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Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Matchstick Dwellings: How to Stay Safe

Matchstick Dwellings: How to Stay Safe


By Tammy Duffy




As the building industry evolves, it's constantly developing ways to create building materials and methods that can allow construction to be done in the most efficient way possible. Building professionals and engineers are working to decrease the time involved in not only the production but the installation, as well. There are towns that brag about their economic development, but in actuality they are developing matchstick hotels and fast burning dwellings. The focus on resident safety is not existent. It’s money over life.


Cost is clearly the driving force in these decisions.  A physical example of this evolution has been the introduction of lightweight construction. It's brought serious ramifications to the fire service and how work is done on the fire ground.


A few weeks ago we all witnessed in the news the fire that occurred at the Edgewater dwelling in Bergen County, N.J.  The Avalon at Edgewater complex -- built on the site where the Avalon River Mews was consumed by an inferno as construction neared completion in 2000 -- resembled a battlefield: shattered walls, scorched timbers, a haze of thick, choking smoke.


Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore said Avalon maintenance workers were using a blowtorch to perform plumbing repairs in a first-floor apartment at about 4 p.m. when the fire began inside a wall. Instead of immediately calling 911, the workers first phoned their supervisor, leading to a 15-minute delay in the emergency response, Skidmore said.  That decision, the chief said, “certainly didn’t help” in stopping the fire’s spread.  “It was mostly a big contributor because it was a delay in the response of the fire department," he said.


The fire raged for nearly seven hours, destroying 240 of the complex’s 408 units. Two firefighters and two civilians suffered minor injuries. More than 500 people lost their homes, and about 520 others from neighboring buildings and houses were displaced temporarily. Christie, at the afternoon press conference, pledged his administration’s assistance. What will his assistance be, get the people back on their feet? That is not enough. There has to be changes made to the building codes in NJ to safeguard the residents of the state.







“If it was made out of concrete and cinder block, we wouldn’t have this sort of problem,” Edgewater Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said. “It’s very difficult because once it’s in the walls and floors, we’re chasing it.”


This was not the first time a fire raged through the Edgewater complex. A fire in 2000 also involved wood-frame construction. That blaze destroyed four buildings. The fire alarm and sprinkler systems worked properly during that large fire at Avalon, and the two-building complex, owned by AvalonBay Communities, met all state and local fire codes.


State and federal standards require many public buildings, including schools and town halls, to incorporate studs made out of metal so that if a fire breaks out, the studs will be among the last things to fall, said Judson Moore, president of the New Jersey State Fire Chiefs Association and a firefighter in Cumberland County. Why is this same requirement not made in residential dwellings and hotels being built?


The real point of this article to create awareness; if you have not altered your approach and attack on these types of fires, you need to adjust immediately. A recent walk around a construction site in Hamilton , NJ (Mercer County) demonstrated a new matchstick hotel going up.  (see attached photos). There are no metal studs demonstrated in the new structure that is going up.  There are a few metal studs evident in the structure that was built first on the property, but that strategy has changed and its all wood. A conversation with local firefighters revealed that although these buildings meet code, but they are a large challenge for fire fighters. Those who chose to stay at these hotels will have no idea of the risks associated with the dwelling upon entering it.


When structures are made wholly of wood, collapses are often inevitable. Firefighters can’t fight that from the interior.   They have to back out and fight it in a defensive mode, where they’re not going inside unless absolutely necessary to save lives. Those in the dwelling are on their own to get out.


As demonstrated in the fire in Bergen county recently, firefighters continued to douse hot spots in the wreckage.  Due to the complex’s lightweight wood-frame construction, the fire spread so rapidly.  The firefighters were all but helpless to contain it.


Although these lightweight construction  materials reduce construction costs and have consistently demonstrated equivalent or even superior quality under non-fire conditions, the same cannot be said when these materials are exposed to fire loading during a residential structure fire. The result is progressive structural collapse due to the failure of these lightweight structures, resulting in firefighter injuries and death.


Over 1,700 firefighters have died since the year 2000 due to getting trapped in buildings due to collapse. (Source: FEMA) These firefighters were killed after becoming lost, caught or trapped in structures. Numbers like these should motivate us to ask why our current fire attack tactics aren’t sufficient to allow us to fight structure fires in a way that gets the job done, protects occupants and prevents us from getting killed in the process. Why are town leaderships allowing this type of construction?


Over the past few years, you may have noticed an increase in reports of firefighter close calls and fatalities related to lightweight construction, which has hopefully created better awareness of the issue within the fire service. It has forced departments to evolve further to differentiate between conventional framing and those using lightweight pre-engineered materials. There is extensive training programs that have been developed by  UL and other agencies to assist the firefighters in their efforts.


The introduction of lightweight construction materials should have changed the way people operate on the fire ground. A series of tests done by the UL offered some glaring results. The failure time of a non protected 2x10 framing member was 18 minutes and 30 seconds after ignition time, and the equivalent member in a "TJI" failed in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.


There’s a contention today that building construction is getting more complex and creating more hazards for firefighters. This is true. But the real reason firefighters get killed in structures is that they’re operating with a set of assumptions about structural integrity that may or may not be true—even from one month to the next. This begs the question, “How much do you know about modern building construction?” How much do the Mayors and planning boards in towns really understand the fire hazards associated with these lightweight construction buildings? Are they only focused on allowing companies to come in and build and have lost sight on the safety of the people who will live and stay in the buildings?




How can you protect yourself and your fellow firefighters? Firefighters need to develop a culture of continual and evolving size-up. We have heard it a million times; "Size-up starts when the tones go out." But for me, size-up starts when you wake up in the morning. Size-up will also need to evolve over time to allow for changes in the fire industry, the construction industry, and changes in your own response area. We all need to take ownership of this.


Size-up for today is only as good as today. We need to educate our firefighters to be able to rapidly identify various types of construction, and the methods and materials utilized. Consider developing a system to notify responding firefighters of potential construction hazards. The towns that are allowing this lightweight construction to take place as part of their economic development should be forced by the state government to have mandatory training for their firefighters and residents.


Certain communities have already developed a hazmat-like placard system that allows responding firefighters to determine the type of construction upon arrival. The signage design and location would be in a predetermined location enforced by the local building and code officials. Children should be educated on this in the school systems as part of their annual fire safety curricula. 


As mentioned, one aspect of building construction that firefighters must know about is lightweight wood construction. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recognized that there needed to be more accurate and relevant information regarding lightweight construction so firefighters could achieve a safer operational environment. As such, the USFA partnered with the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to develop a comprehensive Web-based educational program about lightweight construction components—information that has not been provided in an easily accessible format in the past. Included in this program is FireFrame, an interactive tool on building construction that was developed with the assistance of several state and local fire training systems.


Structural collapse is always a very serious threat, but we put ourselves in even more danger if we aren’t aware of the risks associated with the building materials involved. The USFA, AF&PA and IFSI have taken one important step in providing the fire service useful information about lightweight construction. Of course, in addition to lightweight wood construction we must also be aware of the issues associated with the “green” building movement, re-development that’s increasing densities, land-use policies that mix residential and commercial occupancies, change in the density and flammability of building contents, and more. Lightweight construction is a good place to start, but as I said before, we must know as much as possible about all types of buildings we enter to be as safe as possible.


Firefighting operations related to modern lightweight construction: lightweight steel, parallel chord MGP trusses, metal gusset plate wood trusses and lightweight structural steel, proper nozzle selection and working from protected positions.



As the building industry evolves, it's constantly developing ways to create building materials and methods that can allow construction to be done in the most efficient way possible. Building professionals and engineers are working to decrease the time involved in not only the production but the installation, too.


Cost is clearly the driving force in these decisions — and a physical example of this evolution has been the introduction of lightweight construction. It's brought serious ramifications to the fire service and how we work on the fire ground.


This article highlights some of the dangers of lightweight construction and offer some size-up recommendations. Over the past few years, you may have noticed an increase in reports of firefighter close calls and fatalities related to lightweight construction, which has hopefully created better awareness of the issue within the fire service. It has forced departments to evolve further to differentiate between conventional framing and those using lightweight pre-engineered materials.


The introduction of lightweight construction materials should have changed the way you operate on the fireground. A series of tests done by the UL offered some glaring results. The failure time of a non protected 2x10 framing member was 18 minutes and 30 seconds after ignition time, and the equivalent member in a "TJI" failed in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.


Firefighters should be trained in not only the construction types and methods, but also to understand the differences in fire behavior as a result of different construction methods. Building construction will determine the number of firefighters, apparatus and equipment needed to control fire, proper location of attack and vent, and whether the attack should be an offensive or defensive one.


Government and fire leadership must clearly understand fire progression and constantly assess the time the fire has been involved. There may be certain fires that may be an exterior attack on arrival just as a result of the amount of time the run was dispatched and the amount of time it took to respond.


The fire from the exterior may be visually "attackable," but the floor structure may not allow for an interior attack. Six minutes is a very small window to operate under. Use a defensive strategy whenever trusses have been compromised or exposed to fire, and remember basic risk reward concepts.


One major element of structural firefighting that’s changed in recent years: building construction. By now you’ve heard about how lightweight construction changes the way fires burn. But in many cases, we’re still approaching fires the same way we did 30 years ago.


Lightweight, wood-frame buildings burn extremely fast and hot. If the fire breaks out of the container (or room of origin), then it’s “off to the races.” As fire exits a container and vents to the outside of the structure, it will spread upward very rapidly, involving everything combustible in its path. Fire venting from a window or door will quickly burn into combustible truss voids. Once fire has entered the void, the roof decking will burn through and the truss may collapse in less than 5 minutes. The fire will also enter the overhead and/or floor void from within the container. A post-flashover fire will not be contained, and the fire and super-heated fire gases will penetrate through numerous pathways into combustible void spaces.


Fire in lightweight steel (non-combustible) buildings also spreads quickly. The rapidly growing contents fire will quickly heat the lightweight steel trusses and structural members, causing rapid collapse. These lightweight structural systems are often not protected by any fire-rated membrane or sprinkler system. (Note: The best time to discover this situation is while conducting inspections and preplanning.)


So why is fire behavior in lightweight structures so unique and deadly? Since the late 50s and early 60s, structures built of wood and steel, or any combination of the two, have utilized lightweight building design and lightweight structural building components, such as gusset plate trusses, plywood, wood I-beams, OSB sheeting and other engineered systems. Gone are the days of solid-sawn dimensional lumber joists and decking.


In addition, as structures get lighter in structural weight, they’re loaded with contents and furnishings that burn hotter and more quickly than ever before—a deadly combination for building occupants and firefighters.


What does this mean for us? We have NO time! Once the fire has flashed in the container, the container can no longer hold, absorb or contain the heat. As fire enters combustible lightweight voids, collapse is imminent.


Fire tactics taught more than 30 years ago were developed by firefighters who fought fires in conventionally built structures. Clearly, these tactics will not work in lightweight structures and, as such, we must modify our tactics.

Modifying tactics means operating from protected positions until we can control the fire and verify that fire is not in the combustible voids above and below us. We should not enter a structure without clearing the overhead void and the floor void.


Light-weight engineered floor systems provide architectural, economic and productivity benefits to the homeowner and the construction industry with assumed status quo in fire safety. However, under fire conditions, these light-weight engineered floor systems lead to greater risk of structural failure in a shorter time as a consequence of the reduced cross-sectional dimensions of the engineered products as compared to traditional dimensional lumber floor systems. So, despite the superior structural performance of these new products to traditional lumber construction under ‘normal’ conditions, the trend reverses in a fire environment. This is highlighted by the increasing number of firefighter fatalities due to collapse of these engineered systems under fire conditions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a report, Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters Due to Truss System Failures, highlighting the risks of injury and death that can occur during fire-fighting operations involving engineered floor truss systems.


The construction industry is continually introducing new engineered products that provide better structural stability, allow for faster construction time and are more cost effective. Additionally, the market for green or environmentally sustainable building materials experienced a growth rate  of 23% through 2006 and is expected to continue growing at a rate of 17% through 2011 according to Green Building Materials in the U.S. The increased market demand for environmentally sustainable products is driving engineered lumber products to further reduce material mass that could potentially result in even further concern for fire safety in building construction today.


There are also some amazing new products, if used in conjunction with these lightweight construction materials can make a huge difference in the event there is a fire. Watch this attached video below to see an example of this with the use of fireproof intumescent paints.






As residents and travelers we often we check into a hotel at the end of a long day traveling or playing at the beach or amusement park and don’t even bother to learn how to exit the room safely in the case of a fire.  It is so important to be prepared in case a fire does break out. Surviving a hotel fire begins right after you check in. When you get to your room take a few moments to check out possible escape routes. A vast majority of new hotels are built using lightweight construction techniques.


When planning your fire escape plan remember:


Walk down the corridor and find the fire exits.

Never use the elevator in a fire - the call buttons may take you to a floor filled with smoke or flames.

Check the exits out to make sure they are usable! Do the doors open? Are the stairways clear?

Count the doorways and any other features between your room and the exits. If the corridor is dark and full of smoke, you'll need to know your way as you crawl along the wall to the exit.

If the hotel has a fire alarm system, find the nearest fire alarm. Be sure you know how to use it. You may have to activate it in the dark or dense smoke.

Check your room. It's important to know the layout of your room because you may have to stay in it if smoke in the corridor cuts off your escape. Many people have lived through a hotel fire by remaining in their rooms protected against smoke and gases while awaiting rescue.

Begin by putting your room key close to where you sleep so you can find it easily. You will need it to get back into your room if smoke or fire blocks your exit. You may want to keep it in your pants pocket or on the night stand.

Try the windows. Do they open? How do the latches work? Which one would you use in an emergency?

Look out the window to see what's outside. Is escape possible? You may be only a few feet from the ground and you can get out this way if the hall is not usable. If you are on an upper floor, there may be a roof or deck within safe dropping distance. Dropping from more than two floors usually results in injury.


If a fire does break out in the hotel, here are some things you should do:


1. Open a window to vent the room if there is any smoke.  If you are on the first or second floor you may be able to drop to the ground safely. If you are up any higher, you are usually better off staying put. Although some people survive jumps form 35 feet or more, they are usually seriously injured.

2. Let someone know you are in room. If the phone works, call for help. Hang a bed sheet out the window to signal firefighters, but don't try to climb down.

3. Fill the tub with water.  It might be needed for fire fighting. Turn on the bathroom fan if it helps to clear your room of smoke.

4. Wet towels and sheets. You'll need them to put around doors and cracks if smoke seeps in. Use your ice bucket to bail water.

5. Get fresh air. Make a tent over your head with a blanket at a slightly opened window to get fresh air. If the window does not open, you may have to break one out with a chair or drawer. If heat and flames are rising outside the window form a lower floor, don't breathe smoke-laden air.

6. As a last resort. Finally, if your room becomes untenable, you may be forced to make for the best exit. But remember to keep low.


Remember that few people are burned to death in fires. Most people die from smoke, poisonous gases and panic. Panic is usually the result of not knowing what to do. If you have an escape plan and adapt it to the emergency, you can greatly increase your chances of survival.


It's a good idea to always pack a flashlight in your suitcase. You may need it to guide yourself through smoke or darkness.












 photos by DUFFY: Construction site on Rt. 130 Hamilton , NJ Mercer County

Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2016 9:56 PM EDT
Sunday, 1 February 2015
Cuban Scorpions Making a Global Cure

Cuban Scorpions Helping Cancer Patients


By Tammy Duffy 




In 1985, Cuban pharmaceutical companies launched a vaccine for Meningitis B. It was not until 2014 that Pfizer and Novartis in the USA, launched their first vaccine for Meningitis B.


The pharmaceutical talents of the Cuban scientists do not end there. The fact that Cuba has already developed four cancer vaccines undoubtedly is big news for humanity if you bear in mind that according to the World Health Organization nearly 8 million people die from that disease every year. However, this wonderful news has been completely ignored in the main stream media.


In 2012, Cuba patented the first therapeutic vaccine in the world against advanced lung cancer, called CIMAVAX-EGF. In January 2013, the island announced the second cancer vaccine, known as Racotumomab.


Racotumomab (trade name Vaxira) is a therapeutic cancer vaccine for the treatment of solid tumors that is currently under clinical development by Recombio, an international public-private consortium with the participation of the Center of Molecular Immunology at Havana Cuba (CIM) and researchers from Buenos Aires University and National University of Quilmes in Argentina. It induces the patient's immune system to generate a response against a cancer-specific molecular target with the purpose of blocking tumor growth, slowing disease progression and ultimately increasing patient survival. 


Clinical tests were carried out in 86 nations, revealed that though these vaccines do not cure the disease, they do reduce the tumors thus improving the quality and expectancy of life of the patients.



The Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) is a Cuban biotechnological institution devoted to basic research, product development and production of mammalian cell culture products in compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) regulations. CIM has extensive experience in the field of monoclonal antibodies, extending back to 1980. CIM has more than 1,127 employees, mostly scientists and engineers.

CIM´s main research objective is the development of new products fo
r the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and other diseases related to the immune system.

Basic research projects are focused on cancer immunotherapy, especially the development of molecular vaccines. These include antibody engineering, cellular engineering, bio-informatics and regulation of the immune response.

CIM conducts clinical trials in diagnostic imaging and cancer therapy of varying origin, and other diseases of the immune system, in highly specialized hospitals.


The Havana-based Molecular Immunology Center is the creator of these vaccines. The center had already developed the Meningitis-B Vaccine in 1985, one of its kind in the world. Later there came other vaccines, such as the Hepatitis-B and the Dengue. Experts at the entity have been researching for years on a HIV-Aids vaccine as well.


The Cuban agenda against cancer is also joined by Labiofam pharmaceutical enterprise, which develops homeopathic medications against the disease, such as VIDATOX, made from the venom of blue scorpion, native of Cuba.




Scientists have found that the toxin in the venom of the Rophalorus junceus scorpion, endemic to Cuba, has an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effect.  

For more than 15 years the company has been doing research to discover the effectiveness of a treatment against tumors that uses scorpion venom.

Labiofam has been able to put on the market a million doses of Vidatox in its homeopathic version, to be taken in sublingual drops, and is preparing another formula of the medication in a natural form – without additives – that patients will take orally.

During clinical trials more than 10,000 cancer
patients took the treatment, including 3,500 foreigners, “with positive results,” above all in improving their quality of life and in stopping tumor growth, according to one of the developers, Dr Gonzalez.

The treatment has been administered to patients with cancer of the uterus, prostate, pancreas and lungs, among others. The toxin is extracted from the scorpion by means of electric stimulus and each of these creatures can provide 0.02 milliliters of venom, equivalent to two or three drops. At present there are 13 breeding facilities for scorpions in Cuba with an average of 5,000 of these arthropods each.


Vidatox is a drug produced from five protein peptides extracted from the venom of the blue scorpion (Rophalorus junceus), which is endemic to Cuba and which has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. The result of 15 years of research, by October last year Vidatox had been tested on more than 10,000 cancer patients, some 3,500 of them foreigners, with positive results both in improving quality of life and stopping tumor growth.


Vidatox is a homeopathic preparation made from five protein peptides of low molecular weight extracted from the venom of the scorpion, and which has demonstrated an "analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effect in more than 15 different cancer cell lines."


The medication was produced from over 5,000 scorpions of the Rhopalurus junceus variety, native to eastern Cuba. According to the company, it has no contraindications and is compatible with any other oncological treatment. 


The company presented the results of its Vidatox research in its first international congress in late September in Havana before some 500 delegates from all parts of the world.

 This link below will allow you to purchase it online.  (Cost $177.17 USD)

It only cost 4 cents for residents of Cuba







Scorpions are the oldest arthropod representatives and were the first ones to conquer the Earth.   Presently the number of known species is 1500. Of these, Cuba homes 32 species and subspecies, which is considered a large endemism, given that among such known forms, 29 are exclusive to our country.

Some recent investigations of research showed a much more extensive range of action in scorpion neurotoxins, not only because they are specific sodium and potassium markers, but because they show signs of activity by their selective bonding to chloride channels as expressed in malign cells, a very important basis for its use and assessment in cancer therapy.


Scorpion venom as antitumoral agent seems impossible. Though limited, products from animal sources are climbing to a significant rank among suggested research lines directives aimed to develop effective treatment for cancer. In several animal species materials with antitumoral activity have been extracted in a preliminary manner.


The use of scorpion for therapeutic purposes has been known in Cuba since the beginnings of last Century, when a so called “scorpion oil” was dispensed as useful in counteracting retention of urine, as showed in the Matanzas Pharmaceutical Museum. Additional information, give credit to scorpion alcohol extract analgesic properties in rheumatic and muscular pain.  It was not until early 1980’s that a research team from the School of Medical Sciences in Guantanamo started working with venom from the Rhopalurus junceus, scorpion, with the purpose of showing its anti-tumor effects, as it was being used by local population to treat tumors in lesser animals.


 In January 1994, it was reported that the realization of preliminary experimental studies on mice, dogs and humans, according to which, once scorpion toxin was administered, natural or transplanted tumors in dogs and albino mice either disappeared or reduced their size. 

Studies performed on humans, resulted in life-quality improvement, overriding adverse medical prognosis and complete response to the disease in a group of patients, indicating that scorpion R. junceus venom bears, among others, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates body immunity and acts over a wide variety of tumors; over 2,000 persons have experienced encouraging results when treated with scorpion R. junceus venom. 

How can Vidatox fight cancer cells?


A tumor needs nutrition to grow.


Above we see the cancer cells, which multiply rapidly and form a tumor that grows progressively into normal tissues. With the growth of the tumor there is an increase in pressure on surrounding nerves, causing from mild to unbearable pain. As in normal tissue, the tumor is nourished by blood vessels to grow. This process is called angiogenesis


 Vidatox is anti angiogenic.


Venom binds to tumor cells and blocks tumor angiogenesis that supplies the tumor with the needed nutrients.

Vidatox also stimulates and strengthens the immune system.



The figure above shows the healing effects that the immune system is capable of doing if properly stimulated. Studies show a significant stimulation of the immune system on experimental animals and in patients who have used the venom. There is a significant increase in white blood cells and other cells responsible for defending the immunity. In other words, the studies indicate that the venom contains substances that are effective in stimulating the immune system and other substances that act as anti-inflammatory and painkiller.

For more than 20 years, Cubans have been treating cancer patients with blue scorpion venom. Even when the results aren't jaw-dropping, thousands attest to pain relief, increased muscle strength, and renewed energy while on the medicine. 

The treatment is now poised for a global premiere. Cuba's state pharmaceutical company, Labiofam, recently began mass-producing a homeopathic version called Vidatox. A handful of countries have registered it for sale, and a small black market to move the product around the globe has emerged. It's impossible to know how many patients have imbibed the venom treatment from the small glass bottles over the past two decades, but the number is likely more than 55,000 globally.

Curing cancer has arguably become the medical world's greatest conundrum. According to the World Health Organization, the disease killed approximately 7.6 million people in 2008, 13 percent of all deaths worldwide. Despite the billions of dollars invested in research, our treatment fallbacks — chemotherapy and radiation — are woefully inadequate. Doctors are only 7.3 percent more successful at treating cancer than they were in 1950, and it's expected that by 2030, twice the number of people will die from the disease as do today, predicts the World Health Organization. These are not good statistics.

Perhaps the best-known case of blue scorpion success is that of Yarislenis Abreu, a shy 15-year-old who goes by "Yari" and lives in the third-floor apartment of concrete housing in the town of Valle Honda, near Cuba's western edge. She remembers being "a vegetable" just five years ago. The right half of her body was paralyzed, and she could form thoughts in her mind but couldn't express the words. At age 10, her brain tumor was growing weekly, radiation had failed, and her doctors sent her home to die.

Her mother, Iraíde, refused to give up hope and sent Yari's father on a mission: He was to bring back the scorpion medicine a fellow cancer patient's mom said could be obtained free in a nearby province. A month later, Iraíde recalls of her daughter, "She was yelling at me: 'Mom, get me out of this bed!'" Since then, Yari has learned to walk again and write with her left hand, because her right is still smaller and weaker from the paralysis. She studies with a state-paid tutor at home and hopes to start normal high school soon. She has not missed a day of the venom medicine — and has a new weekly routine. Saturday nights, she walks two miles roundtrip to the nearest reggaeton dance club. "My mom jokes that it's like my church," Yari says, "because I go every weekend without fail."

This scorpion medicine has produced results only on solid or organ cancers like those in the lungs, pancreas, brain, or stomach. It hasn't been found effective for liquid or blood-based cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma. Nor does the medicine always yield results like those that occurred with the two children. Most patients seek the venom after everything else has failed.  These patients have very weak immune systems and the cancer has already metastasized, so it's hard to expect really surprising results every time.

But if the treatment is administered in the early stages of sickness, its impact is more profound, he believes. "We hope to help turn cancer from being a fatal disease into a chronic and manageable one, like diabetes", says the developers. 

Labiofam claims to have studied the effects of the venom on 10,000 patients, including 3,500 foreigners. But there is no public compilation of the methodology or results. No independent experts have conducted experiments, and none of Labiofam's work has been submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. 

The medical world is therefore skeptical. "Rhopalurus junceus, or blue scorpion venom, originated from Cuba... is often marketed as having anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties," reads the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. "The manufacturers' research cannot be corroborated. Continued research... is needed."

What is established is the product's safety. Labiofam says it conducted toxicity tests before it began distributing it, and a reputable laboratory at the Biotechnology Institute of Mexico's largest university, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), recently confirmed the venom formula to be nontoxic to mammals. Indeed, among thousands of online accounts of success or failure with the venom treatment worldwide, not one notes harmful side effects.The harmlessness of the medicine, though, is curious considering its origins. 

So how did this all happen? What made the scientists think to use scorpions in the first place?  

José Perera and Juan González raceup the brambly hillside. It's late, almost noon, and their work will be more difficult when the midday sun sends their tiny, evasive targets out of sight. Lanky, with taut bronzed skin and matching buzzcuts, the two men in their early 40s make their way through spiny brush toward a cluster of rocks. They hold metal pincers in one hand and opaque plastic containers in the other. The pair crouches in unison, carefully yet quickly pushing aside rocks. After a few moments, a small wriggling mass appears. As if sensing something ominous, the scorpion scurries frantically. But these men are professionals. With one motion, Perera steadies his pincers. He quickly grabs the scorpion's tail, thus rendering it as harmless as a grasshopper, and drops it into the container. 

"I'm a scorpion hunter!" Perera says with gusto, stretching his back and surveying the rolling hills of Cuba's Santa Clara valley. The duo is one of a dozen or so teams that spend their days scouring rocks throughout the country in search of the misnamed scorpion, which is actually beige and mauve, not blue.

Back at González's nearby house, they add their catch to the dozens already inside a large metal barrel, covered by several rusty slabs. No living creature could possibly escape. "I've been stung 13 times in five years," Perera says. But neither he nor González is afraid. Though the sting of R. junceus hurts like hell and can cause temporary numbness, it's not deadly to humans. "People hate these animals," Perera reflects, genuinely confounded. "I say, Bring on the scorpions!" 

Indeed, the scorpion might be one of the animal kingdom's most misunderstood creatures. Of the more than 2,000 species worldwide, only 20 to 30 are dangerous to humans, and in those cases, mainly to small children. Scorpions sting only when threatened. 

The complete history of how Cuba stumbled upon its curative arachnid might never be known. There's no written account, and the man who discovered the blue scorpion's powers, a biologist named Misael Bordier Chivas, died of a heart attack seven years ago. But the story goes something like this: While testing several snake, spider, and scorpion venoms for a variety of ailments during the 1980s for the University of Guantánamo, Professor Bordier noticed improvement in rats and dogs taking R. junceus venom. He expanded his experiments and soon saw tumors decrease in size. 

In 1993, word of his research reached a hotel manager named José Felipe Monzón living on the other side of the country in a town called Jagüey Grande. Monzón's 15-year-old daughter, Niurys, had all but lost a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver and intestines. Unwilling to give up, Monzón traveled to Guantánamo and begged Bordier for some venom. The professor mixed the first human formula for the girl, who appears to be in good health today. 

Labiofam approached Bordier several years later. The state firm began tests that confirmed the treatment's safety. Given the promising results, the company decided to make it available immediately. Because government health authorities couldn't approve the medicine for sale so quickly, the company found a loophole: It started distributing it free to anyone who gave informed consent in 2003.

That practice meant a large amount of venom was needed. To get it, Labiofam created ascorpionario in the city of Santa Clara, where today more than 7,000 of the creatures wriggle in individual plastic containers on metal shelves. 

"This is where the milking happens," says Manuel Valdés, a veterinarian clad in medical scrubs, latex gloves, and a surgical cap and mask. He's standing inside a small bare room in the Labiofam outpost. In the adjoining acclimatized rooms (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit), every scorpion has an ID number, coded for its region of capture and date of entry. The animals spend 40 days in quarantine — long enough for any pregnant scorpions to give birth and for any potential illness to be detected. Then they enter the venom rotation.

The scorpion twists itself backward as one of Valdés' colleagues uses two long metal tongs to try to steady the five-inch arachnid. "It takes a certain technique," Valdés says. The man aims the tail over a small glass jar sitting in a bucket of ice, and the scientist steps on a pedal attached to an electro-stimulus machine. As a jolt transmitted through the tongs reaches the scorpion, it releases six to 12 "micro-drops" of milky-white venom. "Each scorpion is milked once a month for two years," explains Valdés, who says the average lifespan of R. junceus is ten years. "Then it's released back into the wild to repopulate the species." The venom moves on to Havana, where for years it has been diluted with distilled water depending upon a patient's condition. 

As soon as Labiofam began production, news of the free treatment traveled quickly. "I'd arrive at the office at 6 a.m. and there would already be lines of people around the block," Dr. Fraga recalls. (an area physician) Charter flights full of cancer patients started arriving from Europe. Weeks after an Italian journalist aired a video segment about the venom, hundreds of Italians showed up each day. "We never turned anyone away," Fraga says.

By 2010, the situation had become untenable. First, the government was anxious. In 2004, 2006, and 2009, Cuba's State Control Center for Medicine, Equipment, and Medicinal Products (CECEMD) — the country's equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration — was compelled to issue warnings regarding scorpion treatment. "Cuba does not yet have any pharmaceutical product based on the venom of the blue scorpion," Dr. Rafael Pérez Cristiá, director of Cuba's Regulatory Bureau for the Health Protection and Center for Quality Control, said in 2009. "At this moment, we do not have the documented evidence of the therapeutic action... that would justify its safe and efficient usage."

And supplies were running short. "They would need more than the entire scorpion population in Cuba to keep up production. 

So Labiofam opted for homeopathy. This approach quickly gained approval, and Vidatox was born. The extremely diluted solution made it more viable to mass-produce. The 30-milliliter bottle is now available at Cuban pharmacies at a cost of $220 for foreigners and  only 4 cents for Cuban residents. Labiofam still makes the original, drinkable formula but has stopped its all-access distribution program. 

Another formula is in the works. Diaz's team has identified five proteins in the venom that have anti-tumor capacities and will use these as the basis for a recombinant or synthetic version. One of the proteins being researched is likely a peptide known as chlorotoxin (CTX), which can be derived from many scorpion species. It has been researched in relation to cancer for 20 years with limited results. Diaz says if these elements can be genetically cloned, the blue scorpions of the future will live in peace.

Perera, the scorpion trapper, might worry that these advances would put him out of a job — but he doesn't. He has something more important on his mind. "My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year ago," he says, choking up. The elder Perera is undergoing chemo and drinking the venom daily. His son believes the fruits of his labor are helping his father feel stronger and more energetic. "I feel proud that I can be a part of bringing the scorpions to the people who need them." 

But those who don't have the time or money or health to get to the tiny island have few other options. A handful of doctors outside Cuba administer the treatment, including a California oncologist who had an integrative-medicine practice in Tijuana, where he treated several patients from the States. "At first, we witnessed remarkable recoveries," Dr. Santiago Vargas wrote in an email, noting that he discovered escozul in 2005 and that his practice closed in 2011, but he did not indicate a reason. "Still, as we continued to recommend it, we found some inconsistency in the results; apparently it worked best for gastrointestinal tract cancers. I was told it worked well for most other forms of cancer; this was not our experience." He obtained the venom from Mexico City, where there's another physician who travels to Cuba every three months and claims to make the venom in collaboration with Bordier's son. 

Those who can't travel to see these physicians must place their faith in online third parties. Labiofam has secured homeopathic licenses for Vidatox in 22 countries: China, Albania, and several in Latin America. The company's website lists official distributors for these nations. But because neither the United States nor Canada nor any European state has cleared Vidatox through a rigorous homeopathic standards process, venom seekers must rely on the black market. 

It's particularly complicated for patients in the United States because an embargo prohibits any product of Cuban origin — be it medicine, a cigar, or a T-shirt — from entering the country, but companies say they have ways of getting the product to clients in the States regardless.


Cuban research aims at developing vaccines to prevent diseases.  The Cuban medical and pharmaceutical industry largely aims its research at developing vaccines to prevent diseases and, as a result, lower the people’s medication expenses. There are so many parents in the USA that refuse to get their children vaccinated. 

Cuba attains higher health indicators than the United States using up to twenty times less resources, according to an article in Science Magazine by Paul Drain and Michele Barry, two scientists at the Standford University in California. It happens that there are no commercial or market pressures or profits on the Cuban model, while there is a successful educative strategy for the population as to prevention. 

In Cuba, medicines are distributed to the people firstly, through the hospital network free of charge and through a system of drugstores that sell them at highly subsidized prices.

The Cuban pharmaceutical industry hardly uses money for publicity, which in the case of multi-national corporations this activity surpasses the budgets dedicated to doing research.

The Caribbean nation is also boosting the production of generics that it puts at the service of other poor countries and the World Health Organization, at a price which is much lower than those imposed by the big world industry. 

The US economic blockade hurts the US diabetic population. In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.  In 2010 the figures were 25.8 million and 8.3%. 

The prevalence amongst seniors in the US is high. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 25.9%, or 11.8 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed). The new cases that were found there was an incidence of diabetes in 2012 that was 1.7 million new diagnoses/year; in 2010 it was 1.9 million.

  • Deaths: Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, with 69,071 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 234,051 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

Diabetes in Youth

  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population.

  • Last but not least, it is important to note that the US economic blockade of Cuba hinders the marketing of Cuban pharmaceuticals in the United States, thus affecting the US people. For instance, a total of 80 thousand diabetic people who undergo toe amputation every year in the United States every year cannot access the Cuban vaccine known as Heberprot-P, which precisely avoids such amputations.

Cuba is a magnificent example of how knowledge and scientific research can be integrated. The general director of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, once said that she was impressed at the scientific achievements of Cuba and expressed her organization’s willingness to promote them around the world.

So then, the question to be asked here is: Will UNESCO be able to count on the crucial collaboration by the mainstream to promote the Cuban achievements? Will the USA learn how to distribute healthcare in a cost effective manner with the recent changes in our relations with Cuba?  There is a lot we can learn from them. Only time will tell if the USA will learn anything from Cuba.


Posted by tammyduffy at 4:35 PM EST
Saturday, 31 January 2015
It’s All About Lucy: World Youngest Female Golf Prodigy

It’s All About Lucy: World Youngest Female Golf Prodigy


By Tammy Duffy





When you think of golf prodigies, we think of Tiger Woods. A young man who travled with 4 psychologists in his teens to help him overcome the pressures of becoming a professional athlete.


There is a new prodigy, Luci Li.  She is the WORLD’S YOUNGEST female, at the tender age of 11, who stole the show at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.  She is a sixth grader who has become the youngest Open qualifier.   She holds records in the U.S. Women's Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open.  Li recently finished first in a sectional qualifier in sunny California. This young wonder recently only missed one fairway, sank a 7 foot birdie putt and shot an 8 over par 78.   

Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
I Do! I Do! at Open Arts Stage in Bordentown, NJ

PinnWorth Productions presents

 I Do! I Do! at Open Arts Stage 
in Bordentown, NJ



Join PinnWorth Productions and Open Arts Stage for a dessert theater presentation of I Do! I Do! (by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt) over Valentine’s Day weekend. Starring real-life husband and wife Rob and Laurie Gougher and directed by Lou Stalworth, I Do! I Do! is a charming musical about love and marriage. Desserts will be provided by Mastoris Diner.


Lou J. Stalsworth (Producer/Director) has been directing throughout Central Jersey for more than 30 years. His most recent directing efforts include Hair, Cabaret, On Golden Pond, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Kiss Me, Kate and A Man for All Seasons.


Rob Gougher’s past on-stage roles include The Wolf in Shrek, Patsy in Spamalot, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone, Mayor Belamy & Doc Robinson in Tom Sawyer, Bill in Hollywood Arms, The Grinch in Seussical, Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, Bill Ray Sr. in On Golden Pond, Venticello in Amadeus, Clement Moore in ’Twas  and Mr. Green in Clue.


Laurie Gougher has directed, musically directed and performed in many shows. Her past on-stage roles include Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, Mother in A Christmas Story, Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Emma Goldman in Ragtime.


WHAT: I Do! I Do!


WHO: Open Arts Stage and PinnWorth Productions


WHEN: Fri., February 13 and Sat., February 14 at 8 p.m., Sun., February 15 at 2 p.m.


WHERE: Open Arts Stage, 146 U.S. 130, Bordentown Township, NJ 08505


TICKETS: $27.50 in advance ($30 at door); Seniors/students $25 in advance ($27.50 at door). Purchase tickets online at bit.ly/i-do-i-do-valentines-tickets.


Open Arts Stage is a performance and education venue that provides affordable space to independent artists and offers engaging programming. Open Arts Stage is committed to providing rehearsal and performance space to artists at affordable rates, and we look forward to hosting your next event.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 30 January 2015
Chocolate Painting at HAM Is a Treat for the Palette and the Palate

Chocolate Painting at HAM Is a Treat

for the Palette and the Palate




Treat your sweetie or yourself to an evening of painting on chocolate on Friday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. with Chocodiem and the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Celebrate Valentine's Day at the Museum with a delicious evening that includes a chocolate tasting with Jean-Paul Hepp, the founder of Chocodiem. Then artist Amanda Wentz will help you get creative painting on truffles with dyed cocoa butter. You can also sample some tasty European-style hot chocolate.

"We enjoy pairing chocolate with distinctive taste combinations, but this is our first time pairing chocolate and art," Hepp said. "We certainly hope everyone will come out and enjoy using our premium chocolate bars for their palette and their palate.  It’s the ultimate in matchmaking!"

Cost for “Chocolat: Chocolate Painting with Chocodiem” is $35 per person or $60 for couples. Indulge your sweet tooth and reserve your space by calling the Museum at 908-735-8415 or registering online at www.hunterdonartmuseum.org.

Chocodiem, 49 Main St. in Clinton, focuses on making the best chocolate possible.  Using Old World Belgian standards, master chocolatier Hepp, along with pastry chef, Kathleen Hernandez, hand make gourmet chocolates in small batches with unique and distinctive fillings and flavor combinations for any occasion.

The Hunterdon Art Museum, located at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft and design in a 19th century stone mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It also offers a dynamic schedule of art classes and workshops for children and adults.


The Museum is at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, New Jersey, 08809. Our website is www.hunterdonartmuseum.org and our telephone number is 908-735-8415. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm and suggested admission is $5.


The Hunterdon Art Museum presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft and design in a 19th century stone mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Founded in 1952, the Museum is a landmark regional art center showcasing works by established and emerging contemporary artists. It also offers a dynamic schedule of art classes and workshops for children and adults.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey and corporations, foundations, and individuals.  The Hunterdon Art Museum is a wheelchair accessible space.  Publications are available in large print.  Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TYY) 1 (800) 852-7899.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:40 PM EST
World’s Tallest Indoor Rope Obstacle Course

World’s Tallest Indoor Rope Obstacle Course


By Tammy Duffy



While nearly everyone experiences some degree of anxiety at the thought of a great, perilous drop, for some, the fear can be debilitating. If your fear of heights is so extreme that it interferes with your performance at school or work or hampers your enjoyment of everyday activities, you are likely to have acrophobia. I personally have a rather large fear of heights. A 5 foot ladder will put my legs into wiggle worm mode.


For years I have been trying to overcome my fears of heights and deep water. I optimized (have not overcome) my fear of deep water by signing myself up for my first triathlons in 2014. I trained in a 13 foot pool a lake and the ocean. It was no easy task but I did it. I completed 4 triathlons and lived to tell it.



In 2015, I made it a goal to work on my fear of heights as well.  I learned about the World’s Largest Indoor Rope Course by a Guinness book of World record holder, Fran Capo. On my quest to overcome my fear of heights I decided to take the drive to West Nyack over the weekend.


The Palisades Climb Adventure is located at 4590 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack, NY. You can enter this obstacle course on the 4th level of the Palisades Mall. I paid my $16.99 and was then strapped into a harness with a tether, which was clipped to my waist and attached to a steel track overhead.


I proceeded to walk down the steps to start at the easiest part of the course first. This is 25 feet off the ground. My heart was racing, but I was determined. 



Just gazing at the tower of steel tracks, rope bridges, balance beams, and slack lines can be intimidating.  What makes this course unique in safety is that you’re never unattached. In other places you can unhook yourself, but here you are double-locked into your harness and attached to the course through all five levels.  There is no way you can fall

The structure is designed so that its 75 challenges provide about 45 minutes of excitement, no matter what your level of skill might be. If you want to on the course all day, you can. There is no time limit to your visit.  The course helps with agility, focus, balance, and stamina — which is effective for everyone from children to experienced climbers. For the youngest set (children under 48 inches), there’s a Sky Tykes mommy-and-me program on a separate playground. Sky Tykes passes are $8.99, regular course admission is $16.99.

As I got to the top, I paused. You can feel the entire structure sway a bit as you stand stationary. I took a deep breath and picked my “poison”, aka obstacle.  I was taking a step across a tightrope at 85 feet high that I realized I wasn’t afraid of heights, but that I was terrified of falling from high places. I’d already committed to crossing the rope, so I wrapped my hands tightly around my umbilical harness (white knuckled the entire way) and took another step across the world’s highest indoor ropes course. I watched a small child in equal amounts of panic cross prior to my walk and thought,” He did not die, so I can do this!” .



One also has the ability to set up group visits, including corporate team building, special-needs field trips, scout troop outings, and birthday parties.  Whether you come with a group, solo, or with a friend, you can still have a great time. I saw a father-and-son duo going through the course pretending to be super heroes.



Although I’m an avid adventurist, there were a couple of ropes challenges I wasn’t ready to try, and some I attempted only after watching a small child survive the walk.  After I finished the course I asked the team to install a bar for I could have really used a glass of wine after that walk at 85 feet.

I realized that despite the rewards of plowing through fear and getting a good workout, the best part was remembering how to let go and just have fun.


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2015 2:11 PM EST
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Topic: REEALY?



By Tammy Duffy




The world's first ever pet terminal will be built at JFK Airport next year. Named "The Ark", the state-of-the-art facility will cater for the overseas travel of everything from household pets to farmyard animals.


ARK Development, LLC, an affiliate of real estate company Racebrook Capital, announced this week that it has signed a 30-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to develop the mammoth facility. Spanning 178,000 square feet, the terminal will include direct access to the runway for animals, as well a 24-hour veterinary hospital and a 24-hour quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock.

"The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services," said Founder John J.Cuticelli, Jr.

Indeed, the site is the first of its kind in the world. For those who are worries that air travel is about to go to the dogs, though, the project is also expected to give some puppy love to the economy. The $48 million development will create more than 180 jobs and generate revenues for the Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey estimated at $108 million over the span of the project’s 30-year lease.

"The ARK at JFK posed a unique design challenge for us: to create a place that could ease and simplify the sometimes complex process of transporting animals by plane," said Cliff Bollmann, Senior Associate of Gensler, the architect firm hired to design the facility.


"For the animals who pass through The Ark, as well as the people who own them, air travel can be stressful and confusing. Aligning the needs of quarantine with kenneling and elevating the experience for animals and their owners, our design team sought to create a comfortable, healthy environment for them all."

Animals travelling through The ARK will be treated to a large departure lounge - including stalls, food and water for horses - and an arrival area complete with cattle handling facility. The site also includes an aviary and a veterinarian, plus Paradise 4 Paws - a 24-hour pet resort with overnight accommodations for cats and dogs, plus grooming, training, and airport parking.

The ARK is estimated to handle at least 70,000 animal passengers every year. There is no confirmation yet on whether they will have to travel two-by-two.

Posted by tammyduffy at 7:48 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2015 7:59 AM EST
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Is There Crime or Not?

Is There Crime Or Not?


By Tammy Duffy 


Last week Hamilton Township, NJ (Mercer County) released the following annoucement see link: ( http://www.hamiltonnj.com/controls/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=1177)  "Crime is the lowest it has been since 1977."

The FBI collects the data in the USA and makes it public to citizens. (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr-publications#Crime) So, one can go to the site and see how Hamilton, NJ (Mercer County)  or any town is doing at any time. Attached is a chart (you can go to the site and verify this data) of data back to 2005. In 2004, and years prior to that, the data was collected differently so you cannot compare apples to apples. (however one can see the data back to 1995 on the site)

Upon review of the data one can clearly see that there is not a decrease in crime as stated in the release by the town. Actually a rapid increase in violent crime, property crime,motor vehicle theft and larceny in Hamilton. There was also an arson case as well in 2013.

This latest report from the leadership of Hamilton gives the town a false sense of security and an invitation to thieves and criminals that what they are doing is okay with the town. Over the past two weeks during the hours of 9pm and later I have had random people coming to my door (sometimes there is a car in in site, many times not) asking for directions to places. One guy last week at 9pm came to my door, pounding on it non stop. When I got to the door (never opened it but peered through my wreath on the door, he asked for directions to the GW Bridge. I said," Never heard of it." NEVER open your door. Do not give them directions. Do not open the door. Have cameras installed so that you can see who is at the door so you do not have to go to the door if there is a stranger there.  If I did not invite you and you randomly show up, you are not coming for a visit. 

The only person that can really protect your home and yourself is...yourself.  You have to think like a criminal. What would they do? There are zero cameras installed anywhere in the township to analyze crime (except for a few at Veteran's Park in the children's playground and those installed by businesses on their own). This is an issue for the town.  

There are many ways criminals can access homes inside gated and guarded communities or your home. They do not mind climbing over short walls or crawling underneath through drainages to access your home. Trusting and loving neighbors will save your home and keep you safe.  Criminals commit crimes where they feel undetected, unobserved and at no or low risk for being reported to law enforcement.


One of the many things during the first 120 days of the new administration with Mayor Eric Jackson (Trenton, NJ Mayor), he has been focused on building strong relationships. One of the things they have done is to create relationships with the editors if the local newspapers to hopefully create fair, responsible and accurate reporting.  Suburbia seems to be protected by the press and cities get negative press more quickly in the area. A recent stabbing at a Subway sandwich shop during lunch hour in Hamilton, NJ, Mercer County ended up on page twelve of the newspaper, a town with a rise in violent crime. If this same crime happened in Trenton, it would have been front page news. The news has to be reported, crime happens, but it does not have to be front page news every day for the inner city. The positive things in the community need to be highlighted more often. This kind of information can then be shared with the business community to help them understand the positive strides the city is making.

In the first 100 days of Trenton, NJ.  Mayor Jackson’s administration, violent crimes and homicides have decreased by 75% from the prior year. The overall crime rate has been decreased by 25% from the prior year as well. They attribute this to leadership, engaging the community, clergy, non profits, academia to be a part of the process to work through crime. They also have put more boots on the ground. “They are going to get you. If someone thinks and wants to commit a crime. The town is actively engaged. They will be prosecuted swiftly,” says Mayor Jackson. They are leveraging their relationships with the county sheriff’s office, the governor’s office, Attorney General Hoffman and others, to turn things around. People confidently feel safe and comfortable. They recently received a $1.5 Million grant to get 24 new police officers in Trenton. The strong relationship they are building with the governor and others is helping them build a partnership for the city. 


Home security cameras can capture great leads for an investigation and home alarm systems might deter the crooks for good, keeping your castle unscathed. Creating your own personal Fort Knox will ensure you and your families are kept safe. 


Top reminders  for people who live in gated communities: Kathy Perkins, who is a Metropolitian crime prevention specialist,works to point out a home's vulnerabilities. Here are some of her thoughts below

  • 1. Un-manned gated entrances limit some vehicle traffic, but not all. It is difficult to prevent all "follow-ins" and it is impossible to ensure that entrance codes are not given out in a way that creates risk. Too many individuals/service providers have access codes. Pedestrian traffic is not deterred by an entrance gate as walking in when the gate is opened is very easy. Also, pedestrian access gates, if present, need to be secured at all times.
  • 2. A manned entrance gate allows for more control as to the vehicles entering due to the security person making a visual and verbal contact with those entering. Maintaining a log of those entering by name and vehicle license info is helpful but all companies have a process for personnel assigned entrance gates. Know what process is in place for your community if applicable. Some communities have dated passes or passes that indicate the reason the service provider is inside and what address they are there for.
  • 3. Manned entrance gate personnel only have awareness of what takes place at the entrance gate. They are not neighborhood eyes and ears. And, distractions can occur and busy times can get hectic. Do your part to help make their job easier when expecting guests.
  • 4. All neighborhoods have multiple entry points. Undesirable people will hop a wall or fence, find pathways or other weak points with the neighborhood perimeter with which to take advantage of. Any entrance gate, manned or not, is not a deterrent to a determined individual – they are simple an obstacle to overcome.
  • 5. Residents may develop a false sense of security if they assume entrance gates will keep out undesirables. Residents typically take fewer safety or home security precautions because they feel "protected" by the gate.
  • 6. Residents are often inclined to pay less attention to activity in the neighborhood because they feel that if someone is inside the neighborhood they must have been let it or are supposed to be there. Residents are usually less observant and less inclined to pay attention to people and vehicles when they have a false sense of security.
  • 7. Criminals commit crimes where they feel undetected, unobserved and at no or low risk for being reported to law enforcement. An entrance gate makes no difference to most criminals and does not serve as a deterrent as much as residents might think.
  • 8. Criminals are deterred by effective home security practices, observant neighbors, and the fear of being arrested. Effective home and neighborhood security has more to do with awareness, participation, and consistent safety practices. Neighbors working with neighbors will help to create a sense of community and oversight. Crime can happen anywhere but there is prevention behavior that can make a difference. Always observe and report.

It is also interesting to note in the FBI reports that there has been a decrease in population in Hamilton since 2005 from year to year as well. Could it be due to the crime increase and the every rising property taxes? You decide. 

Posted by tammyduffy at 7:43 AM EST
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre





Lies, love unrequited, and poisonous greed combine for a night of high intensity drama in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” coming to Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre. Theatre to Go and Pierrot Productions present this Tennessee Williams classic on Fridays, Feb. 6 and 13 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 7 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Feb. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is conveniently located on the college's West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Feb. 6.

The web of deceit holding a wealthy Southern family together is about to come apart. The clan’s Big Daddy is unwell and his family has gathered in support. Over the course of one sultry Mississippi evening, family members let loose about long-simmering jealousies, suspicions of greed, unspoken sexual desires, and some profound and damning lies. Big Daddy and Big Momma, sons Brick and Gooper, and their wives, Maggie and Mae, are in for a very long night. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Williams' self-proclaimed favorite, forces the audience and the characters alike to determine what is true, what is a lie, and which lies have become truths.


The cast includes Robert Lanchester as Big Daddy, who is featured by special arrangement with Actors' Equity Association. Mariel Rosati of Ivyland, Pa., is Maggie; Ray Fallon of Westmont is Brick; Lori Fabian of Hightstown is Big Mama; Tim Anderson of Princeton is Gooper; and Jackie Wasneski of Hightstown is Mae. Also featured are William Walters of Columbus as Rev. Tooker, Kevin Hallam of Hamilton as Dr. Baugh, and Mariah King of Jersey City as Sookey. Joining the cast in the roles of the children are Maya Gunaseelan of Plainsboro, William Alena of Princeton, Ruth Learn of New Brunswick, Michaela Meyer of Plainsboro, and Makenna Katz of West Windsor.


The show is directed by Ruth Markoe, who established Theater To Go (T2G) in 1992 and has acted and directed regularly for T2G and Pierrot Productions ever since. Pierrot Productions’ Pete Labriola is the show’s producer. Other crew members include Hannah Knight (stage manager), Jon Cintron (assistant stage manager), Jim Petro (set design), Kitty Getlik (lighting design), Amy Bessellieu (props) and Ruth Rittmann/Ritzzy Productions (costumes).

Markoe notes that the excitement among cast members is building.  “Rehearsals are in full swing and we are excited about what we believe will be an amazing production of this classic play,” she said.

Tickets for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children.  Free parking is available next to the theater.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333.  For a complete listing of adult and children's events, visit the Kelsey webpage or call the box office for a brochure.

Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 January 2015 11:54 AM EST
Saturday, 17 January 2015
World’s Fastest Talking Female

World’s Fastest Talking Female


By Tammy Duffy



When Guinness Book of World Record holders get together, each of them will look at each other and say, “Wow, you did that?”   They are all amazed by each others accomplishments and deeply respectful of each other. We all have something in our lives that we have done that is fantastic. Guinness Book record holders take this to another dimension.


I recently got to interview Fran Capo, a true renaissance woman. Fran is an adventurer, an author, a Guinness Book record holder for being the fastest talking female in the world, a comedian, a motivational speaker and a writer. Her list does not stop there.


I asked Fran, “How does one become the fastest talking female in the world?  How did this come about?”  Her response was riveting! 


Capo was raised by a mother that helped her understand that nothing is impossible. Her mother signed her yearbook, P.M.A. (positive mental attitude) Her father always taught her to find the humor in life.  These two philosophies created her.  Anytime Fran did something in life if it worked out well it then became a part of her motivational speaking. If it did not work out well it became a part of her standup comedy act.  It is a win-win situation for Capo. She is a go getter and nothing is impossible in life. She once walked into a library and said to herself, “If all these people can write books, so can I.” She has now written more than 18 books.  Fran lives by the phrase, “There is light at the end of the tunnel. Fran says, ‘Forget that, bring your own flashlight.”



Capo was working at WBLS FM; she was a stand up comic already at this point, where she was writing stand up comedy for them. One day kidding around she said,’ I can do a really cool Mae West impression, but she called the character June East,  Mae West’s long lost sister.”   At that moment the producer gave her the weather and traffic copy to read. She had never done weather and traffic before, so she just did it, all the while doing this character June East. In the 30 seconds that she did this copy a woman from the Daily News called the station to speak with Capo. The Daily News person asked Capo how long she had been doing weather and traffic. Capo did not want to tell her it was her first time so she elaborated on her expertise. She was then asked what the next gig on her horizon was.  At that moment Capo did not have a next, but she knew that she had to think of something because she had someone from the Daily News on the phone.  Capo then blurted out, “I want going to break a world record.”  Excited, the woman from the Daily News said,” For what?” At that moment Capo did not have the what so she said,”I can’t tell you because it would jinx it.”  So the Daily News person said to her,” My article has to be submitted by 6pm today, if you decide you want to tell me call me and I will include it in my article.”


Capo then scurried to a bookstore to obtain a Guinness book and began flipping through it. Should she do pogo sticking….what could she do? Then she saw fast talking. Everyone always told her she talked fast. She never thought about breaking a record but now she thought what the heck.  I will give this a try.


A phone call was made to the Daily News by Capo at 5:55pm.  She then said she would break the fast talking record. At the time, in the book, the record was 552 words a minute. The Daily News reporter asked Capo where she was as compared to the record. Capo replied,” 550.”  This gets printed in the paper. The very next day the team from Larry King Live show called Capo to have her break the record on his show.  At that point Capo did not know who Larry King was. She heard the words cable and knew she had her chance in the spotlight and she was taking it.


A call was made to Guinness to learn what she had to do to break the record.  They told her she had to read something from Shakespeare or the Bible.  Capo did not care for Shakespeare but there were bible passages that her mother had taught her in the past, so she went with that.


She practiced for hours and hours and then went on the show. The next day she went onto the Larry King Live show (she only had three days to prepare from the initial interaction with the gal from the Daily News to break this record) and she broke the record. She spoke 585 words in one minute.  This was on March 5, 1986.  She broke the record a second time on June 5, 1990 at the Guinness book museum in Las Vegas. She spoke 603.3 words in 54.2 seconds. One may wonder how Guinness ensures the number of words per minute spoken. They bring have an Olympic timer; they use a lexicon compression technique and a professional speech analyst to calculate the words per minute.




Click on this  link above to hear Fran Capo reading Little Red Riding Hood



This Renaissance woman is always on the go. She holds 6 other records with Ripley Believe it or Not as well. They include a book signing at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro (it was a cash only event), she just did 12 shows in 17 days in South Korea, she visited the Titanic and became an ordained minister to say the first prayer next to the Titanic, and she did a book signing next to the Titanic as well and much more.


Capo began her days as a stand up comic while she was studying accounting and philosophy. She was approached by people who asked her if she ever thought about being a stand up comic. So Capo asked God,” If I am supposed to be a stand up comic, send me a sing.”  She believes in signs, they always have guided her way in life. After attending a card show where they had a hand writing analysis stand she was told that she has a great sense of humor, that she should use it to make money. Sign one.  She was in line at Great Adventure speaking with her friend and a man tapped her on the back and said,” I was just at the Improv last night and you are funnier than the comic who was on stage.” 

Sign two. She then was taking an acting class and she was reading a scene and a fellow comic was in the class and said to her, “I will give you my slot on stage just so you can have the chance to perform.”  Sign three.  She continued to pray to see if stand up was going to be a gig for her.  Then sign four happened quite conveniently.  She walks into Queens College, into the door that she normally would go through to take her philosophy class and the door is closed. She had to go around to the side door due to construction. There was a giant sign on the door that read,” Stand up comedy auditions today only.”  The time for the auditions was 5 minutes from the moment she saw the poster.  So she went. The auditions were in a broom closet. She got the gig. The rest is history.



Her newest book, Hopeville, The City of Light is a story that came to her in a dream. A voice came to her in a dream and told her this story that the book would have a message for the world. The voice was relentless. The voice kept telling her it would become a best seller.  She drove to get her car fixed and would work on her Adrenalin Adventures book. She had complete writers block.  She was frozen in time. So she started writing the book, Hopeville, The City of Light. For the next three hours she was glued to her computer writing. She did not stop for three hours. The mechanics did not interrupt her. She typed,” The End” and the mechanics came up to her to tell her that her car was ready. She did not look at the book for two weeks.  She read the story. It is a wonderful book filled with hope and promise for a town. A town gets transformed by hope.  There are 44 lessons at the end of the book that are delightful.  She went to her publisher (who was Staples at that time) and printed 50 books. All 50 sold immediately in 2004. She never did anything more with it.  She has now launched this book as an eBook on amazon.com.  She is currently working on making this new book an audio book as well. Any active or inactive member of the military can get her book for free.





The mindset of world record holders and successful people is that they never give up.  The difference with world record holders is that they look at things in different ways.  They take things a step further than the normal person would.  Make it bigger!


What’s next for Capo? She believes that one stays young by keeping inspired and focusing on the next great thing. Capo also has a new show that will be shown on Launch TV entitled, Radio Housewives. They just shot the pilot. Launch TV is a channel dedicated to launching new films, TV series, music projects, product lines, fashion lines and businesses. Some of the shows on Launch TV, like the show, Living in Exile, get 3 million viewers per episode.  This show will launch soon on Launch TV.


Capo also has a dream to go down to the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean.  Initially the thought was no life could exist down there. However, clearly there are species living there. There are millions of albino creatures living in these hydrothermal vents. In 700 degree F water, the animals are thriving. There are only 4 submersibles that can handle the pressure. Today, there is no physical way for civilians go get down there. Her plans are endless to continue her adventures, her writing, her comedy, and her quest for spiritual positivity.  


Visit Fran Capo’s website at www.francapo.com to see learn more about this amazing trailblazer! 


Posted by tammyduffy at 12:01 AM EST

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