Monday, December 10, 2012

Follow these tips for healthy holiday eating

Eating healthy and staying fit are not usually on the priority list during the holidays. But health experts say it is important to try to keep yourself on track during the season.

"People need to keep their current health routines going," said Becky Porter, a dietitian with the Tulsa City-County Health Department. "I know it's tempting to let the crazy, hectic holiday schedule take over, but people really need to work to make sure they're getting enough sleep and to maintain their exercise habits."

Don Wilber, a physician with the Oklahoma-based health maintenance organization GlobalHealth, said, "The CDC recently reported that the diabetes rate in Oklahoma has tripled over the last 15 years, which is largely a result of the increasing rate of obesity in our state. As such, it's important that we encourage Oklahomans to eat right and stay active by following a few simple steps, especially with the holidays in full swing."

Here are a few tips Porter and GlobalHealth recommend to help:

Plan ahead

Porter said planning ahead, whether you're eating out or heading to a party, can help you make better decisions.

Check menu nutrition information online before you head to a restaurant. If you're going to an evening party, save calories and prevent hunger by eating light, high-fiber meals during the day.

Pack healthy snacks

If you're going to be traveling a lot during the holidays, GlobalHealth suggests packing healthy snacks to help you avoid fast food.

Some options include fruit, granola bars and packets of almonds.

Limit the drinks

Porter advises keeping the alcohol to a minimum - approximately one drink for a woman and one to two for a man.

"It can weaken your resolve," she said.

Also, try to avoid drinking your calories.

Avoid soda, eggnog and other high-calorie drinks to make more room for food.

Break up exercise routine

If you have trouble keeping up your regular exercise routine because of a busy schedule, break it up into smaller pieces, suggests the GlobalHealth tipsheet.

Fit in a few 10-minute bursts of cardio when you have some time during the day.

Avoid the buffet table

To keep yourself from having seconds, fill your plate up once, then move away from the buffet table.

As Porter says, "Make the evening more about socializing."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pakistani military agitated with judiciary: Report

The Pakistani security establishment feels extremely agitated over a plethora of statements coming from the highest judicial circles, coupled with some recent court decisions which it believes were tantamount to undermining the Pakistan Army as an institution which should have been credited not only for strengthening democracy but also for ensuring the independence of the judiciary, news reports said .

Even though the restoration of the superior judiciary in 2009 became possible due to combined struggle of the lawyers, civil society, political parties and media, there are those in the security establishment who think otherwise and insist that the defiant judiciary owes its current independence to Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani who had played a vital role at the time of the March 2009 long march by the opposition to ensure the restoration of 100-plus deposed judges of superior courts, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, The News reported Friday.

The most recent development which seems to have really angered the establishment is the acceptance of an application by the Islamabad High Court, challenging the extension given to General Kayani as Army Chief in 2012.

But the most disturbing aspect of the petition for the khaki leadership is the impression created by the petitioner that the COAS was indulging in politics. Col (R) Inamur Rahim, the petitioner, has alleged in his November 12 application with the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court that the COAS had issued a political statement on November 5.

While seeking an early hearing of his intra-court appeal challenging Kayani’s extension, the petitioner has maintained that the November 5 statement by the Chief of Army Staff has disturbed the civil society and caused fears about the future of democracy in Pakistan.

The Colonel, who was subjected to severe torture on November 14 in Rawalpindi by unidentified assailants, has maintained in his November 12 application to the IHC Chief Justice: “Had General Kayani ever been a person subject to the Army Act 1952, he would not have dared to issue a political statement (advising the state institutions not to cross the limits prescribed in the Constitution) which is in clear violation of the oath of the office of a legitimate Army Chief”. 

A division bench of the IHC has accepted the application and put off the hearing of the case till the third week of November.

The Army Chief had stated on November 5 while talking to a group of Army officers in Rawalpindi: “Weakening of institutions and trying to assume more than one’s due role will set the country back. No individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest”.

While the judicial circles in Islamabad believe that General Kayani’s statement carried veiled challenges to the superior judiciary, those in the military establishment insist that it was purely a non-political statement in which General Kayani had not named any of the institutions or individuals.

But the fact remains that Kayani had spoken the day (on November 5) Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry addressed the participants of the National Management Course in Lahore and redefined the term national security by describing the Supreme Court as the absolute authority with regard to the national interests of the state and adding that weapons alone could no longer assure national security.

It is largely assumed that General Kayani’s statement, which was officially provided to the media by the ISPR, was directed towards the superior judiciary whose verdict in the Asghar Khan case has not gone down well with the khakis.

However, a senior khaki official said General Kayani’s statement actually reflected the concerns of an important state institution which is being undermined not only by a ‘hyper active judiciary’ but also by an ‘increasingly reckless media’.

Friday, October 5, 2012

'Innocence of Muslims' no longer innocent in Russia

Despite media reports claiming that Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin will challenge the ban on the "Innocence of Muslims" film he is not going to do it, according to a posting on his website.

"During the hearings we spoke about a shortage of competitiveness in such hearings as an important procedural problem. But this has nothing to do with the assessment of the content of the "Innocence of Muslims" film," the posting says.

Meanwhile, President of the Chechen Republic has regarded the ban as positive sigh for Russia. “It’s a good example of a civilized approach to resolving the problem,” he said in a posting on his press service web-site.  “General Prosecutor’s office and the [Moscow] court demonstrated their vigor to withstand any attempts of breeding strife between citizens of the country on national and religious basis.”

Yesterday, a Moscow district court found the film “Innocence of Muslims” to be extremist and thereby approved a petition from the General Prosecutor’s office, which had argued that the film sows religious discord and provokes increased intolerance in society.

Marina Gridneva, official spokesperson for the General Prosecutor’s office, told RBC that the petition was made because the film includes video sequences and dialogue which imply that Islam and Muslims are inferior.

“A psychological and linguistic study of the film carried out at the request of the General Prosecutor’s office confirmed that its content is intended to provoke religious hatred and humiliate people on the basis of their ethnicity and religious affiliation,” Gridneva noted.

The court’s decision will now be sent to the Russian Ministry of Justice, which will include the video on its federal list of extremist materials.

The Leninsky district court in Grozny, Chechnya had previously found a trailer for the film to be extremist.

Under Russia law, such a decision by any court to ban extremist material automatically comes into effect throughout the entire country. At the same time, other Russian courts are also entitled to take decisions concerning such petitions by the Prosecutor’s Office. In the case of conflicting verdicts, the matter is resolved by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile service providers in some Russian regions put a temporary ban on access to YouTube last week on the basis of a letter from the Prosecutor’s Office.

Google’s Russian division has already stated that it’s prepared to block access to the film on YouTube as soon as it receives an instruction from a court to do so.

“Innocence of Muslims” was released at the beginning of September and featured content many Muslims found offensive. The film sparked a series of worldwide anti-American protests. The video is already blocked in a number of countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Malaysia.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pakistan's top court strikes down contempt law

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday struck down a recently passed law to protect the prime minister from being charged with contempt of court and ousted from office, like his predecessor, for refusing to reopen an old corruption case against the president.

The ruling comes less than a week before the deadline set by the court for the current premier, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, to tell the judges whether he will obey their order to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen the graft case.

The government and court have been locked in conflict over the issue since the beginning of the year, stoking political instability that has distracted from what many in the country see as more pressing problems, such as the struggling economy and a Taliban insurgency.

The court could repeatedly disqualify prime ministers over the issue, undermining the government and forcing an early national.

Parliament passed the new law in early July after former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was convicted of contempt and forced to step down. The law provided greater protection to the prime minister and other senior government officials against contempt charges.

The court struck down the law because it violated the basic principle of equality among the country's citizens, said Zafr Ullah, a lawyer who challenged the law.

The government has refused to reopen the corruption case against Zardari, saying he enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office. His supporters have accused the court of relentlessly pursuing the matter because of bad blood between Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the president.

The new prime minister, Ashraf, has also indicated he has no plans to write the letter to Swiss authorities. If the court convicts him of contempt and orders his removal from office, the government would be forced to once again seek support in parliament to elect a new premier or call early national elections.

It's unclear which option the government would choose. The ruling Pakistan People's Party has been keen on holding elections as scheduled in early 2013 because it could then boast being the first civilian government to serve a full five-year term in the country's 65-year history. Past governments have been toppled by the direct or indirect intervention of the army, often with the help if the judiciary.

The case against Zardari relates to kickbacks he and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, allegedly received from Swiss companies when Bhutto was in power in the 1990s. They were found guilty in absentia in a Swiss court in 2003.

Zardari appealed, but Swiss prosecutors dropped the case after the Pakistani parliament passed an ordinance giving the president and others immunity from old corruption cases that many agreed were politically motivated.

The measure was criticized by many in Pakistan, who saw it as an attempt to subvert the law. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 2009 and ordered the government to write to Swiss authorities requesting they reopen the case.

A Swiss prosecutor told the media last year that Geneva couldn't bring proceedings against Zardari because he has immunity as a head of state.

The Supreme Court has also said it would respect the president's immunity, but it still wants the government to write the letter to the Swiss and is frustrated the government has long disobeyed its orders to do so.
The court has ordered the government to declare whether it will write the letter by Aug. 8.

Monday, July 9, 2012

No crime, no time

As I read York's two newspapers recently, I found it interesting to note how former Rep. Steve Stetler's friends and political cronies/pals reacted to his guilty verdicts on conflict-of-interest, criminal conspiracy, and the felonies of theft.

Steve Chronister, president York County Commissioner, said Mr. Stetler is a "good man" but "I certainly don't second-guess the jury" and "just hope an innocent man wasn't charged." Come on, Mr. Chronister, you do not want to second guess the jury but it seems like you just did. Commissioner Chronister then noted that prisons are for criminals, and Mr. Stetler is not a criminal in his book. Then what is he? An innocent non-criminal felon? Get real.

York City Councilman Henry Nixon was "saddened" by the verdict. I can buy that description. It is sad, but he then goes on to state, "If he ever did anything it was to better his community." Who knowingly commits numerous felonies "for the betterment of his community"? The "election system" is at fault. Not Mr. Stetler, but the system. Maybe the system should have just looked the other way since he was only trying to help his community. How thoughtful of him, looking out for all his district voters.

Former York Mayor John Brenner called the verdict a "tragedy." It did not have to be a tragedy, he never should have committed the felonies. It is as simple as that. No crime, no time. Play it straight and you do not have to worry about going to jail.