Sunday, October 15, 2006


An Unexpected British Prophet

This was written 106 years ago!!!

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries. Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

“A degraded sensualist deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities; thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

“No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arm of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” How little has changed over 106 years.

This polemic can be found in the first edition of the two-volume The River War, published in London in 1899 by Longman and Green. It was written by a 25-year-old soldier/war correspondent who had returned from previous duty in Egypt, and had used influence to get assigned to Lord Kitchener’s army in the Sudan. He was present at the battle of Omdurman where Kitchener’s force of 25,000, outnumbered by two to one, soundly defeated the Muslim army that lost 10,000 killed and 13,000 wounded while Kitchener’s British force lost only 48 men with 382 wounded. This victory was accomplished with far superior weapons. The story of this battle was recounted in this book, as were the thoughts expressed above. (In the Sudan today we could use a Kitchener—instead we have a moribund United Nations.)

The 25-year old author, whose 106-year-old views on Islamic fundamentalism were so strikingly accurate and so amazingly prescient, was none other than Winston Churchill.

Speed Kills—People, and Your Wallet

Do you remember all the misleading information that was so pervasive in cigarette advertising, and how prevalent those ads were? Whatever happened to all those advertising executives that were involved in the creation of those schemes? Is it possible that they have discovered the one other product that has affected an even greater number of people with a similarly virulent addiction? You will recall that President Bush gave impetus to this conclusion when he stated unequivocally that we Americans are addicted to OIL. To be more precise, our addiction is really to gasoline.

This is nothing new, but what is really perverse is the inattention being paid to the concept of conservation, and equally frustrating is the actual encouragement of increased usage of gasoline by several of our less enlightened state governments.

It’s almost as if these former ad executives — more likely it’s the lobbyists at work — have induced politicians and their appointees to promote the increased sale of gasoline. It seems that several states have actually authorized increased speed limits on hundreds of miles of interstate highways and freeways. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia all have raised speed limits from 65 mph to 70 mph, and leave it to Texas, already at 75 mph, it has raised the limit to 80 mph. The faster we drive, the more money goes to the middle-east countries who hate us, and into the pockets of terrorists who try to kill us.

Speaking of killing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group funded by auto insurers claims fatality rates were 17 % higher in states that raised speed limits from 1995 to 1999 than in states that didn’t.

With the help of several sources, (; [Federal Trade Commission];; and The Wall Street Journal), what follows are tips on how you can not only help conserve gas by increasing your car’s mileage, but also save, possibly more than a few bucks:
  1. Stay within the speed limits. The Department of Energy estimates that for every five miles an hour a person drives above 60 mph costs an extra 20 cents a gallon, for a fuel efficiency loss of 7% to 23%, depending on the type of car and gas.

  2. Avoid jackrabbit starts and stops, thereby improving in-town gas mileage up to five percent by driving “gently.”

  3. Drive steadily. Slowing down and speeding up wastes fuel. Using your cruise control when appropriate can save up to 14 percent with an average of 7 percent.

  4. Edmunds claims that aggressive vs. moderate driving will result in an average of 31 percent savings. (I’ll have to remember that one.)

  5. Air conditioning on, windows up vs. windows down AC off: Very little difference. Do what is most comfortable.

  6. While not all of the sources agree with this, The National Highway Safety Administration claims that for every pound of tire pressure below that which is recommended, you reduce mileage by 2 percent.

  7. The Federal Trade Commission states, “Unless your engine is knocking, buying higher octane gas is a waste of money.” Consumer Reports agrees by saying, “Think twice about using the more expensive gas even if your owner’s manual suggests “for optimum performance use premium.” All agree on this point.

  8. One source claims, “An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce fuel economy by up to two percent.”

  9. Keep your engine tuned, change oil on schedule, and check and replace oil filters for a 10 percent improvement.

  10. Avoid paying for so-called gas saving devices or additives. The FTC has tested hundreds of these items and has determined that “Even for the few gas saving products that have been found to work, the savings have been small.” None of the gas additives proved to be of any benefit.

  11. Drive smartly and safely.

Pass, (On) the Salt

Salt is such a common and ubiquitous product today, we forget that its history is virtually the history of mankind. The Salt Institute maintains that, “Salt was in general use long before history, as we know it, began to be recorded.” The economic, religious, and political importance of salt, beginning in ancient times, cannot be overemphasized. City-states and countries fought over supplies and supply routes. Salt was one of the major trade products throughout history, and local economies were often built accordingly.

Food has been flavored and preserved since ancient times with salt. Many of the first roads built were the results of early salt trade routes. At one time salt was so precious, it traded ounce for ounce with gold, and taxes were actually levied on salt. In China, coins made from salt were in use, and salt cakes were used as money in the Mediterranean regions.

The Salt Institute writes, “Salt has played a vital part in religious ritual in many cultures, symbolizing immutable, incorruptible purity. There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible, and both the Bible and the Talmud contains insights into salt’s cultural significance in Jewish society.” Another source states, “The altar in the temple of Jerusalem was built to handle hundreds of animal sacrifices a day, and included the salting and dehydrating process of the carcasses producing ‘kosher’ hygienic cleansed meat to the inhabitants.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your body needs some sodium to function properly. Sodium helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body; it helps transmit nerve impulses; and it influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.” The Mayo site also informs that, “Your kidneys regulate the amount of sodium kept in your blood.” However, “If your kidneys can’t eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume in turn makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, increasing pressure in your arteries.”

The American Heart Association suggests that those with cardiovascular problems maintain either a 2,000 milligram or 1,000 milligram sodium diet. As a guide, one teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 milligrams. The current estimated daily salt intake of adult Americans is about 4,000 milligrams, although some believe it is much higher. This portends serious problems. The major one is that most people not only crave salt, foods that traditionally have been heavily salted seem less tasty, and are therefore shunned. Various organizations, including the National Academies Institute for Medicine as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources recommend that adults eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and as little as 1,500 milligrams a day if you are a middle aged or older adult, or someone with hypertension.

For those who say “I never add salt to my food, even in restaurants,” that’s little comfort. It’s estimated that restaurant food and packaged food accounts for nearly 80 percent of America’s sodium intake. If you eat out or take out frequently, you are probably significantly exceeding recommended sodium limits.

That this issue is heating up became apparent recently when the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the Food and drug Administration (FDA) for failing to regulate sodium as a food additive. To add to that agency’s problems, at its annual meeting in late June, the American Medical Association (AMA) recommended that the FDA limit the amount of salt that food companies are allowed to add to product. The AMA, for the first time ever, asked the FDA to revoke the long-time status of salt as a substance that is generally recognized as safe.” Instead, as did the Center for Science, the AMA recommended that salt should be regulated as a food additive.

As to be expected, the Salt Institute, representing the $340 million salt industry, including Morton International, is lobbying the department of Health and Human Services to forgo salt regulation by the FDA. What is at stake? According to The New York Times, “In 2004, researchers at the National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute published a study in the American Journal of Public Health concluding that 150,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were cut in half.”

What is the likelihood of the FDA taking on the food industry? Consider this: when the current administration finalized the 2003 budget for the FDA’s Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (the division where most food regulation takes place) it amounted to $47.6 million. In its infinite wisdom, the 2007 budget has been cut almost in half to just $25 million.

It has been obvious that this FDA has been willing to be guided by political, even religious considerations rather than empirical, scientific evidence. Think of the three-year delay to approve (with several limitations) the Plan B birth control pill. Federal agencies in general, in the last six years, have leaned more favorably toward business interests rather than towards the public’s welfare.

In essence, the FDA must weigh the political pressures and enormous lobbyist influence against the possibility of saving 150,000 lives. To most, the answer would be obvious. Based on recent FDA actions, who knows?


At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all the years that I have tried to understand why the FDA has consistantly sided with the large corporations that it was to police, I now realize that when they staff that is filled with castoffs or retirees from those firms whom they are still indebted to. So the lightbulb finally went off and I now can see the forest for the trees. Interesting Blog. regards Ben Greenberg [}


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