Take Control

In June of 1981, the CDC released its very first report about a disease that later became known as HIV/AIDS. Now, 30 years later to the month, we have come so far in understanding the risks and knowing how to take control of our health when it comes to this epidemic.

So today just so happens to be National HIV Testing Day in the United States. If ever there was a day when you did not have any excuses to get yourself checked out, it would be today. There will undoubtedly be many free HIV testing events going on around the country, bringing increased awareness to this invaluable aspect of self-care. Please visit www.hivtest.org to find out about testing events in your area. Use the map to find the testing center nearest you and go take control of your health!



The Supreme Court of the United States is vested with the ultimate responsibility of ensuring and upholding whatever vestiges of integrity our country's justice system can claim. They are vested with the authority to decide instantly the fate of thousands, and ultimately the fate of millions of Americans based on their own powers of deliberation and supposed impartiality. So much of our nation's design and subsequent re-design is entrusted to a group of flawed individuals, who undoubtedly are afflicted with opinions and prejudices, who exhibit strong biases just like any other person. In the light of a true democracy, the outspoken voices of citizens would be held as the true bond, not the unenlightened decisions of a select few.

Exemplifying the SCOTUS' inherently biased and subjective role in our justice system is the Roberts Court, which has time and time again sided with corporate interest over the protest of U.S. citizens in its rulings. With an agenda set by who know what, this court has shown an unprecedented favor towards corporate interest in the majority of relevant cases, from Citizens United, to Exxon-Valdez, to its most recent transgression with female workers at Wal-Mart. There are numerous cases just like these, in which the court's rulings have had enormous implications for the supremacy of American corporations, and the dwindling rights we as individuals have to fight them. In fact, the Alliance for Justice has released reports documenting these decisions, even calculating that at one point in the current court's history, 73% of its rulings favored corporate interests over citizens' interests.

This recent ruling, that female employees at Wal-Mart do not have the right to collectively take action against the corporate behemoth for discriminating against them based on their gender, is simply a notch on the Roberts court's belt of cases in which the rights of the American people seem to hold limited importance as compared to those of giant corporations. While the appalling decision has de-certified the plaintiffs from being part of a class-action suit in any type of case, it in no way diminishes or justifies Wal-Mart's blatant discrimination against its female employees, which is hopefully now receiving increased attention and scrutiny. And while each individual woman now has to face Wal-Mart and its barrage of highly-paid lawyers alone, after 15 years and 1.5 million women, it is safe to assume that this fight is far from over.


A Challenge

Over the years, Glenn Beck has had a successful career spreading fear, hate, lies, and promulgating himself as some sort of Messiah-like voice for his brainwashed conservative viewers. He has launched hateful campaigns against some influential progressive individuals, sometimes even going as far as to smear their names with misinformation and false accusations in order to derail their careers. This was undoubtedly his mission with former "green jobs" czar Van Jones, whom Beck and other radical talking heads accused of being a violent extremist, communist, and otherwise danger to "American values." They claimed that his views, which included a criticism of the Republican party and a call for truth about the attacks of September 11th, were proof that he was too partisan to be effective in the White House. As if no one in Washington has ever held a personal opinion, or sought out truth in the face of endless lies. They accused him unfairly in such a radically exaggerated measure that what followed was a resignation, not a resolution.The result of Beck's haterade campaign resulted in the removal of a social and environmental visionary from a position of potential influence.

Now, two years after resigning from his post, Van Jones is challenging Glenn Beck to a debate. Not that Mr. Jones needs to clear his name or prove anything to the manic Beck, but perhaps this proposed debate would allow him to give Beck the intellectual spanking that the outgoing anchor so greatly deserves on behalf of the American people.

Watch Jones' Challenge here:



It's that time of year again: the temperatures are rising, you're starting to feel the faint whisper of the ocean shores calling your name, feeling the urge to be outside and run and play like a child, all the while wanting to reach up to the sun and give it a big "thank you" hug for bringing you so much joy and brilliance because- at last!- you can emerge from your cave dwellings and join the rest of the outdoor world.

But just as all of these ecstatic thoughts and images are running through your mind as you mark up your calendars for July and August, another more sinister thought reaches you, and you realize that it is inevitable: that same sun who brings light and warmth and summer activities into your life also wants to kill you, and you need an arsenal of SPF this and that to keep its harmful UVA and UVB rays at bay.

But it gets worse. Like many consumer products making health claims, the sunscreen industry often tells lies about just how effective its products really are, making the choices for protecting yourself and your children that much more difficult than they should be. And the FDA, which is trusted with the duty of regulating these health claims, has just decided after 33 years of deliberation that yeah, maybe they should do something about regulating those sunscreen company's claims! Something like, oh, regulating a sunscreen with a true SPF protection of about a 10, packaged in a bottle that advertises it as a 50. Or, sunscreens that claim to be waterproof but really aren't. Oh, and also, those sunscreens that contain dangerous chemicals related to tumor development and other health problems. Yeah, those. The FDA decided they were going to do something about them. And it only took them just over 3 decades!

The truth is that these new regulations aren't going to be going into effect until the summer season of 2013. Which leaves consumers in a difficult position of having to navigate through the screen-washing health claims on their own. And unlike nutritional/environmental health claims, which are becoming easier to spot, the sparse presence of sunscreens in our daily lives makes them even harder to comprehend. Luckily for us, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a list of top sunscreens in terms of safety and effectiveness. The lotions on the list contain minimal chemical content, and are more honest about the level of protection they actually provide, and how waterproof they really are.

So unless you see yourself as cave-dwelling while the rest of your friends enjoy all of the pleasures of the sun, it's probably a good idea to check out that list, and to get yourself a safe and reliable sunscreen for the season. It's also a good idea to remember other dangers associated with sun and heat, and to follow safety recommendations related to summer weather in your area. And for those of you who are interested, the EWG has also put together a Hall of Shame- a list of the absolute worst sunscreens in terms of the false health claims they are making. Be sure to steer clear of those, and you should be alright. Happy sunning, everybody!