Sebelius confirmation stirs controversy

Sebelius confirmation stirs controversy The U.S. Senate confirmed Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on April 28, but numerous groups continue to voice their opposition.

Sebelius’ pro-choice and sex education stance has put her at odds with Christian and conservative organization across the country such as the American Life League (ALL).

"[The Senate appointed] a woman who, wedded to the Kansas abortion lobby, helped make that state the late-term abortion capital of the world," says ALL president Judie Brown.

She adds, "In her new position as secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius will have the power to make the U.S. the abortion capital of the world."

Meanwhile, Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright told Washington Independent declaring the swine flu health emergency was designed to facilitate Sebelius’ confirmation.

This sentiment was supported by the Family Research Council president Tony Perkins who vowed to continue the fight to ensure that healthcare reform "is not infected with Sebelius’s pro-abortion views."

He added the American people will not accept public funding for abortion and will oppose the violation of conscience rights, which risk driving medical personnel from their fields.
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Despite swine flu spreading, officials rule out border closure

Despite swine flu spreading, officials rule out border closure The U.S. government has said it was not planning to close the border with Mexico due to the swine flu outbreaks.

According to the Star Telegram, Representatives Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, and Eric Massa, a New York Democrat, along with a national anti-illegal immigration group, have asked federal officials and Texas Governor Rick Perry to shut down the border.

"The border should be closed," said Burgess, quoted by the newspaper. "At least until we get a better handle on how big this is."

Meanwhile, the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee called on Perry to send the National Guard to the border immediately.

However, officials in Washington believe this would be counterproductive.

"Closing our nation’s borders is not merited here," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a mid-afternoon briefing.

She added the move would have enormous adverse economic consequences and would have "no impact or very little" to help stop the spread of the virus which is already present in our country.

However, she admitted the government was consulting with scientists to see whether any "additional screening beyond what we are already doing in terms of active monitoring would make sense at the borders."

U.S. scientists are racing to develop a vaccine, but they caution it would take several months before enough doses are available for testing in humans .
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An Overdose of Investment Advice

Whew! By the time you receive this, I will have just finished my MC duties at two back-to-back investment conferences. First came the Atlanta Investment Conference, where a host of newsletter editors, market analysts, and other wizards told us what they expected the market to do over the coming months.

Best line of the conference was someone who quoted Barack Obama as saying, “If I weren’t President, I’d be buying stocks now.” And followed it by saying, “Heck, if he weren’t President, I’d be buying stocks, too.”

Before I could compile a list for you of their best recommendations, I had to hop on a plane and fly to Bermuda (yes, sometimes it’s tough duty), where I was the MC for the Total Wealth Symposium sponsored by the Sovereign Society.

The focus there was on international diversification, rather than stock picks in the U.S. There was an overwhelming consensus on the part of the speakers that the tsunami of new spending coming out of Washington is going to do terrible things to the U.S. dollar.

It’s going to take me several more days to sift through all of the ideas I heard and come up with a coherent summary for you. But that will be high on my list of priorities when I return home.

So for this week, no specific investment suggestions for you. Instead, I want to repeat some of the best financial advice that’s ever appeared in this column.

Dennis Gartman’s Rules of Investing

One of the smartest market commentators in the business is Dennis Gartman. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him at several investment conferences and have even had the privilege of introducing him once or twice.

He makes more sense — and more “cents,” too — than the vast majority of analysts and advisers. Over the years, he’s developed a series of rules of trading that he’s happy to share with us. As he says, ignore them at your peril. Here they are:

  1. Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstances, Add To A Losing Position. Not ever. Adding to a losing position is trading’s equivalent of driving while intoxicated. It will lead to ruin. Count on it.
  2. This Is Not A Business Of Buying Low And Selling High. It’s a business of buying high and selling higher. Strength tends to beget strength, and weakness, weakness.
  3. “Markets Can Remain Illogical Far Longer Than You Or I Can Remain Solvent” is a brilliant statement from good friend Gary Shilling. Illogic often reigns and markets are inefficient — despite what the academics try to tell us.
  4. Sell That Which Shows The Greatest Weakness; Buy That Which Shows The Greatest Strength. Metaphorically speaking, when bearish throw rocks into the weakest paper sack, for it will break the most easily. In bull markets, ride the strongest winds.
  5. Think Like A Fundamentalist, Trade Like A Technician. It is imperative that we understand the fundamentals driving a trade, and that we understand the market’s technicals as well. If the chart is not bullish, why buy?
  6. Understanding Psychology Is Usually More Important Than Understanding Economics. Simply put, “When they are cryin’, you should be buyin’. And when they are yellin’, you should be sellin’.”
  7. Bear Market Corrections Are More Violent And Far Swifter Than Bull Market Corrections. Why they are is still a mystery to us, but they are. Accept it and move on.
  8. Be Patient With Winning Trades; Be Enormously Impatient With Losing Trades. Remember, it is quite possible to make large sums of money if we are only “right” 30% of the time, as long as our losses are small and our profits are large.
  9. The Hard Trade Is The Right Trade. If it is easy to sell, don’t. And if it is easy to buy, don’t. Do the trade that is hard to do and that the crowd finds objectionable.
  10. Do More Of That Which Is Working And Less Of That Which Is Not. This works in life as well as in trading. Do the things that have been proven of merit. Add to winning trades, cut back or eliminate losing ones. If there is a “secret” to trading (and to life), this is it.
  11. There Is Never Just One Cockroach. Bad news about a stock is usually followed by more bad news. This continues until such a time as panic prevails and the weakest hands finally exit their positions.
  12. All Rules Are Meant To Be Broken. But very, very infrequently. Genius comes in knowing how truly infrequently one can do so and still prosper.

Thanks, Dennis. Every business day of the week, Dennis arises in the small hours of the morning and writes The Gartman Letter, a market commentary that many consider the best in the business. To learn more about it, check it out at www.thegartmanletter.com.

Senator Arlen Specter flips the aisle

Senator Arlen Specter flips the aisle Saying the GOP has moved too much to the right, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced yesterday he will be seeking reelection as a Democrat next year.

The move will also offer Senate Democrats a possible 60th vote, allowing them to block filibuster and facilitate the Obama administration’s implementation of its new agenda.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine commented on Specter’s move saying his willingness to set politics aside and be part of a solution to the country’s problems will find a welcome reception in the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden admitted he had encouraged Specter to switch for several years.

The Republicans, on the other hand, did not hide their disappointment and warned the Pennsylvania senator’s decision will lead to unchecked power by the White House and Congress.

"The threat to the country presented … by this defection really relates to the issue of whether or not in the U.S. our people want the majority party to have whatever it wants without restraint, without a check or balance," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

However, Elsie Hillman, former Republican National Committeewoman, said that while she was saddened by the news, Specter "is the brightest member of the U.S. Senate and I will continue to support him and will vote for him in next year’s general election."

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Swine flu cases continue to climb

Swine flu cases continue to climb As the number of confirmed cases of swine flu increases across North America, the first fatality has been reported in the U.S.

The number of cases in the U.S. has risen to 91 and is spread across 10 states, according to the CDC. A 22-month-old child from Mexico who came to Texas for treatment became the first fatality in the U.S.

"Although it is far too early to know the degree to which the current swine flu outbreak warrants alarm, the number of cases and the speed with which the virus has spread around the globe serves as an opportunity to [discuss] the critical nature of preparedness," says Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

Swine flu presents similar symptoms to other strains of flu virus, including coughing, sneezing, fever, chills and vomiting. Some people may also experience difficulty breathing, dizziness or a rash.

At this time, it may be wise to avoid crowded places and wear masks if it is necessary to ride a subway or go to a supermarket.

Washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers frequently during the day is also good practice. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Experts have also stressed the importance of keeping the workspace clean by sanitizing desktops, phones and computer keyboards, especially if they are used by many people.

Talking to your employer about their contingency plan for a situation where many employees are unable to work may also be a good idea.

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Finally, Some Justice for Kelo

Susette Kelo has finally received a little justice, just not her property.

You may remember Kelo, who battled the town of New London, Conn., all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court over the confiscation of her property through eminent domain. She lost her case, and ultimately her land, to a private developer that wanted to put the land to more productive (read generate more tax revenue for New London) use.

Inexplicably, the U.S. Supreme Court found in favor of New London and the New London Development Corp. Never mind the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that bothersome clause that says, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

So what is Kelo’s justice? Though the case was settled in 2005 so far no development has appeared on the land. Reporters that have been there describe it as a sea of mud. Controversy over the court wranglings to essentially steal property from its rightful owners slowed things down, and a recession and credit crisis has, thus far, killed the project.

Meanwhile, that tax revenue that put dollar signs in the eyes of New Londoners hasn’t materialized. No ritzy condos or hip coffee shops have popped up. In fact, New London isn’t even getting the tax revenue it received before Kelo and her neighbors were run off.

Sometimes you have to revel in the small victories.

New study uncovers deeper heart benefits of grapes

New study uncovers deeper heart benefits of grapesGrapes, like many other fruits and vegetables, have long been known to promote health heart, but a news study has shed light on a more profound and long-term heart benefit of grape consumption.

In fact, scientists from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center found a grape-enriched diet may prevent heart damage after years of high blood pressure.

They arrived at the conclusion after comparing blood pressure in two groups of laboratory animals on a high-sodium diet. One group consumed a grape powder consisting of a blend of green, red and black grape extracts and one received a mild dose of a common blood pressure drug.

After 18 weeks, the rats that received the grape powder had lower blood pressure, better circulation and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than those that did not receive grapes.

"There are the small changes that diet can bring, but the effect of grape intake on genes can have a greater impact on disease down the road," says E. Mitchell Seymour, who led the research as part of his doctoral work in nutrition science at Michigan State University.

The researchers believe specific natural antioxidants called phytochemicals have the power to stimulate a protective process in the genes that reduces damage to the heart muscle.

The study was presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology convention in New Orleans.
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Legal ways to protect assets from creditors, Uncle Sam

Expert discusses legal ways to protect assets from creditors and Uncle Sam In turbulent economic times people scramble for ways to protect and preserve their hard-earned wealth, and some experts are offering advice on the best way to achieve that goal.

This is especially important given that moving assets into offshore accounts may have lost its appeal now that governments around the world have started to actively pursue those who would like to transfer funds abroad for tax benefits.

Still, there are a few options left.

According to Jay Adkisson, a California lawyer who specializes in asset protection, quoted by the Forbes magazine, putting money in trust for children – as long as the funds were obtained from a legitimate activity – can effectively shield the assets in case creditors come calling.

There are also legal ways to avoid taxes if you have enough money.

The Forbes expert suggests buying diamonds or gold bullion and placing them in a Swiss bank. The transaction does not have to be reported to the IRS because it does not pay any interest.

Similarly "raw" land, i.e. a type of property that does not generate income, does not require reporting, either.
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Cherries reduce inflammation, risk of heart disease

Cherries reduce inflammation and risk of heart diseaseConsuming just one and a half cups of tart cherries daily enhances the antioxidant activity in the body, according to new research.

The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan and reported at the 2009 Experimental Biology meeting in New Orleans, included twelve healthy adults, aged 18 to 25 years, who were randomly assigned to eat either one and a half cups or three cups of frozen tart cherries.

The researchers found increased levels of five different anthocyanins, the natural antioxidants which give cherries their red color, for up to 12 hours after consumption.

"This study documents for the first time that the antioxidants in tart cherries do make it into the human bloodstream and is coupled with increased antioxidant activity that could have a positive impact," says Dr. Sara L. Warber, co-director of University of Michigan Integrative Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

"[What's] really great is that a reasonable amount of cherries could potentially deliver benefits, like reducing risk factors for heart disease and inflammation," she adds.

Previous studies have linked cherries and cherry compounds to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels.

Other benefits of cherries include a 14 percent lower body weight and less belly fat, the type linked to increased heart disease risk and type 2 diabetes, according to the UM researchers.
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Swine flu outbreak raises survival issues

Swine flu outbreak raises survival issues As global health authorities are rushing to contain what looks like a growing swine flu epidemic, experts have offered protection and survival tips.

The current outbreak originated from Mexico, and by Monday 20 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., prompting the government to declare a public health emergency.

Although the authorities have sought to calm fears, it is wise to take basic precautions to avoid infection.

The surest ways to avoid contracting swine flu is frequent hand washing and wearing a mask in public.

In an outbreak, it is generally a good idea to stay indoors and avoid congregating in public or crowded spaces as well as kissing and hugging.

While these are the most immediate measures to be taken when an outbreak is already under way, individuals can also do much to increase their chances of survival in the longer term.

One survival website expert recommends having one to three months’ worth of supplies at home, including food, water, fuel, candles and first aid kits with anti-viral and other medications. This is especially important given that epidemics can come in waves of outbreaks.

Stored food should be similar to what the family normally eats and as much of it as possible should be "ready to eat" in case one is sick and not able to prepare a meal.

Dried or canned food, which lasts longer, is the best option when preparing for survival during an epidemic.
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Food Inspector Coming to Fruit Stand Near You

Under the guise of making sure our food is safe the heavy hand of government is about to clamp down on everyone who grows, transports or sells produce, livestock or poultry.

Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced that will stifle everyone involved with growing and distributing food products—from grandpa and his small garden plot and grandma’s homemade preserves, to roadside fruit stands to farmers’ markets to small cattle growers to chicken farmers.

Named the Food Safety Modernization Act, HR 875 calls for the establishment of the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill assigns Federal regulators the task of ensuring that food producers, processors and distributors prevent  and minimize food safety hazards like food-borne illnesses and contamination from bacteria, chemicals, toxins, viruses, parasites, prions, physical hazards or other human pathogens.

The legislation calls for regulation on slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants, establishments that process, store, hold or transport all categories of food products before delivery for retail sale, farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and confined animal-feeding operations.

Once enacted, every entity that falls under the jurisdiction of the legislation would be required to maintain records of all food products so the government can keep track of them in the event of contamination.

“Good,” you say, “I don’t want to eat any contaminated food.”

Not so fast, because when it comes to government legislation, what is not excluded from a bill is automatically included. And the legislation lays out no provision on the size and scope of what’s a farm, ranch, orchard or vineyard.

So grandpa can’t give away his vegetables without the proper paperwork. Show up at the local fruit stand and you’ll be handed a stack of forms to fill out before you can leave with your produce. Small cattle farmers can’t take their livestock to market.

And grandma, don’t give away any of that jam you made from pears off your pear trees because government inspectors may knock on the door and say, “Your papers, please!”

Don’t have your papers in order? It’ll cost you at least $1 million. That’s the fine for each violation of the act. And grandpa and grandma, you could also spend at least 10 years in prison.

This bill, and its companion Senate bill S 425, are designed to strip you of your right to grow your own food and put all food production in the hands of large agricultural companies like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson.

Don’t believe it? HR 875 was introduced by Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. Her husband, Stanley Greenburg, just happens to be a Monsanto employee and he is expected to be chosen to lead the Food Safety Administration (FSA). Meanwhile, lobbyists for Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson are lobbying hard for S 425.

This legislation, in addition to endangering grandpa, grandma and the local fruit stand, will crush the small farmer under an avalanche of paperwork. While large food producing companies have the staff to handle the additional forms, small farmers—and small distribution centers—are working on already too-tight margins and would be unable to hire the staff needed to handle the paperwork.

Big food producers like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson are controlling most of the food we get and contaminating it with steroids and drugs—things our bodies don’t need.

But don’t try to grow your own organic food. Your “papers” may not be in order when the new FSA thugs knock on your door.

Seniors, Don’t Break Your Bones!

You know the story. Old folks fall, break a bone, get pneumonia and then often die. But it shouldn’t be!

Researchers have demonstrated that if seniors take their calcium and magnesium plus daily doses of at least 1,000 units of vitamin D3, they can escape the above sequence. Give yourself three months to build up.

Please don’t worry about vitamin D3 overload. Many people in the know take 5,000 units daily. Health Canada recommends to Canadians an upper limit of 2,000 IUs of D3 daily.

Want to know the biochemistry of vitamin D3? Science teaches that only plants process photosynthesis, but people do, too. People manufacture nutrition (D3) from the sun. Of course, seniors mostly use D3 supplements to get the sun benefit.

But bone health is not nearly all. The risk of dying with cancer is far, far less with high doses of vitamin D3 daily. Studies have linked a shortage of D3 with such serious chronic ailments as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, influenza, Alzheimers and schizophrenia.

Unknown to doctors, vitamin D3 is introducing a golden age in medicine—and natural medicine at that. But please don’t wait for your doctor—as he will be the last to know. By that time, you could be long gone.

Vitamin D3 is directly related to public health. Geography can damn millions to terminal illness. In northern latitudes there is less sunshine to make D3. But northern people can take D3 supplements.

Older ages absorb less, so they take more. Also, overweight people require more, as do all dark-skinned people. Vitamin D3 acts as a hormone in the body’s cells and packs a huge biological punch.

The Canadian Cancer Society became the first major organization in the world to embrace the idea of large-scale population-wide vitamin D3 supplementation to combat cancer.

One study, in the journal Circulation, found that those with low vitamin D3 had a 62 percent increased risk of heart failure. And adequate levels of D3 lowers the risk for colorectal cancer by 72 percent.

When the Canadian Cancer Society asked the American Cancer Society to join them in recommending more vitamin D3, it refused.

My prediction: The U.S. pharmaceuticals are hard at work to develop a vitamin D analog (drug). And when they do, the government will greatly restrict the potency of natural Vitamin D—or outlaw it altogether—with the ruse that vitamin D is a hormone, not a food.

The research is moving fast and the efficacy of vitamin D3 is overpowering. The U.S. medical establishment won’t allow it.

Philanthropic organization criticizes Obama’s tax plans

Philanthropic organization criticizes Obama's tax plansThe Association for Healthcare Philanthropy has criticized the limits on tax deductions for charitable donations in the Obama administration’s budget.

It says the budget puts forward a scheme that would devalue charitable gifts by reducing the federal tax deductions from 35 percent to 28 percent for those who earn more than $250,000.

"In these challenging economic times, charities and nonprofits already are finding it difficult to fulfill their altruistic missions because of reduced donations and resources," the organization said in a statement.

It also suggested the federal government should promote philanthropy not make it more difficult.

Meanwhile, Americans for Tax Reform has identified another obstacle to the charitable sector in the form of itemized deduction phase-out in 2011 for married couples making $250,000 and single people making $200,000.

In the organization’s view, this limitation will make wealthy people give less to charity.

It estimates that every 1 percent decline in household charitable giving means nearly $2 billion less.

"That’s $2 billion that’s not available for churches, shelters and other worthy causes," it says.

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Missouri law would restrict education for illegal immigrants

Missouri law would restrict education for illegal immigrantsThe Missouri House of Representatives has cleared a law that would bar illegal aliens from attending public colleges in the state.

The House voted 125-30 to approve the bill which has now been sent to the Senate, according to the Associated Press.

The vote is part of an ongoing debate across the country regarding immigration reform, and in particular the extent of publicly funded benefits that illegal immigrants should be entitled to.

Earlier this week, the College Board, an association of 5,000 schools, released a report that calls for federal legislation that would grant in-state college tuition, financial aid and legal status to many illegal immigrants in the U.S.

Called the Dream Act, the law would allow students who have lived in the U.S. since the age of 15 to apply for legal residence upon graduation from high school.

However, not everyone agrees with this approach.

"It’s a massive amnesty effort being laid for this fall," said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks to restrict immigration, quoted by KBTX.com.

"Since many of these illegal aliens and their families are overwhelmingly on the lower end of the economic scale, they’re going to take the lion’s share of need-based financial aid."

Currently, 10 states allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition for public colleges.
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Industry association applauds firearms bill proposal

Industry association applauds firearms bill proposal The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has praised a legislative proposal that addresses the issue of the frequency with which firearms and ammunition manufacturers pay a federal excise tax on their sales.

The bill was introduced by Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Firearms Fairness and Affordability Act will allow the firearms and ammunition industry to pay the firearms and ammunition excise tax (FAET) on a quarterly basis – instead of bi-weekly – the same payment schedule on which every other industry supporting conservation pays the federal excise tax.

FAET is a major source of wildlife conservation funding in the U.S.

"Singling out the firearms industry for tax payments every two weeks is bureaucratic and discriminatory," said Senator Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, who joined Senator Baucus in sponsoring the bill and is the current co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

He added, "Changing to a quarterly excise tax payment system … will allow firearms manufacturers to reinvest funds into developing new products and marketing efforts."

NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.

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NIA offers tips on investing in gold

NIA offers tips on investing in goldThe National Inflation Association (NIA) has issued advice on how Americans can protect their assets in the face of inevitable inflation.

It said the actions of president Obama, Congress and the Federal Reserve are sowing the seeds for hyperinflation, and it is important to invest today because it will be too late when the calamity arrives.

According to the association, investment in gold is the surest way to protect one’s assets against depreciation.

"There is no such thing as having too much gold," it says, adding, "Although you should never put all your eggs in one basket, it is much better to have all of your money in gold than to have it all in U.S. dollars."

The organization says the present price volatility is a temporary phenomenon stemming from the fact that many short-term traders buy gold as a safe haven from stocks.

Regarding the ways to buy gold, NIA suggests physical ownership as one option that will preserve the buyer’s purchasing power.

However, given the inconvenience of storing gold bars, it says the best ways to invest in gold is through exchange traded funds and notes known as ETFs and ETNs.

The way to get rich during hyperinflation is to buy the right gold mining stocks, NIA concludes.

"Gold exploration companies have the greatest upside potential, but also the most risk," it suggests, adding, "What you need to look for are gold exploration companies that have joint ventures with top-tier miners."
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Non-drug depression therapies more effective after heart surgery

Non-drug depression therapies more effective after heart surgery New research has found that non-pharmacological interventions such as supportive stress management are more effective than medications for treating depression after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

Dr. Kenneth E. Freedland and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis conducted the study which involved 123 patients who experienced depression within one year after CABG surgery.

The patients were randomly assigned to usual care as determined by primary care or other physicians, to cognitive behavior therapy and to supportive stress management group.

After three months, only 33 percent of those in the first group saw improvement, while 71 percent of patients in the cognitive behavior therapy and 57 percent in supportive stress management group experienced remission of their depression.

"Cognitive behavior therapy was also superior to usual care on most secondary psychological outcomes, including anxiety, hopelessness, perceived stress and the mental component of health-related quality of life," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the April issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Among other effective stress and anxiety-combating techniques are exercise, proper diet and nutritional supplements.
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Please Mr. President, Stop Apologizing!

“We spit in their eyes and they call it dew.”

Remember when Nikita Khrushchev used this crude boast to describe how much he enjoyed his verbal bullying of then-American President John F. Kennedy?

JFK was a heavyweight champ compared to the current occupant of the White House. Barack Obama seems intent on setting a new record of apologizing for his country to every Marxist murderer and tinhorn dictator around the world.

At the recent meeting of American heads of state in Trinidad, our President sat silent while Daniel Ortega, the leftwing revolutionary who rules Nicaragua (again), delivered a diatribe blaming the United States for a century of aggression in Central America. Asked afterward what he thought of the speech, Obama replied, “I thought it was 50 minutes long.”

That’s telling them, Mr. President.

Later on, another bully boy of the left, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, handed our President an anti-American screed. The polemic was titled, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of the Continent.” Guess who it blames for 500 years of raping and robbing our southern neighbors?

After accepting the “gift,” Obama was photographed laughing and joking with Senor Chavez, who once called Obama an “ignoramus,” but now says he wants to be the President’s “friend.”

What’s going on here? Pat Buchanan put it very well when he said, “Thus the nation that won the Cold War, contained the cancer of Castroism in Cuba, liberated Grenada, blocked communist takeovers of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and poured billions in aid into this region was left undefended by its own leaders at the Summit of the Americas.”

Just a couple of weeks earlier, Obama was in Europe, where he apologized for this country’s past arrogance to our allies there. A few days later, he was in the Middle East, where he apologized to the Muslim world for our past actions and attitudes. He was even photographed bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia.

As Dorothy Rabinowitz put it in her Wall Street Journal column, “No sitting American president had ever delivered indictments of this kind while abroad, or for that matter at home, or been so ostentatiously modest about the character and accomplishment of the nation he led.”

The President, she said, had gone to Europe “not as the voice of his nation, but as a missionary with a message of atonement for its errors.” And how was this mea culpa received? Ms. Rabinowitz notes, “Mr. Obama dazzled ecstatic Europeans with citations of the offenses against international goodwill and humanity committed by the nation he leads.”

What about the noble and self-sacrificing parts of our history? What about the millions of lives and billions of dollars we spent defeating Nazism and Communism? Surely there is much in our history of which we can be proud — and for which Europeans and others should be grateful. But no, not a word was said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is matching her leader, apology for apology, as she travels around the world. As the headline in last Saturday’s New York Times put it, “Clinton Scores Points by Admitting Past U.S. Errors.”

The Times reporter described Hillary’s “contrition tour” this way: “It has become a recurring theme of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s early travels as the chief diplomat of the United States: She says that American policy on a given issue has failed, and her foreign listeners fall all over themselves in gratitude.”

It isn’t just a bunch of leftwing foreigners who delight in seeing American leaders apologize for their country. There are many here at home who also applaud every denigrating remark. To quote Ms. Rabinowitz one more time:

“Five decades of teaching in colleges and universities across the land, portraying the U.S. as a power mainly responsible for injustice and evil, whose military might was ever a danger to the world — a nation built on the fruits of greed, rapacity, and racism — have had their effect.”

Indeed they have. Clearly, there are many people, here and abroad, who want to see the United States chastised and humbled. Many of them work in the mainstream media. Even more teach at our colleges and universities. And at least one of them sits in the Oval Office at the White House.

I miss the days when Ronald Reagan spoke so proudly about our country. Don’t you?

New anti-tax coalition established

New anti-tax coalition established A new coalition called Citizens Against Net Taxes (CANT) aims to bring consumers, industry leaders and nonprofit organizations together to protest against new taxes on digital goods and services downloaded to PCs or mobile devices.

CANT launched its campaign on Monday and has an online petition which can be signed on its website.

"States are facing a real budget crisis, but legislatures must carefully evaluate the consequences of any legislation that will raise tax rates on consumers," says Larry Darby of the American Consumer Institute.

"While taxes on digital goods may appear to be an easy way to generate revenue, in reality they will work at cross purposes with efforts to stimulate the economy and protect jobs," he adds.

In urging taxpayers to sign the petition, CANT says states that impose taxes on digital goods can expect online retailers move to states with lower or no taxes.

The taxes are also likely to raise online-theft rates as consumers turn to tax-free and illegally downloadable materials, it states.

Finally, it believes the added taxes threaten to limit the use of high-speed broadband and wireless services that could help lower energy costs and further stimulate the economy.
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Caribbean leaders call on Obama not to destroy offshore industry

Caribbean leaders call on Obama not to destroy offshore industry At the Summit of the Americas, representatives of Caribbean countries have called on America and Britain not to threaten their financial services industry during difficult economic times.

The prime minister of Belize, and chairman of the Caribbean Community and Common Market, Dean Barrow stressed the importance of financial services to the well-being of Caribbean nations, many of which can rely on few other sources of economic growth.

Pointing out that the global financial crisis should not be blamed on Caribbean jurisdictions, the prime minister suggested it would be a mistake to destroy "a critical component of the very service area into which we were encouraged to diversify."

During last month’s G-20 meeting in London, the U.S president was joined by many Western leaders in calling for a crackdown on what they see as tax havens where wealthy citizens can hide their assets.

In a sign that the clampdown may be imminent, the Justice Department asked a federal court earlier this week to allow the IRS to obtain information about taxpayers who use offshore accounts, while Swiss banks have announced they will be scaling down their discreet banking services.

According to Forbes, Obama has said he supports the proposed Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act which would make it harder to hide assets in more than 30 countries including Belize, the Bahamas and Panama.
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