September 2007 Archives

Environment Caught Short

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These two animation shorts were submitted as part of Friends of The Earth's Green Film competition. The winner will get lunch with award-winning producer Andrew Macdonald (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later) plus a host of other filmmaking goodies. Check out the entries on the FOE.co.uk website, and vote for your favorite one minute environmental wonder. Voting closes Sept 30th, so do it now.

The Art of Television

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"Television's perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don't have to concentrate. You don't have to react. You don't have to remember. You don't miss your brain because you don't need it. Your heart and liver and lungs continue to function normally. Apart from that, all is peace and quiet. You are in the man's nirvana. And if some poor nasty minded person comes along and says you look like a fly on a can of garbage, pay him no mind. He probably hasn't got the price of a television set."
Raymond Chandler, novelist


“Television has changed a child from an irresistible force to an immovable object.”
Author Unknown


“If you came and you found a strange man... teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house, but here you are; you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it.”
Jerome Singer, psychologist and Professor Emeritus, Yale


“All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?”
Nicholas Johnson, FCC commissioner (1966-1973) and author of How to Talk Back to Your Television Set


“I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
Groucho Marx, actor and comedian

DM_Nuke_3442697.jpgIt’s been rumored that Tom Cruise is building a $10 million bomb shelter at his Colorado home. A source close to the actor told England’s Metro newspaper that the bunker will be “a self-contained underground system where up to 10 people can survive for years.” It’s said the underground complex will feature storage space for large amounts of food and survival equipment, and will have “a state of the art air purification system.”


It’s unclear whether Tom, a follower of Scientology, is worried about nukes from Korea and Iran, or a return of the deposed leader of the galactic confederacy, Xenu. According to Wikipedia’s entry on Scientology, alien leader Xenu caused the destruction of billions of his people from his overpopulated planets by paralyzing them, bringing them to earth on Douglas DC-8-styled spacecraft, stacking them up around volcanoes, and blowing them up with hydrogen bombs launched into the craters, an event that is said to be referred to as Incident II by the church.


DM_Principles of Protection.jpgWhatever the source of the nuclear threat, Cruise should heed the warning of Walton McCarthy, the president and chief engineer of bomb shelter builders Radius Engineering. He cautions that concrete is not a suitable construction material, being prone to cracks and damp. “Unless the shelter ceiling is 36 inches thick the concrete shelter is useless protecting against nuclear weapon blasts,” says McCarthy. “Concrete is not a viable material to protect shelterists from storms and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.”


Shelters can be ordered from McCarthy’s website, Bomb-Shelter.net, at a fraction of the cost of Cruise’s (they offer a 10 person military model for just $91,160). For those looking to save money by building one themselves, The American Civil Defense Association offers a helpful 400-page handbook, which features detailed diagrams and specifications, entitled Principles of Protection for just $59.95.

DM_Peace Tower.jpgOn Oct 9th Yoko Ono will officially launch her latest art installation, the Imagine Peace Tower on Videy Island, Reykjavik, Iceland. The date would have marked her late husband John Lennon’s 67th birthday. The tower of light is emitted from a Wishing Well platform which houses nine giant spotlights which will send beams of hope into the sky each year from October 9th (Lennon's birthday) to December 8th (the day of his death). In addition the installation, which was built in partnership with the City of Reykjavik, the Reykjavik Art Museum and Reykjavik Power, will light up on New Years Eve and to mark other special days to be agreed on by Ono and the city.


"A dream you dream alone is only a dream,
A dream you dream together is reality."

Yoko Ono

The light project was originally conceived by Ono over 40 years ago, appearing in Conceptual Sales List which was distributed to 200 art collectors. “In 1967, John Lennon invited me for lunch at his Kenwood residence in England. It was about six months after we first met in my Indica Gallery Show in London,” recalls Ono. “He told me that he read about the Light House in my publication and [asked] if I would build one for him in his garden.”


The Imagine Peace Tower, which has the words Imagine Peace inscribed on its base in 24 languages, will have hundreds of thousands of messages of peace installed under and around it, which Ono has been collecting since 1981 as part of her touring Wish Tree art project. If you’d like you own thoughts to be included, visit ImaginePeace.com, or send an email directly to: imaginepeacetower@mac.com

More Secrets Of The Monarch

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DM_Secret Of The Monarchs.jpgSince reviewing Secrets of the Monarch, the new book by Allison DuBois (the real Medium) we’ve had a slew of friends begging to borrow the Daily Mantra’s copy (it’s strictly first come first served -- Kim you’re first, Daina’s second, and Lynn’s third). Before we hand it over however, we’d like to explore one more idea from the book, in which Allison shares wisdom she’s learnt from souls both passed and present.


In a chapter entitled Relationships and Being Your Own Best Friend, Allison talks about taking responsibility for your own happiness, and not making it a burden for others. “We are not someone else’s project to fix,” she writes, clarifying that she means emotionally and not physically. “For those of you out there who are just in a bad place, remember that if you have a void in your life, fill it with something that lifts you to a higher level inside.”


Allison elaborates on the idea, using the loving relationship she has with her husband as an example. “I realize that he can’t read my mind and he’s only human,” says Allison. “I think most women like it when their partner knows what they’re thinking and what they need emotionally. Once I truly understood this I decided to court myself. I know that sounds odd, but follow me on this. I love to buy myself that special anything that makes me feel happy or treat myself to a manicure or pedicure and go to lunch with a friend. I’ve found the more I do this, the more fulfilled I become. The more fulfilled I am, the less pressure my family has...”


So whether you’re buying or borrowing this treasure of a book, before you open its covers, take a moment out of your day to buy a candle you like, or a bunch of your favorite flowers, or some chocolates, so you can treasure yourself as you read it.

DM_Acupuncture_3073540.jpgA recent German study, to be published in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine, has shown that acupuncture is significantly more effective that conventional therapy when used to treat back pain. Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum treated 1,100 patients for back pain over a period of six months, after which patients completed a survey which asked questions regarding their pain and ability to move. 47% of the patients who’d received acupuncture reported improvement in their condition, as opposed to just 27% who received conventional therapy, which included drugs, heat and massage. Interestingly, a third group, who received so-called fake acupuncture were found to have a 44% improvement rate. When treating this third control group, researchers inserted needles superficially, in non-key acupuncture sites, and didn’t manipulate them once inserted. The researchers weren’t quite sure why the fake acupuncture appeared to be so effective, but speculate that it may be because pain messages were blocked by competing stimuli, regardless of exactly where or how the needles were inserted. Patients’ positive expectations of alternative therapy, versus possible negative views of traditional methods, may also have played a role in the results.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice, which uses fine needles inserted at specific sites to free the flow of energy and restore balance. “Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain,” said study group leader Dr Heinz Endres of the Ruhr University Bochum in an email to Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson. "Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain and therefore in their quality of life."

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The Daily Mantra loves this inspirational message, and has been sending it to our single 'n' sad-about-it girlfriends all morning. Here's the link if you want to pass it on: http://phocks.org/stumble/girlsarelike.php

DM_olpc-xo.jpgAn innovative low cost laptop, intended for children in the developing world, has received numerous design awards and accolades in the US and European press, causing it to become a must-have item for children of the overdeveloped world. Prompted by the attention the XO-1 laptop has received –– even before the first mass produced model has been shipped –– its developers are rolling out an innovative Get One, Give One (G1G1) scheme. For a limited time, staring on Nov 12th, G1G1 subscribers will receive one laptop for their children (or themselves – after all this is a HOT machine) and pay for another laptop to be shipped to a child in need. The cost for both computers will be just $399. The first 25,000 units will be shipped in time for Christmas, with remaining customers receiving theirs in the first quarter of 2008. The first countries to receive the donated machines will include Cambodia, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Haiti.


The laptop was conceived by a group from MIT, led by Nicholas Negroponte, who wanted to design a low cost $100 laptop to empower and educate children in the poorer parts of the planet. The laptop has been developed by a Delaware-based non-profit called OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), which was founded by Negroponte, and is funded by sponsors such as Google, eBay, News Corp. and Intel, amongst others. The machine currently costs $188 per unit, if ordered in bulk, but the goal is for the price to be lowered to $100 by the end of 2008.


DM_olpc_Ebook Mode.jpgOLPC hope their laptops, which roll out in October 2007, will be bought by governments (such as Peru's who have ordered 250,000 units) and NGOs, but despite much lip service and many promises, business has been slow. “I have to some degree underestimated the difference between shaking the hand of a head of state and having a check written,” said Negroponte to the NY Times. “And yes, it has been a disappointment.” Instead, inspired by demand for the cute green and white machine from wannabe customers in the western world, OLPC hopes individual consumers will lead the way, shaming governments into action via the G1G1 scheme.


The rugged laptop has few moving parts, making it perfect for children everywhere. A traditional hard drive is replaced by a I GB flash drive, negating the need for costly cooling fans. The computer has a high resolution, energy efficient dual mode display, that can be read in sunlight, a unique peer-to-peer wireless interface, a camera, speakers and microphone, and can be reconfigured in an energy-saving eBook mode. With just 256 MB of RAM to run off, the operating system is a pared down, Linux-based graphical user interface called Sugar, which focuses on a single task at a time, making the most of the computer’s low cost design. The energy efficient machine uses batteries, which can be recharged conventionally, or by using optional hand cranks and foot pumps or pull-string and solar chargers.


Those interested in the Get 1 Give 1 schemes can go to www.xogiving.org. The site also offers the opportunity for individuals to donate a computer for just $200.

Life On Mars: A New Marketing Frontier

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DM_NASA CAVE.jpgNASA satellites have spotted what looks like seven cave openings on the 12 mile high slopes of Arsia Mons, one of three Martian volcanoes, situated near the planet's equator, that are collectively known as Tharsis Montes. The images were taken by High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) equipment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey probes. Measurements taken using Odyssey’s thermal imaging technology, comparing the temperatures of the dark circles during the planet’s day and night, indicate that they are of a cavernous nature. The dark pits appear to be vertical shafts, cut through ancient lava flow, with entrances ranging from 328 to 820 feet in diameter. The discovery is prompting speculation about the possibility of underground habitats for as yet undiscovered life forms on the planet. "Whether these are just deep vertical shafts or openings into spacious caverns, they are entries to the subsurface of Mars,” says scientist Tim Titus, an astrophysicist with USGS. "Somewhere on Mars, caves might provide a protected niche for past or current life, or shelter for humans in the future."


In other space-related news, scientists have discovered that bacterial life forms sent into space become far deadlier, a worrying finding given that the human immune system is compromised by space travel. Scientists observed a change in 167 of the genes of salmonella samples sent into space aboard the Atlantis STS-115 shuttle mission in September 2006. After the carefully contained germs returned from their trip, scientists observed a vastly increased virulence in experiments on mice. After 25 days just 10% of mice exposed to the space salmonella were still alive, compared to 40% of the control group, which were given an entirely earthbound strain. "Wherever humans go, microbes go, you can't sterilize humans. Wherever we go, under the oceans or orbiting the earth, the microbes go with us, and it's important that we understand ... how they're going to change," explains research leader Cheryl Nickerson, an associate professor at the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University.


DM_AdAir.jpgMeanwhile marketing executive Paul Jenkins plans to exploit the possibility of life beyond earth, however deadly, by selling space on giant horizontal billboards that will be visible from outer space. The first three of these monster adverts, which are made of mesh attached to frames that span 20,000 square meters (nearly 4 times the size of the Dallas Cowboys’s playing field), will be placed near Heathrow airport for air passengers to view. Jenkins’ company, Ad Air, is planning similar billboard sites in Europe, Japan, China, Korea, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.. “Such size leads to an unprecedented audience impact,” says the company’s website. “They are quite simply overwhelmed by the scale of the advertisement.” Let’s hope the cave-dwelling Martians like what we’re selling.

God In The News

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DM_Clouds_5333161.jpgThe Associated Press reports that God has seemingly responded to a lawsuit filed by Omaha State Senator Ernie Chambers. The agnostic politician, who was hoping to highlight the issue of frivolous lawsuits, was seeking a permanent injunction stopping God from making "terrorist threats" of "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." In a response, delivered on Wednesday, the Almighty claimed that he existed outside of the jurisdiction of earthly laws. When questioned about how the legal papers were delivered, Douglas County District Court clerk John Friend explained they miraculously appeared on the counter. “It just all of a sudden was here — poof," said Friend.


DM_Kathy_4006429.jpgMeanwhile irate instruments of God from Pigeon Forge, TN spent a reported $90,440 on a full-page advertisement in Monday’s edition of USA Today criticizing comments made by Kathy Griffin at this year’s Emmys. While accepting an award for her Bravo show My Life On The D-List, Kathy quipped that “a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." The protestors, who are all members of the Christian Miracle Theatre group, failed to see the humorous side of the Catholic comedienne’s comments. In their ad the group stated, "We may never win a national award. We may never be household names. We may never be seen in Hollywood. Although others may choose to use their national platform to slander our God, we are honored as professional entertainers to stand for Christ."


DM_Pauli.jpgIn further God news this week, Bavarian politician Gabriele Pauli caused controversy after she announced plans to tamper with the rules of the almighty institution of marriage, suggesting that it should “expire after seven years,” with couples being given the option to extend their union once the initial period had ended. The twice-divorced, 50-year old politician, made the comments on Wednesday while campaigning for the leadership of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union party, which is based in Pope Benedict XVI's home region. When questioned further, the motorbike-riding candidate conceded that “the fine points must still be cleared up.”

Finding Inspiration In Iron Maiden

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DM_iron-moments1.jpgThe Daily Mantra is all about seeking knowledge, wisdom and spiritual guidance, opening your mind to a multitude of sources, so we’re feeling student Ricky Travis’ frustration. The pupil at Harry S. Truman High School draws his personal inspiration from English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, studying history and anthropology through the group’s eyes. Sadly this 10th grader’s efforts have been under-appreciated by his world history teacher, Mr. Bradley, who gave Ricky an F grade for the class last semester.


“I suspect that perhaps Mr. Bradley just feels threatened that I know more about the subject he teaches than he does. It's not exactly a secret that I've seen the band Iron Maiden in concert 57 times, and that I own every album they've ever released,” says Ricky in an online statement, co-signed by six of his classmates.


At the heart of Ricky’s objection to Mr. Bradley’s closed-minded curriculum, is the class’s official reading material, World History & You. “This so-called educational textbook completely ignores the crucial influence of Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie in the events that have shaped human history,” argues Ricky. “The omission of Eddie from the text amounts to dangerous revisionist history on the part of the publishers.”


DM_iron moments.jpgRicky contends that the Iron Maiden song “Quest For Fire” is, “a badass track that chronicles the true story of man's life and death struggle with dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and fire in caveman times,” a position that Christian Creationists would surely agree with. Ricky quotes song lyrics to support his passionate belief that the group offer text on the subject of world history, that is equally – if not more valid – than that of the official class tome. “Mr. Bradley would have us believe that the logic of this song is flawed just because of the fact that dinosaurs and humans never actually co-existed, but how many platinum albums has he released? Relatively few, I suspect.” The Daily mantra also suspects that unlike monsters of rock Iron Maiden, Mr. Bradley has neither an Ivor Novello Award or a spot on the Hollywood Rock Walk, adding more fuel to Ricky’s fire.


Offering further examples of Iron Maiden’s historically factual lyrics, Ricky focuses on the group’s song "Alexander The Great (356-323 B.C.)" from the album Somewhere In Time, which accurately portrays events in the life of the Macedonian king, in chronological order. “I performed an a cappella air guitar version of the entire song while standing atop my desk as my final project in World History 101, and Mr. Bradley was forced to admit that it was –- despite being 'inappropriate and disruptive' -– 100% historically accurate,” says Ricky. In a historical footnote, the student also assures us that there are no Satanic messages in the track if played backwards, but “Alexander does get younger, and his life progressively less impressive.”


Other songs from the band’s impressive catalog offer important information on the Roman empire circa 100 B.C. (“The Ides Of March”), ancient Egyptian culture (“Powerslave”), the Viking conquests of the 11th Century (“Number Of The Beast”), Genghis Khan’s 13th century empire (“Genghis Kahn” from the album Killers), medieval torture (“Iron Maiden”), The Crimean War ("The Trooper"), and 19th century American history ("Run To The Hills”). For further study, the Daily Mantra suggests readers check out Eddies Head, a definitive 16 CD collection of the band’s most important works.

(Ricky's post "Everything I Need To Know I’ve Learned From Iron Maiden" appears on the spoof blog site SpazOutNY.com)

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DM_Secret Of The Monarchs.jpg“I’ve titled my book Secrets of the Monarch: What the Dead Can Teach Us About Living a Better Life having been inspired by monarch butterflies. I see a beauty in their families that also exists in ours,” says psychic and author Allison DuBois in the preface of her new book. “What I mean by this is that it takes Monarch butterflies several generations to complete migration to secure the survival of their future families.”


In her third book, published this week by Simon & Schuster, Allison, whose life was the inspiration for the TV show Medium, encourages us to lead the best life we can. She illustrates her words of advice with tales from her own life, and from the lives of those who have gone before her. “First of all, I learned that it’s key not to squander you life, because many who’ve lived feel they missed the point of living by assuming that they’d always have more time….So much can be learned from those who died before us, and I know I give great importance to the wisdom of living. I’ve learned to live in the moment, love with all you have, and don’t let others design who you are. You be the artist of you.”


Being in touch with the dead on a daily basis makes the psychic very aware of her own mortality. “I don’t fear it. I fight to know it and teach others to embrace the wisdom that lies in death,” says Allison. “What I mean is that if you know that your story will end, then you will make sure its content is a masterpiece. You’ll be certain not to squander your life and take the time to inspire others through your strength and affection.”


With the clock of time ticking so clearly in her ear, Allison tries to live as many lives as she can in the one she has, and encourages others to do the same. “There’s an art to cramming many lives into the one you have,” writes Allison. “Be what you feel drawn to, do the right thing, have what you feel would mean something to you and, most important, help others do the same. It’s our legacy, it’s why we are here and, much like the monarch butterfly, we will only make part of our migration in this life. But we pass the torch to those who come after us to continue to push forward, and we have in reality passed to them the fire that burned in our eyes and our hearts, it’s in fact our soul.”

Clueless star Alicia Silverstone bares all for PETA in a slick 30 second film clip which the actress hopes will encourage people to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. “I’ve been vegan for 10 years, and it’s the single-most important and helpful decision I have ever made,” says the actress in a statement on PETA’s website. “Being vegan truly is the secret to my life’s joy and peace. I feel physically and spiritually better than I could have ever imagined knowing that I am doing everything I can to reduce animal suffering with simple lifestyle choices like being vegan, never wearing any products made from animals (like wool and leather), and buying only from companies that NEVER test their products or ingredients on animals.”

DM_Green Sea Turtle_3357387.jpgMeanwhile, scientists have discovered that green sea turtles, a species who were thought to be 100% vegetarian, have been secretly snacking on fish. For the first time researchers have discovered the deep sea hideout, where hatchlings have hung out under the radar of researches, up until now, while indulging in carnivore chow. “This has been a really intriguing and embarrassing problem for sea-turtle biologists, because so many green-turtle hatchlings enter the ocean, and we haven’t known where they go,” zoologist Karen Bjorndal explains to LiveScience. "Literally, when green turtles run off their nesting beach and into the ocean as little hatchlings, they disappear. And nobody sees them again [for years]." After dining on jellyfish and other sea creatures for up to five years, the beefed-up young resurface closer to shore where they take up a vegetarian lifestyle, munching mostly on sea grasses -- a food choice PETA would heartily approve of.

DM_Gas Pump_1047.jpgExperts on either side of the Atlantic have novel ideas on how to trim our waistlines down. According to a study by a health economist at Washington University in St Louis, entitled A Silver Lining? The Connection Between Gas Prices and Obesity, “an additional $1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15% after five years.” The paper’s author, Charles Courtemanche, hypothesizes that “13% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during this period.” According to the paper, his statistics show that weight loss not only occurs due to an increase in exercise, as people choose to walk rather than use their car for short trips and walk to public transport for longer journeys, but due to a reduction in calorie intake as people reduce the frequency that they eat out as gas prices rise.


DM_Escalator_3211043.jpgOver the pond in Britain, experts are exploring a far simpler solution to combat the nation’s rising obesity. In a study conducted over six weeks by Kingston University sport science lecturer Oliver Webb at a shopping centre in Coventry, England, signs with simple messages such as "Take the stairs” and "Seven minutes of stair climbing daily protects your heart" posted at the base of staircases increased stair-climbing traffic by almost 200%. Additionally, traffic in the downward direction on the same staircases increased by 25%, even though no signs were posted on the shopping center’s upper floors. Traffic on nearby staircases, where no signs were posted, was also boosted by 52%. “I would like to see signs like these used in public buildings,” Mr. Webb told the UK’s Daily Mail. “This is such a simple, cheap way to promote health."


The Daily Mantra has long been a fan of taking the stairs, which not only promotes fitness but also reduces energy consumption, giving the environment a boost too. However, in this culture of convenience, it’s often remarkably hard to find stairs in American buildings, with staircases often being sealed at the ground floor (being reserved for emergency use only). As flu season rapidly approaches, and the close confines of elevators become less appealing, the Daily Mantra would like to encourage its readers to fight for the right to take flight.

Space Object Leaves Scores Sick In Peru

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DM_Meteor2_2936176.jpgHundreds of people in Peru have complained of sickness after a fiery object was seen falling from space near the town of Carancas in Peru. The object, which is thought to be a meteorite, fell to earth on Saturday night on an uninhabited plateau near Lake Titicaca in the Andes. The crash, which was heard by locals, left a crater 65 feet wide and 16 feet deep. Since then, around 200 people who visited the site have complained of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headaches, and eye and skin irritation. Local farm animals are also said to be effected. Health workers have speculated that the illness may be caused by toxic fumes released at the crash site.

DM_Tarot.jpgDaily Mantra’s new favorite website to pass some idle time on is MysticGames.com. The site offers free tarot, horoscope and rune readings, as well as natural remedies (celery seed for a hangover anyone?), games (including classics like Pacman), birthday info (we share our birthday with Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown), and all manner of personality tests (according to the site’s ESP test our psychic ability score is 59.52%). While our tarot reading was downright depressing, and we failed to find any mystical insight playing Pacman, we enjoyed checking out the site’s monster celebrity database, which features biographical, astrological and tarot info, and decided to put it to the test by looking up a couple of the most newsworthy names.


According to the site, Britney’s personality tarot card is The Lovers, which indicates a “relationship or love affair with a trial or choice involved.” Her Growth card for this year is The Hierophant, which indicates she needs “to find spiritual meaning in life.” Well hopefully she’ll find some of that through the Parenting Without Conflict and counseling programs she’s just been court-ordered to participate in.


Our second test subject is Phil Spector, who’s also making legal headlines today. According to MysticGames.com his personality tarot card is The Chariot, representing “a struggle or conflict" with "strong potential for triumph over adversity,” which could be accurate given his murder trial jury are currently hung with a 7 against 5 division, and he faces the real possibility of walking away a free man. Spector’s growth card is appropriately Justice, which represents “balance, wisdom and a need for rational, logical solutions.” Well we're feelin' the irony there.

Just inland from the idyllic beaches of the Dominican Republic, where U.S. vacationers go to capture winter sun, slavery is thriving along with the cane in the county’s sugar plantations. Almost all the work product from this slave labor ends up in the United States. Imported under favorable terms, the sugar price is fixed at up to double that of the world market, with the Dominican Republic receiving the highest import quota from the U.S. government. The documentary, The Price of Sugar, tells the story of a priest’s journey of discovery in the sugar plantations of San Jose de Los Llanos in the Dominican Republic.


Father Christopher Hartley had a privileged childhood. His father’s family owned England’s Hartley’s jam and pickle empire, and his mother was part of the Spanish aristocracy. Finding purpose through his faith as a teenager, Father Hartley was ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1982. He worked with Mother Teresa at several of her missions in the poorest parts the world for 20 years before volunteering as a missionary for the Diocese of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic in 1997.


When Father Hartley first arrived in his new parish, he was warned to stay away from the local sugar plantations, owned by the corrupt Vicini dynasty, who seemingly operated them above the law – and the government. It took Father Hartley several months to pluck up the courage to visit his parishioners in the plantation bateyes, or shanty towns. The conditions and stories he uncovered there would eventually shock the world.

DM_Men On A Mission 300.jpgPublisher Chad Hardy is inviting people to take a fresh look at Mormonism, with his Men On A Mission calendar, which features 12 shirtless LDS beefcakes. According to the calendar’s website, MormonsExposes.com, the devout dozen, who have all served in the church’s missionary program, were “hand-selected for their striking appearances and powerful spiritual commitment.” The dedicated LDS disciples “are stepping away from the Mormon traditions of modest dress, and baring their testimony to demonstrate that they can have strong faith and be proud of who they are, both with a sense of individualism and a sense of humor.”

DM_Lyrics Born.jpgBerkeley-based hip-hop artist Lyrics Born hit the main stage of Earthdance's hub event in Laytonville, Northern California on Friday night. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Lyrics Born is half Japanese-American and half Italian-American. He spent his formative years in Salt Lake City and Japan. With a unique global perspective, Lyrics Born shares his personal prayer for peace with the Daily Mantra.

"I pray for the peace that humanity has earned, by enduring and triumphing over adversity and tremendous challenges throughout history. I pray that we will find more creative ways to resolve our disputes, in an effort to achieve and attain peace. I will do my part to work towards this goal, with what means and methods I have at my disposal, as I pray you will with yours."
Lyrics Born

After his 2004 track "Callin' Out" became a radio favorite, Lyrics Born toured extensively with The Roots, De La Soul and Franz Ferdinand, among others. His music has been heard on numerous TV shows including Six Feet Under and Entourage.

DM_Ozomatli.jpgToday, at 4 pm (PST) an estimated one million people in over 350 locations in 60 countries will unite in a Prayer For Peace, as part of the 11th annual global Earthdance event. Los Angeles band Ozomatli, are co-headlining the three-day hub event in Laytonville, CA, playing their blend of Latin, hip-hip, funk and dub music on the main stage tomorrow night (Sunday, September 16th). We asked the multi-cultural band, who have championed progressive causes for the past 12 years, for their own prayer for peace.

"I pray for the peace our children need to survive through all generations to come. To make the home we live in better for their sake, and their children. I pray for the biggest disease, known as ignorance, to be cured, and for humanity to show courage to first change on the inside, in order to change the rest of the mess many generations have made in the past. I pray for the strength I need to spread this word, and to continue this spec of fool's hope -- but hope none the less -- that I have for positive, proactive change."
Asdru Sierra, Ozomatli

Ozomatli was born out of a fight for social change in downtown Los Angles back in 1995, when original band members Wil-Dog Abers and Anton Morales (who is no longer with the group), along with 30 coworkers, sought to improve their working conditions by supporting action to unionize their workplace. Ultimately they lost their jobs, but, after squatting in the building for a month, Wil-Dog & Co. won the right to retain the premises, founding the Peace and Justice Center of Los Angeles there. To support the new community center, Wil-Dog and friends began playing shows each weekend. Twelve years and several Grammys on, the band are still going strong, releasing their fourth studio album, Don't Mess With The Dragon, earlier this year.


The group made headlines again in July, when they toured the Middle East as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors. The trip was sponsored by the U.S. State Department in the hope that it would spread "a global message of peace and understanding through diversity in music."

DM_Zap Mama.jpg World music vocalist Marie Daulne, and her group Zap Mama, will be performing on Sunday night (September 16th) at Earthdance's three-day hub event in Laytonville, CA. One of the most powerful moments at the Earthdance event will be at 4 pm (PTS) on Saturday September 15th, when all the events around the globe will be synchronized, to unite in a Prayer For Peace. The Daily Mantra asked Marie Daulne for her own personal prayer for peace.

"I pray love supreme, thank love supreme the ONE above all to be blessed, to be able to receive and give beauty and I thank love supreme to be alive in music. To be able to receive love and give love to every person. May people receive and use this love to share beauty and peace all over the world. We pray for the lost people of the world. We pray that they can feel and receive the wind of goodness. I pray for the future event, may our open soul get the love message; I thank God for the peace and all good vibes and save trip for the music who brings peace and enlightens what it is to be a human being in dignity."
Marie Daulne, Zap Mama

Zap Mama's music is an exotic mix of African rhythms, lush melodies, eclectic instrumentation, traditional onomatopoetic Pygmy tones, and close vocal harmonies, with lyrics sung in multitude of foreign tongues. Their music reflects band-leader Daulne's heritage: a mother from the central African Republic of Zaire, a Belgium father, with time spent growing up on both her maternal and paternal continents before America embraced the band's 1993 breakthrough album Adventures In Afropea I.


Zap Mama's new album, Supermoon, featuring contributions from Me'shell N'degeocello, Tony Allen, and Spearhead's Michael Franti, is in stores now. The band will be touring the US from now through November to support its release. Check their website, www.zapmama.be, for dates.

DM_LaytonvilePeacePrayer2005.jpgWith music and dance as the common language, at 4pm (PST) on Saturday September 15th, an estimated one million people in over 350 locations in 60 countries will unite in a Prayer For Peace, as part of the 11th annual global Earthdance event. The organization has raised over a $1 million for charity over the years, with event promoters around the world being asked to donate at least 50% of profits to local charities of their choice.


The hub event at the Black Oak Ranch, in Laytonville, CA has been extended to a three day festival this year (9/14-16/07). Attendees will be able camp in a scenic creekside setting, amidst ancient oak trees. Artists on the bill include Ozomatli, Zap Mama, Les Nubians, Lyrics Born, The Coup and DJ Sandra Collins. Hosted by a united nations of elders from many cultures, who will be on hand to offer spiritual guidance, patrons will be able to educate themselves in the event's Activist Alley, and enjoy healthy international organic food and artisan crafts from hand-picked vendors.

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Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is a great sport for those drawn to martial arts, who want to increase overall fitness, and find inner calm by sweating, punching and kicking out stress. Thailand's national sport, also know as The Art of the Eight Limbs, allows fighters to use hands, shins, elbows and knees, making it challenging for both the mind and body. Unlike other martial arts, there is also a heavy focus on conditioning.


"Muay Thai is a complete workout for women," says trainer Mark Komuro, co-owner of The Yard, a Muay Thai gym in downtown Los Angeles. "The training incorporates strength, cardio and flexibility, which are key elements of an overall fitness program. In order to fight, you need to fully dedicate yourself to become stronger in mind, body and spirit."

Don’t get us wrong, the Daily Mantra would love to see Britney Spears do well. We’ve heard some of the tracks she recorded earlier this year, that at one point were destined for her new album, and quite frankly they’re great, pushing boundaries in the same way Toxic did. But right now Britney needs to do what’s best for herself and her kids, and not what’s best for fat cat record executives, sycophants and hangers on – and for that matter MTV – who mercilessly exploited her this past weekend at the VMA’s in their desperation for ratings. The station has since had its comeuppance, and announced late yesterday that it has been forced to remove Britney's VMA performance from all repeats. A brief statement on MTV's website said, "The performance has been pulled indefinitely from all MTV properties worldwide until further notice."


Britney’s VMA 'comeback' appearance was never going to be anything other than what it was, given her recent history. Emotionally disturbed people with substance abuse issues don’t get better overnight. Nor do they get better while the world is watching them fall, and while the likes of Sarah Silverman are publicly making unforgivably mean comments in the hope of boosting their own careers. That’s why we –– and the stars, according to our in-house expert astrologer Maria –– are suggesting Britney would be better leaving behind the limelight for a while so she can recover in the privacy of her own home.

DM_Santería_3197573.jpgLos Angeles filmmaker Dita Dimoné is working on a documentary about Santería and the common misconceptions that surround the religion. "I know that many people, including members of my family, have gone to Santeros/as for spiritual guidance, and I've seen them ridiculed or belittled," says Dita. "I took an interest because whenever the subject of Santeria comes up people are quick to judge and voice their fears."


Santería (also know as La Religión or The Way of the Saints) is amalgamation of religions, combining Yoruba traditions and religious practices from Southern Nigeria, Senegal and Guinea Coast with those of the Roman Catholic Church. It's roots lie in slavery. When African slaves were brought to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations they were forcibly baptized by the Catholic Church. To keep their native religion alive under oppression, slaves equated the priests from their native religion to their new Christian Saints.


"The lack of knowledge about the religion has created many misconceptions and negative portrayals in television and film," says Dita. "Melodramatic accounts depict Santeria as paganistic at best and satanic at worst. When African religions are depicted in films, books, and other media outlet, it is usually in some dark place with mysterious goings on - knives, blood, chicken feet, and corpses. In reality, that is far from the truth. The religion is festive, sensual, filled with passion and energy."

Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick Dies

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DM_Anita.jpgBody Shop founder Anita Roddick died today after suffering a major brain hemorrhage. She was admitted to the intensive care unit of St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, England on Sunday evening, after she collapsed following complaints of a sudden headache. She died at 6.30 pm GMT on Monday September 10th. Her husband Gordon, and daughters Sam and Justine, were at her side. She was 64.

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Anita pioneered the concept of commerce with a conscience, championing environmental causes and fair trade long before they became fashionable. She opened her first shop in Brighton, England in 1976. A tireless activist, Roddick was a staunch believer in beauty without cruelty. In June of this year, The Body Shop announced that 100% of their products were vegetarian. Her “Trade Not Aid” initiative (now known as Community Trade), brought hope and prosperity to many in the developing world, and served as a trailblazing model for other businesses to follow.


In 2004 Roddick was diagnosed with hepatitis C after a routine health check. She contracted the virus after she was given unscreened blood in 1971 while giving birth to her youngest daughter Sam. In Dec 2005 she announced she was going to devote her life to philanthropy and give away her fortune, estimated at $104,000,000. In March of the following year, Roddick reached a deal with L’Oreal, selling the publicly traded Body Shop company to the cosmetics giant for a reported £652.3 million. Amnesty International’s UK director Kate Allen told the BBC, “We have lost a true champion of the oppressed and persecuted.”

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British Rabbit enthusiasts are being offered a new recycling service by eco-friendly sex toy company Love Honey. Users who send their worn out toys to the company, are being offered a half-price replacement Rabbit in return. The tired toys are sent out for recycling and £1 ($2) is donated to The World Land Trust for each retired love bunny. Donors are also asked to take a pledge to promote cleaner, greener orgasms. Key points in the eco-orgasm manifesto include removing batteries when your sex toys are not in use, and disposing of all electrical equipment in a responsible way.


After a cameo appearance on the popular TV series Sex and The City, the one time cult sex toy became the world’s best selling vibrator. In June of this year Rabbit Fever, a mockumentary film about the toy was released. The flick follows a group of Rabbit addicts as they try and kick their habit. It features Tom Conti, Stefanie Powers, Emma Buckley, Germaine Greer and Richard Branson. Prince William’s girlfriend, Kate Middleton, joined other Rabbit aficionados at an exclusive party in London to celebrate the film’s release. Guests were sent home with a commemorative Rabbit in a swag bag that created quite a buzz.

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Shannon Beach has traveled the world as a professional dancer for pop superstars such as Pink, Cher and Britney Spears. Life on the road can be frustrating however, with large chunks of time spent traveling, hanging around on buses and in airports. To get over the boredom, and to make the most of her time, Shannon began crocheting, making items for friends and family at first. Seven years on, and she's running her own business on the side, selling the unique pet carrier she originally designed for her own Shih Tzu, Ted D, to pooch-loving fashionistas everywhere.


"Being an open vessel for creativity, the combination of time and travel provides fertile ground to explore interests," says Shannon. "You can learn a language, learn an instrument, take up reading or writing or learn a craft. When I found out I was going on tour, discovering the art of crochet seemed like the perfect choice. Hours spent on planes, buses, backstage could be used productively to make beautiful, usable items."


Shannon describes the meditative state she slips into as she crochets as being "in the flow," naming her business (FeelTheFlo.com) after this area of blissful consciousness, where concentration is deep and ordinary worries are forgotten. Putting her crochet hook down this weekend, Shannon can be seen dancing with Britney at the VMA's. Broadcast live from The Palms Casino in Las Vegas, the show will air live on MTV this Sunday, Sept 9th at 9pm (ET).

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“I had begun to feel that this gigantic “experiment” with the whole of Nature, which increasingly seemed to me to be at risk of testing everything to destruction while at the same time extracting a cumulatively unsustainable harvest by artificial and progressively more toxic means, was both dangerous and short-sighted. I felt in my bones that if you abuse Nature unnecessarily and fail to maintain a balance, then She will probably abuse you in return.” HRH The Prince Of Wales, The Elements Of Organic Gardening


A quarter of a century ago, when Prince Charles first spoke publicly about his belief in organic gardening and farming principles, he was dismissed as a tree-hugging eccentric that walked around talking to his plants. Twenty-five years on, he’s considered an ecological visionary. His personal life may be somewhat controversial, but the garden is one place he gets it right (if only he could relate to people as well as he relates to his plants). In The Elements of Organic Gardening, published in the U.S. today by Kales Press, The Prince of Wales shares the sustainable growing methods he’s used in his own gardens at Highgrove, Birkhall and Clarence House.

The production team behind the The 11h Hour climate crisis documentary have recorded a video time capsule, with messages – and apologies – from prominent environmentalists recorded for future generations to view in the year 2100 – that’s assuming we, as a race, make it that far.


“You have to be a conscious co-player in evolution, because civilizations are mortal.”
Nathan Gardels, Editor, New Perspective Quarterly (www.digitalnpq.org)


“If I had one dream, it’s that our kids are able to look back at the way we live today as the peak of individualism, the peak of when people looked out for themselves as individuals only, and that we started a long trend towards starting to solve our problems as a community.”
Michael Gelobter, President, Redefining Progress (www.rprogress.org)

It seems trans-fats, obesity, smoking, pollution and stress have found two new partners in crime when it comes to heart and lung disease – global warming, and, bizarrely, popcorn.


DM_Global Warming_3506330.jpgAt a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology this week doctors warned that rising temperatures due to climate change will result in an increase in heart disease. In warmer weather our body’s natural cooling system kicks in. Arteries close to the surface of the skin expand, allowing more blood to flow where it is cooler. This mechanism results in a drop in blood pressure, which then causes our heart rate to rise, putting increased strain on the heart.


It’s estimated that the 2003 heatwave in Europe resulted in an additional 35,000 deaths over normal rates in the first two weeks in August. Most of these were believed to be due to heart problems in the elderly, which were exacerbated by the extreme heat. "If it really is a few degrees warmer in the next 50 years, we could definitely have more cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Karin Schenck-Gustafsson, of the department of cardiology at Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Cecile Rose, a pulmonary specialist at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, CO has voiced concerns to government regulators that consumers may be at risk from vapors released as microwave popcorn is cooked. It has long been known that the additive Diacetyl, which gives popcorn its buttery taste, is hazardous to factory workers. When inhaled, the chemical, which is common in the clothing, dye, battery and food-flavoring industries, can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, an irreversible condition. The disease has been nicknamed “popcorn lung” due to its prevalence in popcorn manufacturing workers. Ironically, healthy, non-smoking males are most susceptible to the disease.


In a July letter sent to government regulators, and made public by a public health policy blog, Dr. Rose describes how a 54-year old male patient with a decade long, two packets a day, popcorn habit had the rare condition, despite the fact he’d never worked in any of the high-risk industries. “I said to him, ‘This is a very weird question, but bear with me. But are you around a lot of popcorn? His jaw dropped and he said, ‘How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn,’” says Dr. Rose. “When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much. That’s heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers’ studies is the highest risk.”

A delicacy in Asia, a bowl of high quality shark fin soup can cost as much as $150. Because of this high price, shark fishing and finning is a major contributor to the decline of shark stocks in recent years. After the shark’s fins are cut off, the mutilated fish are thrown back into the sea by fishermen. Though still alive, the fish are unable to swim without their fins and die agonizing deaths either by starvation, which can take weeks, or by being eaten alive by other predators. It’s estimated that up to 100 million sharks a year die in this way, all so man can eat shark’s fin soup. Can’t folks just eat sweet corn chowder or minestrone instead?

DM_DSCOVR.jpgThe Daily Mantra loves a good conspiracy theory, and this one’s a doozy. According to numerous reports NASA has quietly shelved their Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) project, despite the fact they’ve already spent 90% of the budget needed to make it operational.


Proposed by Vice President Al Gore under the Clinton administration in 1998, the satellite was to monitor global warming, occupying a gravity-neutral point in space where the earth could be viewed in sunlight around the clock. In addition to providing up-to-date images of the planet, which Gore hoped would inspire eco-awareness, the satellite would carry a radiometer, which would measure how much sunlight was reflected and emitted from our planet, providing unparalleled data on climate change.


After three years, with $1million spent, the satellite was made ready, but its launch was delayed, then shelved. The official reason given by NASA was “competing priorities” after a change in government refocused the agency on space exploration rather than research. But now both sides of the Congress and House are on similar pages when it comes to climate change, why hasn’t the launch been rescheduled? The $100m satellite is currently in storage at Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center at an estimated cost of $1m per year. The DeSmogBlog team are launching an investigation in the DSCOVR debacle. We’ll be interested to hear what they uncover.

Moller International are working on a production personal VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle that looks and hovers like a flying saucer. They initially hope to produce 250 vehicles a year that could retail for a little as $90,000 each. The sky car will carry two passengers, with a maximum speed of 50 mph and a 900 mile range. Using 8 Wankel ethanol engines, the production model, the M200G, will limit altitude to that of the vehicle’s 9ft wingspan to skirt FAA regulations, allowing it to be operated without the need for a pilot’s license. The Davis, CA based company has yet to establish which federal aviation agency will regulate the vehicle use however, with both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transport vying for jurisdiction.


Moller International’s founder, Canadian born engineer Dr. Moller envisions a Jetsons-like 'highway in the sky' future to combat current congestion problems. "We have this wonderful natural resource above us," Dr Moller told the BBC. "Look at the sky above us - how many aircraft do you see? It's a great space that is not being utilized. That is what we plan to use. Cars are finished as a means of getting around. It's only a matter of time."

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After it was revealed last week that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sleep in separate beds, it’s been reported that unconventional dating site AhsleyMadison.com have offered Ms. Holmes a free lifetime membership so she can find a fulfilling relationship and “fill her lonely bed.” The Ashley Madison website is a discreet dating service for married people only, their tagline being “when monogamy becomes monotony.”


While we’re certainly not condoning this website (karma will catch up with its users), it can’t be denied that the Tom Cruise’s third wife has to put up with more BS than most spouses given her husband’s much-publicized peculiarities. So is Katie coming to the conclusion that her relationship with Tom is becoming a nightmare? We asked our in-house astrologer Maria for her insight.