain to his 10-year-old daughter about stereotyping and racial profiling and what it means for him as a black man and her as a young black girl growing up in America.

Bennett said the experience has changed him forever.

“Every time I see my wife, I try to kiss her like it’s the first time we ever met,” Bennett said. “Every time I play with my daughters, I try to hold them like they were just born. Because I don’t know, and that situation right there let me know that it could happen at any moment.

Will ‘Blackout’ Be The Movement to Shut Down The NFL?

By Angela Helm
Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root

This should be an interesting football season—and year, for that matter—since many American institutions are messily having their come-to-Jesus moments.

For the last two days, a video has been circulating on social media (primarily Facebook) with various black men—of all shades, ages, professions, geographical locations—covering their favorite NFL jerseys with a black T-shirt.

#BlackOutNFL is part of a burgeoning and increasingly surging stand against the National Football League, whose owners have decided to make an example of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided to take a stand for black lives so callously cut down with regularity and impunity.

Pastor Debliare Snell, of the First SDA Church in Huntsville, Ala., spoke openly about why he is behind the #BlackOut movement in the video.

“In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick engaged in a silent nonviolent protest,” said Snell. “He did this to raise awareness to the number of brown and black individuals that had been beaten or killed at the hands of law enforcement across this country. Since the end of last season, as a result of this protest, Colin Kaepernick has been unable to find employment in the NFL. I find that strange, seeing that the NFL has employed individuals that have been convicted of sexual assault, domestic violence, cruelty to animals, along with driving while under the influence.”

Snell goes on to say that he finds it “interesting” that certain NFL owners have come out on the record saying they are not hiring Kaepernick because they feel a “backlash” from a certain segment of their fan base but have no fear of African Americans, which Snell claims are 15 percent of NFL viewers (not to mention a majority of its players).

“My belief is simply this: If Colin Kaepernick was willing to take a stand for those of us who are noncelebrities who have to interact with law enforcement on a day-to-day basis … certainly we can take a stand and stand with him.”

The #BlackOut movement advocates four action steps:

  1. Boycott the NFL (no games, no fantasy football, no jerseys, no nothing).
  2. Commit one to two hours during the NFL season that you would have spent watching games to mentoring young black boys and girls.
  3. Spread the word to others.
  4. “Take a knee” in prayer at 6 a.m. each day.

On Aug. 23, Spike Lee and others are planning to march on the NFL headquarters in New York City to protest against what many say is a hypocritical and, in a word, racist NFL. In addition, some players have begun sitting out the national anthem during NFL preseason games.

Muslims Feeding RVA’s Needy For 2 Decades Needs Your Help

The Masjid Bilal Food Bank has operated for more than 20 years under the direction of Dr. James H. Rasheed . Residents from all over the Richmond Churchill community receive grocery items including produce, meats, baked goods and canned goods. Feeding more than 1000 people monthly, the program has been the recipient of numerous community awards. The Masjid Bilal Food Bank, one of the principal ministries of the Muslim American Community RVA , works in collaboration with the Central Virginia Foodbank.

Future plans include merging this project into a Job Readiness, Financial/Computer Literacy Initiative, Restoration of Voter Rights and Integrated Family Visitation Services.

This initiative has relied upon the volunteer efforts of many Churchill residents working side by side with members of the muslim community. The program receives no grants and relies solely upon individual contributions.

This program which is vital to so many families is in jeopardy of closure due rising cost and a reduction in contributions. We need your help!

Become a sustaining supporter of this community program. Please give a generous tax-deductible one time or monthly contribution.

It’s Easy! Just click on the Link below.

http://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=tmcF2vYJqbyldMCyM4wB_OESXHsxUGL4Q8uK2ntO2cYSQWCS6ijTat_Nx6itmpbLWZz9W0&country.x=US&locale.x=US

We invite you to come by and see your dollars in action! The food bank operates the fourth weekend of each month, Fridays 2pm-4pm and Saturdays 9am –12 noon. To find out more about this initiative, contact James Rasheed at jhrasheed@aol.com.

Because of your donation, your elderly neighbors and children won’t have to go to bed hungry again.

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The Hajj..The Journey of a Lifetime

The Hajj ( Arabic: حَجّ‎‎ Ḥaǧǧpilgrimage“) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the most holy city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm. The Hajj is the largest annual gathering of people in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.

The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. This year the Hajj is being
observed on Thursday, August 31st, (Dhul Hijjah 9, 1438) with the Eid ul Adha, The Day of Sacrifice being celebrated on Friday, Sept 1st (Dhul Hijjah 10, 1438).

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Islamic year is about eleven days shorter than the Gregorian year, the Gregorian date of Hajj changes from year to year. Ihram is the name given to the special spiritual state in which pilgrims wear two white sheets of seamless cloth and abstain from certain actions.

(exerpt from WikIpedia-Hajj)

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HAJJ DOCUMENTARY

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