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Get Away from that Computer Screen! March 20, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Culture, Healthcare, Life.
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This morning New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.P.H, spoke on behalf of those who are looking to get kids 6 and older more to physically active.

When I arrived the Acting Surgeon General Galson was speaking. Galson was speaking about Type 2 Diabetes and his recent trip to Miami (along with a conversation he had with Arkansas Surgeon General John Thompson). I didn’t notice Eli Manning until he stood to answer questions from the audience. I guess it was around the same time I noticed workout guru Denise Austin. There were other special guests – but from my vantage point I could not seen anyone notable. Eli Manning’s rise to stardom came when he led the New York Giants to winning the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Throughout last season, the Patriots mowed down their competition but couldn’t get past Manning and the Giants squad. Eli attributes their win to staying in shape and never giving up.

Standing next to the former president of the National Press Club, Manning looked very tall. He didn’t exactly look like what I expected. Come to think of it, I never really thought much about what he looked like – or would look like.

The reason for the gathering was to kick off the National President’s Challenge. It’s a new campaign launched by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. You may not know the official name but you may remember a couple of the organisation’s former spokespeople: Bo Jackson and Arnold Swartzenegger.

This challenge to America marks the first time ALL Americans are asked to be active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The challenge specifically targets children ages 6 to 17 years. Children these ages are urged to move at least an hour a day. Those who are over the age of 18 are advised to work out for 30 minutes.

In numerous cases inactivity in adults can be linked to inactivity as a child. We often here, “When I was your age I was always outside.” That statement may be true, but with the increased attraction of video games, not to forget the popularity and affordability of the internet, you are finding more people spending more indoors.

The Acting Surgeon General said, “We are including adults in this challenge because adults are spending an increasing amount of time sitting at computer screens, in front of television sets and commuting long distances from work.” Most adults, in their off-hours, are often sedentary. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: less than a third of adults engage in regular leisure time activity.

The purpose of the National President’s Challenge is designed to help change that. For those who are interested in getting involved, you sign up on the National President’s Challenge website (here). The website will record the participants daily activity, set goals, monitor their progress and see how they compare with others.

Manning said when he was a child his brothers Payton and Cooper had a Nintendo to play video games, but they were only allowed to use it on special ocassions.  “We played video games but it was reserved for rain days, night time or special ocassions.”

You can join individually, as a couple, as a family or with co-workers and neighbors. You can even get an organisation to join. In these groups, you can also compete against each other.

The President’s Council plans to honor the states with the highest participation rate based on population at the end of the eight-week challenge

Taking it to the Streets March 19, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Afganistan, Homeland Security, Iraq, Iraq & Afganistan, Military.
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On the last day of the Take America Back Conference, organised by the nonprofit Campaign for America’s Future, some of the conference participants became protesters of the fighting and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These protestors believe we have been in these countries (Iraq moreso than Afghanistan) far longer than the United States need be.

Everyone might agree that Sadam Hussein needed to be removed as the head of government in Iraq.  We all might not agree that it was the United States and England’s place to make that call.  With everything that has ensued since Hussein’s departure – it seems apparent, to many, that the ‘Allied’ countries have been there far too long.  Nothing seems to be improving and chances are that the United States [or some other country] will be in the region for a very long time.

Other countries that have been involved with the occupation have gone through major changes since their involvement.  The one place that stands out in my mind is Australia.  In the beginning, the Australian government was one of the major Allied players in Iraq, thanks to its former Prime Minister John Howard.  Howard’s decision to get take a serious role in an unpopular war is what motivated voters to oust him and elect present Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. 

I was in a press conference at the Foreign Press Center in the National Press Building around the time of the Australian elections.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was giving the audience the White House/Pentagon’s position on the present circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Interestingly enough, an Australian journalist asked if he felt Howard’s unpopularity will result in his defeat?  The Chairman had no comment. 

In Australia’s corner of the world, they are sometimes referred to as the United States’ unwitting step-brother. 

It seems apparent that the goings-on in Iraq are unpopular to all of the world leaders except for those in the freest democratic republic on the face of the Earth.  When the citizenry finds the situation deplorable and the (so called anti-Iraq) democratic Congress wants to bring an end to the fighting – and the President of the United States doesn’t seem to get it.  You get what brought hundreds of people out in the rain today.  They are looking for change.  Maybe not the same kind of change that Barack Obama promise, but definitely something different than what President Bush has provided.

Their protest today marks the 5th Anniversary of the U.S. occupation in Iraq.  There is a long list of people who are sponsoring this protest (Check here for info).  The rain does give their cause a more dramatic effect.  These organisations have banned together under the umbrella of United for Peace and Justice. 

The protesters were looking for nonviolence during this protest.  And it’s funny because DCPD wasn’t looking to arrest anyone.  Chief Lanier said, “An arrest would only highlight their cause even more.”  The DCPD officers were ordered to wear no riot gear and arrest no one unless they were actually seen committing an obvious crime.  In my opinion it looks like DCPD had the upper hand in this quasi-melee. 

To date slightly over 3,900 military officers have been killed in Iraq.  No one is exactly sure how many people Iraqi people have been killed; but it’s estimated at over 1 million.  Sadly, over 2 million Iraqis are living as refugees in other countries and another 2.5 million are displaced within Iraq. At this exact moment $608 billion has already been spent on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some of you may remember in the beginning President Bush said this fighting would cost $60 billion.  And out of all of this the Bush administration is asking the U.S. Congress for at least another $102 billion.

Both major political parties need to work together to bring this country together.

United for Peace and Justice is the largest grassroots anti-war coalition in the country, consisting of more than 1,400 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to protest the immoral and disastrous Iraq War and oppose our government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building. UFPJ has organized the largest anti-war demonstrations in both NYC and Washington, DC, over the past five years. For more details, go to www.unitedforpeace.org.

For more information about the protest check out this website:   www.5yearstoomany.org. 

If you are interested in finding out more about groups that support the troops and occupation in Iraq, check out this site:  Winds of Change

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