Worried Investors Wonder What to Do

What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time, investors at the various financial conferences I attend were feeling pretty good. Oh, there were a few storm clouds on the horizon. No one was singing “Happy days are here again.” But an air of quiet contentment seemed to prevail.

Not any more. Today, the mood is much more “Buddy, can you spare a dime?” Or as my fellow MC, Gary Alexander, put it, a lot of folks have changed their theme song from “If I were a rich man” to “I used to be a rich man.”

The devastation has been well-nigh universal. Every market sector in the country, and in fact every bourse around the world, has seen its share prices plummet. Even Warren Buffett, the legendary Sage of Omaha, who had demonstrated an uncanny ability to compound wealth for himself and his investors for more than two decades, was unable to keep Berkshire Hathaway from dropping like a rock.

So when the audience took their seats for the opening of the Atlanta Investment Conference three weeks ago, virtually every person present had the same questions and concerns. Where is the market headed next? Is the worst behind us? Or is this just a sucker’s rally, with worse news and further lows ahead of us?

And the most plaintive question of all: What do I do with my money now?

I was interested to note that none of the speakers and presenters was willing to take an all-out bullish stance. While several speakers saw some very profitable opportunities among the carnage (more on some of these in a moment), no one would declare that the market couldn’t or wouldn’t go lower. In fact, if you made a list of all the potential troubles they described — from a collapse in municipal bonds to more havoc in commercial and residential real estate — it would be enough to depress Mary Poppins.

If there was a consensus about anything, I would summarize it as follows: The massive government intervention in the marketplace is exactly the wrong thing to do. The cost — in wasted dollars, higher taxes, and bigger government — will be astronomical. The tsunami of new money being created makes it inevitable that the dollar will continue to fall in value. Under the circumstances, the best investments you can make will be in real things — with gold and gold-related investments near the top of many lists.

Veteran resource analyst Rick Rule put it this way: “The next five years will be spectacularly scary times. There are many black swans still be to seen.” That’s the bad news. The good news, he assured us, is that “We’ll be able to buy really, really good assets at really, really good prices.” And he added, “This will be the best buying opportunity of my career.”

So what will he be buying for himself and his clients? High on his list will be energy producers. He pointed out that most of the world’s oil is produced, not by private businesses, but by national oil companies. Instead of reinvesting in their industries, countries like Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, and Indonesia have been diverting the cash from their oil operations to fund social programs. These countries account for 30% of the world’s oil exports, Rick said. Over the next five years, he expects their exports to fall to zero. As that happens, expect the price of oil — and oil-company stocks — to zoom.

What about mining stocks? The odds against making money in the mining business are staggeringly high, he warned his audience. “Only one of 5,000 companies that says they are searching for metal ever becomes a mine,” he said. “A 1-in-5,000 chance of making 20-to-1 returns doesn’t strike me as very good odds.”

The best way to put the odds in your favor, he said, is through “prospect generators.” These are the small exploration companies with rights to a number of properties. When they find something worth developing, they partner with a major and use other people’s money to do the heavy lifting.

Two of Rick’s favorite prospect generators — or as he prefers to put it, “companies where I have significant conflicts of interest” — were exhibitors at the conference. They are Riverside Resources, Inc. (TSX.V:RRI; www.rivres.com) and Almaden Minerals (TSX:AMM; www.almadenminerals.com). Three others he mentioned are Eurasian Minerals, Laura Resources, and Miranda Resources.

“If your broker isn’t familiar with any of these companies,” Rick concluded by saying, “maybe it’s time to get a new broker.” We all knew who he meant. You can reach Rick, or one of his capable associates, at Global Resource Investments, 7770 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92009, 1-800-477-7853, www.gril.net.

At the “best recommendations” panel, the ideas came so thick and fast that my fingers grew sore trying to write them all down. Here’s a sampling:

*Roger Conrad of KCI Communications thinks that energy will be a solid investment going forward. He particularly likes the Canadian energy trusts. Asked to pick just one, he mentioned Interplus Resources (ERF:NYSE), which pays a healthy 10% dividend while you wait for its price to rise.

*Ron Miller of Morgan Keegan likes to use ETFs as a trading vehicle. In the base metals, his favorite is XLB. It can be very volatile, he warned the crowd. An even more speculative play is the banking industry ETF, UYG. It uses leverage to make double the gains (or losses) of the underlying equities.

*Frank Trotter, president of EverBank Direct, had a currency recommendation for the crowd. He likes the Norwegian kroner.

*Elliott Gue, editor of The Energy Strategist, thinks that oil prices have probably bottomed. But rather than buy the big oil producers, he likes the companies that service them. His favorite is the drilling specialist Weatherford (WFT:NYSE).

*Adrian Day, the panel’s moderator, said that three of his favorite blue chips are Nestle, HSBC, and Loews. His favorite junior gold producer is Virginia Mines (VGQ on the Toronto exchange).

Republicans worried about escalating GOP feud

Republicans worried about escalating GOP feud Following their massive defeat in last year’s general election, growing internal acrimony risks derailing the GOP’s plans to shore up its base and find a visionary leader.

In a latest development, Dick Cheney, speaking on CBS Sunday Morning, seemed to suggest Rush Limbaugh better reflected the Republican ideas than former Secretary of State Colin Powell, once again stimulating speculations that the controversial radio show host has become an unofficial voice of the party.

Meanwhile, GOP Committee Chairman Michael Steele has engaged in a "war of words" with Mitt Romney after he had cast doubt on the former Massachusetts governor’s conservative credentials.

"[I]t was the base that rejected Mitt because of his switch on pro-life, from pro-choice to pro-life," Steele said while guest-hosting a recent radio show.

"It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism [and] because they thought he was back and forth and waffling on [economic issues]."

There is also an ongoing feud between Sarah Palin’s supporters and Romney, who has said the Alaska governor should never have been placed on Time’s most influential list.

According to media reports, Palin backers have released a web video using the footage of a bear and Mitt Romney jogging near his summer home in New Hampshire, suggesting the former presidential candidate is running away. The video reportedly ends with "Palin firing a hunting rifle and a bear’s head on her trophy wall."

ACLU files lawsuit against gene patents

ACLU files lawsuit against gene patentsThe American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for the reversal of a patent currently held by a pharmaceutical company that prevents other companies from pursuing vital cancer researcher.

ACLU joined forces with the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to allege that patents held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid.

"A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene," the organization said in a statement.

"As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents," it added.

In response, Myriad Genetics, whose lab is the only place in the country where diagnostic testing can be performed, has vowed to "vigorously defend" itself against the legal challenge, according to a CNN.com report.

The lawsuit challenges genetic patenting in principle given that about 20 percent of all human genes are patented, including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy and asthma.

Meditation may enhance short-term memory

Meditation may enhance short-term memoryBesides the stress-reducing benefits, new research has also linked meditation to temporary improvement in visuospatial abilities.

The study was inspired by evidence that suggests Buddhist monks have exceptional imagery skills and are able to maintain complex images in their visual short-term memory for hours. It was conducted by psychologists from the George Mason University who investigated the effects of different styles of Buddhist meditation on such skills.

The scientists focused on Deity Yoga (DY) and Open Presence (OP) techniques and asked meditation practitioners along with nonmeditators to participate in visuospatial tasks conducted in two stages.

The tasks tested their mental rotation abilities (being able to mentally rotate a 3-D structure) and visual memory and revealed that all of the participants performed similarly on the initial set of tests.

However, following mediation, practitioners of the DY style showed a dramatic improvement on both tasks compared to OP practitioners and the control group.

DY is the fundamental Vajrayana practice in which practitioners visualize themselves as the meditation Buddha. It enables them to release themselves from spiritual obscurations and to practice compassion and wisdom simultaneously.

The research results also confirm DY allows practitioners to access greater levels of visuospatial memory resources.

"[These findings have] many implications for therapy, treatment of memory loss and mental training," the authors conclude.

Is Government Planning to Force You to Live in the City?

Was President Barack Obama beginning efforts to engage in social engineering when he formed a partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?

That’s a question posed in a report compiled by Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D., of The Heritage Foundation after he received a press release from the two government agencies announcing the formation of their pact.

According to the release, the partnership was formed to create “affordable, sustainable communities.” Included among its many goals are projects to:

  • Develop a new cost index that combines housing and transportation costs into a single measure to better illuminate the true costs by “redefining affordability and making it transparent.”
  • Encourage transportation choice.
  • Require even more planning by the many federally funded regional planning entities that are already attempting to guide Americans toward a supposedly better life.

According to Utt, liberals have long—it began in the 1950s—held a bias against suburbanites and urban sprawl. They believe people should live in municipalities with strict zoning laws, impact fees and regulations to ensure something called smart growth while making greater use of public transportation and forgoing automobiles.

Data show that many Americans rejected that idea, preferring instead to move away from the city center where they found more affordable housing, better public services and education systems. What they sacrificed with longer commutes, they benefited from the savings in housing and what they believed was a more comfortable lifestyle.

Now advocates of the smart growth movement are taking a different tack, and they have enlisted the Federal Government in their efforts. Although reams of data exist showing that the cost of suburban living is comparable to—if not less than—living in a municipality, smart growth advocates contend the data overlook many hidden costs of suburban lifestyles. These asserted costs, according to Utt, rely on unsubstantiated allegations of greater infrastructure costs, environmental degradation and the high cost of automobile operation.

Smart growth advocates contend that essential services can better be delivered to Americans living in higher density developments—such as town houses and high rise apartments—through public transportation, thereby freeing commuters from their cars. Additional benefits come through the preservation of land, reduced carbon footprints, greater social interaction through forced proximity, and higher aesthetic standard in community and housing design as government planners and politicians assume greater responsibility for artistic choices, according to Utt.

The DOT’s own data, from a study conducted in 2004, shows that public transportation is not an inexpensive mode of transit, as its proponents claim, and in fact is far more expensive than travel by automobile. Begun as an annual report to Congress, the DOT was forced to cancel further studies after it revealed that public transit survives only on massive taxpayer subsidies that are generally hidden and excluded from any discussion of the costs and benefits of different modes of travel.

According to The Heritage Foundation, data from 2006 (the most recent year for which data is available) shows that the federal subsidy for public transportation was $165.61 per 1,000 passenger miles, while automobiles earned the federal government a profit of 93 cents per 1,000 passenger miles through federal fuel taxes.

Currently, HUD requires states, counties and cities to conduct five-year Consolidated Plans estimating housing status and needs, and DOT requires the federally funded Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) to develop Long-Range Transportation Plans and four-year Transportation Improvement Programs.

Yet, despite billions of dollars of spending on these plans, housing is less affordable than ever and traffic congestion is worse and infrastructure continues to dilapidate, Lott writes.

Now, through the partnership, the agencies have more money and more clout with which to press more of a smart growth agenda on the American people.

But the smart growth idea, writes Utt, exhibits a child-like faith in government planning, a concept that half the world quickly abandoned in the late 1980s when all of the formerly socialist countries (except, of course, for Cuba and North Korea) rejected state planning in favor of private-sector initiative, economic freedom and market solutions.

While some may hope this effort is nothing more than the President’s attempt to use the White House as a bully pulpit to encourage Americans to mimic the urbane lifestyle he experienced in an upscale Chicago neighborhood, the record of past such efforts by the federal government is more troubling, Utt writes.

In January 1998, President Bill Clinton’s Envi­ronmental Protection Agency threatened to with­hold federal transportation funds from the Atlanta region because it did not meet federal air-quality standards and said that it would agree to restore the funding only if the state of Georgia dramatically altered its land-use and transportation policies in ways similar to those characteristic of the smart growth polices that discourage single-family detached housing and encourage public transit use and investment. Georgia agreed to do this, at least through the waning days of the Clinton administra­tion, but soon abandoned the policies when leader­ship in Washington changed.

Carol Browner headed the EPA when the threat was imposed on Atlanta under Clinton. Today, she is assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change. With the prospect of even worse to come from this new DOT-HUD partnership on sustain­able communities, Utt suggests that those who are skeptical of the President’s grandiose efforts at social engineering should be on the alert.

Conference touts offshore opportunities, while government vows clampdown

Conference touts offshore opportunities, while government vows clampdownBermuda has held a conference on wealth and asset protection, in particular in offshore jurisdictions. However, the event coincided with a new U.S. government warning against banks assisting tax evasion.

According to SovereignSociety.com, the meeting of wealth management and protection experts aimed to "demystify" offshore banking and present the benefits of a well-crafted asset protection plans.

One of the speakers, representing Jyske Global Asset Management, suggested currency diversification away from the dollar and careful risk management were critical in today’s economic environment.

Another participant suggested considering life insurance policies.

"[A]n insurance policy is merely a tax-deferred investment vehicle," said Colin Bowen from Isle of Man Assurance Group, quoted by the website.

"They can help you protect your capital, make estate preparations, maximize tax efficiency and diversify your holdings," he added.

An insider with offices in Western Samoa, Anguilla and Belize talked about "smart" approaches to offshore investments that include contacting regulators and licensing agencies in the jurisdiction where the investor hopes to set up the trust.

However, those who would like to transfer their assets offshore would be well advised to consider the U.S. government’s pledge to go after undeclared profits shielded in tax havens.

According to the New York Times, the IRS is preparing to pursue foreign banks suspected of facilitating tax evasion by wealthy Americans.

The Swiss bank UBS has already been forced to pay U.S. authorities $780 million in fines and promised to identify some of its American clients.

ATF: Tax proposal ‘will kill U.S. jobs’

Tax proposal 'will kill U.S. jobs,' according to the ATF President Obama has vowed to raise more than $200 billion through a crackdown on what he called corporate tax loopholes, causing the anger of many in the business community.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) has given voice to that criticism by enumerating some of the "job-killing" provisions of the current tax code.

Quoting OECD statistics, it says the U.S. has a combined marginal corporate rate of nearly 40 percent, the highest in the developed world.

It also claims America is one of the few countries that double-taxes the international profits of its companies, although there are regulations, such as the deferral provision, that allow companies to avoid this double taxation until they repatriate the profits to the U.S.

The organization concludes that if Obama follows through on his plan to scrap the deferral rule without lowering the corporate rate or reforming the tax code, American companies will set up permanent foreign headquarters, taking jobs and capital with them.

Obama has said the money is needed to narrow the yawning budget deficit that is projected to reach $1.8 trillion this year.

He has also suggested that removing incentives for U.S. companies to move their operations offshore to avoid paying corporate income taxes will encourage them to create more jobs in America, spurring economic growth.

Desperate times call for meditation

Desperate times call for meditation As anxieties associated with the bad economy are adding to the stresses of daily life, health experts have suggested powerful natural techniques that can help people get through difficult periods.

One such non-drug therapy is meditation, which has grown out of ancient spiritual traditions and has been attracting growing numbers of followers in recent years, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Practitioners have praised its effectiveness on calming nerves and improving mood, and there are various techniques to choose from, depending on individual needs, the article says.

They include mindfulness meditation which focuses on awareness and acceptance of the present moment, transcendental meditation and compassion meditation whose goal is to foster a feeling of loving kindness toward others.

The article also discusses growing evidence supporting the value of meditation as a health resource. Studies have shown meditation and other relaxation techniques work in cells, turning off genes that are associated with inflammation, cell aging and free radicals.

It has also long been known to help battle eating disorders, substance abuse, ease chronic pain and reduce blood pressure.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health estimates some 9.4 percent of adults surveyed in 2007 had tried meditation at least once during the previous 12 months, a significant increase from 7.6 percent in 2002.


Anti-tax group criticizes budget’s energy provisions

Anti-tax group criticizes budget's energy provisions According to the calculations by Americans for Tax Reform (ATF), the energy provisions in President Obama’s FY 2010 budget could result in an increase in the tax burden of as much as $10,000 per person each year.

The organization based its estimates on the tax increase costs of the carbon tax, Section 199 repeal and other energy tax hikes added together.

"When President Obama told the American people that he wasn’t going to raise taxes on over 90 percent of the population he lied," says Grover Norquist, president of ATF stressing that everybody uses energy, not just the rich.

Referring to the elimination of Section 199 for energy companies, Narquist adds, "If the President wants to eliminate an income tax cut for companies that create jobs in America and call it a ‘loop-hole closer’ instead of a direct increase in income taxes that will be passed onto every American family then he is insulting all of our intelligence."

Section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deduction for companies which engage in production within the U.S.

ATR is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all federal, state and local tax increases


Pension plans improve in April

Pension plans improve in April Bank of New York Mellon Asset Management has reported the funding status of U.S. pension plans improved by 3.9 percentage points last month.

According to the company, the increase was driven by a second consecutive month of strong performances by global equity markets.

Assets for a typical portfolio increased 6.7 percent in April, compared to the 1.4 percent gain in liabilities during the month. For the year to date, the funding ratio for the typical plan is up 9.5 percentage points, as represented by the BNY Mellon Pension Liability Index.

Peter Austin, executive director of BNY Mellon Pension Services, the pension services arm of BNY Mellon Asset Management also noted that corporate bond spreads, while narrowing in April, continue to be above average past levels.

"We continue to be wary of narrowing corporate spreads, which have the potential to increase liabilities," he said, adding, "At that point, plans will need additional help from equities to protect their funded status or they will need to be particularly astute in managing their exposure to liabilities through effective asset allocation."

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation is a financial services company operating in 34 countries. It has $20.2 trillion in assets under custody and administration, $928 billion in assets under management, services more than $11 trillion in outstanding debt and processes global payments averaging $1.8 trillion per day.

Survey: Herbal menopause treatment growing popular with doctors

Herbal menopause treatment growing popular with doctors, says surveyWith hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increasingly discredited, healthcare providers have become supportive of the use of the black cohosh extract as an alternative to treat menopausal symptoms, according to a new study.

Black cohosh is a perennial woodland plant native to the eastern parts of North America, and its root has long been used to prepare herbal supplements and remedies.

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine, who designed the survey, says 63 percent of respondents admitted discussing the use of the extract with their doctors, and nearly 54 percent said their physicians were ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of the therapy.

"We hypothesize that the reason for the high level of support among healthcare providers was because the black cohosh extract is the most widely researched non-pharmaceutical therapy for reducing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and occasional irritability," says Minkin.

The primary reason women said they used black cohosh was to avoid HRT after recent scientific studies have linked it to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

Results of the web-based survey of 692 women were presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual meeting in Chicago.

Who Wants to Confiscate Your 401(k) and IRA?

If you’re like most people who are planning for retirement you have been socking away your money in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k) plan.

And when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 14,198.10 on Oct. 11, 2007, you thought you were set. The Dow was running up. Your retirement funds were growing. Everything looked good.

Then stocks began a downward slide that turned into a cliff dive by the following spring as the full extent of the financial crisis came to light. To make matters worse, the market then showed what it thought of the efforts of Congress and the President (both Bush and Obama) to stem the crisis—it tanked.

Fast forward to March 6, 2009. Stocks hit their lows and your retirement funds had dropped by 40 percent to 60 percent.

Now your retirement years no longer look quite so rosy. You’re thinking you may have to work an additional 10 years just to build that nest egg back to October 2007 levels.

Well, don’t fret, help is on the way. The same entity that’s done such a great job of managing Social Security may soon be managing your personal retirement plan.

Congressional Democrats have been holding hearings to decide what to do to help Americans prepare for retirement. Their conclusions: It might be a good thing for the government to eliminate tax breaks for 401(k)s, IRAs and similar retirement accounts, confiscate them and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRA) managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Now unions are joining the bandwagon. Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was quoted in a union publication saying that he supports a plan to centralize all retirement plans for American workers. His plan includes private 401(k)s and IRAs.

What he wants is for the government to confiscate your private retirement plan and set up a government pension system for everyone similar to the European system. And as is usual with grand government schemes nowadays, individual choice no longer applies.

The SEIU, by the way, is one of the nation’s largest labor unions and it invested heavily in getting President Barack Obama elected. Plus, the union is working with the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare on the plan.

In other words, the SEIU carries a lot of clout with this President and Democrat-controlled Congress.

But the SSA hasn’t done such a great job managing Social Security. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security outlays will exceed revenue in 2019, and Social Security funds will be exhausted in 2049.

So, for a 20-year-old just entering the job market who will pay into the system for 40 to 45 years, there is no hope of recovering that money when he or she retires.

There is currently no bill in committee or before Congress to set up a GRA. But the fact that it’s being discussed in committees and pushed by Big Labor should be enough to frighten you.

It’s time to consider, if you haven’t already, your financial plans for your retirement years—whether you are 20, 70 or somewhere in between. Is it time to cash it out? That’s for you to decide along with a tax or financial advisor, as the penalties for early withdrawal are oppressive.

Regardless, as the Federal Reserve prints dollar upon dollar to fund its economic stimulus Ponzi schemes, gold as an investment looks better and better.

Report: Wages, employment for legal workers grew after raids

Wages, employment for legal workers grew after raids, says report A report by the Center for Immigration Studies has examined the impact of the 2006 raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies of six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co and noted an improvement in the legal workers’ situation in the aftermath.

The report, entitled The 2006 Swift Raids: Assessing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement Actions at Six Facilities, says meatpacking workers’ wages, adjusted for inflation, fell by 45 percent between 1980 and 2007. In addition to that, some 23 percent of Swift’s workers were illegal immigrants.

Jerry Kammer, a senior research fellow at CIS and author of the report, writes that all six facilities resumed production on the same day as the raids and returned to full production within five months, an indication the plants could operate at full capacity without the presence of illegal workers.

A crucial finding, however, suggests that after the raids the number of native-born workers increased significantly, and at the four facilities for which the researchers were able to obtain information, wages and bonuses rose 8 percent on average with the departure of illegal immigrants.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research organization that examines the impact of immigration on the U.S.


Obama: Crackdown on offshore assets will create more jobs

Crackdown on offshore assets will create more jobs, says Obama As the new administration continues to pursue individuals and institutions who it believes are implicated in hiding assets from the IRS, President Obama has explained the process will boost economic growth and jobs at home.

A statement issued by the White House says the current tax code offers a competitive advantage to companies that invest and create jobs overseas and provides opportunities to avoid taxes through offshore tax havens.

To prove that, it cites statistics indicating that almost one-third of all foreign profits reported by U.S. corporations in 2003 came from just three countries, namely Bermuda, the Netherlands and Ireland, known for their low tax levels.

To remedy the situation, Obama has proposed replacing tax advantages for investing overseas with incentives to do so at home by reforming deferral rules that give tax breaks to those who reinvest overseas.
He has also vowed to continue to "get tough" on overseas tax havens.

"It is the downpayment on the larger tax reform we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer and more efficient for individuals and corporations," the president said at a joint news conference with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The White House estimates the plan will save around $200 billion over the next decade and will discourage companies from enhancing their foreign operations at the expense of creating American jobs.

Medical tai chi grows popular as healthcare costs skyrocket

Medical tai chi grows popular as healthcare costs skyrocket A Chinese exercise that has been described as "the secret to anti-aging," medical tai chi is proving increasingly popular in the U.S.

The technique, also known as qigong, looks similar to martial tai chi, but its slow movements are designed to boost the immune system and open acupuncture "chi" channels without using needles, according to Healing Tao Retreats.

Michael Winn, ex-president of the National Qigong Association, says the appeal of this technique lies in the fact that the less effort one makes, the more powerful the healing energy the exercise generates.

"Yoga and martial tai chi styles are also healthy alternatives, but qigong is medically far more effective," says Winn.

"[It] can be targeted to heal specific mental or physical illnesses. I’ve witnessed countless healings in people abandoned by the medical system," he emphasizes.

Dr. Bryan Lewis, an integrative healthcare expert, believes people are turning to alternatives like qigong because they cannot afford insurance premium costs which can be as high as $25,000 a year.

"The NIH knows that greater reliance on prevention and self-care is the only long term solution our national health system can afford," he says.

"If 200 million Chinese rely upon medical qigong for good health, why can’t Americans?" he asks.

Qigong has been used in China to heal chronic illness for more than 2,500 years.

Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis and Vitamin D3

Each month I try to think of what information my subscribers need most, as most of my readers are in the 50 to 90 age group. Of course we all need health and wealth, which is the basic theme of The Bob Livingston Letter.

And one cause of poor health among people in this age group is Vitamin D deficiency.

I have been so mesmerized, excited and overpowered with the benefits of vitamin D3 and sunshine that I have accumulated a small library on the subject.

The vitamin D3 excitement grows exponentially for seniors. I myself am in that age range. I have good seasoning like fine whiskey! I didn’t say that I drink it, just age like it—to perfection!

Increasing numbers of adults are developing a vitamin D deficiency-related bone condition known as osteomalacia (pronounced os-tee-oh-muh-lay-sha), sometimes called "adult rickets." This condition, characterized by vague bone and muscle aches, is frequently misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or arthritis. This is a typical diagnosis of "conventional" or "orthodox" doctors. I just saw this happen and the patient (or victim) wouldn’t touch vitamin D3 and had to go on disability.

Activated vitamin D or vitamin D3 or sunshine is directly related to bone health and muscle health. It is in fact its main job.

Osteomalacia refers to bone pain with muscle ache. Osteomalacia is a condition in which the bones don’t harden properly during the building or rebuilding phase. Vitamin D3 deficiency is the most common cause of osteomalacia.

Yes, even seniors are always building bone and unhardened bone produces complaints of muscle achiness and weakness. Winter months produce this more when there is little or no sunshine.

Vitamin D3 deficiency affects seniors most simply because few of us get any sunshine or enough sunshine, including me. So my wife and I take large daily doses (10,000 units) of vitamin D3 almost without fail. If we slack anything else, we take vitamin D3 in tablets or liquid.

The rule is to take large doses daily. You should take it on and on. As with any natural nutrient, it will take a while to get D3 solidly in your system, say two months. Then we have to keep it there by continuing to supplement. It may take longer for some. Remember that you acquired this sunshine deficiency over a long period of time.

If vitamin D3 deficiency continues it will weaken your bones and predispose you to fractures, especially of the lower spine, hip and wrist. In fact some researchers suspect that carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by vitamin D3 deficiency. And most importantly, a D3 deficiency causes instability of balance. Seniors fall more than younger people, a whole lot more. Of course when they do, they break their bones, as you well know.


All seniors know what osteoporosis is. Osteoporosis is a basic deficiency of vitamin D3 which compromises the bone regrowth and remodeling process—which goes on until death. Vitamin D3 deficiency inhibits efficient absorption of calcium from the diet. Calcium enters the bloodstream and with the help of vitamin D3 is deposited in the bones. If this pattern doesn’t happen because of D3 deficiency, the bones become riddled with holes and become porous, brittle and weak. This is osteoporosis and can be verified with a bone density test.

The result of osteoporosis is death. How many seniors over the centuries have broken a bone, developed pneumonia and died? This was all needless, according to vitamin D research.

Our strongest impression is that you should take your daily units of vitamin D3 above all else.

Normally I wouldn’t include specific product names and links in my editorial articles, but I get so many questions as to which exact products I use that I thought I should do so here. I recommend you take Advanced D3 from Health Resources™.

Lawsuit challenges denial of right to bear arms

Lawsuit challenges denial of right to bear armsThe Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), The Calguns Foundation (CF) and three private citizens have filed a lawsuit against arbitrary state infringement of the right to bear arms in California.

They challenge the policies of two sheriffs in Sacramento and Yolo counties, who refuse to issue law-abiding people gun permits while criminals continue to carry guns without police permission, according to the SAF.

One of the plaintiffs believes her sexual orientation and small stature makes her an appealing target for criminals but she has been unable to obtain a gun permit.

"The California licensing system is being abused by some officials who are hostile to self-defense rights," says Donald Kilmer, co-counsel representing the plaintiffs in this case.

He adds, "Complete deprivation of the right to bear arms is not an option under our constitution."

Founded in 1974, SAF is the nation’s oldest and largest education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the constitutional right to privately own and possess firearms. It has more than 600,000 members and conducts programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

CF is a non-profit legal defense fund for California gun owners and works to educate government and the public and protect the rights of individuals to own and lawfully use firearms in California.

Cherries shown to counteract arthritis inflammation

Cherries shown to counteract arthritis inflammationLifestyle and dietary changes, like regular consumption of cherries, may help manage the inflammation, stiffness and pain related to arthritis.

There is evidence that tart cherries may play a role in reducing the pain of arthritis, based on a review of studies published over the years in scientific publications such as Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine, Journal of Nutrition and Behavioral Brain Research.

Compounds called anthocyanins – which are responsible for cherries’ red color – are believed to promote this anti-inflammatory benefit.

Leslie Bonci, director of Sports Nutrition in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, says her clients frequently ask about ways of managing arthritis without pharmacological drugs.

"For many arthritis sufferers, what they eat may help dramatically reduce their arthritis-related pain," she stresses.

That is why she suggests eating cherries as well as other red foods rich in anthocyanins and including omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

In addition to that, the expert recommends staying properly hydrated and practicing gentle stretching that may increase comfort and lessen pain and stiffness.

Contaminated food victims call for better safety system

Contaminated food victims call for better safety system More than 20 victims of foodborne illnesses gathered in Washington DC to call for better consumer protection.

According to the Make Our Food Safe Campaign, some 5,000 Americans die annually from food-related illness, but the food safety system is based on laws enacted in 1906 that are outdated and fail to protect food supply.

"These victims, their families and their stories must serve as the final wake-up call," said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations.

She added, "We must act now to make it happen, transform the FDA, and begin a new movement that puts public health first."

DeLauro has introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act to separate food safety regulation from drug and device approvals.

Meanwhile, major consumer and food safety groups have launched the Make Our Food Safe Campaign to push for reforms of the nation’s food regulatory system.

It calls for risk-based inspections, science-based standards for foods and requirements that food companies test for harmful contaminants and report any result showing contamination to the government.

Steps to ensure that imported food products meet safety standards, enhanced enforcement tools, like mandatory recall authority, and structural changes in HHS are also among the campaign’s demands.

Obama’s First 100 Mistakes

If you’re as tired as I am of all the hoorays and hallelujahs an adoring press has bestowed on Barack Obama for his first 100 days in office, here’s a welcome respite.

To help counter all that saccharine applause, one of the left’s sharpest critics in Washington, D.C. prepared a different sort of list. Gary Bauer, who heads the Campaign for Working Families, compiled a list of Obama’s 100 mistakes, misstatements, and missteps since he assumed our nation’s highest office.

Granted, not every one of the items listed below threatens the foundations of our Republic. But taken together, they reveal that we are witnessing the transformation of a limited, Constitutional government into a socialist morass.

Gary has divided his list into four categories, starting with values and going to national security, free enterprise, and personnel. See if you don’t agree that it’s quite a litany.

Undermining Our Values

1. Calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act on the White House website.

2. Calling on the White House website for the expansion of federal hate crimes to include homosexual behavior.

3. Calling on the White House website for policies like the “Fairness Doctrine” that could silence conservative and Christian talk radio.

4. Repealing limitations on taxpayer-funding of human embryonic stem cell research.

5. Repealing limitations on taxpayer-funding of abortions overseas.

6. Pledging $50 million to the United Nation’s Population Fund, which supports China’s draconian one-child policy.

7. Proposing new rules to gut conscience clause protections for pro-life doctors and other medical personnel who don’t want to be forced to perform abortions or other procedures that violate their values.

8. Proposing increased funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

9. Calling on the White House website for “a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year,” (mandatory volunteerism).

10. Inviting homosexual families to the White House Easter Egg Roll.

11. Allowing his attorney general to call for the reinstatement of Clinton-era restrictions on the Second Amendment.

12. Breaking his promise not to appoint lobbyists to his administration. He hired 17 in his first two weeks.

13. Breaking his promise to sign legislation only after a five-day period of public comments.

14. Asking that the monogram for Jesus Christ be covered up during a televised speech at a Catholic university in which Obama quotes the Sermon on the Mount.

Undermining Our National Security

15. Apologizing for America in Europe and Latin America.

16. Bowing before the Muslim king of Saudi Arabia.

17. Pledging to base America’s foreign policy toward Iran on “mutual respect” in a video to the Iranian people and Iran’s Holocaust-denying dictator.

18. Returning the bust of Winston Churchill given to George Bush after 9/11 by our British allies.

19. Giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the leader of America’s most loyal ally, a box of DVDs that don’t work in British DVD players.

20. Ordering Guantanamo Bay closed without any idea of where to send the terrorist suspects held there.

21. Suggesting that some of those terrorists now at GITMO may kill again, but may also be released onto U.S. soil and set up with welfare benefits.

22. Caving to communist Cuba by relaxing travel restrictions and remittances for Cuban Americans before any Cuban political prisoners have been released.

23. Shaking hands with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

24. Sitting silently though a 50-minute anti-American diatribe by Nicaragua’s communist president, Daniel Ortega.

25. Releasing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is suspected of masterminding the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

26. Releasing classified CIA memos outlining our interrogation techniques.

27. Telling our CIA agents not to be discouraged when he acknowledges their “mistakes.”

28. Declaring a new openness to “truth commissions” and prosecuting intelligence officials involved in enhanced interrogations of terrorists.

29. Proposing to send a $900 million foreign aid package to Palestinians in Gaza.

30. Asking Congress to relax the law so that some of that money could go to the terrorist organization Hamas.

31. Calling for the U.S. to eliminate its nuclear weapons.

32. Telling Russian President Demitri Medvedev that America’s commitment to missile defense is negotiable.

33. Dropping the term “enemy combatants” for GITMO detainees.

34. Dropping the term “terrorism” for “man-made disaster.”

35. Dropping the term “Global War on Terror” for “overseas contingency operations.”

36. Giving his first interview as president to the Arab language network Al-Arabiya.

37. Telling the Muslim world that his “job” was to communicate “that the Americans are not your enemy,” when it’s Muslim extremists who have declared war on us.

38. Proposing that military veterans use private insurance for the cost of a service-related injury before they would be eligible for coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Undermining Free Enterprise

39. Signing the trillion-dollar plus so-called “stimulus” bill, which the Congressional Budget Office said would actually hurt long-term economic growth.

40. Saying Caterpillar wouldn’t lay off workers if his trillion-dollar stimulus bill passed Congress. Obama signed the bill on Feb. 17th. On March 17th, Caterpillar laid off nearly 2,500 workers.

41. Hosting a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” one week after signing the trillion-dollar “stimulus” bill.

42. Railing against “outrageous recklessness and greed” of AIG bonuses that were legally protected in the so-called “stimulus” bill he signed four days after it passed, not five as he promised.

43. Breaking his promise on earmark reform by signing the $410 billion “omnibus” spending bill with billions in earmarks.

44. Proposing a $3.6 trillion budget that doubles the national debt in five years and triples it in ten years.

45. Proposing a “carbon cap and trade” scheme that will raise energy taxes by hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars.

46. Burning more than 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to fly to Iowa for Earth Day to promote “wind power.”

47. Proposing $634 billion in higher taxes for socialized health care.

48. Proposing to raise taxes on small business owners.

49. Saying the White House is open to the idea of taxing employer-sponsored health care benefits as income.

50. Signing a massive expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, calling it “a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American.”

51. Establishing the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research to give bureaucrats the power to ration health care and tell your doctors what care you can and cannot have.

52. Signing the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which the Sierra Club praised specifically because it “will safeguard millions of acres … from oil and gas leasing.”

53. Suggesting he has found $1.5 trillion in bogus “savings” by not spending money in Iraq that we were not planning to spend years from now.

54. Ordering his Cabinet to “cut” $100 million in spending in 90 days, after proposing nearly $5 trillion in spending in his first 90 days.

55. Proposing to limit tax deductions for home mortgage interest.

56. Proposing to limit tax deductions for charitable donations.

57. Refusing to allow banks to repay TARP money.

58. Bailing out AMTRAK with a 10% increase in its taxpayer subsidies.

59. Bailing out the United Auto Workers Union with billions of taxpayer dollars to GM and Chrysler.

60. Bailing out the United Auto Workers by giving it a majority ownership stake in Chrysler. Yes, the union will own the company.

61. Bailing out Big Labor by issuing an executive order mandating that infrastructure projects paid for with “stimulus” funds must use union labor, guaranteeing higher costs for the taxpayer.

62. Bailing out Big Labor again by repealing regulations requiring the disclosure of how union dues are spent. So much for “transparency.”

63. Saying, “The United States government has no interest in running GM, “then vowing that the government will back auto warranties.

64. Saying, “The United States government has no interest in running GM, “then firing the CEO of General Motors.

65. Allowing states to set their own fuel efficiency and emissions standards, making it harder for struggling auto makers to compete.

Personnel Is Policy

66. Nominating Timothy “The Turbo Tax Evader” Geithner as Treasury Secretary to oversee the IRS.

67. Nominating as attorney general Eric Holder, who urged Bill Clinton to pardon tax evader Marc Rich and 8 FALN terrorists.

68. Nominating David Ogden, a prominent attorney for the pornography industry, to be Deputy Attorney General.

69. Nominating Tom Daschle, who owed more than $140,000 in back taxes, as Health and Human Services Secretary.

70. Nominating Kathleen Sebelius, who is ardently pro-abortion and owed $8,000 in back taxes, to be HHS Secretary.

71. Nominating Janet Napolitano, who said, “crossing the border is not a crime per se,” as Homeland Security Secretary.

72. Nominating Steven Chu as Energy Secretary. Last September, Chu said, “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which at that time were roughly $8.00 a gallon.

73. Nominating Ron Kirk, who owed more than $6,000 in back taxes, as Trade Representative.

74. Nominating Bill Richardson, who was embroiled in an ethics scandal, as Secretary of Commerce.

75. Nominating Nancy Killefer, who also owed back taxes, to be the government’s “Efficiency Czar.”

76. Nominating Rosa Brooks, a leftwing acolyte of George Soros, as an advisor to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

77. Nominating Harold Koh, an ardent supporter of using international law in the interpretation of our Constitution, to be the top legal advisor to the State Department.

78. Nominating Carol Browner, who was a member of the Socialist International, to be “Climate and Energy Czar.”

79. Nominating John Holdren, an environmental extremist and advocate of population control, as the White House Science Advisor.

80. Nominating Dawn Johnsen, who is so pro-abortion she once compared pregnancy to slavery, to direct the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department.

81. Nominating Charles Freeman, an anti-Israel, pro-Arab apologist, to be head of the National Intelligence Council.

82. Nominating Tony West, who represented American Taliban John Walker Lindh and exposed the Bush Administration’s terrorist surveillance program, to the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

83. Nominating Annette Nazareth to be Deputy Treasury Secretary, who withdrew after a month-long probe into her taxes.

84. Trying to nominate pro-abortion Catholics to be ambassador to the Vatican, a move even John Kerry opposed.

85. Appointing Ellen Moran of the pro-abortion group Emily’s List as his White House communications director.

86. Appointing Melody Barnes, a board member of Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood, as his director of the Domestic Policy Council.

87. Appointing Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign (the largest homosexual rights lobbying group) to the White House’s Faith Based Advisory Council.

88. Appointing Adolfo Carrion as Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs, even though he is under investigation for kickbacks in a scandal nearly identical to one that cost GOP Senator Ted Stevens his election.

89. Nominating David Hamilton as his first appointment to a federal appeals court. Judge Hamilton has issued a number of controversial rulings, including prohibiting the Indiana House of Representatives from opening sessions with prayers in the name of Jesus.

Other Obama Outrages

90. Telling congressional Republicans to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

91. Coordinating attacks on Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer out of the White House.

92. Hosting weekly parties at the White House, serving up $100-a-pound Waygu beef during what Obama called, “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

93. Laughing it up on 60 Minutes as the country is mired in a recession.

94. Allowing Air Force One to buzz the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan, creating panic in New York City.

95. Disparaging Special Olympians on the Tonight Show.

96. Allowing his Department of Homeland Security to issue a report accusing pro-life, smaller government conservatives and returning Iraq/Afghanistan veterans of being “rightwing extremists.”

97. Promising to push for comprehensive immigration reform, i.e., amnesty.

98. Killing the school voucher program in the District of Columbia, while sending his two daughters to an elite private school, rather than D.C.’s public schools.

99. Moving the Census out of the Department of Commerce and into the White House.

100. Relying too much on his teleprompter.

Thanks, Gary, for reminding us of many of the things an adoring press has already swept into the dustbin of history.

If you’d like to receive Gary Bauer’s insightful and sometimes biting commentaries each day, go to http://www.cwfpac.com/cwf_eod_request.php. As he says there, his Campaign for Working Families is unapologetically pro-family, pro-life, and pro-growth. He is definitely (and sometimes defiantly) on the Right side of the issues of the day.

Allergy sufferers may benefit from folic acid

Allergy sufferers may benefit from folic acidFolic acid, also known as vitamin B9, may suppress allergic reactions and alleviate the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms, according to a new study.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center arrived at this conclusion after reviewing the medical records of more than 8,000 people aged two to 85 and tracking the effects of folate levels on respiratory and allergic symptoms.

They also looked closely the levels of IgE antibodies which rise in response to an allergen.

The researchers found people with higher blood levels of folate had fewer IgE antibodies, fewer reported allergies, less wheezing and lower likelihood of asthma.

Lead investigator Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a pediatric allergist at Hopkins Children’s says the findings indicated that folic acid may help regulate immune response to allergens and reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.

They furthermore add to mounting evidence that folate can help regulate inflammation.

Folic acid is also essential for red blood cell health and has long been known to reduce the risk of spinal birth defects.

According to the CDC, asthma affects more than 7 percent of adults and children in the U.S. is the most common chronic condition among children.

Organization ‘Disappointed’ As Governor Vetoes Embryonic Research Bill

Organization 'disappointed' as governor vetoes embryonic research bill Americans United for Life (AUL) has expressed its disappointment with the decision of the Oklahoma governor to veto a bill which would have banned destructive embryonic research.

Last month, Governor Brad Henry vetoed Oklahoma House Bill 1326, which would have also made it illegal to conduct research that would subject an unborn child to a substantial risk of death or injury.

Although the veto was subsequently overridden by the state House of Representatives, the Senate failed to do the same.

"This life-saving bill was vital to keeping Oklahoma a leader in the pro-life movement," says Maressa Treat, AUL director for Oklahoma.

"The veto is disappointing to all who support life issues, such as banning embryonic stem cell research," she added.

Upon assuming office last January, President Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research saying such research offers hope for finding a cure for a range of diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injuries.

Founded in 1971, AUL is a nonprofit, public-interest organization committed to defending human life through judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels.