My journey through life and covering the news is just beginning, and here are some pictures I've snapped along the way.
A YUCATAN VILLAGE IN MEXICO WITH TWO RESILIENT YOUNG GIRLS
ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL GIRL LIVING AT THE VILLAGE
THE SAME VILLAGE WHERE ONE WOMAN WAS PREPARING DINNER FOR EVERYONE
CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE TALLEST TEMPLE IN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
A CANOE RIDE THROUGH THE RIVER TO GET TO THE VILLAGE
PARAGLIDING THROUGH THE JUNGLE IN MEXICO
PROPELLING DOWN A CLIFF
THE MEDIA AT THE COMMAND POST NEAR HUNNTINGTON, UTAH WHERE SIX MINERS WERE TRAPPED INSIDE THE CRANDALL CANYON MINE ON AUGUST 6, 2007. THREE RESCUERS WERE KILLED TRYING TO GET THEM OUT. THE MISSING MINERS WERE NEVER FOUND.
A KANGAROO PAYS A VISIT TO THE NEWS STUDIO
ON THE RADIO WITH MICK & ALLEN, 101.1 KBER, UTAH IN MARCH 2007
LIVE INTERVIEW WITH A WORLD-FAMOUS PRO DRIFTER ON THE TRACK AT MILLERSPORTS PARK IN UTAH JUST DAYS BEFORE THE BIG RACE
ANOTHER DAY ON THE JOB REPORTING IN SALT LAKE CITY, UT
MY GOOD FRIEND AND FELLOW BROADCAST JOURNALIST BRITTNEY SHIPP AND I ON THANKSGIVING DAY, SERVING FOOD TO THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN US
MY FORMER CO-ANCHOR, FRIEND AND MENTOR, RICH GARCIA ON THE SET WITH ME DURING THE 1O P.M. NBC NEWS IN ARIZONA
Saturday, October 20, 2007
"Stop being a moron and start getting skinny!" In a 198 page book, two L.A. authors Rory Freedman, a former agent for Ford Models and self-proclaimed know-it-all and Kim Barnouin, a once upon a time model with a Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition give you what they call a "no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous."
In 13 chapters, the two "smart-mouthed" girls talk about the truth behind carbs, calling sugar the devil. The ElLay authors start with the old adage that healthy = skinny and unhealthy = fat. "You cannot keep eating shit and expect to get skinny."
The New York Times Bestseller, a book Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice swears by has been in a swirl of controversy. SKINNY BITCH promotes a vegan lifestyle, encouraging its readers to give up meat and dairy products. In chapter 5, "The Dairy Disaster" the authors write, "Mother Nature is no fool. All species, including ours, have just what we need to get by. She did not intend for grownups to suck their mothers' tits." Freedman and Barnouin say the multi-billion dollar dairy industry's claims that WE need milk to grow and prevent osteoporosis is a lie. They say the same about the meat industry, providing examples of the myths and lies about protein telling its readers to use, "Common sense bitches."
"Pinch a loaf. Lay a cable. Drop the kids off at the pool." The Skinny Bitch writers spend an entire chapter on the topic of pooping. The importance of pooping that is. Humorous. But perhaps the most revealing of all chapters is about the government, the USDA and the safety or the lack thereof of our meat and dairy products. "Illegal hormones are regularly pumped into veal calves, which are suspected of increasing the growth of cancer cells in the humans that eat them." The book then directs you to goveg.com, a website dedicated to providing information about being a vegetarian and vegan. It was hard for me not to watch a clip labeled, "Meet your Meat." I copy and pasted it below. Warning: it's disturbing.
I finished Skinny Bitch in one day. It is an easy-read, and although critics argue the book is flirting with a borderline recommendation of an eating disorder, the book is intended for adults. Careful though, it just might make you want to stop eating meat.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Roughly 12 to 25 percent of young women and men are affected by some kind of an eating disorder, according to the artcile, "Anorexia Nervosa: Through the Eyes of a Survivor" from the web site www.angelfire.com. Ninety percent of these victims are female and 10 percent are male. Out of all the mental disorders, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate at 20 percent.
We all worry about our physical appearance. Eighty-nine percent of females worry about their appearance all the time, according to the web site members.tripod.com. What ever happened to the idea that beauty comes from the inside, not from the outside? If this statement held any truth, then perhaps 89 percent of women wouldn't constantly be worrying about their physical appearance.
Studies show that people turn to anorexia or bulimia as a way of gaining control over their lies. If they can control what they consume, everything else that seems out of control in their lives will become a speck in the sand in comparison. One anorexic from the story, "My monster, My battle" (at the web site www.angelfire.com) said, "I had no control over my life, no control over my grades, I discovered that I could actually control the amount of food that I consumed. In my mind, my crush would like me better. I'd be popular and life would be great. What a surprise, I lost weight all right, but I was losing my life."
Anorexia nervosa is a deadly disorder. It's when a person eliminates as much food as possible from his/her diet. Sufferers may try not to consume anything besides water and some bread or vegetables. They will indulge in diet pills or laxatives. If they are in a situation where they are forced to eat, they will usually cut up their food in small pieces and move their food around the plat so that it appears as though they have eaten most of their meal. Often times, anorexics will eat slowly to make it seem as though they are eating a normal amount of food.
Bulimia is also an eating disorder; in this case, the sufferer binges and purges. According to the articles, "When Thinness Becomes an Obsession," 5 percent of college students suffer from bulimia. A bulimic may binge for up to eight hours, consuming up to 20,000 calories. Other binges may last only up to 90 minutes with the consumption of up to 3,400 calories. In response to these binges, bulimics will purge what they just consumed. They will also indulge in anywhere from 50 to 100 laxatives at a time. Other substances that aid them in their purging processes are diuretics, or ipecac, a chemical substance that induces vomiting.
Eating disorders are generally triggered by an inability to deal with situations that have profound impacts on a person's life. These situations range from puberty, first sexual experiences, being ridiculed about weight, seperation from family members (divorce or college) and death of a loved one.
What kinds of distorted thoughts are consuming these victims? There are about 15 different styles of distorted thinking that can lead to eating disorders. There are also several psychological symptoms and physical signs that can help determine whether someone may need to help. Many bulimics and anorexics socially disconnect themselves from their family and friends. They will often appear depressed and will involve themselves in unusual secretive behavior. Many times persons with eating disorders have low self-esteem and may voice that they are dissatisfied with their bodies; they will almost always seem preoccupied with food or eating.
Anorexics and bulimics may begin to suffer from malnutrition. Physical symptoms of malnutrition are found in the hair, eyes, skin and lips. Hair will often look dry or dull, and may be thinner and sparse. A person's eyes will also have a dull look to them. A lack of vitamins B6 and niacin will cause redness and fissuring of the eyelid corners. A lack of vitamin A often leads to soft corneas and bitot's spots, which look like little flicks in the white part of the eye. An anorexic or bulimic's skin will appear dry and flaky due also to the lack of vitamin A. Their nostrils will often be red and swollen as a result of a lack of niacin. The excessive darkness (hyperpigmentation) is due to the lack of folate and B12, and paleness may result if not enough ascorbic acid is in the system. Even a fine downy hair will grow on the skin's surface and lips will most likely look inflamed or swollen, with angular fissures and scars due to the lack of riboflavin in the diet.
Had enough? This list does not include the tonge, the gums and nails, nor does it include the skeletal changes, the organic changes and the cardiovascular changes that result from severe malnutrition. Anorexics and bulemics lose teeth and suffer from osteoporosis, spinal curvature, ataxia (the loss of muscle coordination), esophagitis (from vomiting too much), bloating, edema (fluid retention), and degenerative myocardial lesions due to the lack of potassium. Sound serious? These are only eight of the 29 disorders that bulimics and anorexics may be faced with, according to the article, "Through the Eyes of a Survivor."
Anorexics and bulimics stop their lives to concentrate on changing their physical appearance. They are consumed with thoughts of doubt and criticism. Their lack of self-esteem and self-confidence and their distorted thinking are contributing factors to the disease. It is the distorted thinking that keeps them in denial about their disorder. The "Obsession" article illustrates the level of distortion of some people with eating disorders: An anorexic replies to the question about whether or not she has had breakfast, "Of course I had breakfast; I ate my Cheerio."
Since denial is one of the most common responses to an eating disorder, it is important for friends and family know where they can seek help. And since people suffering from an eating disorder are stuck in a power struggle, they often find themselves angry if anyone tries to help them. Experts say the best way to approach someone with an eating disorder is to express your concern and suggest avenues of help. It is extremely important that you support them and try not to take their issues into your own hands. Making an anorexic or bulimic feel guilty or stupid will only push them away. This may lead them to be more isolated and socially withdrawn than before you expressed your concern, according to the Eating Disorders web site. Don't offer simple answers. Statements such as, "Can't you see what you are doing? You have to stop this and stop it now!" or "Just start eating like a normal person" will only drive them further away.
Getting help for victims with eating disorders is difficult. Strongly focusing on expressing love and compassion, listening to them, supporting them by learning about their eating disorders and talking to them about their issues other than their power struggle over food will point them in the right direction to get help for their disease.
Discussion questions: Why do young girls feel pressured to lose weight? Who is to blame? Is it society? Hollywood?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
It is a cultural practice that could result in serious infections, HIV, abscesses, small benign tumors, hemorrhages, shock, clitoral cysts, kidney stones, sterility, sexual dysfuntion, depression, various urinary tract infections and even death.
Female genital mutilation, also known as FGM.
FGM originated in Africa. Most people have the misconseption the practice is religious and its early rise came from Islam. Wrong. It is not a religious practice. It is a cultural rite of passage that initiates women into their society. According to Relgious Tolerance, every 15 seconds a child is victimized. Nearly 6,000 girls worldwide undergo FGM every day.
What is femal genital mutilation? FGM is the removal of all the external parts of a female's genitals. In some cases, just part of the female genitalia is removed. These "surgeries" are done using razor blades, broken glass, knives or anything that is sharp. Anesthesia or sanitation measures are not taken. There are three different types of procedures, according to Hanny Lightfood-Klein. Sunna Circumcision involves the removal of the prepuce, which is also known as the hood or the "tip" of the clitoris. Clitoridectomy involves the removal of the entire clitoris and the surrounding labia (the inner and outer lips). Infibulation, which is viewed as the most vulgar procedure of the three, involves performing a clitoridectomy, then having the vagina stiched up, only leaving a small hole for urine and menstual blood flow. The result: dreadful pain, massive bleeding and horrendous infection.
What drives the cultures and societies to continue this practice? They believe removal will reduce a woman's desire for sexual pleasure prior to, during, or after marriage. Some view the clitoris and labia (inner lips) surrounding it as male parts on a female body. Some suspect the female is unclean if she does not recieve FGM. One argument or superstition in support of this practice is if the baby's head touches the clitoris during labor it will die; another is if the head of the penis touches the clitoris, the man will die. Other myths, according to the members of Tripod, a group devoted to women's right include:
1. Females cannot concieve without the clitoris removed.
2. Removing it will prevent vaginal cancer.
3. Leaving it intact can lead to homosexuality.
The justification for these procedures continues to circulate and misinform generation after generation. Is this a human rights issue? According to human rights experts, "The issue of FGM has garnered increasing global attention over the past several years." Amnesty International, one of the research groups that conducts and campaigns on these issues, has taken steps to ensure the government criminalizes FGM in America. In other countries, human rights groups are working to establish asylums or safe havens for those who may be subjected to mutilation. Unfortunately, legislation against FGM is forcing the activities underground. This might result in young women not seeking the medical attention they need, fearing their parents might be charged with a crime.
Contrary to expectations, this ancient custom is not defended by men. It is supported by its survivors, the elders who insist that girls who are not circumcised become plagues among their culture as unmarried women. FGM and its atrocities affects its victims in ways beyond our imagination. The physical scars. The mental anguish. It's a suffering that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. We as a community, even as a nation, cannot entirely stop FGM. But AWARENESS can get us one step closer.
For more information about FGM, visit www.stopfgmc.org
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
It is not a religious practice but a rite of passage that initiates women into their society. A look at FGM: female genital mutilation.
"Dying to be Thin"
89 % of women obsessively worry about their physical appearance. Are you at risk? Anorexia Nervosa: an in-depth look at the disease that kills.
"Skinny Bitch" by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
A book reveiw about "a no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!" Do the authors go too far?
November 1994. A notorious group of uneducated street boys emerged from refugee camps and religious schools near Pakistan to form the Taliban. Their goal: to restore Afghanistan to its purest state. But these thugs and their leader, Muhammad Omar, imposed laws that would inevitably oppress women under Taliban rule.
Until recently, before the Taliban came to power, Saudi Arabia was known as one of the most restrictive countries in the world, particularly for women. The head of the Taliban governing council states, "We have long regarded the Saudi Kingdom as our right hand." According to Jan Goodwin, editor of On the Issues, the Taliban controls between 65 and 85 percent of Afghanistan. That number could be higher.
With curfews in some parts of the region beginning at 7:30 p.m., it is difficult for women to do anything, considering the barbaric and sometimes even deadly punishements that could follow. Ever since the Taliban was able to gain control of Afghanistan, daily activities such as movies, music, wedding parties, picnics, celebrations and unisex gatherings are illegal. Women are no longer allowed to pursue education or employment opportunities, and they are even banned from going to male physicians for medical emergencies. It is also illegal for women under the Taliban to wear any kind of makeup, jewelry, nail polish, or to tweeze eyebrows, to trim hair, to be seen in sheer stockings, or to wear clothing that displays style or bright colors. Shoes that make too much "noise" while walking the streets and talking loudly or laughing in public are also forbidden. Women must also be fully covered by a burqa veil, which costs a "whopping" $9. The burqa is usually a difficult item for Afghan women to obtain due to their financial status. In Afghanistan, $9 is comparable to five month's pay. Since women are not employed and many of their husbands are deceased, they must often share a veil. It can take days or even weeks for a veil to be available for the mere duty of grocery shopping or going to the doctor. And when a veil finally becomes available, these women risk their lives. Women wearing the burqa often are run over by cars on the streets because the burqa has thick gauze that covers the entire eye area, diminishing peripheral vision.
On Feb. 27, 1998, some 30,000 men and boys gathered in the ruins of an Olympic sports stadium in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. According to the website www.mosaic.echo.nyc.com, the crowd waited with biscuits and tea, not to watch a soccer match or a baseball game, but to cheer a scheduled flogging. A young woman named Sohalia was to recieve 100 lashes as punishment for adultery. Her crime? She was seen in the streets with a man who was not a relative. Sohalia is lucky; had she been married she would have been stoned to death. Sohalia is not alone. It's not uncommon for hundreds of Afghan women under the Taliban that have been rounded up and lashed for not following the strict dress code. One young girl's thumb was amputated for wearing nail polish. These inhumane conditions and treatment are driving the women under the Taliban to suicide. "Doctors are seeing a lot of esophageal burns. Women are swallowing battery acid, or poisonous househole cleaners, because they are easy to find. But it's a very painful way to die," states one observer. Suicide is nto uncommon in a place where women are transported in special buses with the windows covered in black thick blankets. Even the windows of residences are painted black.
The atrocities are unfathomable to you and me. To the rest of the world, women's status in Afghanistan seems intolerable and outrageous, but to the men ruling this government, it does not. The Minister of Foreign Affairs says, "Time should be spent serving the country and praying to God. Nothing else. Everything else is a waste of time, and people are not allowed to waste their time." And as to the freedom of these women, Adbul Hakeem Mujahid stated that his government is "protecting human rights" and also stated that they had, "restored women's safety, dignity and freedom." Safety? Dignity? Freedom?
The Taliban has imprisoned these women in their homes. The Minister of Education repordedly says women in their country are merely objects. He said, "It's like having a flower or a rose. You water it and keep it at home for yourself, to look at it and smell it. It is not supposed to be taken out of the house to be smelled." Another leader agreed more bluntly: "There are only two place for Afghan women, in her husband's house and in the graveyard."
Oppressive laws and rules plague the country, yet the behavior of officials somehow goes unnoticed and is tolerated. In the article, "Afghan Women Under the Taliban," Mujahid fails to mention that he sends his own daughter to an Engligh-language school in Pakistan despite the Taliban's ban on education for young girls and women. The hypocrisy is quite common, especially among government officials. Jane Goodwin, an award winning journalist and human rights activist sat face to face with Mulla Qalamad Din, the head of the Department of Virtue and Vice years ago. She observed him chain smoking and noticed ashtrays in his office. "Isn't that illegal?" she asked. "I can't help it, I'm addicted," he replied with a smile.
How you can aid the women in Afghanistan: To help the women in Afghanistan restore their faith in themselves, visit www.feminist.org
"Never has it been clear how detached President Bush is from the priorities of the American people," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried, D-Nev.
That was in response to President Bush's latest veto, only the fourth in his presidency. The bipartisan bill would have expanded children's health insurance for millions of low-income kids in America. The Senate had already said yes to the bill, raking in enough votes to override the veto, but the House put a halt to that.
The President didn't veto the State Children's Health Insurance Program; he denied the 35 million dollars in funding Congress had asked for. The program is a state-federal joint effort that provides subsidized health coverage for more than 6 million Americans, most of them children. The program helps families who can't afford their own private insurance, but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
Congress had support from Republicans to pass legislation that would provide $35 billion in additional funding to the program. That money would span over five years and add some 4 million children into the program. The funding was to come from the federal cigarette tax, but passing the legislation would have meant increasing the tax on cigarettes from 61 cents to a $1 per pack.
Presdient Bush says $35 billion is too much and only wanted a $5 billion increase in funding. Bush argued the program would have been too costly and would steer people with private insurance to switch to governemnt coverage. A move he says would be "a move toward socialized medicine."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried called President Bush's decision a "heartless veto."
So what's at stake for the President after vetoing this bill? Critics say it pits him against not only Democrats who now control Congress, but Republicans too.