EWG Tap Water Database

I’m a skincare nerd. If you follow me on social media (particularly my personal Twitter and/or Instagram) you already know this. AND, if you’re that kind of nerd, like me, you’ve probably found yourself at the Environmental Working Group website. Why? For their Skin Deep Database (which analyzes the ingredients in skincare and cosmetics). And that’s how I became familiar with the EWG.

They recently released/updated a tool that I thought many of you would be interested in, a tap water database. After the danger with Flint, Michigan’s water supply captured international attention (and then disappeared from the headlines) we all became frighteningly aware that what we don’t know about our tap water can hurt us.

The Environmental Working Group analyzed 32 million water records from across the country to make an easy to use database. This short video discusses all of this.

By going to https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ you can just type in your zip code and see the results. Better still, the EWG site discusses different types of water filtration methods you can use to help improve your water quality.

Think Before You Pink 2019

Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures, and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.

Corporate giant 3M markets pink ribbon Post-its to raise awareness of breast cancer, but 3M also produces and uses PFAS, a toxic class of compounds known as forever chemicals that may contribute to breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Action calls this pinkwashing.

What are PFAS? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large and ever-expanding class of highly fluorinated synthetic chemicals used to repel oil and water. Known for their extreme persistence, they are also called forever chemicals. PFOA and PFOS are two of the oldest and most well-studied chemicals in this group. These chemicals do not naturally break down over time.

There is no way to avoid exposure to PFAS and 98% of Americans have at least one PFAS chemical in their body. The drinking water of approximately 110 million Americans contains unsafe levels of PFAS, and the chemicals have been found in both breast and cow’s milk. PFAS are also found in food, consumer products, workplaces, and dust.

The weight of the evidence shows that PFAS may increase the risk of breast cancer. One of 3M’s own consultants warned that the chemical used for years in Scotchgard “is one of the strongest cancer promoters I’ve ever seen” and interferes with the ability of cells to communicate with each other. PFAS are known to cause some cancers and interfere with normal hormone functioning. In addition, PFAS have been shown to suppress the immune system, which can hinder the body’s ability to prevent rogue cells from growing into breast cancer. Even low dose exposure to PFAS changes the structure of the mammary gland and interferes with breastfeeding.

3M pioneered this dangerous class of chemicals and the company’s fortunes were built on the development, manufacture, and sale of PFOS and PFOA. Today, 3M is a $120 billion multinational corporation with profits driven by the development of newer PFAS compounds. For nearly seventy years, 3M has covered up the risks of PFAS from the public and regulators, protecting their profits at the cost of public health. One lawsuit charges 3M “maliciously conspired” with trade groups to conceal the chemicals’ toxicity. Through a range of delay and deny tactics, 3M prevented regulation, all the while pushing PFAS into new consumer products. As a result, current and future generations continue to be exposed to these dangerous chemicals. 3M has developed newer so-called “short chain” PFAS chemicals, to replace PFOA and PFOS. But a new report reveals that 3M submitted reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing health risks for 21 of these newer PFAS chemicals it makes. Despite industry’s claims about the relative safety of newer PFAS, there is evidence that these newer chemicals are not safe for humans or the environment. Instead of cleaning up their business to show us they care about breast cancer, 3M is continuing to contribute to a forever problem.

In one study, dying cancer patients were given extremely high doses of PFOA in 2008–2011 despite scant evidence that it would help their cancer or improve their quality of life. Results from this unethical research were never published, and to date, data about the patients’ cancer has never been presented. But instead of disavowing the study, 3M recently harvested the data and paid for re-analysis, which they’re now using to make unsupportable claims that PFOA may not be as persistent as previous studies have shown.

3M claims to be a good corporate citizen and has run several breast cancer promotions over the years, including pink hard hats and tape. In addition to marketing pink ribbon Post-its, 3M is currently selling pink stethoscopes to “help the fight against breast cancer.” 3M says their pink products are a “reminder for a good cause.” But they’re just trying to distract us from the fact that 3M’s toxic forever chemicals cause cancer, suppress the immune system, disrupt hormones, and change the structure of the mammary gland.

Tell 3M’s executives to stop producing, using, and selling PFAS!

Marketing pink products isn’t enough. If 3M really cares about breast cancer, they will put our health before their PFAS-driven profits.

Learn more, and take action at: https://bcaction.org/NeverForeverChems/

(Information provided by Breast Cancer Action. Emphasis on phrases is my own.)

Banned Books Week 2019

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

For those of you who are curious, this short video shows the 11 most challenged books of the past year.




You can learn more about Banned Books Week at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

Want to support independent bookstores and shop the top 10 most challenged books of the past decade? Then shop the links below! (These are affiliate links to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase books, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

NUMBER ONE
NUMBER ONE

NUMBER TWO
NUMBER TWO

NUMBER THREE
NUMBER THREE

NUMBER FOUR
NUMBER FOUR

NUMBER FIVE
NUMBER FIVE

NUMBER SIX
NUMBER SIX

NUMBER 7
NUMBER 7

NUMBER EIGHT
NUMBER EIGHT

NUMBER NINE
NUMBER NINE

NUMBER TEN
NUMBER TEN

The Secret History of America

When you see a title like “The Secret History of America”, you might perk up at the thought of nefarious, conspiratorial plots. And although secrets abound in “The Secret History of America: Classic Writings on our Nation’s Unknown Past and Inner Purpose” by Manly P. Hall, you’ll be hard pressed to find sinister actions. That’s because through Hall’s account of history America, the literal land the country exists on, has been preordained to be a utopia, or as close to one as humanity can create.

As editor Mitch Horowitz says in his introduction, “Hall’s view of American history could be called transcendental.” He goes on to explain, “Within Hall’s writings on American history, particularly in his essays and book called The Secret Destiny of America, appears the principle that the U.S. serves – at his finest hours – as a vessel for primeval ideals of democracy, self-development, individual searching, and personal liberty. Hall located these ideals, in their earliest form, within ancient esoteric traditions, and he believed that such principles were preserved within the work of illuminated intellects, like Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as covert fraternities, including Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, and enacted, albeit imperfectly, by America’s founders, many of whom were either Masons, such as Washington and Franklin, or were intimately steeped in ethical and individualistic philosophy, such as Paine and Jefferson.”

Hall profiles a colorful cast of characters including George Washington, Albert Pike, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He shares stories of mysterious strangers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and potential identities of Quetzalcoatl. All the while Hall paints a picture of an aspirational America. An America living up to its fullest potential.

Entertaining, inspiring, and informative, Manly P. Hall’s “Secret History of America” is a must read.

You can learn more here.

Williamson Wants You

I love primaries during the run up to a presidential election year. I play armchair pundit like many Americans, weighing pros and cons, and handicapping the primaries as they start rolling. Obviously, I was stoked to see who was going to throw their hat in the ring to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Well they can just stop it already! I had a good handle on the candidates for a while, but now I can barely keep up! My cup runneth over, and seriously, I’m drowning in the flood of information!

Not to make matters worse but there is a primary candidate that may be under your radar, and since she comes from a new age/self-help background I felt I should bring her to your attention. If you haven’t heard, author, speaker, and spiritual mogul Marianne Williamson is running for the Democratic Party nomination.

A quick overview of her platform shows her to be mostly in line with most of the progressive candidates. One of her biggest departures with other candidates is her desire to create a US Department of Domestic Peace-Building. As I write this, there are 14 people running for the nomination with Williamson being the last in fundraising. You can find out more about the candidate’s fundraising here.

I honestly don’t know who I’ll vote for at this point. I’ll probably wait for the primary process to winnow the field down, then pick from what’s left. If you’d like to learn more about Marianne Williamson’s campaign, visit her site here.

Hail Satan?

I received a press release about a documentary that I definitely want to see! Check it out!

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.

Hail Satan? will be in theaters April 19th! You can learn more and find tickets at https://www.hailsatanfilm.com/.

Witchcraft Activism

Not too long ago I posted a photo on social media of all the books/decks that I have yet to write reviews for and asked for people’s opinion on what they’d like to see first. The overwhelming response was to review “Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance” by David Salisbury next. I can’t say as I blame anyone who voted for it. In this time of political upheaval people now, more than ever, are looking for a way to take action.

The good news is, “Witchcraft Activism” gets the job done. Obviously if you’re a magical practitioner, the idea of effecting change with magic isn’t an outlandish idea. However, I was happy to see Salisbury clearly show the similarities (similarities that never occurred to me) between magic and activism. Both require a serious reflection on intention and the work of follow through. Salisbury has a background in activism and takes you step by step through any type of activism that may interest you: lobbying, letter writing, marches, and more. Then add to that an inspiring number of ways you can utilize magic to reinforce and improve on those actions! He discusses sigils, candle spells, spirit servitors, and of course, more.

David Salisbury has created a great guide for aspiring activists. You could ignore all the magical elements and still walk away with a fantastic book on activism. As far as I’m concerned, the informative magical information is just icing on the cake! Highly recommended!

You can learn more here.

Lady Parts Justice In The New World Order

I’ve got a documentary series for everyone to keep an eye out for online. The series is “Lady Parts Justice In The New World Order”. It debuted at DOC NYC November 11, and now they’ll be exploring streaming options.

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of “The Daily Show”, is furious. Even before the arrival of the Trump administration, Winstead realized women’s reproductive rights were being eroded across the nation. In effort to create a sustainable agency for change, Winstead formed Lady Parts Justice, a collection of activists and comedians. Setting off on the Vagical Mystery Tour, the Lady Parts Justice League brings its political satire-infused advocacy across the US to educate communities about legislative attacks on beleaguered abortion clinics. Urgent and funny, this series is an uplifting reminder of the power of protest.

Check out the trailer, I think you’ll dig it.

You can follow and support Lady Parts Justice at:
Facebook: @ladypartsjusticefilm
Twitter: @lpjldoc AND @ladypjustice
Instagram:@ladypartsjusticefilm

Website: https://www.ladypartsjusticedoc.com

Think Before You Pink 2018

If you’ve been following The Magical Buffet for a while you know that I am a big supporter of Breast Cancer Action. They understand that the issue of cancer is more than just a matter of health policies, but also environmentalism and social justice. They accept no donations from corporations and do real work that potentially helps everyone. That’s why every year I highlight their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. Take a moment to read this press release they sent me for this year’s campaign and if so moved, take action yourself.

This week Breast Cancer Action, the respected watchdog for the breast cancer movement, launched their “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign on day one of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In an open letter in the Detroit Free Press today, they also issued a direct challenge to the CEO and Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, demanding they “Go Further” than their Warriors in Pink program by ending production of vehicles that increase the risk of breast cancer.

Today, marks both the first day of Breast Cancer Industry (aka Awareness) Month and the 100th anniversary of Ford’s Model T, the first mass-marketed automobile. Breast Cancer Action’s executive director, Karuna Jaggar, says: “On the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Model T, we’re calling on Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses.”

“Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to go full-throttle on sales in the U.S. of trucks and SUVs, which are some of Ford’s highest emission vehicles. Ford is trying to tell us that they care about breast cancer, but in reality they’re making business decisions that will increase our exposure to chemicals that cause breast cancer. We call this pinkwashing,” said Jaggar.

Some of the first chemicals identified by researchers as increasing the risk of breast cancer are found in the exhaust from combustion engines: carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Benzene is such a potent mammary carcinogen that it has been linked to breast cancer in men. The 2009 President’s Cancer Panel recommended limiting exposure to auto exhaust, noting that cars, trucks, and other passenger vehicles “are responsible for approximately 30 percent of cancer resulting from air pollution.”

In April of this year, Ford announced they will almost exclusively sell SUVs and trucks in the U.S., which have less-regulated emissions. They will also launch a new diesel version of the F-150 truck. Meanwhile, they will stop selling their zero emission, 100 percent electric vehicle, and nearly all their other lower emission passenger cars. “Diesel is enriched with nitro PAHs,” notes Jaggar. “This means now the F-150, America’s best-selling truck, is offered with even more potent mammary carcinogens.”

Attempting to brush aside criticism for these recent announcements, Ford is publicizing plans for future investment in electrification—nearly all of which will be in China, due to higher regulation standards. At a major auto show in the U.S. earlier this year, Ford notably failed to showcase any electric vehicles. Additionally, Ford has been lobbying the Trump administration to lower emission standards in the U.S.

“Breast cancer is a public health crisis and a social justice issue,” said Jaggar. “We can’t afford to hold our breath and hope Ford’s promise of new, cleaner vehicles will come to the U.S. sometime down the road. Instead of pinkwashing and platitudes, Ford can “Go Further” by making the shift to 100 percent zero emission vehicles now.”

Ford’s Warriors in Pink program sells branded clothes and other gear in order to raise money for four breast cancer charities. But Jaggar said, “We see through the pink-tinted smoke screen of Ford’s Warriors in Pink. This is a just feel-good attempt by Ford to distract attention away from their role in driving up the risk of breast cancer.”

Everyone in the U.S. is exposed to Ford’s auto exhaust, whether or not they drive a Ford vehicle. As one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers in the U.S., Ford is in a position to make a big difference in reducing cancer rates by making clean vehicles.

“One hundred years ago, Ford made its name by bringing the Model-T to the masses,” said Jaggar. “Now it’s time for Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses. By turning away from cancer-causing combustion engines and towards zero emission cars and trucks, Ford can truly help put the brakes on the breast cancer epidemic. After all, the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it in the first place.”

Breast Cancer Action’s “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign is supported by more than 14 health and environmental justice organizations, and is Breast Cancer Action’s 2018 Think Before You Pink® campaign. Since 2002, when Breast Cancer action coined the term pinkwashing, they have been demanding transparency and accountability in breast cancer marketing and pink ribbon promotions.

Find out more at http://www.bcaction.org.

Banned Books Week 2018

It’s the end of September again, so it is time to remind all of you about the important work the American Library Association does in the form of Banned Books Week. For those unfamiliar with the event, you must be new to my site. Welcome! Here’s a brief description from the ALA:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

This year’s theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories”. You can learn more about the impact of Banned Books Week by visiting the site.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2017. Of the 416 books challenged or banned in 2017, the Top 10 Most Challenged Books are:

Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

George written by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.