Friday, March 25, 2011

Taro japan wall fails to stop tsunami...and drowns 1000

Back to A story of survival rises from the ruins of a fishing village

A story of survival rises from the ruins of a fishing village

March 15, 2011

Bill Schiller


A Japanese rescue team member walks through the completely leveled village of Saito in northeastern Japan Monday, March 14, 2011.

David Guttenfelder/AP

TARO VILLAGE, JAPAN—The seawalls that buffer this once-bucolic fishing village from the ocean were supposed to keep people safe from a tsunami.

The 10-metre high walls — more than a kilometre long — gave tiny Taro the feel of a fortified village, impregnable against all comers.

But not every one felt so sure.

When fisherman Tatsuo Haroki felt the force of Friday’s earthquake, he knew there wasn’t a seawall on earth that was going to save him.

He was right: he estimates the waves triggered by the quake that landed on top of Taro were between “12 and 15 metres high.”

They just sailed over Taro’s ramparts, he says, and pulverized the village into a mess of matchsticks and a whirling whirlpool that turned Taro into slurry.

“That earthquake was so huge, we’d never experienced anything like it before,” says the 64-year-old Haroki, standing amid the ruins of Taro. His decision to move quickly was just a “gut instinct,” he says.

He had been down by the sea, fixing his fishing nets when the 9.0 temblor hit. Almost immediately, warning signals were issued from a portable radio he had been listening to.

He ran to his car and sped home to find his wife, Misa, who was visiting neighbours. She leapt in to the car with him and the two sped up the hill that acts as a backdrop to the village

“We didn’t stop to pick up anything,” says Haroki, who has been a fisherman here for more than 40 years. “We just wanted to escape.”

And so they did, just as they had been drilled to.

Incredibly, just a week before, this village of 5,000 had held its annual tsunami drill, an event that occurs every March 3 to commemorate a devastating tsunami that struck Taro in 1933 and nearly wiped it out.

There’s a solemn minute of silence and people pray.

How many survived last week’s tragedy is not yet known, but many locals here estimate as many as 2,000 might be missing or dead.

In the end, engineering didn’t save a soul in Taro.

What saved lives here was good sense.

On Wednesday, Haroki and his wife returned to the village in search of their sodden belongings, whatever they could find.

It wasn’t an easy task and took luck: entire houses after all had disintegrated.

Taro resembled a garbage dump: hectares upon hectares of smashed wood, crushed cars, overturned boats, boats on roofs, kitchen appliances, stereo speakers, clothing, children’s books, a plastic folder of Japanese post cards based on fairy tales, a record album of Jo Stafford featuring Cole Porter’s “You’d be so nice to come home to.”

One boat, more than 30 metres long, had been hurled upside down like a toy.

Another was smashed into shreds and stuck to the entrance of what used to be the local Lawson’s convenience store.

This was village life violently interrupted on a grand scale.

But happily and almost miraculously, the Harokis happened upon a treasure trove of memory: their two family photos albums.

“We burst into tears when we found them,” said Haroki, opening one album to gaze at the pictures. “These are our babies,” he said, referring to their children and grandchildren.

But Taro was by no means unique in its reliance on a massive and intricate seawall. About 40 per cent of Japan’s 35,000-kilometre coastline is marked by concrete seawalls or breakwaters meant to protect the coast.

They are ubiquitous in a country where the expectation of the next big earthquake is part of national consciousness.

And many believe seawalls serve mainly as make-work projects, and to hand out big concrete contracts.

Taro’s is just one of about a dozen major seawalls around the country. But locals like to tell foreigners here how people from “all over Asia” come here to see its famous seawall and to learn from it.

But while many have praised Japan for its demanding building codes and quake-resistant buildings, Friday’s earthquake — and the failure of its elaborate seawall system — could call for a reconsideration of seawalls altogether.

In Taro, once the water cleared the seawall and hit the village, it stayed and raged there, having trapped the entire village inside a kind of ‘bowl’ formed by the seawall itself and the mountains behind the village.

In fact, it could be said that it contributed to trapping victims and drowning many inside the perimeter’s powerful waters.

For 55-year-old grandmother Mikako Watanabe, in her moment of need, the seawall was simply a barrier that had to be overcome. After the quake, with the clock ticking on the tsunami, she had to climb over it to get to her home quickly, in order to save herself and her 5-year-old grandson Yoh.

The two exited out the back door and climbed to higher ground.

“Everyone had said this area was a safe area,” Watanabe said, as she picked through the rubble Wednesday. “We hadn’t had a real tsunami since 1933 and we never really thought that we would see a big one in our lifetime. And of course they built this good seawall and so . . . we were quite happy and relaxed.”

Perhaps that is another risk of seawalls: a fall sense of security.

When Watanabe reached the top of the hill and looked back and saw the waves of the tsunami roaring in, that sense of seawall security was gone forever.

“I was really shocked when I saw it with my own eyes — sawing it breaking over the wall,” she says.

Up on that same hill were her fellow villagers, the Harokis.

Looking down, with the tsunami fast approaching, they all watched in horror as a traffic jam took shape on the village’s main street.

Tragically, people wouldn’t give up their cars and run to save themselves.

Instead, they perished in them.

Man finds lottery ticket while doing taxes. Wins 9 million dollars

HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - Unlike most of us, Irving Przyborski didn't wait until April 14 to fill out his taxes this year. He got around to it in mid-March -- a decision that turned out to be worth nine million dollars.

Going through his tax documents, WBBM radio reports, Przyborski came across an old Illinois Lottery ticket from March of 2010. He had bought a number of tickets around that time, and went through most of them, finding no winners. But one of them had apparently fallen into his tax file inadvertently. After he unearthed the missing numbers, he took them to his local corner store, only to discover that he was suddenly, and narrowly, a millionaire.

The ticket was set to expire at 5 p.m. on March 24, nine days after his accidental find. Winning tickets are invalid one year after the drawing date.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, the ticket would have been by far the largest unclaimed sum in Illinois Lottery history. Lotto winnings that go unclaimed are donated to the state's education fund, which, according to, receives about $2 million a month of such unredeemed dollars.

Przyborski, whom Lottery spokeswoman Tracy Owens describes as "quiet" and "laid-back," took his winnings in a lump sum. He bought the winning ticket at a 7-Eleven at 107th and Ewing on Chicago's Southeast Side.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Colonel Sanders lived in Mississauga in the 80's


4) The Colonel’s suburban bungalow: Colonel Harland Sanders wasn’t actually a Colonel. He wasn’t actually a Kentuckian either. But he was one of the most famous residents ever to move to Mississauga, living at 1337 Melton Dr. for several months a year from 1964 until his death in 1980. Sanders, who sold his American shares of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in 1964, held onto his Canadian assets and purchased the bungalow near the Queensway ...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Roger Ebert former Jehovahs Witness Sets Record Straight

Roger Ebert @ebertchicago, the esteemed movie critic of the Chicago Tribune and the famed Siskel and Ebert show, has discovered Twitter in a big way.

A prolific journalist, Ebert has become an even more prolific tweeter who seemingly suffers from insomnia as do I.

It’s not so much insomnia as a life long desire to watch late night movies like the Ninth Gate on television.

“Prophesying the End of Days can make you money, but has a limited shelf life.”was his post around midnight last night.

“People have short memories,” @sdpate replied. “you can repeat the act after a reasonable amount of time. JWs have been doing it since the 1860s.” They have named the date for the End of Days at least 16 times since then.

I’ve watched the religion for 6 decades and marvel at their 7 million adherents who regularly ignore the stupidity of believing one wrong End of Days prediction after another.

For a time, I was one of them. My mother converted to be a Jehovah’s Witness when I was 5, much to the anger of my father who was the typical lapsed Catholic. He wasn’t so much as lapsed as a man working two jobs to support a family and weekend tavern habit with a journalist’s cynicism about religion.

So for the next 25 years I heard nothing but Armageddon warnings, about the war between Jesus and Satan and how only Jehovah’s Witnesses would make it through to paradise on earth.

Fire would dance on the surface of the world in the End of Days consuming the wicked – which meant everyone not out selling Watchtowers on the weekends.

As a child, it was an intriguing concept and held in place by daily bible readings, five hours of meetings at the Kingdom Hall, bible study at the dining room table and sundry other bits of brainwashing. I went along for the ride.

Then around 14 years old, the normal age for boys to seek adventure beyond church, I discovered Beyond the Fringe. You were perhaps expecting me to say girls. I had discovered them long before that.

Beyond the Fringe was a London West End satirical skit with Dudley Moore (10, Arthur), Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. In many ways they were the forerunners for Monty Python and were successors to The Goon Show, Hancock’s Halfhour and other post-war British comedy.

The Beyond the Fringe LP of their performance was produced by George Martin who would soon produce for The Beatles records. His early days at EMI Parlophone records included odd jobs like producing comedy records which he he apparently enjoyed.

Along with sacred topics like British participation in the World War II, Beyond the Fringe lampooned people who prophesied the end of the world in a skit called “The End of the World.”

I won’t repeat the punch line and spoil the audio clip but suffice it to say, my rebellious teen mind latched onto this and never believed in Armageddon with the same breathless fervor of the devout Jehovah’s Witness. My mother tried in vain to destroy the record. She understood it’s corrosive danger.

Of course, comedy records are a poor substitute for religious belief. Other than the ridiculous image of people sitting on a high mountain waiting for God to end it all, I had no proof He wasn’t coming.

Rock and roll, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and life were much more interesting to this teenager than marching door to door on Saturday telling people to buy the Watchtower and Awake and avoid the end of the world.

And here is how they get people to stay in a religion based on the most ludicrous of propositions while failing over and over to deliver – “love and marriage, love and marriage, go to together with a baby carriage.”

I fell in love or lust with a girl at 19 and got married. She was a Jehovah’s Witness and zip goes the strings of your heart. I was married, bought a house and fathered two wonderful children before long. So for another five years I tried my darnedest to fall into line and believe God was coming with fire next time.

Luckily the Watchtower announced the date He was coming – October 1, 1975. Just like the Beyond the Fringeskit, JW leaders had read the ancient scrolls, manuscripts and papyrus to determine this was THE END OF DAYS.

Even if I didn’t believe, what were the odds? It was like insurance. Hang in there with a really bad premise because it was only 5 years away and you might hit the jackpot.

As time marched on closer and closer to October 1, 1975, people were leaving their jobs, selling homes, moving to far away places to become missionaries and otherwise prove to God they were his kind of people. The excitement started to build around 1973 and JW’s were adding new members at a rapid clip.

Of course, God didn’t end the world on October 1st, 1975. Nothing happened and just like those silly people sitting on the mountain top, JW’s did a collective “Huh? What happened?”
Like the satirical skit, the Watchtower leaders shrugged their shoulders and said they would try again. “Same time tomorrow. We must get a winner one day.”

Restless, I headed into Charlottetown to UPEI Library and later the Confederation Library to research the Jehovah’s Witness religion. One of the secrets the leaders of the JW’s learned was that publishing builds a religion. If you can create another “world view” in print, people will believe it. That’s why they come to your door regularly with The Watchtower and Awake magazines. They print their own bibles and books with their slant to theology.

What I discovered was that the Jehovah’s Witness religion (International Bible Students IBS back then) started back in the 1860s on the same premise – prophesying the End of Days.

During the 1830s and 1840s, Seventh Day Adventists had predicted the end of the world so many times, their faithful lost faith. Charles Taze Russell, the IBS / JW founder, took some of their bible dating techniques and teachings from other religion and started predicting the End of Days on his own.

In a corporate raider move that Donald Trump would admire, he stole The Watchtower magazine from another religious man and started churning out magazines predicting the End of Days.

From then until now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have prophesied the End of the World incorrectly at least 16 times -I’ll put the list from Wikipedia as end note.

Amazingly, I remembered some of them vaguely from things people would tell me. In every instance of getting it wrong, the faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses had swallowed the rationalization given them in the pages of The Watchtower.

So you can make money prophesying the End of Days. The Jehovah’s Witness religion is rich. They own very valuable real estate all over the world, including some of the choicest spots in Brooklyn New York, printing plants and the free labour of 7 million magazine and book sellers around the world.

Dates Jehovah’s Witnesses prophesied as the End of the World

1877: Christ’s kingdom would hold full sway over the earth in 1914; the Jews, as a people, would be restored to God’s favour; the “saints” would be carried to heaven.[52]
1891: 1914 would be “the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men.”[53]
1904: “World-wide anarchy” would follow the end of the Gentile Times in 1914.[54]
1916: World War I would terminate in Armageddon and the rapture of the “saints”.[55]
1917: In 1918, Christendom would go down as a system to oblivion and be succeeded by revolutionary governments. God would “destroy the churches wholesale and the church members by the millions.” Church members would “perish by the sword of war, revolution and anarchy”. The dead would lie unburied. In 1920 all earthly governments would disappear, with worldwide anarchy prevailing.[56]
1920: Messiah’s kingdom would be established in 1925 and bring worldwide peace. God would begin restoring the earth. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful patriarchs would be resurrected to perfect human life and be made princes and rulers, the visible representatives of the New Order on earth. Those who showed themselves obedient to God would never die.[57]
1922: The antitypical “jubilee” that would mark God’s intervention in earthly affairs in 1925 would take place in “probably the fall” of that year.[58] The chronology was described as “correct beyond a doubt”,[44]“absolutely and unqualifiedly correct”,[45] bearing “the stamp of approval of Almighty God”[45] and “too sublime to be the result of chance or of human invention”.[45]
1924: God’s restoration of the Earth would begin “shortly after” October 1, 1925. Jerusalem would be made the world’s capital. Resurrected “princes” such as Abel, Noah, Moses and John the Baptist would give instructions to their subjects around the world by radio, and aeroplanes would transport people to and from Jerusalem from all parts of the globe in just “a few hours”.[59]
1938: In 1938, Armaggedon was too close for marriage or child bearing.[60]
1941: There were only “months” remaining until Armageddon.[61]
1942: Armageddon was “immediately before us.”[62]
1966: It would be 6000 years since man’s creation in the fall of 1975 and it would be “appropriate” for Christ’s thousand-year reign to begin at that time.[63] Time was “running out, no question about that.”[64]The “immediate future” was “certain to be filled with climactic events … within a few years at most”, the final parts of Bible prophecy relating to the “last days” would undergo fulfillment as Christ’s reign began.
1968: No one could say “with certainty” that the battle of Armageddon would begin in 1975, but time was “running out rapidly” with “earthshaking events” soon to take place.[65] In March 1968 there was a “short period of time left”, with “only about ninety months left before 6000 years of man’s existence on earth is completed”.[66]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The one persons view Huffington post

Kristin M. Swenson, Ph.D.
Author, 'Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time'
Five Things Everyone Should Know About The Bible, Believe It or Not

The Bible is a peculiar book, and it's hard to get straight information about it. If you're one of those people with a nagging feeling that you should know more about the Bible than you do -- or even if you can recite chapter and verse (but don't know that those chapters and verses come from a 13th century archbishop of Canterbury and a 16th century Parisian, respectively) -- then these five basic things will catapult you to a new level of biblical literacy. Though I might be handing you clunky corrective eyewear instead of sexy kitten glasses, I promise that they will change the way you look at the Good Book, clarifying and focusing your understanding.

1. Every Bible is actually a collection of books. The word itself means something like "little library." Many of the Bible's books developed over a long period of time and include the input of a lot of people (ancient Israelites, Babylonian Jews and Greek pastors, to name a few), reflecting particular places (urban Jerusalem, the northern Galilee, rural Judah and ancient Persia, for example) and times (spanning as much as 1,000 years for the Old Testament and a couple of centuries for the New Testament). Plus, the collection as a whole developed over centuries. This helps to explain the tremendous variety of theological perspectives, literary style, and sometimes perplexing preoccupations (which animal parts go to which parties in which categories of sacrifices, e.g.), as well as why some texts disagree with others.

2. Not everyone who believes in it has the same Bible. There are actually different bibles, though they all started with Jews (but before Judaism, per se). The Christian bible includes and depends upon the Jewish bible -- the Protestant Christian Old Testament is composed of the same books as the Jewish Hebrew Bible, arranged in a different order; and non-Protestant Christians include a few more books and parts of books (which also originated in Jewish circles) in their Old Testaments. The books of the Christian New Testament reflect the process of Jesus' followers gradually distinguishing themselves from his religion, Judaism.

3. The Bible came after the literature it comprises. In other words, the material that became biblical wasn't written in order to be part of a Bible. This helps to explain the existence of a book of erotic love poetry (Song of Songs), one that doesn't mention God (Esther), another of intimate personal correspondence (Paul's letter to Philemon) and maybe why none of it was written by Jesus. The biblical texts are not disinterested reporting of objective facts but come from people of faith informed by particular beliefs.

4. If you're reading the Bible in English, you're reading a translation. With the exception of a small minority of Aramaic texts, the books of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible were all written in Hebrew. The books of the New Testament were written in Greek. Every translation is by nature interpretation. If you've ever studied a foreign language, you know that it's impossible to convert exactly and for all time the literature or speech of any given language into another. A translator has to make choices. There are often several ways to render the original text, and changes in English affect the meaning we read as well.

5. Finally, this information about the Bible is compatible with belief in it. A person can simultaneously accept these truths about the Bible and the Bible as the Word of God. Doing so may require recalibrating assumptions, though, to allow for the possibility that God patiently works through people and time, enjoys a good debate and prefers inviting conversation over issuing absolutes. (Even the Ten Commandments, which would seem to be as absolute as anything, show up in two places in the Bible -- and with some differences.)

The Bible's endurance is astonishing. It continues to instruct and to inspire (in all sorts of interpretations and ways) the millions of people for whom it is their sacred and authoritative text. And it continues to ignite the imagination and enrich the speech, literature and art of people outside of the biblical faiths, too. Knowing the few bits of information provided here, as plain and pedantic as they may seem, makes it possible to make sense of the Bible -- its uses and abuses -- for yourself. It's like having the kind of friend who you know will keep you straight, surprise and delight you and encourage you to keep becoming exactly you. This information is more than a starting point. It's also a companion along the way, enabling new insights, providing correctives, and allowing space for the dynamism of your own ideas and learning.
Kristin Swenson is the author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time (Harper, 2010; Harper Perennial, 2011) now available in paperback! She is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
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SkiDon 26 minutes ago (8:20 AM)
1 Fans
While some believe the Bible is nothing more than the Goatherders Manifesto and others believe it is the inspired word of a sentient being, the operative word is believe. Faith is a component for both points of view. As someone once said, for those who believe no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. Since I have only been on the planet a short time, I'm still learning and lean toward a creator who has an enormous sense of humor.
Gaz90 29 minutes ago (8:17 AM)
6 Fans
6. It is a work of fiction.
Toddynho 20 minutes ago (8:26 AM)
496 Fans
You read my mind.
DaleR 30 minutes ago (8:16 AM)
83 Fans
#1 -> Its a fictional book of short stories written centuries ago by primitives.
downeastcajun 31 minutes ago (8:15 AM)
7 Fans
the sixth thing to know about the 'bible', and the most important thing, in my view, is that it is written by men, not men guided by some boogeyman 'god', but men, some delusional, some just bent on gaining power over other people ... it's a fairy tale book, people. i'd sooner lead my life guided by the words of aesop or hans christian anderson. grow up!!! santa, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny were created to rule your life, the same as 'god'!

bbriani3842 25 minutes ago (8:21 AM)
488 Fans
Then his daughters raped him ... ironic.
European1919 17 minutes ago (8:29 AM)
150 Fans
A great randy goat god.

Julia_Bailey 39 minutes ago (8:07 AM)
163 Fans
I still like the Lot story where he gives his virgin daughters to be raped by the villagers all night in the name of his god. What a great god is that!
darter22 43 minutes ago (8:03 AM)
128 Fans
6. The BuyBull is a work of poorly written fiction by men who weren't even there and then translated by another bunch of angry old white men. No wonder that women and minorities are treated so poorly in it.
Brant_Kelsey 44 minutes ago (8:02 AM)
87 Fans
I can't even begin to understand what you are asking. If you are asking me do I believe in the infallible Word of God? That's Easy. No. If you are asking me if my life is a Miracle and if I am a Spiritual Being. My Answer is Yes. If you are asking that bastardized renditions of Spirituality handed down as Text and eventuated as Dogma is essential to Peace. No don't buy it. Am i better of for not having erected a belief system that I have adopted and submitted to as some crazy counter intuitive Absolute. Yes I am Better Off. There is much Wisdom in the Bible. There is much Wisdom in Thoreau. Render unto Ceaser that which is Ceaser. Rubs me the wrong Way. Just from a historical perspective and the legacy of Organized not for me. Inquisitions Suck. Crusades Suck. And yet: Thou Shalt not enter the kingdom of Heaven lest ye be as a small wondrously spiritual, and evokes meaning and thought. Implicit in it's understanding is to never relinquish the innocence, the acceptance and the Wonder found in the mind of the Child. This works for me. This I understand. The retribution, the Fear, the Vengeful God, the Wrath of God......Shame coupled with this ethic having been incorporated as a tool of demagoguery, exploitation, conquest, enslavement and robbery. Bad Legacy. Simply anachronistic Superstition. Harm far outweighs the Good

elijah24 44 minutes ago (8:02 AM)
348 Fans
I'm not sure what was the point of this piece. All of her "facts" seem fairly accurate, but if she wants to teach people things about the Bible that will color their understanding about it, how about the origin of the book itself, and the reason for its compilation? Caesar Constantine, saw his nation about to go into a civil war, as Christians had come to outnumber Pagans for the first time ever. To avoid a civil, holy war; he commissioned the Council of Nicaea; where religious and political leaders, sifted through all the holy books and scrolles and chose the ones which were most conducive to keeping good order and discipline among the citizens of Rome. Then, they announced that Christianity would be the new state religion. They also kept around many of the pagan traditions and incorporated them into Chrisianity. For example, they moved the holy day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday, because Pagans were accustomed to worshiping the Sun god every week. They also incorporated the celebration of a roman goddes of fertility (Eostre) who's symbols were eggs and rabbits. Maybe if we realize that the reason we even have a Bible had nothing to do with faith, and everything to do with political pragmatism, it would show just how credible (or not) that the Bible really is.
Toddynho 16 minutes ago (8:30 AM)
496 Fans

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Analysis: Let’s cool the political meltdown over nuclear power plants

Analysis: Let’s cool the political meltdown over nuclear power plants
By Slate slate Mon Mar 14, 11:56 am ET

By William Saletan

Less than a year ago, a drilling rig exploded off the coast of the United States, killing 11 workers and pouring 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. No natural disaster caused this tragedy. It was entirely man-made. President Obama halted deep-water drilling but lifted the moratorium less than six months later. On Friday, while fielding questions about Japan's nuclear reactors, he proudly noted that his administration, under new, stricter rules, had "approved more than 35 new offshore drilling permits."

That's how we deal with tragedies in the oil business. Accidents happen. People die. Pollution spreads. We don't abandon oil. We study what went wrong, try to fix it, and move on.

Contrast this with the panic over Japan's reactors. For 40 years, they've quietly done their work. Three days ago, they were hit almost simultaneously by Japan's worst earthquake and one of its worst tsunamis. Not one reactor container has failed. The only employee who has died at a Japanese nuclear facility since the quake was killed by a crane. Despite this, voices are rising in Europe and the United States to abandon nuclear power. Industry analysts predict that the Japan scare, like Chernobyl, will freeze plant construction.

Let's cool this panic before it becomes a political meltdown.

Early reports said four Japanese plants were in trouble. Now it appears only two were disabled. Early reports said three employees had radiation sickness. Now we're hearing only one is sick, and even in that case, the radiation dose appears relatively low. Two reactor buildings exploded, but these were explosions of excess hydrogen, not nuclear fuel, and neither of them ruptured the inner containers that encase the reactor cores. Some radiation has leaked, but according to measurements outside the plants, the amount so far is modest. Any leak is bad, and the area of contamination, even at low rates, will probably spread. Japan needs our sympathy and our help. But let's not exaggerate the crisis.

In advanced countries like Japan and the United States, nuclear plants are built to standards no drilling rig can touch. If a sensor, cable, or power source fails, another sensor, cable, or power source is available. Containers of steel or concrete envelop the reactors to prevent massive radiation leaks. Chernobyl didn't have such a container. Three Mile Island did. That's why Three Mile Island produced no uncontrolled leakage or injuries.

(What's in the radioactive vapors)

Japan's plants were designed to withstand quakes and tsunamis, but not a combination of this magnitude. At the affected facilities, the quake knocked out the primary cooling systems, and the tsunami wiped out the backup diesel generators. Then a valve malfunction thwarted efforts to pump water into one of the reactors. Everything that could go wrong did.

Despite this, the reactor containers have held firm. The explosions around them have blown outward, relieving pressure, as designed. Meanwhile, plant operators, deprived of their primary and secondary power sources for cooling the cores, have tapped batteries and deployed alternate generators. To relieve pressure, they've released vapor. And in some cases, they've pumped seawater and boric acid into the reactors, destroying them to protect the public. Cooling systems are back online at two previously impaired reactors, and a backup pump has averted cooling problems at a third plant.

The reactor where the crisis began, Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1, is one of Japan's oldest. It was two weeks from its 40-year expiration date when the quake hit. Similar plants in the United States have been upgraded to ensure that in the event of power failure, water can still be pumped in to cool them. And nuclear plants are indisputably getting safer. Since 1990, worker radiation exposure and automatic reactor shutdowns worldwide have declined by a factor of three. According to an analysis last year by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, plants being constructed by today's standards are 1,600 times safer than early nuclear plants, in terms of the predicted frequency of a large radiation leak. Even if a reactor core is damaged, as in Japan, the NEA report notes that today, "the probability of a release to the environment is about ten times less than that of core damage," thanks to improvements in fuel, circuits, and containment.

(Follow Slate's coverage of the Japanese devastation)

If Japan, the United States, or Europe retreats from nuclear power in the face of the current panic, the most likely alternative energy source is fossil fuel. And by any measure, fossil fuel is more dangerous. The sole fatal nuclear power accident of the last 40 years, Chernobyl, directly killed 31 people. By comparison, Switzerland's Paul Scherrer Institute calculates that from 1969 to 2000, more than 20,000 people died in severe accidents in the oil supply chain. More than 15,000 people died in severe accidents in the coal supply chain—11,000 in China alone. The rate of direct fatalities per unit of energy production is 18 times worse for oil than it is for nuclear power.

Even if you count all the deaths plausibly related to Chernobyl—9,000 to 33,000 over a 70-year period—that number is dwarfed by the death rate from burning fossil fuels. The OECD's 2008 Environmental Outlook calculates that fine-particle outdoor air pollution caused nearly 1 million premature deaths in the year 2000, and 30 percent of this was energy-related. You'd need 500 Chernobyls to match that level of annual carnage. But outside Chernobyl, we've had zero fatal nuclear power accidents.

That doesn't mean we can ignore what has happened in Japan. Precisely because nuclear accidents are so rare, we have to study them intensely. Each one tells us what to fix in the next generation of power plants. The most obvious mistake in Japan was parking the diesel generators in an area low enough to be flooded by a quake-driven tsunami. The batteries that backed up the generators weren't adequate, either. They lasted only eight hours, and power outage fallback plans at U.S. reactors are even shorter. Moreover, this is the second time an advanced nuclear facility has had to vent radioactive vapor (Three Mile Island was the first). Maybe it's time to require filtration systems that scrub the vapor before it's released.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut says we should "put the brakes" on nuclear power plant construction until we figure out what went wrong in Japan. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts wants a moratorium on new reactors in "seismically active areas" while we study the problem. That's fine. But let's not block construction indefinitely while we go on mindlessly pumping oil. Because nuclear energy, for all its risks, is safer.

Visit Slate for more political news.

Monday, March 14, 2011

HGTV Home Improver Called A Chisler When Arrested By Toronto Police

A co-host of two popular home improvement TV shows has been accused by Toronto Police of being a chiseler.

Barrington Anthony Sayers, the featured carpenter on all 52 episodes of W Network’s series Me, My House and I, and co- host of The Unsellables show on HGTV, was arrested Saturday by officers from 53 Division.

In a statement Monday, Toronto Police said an investigation was launched after a woman complained about incomplete renovations on her home and accused the owner of Anthony Sayers Custom Builder and Design of doing shoddy work, harassing her and extortion.

Police said the 41-year-old also uses the name Anthony Sayers.

A graduate of George Brown College with 17 years of professional experience in the building trades, he is charged with two counts of criminal harassment, attempted fraud under $5,000 and extortion.

On its website, HGTV promotes The Unsellables as a show that "transforms unsightly and unsellable properties into real estate gems ‹ and encourages homeowners to let go of the past, get smart and prepare for a sale."

It invites viewers to "join property guru and British TV personality Sofie Allsopp and her trusty contractor Anthony Sayers as she coaches and cajoles home sellers through a major clean-up and targeted makeover that will help them seal the deal. There’s plenty of drama and inspiration along the way--and lots of how-to tips for turning real estate lemons into lemonade!"

Allsopp took the show back to the UK in 2009, but returned to Toronto for a subsequent series that began in 13 months ago.

Filmed in Toronto, The Unsellables airs in Canada on HGTV and in the U.S., Real Estate TV in the UK and The Lifestyle Channel in Australia.

A website for Me, My House and I says Sayers, a native of Jamaica, "worked for some of the top custom builders in Toronto," loves to work out at a gymn, dancing at clubs and calls Bingo at a senior's centre.

The latest episode of The Unsellables aired at 7:30 a.m. and will be repeated at 4:30 p.m. on HGTV.

Sayers, who is not in custody, was ordered to appear at College Park Court on March 28.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Richard hatch goes back to prison David Cassidy is cheering!

© NBC Universal
Original Survivor winner Richard Hatch has been ordered back to prison to serve nine months behind bars.

The reality star, who won the first season of the CBS series in 2000, was sentenced on Friday after failing to correct tax issues stemming back from money owed from both his prize fund and subsequent media appearances.

According to The AP, Hatch currently owes $2 million in both taxes and penalties, and his failure to refile his taxes from 2000 and 2001 caused the residing judge to impose the maximum penalty.

"You can continue to proclaim your innocence," Judge William Smith said during the sentencing. "It needs to be a severe punishment. That's the only thing that will deter you in the future."

Hatch served three years in prison between 2006 and 2009 for the same legal problem, after which he claimed that he would pay back everything he owed to the IRS.

Hatch is currently appearing on the NBC series The Celebrity Apprentice, and had been scheduled to appear on the show's live final on May 22.

The former Survivor star must submit himself to the authorities on Monday.

1.9 million in gold still missing Canada

TORONTO — Two suspects are in custody and one gold bar has been recovered but police in Toronto are still searching for 95 other gold bars allegedly bought in Montreal with a fraudulently obtained bank draft worth $1,895,751.

Two people have been detained for trying to sell some of the bars in Toronto, but so far police have only recovered one 300-gram bar. Seventy-four others — from Australia's Perth Mint, with the mint's symbol on one side and a kangaroo on the other — are still missing. Police are also looking for nineteen one-kilogram gold bars and two 100-gram bars.

Police are still seeking the identity of the person or persons who obtained the bank draft.

"We're barking up a few trees; it's an ongoing investigation" said Det. Ruth Moran of the Financial Crimes Unit on Wednesday.

Const. Tony Vella of the Toronto Police asked the public to come forward with any information regarding the incident, and warned jewelry and metal businesses to be on the lookout for the bars.

The first suspect was arrested on Feb. 14 when he tried to sell a bar to a Toronto gold company, said Vella. Two days later, the gold bar was recovered when officers caught a second man allegedly attempting to sell it.

Toronto residents Thevarajah Thambipillai, 55, and Senthuran Kanapathipillai, 32, are charged with possession of property obtained by crime.

The Canadian Bankers Association is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the recovery of the bars.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami hits japan

Devastating earthquake, tsunami hit Japan
By the CNN Wire Staff

Tokyo (CNN) -- The most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least 100 years unleashed walls of water Friday that swept across rice fields, engulfing towns, dragging houses onto highways and tossing cars and boats like toys.

Local media reported at least 50 deaths, with more casualties feared.

And the 8.9-magnitude quake, which struck at 2:46 p.m. local time, prompted the U.S. National Weather Service to issue a tsunami warning for at least 50 countries and territories.

It also sparked fires in at least 80 locations, Kyodo news reported.

Its epicenter was offshore 373 kilometers (231 miles) away from Tokyo, the United States Geological Survey said.

But residents there continued to feel aftershocks hours after the quake. More than 30 aftershocks followed, with the strongest measuring 7.1.

"I wasn't scared when it started ... but it just kept going and going," said Michelle Roberts, who lives in central Tokyo. "I won't lie, it was quite scary. But we are all OK. We live on the third floor, so most everything shook and shifted."

A spokesman for the U.S. military bases in Japan said all service members were accounted for and there were no reports of damage to installations or ships.

President Barack Obama, while offering his condolences, said the United States was standing by to help "in this time of great trial."

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said an emergency task force has been activated, and appealed for calm. He said there were no reported leaks of radioactive materials from power plants.

Four nuclear power plants closest to the quake were safely shut down, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said.

About 2,000 residents near the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being told to evacuate, Kyodo said.

At Tokyo Station, one of Japan's busiest subway stations, shaken commuters grabbed one another to stay steady as the ground shook. Dazed residents poured into the streets after offices and schools were closed. Children cried.

The quake toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. Waves of debris flowed like lava across farmland, pushing boats, houses and trailers. About 4 million homes had no power in Tokyo and surrounding areas.

Firefighters battled a fiery blaze at an oil refinery in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.

Residents said though earthquakes are common in Japan, Friday's stunned most people.

"This was larger than anyone expected and went on longer than anyone expected," said Matt Alt, who lives in Tokyo.

"My wife was the calm one ... she told us to get down and put your back on something, and leave the windows and doors open in case a building shifts so you don't get trapped."

Richard Lloyd Parry said he looked through a window and saw buildings shaking from side to side.

"Central Tokyo is fine from what we see, people are calm ... and not going inside buildings," he said.

Such a large earthquake at such a shallow depth -- 24.4 kilometers (15.2 miles) -- creates a lot of energy, said Shenza Chen of the U.S. Geological Survey.

As the city grappled with the devastation, a massive tsunami swept across the Pacific Ocean.

An earthquake of that size can generate a dangerous tsunami to coasts outside the source region, the National Weather Service said.

In Philippines alone, the tsunami is expected to hit in the early morning and the government has evacuated coastal areas.

The National Weather Service issued warnings for more than 50 countries and territories.

The wide-ranging list includes Russia and Indonesia, Central American countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and the U.S. state of Hawaii, where warning sirens were sounded in the morning. A tsunami warning was also issued for areas along the United States and Canadian west coasts.

While some officials feared that waves from the tsunami could be high enough to wash over entire islands in the Pacific, at least one expert said it was unlikely.

The tsunami could cause significant damage and flooding, but "washing over islands is not going to happen," said Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Humanitarian agencies were working with rescue crews to reach the people affected.

"When such an earthquake impacts a developed country like Japan, our concern also turns to countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, which might not have the same resources," said Rachel Wolff, a spokeswoman for World Vision.

Wolff said her agency is helping people on the ground in Japan and teaming up to help others in countries along the path of the tsunami.

The tsunami could cause damage "along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii," warned the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property."

Tsunamis are a series of long ocean waves that can last five to 15 minutes and cause extensive flooding in coastal areas. A succession of waves can hit -- often the highest not being the first, said CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

The quake was the latest in a series in the region this week.

Early Thursday, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the coast of Honshu. A day earlier, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake had struck off the same coast, the country's meteorological agency said.

The largest recorded quake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5, the USGS said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hcg diet a scam says FDA USA

HCG Worthless as Weight-Loss Aid

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Albert T. Simeons, a British-born physician, contended that HCG injections would enable dieters to subsist comfortably on a 500-calorie-a-day diet. He claimed that HCG would mobilize stored fat; suppress appetite; and redistribute fat from the waist, hips, and thighs [1]. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims [2-13]. Moreover, a 500-calorie (semi-starvation) diet is likely to result in loss of protein from vital organs, and HCG can cause other adverse effects. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., has noted:

At one time, HCG was the most widespread obesity medication administered in the United States. Some doctors liked it because it assured them of a steady clientele. Patients had to come in once a week for an injection [14].

HCH is also marketed in sublingual (under the tongue) form. No scientific tests of sublingual HCG have been published, but it is safe to assume that it would be no more effective than injected HCG.

In 2009, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians issued a position statement which stated:

Numerous clinical trials have shown HCG to be ineffectual in producing weight loss. HCG
injections can induce a slight increase in muscle mass in androgen-deficient males. The diet used
in the Simeons method provides a lower protein intake than is advisable in view of current
knowledge and practice. There are few medical literature reports favorable to the Simeons
method; the overwhelming majority of medical reports are critical of it. Physicians employing
either the HCG or the diet recommended by Simeons may expose themselves to criticism from
other physicians, from insurers, or from government bodies [15].

Government Regulation

In 1976, the FTC ordered the Simeon Management Corporation, Simeon Weight Clinics Foundation, Bariatrics Management Corporation, C.M. Norcal, Inc., and HCG Weight Clinics Foundation and their officers to stop claiming that their HCG-based programs were safe, effective, and/or approved by the FDA for weight-control. Although the order did not stop the clinics from using HCG, it required that patients who contract for the treatment be informed in writing that:


Since 1975, the FDA has required labeling and advertising of HCG to state:

HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or "normal" distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.

Promotion By Kevin Trudeau

Negative studies and government action reduced the use of HGC injections for weight control close to zero. However, promotion by infomercial king Kevin Trudeau has caused their use to increase. His 2007 book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About, claims that "an absolute cure for obesity was discovered almost fifty years ago" but was "suppressed" by the AMA, the FDA, and "other medical establishments throughout the world." Trudeau further claims that until now, "this miracle weight loss breakthrough has been hidden from the public so that drug companies can make billions of dollars selling their expensive drug treatments and surgical procedures for obesity." The alleged cure consists of HCG injections plus 50 to 60 required and recommended do's and don'ts [16].

In 2007, the FTC charged Kevin Trudeau with violating a court order by misrepresenting the contents of the book [17]. In infomercials, Trudeau falsely claimed that the book's weight-loss plan is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. Previous FTC action had led to a court order banning from using infomercials to sell any product, service, or program except for books and other publications The order specified that he not misrepresent the content of the books. In 2008, the Court ruled that Trudeau had violated the previous order and ordered him to pay more than $37 million.


Simeons ATW. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954.
Asher WL, Harper HW. Effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin on weight loss, hunger and feeling of well-being. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26:211–218, 1973.
Bosch B and others. Human chorionic gonadotrophin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. South African Medical Journal 77:185–189, 1990.
Carne S. The action of chorionic gonadotrophin in the obese. Lancet 2:1282–1284, 1961.
Craig LS and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in the treatment of obese women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12:230–234, 1963.
Frank BW. The use of chorionic gonadotrophin hormone in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14:133–136, 1964.
Greenway FL, Bray GA. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. West Journal of Medicine 127:461–463, 1977.
Shetty KR, Kalkhoff RK. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) treatment of obesity. Archives of Internal Medicine 137:151-155, 1977.
Lebon P. Treatment of overweight patients with chorionic gonadotrophin: follow-up study. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 14:116–125, 1966.
Lijesen GK and others. The effect of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 49:237–243, 1995.
Miller R, Schneiderman LJ. A clinical study of the use of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction. Journal of Family Practice 4:445–448, 1977.
Stein MR and others. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotrophin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29:940–948, 1976.
Young RL and others. Chorionic gonadotrophin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study. JAMA 236:2495–2497, 1976.
Mirkin G. Getting Thin. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1983.
American College of Bariatric Physicians. Position statement: Use of HCG in the treatment of obesity. Approved Dec 2009.
In the matter of Simeon Management Corporation et al. Order, opinion etc., in regard to alleged violation of Secs. 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Docket 8996. Complaint, Oct 15, 1974. Final Order April 29, 1976.
Trudeau K. The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About. Alliance Publishing, 2007.
FTC: Marketer Kevin Trudeau violated prior court order. FTC news release, Sept 14, 2007.
This article was revised on May 10, 2010.

A cute short story that will bring a smile to your face...

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss the boy's use of the car.

His father said he'd make a deal:
‘You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we'll talk about the car.'

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he'd settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.

After about six weeks his father said, 'Son, you've brought your grades up and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I'm disappointed you haven't had your hair cut.

The boy said,

'You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that, and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair,
John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair...and there's even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.'

(You're going to love the Dad's reply)

His father replied, 'Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hang the rich: Great war inevitable, pundit predicts

Kieron Lang, News
Updated: Sun. Mar. 6 2011 7:17 AM ET
Watching events unfold in North Africa and the Middle East, you might think the uprisings there -- aimed at toppling corrupt regimes -- will peter out once democracy takes hold. But political prognosticator Gerald Celente says you're dead wrong.
The founder and publisher of the New York -based Trends Journal believes that way of thinking is so misguided, in fact, anyone who thinks that way won't see what's really coming next.
Celente, who makes a living with his forecasts of where the world is heading, trumpets the success of his predictions on everything from the brewing popularity of gourmet coffee in 1988 to this century's "Great Recession" in 2004.
More recently, Celente says he warned of the current spread of youth-inspired uprisings long before anyone else.
"We had forecast that there would be a wave of protests raging throughout the world in response to three elements: high unemployment, draconian austerity measures and corruption," Celente explains in a telephone interview.
"What you're seeing in North Africa and the Middle East is the same three elements," he insists. "It has nothing to do with autocracy or democracy."
Instead, Celente says anyone who sees the world as he does will recognize that there's actually a form of neo-feudalism at work, pitting oppressed "peasants" against a rich ruling class unwilling to share the wealth.
"You have people between the ages of 18 and 30, their hormones are raging, and they're raging mad. You've got no limits at that age, you're not afraid of anything and you have nothing to lose," he says. "The difference is, these peasants are educated, they know the deal."
'Europe is next' 
In an energetic, if somewhat rambling conversation with, Celente explains that the recent conflicts in Tunisia and beyond are more about young people confronting their bleak economic future than it is about a push for elected representation.
"If people are fat and happy they could care less if Mickey Mouse is ruling them," he says.  But given the state of the world economy, that doesn't seem an imminent prospect.
"Europe is next," Celente continued, explaining that in his view the uprisings in North Africa and the Mideast were not triggered by events in Tunisia. Instead, he believes they're the inevitable result of political, social and economic conditions shared by a vast, growing array of countries including, but not limited to Albania, Croatia, Romania, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Soaring unemployment, cuts to pensions and benefits, rising fees for diminishing services, across-the-board value-added tax increases and declining minimum wages are all common factors to some degree, he says. Combine those with the numbers of young people who are still living with their parents, struggling to find work and not seeing much hope for the future, and Celente says you've got some powerful reasons to not only get angry over the growing gap between rich and poor, but to do something about it.
The inevitable result will be "the next great war of the 21st century," he says, offering a favourite maxim: "When the money stops flowing to Main Street, the money starts flowing on the streets."
Fascist America
So, how can the world be spared from its apparently bloody destiny?
According to Celente, certainly not in any of the ways governments have tried so far. To start, he says we have to abandon the concept that some businesses are "too-big-to-fail." Recalling the powerful robber barons of 19th century America, for example, he says the same dynamic is at work today. The difference now is, they are no longer the subject of public derision.
"Now people bow down, suck up and congratulate them on how wonderful they are," Celente scoffs, insisting that's the wrong attitude.
"We have to tax the multi-billonaires, we have to stop all of these tax rip-offs of the multinationals, and go back to when it worked better."
According to Celente, that means reinstituting laws that curb banks' abilities "to become like casinos," and generally reverting to the state of affairs before NAFTA.
"It's not free trade. It's manufacturers going to slave labour countries, getting their products made, and shipping them back at a mark-up. Let's call it what it is."
Celente offers a similarly stark view of the steps taken by world leaders to curb the recent global economic slowdown. Rather than fix the world's financial problems, Celente says policies of tax cuts, austerity measures and stimulus spending have instead served to reinflate economic bubbles that are near-bursting.
"This is not capitalism. The merger of state and corporate powers by definition -- from someone who knew a thing or two about it: Mussolini -- is facism," Celente asserts. "And fascism has come to America."
With the world headed towards a great war, and citizens of the western world living under fascism, you might think there's cause for panic. But Celente says the panic hasn't taken hold because, for most people, the facts aren't clear.
"You think they'd care about Libya if it was the Ivory Coast?," Celente asks, suggesting that the public is being misled in terms of what's really at stake. "Do you think the United States would be in Iraq if the major export was broccoli?"
Money is the prime motivator, Celente says, not freedom and liberty. "The people can't see it because they're getting misinformation, because they get caught up in the ideology of it."
War at your door?
The thought of a popular uprising erupting close to home is not totally out of the question, however, especally in light of the 70,000 who recently marched against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's bill aimed at stripping public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
Despite Walker's insistence the move would help slash his state's projected US$3.6-billion deficit, the proposed law raised the ire of union supporters across the U.S. who, in a sign of growing discontent among the working class, rallied in several cities including Los Angeles; Topeka, Kansas; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Olympia, Washington and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Indeed, Celente believes the violence will inevitably spread to our shores, as many of the same conditions are at play here in Canada and the United States -- except one.
"The people here don't have the fighting zeal. The young people here are more than mommies' boys -- they're soccer mommies' boys," he said, suggesting that should at least forestall such uprisings on our shores anytime soon.

Internet scam continues to dupe consumers Acai berry diet scams

If you've spent any time online, you've probably seen them: the ads for diet products made with the trendy berry açai. But you may want to think twice about signing up for one of these diets.
The consumer advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is warning that not only are the diets questionable, many are offered through an online scam.
There's no evidence whatsoever that diet pills made with açai (pronounced a-sigh-EE) will help flatten tummies, cleanse colons, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions, the CSPI warns in a news release Monday.
What's more, many of these pills are offered through "free, risk-free" 14-day trial offers that are really part of a scheme called "negative option" advertising.
The companies offer samples of the products but then charge the customer's credit card month after month unless the consumer cancels the order.
CSPI senior nutritionist David Schardt, who authored an exposé of the scam in the April issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter, says oftentimes, there is little that police can do.
"If Bernard Madoff were in the food business, he'd be offering 'free' trials of açai-based weight-loss products," Schardt said in a statement Monday.
"Law enforcement has yet to catch up to these rogue operators. Until they do, consumers have to protect themselves."
The Better Business Bureau in the U.S. released a statement this January warning consumers to be wary of website offering acai berry-related weight loss products, saying it has received "thousands" of complaints from consumers.
In many cases, when customers try to contact the company and cancel their subscriptions, they are forced to sit for more than an hour on hold. Additionally, some consumers have complained of unauthorized charges on their credit card or bank accounts for products they did not order.
Others have had trouble cancelling their subscription using the email addresses provided. In some cases, the address did not work or the complainant continued to be billed despite multiple emails.
Several customers reported they were eventually forced to close bank accounts and cancel credit cards to stop the charges.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has taken up the cause along with the CSPI to expose these scams, reminding consumers of the old adage, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."
"There are no magical berries from the Brazilian rainforest that cure obesity -- only painfully real credit card charges and empty weight loss promises," Blumenthal said in a statement.
"Aggressive acai berry pitches on the Internet entice countless consumers into free trials promising weight loss, energy and detoxification. These claims are based on folklore, traditional remedies and outright fabrications--unproven by real scientific evidence. In reality, consumers lose more money than weight after free trials transition into inescapable charges."
He has promised to continue to investigate misleading nutrition and health claims and take action under consumer protection laws when possible.
Acai began attracting attention in 2005 with word that the Brazilian fruit's juice was especially high in antioxidants, which are thought to slow or preventing the oxidative damage from oxygen from free radicals.
The CSPI says in fact, acai juice has no more antioxidants than grape, blueberry, or black cherry juices. What's more, there is no credible evidence that antioxidants in themselves can promote weight loss.
In early 2008, acai got a jolt of publicity when the berry was mentioned in a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who wrote the "You" series of health books with Dr. Michael Roizen. A guest on Rachael Ray also discussed an acai beverage.
Since then, ads on Google, Facebook, and major websites have steered consumers to sites with names such as,, with such teasers as: "Lose weight with Oprah's favorite diet secret!" "Eat the berry that Dr. Oz calls the 'No. 1' superfood!"
Winfrey, Oz, and Ray have all publicly disassociated themselves from the sites that make unauthorized use of their names.
A disclaimer was added to the Oprah website last month that reads: "Consumers should be aware that Oprah Winfrey is not associated with nor does she endorse any açaí berry product or online solicitation of such products."

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