20111219

End of year giving

Here is a list of all the non profit organizations that I think could use some of your hard earned money:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
MIT OpenCourseWare
National Wellness Institute
American Red Cross
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Harvard School of Public Health
Harlem Children's Zone
St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Humane Borders
American Civil Liberties Union
Planned Parenthood 

There are lots of other organizations that could use your help but I think that these are a good option for you.
Be well.

20111213

My letter to: John McCain, Jon Kyle, and David Schweikert to support the Girls Protection Act

I am writing to express my deep concern about the common situation where girls are taken from the U.S. to their parents’ countries of origin to be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. FGM is considered a severe human rights violation and the World Health Organization classifies the practice as a reflection of deep rooted inequality between the sexes and an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, which takes place throughout Africa, certain countries in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in locations where FGM-practicing immigrants reside, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. According to an analysis of 2000 U.S. census data conducted by the African Women’s Health Center (AWHC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, approximately 228,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk for FGM. The data also states that from 1990 to 2000, the number of women who are at risk for FGM grew by approximately 35 percent in this country. A 1996 federal law prohibiting the practice of FGM within the US did not address the risk of girls removed from the country, sometimes to their parents’ countries of origin, to be subjected to FGM.

I am aware that new legislation, the “Girls Protection Act of 2011” (S. 1919) introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) aims to close this loophole and strengthen the 1996 federal law. This legislation would make it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the US out of the country for purposes of FGM. As my United States Senator, I urge you to cosponsor S. 1919 and take this critical step toward reaffirming that FGM, in all its forms, is a human rights violation. I also urge you to support the implementation of culturally sensitive awareness-raising, education and outreach programs to protect girls living in the US from FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

My letter to the FDA to support sodium reduction efforts

Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0400

I support your efforts to consider possible strategies and request you make sodium reduction a top national public health priority.

Americans are consuming far too much salt from packaged and restaurant foods, which account for over 75% of the sodium we consume.  The current average daily consumption for all adults is about 4,000 milligrams (mg), even though the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 1,500 mg for people with hypertension, those who are middle-aged or older, and African Americans.  Almost half the U.S. adult population falls into  those categories, yet 98% of them exceed the sodium recommendation.

High levels of sodium consumption contribute to hypertension, which 90% of Americans will develop over their lifetime, and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.  At least 150,000 lives could be saved annually in the United States if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were cut in half.  Direct medical costs would be cut by $18 billion per year by reducing sodium consumption from 3,400 mg to 2,300 mg per day and by $28 billion per year if further reduced to 1,500 mg per day.

The food industry maintains that voluntary actions are enough to lower sodium to safe levels.  However, changes made by food producers' over the past four decades have been inadequate to confront a real  and growing -- health crisis.  Rather than waiting for industry to make improvements at its own pace, the FDA should implement the Institute of Medicine's recommendations to establish mandatory limits on the sodium content of packaged and restaurant foods.  Those regulations could be phased in gradually over time to allow food manufacturers to remove the excess sodium from their food products without causing a consumer backlash.

Thank you for your consideration of this important public health issue.  There is virtually nothing else the FDA could  do to improve America's food supply that would provide a greater benefit to public health than to reduce sodium levels in the foods we eat.