Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cinderella Tours and other Noteworthy Places

Check out Break Away Moments for great trips to the Carribean.

Free The Slaves International Awareness Day

Free at Last
How Christians worldwide are sabotaging the modern slave trade.
Deann Alford | posted 2/21/2007 08:51AM

Seven years ago, Sandy Shepherd got an unexpected phone call as she headed to her daughter's high school musical rehearsal. A mother of three, living in affluent Colleyville near Fort Worth, she was already beginning to imagine life as an empty nester. She wasn't thinking about changing the world.

On the line was Deacon Neel Choate from her church, First Baptist. He told her that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had just picked up seven Zambian boys—all part of a touring choir they both knew. First Baptist had hosted the choir previously. Choate said the boys needed a place to stay or they would spend the night in jail.

Could she house all seven overnight?

Shepherd took a deep breath. For two years, Shepherd had passionately supported this choir, utterly unaware that she and her church were being duped.

A Baptist missionary, Keith Grimes, had recruited the boys to tour America with his ministry, TTT: Partners in Education. Grimes had made big promises to the boys and their families. He had inspired them with talk of salaries, an American education, and stipends for families back in Zambia. Grimes had also claimed the tour would raise money for Kalingalinga, the grindingly poor shantytown that provided its fresh-faced sons for these tours 6,000 miles from their homes.

For the rest of this article

Raising Awareness for Free the Slaves Organization

Help stamp out slavery in our lifetime!

Visit: Free The Slaves Organization

We had many respond to the Free The Slaves International Awareness Day, March 27th.

One blog created by Marj McCabe Visit her blog:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Abuse Leaves Its Mark on the Brain

Abuse Leaves Its Mark on the Brain

By Constance Holden
ScienceNOW Daily News
23 February 2009

Child abuse doesn't just cause emotional problems; it also causes long-lasting changes the brain. A new study shows that in men who were abused as children, a gene involved in stress control is affected even decades later, following a pattern also seen in stressed baby rats.

Rat studies have revealed that maternal neglect alters the workings of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system that secretes particular hormones in response to stress (ScienceNOW, 2 August 2004). In the abused animals, the regulatory region of a gene for the glucocorticoid receptor, responsible for damping down the HPA response, doesn't do its job properly. As a result, the animals experience chronically higher stress levels.

Now, researchers have identified the same phenomenon in human brains. Neuroscientist Michael Meaney and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, compared postmortem brains of 12 men who had been abused as children and had committed suicide with those of two age-matched groups: nonabused men who had also killed themselves, and nonabused men who had died suddenly from other causes.

The researchers extracted DNA from the hippocampus, a brain area where the gene is active. They found that the abused men showed the same changes as the abused rats: increases in methylation at a site in the promoter of the gene, which made it less capable of modifying the stress response. The change was not seen in the two other groups.

"This is a beautiful study," says neuroscientist Eric Nestler of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. It supports the idea that epigenetic changes--that is, events that affect gene expression but not the DNA sequences of the genes themselves--in specific nervous system genes "may be an important mechanism by which environmental exposures cause long-lasting behavior change."

Over the past decade, evidence has been accumulating that "abused individuals are less healthy in adulthood," Meaney says. They suffer not just from mental illness but also from obesity, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. This research, he says, may be a first step in finding out why.