August 2007 Archives

Church Offers Cure For Green Guilt

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It seems eco-sinners are lining up to have their guilt assuaged. A group called Earthly Sins was the first to offer eco-absolution at their portable confessional booth at the Glastonbury Festival in 2004. The "non-judgmental environmental advice installation" encouraged post-confessional participants to take a three-point pledge to make planet-positive changes in their life.


Now it seems the Roman Catholic Church are jumping on the green-guilt bandwagon. According to the UK's Times newspaper, Benedictine monk Dom Anthony Sutch will don green robes, made from recycled curtains, to work an ecumenical eco-confessional box at the Waveney Greenpeace Festival in England this Sunday. Instead of Hail Mary's, local green politician Rupert Read will be on hand offering transgressors guidance.


For those of us unable to walk or use public transport to get to an eco-confessional booth, rather than adding to your list of stuff to confess by making an unnecessary car journey, eco-sinners can repent in the privacy of their own home by leaving online anonymous confessions at: www.truegreenconfessions.com


Here's a selection of Daily Mantra's favorites from the site:


"I work for a car manufacturer, get a new car every year as a benefit and hate myself for it. I am a stumpy traitor."

"My boyfriend tosses his cigarette butts out of his Prius."

"I once dumped a boy for littering at an Earth Day festival."

"If I only pee a little, sometimes I wont flush the toilet. I'll wait until I go once or twice more before flushing. I guess that's kinda gross, but it's just me living on my own, so no one else sees it."

" Ever since I was a kid, I've gone by the mantra, 'if it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down.'"

"I do green things (homemade cleaning products, line drying all my clothes, repurpose items, etc) not because I care about the environment, but because I'm cheap."

"Since I confessed to my love of long baths here, my water heater broke and had to be replaced. The new one only heats up enough water to barely fill the tub halfway. I blame you guys for that."

Well that's eco-karma at work. / Photo courtesy of Earthly Sins

A Potty Workout

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British comedian Keith Harding heads up the Pot Noodle Workout, which is quite possibly the silliest exercise routine we’ve ever seen. For those not familiar with the Pot Noodle, it’s an English Raman noodle-like delicacy, that comes in its own pot and features delectable morsels of freeze dried chicken and mushroom. Pot Noodle are inviting viewers to send in videos of their own workout inspired by Harding’s moves. All entrants get a case of Pot Noodle for their trouble, and the most watched video will earn its creator a Playstation 3, though sadly the terms and conditions limit competitors to UK residents. But don’t let that stop you enjoying the workout and getting creative. ‘Savor the flavor’ and ‘do the chicken’ – yum!

Test Your Karmic Health

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The Daily Mantra’s not sure why, but we’re compelled to sign up for things online this week (we’ll have to ask our astrologer Maria what’s going on with our stars right now). Anyway, after signing up to help a businesswoman in the developing world on Tuesday, and to get our name on a racing car on Wednesday, today we logged on to GetGoodKarma.org to check out our karmic health. Apparently we did quite well, with a score of 165 on their Karma Approximator. Find out how you’re doing kamically – and don’t forget to register to vote if you haven’t already – since voting to make the world a better place is what the site’s there to promote.

Race With Honda To Save The Planet

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Instead of brandishing the usual corporate ads on their new 2007 Formula One car, Honda's F1 team are offering real estate on the shell of their racing machine to anyone who’ll make a pledge to make a positive change in their lifestyle to help fight global warming.


Ok, we’re not fooled, we know at some level it’s just a marketing ploy by a company seeking to capitalize on green dollars, but we’ll go with it. Better these companies are for the planet than against it – whatever their ulterior motives. And Honda do have decent green credentials, as does F1 racing; Honda’s Insight vehicle was the first mass-produced hybrid automobile sold in the U.S., and the F1 sport became carbon neutral long before the phrase was fashionable. In fact F1’s governing body, the FIA, has been carbon offsetting their Grand Prix racing since 1997 by supporting the Scolel Te project in southern Mexico.


Quite frankly we’re excited to have our name on Honda’s F1 car in exchange for promising to install three energy saving light bulbs. We’ll proudly tune in to watch our car speeding around the track. Pledge by Friday Aug 31st in order to get your name on the car that races this season by going to www.myearthdream.com

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In the 10 hours since Daily Mantra last posted (see earlier story), Kiva investors from Sweden, Iceland, Belgium, Canada and the U.S. came up with the additional $325 Juliet Egieda needed to complete her loan.


"A small gesture repeated by many people can make a huge difference where it's really needed," says Chris, a Belgian web developer who invested in Julia's business. "I can't imagine a better way to help make the world a better place," says fellow investor Dan, an online marketer from Boston, MA. "We need to help people with their solutions to their problems. We have in the past tried to give them our solutions - that is demeaning, and doesn't work," says Marian, a retiree and Kiva lender from Ontario, Canada.


Julia, who needed $625 to expand her business selling grocery items in her village of Illushi in Nigeria, will repay her Kiva loan over the next 8 months. The Daily Mantra wishes her well in her business, and will check back in to see how she's doing.


If you would like to invest in the future of someone like Julia go to: www.kiva.org



The Daily Mantra has never met Juliet Egieda, a wife and mother of three, who lives in Illushi village in Edo State, Nigeria, but our worlds are now linked. Juliet has been in business for four years, selling food to her local community, and needs a modest loan to expand her business. The Daily Mantra has been able to invest in her business through an innovative micro-investment company called Kiva. The San Francisco based non-profit matches would-be investors, who make individual interest-free loans of $25 and up, with small business owners in the developing world. Kiva does not take any commission for loans given through their site. The money reaches the investor's chosen businesses via field partners such as the Lift Above Poverty organization. So far Kiva’s network of 93,000-plus investors has loaned over $10 million to 15,000 entrepreneurs from 36 different countries. The default rate on these loans is less than 1%.


40,000 people are expected to converge on a dry lakebed in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert this week for the annual Burning Man contemporary pagan convention. In the purpose-built Black Rock City, which exists only fleetingly on the dusty playa for the duration of the event, life doesn’t just imitate art – life becomes art. The already environmentally conscious counter culture festival, whose mantra is ‘leave no trace,’ will step their green credentials up a notch, encouraging greener art installations and eco-conscious participation with this year’s Green Man theme.

Amy Winehouse: In Dire Need Of Help

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The UK’s Daily Mail printed shocking photos of singer Amy Winehouse and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil, who were both seen bruised and bloodied shortly after a domestic argument broke out at a London hotel in the early hours of Thursday morning. Guests at Soho’s luxury Sanderson hotel reported hearing screams and the sound of breaking furniture coming from the couple’s $1,000 a night suite. Winehouse, who had earlier sought first aid assistance from a concierge, was then seen fleeing the hotel with her husband following in pursuit.


"Amy was in floods of tears,” said an unnamed guest who caught an elevator down to the lobby with the fighting couple. “This guy was screaming at her,” the witness continued. “She was cowering in the corner and I thought he was going to hit her. When the lift door opened, she took off across the lobby at a real pace.”


Winehouse, who has a history of self-harm, later defended her husband in a series of bizarre text messages to cult celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “Blake is the best man in the world. We would never ever harm each other,” wrote the singer, who has a history of drug – and rehab – abuse. “I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl and rightly said I wasn’t good enough for him. I lost it and he saved my life.”


With opposing versions of what occurred that night coming from witnesses and Winehouse, Daily Mantra asked our own psychic celeb watcher, Tanya, for her thoughts.


“Amy is in dire need of help,” says Tanya. “I'm feeling she has some issues from childhood, specifically from between the ages of five and seven, when something devastating occurred in her life. I don't feel she's ever told anyone. I feel that she uses drugs and alcohol to bury the pain of the situation. I don't want to say what I feel occurred, but I will say that she is a stronger than she knows and than others assume. Unfortunately, we shall see another dire situation with Amy, possibly being transported to the hospital in an ambulance, fighting for her life. Sadly, I'm just not so sure she'll win the fight. This is serious.”

DM_Dolphin_2267721.jpg Dolphins are conspicuous by their absence in surveys conducted in the Bay of Biscay by conservation organization Marinelife. The area is considered a worldwide hotspot for whales and dolphins, but so far this summer recorded sightings of common, striped and bottlenose dolphins are at an all time low, with numbers down by 80% compared with the same period last year.


“Whatever the cause of the disappearance of dolphins this summer, it shows both how vulnerable they are and how alarmingly quickly local declines can occur when environmental conditions change,” says Marinelife’s Research Director, Dr Tom Brereton. "The changes highlight how we need to act quickly, to address major issues such as climate change and over-fishing.”

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In somewhat related news, it seems the Rolling Stones may soon be conspicuous by their absence too, with rumors that these land bound mammals will announce their retirement at the end of their current tour. A source close to the band told Komodo Rock magazine, "We've been told this will be the last tour. Embarking on a Stones world tour takes years to plan. Mick and Keith would be in their late 60s by the time they would be ready to rock once more."

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According to Wikipedia’s entry on dolphins, the marine mammals have much in common with the soon-to-be extinct Stones. Both species are “often regarded as one of earth's most intelligent animals,” with Stones frontman Mick Jagger being one of the few rockers to gain a degree from the London School of Economics. Both “have a streamlined fusiform body”, “are capable of making a broad range of sounds” and are capable of “performing acrobatic figures.” Furthermore, for both “copulation happens belly to belly” and though “the actual act is usually only brief, if may be repeated several times within a short time span,” with the water bound mammals perhaps having less need for Viagra than the earth bound ones.


Finally, according the online encyclopedia both “have long played a role in human culture,” though it has to be said the Hollywood career of the dolphin has been far more successful than the acting career of The Stones. Mick Jagger has appeared in box office bombs such as Ned Kelly and Freejack, while dolphins have appeared in a series of blockbuster hits such Flipper, Free Willy and Day of the Dolphin.


Both will be sorely missed.

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Earlier this month Kate Middleton was ordered by royal officials to pull out of a cross channel Dover to Calais charity boat race, sighting security concerns due to intense media coverage. This was the first clear indication that her relationship with Prince William was back on after their split in April of this year, and that Kate is firmly back in the royal fold. Since then William's cold feet appear to have warmed, and the couple have jetted off for a romantic week long vacation in the Seychelles. It's also been announced that Kate has been given security clearance to come and go as she pleases from Clarence House, the official royal residence that Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, and Princes William and Harry call home.


This move, which puts the relationship on a more official footing, is seen by many royal watchers as a sign that an engagement announcement is imminent. It's even been rumored that Wills has asked his uncle, Earl Spencer, if he can use one of Princess Diana's favorite rings for the engagement. But given that Kate and William have already called it quits once, are they destined to follow the path of Charles and Diana and split again? And if so, will it be before or after they marry?

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Dishing gossip from a close ‘friend,’ Star magazine reports that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sleep in separate bedrooms. “It’s a situation that works for both of them. Of course they spend time together alone at night like most married couples; after all, they conceived Suri! In fact, they even joke about having separate bedrooms to their friends – Katie says Tom snores, and this way she can get her beauty sleep,” says a source.


The couple apparently plan to continue with their unconventional nocturnal arrangements when they move to their swish new mansion in Beverly Hills, where their bedrooms are said to be in separate wings – leading Daily Mantra to conclude that Cruise must be one loud snorer.


But Holmes is not the only married Hollywood actress to prefer separate sleeping arrangements. Words of wisdom on sleeping solo from the much-married Zsa Zsa Gabor included, “Never confuse sex with sleep darling.” The Hungarian born actress and socialite, who is currently married to the eccentric Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, is also quoted as saying, "When I'm alone, I can sleep crossways in bed without an argument."
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Hollywood women aren’t the only ones that achieve a higher quality of beauty sleep solo however; A recent sleep study at the University of Vienna found that “sharing sleeping space with a partner had negative effects on sleep in women,” though researchers reported that, “sexual contact mitigated the negative subjective report.”


Though women fared better sleeping alone, conversely men’s sleep efficiency was reduced if they slept solo. It seems that females are more easily disturbed by their male partners than vice versa. The study concluded that women “are more reactive to the presence of another individual in their bed. This may be a logical consequence of the maternal role in infant sleep and development.”


Then again, as Katie seems to have found, it may just be a natural consequence of man’s ability to snore louder than women. As Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange) famously said, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

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It has to be one of the most bizarre pieces of legislation ever enacted by a government, but Chinese officials have passed a law banning Tibetan Buddhist monks from reincarnating without prior permission from four separate government departments. The directive comes into effect on Sept 1st, 2007, and is seen as a means to control the province of Tibet and the influence of its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Order No. 5, issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs for the People's Republic of China, ironically states that, "It is an important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation of living Buddhas." Any unapproved reincarnations will be deemed "illegal and invalid." China's authoritarian Communist Party government is officially atheist.

Explore The Heavens With Google Earth

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Explore a hundred million stars and two hundred million galaxies with Google Earth 4.2. The new software upgrade, which you can download for free, uses imagery from the Hubble Telescope to bring the universe to your desktop.


"By working with some of the industry's leading experts, we've been able to transform Google Earth into a virtual telescope," says Lior Ron, a Google product manager.

Girls Really Do Think Pink

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It’s not just a mass marketing myth perpetuated by Babies ”R” Us, in a scientific study females showed a marked preference for pink. In rapid-fire tests at the UK’s Newcastle University, young adults were repeatedly asked their preference between differing sets of two colored cards. While both male and females showed a preference towards blue overall, in women preferences shifted towards the green-red end of the color spectrum. 'This shifts their color preference slightly away from blue towards red, which tends to make pinks and lilacs the most preferred colors,” says Professor Anya Hurlbert of the Visual Neuroscience Department.


“Although we expected to find gender differences, we were surprised at how robust they were, given the simplicity of our test,” says Hurlbert, whose team were able to predict the gender of a subject based upon their color preference profile. “The explanation might date back to humans' hunter-gatherer days, when women were the primary gatherers and would have benefited from an ability to home in on ripe, red fruits. Culture may exploit and compound this natural female preference.”

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1. Pink is the new green: Scientists at Ohio State University have developed new dye-sensitized solar panels that get their pink hue from red dye and a white metal oxide powder that capture light. Though not as efficient at converting energy as traditional solar panels, the pink panels come in at a quarter of the price.


2. Lycopene-rich pink grapefruit makes the most refreshing Mojitos. Crush fresh pink grapefruit flesh with mint leaves, a splash of lime juice and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Shake in ice and light rum, and top off with club soda. Serve in a chilled glass garnished with mint and a grapefruit wedge.
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3. Get a blast of vitamin C with rose hip tea. Use 5 pods per cup and steep for 10 minutes. Particularly high in vitamin C, rose hips, which are the fruit of the rose plant, also contain vitamins A, D and E. Often used in herbal medicines, it is said rose hips aid menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation and colds.


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4. Pink has whopped all the other female teen pop idols of her generation, leaving Britney, Christina, Lindsay and Hillary trailing in her wake. Pink’s sold over 23 million records, and unlike most of her contemporaries, is still going strong. Though her last album only went top ten in the US, it was her second biggest seller worldwide, reaching number 5 in the UK and topping the charts in Germany and Australia. Meanwhile her live show has broken box office records in Australia.


5. Forget saccharin blushes, serious rosé wines are making a comeback, with sales of the pink brews exceeding that of white wines in France. A dry rosé made with Grenache, Sangiovese or Syrah grapes is a great alternative to red on a hot summer day, and is robust enough to stand up to the heartiest of food.

Breathing Earth Or Choking Earth?

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Breathing earth or choking earth? I guess it depends on whether you’re the glass half-full type. Check out www.BreathingEarth.net to view a simulation of carbon dioxide emissions shown in real time for every country on the planet. The site also clocks up births and deaths while you are watching. A healthy reminder of who and what we’re asphyxiating with our careless emissions.

Christie Brinkley was caught canoodling with Sir Paul McCartney at a James Taylor concert in the Hamptons recently. It is said the couple slow danced to the romantic ditty 'How Sweet It is To Be Loved By You.”


Brinkley’s ex, Billy Joel, dismissed reports of a blossoming romance however. “We knew Paul, his late wife Linda and their children. I think Christie knows him from the same way,” Joel told Extra, “they're just old friends."


But would serial monogamist and PETA activist Brinkley, who has been married four times, be a sweet distraction for evangelical vegetarian McCartney, who could do with some friends-with-benefits action since his acrimonious split with Heather Mills?

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In experiments on fat tissue extracted from liposuction patients, researchers at Louisiana's Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that exposure to Adenovirus-36 caused stem cells to change into pre-fat cells, then fatter-fat cells. There was no such change in unexposed cells.


"We're not saying that a virus is the only cause of obesity, but this study provides stronger evidence that some obesity cases may involve viral infections,” says research head Dr. Magdalena Pasarica. "Not all infected people will develop obesity. We would ultimately like to identify the underlying factors that predispose some obese people to develop this virus and actually find a way to treat it."


Several previous studies have linked Adenovirus-36 to obesity. The virus, which is responsible for 10% of colds and sore throats, can be spread by contact, and by sneezing and coughing. Earlier research published in the International Journal of Obesity found that 30% of obese adults studied carried antibodies for the virus, as opposed to just 11% of non-obese adults tested. In a further study on 28 pairs of twins with opposing Adenovirus-36 status, those who had been exposed to the virus were found to have a higher BMI than their unexposed siblings.


It’s to be emphasized that Adenovirus-36 is just one contributing factor in obesity’s complex web of causes, with diet and exercise still being a major factor. According to the Pennington Center website, “most people can stop their natural weight gain by adding 2,000 steps a day to their daily life or by eating 100 less calories.” So ditch that handful of M&Ms, nothing tastes as good as being fit and healthy.

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Nearly 600 volunteers braved the Alpine cold to pose nude for an art project organized by Greenpeace to bring worldwide attention to Switzerland’s rapidly disappearing glaciers. Photographs of the 'installation' were taken by controversial U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick, who made his name shooting mass nudes.


“I want my images to go more than skin-deep. I want the viewers to feel the vulnerability of their existence and how it relates closely to the sensitivity of the world's glaciers,” says Tunick.


The site of the shoot overlooks the largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch, which retreated 377 feet in a period of just one year between 2005 and 2006. Over the last 150 years Alpine glaciers have lost one third of their surface area and have shrunk in volume by 50%, and the big melt, which began at the dawn of the industrial age, is accelerating. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates we have eight years to act before this catastrophic climate change becomes irrevocable.


“These naked people are braving the cold today because they want decision makers to wake up and take immediate, forceful, and courageous steps to protect the climate,” says Greenpeace’s Swiss campaign coordinator Markus Allemann. “There is still time, but it is running out.”


It’s estimated that most of Switzerland’s glaciers will have completely disappeared by 2080. Find out how you can help stop this from happening at www.greenpeace.org

Killer Veg

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Blue is the new green when it comes to the war on cancer according to researchers from Ohio State University. A team lead by Monica Giusti have been researching the rich red, purple and blue pigments found in vegetables such as red cabbage, egg plant, elderberries and bilberries. In lab tests they found that these antioxidant compounds restricted the growth of cancers, in some cases killing them off entirely.


The Guardian newspaper reports that compounds from high pigment purple fruit and vegetables such as purple-hued corn and chokeberries arrested the growth of human colon cancer cells in a test tube suspension, killing 20%, while extracts from fruit and veg less rich with the purple pigment such as radishes slowed growth by 50% to 80%. In a second study by the same team, colon tumors in rats fed extracts of bilberries and chokeberries were reduced by 60% to 70% compared with a control group. The key to repeating these results in humans outside of the lab lies in finding a way of preserving the effectiveness of the antioxidant compounds as they pass through the highly acidic digestive system.
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Meanwhile scientists from the National Cancer Institute are sticking with their greens. In a study (reported in the Daily Mail) involving 29,000 men who were monitored over a four-year period, researchers found that eating broccoli twice a week could reduce the chances of developing the deadliest form of prostate cancer by 50%; less aggressive tumors were reduced by 45%. Cauliflower was found to be even more effective, reducing the risk of tumors developing by 52%.

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China recently announced the creation of its first national park. The Pudacuo National Park will cover nearly 2,000 square kilometers in northwestern Yunnan, a province in the southwestern corner of China. America’s Nature Conservancy organization worked closely with the Chinese government to establish the preserve.


“While the region comprises only 0.7 percent of China's land area, it contains more than 20 percent of the country’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species,” says The Nature Conservancy. It is hoped the project will also bring employment and eco tourism to the economically depressed region.


The Nature Conservancy is a U.S. based environmental organization with an international reach. Working with local communities and corporations in more than 30 countries they have so far protected 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of river, and have over 100 marine conservation projects in operation.


The Nature Conservancy has some cool ways you can support their work. Next time you need to send flowers, send a bunch of the conservancy’s organic blooms, and their florist Organic Bouquet will donate 10% to the organization through Dec 2007. Another great gift idea is their Adopt An Acre program. Spend $50 or more and get full member benefits including a subscription to their magazine, and a personalized acre adoption certificate. Meanwhile if you grab yourself a Conservancy credit card to pay for your flowers and land, the non-profit gets $65 for each card activated.

C.I.A. And Vatican Editing Wikipedia

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According to the BBC News the implementation of a Wikipedia Scanner application, which tracks the IP addresses of those making changes to the online encyclopedia, has revealed that both the C.I.A. and The Vatican have been making edits to Wikipedia's pages. Meanwhile, according to Wikipedia, The Times has reported that someone working from an IP address originating at the BBC 'vandalized' an entry on George W. Bush by changing his middle name to "wanker." The Daily Mantra would like to state that its pages are 100% clear of scrutiny from such prestigious organizations. However we'd like to take this opportunity to welcome their beady eyes since limited resources mean we could use all the copy editing help we can get.

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Researchers at the University of Bonn published a paper recently in the boffin journal Science detailing the positive effects that a topical solution containing the cannabis extract THC has on skin allergies. Indeed THC has long been known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and was used in drug store tinctures up until the 1930’s when it was removed from shelves due to the criminalization of cannabis and hemp.


Meanwhile bloggers on the popular Digg website, excited by the scientists’ findings, have been doing some research of their own. “Dude, my complexion is better already,” enthuses Vvhy4. “My skin certainly looks better,” agrees RedHerringHack, “pass the Cheetos.” A Diggster calling herself ShellaNoya offers a word of caution however, “Before you go bathing in your bong water, remember it stinks!”

Doing It Doggie Style

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Hip and health conscious pooches should stop by D.O.G. Pet Boutique's store or website. The West Hollywood shop is diligently guarded by the fierce (in a Tyra way) Bailey, a chic black Chihuahua mix dog who is blissfully unaware that he's less than a foot long, and was rescued by the store's owner Chris Price. "I wanted him to have my style," Chris explains as he talks about the origins of the store.


This ultimate doggy lifestyle boutique offers ultra modern food and water bowl ensembles, the hard-to-find Canidae all natural health food line (which only uses ingredients sourced in the U.S. -- essential after the recent pet food scare), and the exclusive pet-a-potty canine indoor super-loos. For furry fashionistas they sell a selection of designer duds by Chi Wow Wow, Paris Hilton by Little Lilly, K9 Duds and Fab Dog. Designs range from the not-so-PC gangsta hoodies to cancer awareness doggie T's that raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Veterinary Cancer Society.

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America’s first Next Top Model and reality TV star Adrianne Curry has been blogging about her own pregnancy scare on her MySpace page. Apparently her psychic pal Allison Dubois (who’s the inspiration for the Medium TV series) keeps checking in to see if Adrianne is pregnant, and it’s “freakin’” her out. “We are not ready to get knocked up right now,” says Adrianne, who is married to The Brady Bunch’s Christopher Knight, whom she met while living at VH1’s Surreal Life house. “I have taken two pregnancy tests in the last 3 weeks because of this woman!” So will Adrianne and Christopher be having a Brady baby anytime soon? I asked Daily Mantra’s own psychic Tanya to weigh in on the subject.


“I don't feel that Adrianne is pregnant, but as with any female within child bearing years who has the capability of having kids, pregnancy can arise. A psychic medium isn't needed for that bit of enlightenment,” says Tanya. “I would say, however, that I do see a female around Adrianne becoming pregnant; She has dark hair, dark eyes and is petite. I'm not sure if she is married though, possibly engaged. Furthermore, I'm feeling there are problems in paradise with regards to Adrianne and Chris’ marriage. Individual issues haven't been worked out therefore the closeness they once shared (which I don't feel was true intimacy since I feel there are some things left unsaid between the two) has lessened in intensity. It feels like unresolved issues, as well as outside influences, may be the force that drives these two apart. Adrianne truly cares for Chris, I just don't feel the marriage will last.”

Shopping Is Monkey Business

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It seems that teams of scientists from Yale and the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome have successfully been able to teach monkeys the value of money and how to use it to shop. According to a Daily Mail article the clever primates have learnt to deal with different denominations of currency, and have figured out how to bargain for their purchases.


But will these savvy shopping monkeys be happier now they have purchasing power?
Not according to writer David Wilson, who says unequivocally that “shopping does not make you happy” in an article for the Times Online. He goes on to suggest we stay out of the stores and stick to leisure pursuits nearer home or in peaceful pastoral settings for a stress free life. “Avoid the stress. Save your money. Save your time. Save the planet. Stay in the neighborhood or get out into the countryside. You don’t need a loyalty card there.” That’s great advice for us folks that are over the shopping thing, but what about the poor monkeys who’ve only just made it to the mall in evolutionary terms?


Then again, most of us evolved humans are trying to minimize consumerism in our lives, so it’s certainly debatable as to whether going from freeganism to consumerism is a step up for these not-so-primitive primates, especially when you consider that unlike humans, the monkeys don’t even have to dumpster dive to pursue their already freegan lifestyle.


Let’s just hope that now these monkeys can shop, Capital One doesn’t start mailing them pre-approved credit cards. I’m waiting with bated breath to hear about the first monkey to dispute a late payment fee.

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According to Life & Style magazine, Paris Hilton has struck-off one-time party pal Britney Spears from her exclusive list of friends. Apparently Britney is “dying to hang out with Paris,” but Paris, according to an unnamed friend, has “moved on.” This is probably a smart move on Paris’ part, given that she desperately needs to avoid the kind of trouble Britney seems to find herself in on a daily basis. Meanwhile Paris and pal Nicole Richie, having moved on from their much publicized frienemy phase, are still keeping a distance from each other and have not been seen together in recent weeks. Again, this distance may be a good idea since Paris & Co’s incestuous friendships seem to have reached a level of toxicity that’s causing damage to all around. Perhaps if they’d have reacted sooner, all three girls might have avoided the problems they now face. But how do you recognize when friendships are bad for you?

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After resolving the trademark dispute with the Beatles' Apple Corps earlier this year, Apple today announced that 16 albums from John Lennon's solo catalog would be available for download on their iTunes music service. Classics such as Imagine (Jealous Guy), Double Fantasy (Woman) and Plastic Ono Band (Power To The People) will be available on the DRM-free iTunes Plus service. For a limited time (30 days) additional bonus video content will be included with six of the albums. "John would have loved the fact that his music will now be available in a format suited to a new generation of listeners," said Yoko Ono in a statement.

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Like Allison DuBois, the real-life psychic Patricia Arquette’s character is based on in the hit TV show Medium, Britain’s top psychic Sharon Neill has helped out with numerous police investigations (approximately 70 cases to date). But unlike DuBois, Neill’s abilities aren’t a second sight, they’re the only source of vision for the medium who lost her sight shortly after birth. Irish born Neill, who’s been communicating with the other world since she was six, helped with her first police case while at college in Reigate, England in 1983.

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Rocks are supposed to be inanimate objects, but at a spot called Racetrack Playa in California’s Death Valley National Park they mysteriously scoot around the flat desert landscape, leaving long trails of dust in their wake. The phenomenon has been studied by scientists since the 1950’s. Though no one has actually seen the rocks move, it’s apparent from their meandering paths in the sand that they do. A 1996 geological survey mapped a total of 162 rocks and their trails using GPS technology. The rocks weighed in at up to 700 lbs, and their tracks varied from just over 1 ½ meters to 880 meters in length. Though the cause of the roving rocks remains a mystery, some scientists theorize that strong winds slide the rocks over slick mud and ice on the seasonal lakebed in cold and wet weather, though this theory has been refuted by other scholars. More fanciful explanations include magnetic fields and alien activity due to the site’s close proximity to Area 51.

Instant Karma

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The Daily Mantra has been contemplating karma while munching Pure Protein’s new 70% organic line of exceedingly palatable power bars. The chewy soy and oat bars come in two flavors, Orange Cranberry Almond and Double Chocolate, and contain 13 grams of protein. The company behind the bars claim that karma works pretty instantly when it comes to health and fitness: You get out of it, what you put into it. Makes sense to us. Meanwhile the Daily Mantra wonders what kind of karma a trader on eBay will attract with his pitch for 10 ‘buy one get one free’ Karma Bar coupons. The starting bid is $0.99. So far there are no takers.

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Devita’s amazingly effective line of botanical skin care products has become a firm favorite with the Daily Mantra. For those that need regular exfoliation, their Acne Solution Pads are quite simply transformational. With both salicylic and glycolic acids to slough off dead cells, witch hazel to tone and aloe vera to soothe and moisturize, the pads pack quite a punch without being drying. Other favorites in the range are the 2-Step Home Alpha Beta Peel Kit, the Tomato Leaf Mud Masque and their Daytime Solar Moisture Protection 30, which contains vegan hyaluronic acid (a molecule that can hold 1,000 times its weight in water and is normally harvested from animals) to keep skin super hydrated, and micronized zinc oxide to protect without giving you that ghostly white sheen that other less refined SPF products do.

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The Daily Mantra loves the taste and the good intentions of boutique bottled water brand H2Om. Their water is sourced in the Palomar Mountains of Southern California, and is rigorously filtered and sanitized using both UV light and ozone, which unlike chlorine, breaks down into oxygen in a few hours, leaving no aftertaste or aroma. The labels feature words of positive affirmation (love, perfect health, prosperity, gratitude, will power, joy and peace), the idea being, as H2Om’s own mantra states, that you “think it while you drink it.” The folks behind H2Om claim it is the world's first vibrationally charged bottled water. The colors in the packaging are said to resonate with specific chakras, and once the water is bottled they play a mix of music, sound and spoken word to infuse the water with good vibes.

Tribute to the Goddess of the Yangtze

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The Yangtze River Dolphin, also know as the Baiji Dolphin, has been declared functionally extinct by a team of international marine biologists. This ancient dolphin has inhabited China’s longest river for over 20 millions years. According to Chinese legend this ‘relic species,’ which has been on earth longer than the Andes Mountains, was the embodiment of a river goddess.


The population had been in decline for years due to pollution, over-fishing and shipping, the virtually blind animal’s sonar being easily confused by engine noise. In December of last year a team of scientists went on a 39-day expedition to search for the freshwater mammal. Using two ships they covered over 3,500 kilometers of water in a stretch of the Yangtze between Yichang and Shanghai. They failed to spot a single river dolphin.


The scientists also monitored stocks of the Finless Porpoise, another species in dire straits. They estimated that numbers had halved since 1991. Conservationists are hoping to save these animals by keeping them in semi-captivity in local lake preserves, but unless man changes his habits these two species are likely to be the first in a long line of aquatic mammals to face extinction due to human activity.

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People magazine recently confirmed that Spice Girl Melanie Brown secretly married music producer Stephen Belafonte. The Vegas ceremony took place on June 6th, 2007. According to a statement released by Ms. Brown’s publicist, “Mel and Stephen have know each other for many years and were great friends first. Now they are deeply in love. The two are very happy together."


The Daily Mantra is a little dubious about this hasty reunion given that Mel B is still on the rebound from a relationship with Eddie Murphy that turned very sour. Is Stephen the new love of Mel’s life? Or is she just in need of some comfort? I asked my California Psychic pal Tanya.


“Mel B is reaching out for any pair of arms to hold her,” says Tanya. “She desperately needs love, and therefore will attempt to obtain it from anyone. She is a sensitive being yearning for an exchange of emotion, yet the people she selects to offer that exchange, aren't willing, capable or desiring to do so. She was devastated when Eddie acted the way he did. Stephan came along and comforted her, but she turned that into a 'loving relationship,' which I don't feel it is. I do think he cares for her, but I'm not feeling that he is truly who she wants. I feel she still wants Eddie. This marriage to Stephan may last between 13 and 24 months. I see her growing tired of him, for again, he is not who she truly wants. Perhaps if she would start the healing process, working on her emotional wounds, not just from Murphy, but those from the partner she was in love with before her relationship with the man who fathered her oldest child, she'd be in better position emotionally to secure a love that is closest to what she envisions love should be.”

Bored of the Beckhams?

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I’m very conflicted about these “Bored of the Beckhams” shirts. The devil on my shoulder loves them for their timely wit, but on the other hand I actually like the Beckhams. As long as Victoria’s heading back to Spiceworld to promote girl power again, she’s fine with me, and I love David for quietly getting on with his work with kids at his Beckham Academies. He could easily milk it for photo ops to score points with Hello and OK readers, but he chooses not to. Indeed, one of the reasons he came to the States, aside from the obvious benefits to his own bank account, was MLS’s financial backer’s willingness to pour money into his football academy coffers. And you’ve got to admire the Beckham’s for taking the Cruises in hand. Their carefully staged, double-date outings making TomKat look almost normal next to the impossibly glamorous Beckhams. So appreciate the irony, and wear the T-shirts with love.

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"Leos want to be treated like kings and queens when vacationing," says Daily Mantra astrologer Maria. "Only the best of accommodations will do. They like being part of the in-crowd and tend to hang out at the theater, and dine first class. Since the sign of Leo rules royalty, traveling through Europe visiting its many castles is like home away from home."
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The Daily Mantra recommends Leos take a trip to London and live like a king at the historic Langham Hotel, which enjoyed the patronage of such luminaries as Napoleon Bonaparte, Noel Coward and Wallis Simpson. Visit Kensington Palace, birthplace of Queen Victoria and the one-time home of Princess Diana. Take lunch or afternoon tea in the palace's elegant Orangery Cafe, and then stroll through the adjacent Hyde Park. Once the private hunting ground of kings, it is now one of central London's largest public parks. Afterwards, if you have the energy, take a trip to Knightsbridge, the favored shopping destination of the nobility.
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If you can spare the time, it's well worth taking a day trip down the River Thames to Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII and his six wives. Don't forget to check out the Tower of London too, and see the crown jewels and the spot where Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn (mother of Queen Elizabeth I) lost her bejeweled head. Visit Queen Elizabeth II's pad, Buckingham Palace, and watch the changing of the guards for free. If you're there in August or September, take a tour inside her majesty's home while she's on vacation. Catch some theater at Shakespeare's Globe and dine at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridge's Hotel (a favored home of WWII-exiled European royalty), but bear in mind eating there is likely to cost you a princely sum.


Photography by Nicole. Top: Buckingham Palace; Middle: A royal swan floating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park; Bottom: Buckingham Palace rear view.

Is Paris Hilton Really That Stupid?

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The Daily Mantra shared a bathroom with Paris Hilton at S.I.R. studios in Hollywood a year or so ago. While taking care of business in a stall we couldn’t help but overhear the bottle blonde heiress whining to a girlfriend, while retouching her make up, that the world didn’t take her seriously. “Don’t they understand it’s just a character I’m playing,” she said of her Simple Life persona. Sadly, nothing in the past year has led us to believe she’s blessed with any more smarts than her reality TV 'character.' After all being arrested for a DUI, when you can easily afford a driver or a cab, has got to be the definition of dumb. I asked Daily Mantra astrologer Maria to weight in on the subject. Is Paris really that stupid?


“My take on this is no,” Maria says. “I haven’t met too many Aquarians who are not intelligent and innovators. What Paris seeks most is attention. She craves it, and uses her childlike persona to get it. Her ability to charm the pants off of someone is truly her karmic gift in this lifetime. Paris has a great ability to communicate what it is that she wants – and that happens to be power and money. She spent many past lives standing on the sidelines waiting for her turn, and in this life she’s taking it. Because she is somewhat detached in her thought process, she can come across as cold and heartless. She probably isn’t even aware of the fact that she has some great self-worth issues.”


“When she wants too, Paris can be very compassionate. I truly believe her days behind bars taught her a lot about her self and how she can help those less fortunate. I feel Paris has another three years with this party girl behavior and childlike image before her world is going to come crashing down again and she is going to be forced to grow even more. In the meantime she will be making millions and forgetting about the women she promised to help after her release from Lynwood jail. The time will come in mid to late 2010 during her Saturn return when she may encounter a second (maybe third) DUI arrest or other legal issues. Hopefully then she will finally realize her purpose of helping others and becoming the humanitarian she was placed on this Earth to be, but still her ultimate goal will be to see how much money she will be able to generate as she helps those in need.”

Plastic Ain't My Bag

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Paper or plastic? The answer is neither according to the Sierra Club website, which states that the difference between the two is negligible from an environmental perspective, compared with the third option: reusing bags.


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According to Earthworks and the California Department of Conservation, if just 25 percent of American homes used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we'd save more than 2.5 billion bags a year. It takes 11 drums of oil to make one ton of plastic bags, which will then take a staggering 500 years to decompose. Meanwhile a study states reusable bags need only be used 11 times to have a lower environmental impact than using 11 disposable plastic bags.


In the UK non-profit group called We Are What We Do launched a massive “Plastic Ain’t My Bag” campaign, distributing thousands of slogan window decals to stores for display to encourage shoppers to refuse the environmentally unsound carriers. This prompted high-end handbag maven Anya Hindmarch to design her stylish “I’m not a plastic bag” tote, which subsequently sold out on both sides of the Atlantic, and in stores around the world. If you’re not the kind to wait in line, Daily Mantra’s MySpace buddies Be Smart Be Green have come up with their own selection of stylish cotton shopping bags. As an added bonus, the company will make a donation to Environment California for each reusable eco bag sold.


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Blackle Is The New White

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The best ideas are often the startlingly simples ones. Inspired by a post on Eco Iron from blogger Mark Ontkush, Australian company Heap Media has produced an energy saving Google-powered search engine, with a black background rather than a white one. A predominantly black screen requires far less power than Google’s standard white background (59 vs 74 Watts according to Ontkush). The minimal site, www.Blackle.com, features a simple counter that estimates the number of Watts saved so far (136,123,414 and counting). The company encourages users to set the eco-friendly search engine as a default browser page to save yet more energy.

George Clooney’s Mug Shot

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Pictures surfaced yesterday of a tan and fit looking George Clooney hugging an unnamed brunette this past weekend on a yacht moored just off Saint Tropez. Gorgeous George has been one of Hollywood’s busiest serial daters since he divorced first wife Talia Balsam in 1993, but will he ever settle down again? I asked Daily Mantra astrologer Maria for the answer.


“Unfortunately, ladies, right now none of us are in the running to be the next Mrs. Clooney,” says Maria. “George’s first marriage scared him to death and made him realize he wasn’t good at something. He shies away from things when they do not appear to be perfect. His failed marriage played havoc with his self-worth. George is a very black and white thinker and until he makes up his mind to do something or have something, it’s hard to penetrate his Taurus stubborn ways.”

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“However George has entered a new phase in his life, which began around his 46th birthday in May 2007. For the next 2 ½ years we will see George drop a lot of his activism because it will be taking a back seat to a new relationship in his life. In June/July 2008 he will meet someone special or marry someone he’s been dating for a while. The Universe will send him a woman with a lot of Libra or Scorpio traits. The perfect woman will share his passion for social causes and together they will not only conquer world issues but will also share a beautiful love for one another.”


In the meantime, for those looking for something a little more permanent than a relationship with George, the actor’s designs are featured on a mug produced by charity art organization 21st Century Leaders. The mugs can be purchased from the Whatever It Takes website. Proceeds from the ethically produced product go to Care International.

Designs On Peace

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DM_Peace1011.jpg"I want everyone to own something with a peace sign on it," declares clothing and jewelry designer Julia Gerard. "You could say that's my mantra."


The daughter of a Nazi concentration camp survivor, Gerard emigrated from Russia to Los Angeles with her father when she was ten. "I didn't know what peace was until I came here," she says. Surrounded by racks laden with her rock-chic designs, Gerard explains that September 11th was a defining moment. That night she was inspired to make two massive twig wreaths in the shape of peace signs. They now hang in the window of her West Hollywood Peace Gallery store.


Since that fateful night, Gerard, who had been working as a clothing designer for over two decades, started to incorporate the sign into the outfits she wore. Demand from customers then prompted her to open a gallery devoted to her peace-promoting designs. Fans include Tina Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Heather Mills, Natalie Cole and Gloria Estefan. Gerard's designs range from high-end couture and customized distressed jeans made from recycled denim, to affordable designer T's and glamorous diamante earrings, all featuring her signature motifs. As Gerard's website states, "True peace comes from the inside...so show it on the outside."

Photo: Peace pin © Julia Gerard


Convalescing spirits are refusing to be discharged from a condemned hospital in Derbyshire, England. For the past three months, workers, who have been stripping the building to prepare it for demolition, have seen lights floating in corridors, heard banging noises, witnessed ghostly apparitions and experienced unexplained blasts of icy air.


"I think it is happening because we are taking the building down,” site manager Phil Massie told the local Telegraph newspaper. "Some of the lads were working on Friday when they saw what they thought was somebody walking past. They shouted over but when they went to look there was nobody there. They also said there was a grey mist covering part of the building. It doesn't feel scary, we just get on with the job."


At Massie’s invitation, local psychic Jason Daine visited the site. Daine made a connection with several of the patients still in residence. "I was speaking to a man called Henry, who was being sick in a sink in one of the rooms,” says Daine, “then a lady called Claire who told me she was born in Derby and didn't understand why she was there. She also said she was taken to the hospital because she was too ill to be left on her own.”


A group of ghost hunters who visited the location in 2006 also reported similar disturbances. A converted 1816 workhouse (where the poor toiled to pay off creditors), the hospital opened it’s doors in 1970 and was closed in 2005. It is being demolished to make way for 59 new single family dwellings. It’ll be interesting to see who’ll be moving in with the new homeowners.

The Hidden Danger In Our Air

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Hidden away on a government Environmental Protection Agency webpage is a rather disturbing map detailing the counties in America that haven’t attained designated safety standards for what is commonly referred to as PM-10. The vast majority of the serious offenders are in car-loving California.


The term PM-10 describes microscopic airborne particles that are significant because they’re of a size that can be caught our by the body’s own nose and throat, hair and mucous filtration system. Once lodged in the lungs these particles can cause all manner of health problems such as asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease. One report suggests that 64,000 cardiopulmonary deaths per year in the US may be attributable to PM-10.


Though occurring in nature thanks to volcanic activity, and naturally occurring dust and forest fires, the PM-10 problem has been exacerbated because of man’s penchant for burning fossil fuels. Finding alternative energy sources is the ultimate solution, but in the meantime a high-quality home air purifier may help you breathe more easily.

A Neck Massage A Day…..

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Scientists from Leeds University have uncovered the mechanism by which neck massage may indeed help ease high blood pressure.


They studied the neural pathways between the neck and brain to show how neck muscles play a key role in regulating blood flow, finding a link between the cells in the brain that receive signals from the neck and an area of the brain that is pivotal in the control of autonomic functions such as heart rate and breathing. They concluded that as we change posture, signals from the neck play a key role in ensuring adequate blood supply to the brain is maintained, and extrapolated that mechanical manipulation of the area could therefore also influence blood pressure.


“Reports from chiropractic journals say that manipulating the neck region helps to reduce blood pressure in some people,” says Prof Deuchars, who led the study. “By identifying the pathways we can see why these treatments might work and it could also explain why some people suffering whiplash injuries may experience a change in their blood pressure.”

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The unassuming mid-brown upright Steinway piano John Lennon composed "Imagine" on is touring sites of hate, violence and needless death as part of a peace project it's former owner would surely have approved of.

So far the piano has visited the Oklahoma City Memorial, post-Katrina New Orleans, and the site of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. It has also turned up at the assassination sites of Dr. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, and poignantly made its way to the State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas on the day of a prisoner's execution. Lennon's ode to peace is performed on the piano at each stop.
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The instrument is now owned by pop star George Michael, who bought it from a private collector for $2 million at a Sotheby's auction in 2000. The idea for the Peace Project tour came after it was displayed at the Dallas art gallery owned by Micheal's longtime partner Kenny Goss as part of a war photography exhibit entitled IMAGINE. At Michael and Goss' special request the piano visited the home of Gabi and Alec Clayton. The Clayton's son Bill committed suicide when he was just 17 after being assaulted by a high school gay bashing gang.
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"Kenny and George's deepest wish is to imagine a world of peace, a world without violence," says creative director Caroline True, on the project's website. "The selection of these sites evokes a deep sense of emotion for everyone. Capturing these images of this special piano on which a song of peace was composed is the heart of this project."


Images from the piano's journey will be compiled for a book and DVD, with proceeds going to charity.

Animal Smarts

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Tales of deep thinking dolphins, empathetic elephants, gesticulating orangutans, and clever canines are causing us to rethink our ideas of animal intelligence.

In an article for Parade, author Eugene Linden chronicles numerous tales of animal acumen, including a dog named Scooby who took himself to the vet after being hit by a car, a rottweiler named Faith who speed dialed 911 after her disabled owner took a tumble, and the story of Sophie the elephant who helped her zoo keeper with chores.
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Searching for hard facts on animal aptitude scientists from St Andrews University in Scotland have found that the communication skills of orangutans are more complex than first thought, being akin to a game of charades, after they observed the primates using a series of gestures to score tastier treats from their keepers. Meanwhile, at the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, a devious dolphin named Kelly figured out a series of sophisticated scams to score more fish. And a paper penned by Friederike Range of the University of Vienna shows that dogs are capable of learning in a similar way to humans by use of selective imitation.
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"Every day, we're discovering surprises about animals and finding out animals are far more intelligent and far more emotional than we previously thought," says animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff in an interview with the Washington Post. "We're really breaking down the lines between the species."

Echinacea Gets A Good Report

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A recent study published in The Lancet has concluded Echinacea does indeed work, warding off colds and curtailing the length of infection for those who succumb.


The study, led by Dr Craig Coleman from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, relied on the statistical analysis of 14 separate studies selected from a pool of over 700 previous reviews. The study concluded that “Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58%” and reduced “the duration of a cold by 1.4 days.”


Nine flowering varieties make up the Echinacea family of plants, three of which are commonly used in health supplements. Indigenous to North America, Echinacea was used as a natural remedy by Native Americans long before it hit modern health food stores. The plant is thought to boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells. Numerous studies in the past have come up with conflicting results on the plant’s effectiveness. It is thought that one reason for this may be that different parts of the plant (flower, stem and root) are used in the 800-plus Echinacea products now available in the marketplace.

You may know the Urth Caffe as Vince, Drama, Eric and Turtle’s favorite morning babe-watching spot. But what may be lost on Entourage’s far from PC boys is that Urth Caffe has been on the cutting edge of coffee since it was founded as a wholesale and mail order business 1989. Back then it was the first exclusively organic coffee company in the US. The company opened its flagship store on Melrose, where Vince and the boys hang, five years later.


Urth owner Shallom Berkman has worked tirelessly to ensure the profits from the coffee boom here in the US benefit the poorest of growers too. At the invitation of the Ugandan Government, Shallom traveled to the country to teach new techniques to coffee growers there. He selected a total of ten farms in a highly fertile area for a unique project. By utilizing organic and shade growing methods, which resulted in a higher grade coffee, Shallom was able to offer the growers ten times the price they had previously been paid, bringing hope and prosperity to the region. As an added bonus, the eco-friendly techniques helped preserve the habitat of the local Mountain Gorillas. The project's coffee was named after these endangered animals.


Back in America, workers at Shallom’s three shops are all paid a living wage. He hires only full time employees and makes sure health insurance is available to all.


“Urth believes that true success in America for today’s businesses means the growers and environment get great support and care, the employees have opportunities and happiness, the customers enjoy health, quality and fair price, and the owners enjoy modest profitability,” says Shallom. “If we are going to change the world the businesses must be environmentally conscious, socially conscious and profitable – this will effect the greatest change.” We’ll certainly drink to that.