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Let’s have a candid debate on gun violence


Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut have become common place in the American society. Still, every time a maniac goes on an ego trip and massacred innocent people it is increasingly difficult to come up with a motive. The question is always why. Why would anyone in their right frame of mind committed such despicable and horrendous acts?

The Newtown massacre hits close to home. I happen to live in Connecticut, and while I do not live in Newtown, I feel divinely connected to the victims, especially the defenceless kids. That is the reason I get mad when I ask myself this question: “What on God‘s earth did twenty innocent kids, ages 6-7 years did that deserve to have their lives cut short senselessly?” At the same time, I am fully aware that we will never know the answer–the alleged shooter is dead. However, as is customary in mass murders, so-called experts believe mental health is a factor as well as the lack of stricter gun control.

It is déjà vu all over again. Another mass shooting has occurred, and the question of stricter gun control comes up. We have seen this movie before. Have we not? One can bet his last dollar that, as soon as the news media turned its TV cameras and microphones off and the anti-gun passion has died down the issue will be gentle swept under the carpet. Gun rights activists and lobbyists have done a marvelous job of neutralizing the argument for stricter gun control. Their strategy of ‘no comment until we look at the facts’ is unadorned but hugely effective. Nevertheless, no one with a heart and a soul can truthfully deny that we have a gun problem that needs discussing.

The problem of guns and gun violence is not a new phenomenon in America. Even though, if one listens to and reads some of the comments about the Newtown massacre one would think otherwise. The only new trend in gun violence over the past five years or so as it relates to mass shooting is the drastic change in the locations and the faces of victims. Where as in former years the victims of mass shootings were mostly minority, gang bangers and drug dealers who lived and operated in urban communities, today the victims also include white Americans who lived in suburban communities.

All in all, it is time to have a serious national discussion on guns and gun violence. The scourge of gun violence is no longer an urban problem. It is everybody’s problem. Therefore, politicians can no longer look the other because of fear of loosing their seats. They must stand firm and do the right thing. I do not know how, or what but for the sake of those twenty kids who died in Newtown and every other victim of gun violence–do something!!!

May the souls of the dead rest in peace!!

Do you want to be a winner?


Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

At a Dodger Stadium news conference on Tuesday December 11. 2012 , the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced their newly acquired $147 million Baseball pitching star, Zack Greinke to the news media. Majority owner, Magic Johnson was asked whether money was no object with the Dodgers. He responded with four words, “We want to win”.

Everybody wants to be a winner. Winning is everything in the secular world, especially in sports and athletics. It is not enough to compete. One has to win, and win now! Otherwise, you are deemed a loser, and since no one wants to be a loser, the pressure of winning becomes greater.

Unfortunately, not everybody can be a winner. There is only one spot on the podium for the winner, so some of us have to settle for the unpopular also ran position.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Instead, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . . Hebrews 12:1-2

However, unlike the secular world, everyone can be a winner in Christ and in the Christian world. In this sacred world, the race is not awarded to the swift nor the battle to the strong. This race is a marathon, and the winners are those who run with patience and endure to the end. There is no controversy in the Christian race. No doping scandal and no false start. Everyone is on equal footing.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

There  is no so-called superstar in the Christian race, and there is no mention of judges or referees. There is only one Judge–the righteous JUDGE and He cannot be bought. He does not take a bribe. He calls the race as He sees it. It does not matter how popular you are, and how long you have been running. He does not curry-favor.

Here is how a winner in the Christian world sounds at the end of his race:

I have fought the good fight, and I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”. 2 Timothy 4.

My fear for breast cancer forces me to do a double mastectomy.


Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Author Allison Gilbert shares why she chose to undergo a double mastectomy after testing positive for the breast cancer gene.

(CNN) — I’m not a helicopter parent and my children would tell you I don’t bake cupcakes for their birthday parties. But I’d readily cut off my breasts for them — and recently, I did.

Removing breast tissue uncompromised by cancer is relatively easy. It took the breast surgeon about two hours to slice through my chest and complete the double mastectomy seven weeks ago.

The time-consuming part was left to the plastic surgeon who created new breasts out of my own belly fat so I could avoid getting implants. Total operating time: 11.5 hours. And I don’t regret a second.

The decision to have surgery without having cancer wasn’t easy, but it seemed logical to me. My mother, aunt and grandmother have all died from breast or ovarian cancer, and I tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

Being BRCA positive means a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer is substantially elevated.

“Patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have 50%-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to approximately 60% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer,” according to Karen Brown, director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

By comparison, the lifetime risk of breast cancer for the general population is 13% and 1.7% for ovarian cancer.

CNN iReport: Tested for the breast cancer gene?

At my gynecologist’s urging, I tackled the threat of ovarian cancer first. Because the disease is hard to detect and so often fatal, my ovaries were removed in 2007, a few years after my husband and I decided we were done having kids.

The most difficult part of the operation came in the months that followed: I was thrust into menopause at 37. Despite age-inappropriate night sweats and hot flashes, I was relieved to have the surgery behind me and wrote about it in my book, “Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children.”

The emotional release was short-lived. Less than a year later, my mother’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and died within four months.

Aunt Ronnie’s death set me on a preventive mastectomy warpath. I had already been under high-risk surveillance for more than a decade — being examined annually by a leading breast specialist and alternating between mammograms, breast MRIs and sonograms every three months — but suddenly being on watch didn’t seem enough, and I began researching surgical options.

Regardless of my family history and BRCA status, I still went back and forth on having a mastectomy. I vacillated between feeling smug and insane.

Over the years, I’d read too many stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal last week, on doctors who make fatal mistakes (up to 98,000 people die every year in the United States because of medical errors, according to the Institute of Medicine). I was anxious about choosing a bad surgeon and a bad hospital.

The stakes felt even higher after I decided to go an unconventional route to reconstruction. Implants generally offer a quicker surgery and recovery, but they’re also known to leak, shift out of place, and feel hard to the touch and uncomfortable.

I would also likely have to replace them every 10 years — not an unimportant consideration, since I’m 42.

Ultimately, on August 7, I underwent double mastectomy with DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flap reconstruction. The benefits would be that my new breasts would be permanent, made from my own skin and flesh, and I’d be getting rid of my childbearing belly fat in the process.

I had multiple consultations with surgeons who explained every reason not to have the procedure. They warned me that I’d be under anesthesia unnecessarily long and I’d be opening myself up to needless complications.

While every concern was valid, it wasn’t until I was six doctors into my investigation that I realized the likely reason why I was getting such push-back. The plastic surgeons I was consulting, despite their shining pedigrees and swanky offices, couldn’t perform a DIEP. The procedure requires highly skilled microsurgery and not every plastic surgeon, I learned, is a microsurgeon.

It also requires a great deal of stamina. The doctors I interviewed who perform DIEP flaps were generally younger and fitter than those who didn’t. On average, a double mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction takes 10-12 hours, while reconstruction using implants can take as little as three.

In total, I met with 10 surgeons before choosing my team, and while I am now thrilled with the outcome, all the years of research and worry took a toll on me.

The worst moment came one night when my husband and I were in bed. I began to cry uncontrollably and wished I could talk with my mother and aunt about which procedure to have, which doctor I should choose, and whether I should even have the surgery.

Then a moment of bittersweet grace clarified what I needed to do. It struck me that the reason I couldn’t speak to my mother and aunt is exactly the reason I had to have the surgery.

Undergoing a prophylactic double mastectomy was a great decision for me. It’s clearly not a choice every woman would make, but I’m convinced without it I would have been one of the estimated 226,000 women the American Cancer Society says is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year.

I could have tried to eat my way to a cancer-free life, but even Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the popular vegetables-are-key-to-health book “The China Study” admits diet may not be enough to protect BRCA patients from cancer.

“We need more research,” Campbell told me. “Conservatively, I’d say go ahead and have the surgery, and eat a plant-based diet after.”

I also could have waited for a vaccine, a pill or some other medical advance to come my way that would have made such a radical decision avoidable.

Perhaps MD Anderson Cancer Center’s newly announced war on cancer will produce positive results for patients who are susceptible to triple negative breast cancer, the type of aggressive disease likely to afflict BRCA1 patients and the kind my aunt most likely died from.

But every surgery substitute seemed locked in hope, not statistics. And as I’ve told my husband and children, I wasn’t willing to wait. I love them more than my chest.

Me and my blog, one year together


It is astonishing how time flies! I cannot believe it is one year already since I had started “This Blogging Thing,” an unlikely name for a blog. Yes, my friends, today, September 7, 2012 is exactly one year since This Blogging Thing, and I came together, and we are extremely proud of the union. Things were rough in the beginning. There was a time when we were not sure whether we belonged. However, as the year progressed, we grew closer and closer. Today we are inseparable.

Still, none of this would have been possible without WordPress who has given us the platform and most of all, my beloved blogging buddies, who have embraced and invited us on their computer screens. To all, I would like to say thanks for your support. Your kinds words and encouragement have been tremendously inspiring. For that, I am extraordinarily grateful.

I look forward to your continued support over the next months, and years to come.

God blesses.

Noël

How to be happy with who you are?


Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond your imperfections. -Unknown

The recently concluded Olympic Games were a success, but that depend on who you talk to. There were tears of joy and tears of disappointment.

Many Olympians spent most of the last four years training—training really hard to get to the games. Some set their expectations very high. Anything less than a gold medal is considered a complete failure–a bust, and a letdown. Still, many were satisfied that they got the chance to compete.

One such athlete is Oscar Pistorius, (or Blade Runner, as he is also called) of South Africa. He was elated that he finally got the chance to compete at the Olympics; to show off his talents. Pistorius spent the better part of eight years fighting weighted red tapes and barriers designed to prevent him from competing against world class able bodied athletes. Barred from competing at the Beijing Olympics, Pistorius kept fighting, and in the summer of 2012 he got the chance to fulfill his life long dream.

The Pistorius story is singularly fascinating and inspiring. We will remember it for many years to come. He was born without a fibula in either leg.

Both of his legs were later amputated below the knee when he was eleven months. But Pistorius learnt to look beyond his imperfections and be content with who he is.

“I grew up in a household with my elder brother, Carl, where my mother didn’t ever mention my disability,” Pistorius says.

“She didn’t treat me any differently. She was probably harder on me because of it and she never let me pity myself.

“She said to me: ‘Carl puts on his shoes in the morning and you put on your legs, and that’s the last I want to hear about it’.”

“People ask why I want to run in the Olympics, what am I trying to prove,” Pistorius says.

“Well, I just want to prove to myself that I am the best I can be.

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa (or Blade Runner, as he is also called) did get the chance prove to himself and the world, that he is a world-class athlete. He silenced his critics when he ran in the men’s 400-meters race as well as the 4×400 meters relay in London, making history as the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. And though Pistorius did not medal in his events, he told reporters that his experience in London had been “phenomenal.

When an athlete comes to grips with her mortality and grows up


On July 7, 2012, Tennis superstar Serena Williams, won her fourteenth grand slam titles and her fifth at the All England Tennis Club (Wimbledon). Serena joins her sister Venus who also won five Wimbledon titles. It was an emotional win for Serena and her family as well as many of her fans.

However, without putting a damper on Serena’s spectacular win, the high point of the Tennis championships were her conduct and her performance. Serena seems to have finally come to grips with her mortality and grows up. This time around, she did not cause any media buzz, nor was she clad in any outlandish, over-the-top sexually provocative attire. Her grace and power was the focal point, and she conducted herself like a lady through out.

Still Serena’s 2012 story is an extraordinary and inspiring one. For her to come back from a life threatening illness to win Wimbledon, is no small feat. In her post game interview she talked about how she prayed to get back doing what she loves doing–playing tennis.

Read the full story here: Serena Wins 5th Wimbledon Title

Bill O’Reilly Attacks OWS with Contempt


Bill O’Reilly makes no secret about his disdain for OWS protesters. So, it’s not surprising that he continues to attack them with contempt. He seems to forget that OWS protesters have the right to protest–just like he had the right to protest in a TV studio, some years ago.

In his recent article on Townhall.com, titled, “Memo to the Occupiers,” Mr. O’Reilly continues his subtle but vicious attack on the movement, referring to protesters as “you protest people,” and “hypocrites.” He even interject Cuba in his argument, as if to say if protesters did not like it here, they should go to Cuba.

This is how O’Reilly addressed the OWS movement:

Listen up, you protest people! You have gone and alienated Newt Gingrich, who wants you to take a bath and get a job. Or vice-versa. And his words were greeted with applause from coast to coast. You guys should take notice.

A couple of months ago, the polls showed that many Americans sympathized with your movement. After all, who likes greed-head Wall Street folks manipulating the financial markets? They bathe, but so what? They’re corrupt, and you are right to demand that the government provide oversight on them.

But that point has been largely lost because the Occupy movement is now perceived as radical and incoherent. The loons moved in, and the sincere protesters ceded the spotlight. All of a sudden, the Sons of Anarchy were getting all the camera time. Most Americans are willing to listen, but not to guys with scorpions tattooed on their necks. And then there were the ugly displays of police-baiting and mindless destruction.

The result: According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just 28 percent of Americans now approve of the Occupy movement, and James Carville will no longer take their calls.

But the primary reason this correspondent has turned bearish (sorry) on the Occupy Wall Street movement is hypocrisy. Recently, the feds announced that executives at the near bankrupt Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agencies would receive close to $100 million in bonus money. Also, the guy who ran Solyndra into bankruptcy got a nice departure package despite the fact that the solar-panel company wasted about $500 million of taxpayer money.

So where are you on those things, Occupiers? Why are you besieging a Burger King in San Diego when the real corruption is in Washington, D.C.?

What Bill O’Reilly and his heartless conservative friends at Fox News, and elewhere fail to understand is this: OWS protesters or( the 99%) are the 99ers, who have lost their jobs, homes and personal belongings as a result of reckless behaviour on Wall Street. These are the same people who had their unemployment benefits ran out because Republican in congress refused to extend them. These protesters are hurting, and they are crying out for help. Politics and government have failed. The only alternative is to take to the streets in protest.

Read article here:  http://townhall.com/columnists/billoreilly/2011/11/26/memo_to_the_occupiers

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