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Monday, February 29, 2016

Lookalike Drugs With Fentanyl -- Deadly Roulette

Authorities are sounding the alarm about a new and deadly twist in the country's drug-addiction crisis in the form of a potent painkiller disguised as other medications.

Tennessee officials say they've seen two dozen cases in recent months of pills marked as the less potent opiates oxycodone or Percocet that turned out to contain fentanyl, a far more powerful drug. One official likened the danger to users playing Russian roulette each time they buy a pill on the street.

In San Francisco, the health department blamed several overdoses last summer on lookalike Xanax containing fentanyl, while Canada has issued warnings about multiple recent cases of lookalike oxycodone pills containing fentanyl.

And in suburban Cleveland, federal agents arrested a man this month after seizing more than 900 fentanyl pills marked like oxycodone tablets.

"'These pills are truly a fatal overdose waiting to happen,' said Carole Rendon, acting U.S. attorney in Cleveland.”

(Andrew Welsh-Huggins. “New twist in addiction crisis: Deadly painkiller impostors. The Virginian-Pilot. February 29, 2016.)

Lookalike Substances

Let's recap:

1. Fentanyl marked as oxycodone.

2. Fentanyl marked as Percocet

3. Fentanyl marked as Xanax

This deception = death. Fentanyl is fairly cheap to manufacture illicitly, so dealers are disguising it for higher return. What results? Abusers of opiates can get their hands on something much more lethal than they bargained for – lookalike substances containing fentanyl.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, lookalike pills were likely to blame for some of the 19 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in January, 2016, alone, according to Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County medical examiner. "This is all the more alarming because this is a much more lethal drug being dressed up as another popular drug abused by the same population," he said. Gilson added that lookalike pills point to the dangers of buying what appear to be pharmaceutical drugs off the street.

(Mark Gillispie. “Ohio officials say fentanyl pills being sold as oxycodone lookalikes.” Nordonia Hills News-Leader. February 15, 2016.)

Fentanyl, typically used for treatment of chronic pain in end-stage cancer patients, is 25 to 40 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl produced for the illegal market comes from Mexico, while chemically similar components have been traced to China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Make no mistake, fentanyl can be a deadly substance. The DEA says fentanyl-related overdoses killed more than 700 people nationwide between late 2013 and early 2015. Ohio experienced 502 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, up from 84 the year before. In all, 2,482 people in Ohio died from accidental overdoses in 2014, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.

For some addicts, death by fentanyl is an unwitting mistake, as they often do not know the composition of what they buy on the street.

But, for others, something else drives the appeal to the substance.

Carole Rendon, acting U.S. attorney in Cleveland, told a tragic, unbelievable outcome of overdose deaths. She said, "When there is an overdose death, users do tend to flock to that drug dealer, because they think that he or she must have incredibly potent - either heroin or fentanyl or a combination thereof.” What a sad, sad commentary on the devastating power of opioid addiction.

Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “The reason for this behavior is addiction, or one of its fundamental features: the ability to alter people's brains such that they can no longer exercise proper judgment or experience normal pleasures. Along with displacing natural "reinforcers" such as food, family, and friends, drugs of abuse also eventually lose their ability to reward, placing the addict on a compulsive quest for more drug and for greater drug potency as their reward circuitry becomes increasingly blunted and desensitized.”

Some good news? China announced in October it would regulate the sale and distribution of 116 chemical compounds used in the production of synthetic drugs, including acetyl-fentanyl.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that fentanyl is a Schedule II prescription drug. It is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine. Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opiate receptors, highly concentrated in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions.

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transdermal patch, or in lozenge form. However, the type of fentanyl associated with recent overdoses was produced in clandestine laboratories and mixed with (or substituted for) heroin in a powder form.

Combined with heroin and used in powder form, fentanyl represents an intersection of prescription drug with street drug and reminds us of the potential dangers associated with the abuse of both -- particularly as the abuse of prescription painkillers continues to grow in young adults and youth.”
--Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Iowa Law Would Let Children Under 14 Use Handguns

Earlier this month, the Iowa House passed a bill 62 to 36 that would allow children under 14 to use handguns with parental supervision.

Statehouse Republicans, including the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jake Highfill, said the legislation was an issue of parents' rights designed to correct "an injustice in Iowa code” that now forbids children 14 and younger from handling pistols.

Highfill said his measure would bring the law on children's use of handguns in line with regulations for shotguns and rifles, which don't restrict the age of children using them under parental supervision. Current Iowa law makes it a felony for a parent or guardian to allow a child younger than 14 to handle a pistol. Older children may do so with supervision.

The bill now heads to the state's Democratic-controlled Senate.

(Kim Bellware. “Iowa Lawmakers Approve Bill That Would Let Kids Have Handguns.” The Huffington Post. February 24, 2016.)

Some Sobering Statistics

In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to the defense fund.

Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence (2013) reports the following:

* "Thirty-three percent of U.S. households have a gun, and half of gun-owning households do not lock up their guns, including 40 percent of households with kids under age 18."

* "A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a completed or attempted suicide (11 times more likely), a criminal assault or homicide (seven times more likely), or unintentional shooting death or injury (four times more likely) than in a self-defense shooting."

* "Most unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home (65 percent), based on data from 16 states. The most common context of the death (30 percent) was playing with the gun."

Opposition To the Handgun Bill

"What this bill does, the bill before us, allows for one-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds to operate handguns," said Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democratic Iowa state representative. "We do not need a militia of toddlers. We do not have handguns that I am aware of that fit the hands of a one- or two-year-old," said Running-Marquardt.

"Logically, this bill is completely ridiculous," Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa said.

(Clyde Hughes. “Iowa Children Gun Law Would Allow Kids Under 14 to Use Handguns.” February 26, 2016.)

Despite backers of the bill, who point to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and argue it should be up to parents to decide when the time is right to let their children use guns, a late study (2013) revealed that around 17 percent of children and teens that are at the risk of suicide have guns at their home and they know how to use both guns and the bullets.

Stephen Teach, associate chief of emergency medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., presented the research to the Pediatric Academic Societies. Teach said, "Half of all completed suicides in teenagers involved a firearm. Suicidal thinking and access to firearms can be a very volatile mix

Teach, along with doctors at Boston Children's Hospital and Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, surveyed teenagers and young adults in the emergency room to create a new, quick screen test for suicide risk. Many teenagers and young adults only have contact with the health care system in the ER, so the researchers saw it as a chance to find people at risk. Up to 40 percent of young people who kill themselves had no known mental illness

(Nancy Shute. “Guns At Home Pose A Risk For Suicidal Teens.” National Public Radio.
May 06, 2013.)

Responsible Adults?

A subsection in the proposed law makes the parent or guardian of the child in possession of the weapon "for any lawful purpose" responsible "to an injured party for all damages resulting from the possession of the pistol or revolver or ammunition therefore by that minor

Doesn't that subsection, in itself, speak of the lack of responsibility for a child under the age of 14 to be trusted with a handgun? Am I missing the bottom line here? To make a law just because some parents are willingly allowing their children to use these weapons is unjustifiable … even if some of these parents are extremely safe with their guns around children. We are bound to protect the public good. Have you considered who that “public” entails?

In my opinion, Jake Highfill and other proponents of the bill should be held responsible for their reckless lawmaking. I am willing to take all the flak from the NRA and the Gun Lobby. They can Second Amendment me until they pass out for lack of air. I see no reason young hunters or target shooters need a handgun. Period.

According to a new study by Everytown for Gun Safety, two children die almost every week in unintentional shootings — far more than government statistics show. Whether these deaths are the result of suicide, unintentional shooting, or some other cause, we, as adults, must take every possible precaution to prevent child gun deaths. That, I believe, includes keeping children's hands off of handguns.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Johnny Carson on Antenna TV -- A Master In Full Episodes

I was watching old Johnny Carson “Tonight Show” reruns the other night on Antenna TV, a marvelous channel that airs many older offerings. Every evening Antenna TV shows an entire episode of the Tonight Show, and lately I have found myself ending my evening while watching Johnny, Ed, Doc, and their guests entertaining America once more.

Suffice it to say, I enjoy these shows so much that they have become a highlight of my day. Now, I am 65 years-old, and I realize that puts me in the “Old Geezer” demographic; however, I feel the quality of television in the 21st century is spiraling in a steep nosedive that reflects a significant, constant “dumbing down” of America.

As I was watching the old Tonight Show, I had a minor revelation the other night that spoke directly to my age and to my opinion of most modern television entertainment. It was a very simple understanding. Here it is: I “get” the pace, humor, content, and style of the Johnny Carson Show – things I often find missing in Colbert, Fallon, Kimmel, and others. Carson was simply a master of his craft – he remains an unparalleled late night host.

Please, let me elaborate how I believe Johnny Carson achieved his fame (and still does (at least, for me) in the rerun episodes) ...

First of all, Carson made me feel comfortable, at home, and relaxed. In this respect, he used a relatively slow pace to develop human interest in his monologue, his guests, and his routines. I felt as if I could trust Johnny, his opinions and his tastes, and his impeccable timing – in that respect, to me, Carson was the Walter Cronkite of late night.

In addition, I loved how Carson guided a dialogue without monopolizing the conversation. He was always cordial yet in control with his guests – whether the guests were ordinary people or celebrities. At the same time, he often assumed a very non-threatening background role. He was an excellent listener who skillfully stimulated interesting interactions while seamlessly setting up opportunities for spontaneous humor. Gifted with intellect and “quiet” communication skills, Carson stands above new late night hosts.

Of course, the Tonight Show had a great supporting cast. Ed McMahon was the consummate sidekick and Johnny's essential “straight man.” I loved Ed for never trying to overextend his role and for his timely, offhand remarks and his ever-present chuckles. The best “second-banana” in the business, Ed began each episode with his booming, "Heeere's Johnny!" followed by the Paul Anka penned “Tonight Show Theme.” Classic television, to say the least.

Then, there was the band. Doc Severinsen, the fantastic bandleader, had a musical presence that was peerless. Doc was a great trumpeter whose band was tight and versatile – they played older or new music that appealed to everyone. Johnny always ripped Doc about his flashy attire. The hip fashionista seemingly always had a hilarious deadpan comment in reply. And sometimes Carson would jest about band member's Tommy's Newsome's bland nature and Tommy played along to get a laugh. And, it would be ashamed to shortchange drummer Ed Shaughnessy, who first found a place playing alongside big names like Billie Holiday, Bennie Goodman and Count Basie. Ed was quite a performer in his own right.

The guest list for the Tonight Show was a who's who of celebrities. Recently, I have seen episodes featuring Jonathan Winters, Jimmy Stewart, Robin Williams, Michael Landon, Charlton Heston, Joan Collins, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin and countless others who literally lit up the set.
It seemed no one was willing to miss an opportunity to sit down with Johnny. Here is just one evening episode's guest list (first aired on July 20, 1973): comic Jack Benny, football player Joe Namath, and actress Elke Sommer.

Invariably, Carson would also host common folks of human interest on his show. The lady who had the potato chip collection, the woman who won the hollering contest, the young girl who was invited to Moscow – all were among guests with interesting interviews conducted by Johnny. Perhaps it was his Midwest upbringing or his humble roots that made for his genuine fondness of people. Whatever it was, Carson's kind demeanor seems sorely lacking in late night these days.

Accolades? Johnny Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.

Johnny Carson became an American icon and remained so even after his retirement in 1992. He earned the title of “King of Late Night TV" by dominating the medium's later hours for three decades.

In my book, thanks to Antenna TV, Carson remains the king. I suggest if you, too, would like to end your day with a “feel good” dose of great American television, watch these full episodes of the Tonight Show featuring Johnny Carson.

Schedules list the following: Weeknights 11p & 2a ET / 8p & 11p PT

Weekends 10p & 1:30a ET / 7p & 10:30p PT

Click here for some very entertaining conversations with Johnny Carson:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Proposing Supervised Injection Sites for Heroin Addicts


"One-hundred and twenty-five people will die in America today from opioid overdose; they will die in the streets or will die in their homes or will die in gas station bathrooms."

--Ithaca New York Mayor Svante Myrick

The mayor of Ithaca, Svante Myrick, 28, released a report recommending, among other things, treating heroin addiction by allowing users to inject drugs at supervised facilities. Similar centers have been found to reduce the spread of infectious disease, overdose deaths and improperly discarded syringes.

Myrick said the report is a blueprint for cities struggling to deal with a rise in heroin addiction and overdose deaths. He is frustrated with what he sees as the ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system in responding to the drug scourge in the United States.

Myrick said he hopes to proceed with his proposal by avoiding the state Legislature and asking the state health department to declare the heroin epidemic a health crisis in New York.

"This is a strategy that sounds as outrageous as the strategy that we came up with to provide sexual education to teenagers, something that was unthinkable in the '70s," said Myrick, whose father was a heroin addict.

(Afeef Nessouli. “Upstate N.Y. mayor proposes nation's first drug injection centers.” CNN. February 24, 2016.)

Svante Myrick

About 100 facilities, in some places known as drug consumption rooms, exist in Europe, Australia and Canada.

The world's first official supervised injection site opened in Berne, Switzerland, in 1986, and multiple cities in Europe opened centers in the decades after. Today, the majority of injection rooms continue to be found in Europe.

In Canada, a facility called Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2003 became North America's first legal drug injection center, according to its website. Insite operates under a special license but without the support of the Canadian federal government. Addicts shoot up as medics watch. Some patients line up two or three times a day to use one of the 12 injection booths. About 800 people use the booths daily.

Among those using the injection rooms, the likelihood of them entering detox increased by 30%, and people are 70% less likely to share needles, according to a study by the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Myrick convened a municipal drug policy committee a year and a half ago to make recommendations. The group included representatives of the district attorney's office, police department, drug treatment facilities and the local syringe exchange.

In addition to the supervised injection facility, the committee also recommended what is known as "heroin assisted treatment," or medical care in which heroin doses are carefully regulated and controlled for people who have failed other treatments.

Outrageous? Desperate Measures In Desperate Times

Let me draw an analogy. Granted, this analogy is not relevant to illegal substances such as heroin. What I will write is highly illogical and it won't prove a thing. However, with a little imagination on the reader's part, I might draw an interesting parallel.

The U.S. government says alcohol is responsible for one in every 10 deaths of Americans aged 20 to 64. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that excessive drinking not only leads to fatal car crashes and violence but also to deadly cases of breast cancer, and liver and heart disease.

And, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2013, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.8 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Now is when you must use your imagination …

Let's pretend that people all over the United States are dropping dead daily due to alcohol overdose. I know this “overdose” claim is irrelevant for alcohol, but let's just “say” that alcoholics are dying from massive quantities of the substance in accidental consumption. In fact, let's assume that 125 people each day die due to this accidental alcohol overdose – the same number of people who die from opioid overdose. (By the way, the facts report alcohol kills a staggering 241 people a day.)

I want to know if the stigma against alcoholics would prevent you from supporting programs that would administer controlled doses of alcohol to alcoholics who would otherwise accidentally drink massive quantities of the substance and essentially drink themselves to death by means of alcohol poisoning.

But, alcoholics are not considered drug addicts by most people. And, alcohol is legal and so accepted in society that many largely ignore the destruction caused by the substance. Alcohol kills alcoholic addicts: they are “addicted” to the substance – there is no other way to put it. But, in the case of alcohol, most of those addicts who succumb to the disease die a slow, measured death.

Yet, once again, let's say that instead of liver disease and all the other ailments related to death by great consumptions of alcohol that large numbers of people did overdose and die of poisoning like addicts on heroin or any other deadly opioid.

I can't imagine people restricting alcohol from those who would be overdosing at such alarming rates if alcohol did cause unintentional deaths due to overdose. I am asking you to consider the difference in the case of opioid overdose. A damaging drug is a damaging drug is a damaging drug.

Just because alcohol is the substance of choice for the majority because of its wide acceptance and falsely touted minor effects, we would likely forge ahead with any program that would save loved ones from accidental alcohol overdose – including supervised consumption sites.

Call my analogy “silly.” In most respects, it is. Still, if your loved one was in grave danger due to opioid addiction, you would try every means available just to keep that person alive. I know this because I have talked with and befriended so many families who have struggled for an answer other than losing a life they deem so precious.

Myrick's idea will cause widespread outrage. I'm sure the vast majority of people in his state will do everything to prevent this bold strategy from happening. And yet … there is no value on the life of a single human being. And, there is no greater act than saving a life. Dear reader, addicts are humans who desperately need our help, even if that means we must do things that stick in our craw and defy conventional logic.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Young Bitch and Relational Aggression

Young women acting tough – this is the “queen bitch” image that seems so pervasive in society today. It seems that more and more girls adopt and project not just a strong sexual identity but also an aggressive, “don't fuck with me” image.

To be quite honest I find it disturbing and unattractive; however, I regularly see “bad girls” with highly assertive postures on the streets, in music videos, and in films. “Sugar and spice” seems to have taken a hike. Today, I'm searching for answers about female aggression.

Clinical psychologist Ditta M. Oliker says ...

The words now associated with female aggressive behavior include: excluding, ignoring, teasing, gossiping, secrets, backstabbing, rumor spreading and hostile body language (i.e., eye-rolling and smirking).

Most damaging is turning the victim into a social "undesirable". The behavior and associated anger is hidden, often wrapped in a package seen as somewhat harmless or just a "girl thing". The covert nature of the aggression leaves the victim with no forum to refute the accusations and, in fact, attempts to defend oneself leads to an escalation of the aggression.”

(Ditta M. Oliker, Ph.D. “Bullying In the Female World.” Psychology Today. September 03, 2011.)

An intriguing line of research suggests that relational aggression may lead girls into trouble. For about a decade, University of Minnesota researcher and psychologist Nicki Crick, PhD, has been studying relational aggression, her term for a behavior she has seen in girls as young as age 2.5 years old.

Crick says while physically aggressive, youngsters use physical threats as agents of harm, relationally aggressive girls treat relationships as harm agents, “much like pawns on a chessboard.” Gossiping, withdrawing affection to get what you want, and using social exclusion to retaliate against a friend are all examples.

While some boys exhibit relational aggression, they tend to show hostility with physical actions. Girls show relational behavior far more often, Crick finds. The behavior appears to be motivated by the desire to maintain an exclusive friendship or relationship, she adds.

Crick says that relationally aggressive girls display "hostile attribution bias," the tendency to interpret events in a paranoid manner. That's true for physically aggressive kids as well. But while physically aggressive youngsters show this tendency in relation to physical threats, relationally aggressive youngsters do so only in relational contexts. For instance, a relationally aggressive girl may overhear two girls talking about having a party and assume she has been deliberately excluded.

(Nicki R. Crick, Jennifer K. Grotpeter and Maureen A. Bigbee. “Relationally and Physically Aggressive Children's Intent Attributions and Feelings of Distress for Relational and Instrumental Peer Provocations.” Child Development Vol. 73. July-August 2002.)

Clearly, relational aggression can be a proactive behavior, used in such a way to achieve a goal such as status or popularity. It can also be used reactively, as a response to frustration or provocation.

In pre and early adolescence, much value is placed on friendships and social connections; thus, relational aggression is seen during these years. Aggressive behavior in girls from ages 3 to 5 tends to be more direct, but by early adolescence it starts becoming much more covert. Some studies (Craig Hart, Brigham Young University) claim 17 percent to 20 percent of preschool and school-age girls display such behavior.

(Chris Hawke. "Study: Mean Girls Start As Tots.” CBS News. May 07, 2005.)

Aggression in relational contexts becomes more common at the same time that children develop a more complex understanding of their social worlds. It can continue into the adult workplace.

The "mean girls" are highly liked by some and strongly disliked by others. They are socially skilled and popular but can be manipulative and subversive if necessary. They are feared as well as respected.

These types of aggressive acts have been largely overlooked until recently.

In the past, many of these behaviors were dismissed and seen as “rites of passage” or even normal behavior. However, the harmful effects are being recognized as anything but normal. In fact, the National Education Association reports that as many as 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of being victimized by such behaviors.

While relational aggression can take many forms, some of the methods include:
* Malicious gossip and spreading rumors
* Cyberbullying
* Manipulative affection
* Alliance building  
* Ignoring Intimidation
* Exclusion Taunts and insults

One source identifies these prevalent roles within the hierarchy of relationships in most group situations:

The Queen

Her friends do what she wants, and she is not intimidated by other girls. She is often manipulatively affectionate. The Queen defines right and wrong by the loyalty or disloyalty around her. She believes her image is dependent on her relationships and she gives the impression that she has everything under control.

The Sidekick

She feels the Queen is the authority who tells her how to dress, think, feel, etc. The Sidekick rarely expresses her personal opinions. Her power depends on the confidence she gains from the Queen.

The Gossip

She is extremely secretive and deems to be friends with everyone. The Gossip gives the impression of listening and being trustworthy but uses confidential information to improve her position. She tends to get girls to trust her because when she gets information, it doesn’t seem like gossip.

The Floater

She moves freely among groups and doesn’t want to exclude people. The Floater avoids conflicts. She is more likely to have higher self esteem, as her sense of self isn’t based on one group. She may be pretty, but not too pretty; nice, but not too sophisticated. People genuinely like the Floater. She may actually stand up to the Queen and she may have some of the same power as the Queen. However, the floater doesn’t gain anything by creating conflict and insecurity as the Queen does.

The Bystander

She is accommodating and often finds herself having to choose between friends. The peacemaker who wants everyone to get along, the Bystander doesn’t stand up to anyone she has conflict with – instead, she “goes along” to get along. She may be conflicted with doing the right thing and her allegiance to the group. She often apologizes for Queen’s behavior, but she knows it is wrong. She may even hide her accomplishments, particularly academically, to fit into the group.

The Wannabee

She thinks other girls’ opinions and wants are more important than hers. The Wannabee can’t tell the difference between what she wants and what the group wants. She is desperate for the “right” look (clothes, hair, etc.). She loves to gossip. The Wannabee will do anything to be in the inner circle of the Queen and sidekick. She often gets stuck doing the dirty work of the Queen and the Sidekick. She may be dropped if she is seen as trying too hard to fit in. She likely feels insecure about her relationships and has trouble setting boundaries.

The Target

She is helpless to stop other girls’ behavior. The Target feels excluded and isolated, and she masks hurt feelings by rejecting people first. She feels vulnerable and humiliated and may be tempted to change to fit in. The target is the victim of the group. Girls outside the group may tend to become targets just because they’ve challenged the group or because their style is different or not accepted by the group. The Target may develop objectivity, which may help her see the costs of fitting in and decide she’s better off outside of the group. She may choose her “loser” group, and know who her true friends are.

(“Mean Girls- Realities of Relational Aggression.” Girls.pdf)

Researchers are studying possible parenting influences on relationally aggressive behavior. Psychologist Craig Hart, PhD, of Brigham Young University, is comparing levels of reported physical and relational aggression in young children and the degree of parental coercive behavior, such as spanking and yelling, and controlling behavior, such as withholding love to punish a child.

While no one has shown a tie between high levels of relational aggression and girls' propensity to break the law, psychologists in the juvenile justice system say they see the behavior all the time.

(Tori DeAngelis. “Girls use a different kind of weapon.” American Psychological Society. July/August 2003.)

Parenting characteristics shown to be associated with relational aggression include the following:

  Psychological control strategies (Casas et al., 2006;Nelson et al., 2006)

  Parental maltreatment (sexual abuse for girls only; Cullerton-Sen, Cassidy, Cicchetti, Crick, & Rogosch, 2009)

  Authoritarian parenting styles (Casas et al., 2006)

  Permissive parenting styles (Casas et al., 2006)

  Physical coercion (Hart et al., 1998; Nelson et al., 2006)

  Lack of paternal responsiveness (Hart et al., 1998)

  Insecure attachment behaviors (Casas et al., 2006)

  Lack of paternal involvement (i.e., time spent with fathers; Updegraff et al., 2005)

  Lack of parental warmth (Updegraff et al., 2005)

  Lack of concern regarding children’s use of relational aggression (Ohan & Johnston, 2005; Werner et al., 2006

Here are some bullying behaviors exhibited by girls:

Middle Childhood:

  Say “We’re going to be in a group and you’re not going to be in it.”

  Pretend you don’t see the kid.

  Tell a lie about them that they didn’t do.

  Tell your friends not to be that kid’s friend.

  Say “I’m not going to be your friend anymore.”


  Talk about them behind their backs and to their face, exclude them.

  Pretend to be friends with them, then stab them in the back.

  Tell them what you think of them in front of their friends so they get embarrassed.

  Ignore them, don’t return phone calls.

  Try steal their boyfriend.

Early Adulthood:

  Women hurt other women by the amount of affection from men they receive. For example, saying “Mark called and he likes me better than you.”

  Build up a coalition of other people against the person.

  Talk about them and try to ruin their friendships with others. Gossip, gossip, gossip.

  Give them the silent treatment. Act cold and bitchy.

  Seduce the person’s dating partner.

Relational aggression appears to be harmful, Relatively high levels of recreational victimization have been shown to be associated with the following:

  Peer rejection (e.g., Crick, Casas, & Ku, 1997; Cullerton-Sen & Crick, 2005; Ostrov et al., 2004; Schafer et al., 2002)

  Externalizing problems (e.g., Ostrov et al., 2004; Rudolph, Troop-Gordon, & Flynn, 2009)

  Depressive symptoms (e.g., Crick et al., 1997; Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001)

  Loneliness (e.g., Crick & Nelson, 2002)

  Cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use (Sullivan, Farrell, & Kliewer, 2006 )

  Obesity (Pearce, Boergers, & Prinstein, 2002)

  Romantic relationship and dating problems (Pearce et al., 2002; Ruh, Crick, & Collins, 2002). Preschool and school-aged girls have been shown to feel more distress when confronted with relational conflicts and to view relationally aggressive acts as more aversive relative to boys (e.g., Coyne, Archer, & Elsea, 2006; Crick, Grotpeter, & Bigbee, 2002; Giles & Heyman, 2005)

  Girls (but not boys) have been shown to exhibit greater physiological arousal (increased diastolic BP) in response to relational conflicts (Murray-Close & Crick, 2007)

My View

I am not letting young men off the hook here. I am well aware of the “tough” attitude projected by so many young males. In fact, psychology researchers exploring relational aggression and victimization in 11-13 year olds and found adolescent boys have a similar understanding and experience of “mean” behaviors and “bitchiness” as girls. I am merely expressing my distaste for the relational aggression of young drama queens.

I think more parents need to pay attention to their children's aggressiveness. Pew research shows that empathy and kindness are low on the list of the traits that the majority of parents deem important for children right now. Most parents are much more interested in raising "hard working" and "responsible" kids than in raising kind and empathic kids. Shouldn't all of these traits be equally important?

The research shows that if we want to stop "mean girl" behavior, we must teach very young girls to be thinking, sensitive individuals who reject roles that encourage relational aggression. Since extinguishing the roles themselves seems nearly impossible, better knowledge of the destruction caused by these individuals should help young women understand the negativity of the “bitch” behavior.

A female rightly seeks empowerment. She gains this commodity when an outside source recognizes her potential or when a group or individual somehow recognizes her inherent power. Successful female leaders gain empowerment through education, not through bullying and threatening behaviors.

No doubt, a young woman faces many huge obstacles that males do not face. It is true gender discrimination exists and stifles the goals of females in many endeavors. Still, to abandon reason and resort to brute force does not increase a female's positive influence within her social circles or within her workplace.

"It takes a village to raise relationally healthy children," said Melissa Maras, co-author of a recent study on “mean girl” bullying and assistant professor in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology in the University of Missouri's College of Education.

Relational aggression is a complicated issue with many variables, including schools, families and individuals. She says parents and teachers should be aware of relational aggression so they don't unknowingly contribute to the negative behaviors.

The study used intervention titled Growing Interpersonal Relationships through Learning and Systemic Supports (GIRLSS) developed by MU researchers, in a 10-week program with group counseling, caregiver training and caregiver phone consultation for relationally aggressive middle school girls and their families.

Students, ranging in age from 12 to 15, participated in one 70-minute session per week that included interactive discussions, media-based examples, role-playing, journaling and weekly goal setting. At the end of the intervention, school counselors and teachers reported a decrease in relationally aggressive behaviors among the girls.

(Joni D. Splett, Melissa A. Maras, and Connie M. Brooks. “GIRLSS: A Randomized, Pilot Study of a Multisystemic, School-Based Intervention to Reduce Relational Aggression.” Journal of Child and Family Studies. 2014)

A female with a promising future who embraces relational aggression and the whole image of being a bad girl lacks confidence in herself. Playing a counterproductive part that has existed for countless generations, she lives in nothing more than an artificial reality within a social circle restricted by her own choosing.

Granted, she may achieve popularity with her bitchy status; however, she must carry 24/7 the load of resentment and hatred that weighs ever heavier on her young shoulders. I believe once she sheds the aggressive posturing, she will be open to the love and support that will allow a sweet transformation into a beautiful young woman.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Chocolate For Happiness and Health: Yes, I Said "Chocolate"!

“There’s nothing better than a good friend,
except a good friend with chocolate.”
–-Linda Grayson

Who doesn't love chocolate? And, the latest word from the medical community is that a little bit of chocolate every day may just be good for you. A treat that has psychological and medical benefits – now, that's cause for celebration. To be clear scientists believe, chocolate, not sugar and other additives, has the benefits.

Still, to get good benefits from eating the “good stuff,” you have to know what you're doing. Of course, finding the right product and consuming the right portions is paramount to finding anything healthy about consuming chocolate. However, research contends chocolate can be a healthy food.

What Chocolate Is and How America Found It

The cacao tree is a native of Central and South America. Today, it is cultivated around the equator and can be found in the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, and even in the South Pacific Islands of Samoa and New Guinea.

The spread of the cacao tree started during the age of Colonialism, as did the spread of cacao beans, and of chocolate itself.

Chocolate is actually the fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the cacao, and it can be traced to the Mokaya (cultures of the Soconusco region in Mexico and parts of the Pacific coast of western Guatemala)

The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, and the seeds had so much value they were used as a form of currency. Evidence suggests there existed extensive trade in cacao with people from the north.

In Mesoamerica, cacao was mostly a food of the elite. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter, frothy liquid, mixed with spices, wine or corn puree. It was believed to have aphrodisiac powers and to give the drinker strength.

A particular favorite of Maya kings and priests, chocolate played a special part in royal and religious events. Mayan couples even drank chocolate as part of their betrothal and marriage ceremonies.

(Traci Watson. “Earliest Evidence of Chocolate in North America.” Science. January 22, 2013.)

Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cacao. On August 15, 1502, during his fourth and last voyage to the Americas, Columbus and his crew encountered a large dugout canoe filled with cacao beans near an island off the coast of present-day Honduras.

Later Ferdinand, Columbus' son wrote about the European's first encounter with cacao beans, saying:

"They (the natives) seemed to hold these almonds (referring to the cacao beans) at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen."

What Ferdinand and the other members of Columbus' crew didn't know at the time was that cocoa beans were the local currency. In fact, in some parts of Central America, cacao beans were used as currency as recently as the last century.

While it is likely that Columbus brought the cacao beans he seized back to Europe, their potential value was initially overlooked by the Spanish King and his court. Twenty years later, however, Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez is said to have brought back three chests full of cacao beans. This time the beans were recognized as one treasure among the many stolen from the conquered Aztecs.

Chocolate Research

Chocolate contains flavanols and flavonols, two types of flavonoids, or natural (plant) chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine and beer. There are over 4,000 different flavonoids that have been identified, some with anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidant benefits. One of the flavonols in chocolate is called quercetin, a potent antioxidant that protects cells against damage from free-radicals.

Antioxidants are said to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are chemicals that have the potential to cause damage to cells and tissues in the body.

Let me cite some research about the benefits of consuming chocolate.

Researchers have found that eating chocolate increases the levels of endorphins released into the brain. The endorphins work to lessen pain and decrease stress. Another common neurotransmitter affected by chocolate is serotonin. Serotonin is known as an anti-depressant. One of the chemicals which causes the release of serotonin is tryptophan found in, among other things, chocolate/

One of the more unique neurotransmitters released by chocolate is phenylethylamine – the so called "chocolate amphetamine" that causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels leading to feelings of excitement and alertness. It works like amphetamines to increase mood and decrease depression, but it does not result in the same tolerance or addiction. Phenylethylamine is also called the "love drug" because it causes your pulse rate to quicken, resulting in a similar feeling to when someone is in love

In fact, research was carried out by Dr David Lewis, formerly of the University of Sussex, and now of the Mind Lab (independent research facility) claims melting chocolate is better than a passionate kiss.

Lewis said: "There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz – a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss."

Lewis explains substances in chocolate were already known to have a psychoactive effect, but that allowing it to melt on your tongue could be the secret to maximizing the buzz.

(Martin Beckford. “Chocolate 'More Exciting Than Kissing.” The Telegraph. April 16, 2007.)

A recent study (2012) reported in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity compiles the beneficial effects of cocoa polyphenols on human health, especially with regard to cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer prevention.

Their antioxidant properties may be responsible for many of their pharmacological effects, including the inhibition of lipid peroxidation and the protection of LDL-cholesterol against oxidation, and increase resistance to oxidative stress.

The phenolics from cocoa also modify the glycemic response and the lipid profile, decreasing platelet function and inflammation along with diastolic and systolic arterial pressures, which, taken together, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality.

Cocoa polyphenols can also modulate intestinal inflammation through the reduction of neutrophil infiltration and expression of different transcription factors, which leads to decreases in the production of proinflammatory enzymes and cytokines.

The phenolics from cocoa may thus protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer. They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.

(I Andujar, M.C. Recio, R.M. Giner, and J.L. Rios. “Cocoa polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health.” Oxid Med Cell Longev. Epub. October 24, 2012.)

But, it should be known ...

Another study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2009) reported that several molecular targets (e.g., nuclear factor kappa B, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, angiotensin converting enzyme) have been recently identified which may partly explain potential beneficial cardiovascular effects of cocoa polyphenols.

Yet, this research held as much as 90% of the flavonoids may be lost due cocoa processing. Thus, it needs to be established whether the consumption of products with a lower polyphenol content are associated with any health benefits in humans. Furthermore the food industry is encouraged to label the flavonoid content on their cocoa derived products.

Gerald Rimbach, Mona Melchin, Jennifer Moehring, and Anika E. Wagner. “Polyphenols from Cocoa and Vascular Health – A Critical Review.” Int. J Mol Sci. 10. Published online October 2009.)

U.S. Researchers (2014) say certain bacteria in the stomach gobble dark chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart. Study leader John Finley of Louisiana State University and colleagues noted combining the fiber in cocoa with prebiotics is likely to improve a person's overall health and help convert polyphenolics in the stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds.

Prebiotics are carbohydrates found in foods such as raw garlic and cooked whole wheat flour that humans can't digest but good bacteria like to eat. These also come as dietary supplements.

"When you ingest prebiotics, the beneficial gut microbial population increases and outcompetes any undesirable microbes in the gut, like those that cause stomach problems," Finley added.

Finley said people could experience even more health benefits when dark chocolate is combined with solid fruit like pomegranates and acai.

(John Finley. Research presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. 2014.)

In fact, new research published in the British medical journal Heart (2015) says that eating chocolate may be good for your heart.

The researchers looked at long-term health data on nearly 21,000 adults in England. They found that participants who consumed the most chocolate (up to 100 grams a day, the equivalent of almost two and a half Hershey bars) were 11 percent less likely than those who ate no chocolate to have a heart attack or stroke, and 25 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

(Amy Kraft. “New research on heart health benefits of chocolate.” CBS News June 16, 2015.)

Results remained the same after researchers adjusted for a number of dietary variables including smoking, age, alcohol consumption and physical activity level.

Prof. Phyo Myint of the University of Aberdeen Institute of Applied Health Sciences said in a press release: "Our study concludes that cumulative evidence suggests higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events,"

Participants who ate more chocolate also had a lower body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins and diabetes. Chocolate eaters tended to be younger and more physically active.

But again, be aware …

It's important to note that the study shows only a correlation between chocolate consumption and reduced cardiovascular disease risk -- it does not prove that chocolate lowers the risk. The researchers also point out that food frequency questionnaires, which the study was based on, do have a certain amount of recall bias and may underestimate the items eaten.

Reverse causation -- the possibility that people at higher risk for heart disease may watch their diets and eat less chocolate than those who are healthier -- may also help to explain the results, they say.

To further evaluate the heart benefits of chocolate, the researchers also carried out a systematic review of previously published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease. Results from those studies were even more convincing: overall, chocolate consumption was linked to a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke and a 45 percent lower risk of associated death.

Chocolate lovers in the current study ate more milk chocolate than dark chocolate, which suggests that the health benefits of chocolate aren't specific to dark, which is often touted for its health benefits because it contains a compound called flavonoids.

The Best Chocolate To Consume

Let's get to some key points about cacao. We love chocolate. We would love to eat more of it. What do we need to know about shopping for chocolate? And what type of chocolate should we consume for any health benefits?

Florence Comite, renowned endocrinologist, says “the more bitter, the better.” Still, the term dark chocolate isn't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so any bar can be labeled as "dark" -- even if it's not.

When you buy dark chocolate, as opposed to milk or white, you get a higher concentration of flavanols and polyphenols -- antioxidants that disarm free radicals associated with disease. If you can believe it, they (the folks who are paid money to know about such things) say ...

Gram-for-gram, dark chocolate has been shown to contain significantly greater antioxidant capacity than blueberries.

Comite says manufacturers will often list the cacao percentage on the label, but you'll need at least 70 percent to reap the health benefits.

(Florence Comite. “6 Simple Health Tips for Buying Chocolate.” Huffington Post. February 14, 2016.)

According to Comite, the good fat in "good" chocolate is cocoa butter, which is a source of heart-healthy stearic acid. In the U.S., manufacturers can't label a product "chocolate" unless it includes cocoa butter as an ingredient, but replacing some of the pure cocoa fat with cheap oils and emulsifiers is fair game.

The word chocolaty is sneaky-marketer-speak for "fake chocolate." Don't buy it. And avoid products with the words "partially hydrogenated" on the ingredient list; these trans fats have been directly linked to heart disease.

Also, if products says "dutched" or "alkalized,” avoid them. Both terms refer to cocoa processing that substantially reduces its heart-healthy compounds. The Journal of Agriculture Food Chemistry reported that the average total flavanol content for natural cocoa was nearly nine times greater than heavily processed varieties.

Comite suggests to avoid over-indulging by opting for individually wrapped chocolates. Peeling off a wrapper will slow you down and give your satiety hormones time to register satisfaction. In fact, people consume an average 41 percent fewer calories when snacking on wrapped snacks, according to a study in Appetite journal.

Another suggestion is to avoid the extra "fillers" and stick to brands with pure ingredients Comite says “your grandmother would recognize and keep in the pantry.”

Lastly, following research cited above, Comite suggests combining chocolate with solid fiber-rich fruits can boost the health benefits. She says, “Nothing beats fresh fruit (fondue, anyone?), but popular dried mix-ins like cranberries and nuts (especially cashews and pistachios) can give your bar a prebiotic boost.”

(Florence Comite. “6 Simple Health Tips for Buying Chocolate.” Huffington Post. February 14, 2016.)

So, What Is the Best Chocolate To Purchase?

Alice Medrich’s 2003 book, Bittersweet, explains all about the new chocolates that are sometimes called high-percentage chocolates. They contain 60% or 70%, or even more, chocolate liquor.

These chocolates contain a lot more cocoa particles and cocoa butter than the chocolates that we have used before. The older chocolates with 50 to 55% chocolate liquor contained 20 to 22% cocoa particles; now the chocolates with 60 to 70% chocolate liquor contain 28 to 30% cocoa particles.

The highest flavonoid content, according to the Mayo Clinic, is in the darkest of chocolates. Manufacturers of natural chocolates would add to that criteria an absence of heat refinement. Still, a rule of thumb that holds true is that the greater the percentage of cocoa (cacao), the greater flavonoid content possible. The highest percentages of cocoa are found first in dark chocolate and then in milk chocolate. The exception is white chocolate; its processing removes all flavonoids.

According to WebMD, a 100-gram serving of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you ate that much raw apple you'd only take in 52 calories. But then, you'd miss out on the delicious blood pressure benefit.

Look for a cacao (or cocoa) content of 70 percent, and be sure to watch the portion size. Although brands vary, you can assume that a one- to one-and-a-half-ounce serving of plain dark chocolate contains about 200 calories.

Nancy Clarke, health reporter and author says natural chocolate makers such as Dagoba and Xocai present superior healthy dark chocolates, Dagoba taking the organic route and Xocai boasting its cold manufacturing process.

Clarke explains that demand for healthy dark chocolate has prompted master chocolatiers, such as Lindt and Toblerone, to market products with extremely high cocoa contents. These imported brands probably contain much higher flavonoid levels than mainstream American candy bars, but lower than cold-pressed natural chocolates.

(Nancy Clarke. “Types of Healthy Dark Chocolate.” January 28, 2015.)

Dagoba offers an n 87 percent cocoa bar, while Xocai promises a full 100 percent of flavonoid nutrients

Swiss chocolates from Lindt are refined and do contain sugar, they are available in very dark 85 percent and 99 percent cocoa formulations.

Adding power foods such as almonds and blueberries to chocolate—or adding healthy dark chocolate to other foods—can enhance the level of antioxidants you get. It can also add calories, so eat this “enhanced” chocolate in even greater moderation. Both Xocai and Dagoba make fruit-enhanced bars that blend dark chocolate with acai berries.

Kristen Mancinelli wrote a very interesting article titled “The 12 Best 'Clean' Chocolate Bars.” No one said it was going to be cheap, by the way. Here are her conclusions with product, amount of cacao per bar, and price:

  1. Equal Exchange (Very Dark) -- 71% cacao and $3.75 a bar
  2. Alter Eco 8- - 5% cacao and $4.00 a bar
  3. Vosges -- 72% cacao and $7.50 a bar
  4. Sweetriot -- 70% cacao and $4.00-$5.00 a bar
  5. Taza Chocolate -- 70% cacao and $5.00 a bar
  6. Theo -- 70% cacao and $4.00 a bar
  7. Good Cacao -- 72% cacao and $5.00 a bar
  8. Dandelion Chocolate 7-- 0% cacao and $8.00-$10.00 a bar
  9. Addictive Wellness -- Unknown cacao and $7.75 a bar
  10. Righteously Raw -- 80%-90% cacao and $5.50 a bar

  11. (Kristen Mancinelli. “The 12 Best 'Clean' Dark Chocolate Bars.” September 03, 2015.)

    Get much more detail for each product by clicking here for the entire article by Mancinelli:

    U.S. - FDA Standards of Identities for Cocoa-Derived Products

    Product     %  Chocolate Liquor
    Chocolate Liquor 100%
    Bittersweet and Semisweet 35%
    Sweet (like German’s) 10% to 35%
    Milk 10% (min)
    White 0%

    © Copyright Shirley O. Corriher, 2007

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Multitrackmaster -- Listen To Your Favorite Songs In Detail For Free

"Multitrack recording (MTR) was conceived and developed by Ross Snyder at Ampex in 1955 resulting in the first Sel-Sync machine, an 8-track machine which used 1-inch tape. This 8-track recorder was sold to the American guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor Les Paul for $10,000.

"It became known as the "Octopus." Les Paul, Mary Ford and Patti Page used the technology in the late 1950s to enhance vocals and instruments. From these beginnings, it evolved in subsequent decades into a mainstream recording technique."

--Howard Sanner interview of Russ Snyder, inventor of multitrack recording (March 11, 2000)

Multitracking, double tracking, or tracking—is a method of sound recording that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources or sound sources recorded at different times to create a cohesive whole.

Multitracking became possible with in the mid-1950s when the idea of simultaneously recording different audio channels to separate discrete "tracks" on the same tape was developed. A "track" was simply a different channel recorded to its own discrete area on tape whereby their relative sequence of recorded events would be preserved, and playback would be simultaneous or synchronized.

A significant technical improvement in the sound recording process, multitrack recording allowed studio engineers to record all of the instruments and vocals for a piece of music separately. This allowed the engineer to adjust the levels and tone of each individual track, and if necessary, redo certain tracks or overdub parts of the track to correct errors or get a better "take."

As well, different electronic effects such as reverb could be applied to specific tracks. Multitrack recording was more than a technical innovation; it also enabled record producers to create new sounds that would be impossible to create outside the studio, such as a lead singer adding many harmony vocals with their own voice to his own lead vocal part, or an electric guitar player playing many harmony parts along with their own guitar solo.

In the 1980s and 1990s, computers provided means by which both sound recording and reproduction could be digitized, revolutionizing audio recording and distribution.

In the 2000s, multitracking hardware and software for computers was of sufficient quality to be widely used for high-end audio recordings by both professional sound engineers and by bands recording without studios using widely available programs such as Garage Band.

YouTube has introduced a widening trend of offering isolated tracks. Some of these YouTube recordings are pretty inferior, some are average, and some are excellent. Many offer interesting listens in that the isolation allows for thorough inspection of the makeup of recordings. is a very useful, free site fine for finding iso tracks of multiple genres. is another good outlet to uncover isolated tracks, but there is a fee for this one.

Multitrackmaster recording content resides on third party sites. The master recording owners have the rights to the music, and the site does not host any of the material. Multitrackmaster merely finds it and enables you to access it from third party sites solely for entertainment and educational purposes. It follows all user agreements and posts only authorized links. Advertisements on the site generate money for the music content owners and the video host sites. Multitrackmaster does not make money from the ads.

Special recordings of your favorite artists are likely available at Multitrackmaster. The site offers a "search" option for users to access available tracks. Some of these recordings have leaked from studios, some are multitrack stems created for video games like Rock Band (Xbox), and others have emerged from a variety of "special" sources.

Since the tracks from Multitrackmaster offer dissection of the music, this deconstruction allows most every nuance to be heard. In essence, it allows you to hear "new content" in individual performances from your favorite vocalists and instrumentalists. Some of the recordings are so good that you can hear many "before-hidden" details from the original recordings -- guitar licks, breath and timbre variation on vocal tracks, rim shots on drums ... you name it.

I love to gain new perspectives on recordings. The site typically offers you some information about each recording in addition to the iso tracks. I believe Multitrackmaster is an entertaining, instructive site that anyone who loves music will find enjoyable. I suggest you give it a listen and take advantage of all its resources.

Click here to check out Multitrackmaster:

The site offers a free newsletter and following on social media:

Facebook, click here:
Twitter, click here:

RSS feed:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Do You Really Know What Illegals Receive Assistance? Rumors versus Facts

So many rumors, half-truths, and lies circulate about immigration claims. For example, one popular Facebook post reported “more than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegals.”

PolitiFact, the national politics website of the Tampa Bay Times, has long been tracking and debunking inaccurate statements about immigration.

In 2012, PolitiFact found that immigration claims are especially prone to exaggerations and falsehoods. For example, 29 percent of all claims they check earn a “False” or “Pants on Fire” for inaccuracy. But for immigration, 35 percent do.

About 46.4 million people receive food stamps, so 43 percent of that number (the rumored number about food stamps given to illegals) would be just under 20 million. That significantly exceeds estimates for how many illegal immigrants are in the country.

As of 2015, the population has remained essentially stable for five years, and currently makes up 3.5% of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

A Department of Homeland Security report estimating the size of the illegal immigrant population living in the U.S. said, "In summary, an estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2012 compared to 11.5 million in January 2011. Additionally, 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants were estimated to be living in the U.S. In 2014.

(Bryan Baker and Nancy Rytina. “Estimate of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States.” March 2013)

By the way, according to Pew Research Center estimates, Mexicans make up about half of all unauthorized immigrants (49%). There were 5.6 million Mexican unathorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2014, down from 6.4 million in 2009.

(Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jeffrey S. Passel. “5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. November 19, 2015.)

Most social welfare programs bar illegal immigrants from receiving benefits and require proof of immigration status. That includes food stamps, as well as cash welfare assistance, Medicaid, and even the new health care law.

(Angie Drobnic Holan. “Fact-checking immigration. PolitiFact. July 01, 2012.)

It is true that some children of illegal immigrants qualify for benefits if they were born in the United States and are citizens. (Critics derisively call them "anchor babies.") But there aren't nearly enough of those types of children -- an estimated 4 million -- to account for 43 percent of food stamp recipients.

“Nearly 60 percent of all occupants of HUD properties in the U.S. are illegals” is another false claim purporting that illegal immigrants dominate public housing run by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.

PolitiFact also gave that statement a “Pants on Fire” because it would require half of all illegal immigrants in the country to live in that housing. And again, HUD requires proof of legal status.

Who Is Eligible For the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

So, let's go straight to the source. Here is the policy at SNAP about Non-Citizen Eligibility.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP Policy on Non-Citizen Eligibility

Last Published: 11/07/2014
A person must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible, lawfully-present non-citizen to qualify for SNAP benefits. Non-citizens who are eligible based on their immigration status must also satisfy other SNAP eligibility requirements such as income and resource limits to receive SNAP benefits.

 Non-citizens eligible with no waiting period.
 The following non-citizens are eligible with no waiting period:

  • Qualified alien children under 18.
  • Refugees admitted under section 207 of INA (includes victims of severe forms of trafficking).
  • Victims of Trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
  • Asylees under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Deportation withheld under 243(h) or 241(b)(3) of INA.
  • Amerasian immigrants under 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act.
  • Cuban or Haitian entrants as defined in 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980.
  • Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants under Section 101(a)(27) of the INA.
  • Certain American Indians born abroad.
  • Members of Hmong or Highland Laotian tribes that helped the U.S. military during the Vietnam era, and who are legally living in the U.S., and their spouses or surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children.
  • Elderly individuals born on or before Aug. 22, 1931 and who lawfully resided in the U.S. on Aug. 22, 1996.
  • Lawful Permanent Residents in the U.S. and receiving government payments for disability or blindness.
  • Lawful Permanent Residents with a military connection (veteran, on active duty, or spouse or child of a veteran or active duty service member).

 Qualified aliens eligible after a waiting period.
 A qualified alien is a non-citizen with a certain immigration status as defined under PRWORA.
A qualified alien who does not belong to one of the non-citizen groups listed above as eligible with no waiting period can get SNAP benefits if the person is otherwise eligible, and is:
  • A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) who has earned, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of work; or
  • A qualified alien in one of the following groups who has been in qualified status for 5 years:
    o Paroled for at least one year under section 212(d)(5) of INA.
    o Granted conditional entry under 203(a)(7) of INA in effect prior to 4/1/80.
    o Battered spouse, battered child or parent or child of a battered person with a petition pending under 204(a)(1)(A) or (B) or 244(a)(3) of INA.

Some States have programs to supply food benefits in lieu of SNAP to non-citizens who do not qualify for SNAP benefits. This information can be accessed in the SNAP State Options Report.

Click here to find the info: .   

I will leave it to the reader to check on the special eligibility requirements. They are much too detailed to include in this blog entry.

My View

A person claiming illegals wrongly “use” the system to collect government benefits should consider that the U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born babies.

This is vastly different from claims that most illegals are the recipients, themselves.

Under current practice, these children of illegals are U.S. citizens at birth simply because they were born on U.S. soil. They automatically qualify as an American citizen under jus soli (right of the soil) and the rights guaranteed in the 14th Amendment. 

The American-born children become eligible to sponsor for legal immigration most of their relatives, including their illegal alien mothers, when they turn 21 years of age, thus becoming the U.S. "anchor" for an extended immigrant family.

So, while it is true that undocumented immigrants can get federal funds to help pay for health care and food for their citizen children, most have no easier way to gain citizenship themselves.

According to Politifact, “Having a child can also help an undocumented parent qualify for relief from deportation, but only 4,000 unauthorized immigrants can receive such status per year, and the alien has to have been in the U.S. for at least 10 years.”

While there is no formal policy that forbids DHS from deporting the illegal alien parents of children born in the U.S., they rarely are actually deported. In some cases, immigration judges make exceptions for the parents on the basis of their U.S.-born children and grant the parents legal status. In many cases, though, immigration officials choose not to initiate removal proceedings against illegal aliens with U.S.-born children, so they simply remain here illegally.

Numbers of Babies Born to Illegal Immigrants

About 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 -- or 8 percent -- had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant, according to a study published in August, 2010, by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. And, of all the children of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., about 80% were born here – the rest were born abroad.

Children of illegal immigrants make up 7 percent of all people in the country younger than 18 years old, according to the study, which is based on March 2009 census figures, the most recent data on immigrant families. Nearly four out of five of those children — 79 percent — are American citizens because they were born here.

The Pew figures show that most illegal immigrant mothers did not arrive recently. More than 80 percent of mothers in the country illegally had been here for more than a year, the figures show, and more than half had been in the country for five years or more, said Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and the co-author of the study, along with Paul Taylor, the center’s director.

That blows a giant hole in the notion that mothers are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border just in time to give birth in American hospitals – the “drop and leave” notion.

Some researchers noted that the Pew figures did not identify families where both parents were illegal immigrants. “If anything, the Pew report highlights how complicated this issue is, given that so many unauthorized immigrants live in families that include U.S. citizens and legal immigrants,” said Michele Waslin, senior policy analyst for the Immigration Policy Center, a group that supports legalization for illegal immigrants.
(Julia Preston. “Births to Illegal Immigrants Are Studied.” The New York Times. August 11, 2010.)
I'll leave this entry with questions posed by Kate Pickert, staff writer for Time:

“A related question is this: If their U.S.-born children wouldn’t become automatic citizens, would illegal immigrants choose not to have children in America? Would revoking this American right under our current Constitution actually really change anything on the ground? Hospitals that now care for undocumented immigrant women would most certainly still do so, even if their babies were similarly illegal.

“Would states, which control their own schools, disallow non-citizens from attending? What would be the social consequences of having an entire generation of these children grow up in the U.S. without being educated?

“What if a child was born to an undocumented father and a U.S. citizen mother? What about an undocumented mother and a citizen father? How do you prove this? Will the federal government require paternity tests before granting citizenship? “These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked and explored to have a real debate on birthright citizenship. And, centrally, if some undocumented immigrants are coming to the U.S. solely to have children, is it citizenship they’re after? Or are there economic – i.e. jobs for parents – motivating them, along with better living conditions and a host of other contrasts between life in Mexico, say, and life in the U.S.?”

(Kate Pickert. “Dispelling 'Anchor Baby' Myths.” Time. August 11, 2010.)

I believe it is wise to understand the facts about this issue. Emotions, rumor, and slanted data cloud the truth. The government must address the problem of illegals; however, in this great country that values freedom and liberty for all, it must also be very careful not to negatively hinder the lifeblood of democracy – I trust we all agree that great respect for diversity and compassion for the poor and the oppressed are bedrocks of America.