New film to help students take action on global water crisis

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

We take it for granted when we turn on the faucet and clean drinking water  appears and is plentiful.  Yet, throughout the world more than 1 billion people do not have clean drinking water.  The Thirst Project, an proactive student organization hitting the clean water problem head on, says  80 percent of global diseases are water-borne and result from drinking contaminated water.  These diseases kill more than 2.2 million people per year.

In a new movie, “Earth to Echo,” the stars of the film receive “distress signals” on their phones from someone who needs their help.

Students can join The Thirst Project and “Earth to Echo” to take action against the global water crisis without having to give, donate, or raise any of their own money. All you have to do is TEXT the keyword ECHO (in all caps) followed by your message for hope and encouragement to someone in a developing community without safe, clean drinking water to 51555. For every message we receive, the movie “Earth to Echo” will donate to The Thirst Project to build wells to give clean water to those who need it most. Not only that, but we will capture the actual messages we receive and install them on murals on the wells funded by this campaign. Then, go see the movie “Earth to Echo” in theaters everywhere July 2014. Visit www.ThirstProject.org/EarthToEcho to learn how you can get involved today!

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Take the “diet” words out of the family dinner time

Editor’s Note:  Feb. 23 to March 1 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Sitting down to a family dinner is not a Norman Rockwell moment for many people who suffer from eating disorders.  According to the National Eating Disorder Association, constant discussions by parents on dieting, food fetishes or the desire to lose weight might leave a negative influence on your teen or child’s body image.

“Eating disorders are complicated and vexing problems and we don’t exactly understand the pathophysiology of them,” Dr. Aaron Krasner, a practicing psychiatrist and director of the Adolescent Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut told Forbes magazine.

In the article, author Dr. Robert Glatter, M.D., says Krasner early hypotheses of the pathogenesis of eating disorders are related to difficulties between parents as it pertains to “mothers milk”:  giving love, receiving love, sharing in food, sharing in food-related celebrations.”  He says there is environmental component with eating disorders. Krasner offers five constructive support and suggestions describing how parents might promote a positive body image in teens and children:

1.     Try to avoid criticizing yourself or others about weight or shape in front of your children.

2.     Avoid talking negatively about food – “I can’t eat potatoes because they’re carbs” or “That cake will go straight to my thighs.” It’s more important to teach the importance of healthy eating and exercise without references to weight.

3.    Compliment children on their talents and accomplishments – a little praise goes a long way, especially when it’s well deserved

4.    Let your teens and children know that weight gain and changes to body shape are a natural part of the growing process.

5.    Have a discussion with your children about their use of social media and what they view in movies and on TV.  Only about 5% of American women have the body type that is portrayed in advertising as the ideal size and shape for women.

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Underbelly of unemployment shows homelessness

Rosa Serrano and her seven children at the Days Inn in Shrewsbury, Mass., where they were living since November until being moved to more permanent housing. Worcester Telegram and Gazette photo

The published unemployment numbers show progress in the American economy.  But what the underbelly of the unemployment numbers doesn’t show is that homeless shelters are filling up, and states are picking up the tab by housing people in low-cost hotels and emergency shelters, especially families with children. Damaged by the results of the Great Recession including long-term unemployment, foreclosures, evictions and health care costs has led families into the only housing available to them.

In the state of Massachusetts there is a “right to shelter” budget provision that requires the state to house homeless families that qualify. Yet, these families must show they are victims of domestic violence, a natural disaster, a no-fault eviction, or have spent a night in a place not meant for human habitation.

A New England Center for Investigative reporter, Rupa Shenoy, covers Massachusetts’ raising homeless challenges and how taxpayers are flipping the bill as a result of the lingering effects of the Great Recession.

- Sharon Dunten, editor, SurvivingTimes.com

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2011 Sundance film launches movement for equality

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or circumstance can fulfill their potential.

For more information visit therepresentationproject.org. 

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Faster conveyor belt poultry processing might put consumers at risk

When purchasing chicken for yourself or your families’ table, do you wonder if the chicken was processed properly?  With the popular trend toward buying free-range chickens, or chickens not raised from incubators to cages to death, does it really matter if those preferred free-range chickens end up facing questionable unsanitary processing and packaging?

The chicken industries’ bottom line might be playing a role in the disputed safety regulations of processed American chicken.  As more chicken factories speed up their conveyor belts to quicken the poultry industries’ delivery to demanding consumers, could food safety rules be waived and the humans processing the chicken be harmed?

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School-to-prison pipeline might start as early as preschool

By high school many minority students or students with disabilities could be on the school-to-prison pipeline. palantelatino.com photo

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Are we giving up on a large population of our young people in this country?  With minority students and students with disabilities, including teens with emotional and behavioral problems, carrying the majority of school suspensions and high school dropout rates, could the path toward school-to-prison pipeline be condemning a new generation to failure?

When I worked as a reporter in Mississippi several years ago, the self-fulfilling prophecy for many minority students went as far back as preschool. One southern Mississippi school official told to me the state counted the amount of children not attending preschool programs as an indication of how many prison cells would be required for state correctional facilities 20 to 25 years later. Their justification to watch these numbers was due to the inaccessibility or cuts of preschool programs such as a Head Start, and the broad number of illiterate parents unable to teach the fundamentals early childhood skills to prepare their children to enter kindergarten.  As a result, many preschoolers might start out behind in school as early as five years-old.

By the time many of the minority or students with disabilities enter high school, there is an even bigger chance a student could be railed onto the school-to-prison pipeline.

In a comprehensive report by America Aljazeera, the saga of the school-to-prison pipeline is examined with alarming statistics.  Link here.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech a benchmark for peace and equality

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to millions at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

In 1963 I was only five years-old, but I knew something extraordinary was happening in this country.  As I watched the television network news with my family, I saw the raw footage of riots in the South and fires in Detroit as this country fought for civil rights for all its citizens.  As a child, these images sometimes frightened me, but they also intrigued me.  I just couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about.  I guess at five we are still color blind.  I don’t remember watching Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on television, but I do remember the news of his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was all over the newspaper headlines. Very soon after his speech, President Kennedy was shot and killed.  And in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  I was ten years-old in 1968 and was beginning to understand the chaos in this country concerning poverty and race, as well as the rising discourse concerning the Vietnam War.

Martin Luther King’s speech imprinted a broad change in this country that led its people toward King’s dream of quiet and peaceful protest, and even more important, equality.  Even though fighting for equality was not always peaceful, his speech and actions created a benchmark toward peaceful resolutions.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, please re-read his speech to understand his mark in U.S. history. We might  have come far as a  nation in the understanding of equality, but we need to remain relentless in redefining equality as it was is spoken so clearly in King’s speech in 1963.  Read Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream,” by linking here.

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Hunger agency asks for help on Day of Service

America’s are asked to use Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service volunteer at local agencies serving the needs of communities, such as a food pantry. sfgate.com photo

Food banks provide nourishment for millions of people each year. Feeding America encourages people to work at food pantries on the MLK’s Day of Service, Jan. 20. Texans.clubs.com photo

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Chicago, Illinois – The nation will pause to reflect and remember the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20. To honor his memory, his birthday is now commemorated as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Each year millions of Americans across the country gather on this day to serve their neighbor s and communities, especially for those who are hungry.

Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, is asking people to consider volunteering at a local food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen to honor the holiday this year. Feeding America is a network of 203 food banks providing food and groceries to 37 million Americans each year.

“Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?” said Dr. King as a challenge to the nation.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports 49 million Americans are food insecure, including 16 million children. “Our economy continues to be troubled, and many Americans are out of work,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding of America. “Our state and federal governments face enormous budget shortfalls, and there is concern that there will be significant cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits.”

Aiken says everyone can do something to help their neighbors who live at risk of hunger whether it is sorting food, packing boxes, or serving a meal at a soup kitchen. “We particularly want to encourage children to volunteer on this national holiday, when most schools will be closed,” said Aiken.  He said it is important for future leaders to learn more about the 16 million children who live at risk of hunger.

“Feeding America believes that together, we can solve hunger.” said Aiken.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

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Shriver Report website brings issues of women to forefront

The Shriver Report is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary look at how American families live and work today, giving clear insight into one of the most important social trends of our time: the emergence of women into all areas of society.  To view this new website, link here.

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Unemployment rates dropping, also wages and quality jobs

While unemployment percentages dropped in December, 3.9 million Americans are still on long-term unemployment. overfiftyandoutofwork.com photo

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Today’s jobs report at first glance looks promising with the unemployment rate falling to 6.7 percent.  But if you look at the guts of this information, the unemployment crisis is still affecting so many Americans.

In an Associated Press’ article, “US economy adds 74K jobs; rate falls to 6.7 percent,” by Christopher S. Rugaber, this week’s figures are only a weak gain compared to other reports since October 2008. Yes, the unemployment percentages are falling, but the figures might not show the circumstances behind the drop.  For example:

  • Many individuals looking for jobs have stopped looking; therefore, the government no longer counts them as unemployed
  • The jobs acquired might be part-time or contract positions leaving many Americans with lower and unpredictable wages
  • Many new older workers now working again are earning less pay; new younger workers are in entry-level positions
  • December is a time for seasonal employment, and many employers are not hiring for permanent positions, especially in retail
  • US minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living since the 1970s

To stimulate the economy, U.S. businesses need to provide better paying jobs, support more job training and provide more security in the job market. Without these elements, the dropping unemployment percentages could only be an illusion of statistics rather than the reality of workforce.

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