Ben Ciuffa’s Photo Journals

June 3, 2012

Rachel Corrie Day

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Rachel Corrie,Uncategorized — admin @ 6:10 am

Visit her Memorial Site:  www.rachelcorrie.org/news.htm

I believe that an annual Rachel Corrie Day, should be established in  the United States. This young lady was bulldozed to death, March 16th 2003, during her Spring Break in Palestine.

My goal is to make young people aware of her choice to help a distressed people while many others flocked to their Spring Break havens.  She did not want to die…just help out.  Rachel literally stood up for what she felt was right.  Her story is told in several items accessed via Electronic Intifada, Rachelcorrie.com, BostonToPalestine.org.

My personal attachment is unique. I was in El Salvador with her uncle & dozens of other foreign nationals, debriefing our findings as International Election Observers, following the March 15th election.  Her uncle was absent at the international Press Conference, the next morning.  His Veterans For Peace, collegues, said that he’d gone home on a family emergency.  At the conclusion of the press conference, a picture appeared on the hotel’s television.  we looked in horror, as the death of this black-scarved, young girl, was reported.

Rachel Corrie blocked an Israeli Army, bulldozer’s approach to raze the home of an innocent family.  The home demolitions were proceeding after the residence of an terrorist was destroyed.  Shebelieved this extras razing was a flagrant expansion of the prevailing, Israeli edict that homes of terrorists would  be demolished.

Six years later, the people of Gaza are suffering from a bombardment of their homes, schools and lives.  In a time of violence that seems to be viewed, by many people, as just another flare-up of fighting in Palestine,  it is critical that the human tragedy  be visible.  A tragedy marked in the hopes and dreams of all children in the Middle East who go to sleep each night with the sounds of gunfire and rockets.  We do not know the damage done to the young psyches over the past 30 years.

Our young people are more conscious today, of the power of awareness.  Rachel Corrie is the face of an American who, who should be the poster child for peace & a call to public service.  My hope is that our college youths consider emulating Rachel Corrie as an alternative to running to their Spring-break havens.

Her brave commitment to helping others should also serve to inspire the school kids to look beyond themselves to the horizons that our new president has pointed out.

Please send your comments & ideas to BrQufa@gmail.com

February 24, 2012

A Snow Scene At My House

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 12:07 pm

January 19, 2012

“Photo-mix 7″ from a collection of Photos by (?); Gallery I

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 3:30 pm

The collection of 60 outstanding photos was forwarded, to me, by a friend from El

Salvador who lives in California.

I chose four photos of the natural world.  Gallery II will consist of animals. photos of

interesting faces will be posted as Gallery III.    Click on Image for enlarged view.

 

6.15.

17.

56.

December 30, 2011

7 Foods You Should Never Eat

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 8:50 am

    by Drew Kaplan on December 6, 2011

From a Facebook post by Ana Saget

Here is article which shows why a toxicologist won’t eat microwavable popcorn or why a farmer will not eat non organic potatoes or why a fishery expert stays away from farmed salmon. Read on to learn why, as well as other foods you should stay away from.

~Health Freedoms

 

Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.

Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.

1. The Endocrinologist Won’t Eat: Canned Tomatoes
Fredrick Vom Saal, is an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes.

Budget tip: If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients, or you may have to adjust the recipe.

2. The Farmer Won’t Eat: Corn-Fed Beef
Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease.

“We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

Budget tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.

3. The Toxicologist Won’t Eat: Microwave Popcorn
Olga Naidenko, is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.

The problem:
Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize–and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

Budget tip: Popping your own popcorn is dirt cheap

4. The Farm Director Won’t Eat: Nonorganic Potatoes
Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

The problem:
Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. Potatoes–the nation’s most popular vegetable–are gro treated with fungicides during the  growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up,potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution:
Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.

5. The Fisheries Expert Won’t Eat: Farmed Salmon
Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

Budget tip:
Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.

6. The Cancer Researcher Won’t Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones
Rick North is project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

The problem:
Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.

7. The Organic-Foods Expert Won’t Eat: Conventional Apples
Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful.But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples.

“Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples.

Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”

 

 

 

December 10, 2011

Truth in lending & Phil Gramm

Filed under: Occupy — admin @ 9:10 am

Googled   info for Lloyd S….d S

 

Paul Krugman has called Senator Phil Gramm “the father of the financial crisis” due to his sponsorship of the act. ….. If one assumes that the housing market is efficient, the expected change in housing prices (relative to …. “More Awful Truths About Republicans”. …

Phil Gramm: Recession Is “Mental,” America Is “Nation Of Whiners” 2008 McCain adviser

The Truth in Lending act was created in the year 1968 with the purpose of protecting consumers in their transactions with creditors and lenders. It was implemented by the Federal Reserve by several regulations. The most important features of the act are the information that should be disclosed to a borrower before a credit is extended, the annual rate of percentage, loan term and the total costs of the borrower. All information should be conspicuously on the documents presented to the borrower before signing.

I edited& highlighted.This 12-11-11

Understanding the Mortgage Meltdown
What happened and Who’s to Blame: by Richard Gandon

It seems quite easy to point fingers at greedy Wall Street titans for causing the sub-prime mortgage crises. They after all, put together the deals that allowed banks to underwrite mortgages and then offload these liabilities to investors. What many fail to realize is that there is no shortage of blame to go around from homeowners buying more home than they could afford to real estate agents looking for more commission dollars. Mortgage brokers and bankers, the banks themselves, ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, Wall Street, the Fed and last but certainly not least, the Federal Government.

Let’s start with the homeowners–the people who are now in the process or soon to enter the process, of losing their homes. Some of these people had never before owned a home and as such, may not have been prepared for the costs associated with homeownership. Basic financial literacy is sorely lacking in this country despite there being no shortage of budgeting and tracking programs readily available such as Quicken and Microsoft Money. The lack of financial literacy does not absolve these buyers of their responsibility. Every borrower receives a truth in lending disclosure statement. Here is a portion of what the act covers:

The purpose of TILA (Truth In Lending Act) is to promote the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosures about its terms and cost. TILA also gives consumers the right to cancel certain credit transactions that involve a lien on a consumer’s principal dwelling, regulates certain credit card practices, and provides a means for fair and timely resolution of credit billing disputes. With the exception of certain high-cost mortgage loans, TILA does not regulate the charges that may be imposed for consumer credit.

TILA requires a maximum interest rate to be stated in variable-rate contracts secured by the consumer’s dwelling. It also imposes limitations on home equity plans that are subject to the requirements of Sec. 226.5b and mortgages that are subject to the requirements of Sec. 226.32. The regulation prohibits certain acts or practices in connection with credit secured by a consumer’s principal dwelling.

 

October 27, 2010

Immigration: Michigan Organizing Project (MOP)

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Uncategorized — admin @ 4:08 pm

Qufa’s Notes A Personal Newsletter From Ben Ciuffa October 27, ,2010

10-24  MOP  Alison.jpg 10-24  MOP  Molly  XXX.jpg 10-24  MOP  Adrian.jpg 10-24  MOP  Caitlin.jpg

Molly Fairbanks hosted a forum, at Kalamazoo’s People’s Church, Sunday October 24, 2010, featuring a Michigan Organizing Project (MOP) presentation, that focused on the realities of immigration.

Molly stated the long held policy of People’s Church that called for reforms that addressed humanitarian needs.

Allison Colberg, a MOP  organizer, presented an overview of the realities that Hispanic immigrants face.

Adrian Vazquez, MOP organizer, detailed the employment irregularities used by the employers to exploit undocumented workers.  Note:  I was present at 1 of a series of classes, 3 years ago, where Adrian and others explained the documentation required by LEGAL immigrants to protect their rights.

Caitlin Kelly, MOP leader, detailed the visa application process that has waiting lists nearly 20 years long. The facts she presented showed why this process was not an alternative to people seeking basic human needs.

Three immigrants, speaking excellent English, explained their plight, entering the U.S. and their struggles to succeed. The damage caused to the Mexican farmers, by NAFTA was explained from personal experiences of the slashing of factory wages & farm worker families’ trying to compete with US mega companies that sent cheap corn South, resulting in desperate attempts to regain their lives by fleeing North.

To learn more & keep up with MOP’s work, & support, visit: www. miorganizingproject.org

10-24  MOP  Illegal.jpg 10-24  MOP  Group.jpg 10-24  MOP  Evangel.jpg

Ben Ciuffa,  www.Qufa.com 269-343-0684  Brqufa@Gmail.com

September 21, 2009

Brazilian Ethanol Taxed $.54 cents a gallon, Still True?

Filed under: Miscellaneous — admin @ 6:51 pm

OCTOBER 2011    BP Just announced that they are buying a Brazizlan ethanol company

This was 1st published in 2008, after I arrived from Cenral America…where I had met Swedish auditors who were ready to declare Brazil’s Ethanol  GREEN!

Brazilian  Ethanol Taxed $.54 cents a gallon.  

GOOGLE: Brazian Ethanol

One Small Step toward Energy independence Ben R. Ciuffa 7-26-08 

NOTE: * Renewable Fuels Association is made up of Agra-business lobbyists.

While Americans are paying record prices at Gas pumps, Ethanol from Brazil could save over $10
per 20 gallon fill up. A 54 cent/gallon secondary tariff was enacted by Congress in 1980 to protect U.S. “interests”.

Kenneth Rapoza, Dow Jones Newswires, reported, July 11th 2008, that the Renewable Fuels Association* , that day sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging him not to stray from the $0.54-a-gallon duty on Sugar-based ethanol from Brazil.

If there had been no $.54/tariff, Brazilian Ethanol would have been a cost saver long before American-produced Ethanol became cost-effective

Contrary to widespread rumors, Brazil is not cutting down the rainforests nor straining world food costs. This month, Sweden signed contracts with Brazilian Ethanol producers, after this Green-conscious, country concluded that this product did not threaten Brazil’s environment.

The US Congress should work to drop the $.54/gal. Duty on a product that would give an instant a savings of $10 per 20 gallon fill up. This could also relieve the rising cost of corn.
This is a silver bullet that would could be fired NOW, while America works toward long term energy-independence! A small reduction in U.S. Fuel demand would answer the supply & demand apologists.


An Oil executive is quoted as saying: “If you signal to the market that the world’s biggest fuel transportation economy is addressing this issue, it will eventually affect (gasoline and corn ) prices.”


- I urge the readers to research Brazil’s Ethanol on the Internet. Then contact elected officials and candidates for their answers.


February 6, 2009

Qufa’s List: My Experiences With Above Average Customer Service

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:50 am

 

Recently,  I decided to report findings, that were above my expectation as a consumer. In a world of ever increasing shoddiness, I believe, today, it’s critical to shine a light of on the precious few.     I’m starting with Kalamazoo, MI, where I’ve lived for over 20 years. 

Periodically, there will be a link to Qufa’s List on Ben Qufa’s's facebook.  My inital list is as follows:

January, 2012:

Menards, West Main,  Kalamazoo, Mi,  Customer service was patient & helpful, tracking my purchase info., although there was an automated kiosk available for customer use.   They found the info, & quickly processed the return.  This was the most pain=free return i’d ever seen. It appeared that the clerks were quietly competing, with each other,  to be the most helpful.

Harding’s Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI.  A clerk took my bags to my car.  Jeff refused, repeatedly,  to accept a tip.

Urban Blend, Kalamazoo, MI This neighborhood eatery not only had a great break fast, but it’s far more than a n eatery.  Lewis & Gloria Parker provide an atmosphere of  friendship & diversity.    I stopped in one afternoon, to find an after school tutoring, program in full swing with six volunteers that included a retired principal and teachers.

Hoekstra’s Hardware, Portage St., Kalamazoo, Mi.  This would be incomplete if I failed to mention this old fashioned hardware a repair co.  I brought in a a part that needed repair.  One of them spent a while finding some screws, washers that worked.  I walked out with my part fixed and a receipt for $81.  This is a place that we must all support.  I try to buy items that cost less than $100 from Hoekstra & the higher priced items from Menards, on West Main.

Panama Hattie, located on the corner of Rose & Lovell, Kalamazoo, MI.  I found this to be more than a great curio shop,  2 yrs, ago.  Imported items included hand carved figurines, fabrics and clothes.  But it was the 2 room collection of Authentic African Carvings that got me to offer to volunteer & help out.  Marylyn Edlund  has been dealing with this type of merchandise for many years.   She is enjoys explaining  these items,like a  museum curator. A visit  to see thre African collection is unequaled, from Chicago to Detroit.

February 2012:  

Michael’s Auto Service, West Main St. Kalamazo, MI has service our cars & friends cars for several years expertly & fairly.  A few years ago, the passenger seat motor stopped working. The dealer said that it woul need a motor eplacement at a cost of $200+, parts & labor.  Michael’s looked at it, then reset the seat back onto its track.   Cost: $15.00……This is one example of their looking to service cars as if they were their moms’ cars.

Office Max’s Impress Dept., West Main S. Kalamazoo, has printed my photos & photo collages expertly at minimal cost, for the past 5 years. We worked via emails on several projects that include my work in El Salvador, Ecuador, & the US,  My wife & I worked with others until the West Main office Max became a favorite place to do business. Prior to finding them, a compettor ran off several printts, then told me that the digitals were poor.  I took the digitals to West Main & had excellent prints in less than an hour.  There have been times when my digitals were tricky..we worked together, successfully.

 

 

 

 

I spent 40 years as a Quality Management, Professional, working to detect and report unacceptable products, services and practices. The programs were diverse, ie, Apollo Lunar Lander, Anti-Ballistic Missle sites manufacuring & of BB guns, wheels & Cosmetic jewelry. Since 2000,  I’ve been a Quality Management Consultant.

For the past 30 years one of my passions has been  as a consumer advocate.  I wrote a weekly consumer column. In 2005 I joined Underwriters Laboratories to initiate a fix on electric ranges.

 

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