Finding Serenity

I have visited Calcutta, India, a place of poverty, death, and irremediable human problems. There, the nuns trained by Mother Teresa serve the poorest, most miserable people on the planet: half-dead bodies picked up from the streets of Calcutta. The world stands in awe at the sisters’ dedication and the result of their ministry, but something about these nuns impresses me even more: their serenity. If I tackled such a daunting project, I would likely be scurrying about, faxing press releases to donors, begging for more resources, gulping tranquilizers, grasping at ways to cope with my mounting desperation. Not these nuns.

Their serenity traces back to what takes place before their day’s work begins. At four o’clock in the morning, long before the sun, the sisters rise, awakened by a bell and the call, “Let us bless the Lord.” “Thanks be to God,” they reply. Dressed in spotless white saris, they file into the chapel, where they sit on the floor, Indian-style, and pray and sing together. On the wall of the plain chapel hangs a crucifix with the words, “I thirst.” Before meeting their first “client,” they immerse themselves in worship and in the love of God.

I sense no panic in the sisters who run the Home for the Dying and Destitute in Calcutta. I see concern and compassion, yes, but no obsession over what did not get done. In fact, early on in their work Mother Teresa instituted a rule that her sisters take Thursdays off for prayer and rest. “The work will always be here, but if we do not rest and pray, we will not have the presence to do our work,” she explained. These sisters are not working to complete a caseload sheet for a social service agency. They are working for God. They begin their day with him; they end their day with him, back in the chapel for night prayers; and everything in between they present as an offering to God. God alone determines their worth and measures their success.—Philip Yancey


NBC News

Vladimir Putin Signs Russia's Annexation of Crimea Into Law


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday completing the annexation of Crimea.

The ceremony at the Kremlin means Crimea has become part of the Russian Federation as two administrative districts, Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol.

Before signing the law, Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russian territory as a “remarkable event,” The Associated Press reported.

Western leaders and the new regime in Kiev have rejected the move, claiming Moscow’s actions constitute an illegal land grab.

Putin’s signature marked the end of an official process that he started on Tuesday with a passionate speech in front of members from both houses of parliament.

From there it was sent through the constitutional court and ratified unanimously by the lower and upper houses. However, after Putin gave his official support these stages were seen as a formality.



Russian troops storm three Ukrainian warships as Putin's plan to 'unleash full blown military intervention' sends shockwaves around the world

  • Pro-Russian forces also took control of three Ukrainian navy ships today

  • Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N has expressed fears Russia may be planning a further military incursion into Ukraine's territory

  • 'Russia is on its way to unleash a full blown military intervention' - he said

  • Russian defence officials denied this in telephone call with Pentagon

  • EU leaders met in Brussels today to discuss their response to crisis

  • Placed travel bans and asset freezes on 12 more people with total now 33

  • 'Some of them are really high-ranking' - EU President Herman Van Rompuy

  • Russia imposed entry bans on U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation


PUBLISHED: 04:41 EST, 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:01 EST, 21 March 2014



The Independent Sentinel

Boeing Believes Flight MH370 Is In Taliban Territory in Pakistan – Updates

March 18, 2014

By Sara Noble

All updates have been moved to the end of the article, including a stunning interview with Gen. McInerney

A LIGNET analyst (Langley Intelligence Network Group) is reporting that they received information from a source at Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, that the plane is in Taliban territory in Pakistan.

Boeing has not commented.

The UK paper, The Independent, said that Malaysia is reportedly investigating a theory that flight MH370 could have slipped under Pakistani radars and landed at a Taliban base close to the Afghan border.

Path it would have traveled to Pakistan

The plane was programmed ahead of time, according to the NY Times which released the information last evening on The Kelly File.

One aviation expert, Michael Boyd, appearing on The Kelly File last evening, said he is “worried about the jet finding us.”

Israel has tightened their airport security because they are concerned, according to a report by The Times of Israel. Pilots now have to announce who they are two-and-a-half miles before landing among other unannounced measures.

Update: 22:30 EST: This stunning interview with the very reputable Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney affirms the plane could be in Pakistan.
Lt. Gen.McInerney believes the plane landed in Pakistan both from his sources and from his suspicions about Iran and Pakistan being involved. He does not know the fate of the passengers. He said that if the Navy quits their search in the Indian Ocean, they must know something. For the Israelis to beef up their security, they must know something.

He believes the plane could be used to attack US interests, Israel and so one. It could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction.

The Boeing report out of Langley indicates the plane could be in Western Pakistan. They had enough fuel to make the trip. They appeared to have overloaded the fuel on the plane which may be routine, that’s an unknown.

The pilots had communications through satcom and their FM radio [correction AM], VHF, UHF. They didn’t turn off communications, they turned off navigation aids. The general believes they were listening in on communications and communicating with the target landing base.

The best leaks have come from the US government. He thinks we will know more in the next day or two.


The Voice Of Russia

Crimean referendum corrects USSR mistake, sanctions are inappropriate – Gorbachev

17 March 2014, 17:32

Photo: EPA

The last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev believes that possible western sanctions aimed at Russia after the Crimean referendum are inappropriate. "They must have very good reasons to declare such sanctions. Moreover, this decision must be supported by the UN," Mikhail Gorbachev said on Monday.

"This cannot be done on the grounds of free will of the people in the region, and the possible integration of the Crimea into the Russian Federation " he added. Gorbachev welcomed the referendum, which "ended so successfully, meeting the expectations of the Crimean people."

"Previously, the Crimea was annexed to Ukraine under Soviet law, meaning the Communist party did it without asking the people. Now the people themselves have decided to correct this mistake. We should welcome their decision, rather than impose sanctions for it," Gorbachev said.




Right Sector leader: Kiev should be ready to sabotage Russian pipelines in Ukraine

Published time: March 16, 2014 12:33

Edited time: March 16, 2014 16:03 1

The leader of ultranationalist group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory if a diplomatic solution is not reached with Moscow.

In a fiery address loaded warmongering rhetoric, Yarosh told his followers they should be ready to resist the Russian “occupiers.” The leader of the Right Sector made his address to the coup-appointed government in Kiev, as Crimeans made their way to ballots Sunday to vote to join with Russia or to remain within Ukraine.

“We cannot allow the enemy to carry out a blitzkrieg attack on Ukrainian territory. We mustn’t forget that Russia makes money sending its oil through our pipelines to the West. We will destroy these pipelines and deprive our enemy of its source of income,” Yarosh said.

Continuing the bellicose rhetoric, Yarosh appealed to his followers, urging them to take up arms against Russia, if a diplomatic solution cannot be reached.

Yarosh said that Crimea was too small to satisfy the appetite of the “Russian Empire,” and that the Kremlin would seek to take over the whole of Ukraine.

“Let the ground burn under the feet of the occupiers! Let them choke on their own blood when they attack our territory! Not one step back! We will not allow Moscow’s beserk, totalitarian regime to spark a Third World War!”

The phrase “Not one step back!” was used in a famous order by Joseph Stalin during WWII and became a popular slogan for the Soviet people’s resistance against the Nazis. Yarosh’s use of this particular rhetoric attracted attention from many observers, given that the members of his Right Sector group are known to use Nazi insignia.

Russia put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.

Yarosh has declared his intentions of running for Ukrainian president in May.

The Right Sector movement, an amalgamation of several far-right groups, was formed in November 2013.

Members of the radical movement were very active in the violence which triggered the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich. The Right Sector refused to recognize the Feb. 21 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition leaders, and declared that they would fight him until his ouster.

Right Sector’s fighters used clubs, petrol bombs and firearms against the Ukrainian police. Even after the coup, some members of the movement continued to use rifles and pistols.

Last week, a proposal was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, suggesting that Right Sector be transformed into a regular unit of the armed forces.



ANALYSIS: To understand Pope Francis, look to the Jesuits

David Gibson

Mar 11, 2014

A Swiss Guard salutes as Pope Francis and cardinals leave a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican on Feb. 20. The pope asked the world’s cardinals and those about to be made cardinals to meet at the Vatican Feb. 20-21 to discuss the church’s pastoral approach to the family. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Figuring out why Pope Francis has upended so many expectations, how exactly he’s changed the Catholic Church in his first year and what he might be contemplating for the future has become a Catholic parlor game that is almost as popular as the pontiff himself.

A single key can best answer all of these questions: Francis’ longstanding identity as a Jesuit priest.

It’s an all-encompassing personal and professional definition that the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio brought with him from Buenos Aires, and one that continues to shape almost everything he does as Pope Francis.

“He may act like a Franciscan but he thinks like a Jesuit,” quipped the Rev. Thomas Reese, a fellow Jesuit who is a columnist for National Catholic Reporter.

In fact, it would be easy to mistake this new pope for a Franciscan, given his emphasis on helping society’s outcasts and his decision to become the first pope to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the poor. Yet he’s the first pope from the Society of Jesus, the religious community whose worldly-wise intellectuals are as famous as its missionaries and martyrs.

Indeed, behind that “Jesuit” label lies a centuries-old history and a unique brand of spiritual formation that go a long way toward understanding who Francis is and where he is taking the church.

From his passion for social justice and his missionary zeal to his focus on engaging the wider world and his preference for collaboration over peremptory action, Francis is a Jesuit through and through. And as the first Jesuit pope, he brings sharply etched memories of being part of a community that’s been viewed with deep suspicion by Rome, most recently by his own predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Jesuit priests are explicitly discouraged from becoming bishops, much less pope, and that outsider’s sensibility helps to explain Francis’ almost breezy willingness to dispense with centuries of closely guarded and cherished tradition.

“We never imagined that a Jesuit could become pope. It was an impossible thing,” said the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit who conducted a book-length interview with the pope and knows him well. “It sent me into a crisis, in a sense, when he was elected. We Jesuits are supposed to be at the service of the pope, not to be a pope.”

What is a Jesuit?

The Society of Jesus, as it is formally known, was begun in the 1530s by Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque soldier who underwent a profound religious transformation while convalescing from war wounds. Ignatius composed the Spiritual Exercises, used to guide the Jesuits’ well-known retreats, and in 1540, along with six other theology students at the University of Paris, he won recognition from Pope Paul III as an official church order.

In many ways, the Jesuits are like other religious orders, such as the Franciscans or Dominicans. Jesuits take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and they live in community, sharing everything. But unlike diocesan priests, they are not ordained to a particular geographic diocese to serve the local bishop.

Jesuits are an all-male order; there are no Jesuit sisters. The society has an almost military-style structure and ethos, its shock troops willing to go wherever and whenever the church needs them. They are “contemplatives in action,” in the words of St. Ignatius, and have an especially lengthy period of study and spiritual preparation before taking vows, usually 10 years or more.

Even then, the process is not complete. After another few years, most Jesuits take a special fourth vow of obedience “in regards to mission” to the pope.

If the church needs priests to re-convert souls lost to the Protestant Reformation, the Jesuits are on it. If they are needed to bring Catholicism to new lands, such as Asia or Latin America, they’ll buy a one-way ticket. To advance the church’s mission, the Jesuits have shaped generations of minds through universities such as Georgetown, Fordham and Boston College.

Despite their simple beginnings, the Jesuits quickly became (and remain) the largest order in the Catholic Church. Its leader was called “the Black Pope” for his distinctive, austere black cassock as well as his perceived power. It’s little wonder the cardinals never wanted to elect a Jesuit as the actual pope — and no wonder the society wound up a target of the church it was called serve.

In 1773, Catholic monarchs jealous of the Jesuits’ influence and independence pressured Pope Clement XIV to suppress the order, declaring the society “perpetually broken up and dissolved.” Yet in 1814, the order was restored — an anniversary that Jesuits are celebrating this year along with the election of one of their own to the throne of St. Peter.

In the 1960s, the Jesuits collectively opted for a decisive shift to emphasizing working on behalf of the poor and for social justice. In the developing world, that put Jesuits on the front lines of popular movements for the poor, such as liberation theology, and led to martyrdom at times; in El Salvador, six Jesuits, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, were brutally executed by a Salvadoran military unit in 1989.

At the same time, the Vatican under Pope John Paul II — aided by his doctrinal czar, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — investigated, sanctioned and sometimes silenced Jesuit theologians who were considered too eager to marry the gospel to suspect social movements.

Jesuits have also fallen victim to what some call the “white martyrdom” at the hands of the pope. As recently as 2005, Reese was forced out as editor of the Jesuits’ America magazine when his longtime foe, Cardinal Ratzinger, was elected Pope Benedict XVI and ordered the society to fire him.

What kind of a Jesuit is Francis?

As a Jesuit in Argentina, ordained in 1969, Jorge Bergoglio also found himself in the midst of all this tumult. He had initially joined the Jesuits in the 1950s because he was “attracted to its position on, to put it in military terms, the front lines of the church.” But little did he know how serious the combat would become.

The Argentine “Dirty Wars” erupted during the 1970s, and the violence that overtook the country also threatened many priests — especially Jesuits — even as the regime co-opted much of the hierarchy. Bergoglio was made superior of the Argentine Jesuits at the age of 36, thrown into a situation of internal and external chaos that would have tried even the most seasoned leaders.

“That was crazy. I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made my decisions abruptly and by myself,” Francis said last year, acknowledging that his “authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative.”

Bergoglio fully embraced the Jesuits’ radical turn to championing the poor, though he was seen as an enemy of liberation theology, and many Jesuits, while others in the order were devoted to him. He turned away from devotional traditionalism but was viewed by others as still far too orthodox. Critics labeled him a collaborator with the Argentine military junta even though biographies show that he worked carefully and clandestinely to save many lives.

None of that ended the intrigue against Bergoglio within the Jesuits, and in the early 1990s he was effectively exiled from Buenos Aires to an outlying city, “a time of great interior crisis,” as he’s put it.

In classic Jesuit tradition, however, Bergoglio complied with the society’s demands and sought to find God’s will in it all. Paradoxically, his virtual estrangement from the Jesuits encouraged Cardinal Antonio Quarracino of Buenos Aires to appoint Bergoglio as an assistant bishop in 1992.

“Maybe a bad Jesuit can become a good bishop,” an Argentine Jesuit said at the time.

In 1998, Bergoglio succeeded Quarracino as archbishop. In 2001, John Paul made Bergoglio a cardinal, one of just two Jesuits in the 120-member College of Cardinals.

His rise in the hierarchy, however, only seemed to cement suspicions about him among his foes among the Jesuits. During his regular visits to Rome, Bergoglio never stayed at the Jesuit headquarters but rather at a clerical guest house with other prelates. In the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict XVI, Bergoglio was the runner-up, a near-miss that left many Jesuits breathing a sigh of relief.

So when Bergoglio was chosen as pope in March of 2013, one could almost hear the collective gasp in Jesuit communities around the world.

“The fact that he had been somewhat rejected, internally, by the Jesuits, if not for that he probably would not have become a bishop,” said the Rev. Humberto Miguel Yanez, an Argentine Jesuit like Francis, who heads the moral theology department at the Gregorian University in Rome – a Jesuit school sometimes called “the pope’s Harvard.”

And if he had not become a bishop he would not have become a cardinal and, ultimately, pope, since the College of Cardinals by tradition chooses each successor to St. Peter from among their own ranks.

“The stone that the builders rejected,” Yanez quipped, citing Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew, “became the cornerstone.”

What will a Jesuit pope mean for the church?

Now, of course, all is forgiven, and then some. Francis is a “brother among brothers,” as the current head of the order, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, put it, and Francis has made a point of highlighting the importance of the Jesuits and the Ignatian way for the church.

Francis also knows how much the Jesuits are still resented by some corners in the church, and especially in the Vatican, but he has not let that alter his own deeply Jesuitical style.

Last December, he circumvented the usual protocols to canonize one of Ignatius’ original companions, Peter Favre, whom Francis has praised for being “in dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents.” The same could be said for Francis’ papal style. He lives simply, rejecting the traditional papal apartments to live in a small community inside a Vatican guest house.

The pope also preaches forcefully that other clerics, and especially the hierarchy, should eschew the perks and privileges of their office and instead learn to act and live like the servants of their flock he says they’re called to be.

Francis’ pastoral style extends to his mode of governance. One of his first actions as pope was to name a council of eight cardinals from around the world — none of them from the dysfunctional Roman Curia — to serve as a kitchen Cabinet, much the way Jesuit superiors operate. He has used a similar model for tackling specific tasks as well, such as overhauling the Vatican’s finances.

“The whole concept of setting up committees, consulting widely, convening smart people around you — I believe that is how Jesuit superiors probably function,” said Ken Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. “Then you make the decision.”

This sort of discernment — listening to all and contemplating everything before acting — is a cardinal virtue of the Ignatian spirituality that is at the core of Francis’ being and his commitment to a “conversion” of the papacy as well as the entire church. “The journey from Bergoglio to Francis may mean that the journey is not yet complete,” as papal biographer Paul Vallely writes.

But that also means that it’s hard to say exactly what will come next. Francis is shrewd and he has repeatedly praised the Jesuit trait of “holy cunning” — that Christians should be “wise as serpents but innocent as doves,” as Jesus put it. The pope’s openness, however, also a signature of his Jesuit training and development, means that not even he is sure where the spirit will lead.

“I confess that, because of my disposition, the first answer that comes to me is usually wrong,” Francis said in a 2010 interview.“I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have all the questions. I always think of new questions, and there are always new questions coming forward.”



CP Entertainment

Stephen Baldwin Shares Message From Holy Spirit for Rihanna After Watching 'What Now' Music Video?

'You Can Return to Jesus,' Actor Shares Purported Message From God to Pop Singer


March 18, 2014|4:49 pm


Pop star Rihanna appears in the music video "What Now."

Insisting that he does not "usually do this," actor and outspoken Christian Stephen Baldwin posted a message onlineT uesday that he says the Holy Spirit revealed to him while watching pop star Rihanna's emotional and gritty "What Now" music video.

"I usually don't do this but just saw the @rihanna vid 'what now' near the end they flash the cross & the next thing she sings ... is 'I don't know where to go' & the Holy Spirit responded with these words ... 'yes you do, you have known me all along, from when you were a child you remember the name of Jesus, His light on your face, His joy in your heart, You can return to Jesus,'" Baldwin wrote Tuesday, in a message apparently meant for Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

He added, "[And] then perhaps by chance? The YouTube time code in that moment was 3:29 ... & I felt the Holy Spirit say 'book of John'. & John 3:29 Reads as follows … 29 'He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.'"

The video Baldwin references in his statement, "What Now," appears on Rihanna's seventh studio album, Unapologetic from 2012. The video, filmed in 2013, appears below:

Rihanan's "What Now" music video

Rihanna's "What Now" song was praised by critics, some of whom also noted the similarity of the related music video to the setting of a horror film. In a preview article for "What Now," Rihanna herself describes the video as "eerie, very creepy" and "a little demented."

Although Rihanna, 26 and from the overwhelming Christian island of Barbados, sports a cross tattoo, references God in interviews and is a big fan of Christian preacher and author Joyce Meyer, it was unclear if the singer claims Christianity as her faith. Tweets she posted in 2012 in which she appeared to tell off Satan also drew the attention of fans, some of whom have longed questioned how her faith might affect her music career.

The tweets mentioning Satan were apparently so disturbing to some, that at least one blogger suggested that people "pray for Rihanna."

The blogger, suggesting at the time that spiritual warfare was at play in Rihanna's on- and off-again relationship with singer Chris Brown, who physically assaulted her in 2009, suggested that those concerned about her welfare should pray that she would "reconnect with God."

While it was unclear if Rihanna was a practicing Christian, it has been reported that she grew up with a strong Christian influence, and regularly had a bishop visit her home to minister to her family. During the 2013 American Music Awards, Rihanna's mother presented the singer with the first-ever Icon Award, and said before addressing her daughter at the mic, "First of all, I'd like to say all praises and honor be to God Almighty through Jesus."

Baldwin, who says he became a born-again Christian after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, posted his message concerning Rihanna for his 35,000 Twitter followers to read. It was not known if Baldwin had attempted to contact the singer privately.



  • Could we condemn criminals to suffer for hundreds of years? Biotechnology could let us extend convicts' lives 'indefinitely'

  • This is the scenario being explored by researchers at Oxford University

  • They claim life extension tech could mean prisoners serve longer sentences

  • Philosopher Dr Rebecca Roache also writes in her blog that a time distortion pill could make people feel like they were in prison longer

  • Another scenario the group looked at was uploading mind to a digital realm

  • Running it a million times faster than normal would enable the uploaded criminal to serve a 1,000 year sentence in eight-and-a-half hours


PUBLISHED: 05:37 EST, 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 02:12 EST, 15 March 2014

Sentencing a criminal to 1,000 years in an artificial hell may one day become a reality.

At least, that is the claim of scientists at Oxford University who have been exploring controversial technologies that could extend human life.

They say billions are being invested in techniques that could mean the cruellest criminals will be kept alive indefinitely in condition befitting their crime.

Last year, a team of scientists led by Rebecca Roache began exploring technologies that could keep prisoners in an artificial hell

According to their research, prison firms could also develop drugs that make time pass slowly, making an inmate’s sentence feel like an eternity.

Last year, a team of scientists led by Rebecca Roache began exploring technologies that could keep prisoners in an artificial hell.

‘Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying,’ Dr Roache told Ross Andersen in Aeon magazine.

‘Dr Aubrey de Grey, co-founder of the anti-ageing Sens research foundation, believes that the first person to live to 1,000 years has already been born,’ she said.

‘The benefits of such radical lifespan enhancement are obvious - but it could also be harnessed to increase the severity of punishments’

As well as extending life, Dr Roache noted that there are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people’s sense of time.

She said that society might not be far off developing a pill that could make someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence.

Turning to human engineering as a possible solutions, Dr Roache looks at the idea of life span enhancements so that a life sentence in prison can last hundreds of years. The technology could be used on the most serious crimes.

‘Of course, there is a widely held view that any amount of tinkering with a person’s brain is unacceptably invasive,’ she said. ‘But you might not need to interfere with the brain directly.’

Time distortion, for instance, is already a technique used in interrogation, where people are exposed to constant light, or unusual light changes, so that they can’t tell what time of day it is.

Another scenario being explored by the group is uploading the criminal's mind to a digital realm to speed up the 1,000 year sentence.

‘As the technology required to scan and map human brain processes improves, some believe it will one day be possible to upload human minds on to computers,’ Dr Roache said.

This means that with sufficient computer power, it would be possible to speed up the rate at which an uploaded mind runs.

Prison firms could also soon develop drugs that make time pass slowly, making an inmate¿s sentence feel like an eternity

Similarly, uploading the mind of a convicted criminal and running it a million times faster than normal would enable the uploaded criminal to serve a 1,000 year sentence in eight-and-a-half hours.

‘This would, obviously, be much cheaper for the taxpayer than extending criminals’ lifespans to enable them to serve 1,000 years in real time,’ said Dr Roache.

If these technologies are developed, one crime that could ever justify eternal imprisonment was something that would endanger mankind.

‘Suppose there was some physics experiment that stood a decent chance of generating a black hole that could destroy the planet and all future generations,’ said Dr Roache.'If someone deliberately set up an experiment like that, I could see that being the kind of supercrime that would justify an eternal sentence.’

("...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one." Albert Einstein)

Natural Blaze

The Real Expiration Date for Common Foods

Saturday, March 15, 2014

By Heather Callaghan

The regulation guidelines for expired foods are few and arbitrary, really. They are also voluntary. They sprang up in the 1970s for more consumer information and perceived freshness. Expiration labels are only required by law for infant formula and baby foods; other laws regarding dairy are left up to some states and vary. There is waste before, during and after a food item's grocery stay. Now, more than ever, when throwing out food we're unsure of, it feels like trashing bags of money - and most of it is completely unnecessary. But nobody wants too read yet another scolding article about it. So...

Now that we know our expiration labels don't tell us anything at all - where do we go from here? What can we eat with confidence?

First, let's define some terms for the dates printed on food products:

Expiration - This is an estimated date for when the item is expected to go bad and the consumer is expected to proceed with caution. Still, a surprisingly large amount of these can be expanded, with some exceptions.

Sell by - That's for the retailer, not for you. It's about peak quality, like with flavor. It's for store display and maddeningly, much of this gets tossed - prompting a "dumpster dive" revolution. Wouldn't it be nice if people didn't have to relegate themselves to a dumpster to get this perfectly good food? But in the dump it goes first.

Best if Used By/Before and Use By - Again, these refer to quality, not safety.

Pack or Born On - This is the manufacture date stamp and often refers to canned goods and beer.

Guaranteed Fresh - This is mostly the baker's way of letting you know how long you can enjoy the baked good before it possibly goes stale. It doesn't mean it's harmful, but could be stale.

Yogurt and deli meat can last a week to 10 days more than the "sell by" date. Salami at two to three weeks. Most fresh meats, especially poultry and seafood, should be cooked and eaten within days. Eggs a whopping five weeks after expiration. When in doubt, gently place eggs in a big bowl of cold water filled to the top. If the eggs float, toss them. If they "stand up" that just means they are not as fresh but are still okay to eat.

Packaged items can last a long time after expiration but after months you may notice a staleness and waxy taste which could be rancid oils. Packaged and canned items can generally last a year or more after the stamped date.

The key to keeping storable foods the longest, is cool, dry and airtight. Canned goods included. If you see bulging cans - do not open! It's rare, but it could be botulism. Bill Nye made this crystal clear to me as a kid.

Real Simple and iVillage offer a list of items and a "true" expiration, some lasting for years, but again, take with a grain of salt. Throwing out opened juice after a week in the fridge? No way! Of course if you make your juice yourself, ideally, it should be consumed immediately for best benefits. Whole, natural foods and drinks do not generally last as long as the grocery store - but you knew that! For instance, when I buy homemade bread I know to freeze it, otherwise mold is great indicator I waited one day too long. Lesson learned. Raw honey can last forever and honey and brown sugar indefinitely.

Cheese can have a long fridge life too. According to one naturopath, Kerrygold cheese from grassfed cows can be bought in bulk at Whole Foods and sit in the fridge for six months - mine is still fine after one month.

Is it really a great idea to be eating old food? Debatable. Some fruits like bananas can have added benefits with age. Ayurvedic principles frown on old or rotten food for its effect on the body or bio-rhythms (except for items better with age or fermentation). But, I've seen depression-era folks charge through their 80's having lived a frugal life eating the bad fruits first, expired foods and keeping the fridge well above the suggested 40 degree mark. (Where can I get an immune system like that!)

The bottom line is that expiration is perception and to follow your nose and your gut. If something smells or tastes funny, do not risk it! Common sense and intuition are our friends and thankfully, we are much less likely to get sick in a clean home than from a restaurant. If you think you might get food poisoning, immediately take homeopathic Arscenicum Album 30c and Activated Charcoal.

What have you noticed that you can eat after the stamped date?

Two websites devoted completely to real expiration dates:

Until next week...keep on believing.
Almondtree Productions

Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.”
(Isaiah 30:5)