Fast-track health reform faces increasing obstacles

Fast-track health reform faces increasing obstaclesThe chance of the healthcare bill being ready before the summer recess appears to be diminishing as a group of 40 fiscally conservative House Democrats has objected to some key proposals.

The group signed a letter which states they would not support a legislation that did not include provisions for more significant cost cuts so the reform is "deficit neutral."

They also expressed their opposition to forcing small businesses to participate in a new system.

"We cannot support a bill that further exacerbates the challenges faced by small businesses," the group wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

In the meantime, Congress has published new figures which suggest a healthcare reform bill being worked on by Senate Democrats – which includes a public insurance option and requires employers to cover workers – would cost $611 billion over 10 years.

That is much less than previous estimates from the Congressional Budget Office which put the price tag at $1.6 trillion during the same period.
The planned reform is intended to ensure universal access to healthcare, while lowering costs and improving efficiency.

The project has already been under fire from congressional Republicans who object to a government-run insurance option which they say would be anti-competitive and drive private insurers out of business.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19263301-ADNFCR

State seeks to overhaul Defense of Marriage Act

State seeks to overhaul Defense of Marriage ActThe Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley is taking the federal government to court in an effort to challenge the section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which denies federal benefits to same-sex spouses.

DOMA, which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, was passed by Congress in 1996, and Massachusetts is the first state to challenge its provisions.

In 2003, it also became the first state to grant gay couples the right to marry.

The suit claims the act interferes with states’ rights to regulate marriage. At the moment, six states allow gay marriage but spouses cannot take advantage of federal benefits like joint tax filing, Social Security paid to survivors and guaranteed leave from work to care for a sick spouse.

While supported by gay rights groups, the effort has been criticized by many conservative organizations.

Among them is the Family Research Council whose president, Tony Perkins, warned that "[federal] taxpayers face the very real possibility of being forced to subsidize same-sex ‘marriages’."

He has also called on the Justice Department to continue to defend DOMA against "frivolous" lawsuits.

Facing intense criticism from gay rights groups over what they saw as his inaction on the DOMA as well as the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, President Obama signed a memorandum last month granting job-related benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19263298-ADNFCR

More Fallout From Uncle Sam’s Heavy Hand

In the June 23 article, “Money is Scurrying Away From the Dollar,” I touched on the radical lurch to the left that our nation is experiencing as Congress and the Obama administration proceed in their piece-by-piece dismantling of our capitalist system.

As any student of history could have predicted, this trend toward a more socialistic system of government is having a number of unintended consequences. The most immediate of these, of course, has been the growing disdain for the U.S. dollar (and a corresponding growth in affection for gold) among the world’s investors and savers.

But more repercussions are now becoming evident. The recent selloff in U.S. Treasuries sent rates spiking higher and pushed the yield curve to its steepest slope in history.

The problem is that traders have had to sell Treasuries to hedge against rising rates in mortgages. But now that selling in Treasuries is rippling into the mortgage market. That is sending rates higher and endangering the fragile healing process in the nation’s housing market.

The Fed simply cannot allow this to happen. But again, there’s a problem: The Fed has been buying mortgages and Treasuries through their quantitative easing program to keep rates low. Now, they’re going to have to ramp up that program, to a very large degree, to keep rates at levels conducive to an economic recovery.

“You can’t have a spike in interest rates in the long end without it impacting the economy,” warned Brian Edmonds, head of interest rate trading at Cantor Fitzgerald. “That’s why the Fed has been a supporter of the quantitative easing. They have a choice. They could walk away from it or they could increase it to the point where it’s meaningful. The $300 billion is not effective….You’ve got to start to talk trillions.”

The end result, of course, will be double-digit inflation rates, a collapse in the dollar, and a correspondingly large increase in the value of gold. There will be other unintended consequences of this new, more socialistic America. The most frightening of these will be the significant erosion of our individual rights. We need to prepare for these events, not only as investors, but as American citizens.

FAIR blasts Obama’s immigration plans

FAIR blasts Obama's immigration plansAt a recent White House meeting President Obama has promised a debate on a "comprehensive" immigration reform within one year, but a number of groups are already opposing his plans.

One of them is Federation for American Immigration Reform(FAIR), the country’s largest immigration reform group, which points out that since taking office the new administration has abandoned enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, such as the E-Verify requirements.

It has also expressed concerns about suggestion a new amnesty may take place.

"The American people have some very clear ideas about the priorities President Obama and Congress need to address – and a massive illegal alien amnesty isn’t one of them," says Dan Stein, president of FAIR.

"The public wants our immigration system fixed, but they expect their interests, not the interests of the people who broke our laws, to be paramount," he adds.

At a meeting held at the White House in late June, Obama told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that Congress should begin debating a plan by year’s end or early next year, according to media reports.

At the same time, Republicans, including Arizona Senator John McCain, said they would support a measure only if it included an expansion of guest worker programs.
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Study warns food, energy demand may outpace production

Study warns food, energy demand may outpace production According to a newly published report, with the caloric needs of the global population expected to rise by 50 percent in the next 40 years, better planning and investment in global agriculture are becoming critical.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) participated in preparing the report that found a gap between agricultural production and demand that is expected to get even worse due to climate change, increasing demand for biofuels and a growing scarcity of water.

"There will come a point in time when we will have difficulties feeding world population," says David Zaks of NIES, a co-author of the report.

"The solution is only going to come about by changing the way we use land, changing the things that we grow and changing the way that we grow them," he believes.

The authors says growing demand can be met by a combination of expanding agriculture to now marginal or unused land, substituting new types of crops and expansion of technology that includes improved irrigation, fertilization and precision, high performance equipment.

They also advocate intensifying yields using genetically modified crops.

Meanwhile, those who are concerned about food shortages and their survival may consider storing food.

Items that are good for storage include non perishable foods such as dried or canned meats, fruits and vegetables as well as bottled water.

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Arthritis sufferers benefit from physical exercise, study says

Arthritis sufferers benefit from physical exercise, study saysAccording to newly published research, a supervised exercise program can have beneficial effects on the physical and mental well-being of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and reduce the need for corticosteroid medications.

Portuguese scientists conducted a study that put a group of RA patients through a three-month program of moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises for 50-60 minutes three times per week.

The researchers noted a 33 percent improvement in the Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index measurement of physical functioning which assesses the ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required.

In addition to that, 62 percent of the participants said they needed less corticosteroids, and 32 percent reported stopping any NSAID therapy following the exercise program.

Mental health also received a boost, with nearly 40 percent reporting improvement in depression symptoms.

Dr Miguel Sousa of Instituto Portugues de Rheumatology in Lisbon says that exercise may seem undesirable for people who suffer from stiff and painful joints.

However, he stresses that, "our study has demonstrated that regular and supervised moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises may be extremely beneficial for both a patient’s physical and mental health, with a corresponding effect on quality of life."
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U.S. Attorney Wants Newspaper to Name Names

Should a newspaper, or any web site for that matter, be required to reveal the names of people posting comments to website articles? A court fight in Nevada may determine the answer to that question and just exactly how the First Amendment applies in the case of anonymous postings on the internet.

 The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is fighting a Nevada U.S. Attorney who is seeking the names and personal information of anonymous posters responding to a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper story.

The story about a federal case against Nevada businessman Robert Kahre, drew some caustic—some have said possibly threatening—comments about U.S. Assistant District Attorney J. Gregory Damm and the jury hearing the case.

Kahre, a construction company executive, was charged with income tax evasion, fraud and criminal conspiracy for paying contractors with gold and silver U.S. coins based on their precious metal value but using the much lower face values on the coins for tax purposes.

Ironically, those coins are considered legal tender by the big government boys and girls, but they don’t like the coins being used that way. But that’s an article for another day.

The story ran May 26, 2009, and within days had more than 200 comments posted on the story. By June 2 the paper had the subpoena in hand requesting the information, according to press reports.

The U.S. Attorney initially sought the names of all who posted remarks about the article. But the paper resisted and the government backed down and singled out two it didn’t like. The newspaper was willing to relent on those two, but the ACLU filed court documents to stop it.

In the comments, one of the posters called the jury members “dummies” and said they should be “hung” if they convicted Kayre. The other wanted to bet the U.S. Attorney wouldn’t celebrate his next birthday.

There were others, too. In them Damm was called a fascist and other names. In response, Damm did what any self-respecting fascist would. He sought to intimidate, if not arrest, those who so labeled him.

Freedom of speech in America is supposed to mean people are free to express themselves regardless of who gets their feelings hurt. But of late the government boys and girls don’t seem to like that idea. Hence we get terms like hate speech and terrorism and threats lumped into one big category that makes one person’s speech unacceptable—meaning no longer free.

I wonder what the British government thought about Thomas Paine? Probably thought his Common Sense was hate speech. He wrote it anonymously and it helped to foment the ideas that led to a revolution. That should be a particularly poignant thought coming off the 233rd birthday of our Republic.

And I’m sure that if someone wanted to be offended some of the comments posted on Personal Liberty Digest could be considered offensive, what with names like right wing nut job and commie pinko—and some worse—being slung around willy-nilly.

But America is not Iran. Americans can still—today at least—lean on the First Amendment when they want to express themselves.

They can even hold Tea Party protests—although Tea Parties upset liberals and government boys and girls who like to use free speech to call the Tea Party participants ugly names and then turn around and claim hate speech when the names are turned back on them.

Struggle for gun rights intensifies

Struggle for gun rights intensifies As the Obama administration’s efforts to limit access to guns continue to pit different interest groups against each other, a pastor has urged members of his congregation to bring their guns to church.

Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, recently urged his flock to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary to "celebrate our rights as Americans," according to the New York Times.

"God and guns were part of the foundation of this country," he says, quoted by the newspaper.

"I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist," he stresses.

Meanwhile, in a sign that the ideological conflict between supporters and opponents of gun rights is far from abating, state legislatures across the country have rejected bills that would make it obligatory for colleges and universities to allow students to carry loaded, hidden handguns on campuses.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, by the end of the current legislative session, a total of 22 states rejected 34 bills to that effect.

Moreover, as Andy Pelosi, president of GunFreeKids.org and head of The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus, points out, "College students are joining the fight for a safer America and as history demonstrates, the important social movements in our country have always been fueled by young people."

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Experts: Mid-year tax planning may be even more important this year

Mid-year tax planning may be even more important this year, say expertsFinancial industry insiders have said the economic turmoil, the various stimulus measures as well as recent tax law changes make it more necessary than ever to review one’s finances at mid-year.

In particular, experts from the California Society of Enrolled Agents, an association of tax professionals, suggest those who take the time to analyze their fiscal situation may find unexpected savings and protect their assets.

"Whatever your personal tax situation, mid-year is traditionally a good time to [assess] what your options are for the rest of the tax year and beyond," says David A. Shaw, the organization’s president.

Among the key factors to consider at a periodic review are adjusted withholdings, a closer scrutiny of which may mean extra money in consumers’ wallets this year. That is because the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes provisions for Making Work Pay refundable credit that reduces withholdings for many workers.

In these volatile times, a review of one’s retirement plans is also a good idea, while keeping in mind that current life changes – such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption – can also have far-reaching tax consequences.

Finally, the organization reminds taxpayers that eligible first-time homebuyers may qualify for a credit of up to $8,000, which may be claimed on either 2008 or 2009 returns. And families with college-bound kids may benefit from tax-deferred savings plans.

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Lung patients may benefit from lifestyle changes, research shows

Lung patients may benefit from lifestyle changes, research shows As healthcare costs continue to escalate, new study results have suggested an integrative approach to treating patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may bring both health and economic benefits.

Researchers from the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the Maxima Medical Centre in Veldhoven, Netherlands, studied patients with mild to moderate COPD. They divided them into two groups, one of which received usual care and the other underwent an interdisciplinary, community-based program (INTERCOM), according to Medical News Today.

INTERCOM included intensive lifestyle moderation phase of four months, during which participants performed two 15-minute intervals of walking or cycling, and it provided proper nutrition and smoking cessation counseling.

The article reports that there was a 20-month maintenance period after the intense introductory phase, and the researchers found that during that time those who participated in the program experienced significant improvements in health status, exercise capacity and shortness of breath symptoms, compared to those who did not.

The results, which were presented at the 105th international conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, come on the heels of another study published earlier this year which found that COPD patients may benefit from a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C and E as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
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Department of Homeland Security endorses ID bill

Department of Homeland Security endorses ID billJanet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has expressed her support for the Providing for Additional Security in States’ Identification Act (PASS ID) legislation that has been introduced in the Senate on June 15.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka, a Democrat from Hawaii, would repeal parts of the controversial Real ID Act of 2005, according to FederalComputerWeek.com.

Real ID has stirred privacy concerns when it emerged that it obliges states to collect personal information from drivers, store the information and electronically share it with other states. As a result, a total of 23 state legislatures have passed nonbinding legislation or bills that oppose or reject Real ID.

The proposed legislation’s supporters claim it will eliminate many of Real ID’s information-sharing requirements. The National Governors Association has praised PASS ID, saying it would reduce costs, offer greater flexibility to states, eliminate the need for costly new data systems and strengthen privacy protections.

However, opponents such as Jim Harper from the conservative Cato Institute are not convinced.

He points out it still sets national standards for identity cards and drivers licenses, and it makes possession or use either practically or legally required.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has said risks to privacy remain a major concern under PASS ID.
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Will HIV positive foreigners be allowed to enter the U.S.?

Will HIV positive foreigners be allowed to enter the U.S.?Media reports have suggested President Obama is planning to lift the ban which currently prohibits HIV-positive visitors from entering the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services has reportedly initiated an action to halt the implementation of the ban, in keeping with an amendment in the U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, that removed language in the Immigration and Nationality Act that explicitly prohibited HIV-positive non-citizens from entering the U.S. without a visa waiver.

Executive Director Rachel B. Tiven of New York-based Immigration Equality called the ban "an anachronistic exclusion that was not based on good science," according to the organization’s website.

"It was based on fear and misinformation about HIV and AIDS," she added, echoing the proposal recently published by the Centers for Disease Control to remove HIV from the list of communicable diseases.

Under current law, HIV-positive tourists and business travelers cannot enter the U.S. even for one day, and people with HIV who are living in the U.S. cannot stay.

The ban is expected to be fully lifted by December following a 45-day public comment period.

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Acid Buildup in The Tissue Equals Early Aging, Cancer and Death

When our alkaline reserve is depleted, death follows.

I’ve stated that vitamin D3 is essential to absorb calcium from the stomach into the blood; otherwise calcium passes through the body via the intestines. The 1 percent blood calcium is all that stands between the body and pathogenic disease. Acid waste accumulates in the body tissue, and death is the progressive saturation of acid waste in the tissue and the cells.

Even though we may have adequate blood calcium, our tissue calcium can still be low and in deficit. Fatty acid or vitamin F is required to move blood calcium into the tissue cells.

When tissue cell calcium is low, the void is filled with acid. Viruses, fungus and bacteria can only survive in an acid environment. Acid buildup in the tissue is toxic waste that creates more toxic waste. It compounds toxic waste. This is exactly what is happening to millions of Americans, but it is a slow process and does not appear as arthritis for many years.

Vaginal infections including Herpes Simplex II, as well as kidney and urinary tract infections thrive in a body saturated and debilitated with acidity. Candida Albicans is also the result of too much acid in the cell fluids. It has been proven many times that as acidity is reversed to alkalinity, candida goes away.

The presence of blood and tissue calcium balance means an absence of acidity and disease. Sickness and disease love acid. Acidity is fertilizer to cell mutation and malignancy.

Body acidity interferes with normal cell death or apoptosis. This is the basis of normal cells mutating into malignancy. Therefore, health requires that our critical one percent reserves in the blood and tissue calcium remain in balance.

At all times the healthy body requires an excess of alkaline reserves to support the body skeleton, and equally to keep the critical 1 percent alkaline balance in the blood and the cell tissue. This is the absolute best guarantee against disease. Our glands and organs function properly in exact proportion to the balance of alkaline and acid balance.

The heart, for example, is one of the most alkaline-dependent organs in the body. Correct heartbeat is altered by acid wastes. These acid wastes rob the blood of proper oxygenation and degeneration of the heart follows.

Heart patients certainly need to know that alkalinity means more oxygen. Heart pain or angina is a major symptom of oxygen starvation. Take a few alkaline drops in each glass of water you drink.

The whole body needs to be slightly alkaline. We all know that our bony frame needs calcium. But our focus here is on the little one percent critically needed as ionizable calcium in the blood and the tissue.

It is the blood calcium (alkalinity) that is responsible for the alternate contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.

Ionized (diffusable) calcium stops the growth of bacteria. Remember that ionized calcium in the blood and the cell tissue cannot exist without vitamin D3 (cholocalciferal).

Acidity causes fatigue, shortness of breath, prevents apoptosis or normal cell death, causing malignancy and ultimately death.

Foods and drink that prevent acidosis and are alkaline forming:

1) Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Be sure to add one-fourth teaspoon sea salt in every other glass (not if you are salt sensitive or have very high blood pressure.) Also be sure to alkalize your water or drink with six to eight alkaline drops in each glass. You can get the drops from a company that sells nutritional supplements.

2) Most vegetables and most fruits (citrus) are alkaline-forming foods.

3) Deep breathing helps get rid of extra acid.

4) Alkaline forming minerals are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

5) Potatoes are alkaline forming with the skin on. Add pears, cucumber, watermelon, eggplant, coffee (yes, coffee), onions, tea, pickles, string beans, human milk, raw cow’s milk, asparagus is par excellent, shiitake mushroom, spinach, bananas, chestnuts, carrots, strawberries, radish, cabbage, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips and turnip greens, apples, egg white, cayenne pepper and garlic.

A word about asparagus:  Even canned, it drops only to a 6.0 pH. It is a very powerful acid reducer and known therapy for cancer. Its high ammonia content literally plummets one into alkalinity in a very short period of time. In the past, asparagus has been considered acid forming because it so quickly detoxifies the person, leaving acid residues in urine specimens immediately after ingestion. But this residue becomes an alkaline ash exactly as does grapefruit.

Food enzymes so vital to digestion and assimilation are found only in fresh and raw foods.

All chlorophyll products build the blood and powerfully alkalize the body system. The only difference between chlorophyll and human blood is that the center of the chlorophyll molecule is magnesium and human blood is iron. Different types of chlorophyll available are fresh water algae, seaweed, spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass and alfalfa.

Chlorophyll is the essence of the life-supporting nutritional pattern of our planet. Of course cooking green foods destroys most of the chlorophyll content. Almost all (99.9 percent) of the chlorophyll supplements sold are water soluble, and thus void of any nutrition. Fat-soluble chlorophyll contains vitamins A, E, F and K and purifies the blood.

Now to vital information relating to pH or acid/alkaline balance. This information can easily be the difference between life and longevity with quality and/or drug dependent acid saturation and early death with cancer.

The essence of this subject is hydrochloric acid (HCl), or stomach acid. This is the only acid the body makes. All other acids in the body are toxic acids of fermentation caused from acidity.

HCl is absolutely essential for life. Without it the body cannot make the proper chemical conversions to alkalinity.

The life-giving and life-sustaining function of HCL is to break down food as it arrives in the stomach. If hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food becomes a mass of poorly digested acid waste residues called organic acids of fermentation.

As most of you readers know, the pharmaceutical answer to this is antacids which compound the problem making low and insufficient stomach acid even lower. Temporary relief hides this fraudulent commerce. All the antacids do is to temporarily quiet the waste acids of fermentation caused by low stomach acid in the first place. The only therapy for low stomach acid or HCL is more hydrochloric acid, not less.

Over time, educed HCL foretells and guarantees illness—and finally death—with stomach cancer.

Hydrochloric acid begins a disturbing decline around age 40, though today it shows up at all ages because of our refined carbohydrate diets.

The modern American diet of refined foods is highly acidic. This creates a volume of waste acids which is symptomatic of acid indigestion or "heartburn." This is discomfort from fermenting waste acids, not from too much good HCL stomach acid. Instead, it is a symptom of not enough hydrochloric stomach acid. Adequate HCL would prevent organic acids (waste acids) in the first place, and negative symptoms would never appear.

Therefore, the true therapy for so-called "heartburn and acid indigestion" is more hydrochloric acid. Everyone should take it before every meal for many health reasons.

Adequate HCL is our first line of defense against the various destructive microbes that enter the body by way of food. HCL actually kills and digests pathogens. It also cleans up detrimental waste acid byproducts. Therefore, it is critical that all readers understand that adequate HCL levels greatly reduce tissue acid waste buildup.

HCL keeps us alive by maintaining proper alkaline/acid balance and then becomes alkaline after its vital job in the digestive process is done. Eight essential amino acids, two vitamins and 15 minerals are dependent on proper HCL for absorption. Vitamin B12 and folic acid simply will not be absorbed from food sources without adequate HCL in the stomach.

Therefore HCL is our first line of defense because its end result is that it becomes alkaline after doing all of its stomach functions as an acid.

What we have here is a solution to fundamental health that is simple, yet empowers the individual to protect their basic health in spite of the trillion-dollar profiteers who perpetuate their empires on false symptomatic relief.

This writing is based on the books Acid and Alkaline by Herman Aihara, Alkalize or Die by Dr. Theodore A. Baroody and Three Years of HCL Therapy.

‘Miracle’ exercise explained

'Miracle' exercise explained A mind-body technique that produces stress reduction after just five days of practice has received a great deal of attention from scientists who are trying to understand the secret of its beneficial effect.

The technique is called integrative body-mind training (IBMT) and was adapted from traditional Chinese medicine in the 1990s.

Two years ago, researchers from the University of Oregon (UO) noted that practicing IBMT prior to a math test led to low levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, among Chinese students.

The practitioners also had lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than students in a control group.

The scientists believe IBMT alters blood flow and electrical activity in the brain, breathing quality and skin conductance thereby producing such dramatic effects.

"We were able to show that the training improved the connection between a central nervous system structure, the anterior cingulate, and the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system to help put a person into a more bodily state," says UO psychologist Michael Posner, who participated in a new Chinese-American study on brain and physiological changes triggered by IBMT.

"The results seem to show integration – a connectivity of brain and body," he adds.
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In Moscow, Obama pledges to reduce nuclear arsenal

In Moscow, Obama pledges to reduce nuclear arsenalPresident Obama has reportedly obtained Russian commitment to pursue a mutual reduction of both countries’ nuclear stockpiles, in a move that could have far-reaching effects for America’s security.

"This is an urgent issue, and one in which the U.S. and Russia have to take leadership," Obama said during a visit to Russia.

"It is very difficult for us to exert that leadership unless we are showing ourselves willing to deal with our own nuclear stockpiles in a more rational way," he added.

The planned replacement to the START I nuclear arms reduction treaty, which expires on December 5, calls for each side to reduce strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675, and strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100. Current limits allow a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

The new treaty would run for 10 years, and each side would have seven years to reach reduction goals.

However, it remains unclear how this could be achieved given that his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, remains opposed to the proposed American missile defense shield in Central Europe, which the U.S. claims is designed to protect the homeland from the threat of Iranian nuclear missiles.

Commentators say a resolution of this issue is crucial to any nuclear reduction deal.

On Wednesday, Obama heads to Italy, for the start of the G8 summit.
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Pentagon establishes cyber defense command

Pentagon establishes cyber defense commandDefense Secretary Robert Gates has issued an order establishing a cyber command that is supposed to protect military networks from computer attacks.

The command known as CYBERCOM, set to be operational by October 2010, will also be tasked with developing offensive cyber-weapon, according to the Washington Post.

Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) who will head the new command, explained the rationale behind the directive by saying, "Unlike the land, sea, air and space where the laws of physics do not change, cyberspace is a man-made creation that continually changes and evolves," quoted by GovInfoSecurity.com.

"Operating effectively in this kind of environment requires that we leverage the expertise from a wide variety of disciplines," he added.

However, some observers have expressed concerns that the Defense Department and the NSA will dominate efforts to protect the nation’s computer networks.

In particular, skeptics such as DissidentVoice.com, have pointed to, among other things, the opaque process of announcing the project – via a memo – as suggesting the NSA is being set up to become "a ubiquitous and silent gatekeeper answerable to no one."

It added that, "As with other Pentagon schemes, the technological quick fix may prove as deadly as the alleged threat."

CYBERCOM will be part of the U.S. Strategic Command which is responsible for commanding operations in nuclear and computer warfare.

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GOP turns increasingly against Sanford

GOP turns increasingly against Sanford Even as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has resigned her post, the Republicans are faced with another headache in the form of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s political future.

In what may be a sign of a growing disaffection of the party with the governor, Attorney General Henry McMaster – himself a Republican and a gubernatorial candidate in 2010 – has asked the state law enforcement division to review the government travel records to ensure public funds have not been misused.

Late month, Sanford made headlines after disappearing during the Father’s Day weekend in what turned out to be a secret trip to Argentina to see his mistress.

Since Sanford’s admission, there have been calls for him to step down, with at least three Republicans in the South Carolina state legislature suggesting he should resign.

The Associated Press has also reported Glenn McCall, one of the state’s Republican National Committee members, is planning a rally at the statehouse on Thursday aimed at pressuring Sanford out of office.

Earlier this year, Sanford was involved in a fiscal controversy after he refused to accept $700 million in federal stimulus money that was set aside for his state, arguing it would bring a crushing debt burden on future generations.

Following a legal action, the Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled he had to accept the money.

In April, South Carolina had the third-highest unemployment rate in the country at 11.5 percent.

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Palin resigns as Alaska governor, stuns GOP

Palin resigns as Alaska governor, stuns GOP Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has announced she will step down from her job at the end of July.

Palin provided few clues as the reasons for her decision, limiting herself to citing the alleged attacks by liberals since her ill-fated vice-presidential run, the need to protect her family, but also saying she was now " looking ahead and how we can advance this country together."

The move has caused consternation among the Republican Party, still grappling for a leader in the wake of last year’s electoral defeat. According to some commentators, Palin’s resignation is likely to deepen the disarray even further.

A recent Gallup poll showed only 34 percent of Americans view the Republican Party favorably, Bloomberg reports. Even among Republicans, 38 percent have an unfavorable view of their party and almost half can’t name an individual who speaks for it.

Democratic commentators, for their part, have suggested Palin’s decision was motivated by her desire to prepare to run for a "higher office" in 2012.

Since her resignation, rumors about an alleged corruption investigation against Palin have also been rampant, prompting the FBI to officially deny them.

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Study shows how high-sodium diet increases blood pressure

Study shows how high-sodium diet increases blood pressure High salt consumption has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, but it is only now that scientists are learning about some of the mechanisms behind the phenomenon.

An international group of researchers from Germany, Austria and Finland has discovered that under normal physiological conditions excess salt is accumulated in a "storage area" within the skin.

In laboratory tests, they noticed that animals fed a high-salt diet accumulated salt in the interstitium in the skin, a process that is regulated by white blood cells called the macrophages.

They subsequently showed that when these macrophages are depleted or the gene that controls their production is absent, the animals are not able to store salt and become hypertensive, or experience higher blood pressure, a condition which can lead to health complications including stroke.

The study provides yet another piece of evidence of why low-sodium diets are better for long term health.

In addition to dietary regimes and regular exercise, other pressure-lowering natural remedies include nutritional supplements containing fish oil, which may also reduce the risk of heart disease.
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San Diego County Backs Off Threat to Shut Down Bible Study

Score one, at least temporarily, for the First Amendment, which has been revived after what seemed a death blow in California.

In San Diego, county officials have reneged on their demand that a preacher and his wife discontinue weekly Bible studies in their home until they obtain a Major Use Permit, a process that costs tens of thousands of dollars.

According to news reports out of San Diego, Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary were interrogated by a county official and then threatened with increasing fines if they continued holding their Tuesday night Bible studies. The studies regularly drew about 15 people.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center for Law and Policy told 10 News television the county official asked:

  • Do you have a regular meeting in your home?
  • Do you say amen?
  • Do you pray?
  • Do you say “Praise the Lord?”

They answered in the affirmative on all four questions. The official then told the couple they were in violation of county regulations. A few days later they received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit,” according to Broyles.

Reports of the county’s actions drew howls of protest from liberty-minded groups and received a lot of attention in the blogosphere, as well they should. As a group, government bureaucrats lack any kind of common sense. That one would attempt to shut down a home Bible study demonstrates a lack of understanding or lack of education about our country’s founding and what led to the establishment of our nation’s Bill of Rights.

The hue and cry from freedom-loving Americans obviously worked. On May 29, County Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard issued a statement saying the Bible study could continue.

“I have received dozens of emails and calls from people concerned about reports that the county is attempting to muzzle religious expression by shutting down a neighborhood Bible study. As chief administrative officer for San Diego County, I want to say in the most direct terms: the county has never tried to stifle religious expression and never will,” Ekard said.

“More importantly, let me be clear: religious intolerance in any form is not, and never will be, allowed under any circumstance in San Diego County government,” he said.

As encouraging as it is that the county reversed itself, nothing in Ekard’s statement addresses the questions asked by a county official about what the Joneses were doing in their home.

It’s none of the county’s business what the Joneses were doing in their home, and the questions about whether they were saying amen, praying and praising the Lord should have been answered with a slammed door.

So, religious freedom in America has withstood, for now at least, another attack. But stay vigilant. The agents of tyranny are persistent.