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The Hispanic Paradox: U.S. Hispanics Live Longer, Despite Socio-Economic Hurdles

July 10, 2009 by  

When it comes to Hispanics and health care, the horror stories are well known. Less so is the mysterious phenomenon known as the “Hispanic Paradox.”

Again and again, we hear that the Hispanic population is disproportionately beset by the bugbears of poverty, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and lack of access to quality health coverage and insurance.

These unfortunate facts are indisputable. But what many people don’t realize is that, when it comes to the bottom line — that is, mortality — the news for Hispanics is good. Very good.

In the United States, Hispanics, despite their socio-economic hurdles, on average live longer than blacks by seven years, and whites by five years, says Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, a professor of medicine at UCLA.

“There’s something about being Latino that is good for their health,” Hayes-Bautista told HispanicBusiness.com, adding wryly: “Just think if we had access to health care.”

Widely known as the “Hispanic Paradox,” the phenomenon was discovered and coined by researchers decades ago.

Now, Hayes-Bautista is on the front lines trying to figure out why this is so.

“There’s something going on here,” he said. “Is it diet, is it family, is it spiritual, is it the Latino mind-body balance? I don’t know.”

In 2007, the Public Policy Institute of California found that the average lifespan of a Hispanic man in that state is 77.5 years, compared to 75.5 among white males and 68.6 among black males. The lifespan of Hispanic men was topped only by Asian men, whose average lifespan came in at 80.4.

In 2008, the National Center for Health Statistics released a study showing that the overall mortality rate for Hispanics in 2006 was 550 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 778 for whites, and 1,001 for blacks.

Hayes-Bautista said that Hispanics in the United States are 35 percent less likely than whites to die of heart disease, and 40 percent less likely to develop cancer.

Immigration plays a factor, he said, albeit a small one.

Immigrants, he said, are far less likely than U.S. born Hispanics to smoke, drink, do drugs and contract sexually transmitted diseases. Similarly, he said, U.S.-born Hispanics with high levels of education also tend to avoid these high-risk behaviors and their consequences.

This might lead one to ask whether this means that Mexicans live healthier than Americans. Not so, according to the CIA World Factbook of 2008.

On that index, the life expectancy of Americans in 2008 reached 78 (a national record). For Mexicans, it was about 76.

However, Hayes-Bautista said the lifestyle in rural Mexico is much healthier than that of urban Mexico. What’s more, he says, the bulk of Hispanic immigrants in America hail from the rural pockets of Mexico.

Elena Rios, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said overall, the immigrant Hispanics are younger, and abide by healthier habits, than U.S. born Hispanics.

“With the immigrants, the first generation has healthier habits: less driving, less smoking, less fast foods, more walking,” she told HispanicBusiness.com. “As the second-generation Hispanic families happen, they pick up the Western — the American — lifestyle.”

As a result, Rios said she wants any healthcare reform package to include an educational component urging Hispanics to get back to their basics, such as traditional foods.

“It is important to have more prevention and education when they are younger, before they get into bad habits,” she said.

To read the full article click here.

Author: Rob Kuznia

Source: HispanicBusiness.com

Pope Benedict XVI Calls for New Economic Structure

July 10, 2009 by  

ROME  -Pope Benedict XVI criticized the international economic system today and called for a new global structure based on social responsibility, concern for the dignity of the worker and a respect for ethics.

“Today’s international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding human enterprise,” Benedict wrote in his latest encyclical, which is the most authoritative document a pope can issue. “Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for business is they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limited in their social value.”

In the sweeping 144-page document, Benedict sketches out a new vision of a world economy radically different from the current model and one where access to food and water is a universal right, wealthy nations share their wealth with poorer ones, and where profit is not the ultimate goal of commerce. He advocated the creation of a “world political authority” to manage the global economy.

He denounces “badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing” for causing the current economic meltdown. The primary capital to be safeguarded is people, and he argues economic systems need to be guided by charity and truth.

The encyclical comes one day before President Obama and leaders of other wealthy nations are to gather in L’Aquila, Italy, and discuss the global economic crisis at a G8 summit. The timing demonstrates Benedict, 82, aims to insert his voice into that discussion by focusing on the moral underpinnings of the global meltdown and offering specific prescriptions, such as encouraging micro-finance and irrigation systems in poor countries.

He is scheduled to meet with Obama on Friday and is expected to raise the issues discussed in the encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth). This is Benedict’s third encyclical since taking office three years ago. He has been working on this document since 2007, but has said he delayed releasing it to reflect the world’s current economic troubles.

Analysts say the document places the normally conservative pontiff on the left when it comes to economic issues.

In all, though, “Benedict is significantly to the left of any major political position in the United States,” said Vincent J. Miller, a professor of Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton. “You don’t have anything like this kind of trenchant critique of capitalism.”

Benedict also repeated his previous urging humans show more respect toward the environment. But this time he added specific prescriptions — more research into alternative energy, a worldwide distribution of energy resources and pushing more advanced countries to lower their energy consumption, either through technology or through greater “ecological sensitivity” among citizens.

To read the full article click here.

Author:  Jacqueline L. Salmon

Source: Washington Post

Photo Essay of Conservation Corridor threatened by the Border Wall

July 10, 2009 by  

Launch the photo essay featuring the Chihuahuan Desert!

In the heart of North America’s largest desert lies a biological oasis—a little-known expanse of basin and range straddling both sides of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands, as it is called, is a sparsely populated 30- million-acre wilderness where barren lunarscapes, arid scrublands and cactus forests coexist with majestic canyons, lush grasslands and pine-oak woodlands.

To the abundant populations of year-round and migrating wildlife, the borderlands is a land without borders, a single ecosystem that rivals Greater Yellowstone in its biodiversity. Hundreds of species use the borderlands as a migratory megacorridor, including monarch butterflies, black bear and more than 10 species of hummingbirds. Populations of elk, pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep flourish as well.

Hovering several thousand feet above are sky islands—desert mountains whose peaks snag clouds and drain their moisture. These mountains nourish the region’s relict forests of oak and pine trees and isolated stands of Douglas fir and quaking aspen. This rich habitat is one reason why more than 400 bird species have been seen in the 800,000-acre Big Bend National Park—more than in any other national park in the United States.

The borderlands are the linchpin of one of North America’s most vital wildlife corridors. And yet the region is also the focus of plans that would fashion a barrier along the border, although it is difficult to imagine a more effective deterrent than the canyon walls that rise as high as 2,000 feet above the river.

While most of the discussion about fences has centered on urban areas, concern is being voiced about the potential impact barriers in more remote areas would have on wildlife. “The specter of any kind of barrier that would preclude the movements of native and migratory wildlife back and forth between the United States and Mexico causes us a great deal of consternation,” says Carter Smith, director of the Conservancy’s Texas chapter. Other, more conservation-friendly tactics should be considered in the Chihuahuan Borderlands, he says, such as vehicle barriers, surveillance technologies, and stepped-up border and aerial patrols.

Whatever the outcome, the Conservancy and partners plan to press ahead. “The borderlands is one landscape, irrespective of political boundaries,” says Smith. “We are participating in an extensive binational conservation effort.” Private land owners, agricultural cooperatives, corporations, governments and conservation groups have banded together to place more than 2 million acres on both sides of the border under some kind of protection. And more land is being added every year. Through their efforts, the borderlands remains one of the continent’s wildest places.

to read whole article click here.

Aurhor:  Joe Nick Patoski

Source: nature.org

“In The Heights” in your living room

June 11, 2009 by  

PBS’s Emmy Award winning show “New York Voices” went  behind the scenes at the new musical In The Heights.  The exclusive half-hour program introduced viewers to the cast and creative team of In The Heights, inviting them into the rehearsal hall, orchestra rehearsals, and on stage for the first Broadway performance of the new Broadway musical. Produced by Bob Morris and hosted by Rafael Pr Roman, “New York Voices.”

In The Heights opened Sunday, March 9, 2008, at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street).  With music and lyrics by ASCAP’s 2007 Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegría Hudes and conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights is directed by Joseph A. Callaway Award-winner Thomas Kail and choreographed by Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Joseph A. Callaway Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler.

In The Heights star Andréa Burns, Janet Dacal, Robin De Jesús, Carlos Gomez, Mandy Gonzalez, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, Olga Merediz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Karen Olivo and Seth Stewart leading a cast of 27. 

“In The Heights is a quintessential New York musical about a vibrant and tight-knit community at the top of the island of Manhattan. The music pulses with the hopes and dreams of three generations as they struggle to forge an identity in a neighborhood on the brink of transition,” describe press notes.

52nd National Puerto Rican Day Parade this Sunday

June 11, 2009 by  

If you thought Fifth Ave. gets noisy during parades, wait until Sunday.

According to New York Daily News Some 50 singers and bands will raise the volume at the 52nd National Puerto Rican Day Parade, which this year is dedicated to Boricua music.

Leading the musical extravaganza is the king of the parade, romantic salsa superstar Víctor Manuelle, taking a break from his tour promoting his latest album, “Muy Personal.”

“On this day, we are one people, one homeland. We are connected from here to Puerto Rico via television, via telephone,” Manuelle said. “Everyone knows what happens at the Puerto Rican parade.”

Manuelle will be joined by Puerto Rican stars from a wide range of music genres, including multi-Grammy winners Olga Tañón, Eddie Palmieri and José Feliciano.

“The parade is a beautiful thing,” said Feliciano. “I’ve tried in my own way to represent the island with dignity, with pride, and that’s for me what it means to be Puerto Rican.”

Feliciano, 63, who will be riding in a convertible up Fifth Ave., will sing two classic numbers at the Daily News stage, “En Mi Viejo San Juan” and “La Borinqueña,” Puerto Rico’s national anthem.

The parade kicks off Sunday at 11 a.m. at Fifth Ave. and 44th St. and makes its way up to 86th St.

It is dedicated to the west coast Puerto Rican city of ­Mayagüez, which is sending a contingent of 2,000 people and five oxen-pulled carts.

David Bernier, president of the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee, who, Lugo said, has “dedicated his life to the mental health of youth,” was chosen as the national grand marshal.

Legendary radio personality Polito Vega, who marks 50 years on the air this year, is being honored as a parade godfather.

Other confirmed attendees are salsa singers Willie Colón and Gilberto Santa Rosa, reggaetonero Tito El Bambino and pop singer Lissette Álvarez.

“The biggest Hispanic music concert in New York City is the National Puerto Rican Day Parade,” boasted Carlos Velázquez, the parade’s marketing agent. “We have confirmed playing at the same time in the same place 46 orchestras.”

Organizers hope the added musical power will finally push the official attendance figures past the 3 million mark.

“Even though the [economic] situation is difficult, we Puerto Ricans always celebrate and always party.”

To find out more about the party click here.

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