(Subjects: Religion/Worship, Lightworkers, Food, Health, Prescription Drugs, Homeopathy, Innate (Body intelligence), New Age movement, Global Unity, ... etc.) - (Text version)

“…… Should I use Doctors and Drugs to Heal Me or Spiritual Methods?

"Dear Kryon, I have heard that you should stay natural and not use the science on the planet for healing. It does not honor God to go to a doctor. After all, don't you say that we can heal with our minds? So why should we ever go to a doctor if we can do it ourselves? Not only that, my doctor isn't enlightened, so he has no idea about my innate or my spiritual body needs. What should I do?"

First, Human Being, why do you wish to put so many things in boxes? You continue to want a yes and no answer for complex situations due to your 3D, linear outlook on almost everything. Learn to think out of the 3D box! Look at the heading of this section [above]. It asks which one should you do. It already assumes you can't do both because they seem dichotomous.

Let's use some spiritual logic: Here is a hypothetical answer, "Don't go to a doctor, for you can heal everything with your mind." So now I will ask: How many of you can do that in this room right now? How many readers can do that with efficiency right now? All of you are old souls, but are you really ready to do that? Do you know how? Do you have really good results with it? Can you rid disease and chemical imbalance with your mind right now?

I'm going to give you a truth, whether you choose to see it or not. You're not ready for that! You are not yet prepared to take on the task of full healing using your spiritual tools. Lemurians could do that, because Pleiadians taught them how! It's one of the promises of God, that there'll come a day when your DNA works that efficiently and you will be able to walk away from drug chemistry and the medical industry forever, for you'll have the creator's energy working at 100 percent, something you saw within the great masters who walked the earth.

This will be possible within the ascended earth that you are looking forward to, dear one. Have you seen the news lately? Look out the window. Is that where you are now? We are telling you that the energy is going in that direction, but you are not there yet.

Let those who feel that they can heal themselves begin the process of learning how. Many will be appreciative of the fact that you have some of the gifts for this now. Let the process begin, but don't think for a moment that you have arrived at a place where every health issue can be healed with your own power. You are students of a grand process that eventually will be yours if you wish to begin the quantum process of talking to your cells. Some will be good at this, and some will just be planting the seeds of it.

Now, I would like to tell you how Spirit works and the potentials of what's going to happen in the next few years. We're going to give the doctors of the planet new inventions and new science. These will be major discoveries about the Human body and of the quantum attributes therein.

Look at what has already happened, for some of this science has already been given to you and you are actually using it. Imagine a science that would allow the heart to be transplanted because the one you have is failing. Of course! It's an operation done many times a month on this planet. That information came from the creator, did you realize that? It didn't drop off the shelf of some dark energy library to be used in evil ways.

So, if you need a new heart, Lightworker, should you go to the doctor or create one with your mind? Until you feel comfortable that you can replace your heart with a new one by yourself, then you might consider using the God-given information that is in the hands of the surgeon. For it will save your life, and create a situation where you stay and continue to send your light to the earth! Do you see what we're saying?

You can also alter that which is medicine [drugs] and begin a process that is spectacular in its design, but not very 3D. I challenge you to begin to use what I would call the homeopathic principle with major drugs. If some of you are taking major drugs in order to alter your chemistry so that you can live better and longer, you might feel you have no choice. "Well, this is keeping me alive," you might say. "I don't yet have the ability to do this with my consciousness, so I take the drugs."

In this new energy, there is something else that you can try if you are in this category. Do the following with safety, intelligence, common sense and logic. Here is the challenge: The principle of homeopathy is that an almost invisible tincture of a substance is ingested and is seen by your innate. Innate "sees" what you are trying to do and then adjusts the body's chemistry in response. Therefore, you might say that you are sending the body a "signal for balance." The actual tincture is not large enough to affect anything chemically - yet it works!

The body [innate] sees what you're trying to do and then cooperates. In a sense, you might say the body is healing itself because you were able to give it instructions through the homeopathic substance of what to do. So, why not do it with a major drug? Start reducing the dosage and start talking to your cells, and see what happens. If you're not successful, then stop the reduction. However, to your own amazement, you may often be successful over time.

You might be able to take the dosage that you're used to and cut it to at least a quarter of what it was. It is the homeopathy principle and it allows you to keep the purpose of the drug, but reduce it to a fraction of a common 3D dosage. You're still taking it internally, but now it's also signaling in addition to working chemically. The signal is sent, the body cooperates, and you reduce the chance of side effects.

You can't put things in boxes of yes or no when it comes to the grand system of Spirit. You can instead use spiritual logic and see the things that God has given you on the planet within the inventions and processes. Have an operation, save your life, and stand and say, "Thank you, God, for this and for my being born where these things are possible." It's a complicated subject, is it not? Each of you is so different! You'll know what to do, dear one. Never stress over that decision, because your innate will tell you what is appropriate for you if you're willing to listen. ….”

Monsanto / GMO - Global Health

(Subjects: Big pharma [the drug companies of America] are going to have to change very soon or collapse. When you have an industry that keeps people sick for money, it cannot survive in the new consciousness., Global Unity, ... etc.) - (Text version)
"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Lose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Pedal wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)
"THE BRIDGE OF SWORDS" – Sep 29, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: ... I'm in Canada and I know it, but I will tell those listening and reading in the American audience the following: Get ready! Because there are some institutions that are yet to fall, ones that don't have integrity and that could never be helped with a bail out. Again, we tell you the biggest one is big pharma, and we told you that before. It's inevitable. If not now, then in a decade. It's inevitable and they will fight to stay alive and they will not be crossing the bridge. For on the other side of the bridge is a new way, not just for medicine but for care. ....) - (Text Version)

Pharmaceutical Fraud / Corruption cases

Health Care

Health Care
Happy birthday to Percy Julian, a pioneer in plant-drug synthesis. His research produced steroids like cortisone. (11 April 2014)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Louvre museum removes Sackler name amid opioid controversy

Yahoo – AFP, July 17, 2019

Paris's iconic Louvre is believed to be the first museum in the world to remove
the Sackler name over the opioid crisis (AFP Photo/Ludovic MARIN)

Paris (AFP) - The Louvre museum in Paris has removed the name of the Sackler family from one of its wings, amid a controversy that has seen the billionaire donors accused of pushing a highly-addictive opioid blamed for tens of thousands of deaths.

An AFP reporter on Wednesday saw that masking tape had been put in place to hide the Sackler name on plaques in the rooms of what had been the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, which houses artefacts from the ancient Near East.

A museum spokesperson could not say when the tape had been put in place. The wing had been given the name due to a $3.6 million donation made by the Sackler family in 1996.

Louvre president Jean-Luc Martinez said on RTL television on Tuesday that the rooms no longer carried the name as such a tribute lasted a maximum of 20 years after the donation.

This would mean that the Sackler wing should not have been named after the family for several years. But the Louvre spokesperson declined to comment when asked why the name had not been removed three years ago.

American group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), backed by American photographer Nancy Goldin, a former opioid addict, had urged the museum to rename the Sackler Wing.

The Louvre was the latest in a string of museums to face criticism over links to the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, whose painkiller OxyContin is now subject to more than 1,000 lawsuits over its role in the US opioid crisis.

In recent months, galleries including New York's Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum, and London's Tate and National Portrait Gallery, said they would stop accepting donations from the family.

But the Louvre is believed to be the first to actually remove the name, a move welcomed by a PAIN spokesperson while noting that the museum appeared unwilling to publicise it.

In 2017, 47,000 people died in the United States as a result of overdosing on opioids including prescription drugs, heroin and fentanyl, the Centers for Disease Control says.

There are hundreds of lawsuits in various US states against both Purdue and its owner the Sackler family, who are accused of pushing for the prescription of OxyContin despite knowing how addictive it is.

But worries about the medication are not confined to the US.

Last month, around 100 French doctors warned about the risk of a health crisis claiming there were "12 million people in France taking opioids" who had not been told about the potential for addiction and risk of overdose.

Photographer Nan Goldin leads a protest out of the Guggenheim Museum in
Manhattan, New York, against its funding by the Sackler family, the owners of
Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue. Photograph: Yana Paskova/The Guardian

Related Article:

".... Let me tell you what else is in the field. Two things: These are going to be things that exist now in the field and they are upcoming potentials. The reason I give you these potentials is so if they happen, just like the handshake, you might believe a little more in this process.

There will come a time when Big Pharma will fall over because of a growing higher consciousness of the public. [Applause in the audience] There is a consciousness growing here that begins to have a new respect for each other, so that abuse of women will no longer be tolerated. Things that never happened before will begin happening, like bishops and cardinals resigning. [All 34 bishops in the Catholic Church resigned May 2018 after the new wild card pope called them on their reaction to child abuse for years by their colleagues.] All the things my partner brought today [in the seminar] are actually happening now. Why should some of these drug companies fail? Because there will be a strong reaction from your general public when they realize there are companies that have policies that would keep a Human sick or let him die for money. [Applause in the audience] It would be unconscionable, and the potential grows stronger daily that it's going to happen. The trigger? It's coming. When it does, that industry will be in trouble. Not all pharma is this way, dear ones - understand this - but the ones who are will fall. ..."

"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Dallas Texas, Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Biotech firm Galapagos agrees $5bn research deal with Gilead

DutchNews, July 15, 2019 

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch-Belgian biotech company Galapagos has agreed a $5.1bn deal with Gilead Sciences which sees the US group almost double its stake from 12.3% to 22%. 

The deal includes a $3.95bn upfront payment and $1.1bn equity investment and gives Gilead exclusive access to all current and future compounds produced by Galapagos.  Galapagos will use the cash to expand its research activities and build commercial infrastructure. 

Galapagos also said it would ask its shareholders to allow Gilead to increase its ownership to up to 29.9%. This would be followed by a 10-year standstill clause that would prevent Gilead from accumulating any additional stake or seeking to take over the company. 

Galapagos’ portfolio currently includes six molecules in clinical trials and more than 20 pre-clinical programmes, Gilead said. 

The deal ‘reflects Gilead’s intent to grow our innovation network through diverse and creative partnerships,’ chief executive Daniel O’Day said in the website statement

The two companies have also agreed to amend certain terms around the development and commercialisation of filgotinib, the experimental drug developed by Galapagos to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. 

Galapagos, which is based in Belgium and listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange, was formed in 1999.

Amsterdam wants to bring in ‘no junk food zones’ around schools

DutchNews, July 15, 2019

Photo: Depositphotos.com 

Officials in Amsterdam wants to restrict the number of snack bars and fast food joints near schools in an effort to reduce obesity rates among the city’s children. 

A campaign launched in 2012 helped reduced the percentage of too-heavy children in the Dutch capital from 21% to 18% over a three-year period but the decline has since halted. 

Now alderman Simone Kukenheim plans to take further action to improve the health of the city’s school going children. She wants to introduce a ‘healthy belt’ around schools without snack bars to prevent children filling up on chips and sweets during their breaks, the Parool reported at the weekend. 

Kukenheim hopes new zoning legislation which will come into effect in 2021 and which aims to ensure a ‘safe and healthy physical environment’ will help reduce the number of snack bars near schools. ‘We are researching how these new rules can be used to encourage a healthier supply of food,’ the alderman said. 

The city has also recently expanded the number of water fountains in the city to encourage children to ditch fizzy drinks. 


The alderman has appealed to health minister Paul Blokhuis, urging him to get tougher on the sugar, salt and fat content in food. She also wants him to clamp down on the way unhealthy food is marketed at children. 

Socio-economic status and cultural background also play a role in childhood obesity and the problem is largely confined to poorer parts of the city and among immigrant communities. 

The 2012 campaign included advising schools to ban fruit juices, and unhealthy treats for at birthday celebrations and introduced a ban on fast food sponsorship of council events involving children. 

Amsterdam already bans cannabis cafes, or coffeeshops, from being within 250 metres of a school.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New Petten reactor for medical isotopes gets financial backing

DutchNews, July 8, 2019 

The existing reactor is due to close in 2025. Photo: Svdmolen via Wikimedia

Work on a new reactor at the Petten nuclear plant dedicated to producing medical isotopes is due to begin in 2021 after the government announced it had secured financial backing.

The current reactor, which is 60 years old and owned by the European Commission, is due to be closed in 2025. The decision caused alarm in the medical community because Petten produces 30% of the global supplies of medical isotopes, which are used in the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. 

Heath minister Bruno Bruins wrote in a letter to parliament that a number of interested parties were prepared to finance the project, but did not disclose who they were. 

‘There is still a lot of work to be done, but now that a number of private investors have come forward we can start work in earnest,’ he said. Bruins said a backup plan was being prepared ‘in the unexpected event that the interests of the state cannot be sufficiently safeguarded in the negotiations with private investors.’

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Period pain: menstruation related to nine days of lost productivity a year, claim researchers

DutchNews, July 5, 2019

Photo: Depositphotos

Researchers at Radboudumc claim that women effectively lose almost nine days of productivity each year due to the effects of their periods. 

The research, published in the online journal BMJ Open, is based on self-reporting from 32,748 women responding to a survey through social media. 

Most of the women, aged 15 to 45, said their periods lasted for five days, about a third had seen a GP due to the level of symptoms and almost 15% had consulted a gynaecologist. 

One in seven said they took leave from school or work during their periods, and the average number of sick days was one a year. The women reported lower productivity on more than 23 days a year ‘which results in an annual loss of productivity of 9 days per woman per year,’ the study claimed. 

Some of this productivity loss, the researchers hypothesised, might be because women are under pressure to carry on working rather than taking necessary time off. 

They added, however, that this ‘observational’ study could have been influenced by the manner of finding participants as ‘women who experience symptoms may be more inclined to participate in such a study’ and their responses were also not objectively assessed. 

But the team, headed by Mark Schoep, warned that openness was key, adding that ‘discussions about menstruation-related symptoms may still be rather taboo.’

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Is San Francisco's vaping ban backed by science?

France24 - AFP,  26 June 2019

Jeremy Wong smokes an e-cigarette at The Vaping Buddha on January 23, 2018
in South San Francisco, California GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Washington (AFP) - San Francisco has decided to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in 2020, hoping to curb a surge in vaping among adolescents. But is the policy backed up by the available evidence?

How harmful is vaping?

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not "burn." The devices, which have been available in the US since 2006, work instead by heating up a liquid that then turns into vapor and is inhaled.

Because of this, e-cigarette users don't get exposed to the estimated 7,0000 chemical constituents present in combustible cigarettes, and vaping is generally believed to be safer than smoking.

The liquids do, however, contain nicotine, which has been studied for decades and is known to be highly addictive.

They also contain a variety of other constituents classed as "potentially harmful" according to a 2018 study compiled by the US National Academy of Sciences requested by Congress.

Though many of the flavorings in e-liquids are recognized as safe, their toxicity was studied for oral consumption in food and not inhalation, it said.

There is also "substantial evidence" that the vapor contains traces of metals, either from the coil used to heat the liquid, or other parts of the device.

Another potential red flag, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the presence of diacetyl, which is used to add a butter flavoring to microwave popcorn but has been linked to a serious but relatively rare lung disease.

For the time being, there is "no available evidence" to show whether or not e-cigarettes use is associated with cancer, said the NAS report.

But there's a caveat. While experts generally believe vaping is a less toxic alternative to smoking, "the implications for long-term effects on morbidity and mortality are not yet clear," and would require decades of more data and studies to know for certain.

Can it help smokers quit?

Market leading maker Juul's response to the San Francisco ban was that it would "drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes."

Are they right about that?

A study published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine on a group of 886 patients in Britain's National Health Service found the claim to be true.

The one-year abstinence rate among e-cigarette users was 18 percent, compared to 9.9 percent among a group who used other nicotine replacement products like gum or patches.

The conversions are not, however, all in one direction.

A slew of recent studies have found that, among adolescents, e-cigarettes effectively provide a gateway toward full-fledged smoking.

Authorities are worried that decades of declining smoking rates among this demographic could go up in smoke as a result of these devices.

Regulation versus prohibition

The vaping industry is adamant it doesn't want to see underage people using its products and more must be done to prevent their sale. E-cigarettes are already illegal to sell in the US to people under 18 or 21, depending on the state.

But, the sector argues, bans are a poor policy choice because they deprive adults addicted to smoking of a valuable tool.

"To deprive those smokers from access to e-cigarettes, which we know are substantially less harmful, I think is a terrible decision, " Neil McKeganey, of the UK-based Center for Substance Use Research based, which is partly funded by the industry, told AFP.

The irony is that the sale of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis will remain legal in San Francisco for those over 21.

The risks associated with all three are well studied. For alcohol, these include liver disease, high blood pressure and heart disease, numerous cancers. For cigarettes, heart disease, stroke, lung and various other cancers.

Numerous papers meanwhile have explored the risks of cannabis particularly on the juvenile brain.

In place of bans, makers want to see tighter regulation.

There is a lot of work to be done: an analysis of Californian vendors published Monday in the medical journal JAMA found that almost half of tobacco and vape shops did not ID young customers looking to buy vape products.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Dogs trained to offer support to troubled US veterans

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine TRIOMPHE, June 16, 2019

US military veteran Michael Kidd and his companion dog Millie leave after a training
session at the Paws of War office in Nesconset, New York -- Millie helps Kidd navigate
the difficulties of post-traumatic stress disorder (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

Nesconset (United States) (AFP) - Michael Kidd, now 84 years old, fought in the Korean War. His young German shepherd Millie helps calm him down when things start to swirl, usually at night.

Harry Stolberg -- a 42-year-old former Marine who served in Bosnia, Liberia and Nigeria -- has a chocolate Labrador named Rocky who wakes him up from his troubled dreams.

And 31-year-old Phil Davanzo -- who carried the bodies of fallen comrades during a hostage rescue operation that went wrong off Somalia in 2011 -- hopes his Rottweiler puppy will soon be trained to support him during his panic attacks.

The three US veterans, who all live on New York's Long Island, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have sought solace through pet therapy -- namely, a loyal dog to keep them company.

The shelter animals are either trained or being trained to help them through difficult times by Paws of War, an association funded entirely by private donations that then provides the service dogs free of charge.

The group will also train a veteran's dog if he or she already has one.

Veteran Harry Stolberg says his dog Rocky helps him wake up from the nightmares that 
have come after his service overseas in the Marine Corps (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

"The biggest thing is he wakes me up from nightmares," Stolberg says of three-year-old Rocky.

"He can open the door, come in my room, turn on the lights, take my blinders off me... and lick my hands so I wake up."

Rocky, whose 18 months of training were completed six months ago, also helps Stolberg navigate large crowds, which can be triggering.

"If I can't move, he will get me out of that crowd -- he will pick up on that. He will walk around me and look at it and if I don't respond, he will walk away from the crowd with me hooked up to him," he says.

Paws of War -- their acronym is a play on POW, used to signify prisoners of war -- has been active since 2014.

More than 100 dogs have been trained so far, and the therapeutic results for their masters have been significant.

Michael Kidd's dog Millie, seen here, is being trained at Paws of War to help Kidd 
when times are tough -- he says her assistance has led to a reduced need for 
medication (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

Off the meds

Kidd, who suffers from severe PTSD, has been able to reduce his intake of medication thanks to Millie.

At night when things are tough, "she will come over to me, she will put her paw on my shoulder, on my chest, and just give me a big slobber," says Kidd, whose father was in Normandy on D-Day.

"That's just saying, 'I am here for you.'"

Stolberg used to need sleeping pills to get through the night, but not anymore, thanks to Rocky.

"Sleeping was my biggest problem. (...) Now I only have a nightmare once or twice a month, instead of every day," he explains.

"A lot of that is also because I know that when I go to sleep, he is in the room -- he is going to wake me up no matter what."

Rebecca Stromski, a senior trainer for Paws of War whose husband served in 
Afghanistan and Kuwait, says it takes 18 to 24 months to teach dogs what to do when 
a troubled veteran sends distress signals (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

'Quite a process'

It takes 18 to 24 months to teach dogs what to do when a troubled veteran sends distress signals, according to Rebecca Stromski, a senior trainer for Paws of War whose husband served in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

"It's quite a process actually, creating a mutual respect and a connection between the service dude and the service dog," she says.

"Once the foundations are in place and the dog starts feeling if things are going well or not for the veterans, they start to do certain motions when the guys are fidgeting," Stromski explains.

"I can start and cue that behavior and use that as an alert."

In the face of seemingly interminable wars for US military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, deployments which began in 2001, veterans are experiencing PTSD symptoms on a regular basis.

Paws of War has more requests for service animals than it can fulfill, with 50 veterans on the waiting list, according to the group's co-founder Dori Scofield.

So far, Paws of War has trained more than 100 dogs to help troubled veterans on Long 
Island, and has more applications than it can currently fulfill (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

Both ends of the leash

After running an animal shelter for 30 years, Scofield launched Paws of War after being contacted by veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those soldiers had become attached to dogs they had found in those countries, but were unable to bring them back home.

Through word of mouth recommendations, the association quickly became a top meeting place for the 75,000-strong veteran community on Long Island, one of the biggest in the United States.

"We get applications every day -- we can't keep up," Scofield says. "I can't train enough dogs fast enough."

She has opened satellite offices in Florida and in northern New York state. She has also launched a free mobile veterinary clinic where veterans can bring their companion animals.

Dogs who might have ended up put to sleep in shelters now have homes, and veterans are rediscovering "a reason to get up every day, get moving, get out," Scofield says.

"It has been just so awesome, helping both ends of the leash."

Friday, June 14, 2019

War, depression, suicide: American veterans are finding help

France24 – AFP, 13 June 2019

Roger King, an Iraq war veteran from Long Island, has put his own physical and
psychological struggles to use as he helps other veterans adapt to civilian life Roger
King, an Iraq war veteran from Long Island, has put his own physical and
psychological struggles to use as he helps other veterans adapt to civilian life AFP

Center Moriches (United States) (AFP) - Roger King was 19 when he enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 2005. He left four years later after two deployments in Iraq, where a sniper's bullet nearly cost him his life.

Once home, he faced a new set of problems in his return to civilian life on New York's Long Island, including a suffocating sense of anxiety and difficulty being in group situations.

King was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) -- two afflictions sadly common among veterans of the largest army in the world, bogged down in seemingly endless conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Increasingly depressed by the challenges of his new life, King began drinking.

This solidly built 33-year-old man quietly confides that he attempted suicide -- twice.

Russell Keyzer -- another New Yorker -- joined the National Guard shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Now 42, he suffers from flashbacks, insomnia, panic attacks and other PTSD symptoms following two years with NATO's multinational force in Kosovo, where periods of relative stability alternated with violent outbursts.

After returning home in 2008, Keyzer sank into a life of drinking and depression. His marriage came crashing down and he found himself homeless. On no fewer than seven occasions, he says, he attempted to kill himself.

Today, King and Keyzer say they are doing much better, thanks in large part to an aid group for veterans, the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project, a non-profit organization created in 2012 in tribute to an army medic who killed himself in 2008 after returning home from Iraq.

'More needs to be done'

King and Keyzer spoke about their darker times at a recent "Wellness Day" organized by the association at a park in the coastal village of Center Moriches.

Veterans enjoyed a picnic, a salute to the US flag, yoga, meditation and kayaking -- all activities intended to foster a sense of security and camaraderie.

Some 20 organizations also set up stands to offer assistance.

"More needs to be done," King said. Groups like the Dwyer Project "should have been done in World War I, World War II, Vietnam."

He now leads a group of a dozen veterans for the project. They meet weekly.

"We thought of AA, NA," he said, referring to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, but "it's like you never really thought maybe this might help for veterans."

Now, King added, "the compassion and the caring is getting there."

Keyzer agreed.

"If the proper resources were there when we came home, we would not be in this position ... We would not have turned to drugs, we would not have turned to alcoholism," he said.

But he added: "Things are slowly changing for the better every day. There are more and more veterans' programs out there."

Peer support

Psychological support groups like the Dwyer Project have indeed been multiplying across the United States, as the world's leading superpower struggles to help its 20 million veterans -- nearly 10 percent of the adult population -- overcome their challenges and thoughts of suicide.

Many recent veterans are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the proud and smiling men and women who assembled in Normandy last week to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II.

More than 6,000 veterans -- many of them gun owners -- killed themselves each year from 2008 to 2016, according to a report published late last year by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

By comparison, a total of 6,951 American troops died in major war zones between 2001 and 2018, according to an analysis from Brown University.

Faced with those sobering statistics, the VA -- which administers some 1,200 hospitals and clinics -- has made suicide prevention a priority, establishing a hotline for troubled veterans that is among the most heavily used in the world.

Increasing awareness

The Veterans Crisis Line was launched in 2007 with a staff of 14; it now has more than 900 employees, with three call centers across the country including one in upstate New York, director Matt Miller told AFP.

The number of incoming calls has grown steadily, now totaling some 650,000 a year, he said.

"We are all increasing in our awareness" of suicide, he said, not just among veterans but among all civilians, where the rate -- while lower than among veterans -- has been climbing.

Fifty years after the hell of Vietnam and more than 17 years after US troops first intervened in Afghanistan, "there is a lot more awareness" about veterans' needs, said Marcelle Leis, who heads the Dwyer Project after 20 years in the Air National Guard.

But she quickly adds: "We have a lot of work to do."

Unlike the norm during the Korean and Vietnam wars, she said, troops sent to Iraq or Afghanistan often serve "multiple tours" and struggle while "going back and forth in this constant state of hyper-vigilance."

As they cope with the difficult return to civilian life, veterans have an added handicap: in their former military culture, asking for help could be seen as showing weakness.

"A lot of what we do is education to ask for help and garner support -- and learn that that's a sign of strength," Leis said.

She is cheered by the fact that many Vietnam veterans, even as they battle their own demons, have been quick to join support groups to help younger veterans.

"It is giving them a new sense of purpose, and helping them heal," Leis said.

'My blood is pumping'

King credits a Vietnam veteran as the first person to encourage him to seek psychotherapy, a crucial step on the road to healing.

While he admits to still having difficult moments, the former Marine, now married and the father of a three-month-old, has plans for the future: with a newly earned history degree, he hopes to work as a high school teacher.

And while he still misses the adrenaline rushes of combat, his weekend job as a firefighter helps make up for it.

"The alarm goes off, my blood is pumping (and) I'm going out to save somebody," King says with a smile.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Dutchman wins prestigious prize for work with seeds and small farmers

DutchNews, June 11, 2019

Photo: Marcel Bakker via World Food Prize Foundation

This year’s World Food Prize, the most important global prize in the field of farming and food, has been awarded to Dutchman Simon Groot for his work in helping millions of smallholder farmers to use good seeds. 

This work, the organising committee says, ‘enabled them to to earn greater incomes through enhanced vegetable production, benefitting hundreds of millions of consumers with greater access to nutritious vegetables for healthy diets’. 

‘Simon Groot has dedicated his life to improving the livelihoods of millions around the world,’ Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, said at the award announcement on Monday. 

Groot, now 84, and his partner in the Philippines, started East-West Seed in 1982. Today, the team has developed vegetable varieties with enhanced disease resistance and significantly higher yields which are now used across Asia and beyond. The company serves 19 million smallholder farmers in more than 60 tropical countries.

In an interview with the Volkskrant, Groot said he thinks it regrettable that seed production is in the hands of a few big companies such as Bayer/Monsanto and Syngenta. 

The big companies, he said, are limiting supplies because there is little money to be made from minor breeds. ‘Big companies look at the importance of shareholders,’ he said. ‘Traditional seed companies put the interests of farmers first. We are friends to farmers.’ 

The prize was founded in 1986 by Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Groot is the first Dutch national to take the prize.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Award-winning teen writer Noa Pothoven chooses to die due to ‘unbearable suffering’

DutchNews, June 5, 2019 - By Senay Boztas 

A 17-year-old girl from Arnhem who suffered from years of PTSD, depression and anorexia after being sexually assaulted as a child has died. 

Noa Pothoven, the author of the award-winning book Winnen of Leren (‘winning or learning’) wrote in a post on Instagram – which has now been deleted – that she was ‘being let go because my suffering is unbearable.’ 

According to the AD, her last days were spent in a hospital bed in her family’s living room, saying goodbye to her near and dear, and her sister announced her death on Sunday. 

Although it has been widely reported around the world that she died through euthanasia – following an unconfirmed report from the Central European News wire service – the circumstances of her death are unclear. A journalist from Politico Europe has claimed that the reports were incorrect and due to a failure of checking. 

In her Instagram post, the young woman had said that she would stop eating, and expected to die within 10 days. 

She had, however, investigated the possibilities of euthanasia through the Levenseindekliniek in Den Haag last year, according to The Gelderlander local newspaper, and then been rejected. 

The young woman had written critically about her traumatising experiences of isolation cells in psychiatric care institutions, and praised GroenLinks MP Lisa Westerveld when she took up the subject of inadequate youth care in the Netherlands. 

After suicide attempts, last year she had said that she would try trauma therapy a final time and her mother, Lisette, told The Gelderlander that she was choosing ‘the road towards death’ while her family wanted her to choose life. 

A spokeswoman for Westerveld, who was one of the people invited to say goodbye to Ms Pothoven before her death, said: ‘as far as we know, she died because she didn’t eat any more,’ adding that the girl has not yet been buried. 

The euthanasia clinic that the young woman reportedly consulted last year would not confirm or deny if she was a patient. Elke Swart, spokeswoman for the Levenseindkliniek in The Hague, said: ‘We cannot say anything about it. There are very few young adults in euthanasia clinics, and it’s even rarer to see them for psychiatric reasons. Euthanasia of someone who is 60 is very different to that of someone who is 16. But we follow the law, which says someone must be in unbearable suffering with no other alternative.’ 

Although euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, the number of cases dropped for the first time in a decade last year. Three cases have been referred to the public prosecution service for not following strict rules, and some commentators have said doctors are more wary after more controversial circumstances involving dementia (2.4% of the 6,126 euthanasia cases last year) and psychiatric forms of suffering (1%). The vast majority of euthanasia procedures, however, involve someone with a terminal sickness, and 66% last year related to untreatable cancer.

FNV members to vote on pension deal, finally agreed after nine years

DutchNews, June 5, 2019

Ministers, unions and employers have reached a deal on reforming the Dutch pension system, nine years after talks first started. 

The agreement, which still has to be voted on by members of the FNV trade union federation, involves a slowdown in the planned increase in the state pension age and gives workers the option to retire early – both of which were key union demands. 

The new deal involves freezing the state retirement age at 66 years and four months for the next two years. After that it will increase in increments until it hits 67 in 2024. 

Then onwards, the state pension age will continue to rise in line with increases in life expectancy – based on an eight month increase for every year we live longer. 

The talks had broken down last November when the unions walked out but resumed earlier this week after ministers indicated some compromises were on the table. 

For example, ministers have agreed to bring in some form of early retirement scheme which is aimed at people doing heavy physical work but which is open to everyone. 

The scheme is most attractive to people on low incomes. Employers will have to pay a fine if workers earning more than €19,000 a year quit early. The money, ministers say, will compensate for the loss of premium and tax income. 

It will also be easier for the self-employed to join a pension fund, but it will not be compulsory. 


However, freelancers will be required by law to take out insurance against becoming unable to work through illness. This, commentators say, was one the demands made by GroenLinks and the social democratic party PvdA in return for their support in steering the deal through the senate. 

There may be an opt-out for people who show they have sufficient reserves to support themselves. Currently just 20% of freelancers have such a policy, and the cost runs into hundreds of euros a month. 

More details about this part of the agreement are due in the coming days. 

Fund changes 

Pension funds will also have the option of offering employees two sorts of pensions – one in which the premium varies in line with interest rates and one in which funds can take more risk – and spread that risk over all participants, broadcaster NOS said. 

Although employers organisations and smaller unions have backed the new plan outright, the FNV has said it is up to the members to decide whether or not to support the new deal.

Chairman Han Busker said he expects a ‘tough discussion’ with members but said the agreement as it now stands is ‘justifiable’.