AICPA offers guide to end-of-life financial planning

AICPA offers guide to end-of-life financial planning It may not be the most exciting financial arrangement to consider, but the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) says everyone who has dependents, owns a business or property should make end-of-life plans to facilitate inheritance and succession.

AICPA is the professional association of CPAs which sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards. It is now offering a free guide to help navigate the complexities of end-of-life financial planning.

The guide, published jointly with the institute’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program, covers a range of topics, including planning for yourself; dependents; your property and assets, including business ownership, retirement accounts and long-term and disability insurance; and your estate, which covers overall estate planning, wills and living trusts.

"The guide is meant for a wider group than just aging parents and their children," says Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, chair of the AICPA PrimePlus ElderCare Task Force, which developed the publication.

"The end of life does not discriminate according to age," he adds.

For those who are looking for ways to preserve and protect their wealth, some financial experts have also recommended converting liquid assets, especially U.S. dollars, into gold and silver. That is because many analyst have warned the government spending and the resulting massive budget deficit is setting the stage for hyperinflation in the next few years.
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Senate votes to allow handguns on Amtrak

Senate votes to allow handguns on Amtrak Earlier this month the Senate voted to permit Amtrak passengers to carry handguns in their luggage, and one gun rights proponent has hailed it as a sign that the tide is turning against those who would like more restrictive laws.

John M. Snyder, who is a former National Rifle Association editor and current public affairs director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, says politicians finally seem to "get the message" that most Americans are opposed to gun control.

"American firearm owners form the cutting edge of the modern freedom movement in the U.S.," he said, quoted by Newsblaze.com.

The measure, which passed with a vote of 68-30, was contained in an amendment proposed by Senator Robin Vicker of Mississippi to a transportation appropriations bill. It will take away $1.5 billion for the government-subsidized passenger railroad if Amtrak fails to begin checking in firearms by next March.

Supporters of the amendment state that sportsmen who want to take the train to hunting trips will finally be able to do so.

Meanwhile, opponents such as Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, counter by saying that the rail system does not have the same baggage screening capabilities as airlines, and the requirement will put undue financial burden on it, and possibly cause it to shut down.

The National Rifle Association’s website cites statistics which suggest that the number of new guns in the U.S. increases by about 4.5 million each year, while total violent crime rate is down 38 percent since 1991.
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John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard

There are many things wrong with public education in this country, as we all know. But one thing that’s almost never mentioned is how little young people today learn about many of the heroes we were taught to admire.

If you want to see evidence of this, play a word-association game with any teenager you know. Ask them to tell you about John Paul Jones, the Bonhomme Richard, or the phrase, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” You’ll be sorely disappointed with the answers.

It was on Sept. 23, 1779, during the war for American independence, that Jones, commanding the Bonhomme Richard, engaged the British man-of-war Serapis. During the hard-fought sea battle, the American ship suffered considerable damage and British captain Richard Pearson asked Jones to surrender. It was then that the American captain issued his famous reply, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!”

The battle continued for three more hours until Pearson surrendered his ship to the Americans. Shortly after boarding it, Jones and his men watched their own ship, the Bonhomme Richard, sink to the bottom of the sea.

—Chip Wood

The Judicial Decline of America and How to Profit from it

“The Boomer generation represents one of the weakest cohorts of politicians America has ever produced.”–Thomas P.M. Barnett, Great Powers, America and the World After Bush.

Mismanagement in Washington is punishing the dollar. Continued incompetence puts all dollar-backed assets at risk.

Meanwhile, gold prices are once again back over $1,000 per ounce. Yet for gold to reach its inflation adjusted 1980 price it would have to trade at $2,500 per ounce. Impossible you say? Not given the current crisis in leadership.

On Sept. 8, at Wakefield High School in Virginia, President Obama gave a speech to students across the country about the importance of their education, and their responsibility as American students to work hard.

Certainly hard work is needed. Two weeks before Obama spoke it was announced that high school students’ performance on last year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) college-entrance exam fell yet again.

Average scores for the class of 2009 in reading dropped to 501 from 502, in writing to 493 from 494, while math managed to hold steady at 515. The combined scores are the lowest this decade. Furthermore, these SAT scores follow more than 25 years of trying to improve U.S. education.

"This is a nearly unrelenting tale of woe and disappointment," said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "If there’s any good news here, I can’t find it."

In fact the news is dismal. SAT scores have been in an overall decline for almost 40 years. Meanwhile a new wave of nations are producing another generation of smart kids with a global economy itching to buy up their services.

Hopefully the President has not inspired another generation of wanna-be lawyers. America has more than enough of them. In 2007 the American Bar Association (ABA) counted 1,143,358 in all. That is one lawyer for every 265 people, twice the ratio that Germany has and five times as many as France.

It is interesting to note that last year plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations was put on hold by its own inspectors because of a shortage of skilled engineers.

That’s bad news for the lawyers because no new nuclear plants mean no new litigation against nuclear plant designers and owners. Not that there isn’t plenty of work to keep lawyers busy.

The U.S. tort system cost more than $250 billion in 2007. That is up from less than $43 billion in 1980.

In total, tort costs translate to about $850 per man, woman and child. And get this, since 1950 growth in tort costs has exceeded gross domestic product (GDP) growth by an average of 2 percentage points. Even during recessions, Americans spend more in legal costs. It’s too bad you can’t buy shares in the ABA.

This is not to suggest that we are not heavily vested in lawyers. Some of the very “best” of them are running our nation. Today 46 percent of our government branches are in the hands of lawyers. That includes, of course, the President and the First Lady.

A founder of the Constitution, James Madison, understood that the checking of each branch by the other made for a less effective government. Madison wrote that the sacrifice was worth it to prevent tyranny by a government “in the same hands.”

“No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that . . . the accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” (Federalist No. 47)*

Whether the federal government is tyrannical can be debated, but you don’t need an MBA to see that it is damned inefficient. Last month the Obama Administration announced its estimate for the budget deficit at $1.58 trillion. That is a trillion dollars larger than last year’s deficit and represents the largest percentage share of GDP in more than 60 years.

Why would we expect anything less? If you have ever been on the “clock” with a lawyer you probably realize how much it costs and how little actually gets accomplished.

Now before I get a rash of comments from lawyers, let me say that I am not alone in my criticism. Way back in the February 1987 Ruff Times, Robert Ringer wrote: “I abhor overgeneralizations. Fairness compels me to point out that only 97 percent of the attorneys in the U.S. are lazy, incompetent, negligent and greedy—yet they give the entire profession a bad name.”

The truth is our government is rife with lawyers and they have been doing a rotten job. An even more alarming truth is that they hold our future and our finances in their hands.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke mans the printing press. Despite the recession, new money is pouring into the economy. Since 2000, M2 money supply has more than doubled, rising from $4 trillion to $9.5 trillion.

One of Bernanke’s first speeches was entitled “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here.” On that front he is doing one heck of a job.

What people need to fear from the firm of Barack & Bernanke is the unprecedented amount of new money coming on-stream. The creation of all this cash out of thin air will inevitably be inflationary. That impacts the purchasing power of every dollar instrument you own.

You can protect yourself from dollar inflation by owning gold. I recommend you put at least 10 percent of your investment assets in physical gold. I like 1-ounce U.S. American Eagle coins as well as 1-ounce Canadian Maple Leaf and South African Krugerrand coins.

Call your local coin dealer or if you need one, call Asset Strategies International in Rockville, Md., 800-831-0007 or 301-881-8600 or go to www.assetstrategies.com

Yours for real wealth and good health,

John Myers
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

PS. I will agree with the President that our kids have to get serious about their education. Perhaps they should read Shakespeare. In King Henry VI he wrote: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers."

*Footnote: Federalist No. 47 is the 47th paper from the Federalist Papers. Written by Madison, it was published in 1788 under the pseudonym Publius.

Recalibrating omega fatty acid intake may improve health, study says

Recalibrating omega fatty acid intake may improve health, study says Nutrition experts are saying the modern Western diet has changed the balance of omega-6 fatty acids (w6) and omega-3 fatty acids (w3) – with adverse health consequences – and they are looking into ways of restoring that balance.

Previous research established that human ancestors maintained a 2:1 w6/w3 ratio, but in modern times it can be as high as 10:1 in the West, resulting in an increased risk of inflammation.

The researchers involved in the latest study describe how they analyzed 27 healthy humans who were fed a diet mimicking the w6/w3 ratios for five weeks.

Upon completion of the trial, they noted that the expression of many genes that promote inflammation was substantially reduced as compared to a normal diet. One of genes codes for a protein called PI3K, which plays an important role in autoimmune and allergic inflammation responses.

Those who would like to rebalance their diet may want to keep in mind that omega-6 fatty acids are found mainly in meat and vegetable oils, while rich sources of omega-3 include flax and fish oil. The latter can also be obtained from dietary supplements.

The paper appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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Tips on surviving a bear encounter

Tips on surviving a bear encounter With the beginning of the fall season bears are becoming more active in some parts of the country, and those who plan to spend time outdoors may want to keep in mind a few tips on how to behave if they encounter the large animal.

Mark Ternent, a black bear biologist, says the likelihood can be reduced if people refrain from feeding wildlife, such as birds or deer, while on a trip or storing food or garbage in places such as backyard. Even squash, pumpkins, corn stalks or other Halloween or holiday decorations outside may attract bears.

"Once bears become habituated to an area where they find food, they will continue to return, which is when the bear can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors," says Ternent.

He advises to stay calm if a bear has wondered onto your property. Often shouting at it from a safe distance can persuade the animal to leave. If not, it is a good idea to slowly retreat and call for assistance.

When coming into contact with a bear in the wild, it is best to slowly back away while quietly talking. While withdrawing, it is important to face the animal, but avoid direct eye contact. Turning and running can spur the bear to chase, and humans cannot outrun bears.

It is also important not to block the bear’s escape route, to move away from cubs and to avoid climbing a tree.

Some bears may bluff charge, and if this occurs the best approach is to wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear.

Finally, the expert says in the event of an attack, fight back as you continue to leave the area as bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys or even bare hands.

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SAF pledges to sue Seattle mayor over gun law

SAF pledges to sue Seattle mayor over gun lawSeattle Mayor Greg Nickels has been trying to ban legally-carried firearms in city Parks and Recreations Department facilities, and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has vowed to sue him if he proceeds.

Alan Gottlieb, the organization’s founder, has said the rule would violate Washington State’s firearms preemption statute, adopted more than 25 years ago.

"If this rule is [passed]," Gottlieb said, "it is our intent to immediately file a lawsuit against the city with our sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. I guarantee there will be lots of people lining up to become plaintiffs."

He further sought to stress that the state Attorney General Rob McKenna has already said the mayor had no authority to impose gun laws that are more restrictive than state statute, and under the current state law private citizens are entitled to carry concealed handguns on public property if they are properly licensed.

Nickels has been trying to introduce the ban for over a year; however it is unclear if he will be successful as he came in third in last month’s mayoral primary, effectively eliminating him from competing for the post.

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.
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New natural formula appears to stem AMD progression

New natural formula appears to stem AMD progression Given the social impact of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), as well as the interest in natural ways of preventing and treating the condition, scientists have announced they created a new antioxidant supplement that may slow its progress and the associated vision loss.

AMD occurs when blood vessels in the center of the retina break down, leading to a loss of central vision. The National Health Institutes estimates it is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older and affects some 10 percent of people between the ages of 66 to 74.

For their clinical study—which aimed to test whether carotenoids, which are antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables, could prevent progression of the disease—the researchers enlisted 400 people with early stage AMD.

In addition to carotenoids, the trial supplement also contained vitamins C, E and zinc.

The results suggested that macular pigment in the retinas of the participants who took the supplement was maintained better, as compared with the control group, and those individuals experienced a slowing down of the progression of the disease.

Thanks to recent research, there is now a range of supplements that can protect eyes from the consequences of AMD. It has been suggested vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid may reverse the process, and omega-3 fatty acids may offer additional protection against blood vessel breakage.
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Annuities boost retirement security, poll says

Annuities boost retirement security, poll says According to a new Gallup survey, non-qualified annuities significantly increase the retirement security of middle-class Americans, and those whose portfolios include them have expressed greater financial confidence during the current recession.

Non-qualified annuities are purchased by investors individually, rather than through a qualified employer-sponsored retirement plan or individual retirement arrangement.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the Committee of Annuity Insurers (CAI), found that although many Americans believe they are not financially ready for retirement, a total of 91 percent of non-qualified annuity owners believe they have done a very good job of saving for old age.

In addition, nearly 79 percent say that annuities are safe and make them feel more secure in times of financial uncertainty.

"This survey demonstrates that these Americans consider their annuities the answer to both sides of the fundamental retirement challenge – a method to accumulate retirement savings and a vehicle to turn their savings into a steady retirement income stream that cannot be outlived," says Deborah Winston of the CAI.

The background to the survey specifies that 80 percent of non-qualified annuity owners have annual household incomes below $100,000. They are also more likely to be female (58 percent) than male (42 percent).
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Research organization: Health insurance costs rising

Health insurance costs rising, research organization. As the supporters and opponents of the public option in the healthcare reform continue to fiercely debate the merits of their positions, the Kaiser Family Foundation has published a new report that suggests health insurance costs for Americans are escalating.

The 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey says premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased by 5 percent from last year—to $13,375 annually for family coverage—even though the rate of inflation fell by 0.7 percent in the same period.

The study was released jointly with the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET).

Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman says the reason the country is engaged in the health reform debate is because when costs continue to rise faster than inflation in the context of a severe recession, both workers and employers feel the pain.

Many employers deal with the rising costs by offering high-deductible plans, and the number of employees covered by such plans is growing. According to the survey, a total of 22 percent of covered workers have to pay at least $1,000 out of pocket this year before their plan kicks in.

This represents an increase of 18 percent from last year.

During the past 10 years, the cost of premiums rose by 131 percent, more than three times faster than worker wages and four times general inflation, the study also found.

"[Our] survey results demonstrate the need for comprehensive, meaningful reform," says Maulik S. Joshi, president of HRET.

He adds, "Our nation faces a unique opportunity to achieve reform and build a better healthcare system that improves care for patients and provides coverage for all at an affordable cost."
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October 2008 Economic Crash Planned?

Dear Bob,

Speaking of the October 2008 (economic) crash, from your writing I would guess that you would think that it was probably planned.

A: Yes, it very well could have been because the people ruling the U.S. and the rest of the world are capable of almost anything. They can pull it off and very few ever figure it out. There is indeed the disguised possibility that the meltdown was engineered by insiders/elite/mega bankers to bring down prices by busting companies so that they can buy banks, companies, property and so forth at fire sale prices. Harry Schultz suggested this in his Oct. 19, 2008, HSL (International Harry Schultz Letter), and I don’t think it is wide of the mark.

Best Wishes,
Bob

Vaccination 101: Why vaccines are useless, inefficient and dangerous

One of the most reported topics of the last several months is the predicted pandemic of H1N1, also known as swine flu. Government bureaucrats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are almost gushing over the estimates of deaths to come from the disease.

Meanwhile, promises are made by U.S. Government spokespeople of a vaccine against swine flu that, they say, will help us to weather the coming storm. But vaccines aren’t the panacea Big Government would have you believe. Here are the facts:

Vaccines are useless because…

  • Natural microbes (yeasts, mycobacteria, bacteria, viruses) are not enemies, but allies. They help restore our body’s health during the repair phase of a disease (Hamer’s German New Medicine).
  • We create our own microbes using the smallest particles of living matter that exist inside our bodies. These bear various names—microzyma (Bechamp), bions (Reich) and somatids (Naessens).

Vaccines are ineffective because…

  • They contain only artificial microbes that have been weakened and/or genetically modified that cannot prevent any disease.
  • They shock and exhaust the immune system and stimulate the explosion of degenerative diseases such as AIDS and cancer. They systematically destroy human health.
  • The efficacy of vaccines has never been proven scientifically. Their ineffectiveness becomes obvious with the need for repetitive inoculations and the appearance of diseases that vaccines were meant to prevent.

Vaccines are dangerous because…

  • Vaccinations stimulate and maintain individuals in a state of fear. In fact, we do not die of a disease, but from fear and exhaustion. The fear of microbes and illness knocks people out and vaccines finish them off.
  • Vaccines are extremely harmful. Innumerable complications go from minor problems (allergies, eczema, otitis, asthma, behavior and learning disabilities) to major disorders (autism, epilepsy, diabetes, arthritis, paralysis, leukemia, encephalitis, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, Ebola, foetal malformations, Gulf War syndrome, Guillain Barre syndrome, Spanish flu, etc.) or even to death: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Receiving a vaccine is always devastating for the body. In fact, a vaccine is a witch’s brew made up of three types of ingredients: 1) A cocktail of microbes that have been artificially modified and often genetically recombined. 2) A purulent culture fluid composed of animal cells (chicken, mouse, sheep, monkey, cow) and human cells (blood, aborted fetuses) that are cancerous and contaminated (viruses, prions). 3) Preservatives and adjuvants that are in fact lethal poisons: Thimerosal (50 percent mercury), aluminum, formaldehyde, squalene, monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, silicone, polysorbates, sorbitol and a long list of extremely harmful substances known for their brain and nerve toxicity.
  • The content of vaccines is “Top Secret” and depends upon decisions taken by the military-industrial complex. The Ministry of Health of any country, the medical staff recommending and injecting them and the person receiving them cannot find out their exact composition or their true purpose. In fact, they serve as biological weapons of mass destruction for targeted populations—blacks, Asians, the poor, American Indians, handicapped, homosexuals and inhabitants of territories with valuable resources. They have been developed as perfect eugenic (killing undesirables) and mind control tools.

All vaccines are useless, inefficient and dangerous, without exception!

Key Points Concerning Vaccination (From Ghis, author of The Medical Mafia)

  1. The impending massive vaccination (2009) is the direct result of a pseudo-pandemic of swine flu (A-H1N1) officially declared by the United Nations (U.N.). The long-term ploy of the global elite is to reduce the world population to 500 million. The new vaccines contain an extremely vicious cocktail of avian, swine and human influenza viruses.
  2. Liquid crystals and nano-sized microchips may have been included into the vaccines to facilitate mind control at a distance.
  3. Vaccination is not a medical but a political decision. Its purpose is global population control. Vaccines can be used to eliminate undesirable individuals by repetitively weakening their health or by brutally killing them. The World Health Organization (WHO) makes all vaccine-related decisions. They are the U.N.’s Ministry of Health. Its decisions are imposed by force to all governments through the use of propaganda, harassment and threat.
  4. Vaccines are biological weapons of mass destruction. That is why research on vaccination first takes place in military laboratories. The first human guinea pigs are often soldiers and their families who are unconscious of being used as expendable test subjects.
  5. Qui bono? (Who benefits?) Vaccination brings in colossal profits to pharmaceutical companies and international banks. To vaccinate their populations, governments must borrow huge sums. The public debt skyrockets while the international bankers increase their grip on all valuable resources.
  6. The basic theory on microbes is false. Louis Pasteur was an impostor, a cheat and a liar. His experiments were falsified. The many scientists who have proven the beneficial role of microbes were ridiculed and punished. Any proof that went against the world elite’s best interests was systematically crushed. This situation is still going on today.
  7. There is an undeniable link between vaccine inoculation and the manifestation of an illness, even if it is difficult to prove. Doctors refuse to admit this link because they are afraid of retaliation.
  8. Vaccines induce permanent and hereditary modifications to the human genetic code. Short-term consequences are numerous (genetic malformations) while long-term effects are difficult to evaluate.
  9. Because of their neurotoxic effects, vaccines produce psychopaths, generating social violence and crime. This situation causes political unrest and the reinforcement of military and police control. It opens the door to the full implementation of an already legalized martial law.
  10. With the use of vaccination, the real sociopolitical problems remain hidden while techno-scientific pseudo-solutions are proposed. These are so complicated that most people are unable to understand the faulty assumptions on which they rest. Most people react by trusting the authorities and submitting without question.
  11. Vaccination keeps people powerless and dependent upon external authorities. As long as I behave as a sheep, there will be a shepherd to abuse me. The role of any government has always been that of a shepherd with his flock. His only purpose is to shear the sheep until there is no more wool, and then to lead them to the slaughterhouse, while pretending that it is for their own good.

“In reality, I am omnipotent and immortal. I need no vaccines, no doctors, nor governments. Compulsory vaccination is a gift that forces me to take the decision to get out of fear, disease and death once and for all.” Ghis (author of the book The Medical Mafia) www.personocratia.com

Pine bark found to prevent inflammation

Pine bark found to prevent inflammation According to new research, the extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree appears to have inflammation-fighting properties and relieve pain.

Scientists from the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition in Rome found the antioxidant compound, called Pycnogenol, inhibits the generation of COX-2 and 5-LOX, which are naturally occurring mediators associated with inflammatory responses.

The researchers tested volunteers aged 35-50, who took Pycnogenol pills for five consecutive mornings before breakfast. Blood sample analysis before and after supplementation showed that while the participants’ immune cells rapidly initiated production of COX-2 and 5-LOX in response to pro-inflammatory stimulation, taking Pycnogenol almost entirely suppressed them in the immune cells.

Study author Dr. Raffaella Canali explained that common NSAID medications lower the pain by reducing the production of prostaglandins by COX enzymes.

"In contrast, Pycnogenol turns to the root of the problem, completely stopping the production of COX-2 in inflammation. Thus far, the compound seems to be a unique tool for modulating inflammatory processes," she adds.

Natural Health Science, a supplements distributor, says Pycnogenol is available in more than 700 nutritional supplements worldwide.
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Proper nutrition may help you survive the flu season

Proper nutrition may help you survive the flu season While hand-washing and cough-covering is very important, experts are saying there is a range of flu-fighting foods that may help vulnerable individuals get throughout the difficult season.

"[While it is] important to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups throughout the year, adding flu-fighting [items] like yogurt, garlic, citrus and chicken to your diet [during flu season] can boost your body’s immune system and help you to avoid getting sick," stresses Andrea Garen, a registered dietitian.

She says yogurt and other cultured milk products contain probiotics – beneficial bacterial strains that have been shown to boost the immune system and promote digestive health.

In addition to live cultures, dairy products are also rich in vitamin D, which has similar immune benefits, and recent research has found many Americans are deficient in the vitamin, which may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

Crushing garlic cloves before adding them to food to release the garlic juice will also allow one to reap the immune-enhancing benefits of that herb.

Finally, any immunity-boosting diet should include citrus fruits that are rich in vitamin C as well as chicken, meat and peanuts that contain zinc.

For those who are too busy to regularly consume immunity-enhancing foods there are nutritional supplements with vitamins C and D that can lower the risk of getting the flu.

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Organization lists tax hikes proposed in healthcare reform plan

Organization lists tax hikes proposed in healthcare reform plan Only two days have passed since the Senate Finance Committee unveiled its healthcare bill proposal, and Americans for Tax Reform (ATF), an organization that opposes all tax increases, has prepared a list of tax hikes that could be enforced if the bill passes.

Because the plan includes a mandate for all Americans to obtain insurance coverage, ATF says workers who do not sign up will have to pay a tax of between $750 and $3,500 depending on their status and income.

In addition, employers will be taxed at the rate of $400 per employee if they do not offer health coverage.

The plan also provides for a 35 percent excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans, meaning those whose premiums exceed $21,000 for families and $8,000 for singles. Moreover, it would eliminate tax breaks such as the deduction for employer-provided retirement prescription drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D.

In recent months, ATF has been focusing on exposing President Obama’s apparent failure to keep his campaign promise not to raise any taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year.
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Chastising a Dictator, the Irreligious, AARP and a Rising Federal Payroll

*Congress rebukes Obama for dictatorial claim. It wasn’t the biggest issue to come before Congress in a long time. But as a straw in the wind, it could be significant. On July 9, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly (429 to 2) to tell President Obama he has to obey the law. The previous month, when he signed a supplemental appropriations bill, the President said he could ignore stipulations in it he didn’t like, such as how new funding for the International Monetary Fund could be used. Even Rep. Barney Frank criticized Obama, saying that “there is a kind of unilateralism, in an undemocratic, unreachable way, to these signing statements.”

*Where to find the least religious Americans. Recently, the Gallup Poll asked a cross-section of Americans if religion is an “important part” of their lives. Among those who answered “no,” you probably won’t be surprised to learn that New England had six of the top 10 states. Vermont led the way, with New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts following in second, third and fourth place.

*AARP demands more COLA. The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), which never met a government subsidy for seniors that it didn’t want made larger, is outraged that there will be no increase in Social Security checks next year. Seems that the folks who calculate cost-of-living expenses found that the index actually dropped 2.3 percent so far this year. Because prices kept rising for much of last year, seniors enjoyed an additional 5.8 percent in their Social Security checks this year. But of course, that’s not enough to satisfy the AARP.

*But federal paychecks keep rising. Now here’s a statistic that will frost your cookies. The pay gap between what employees earn in private industry versus those who work for the federal government is the largest in history. The average annual salary paid people in the civilian workforce is $49,935, while those who collect a paycheck from Uncle Sam pocket 58 percent more—a rather hefty $79,197 per year. Anyone want to argue that’s because they work so much harder or are so much smarter?

—Chip Wood

Who’s the Liar Now, Mr. Obama?

It isn’t easy to upstage the President of the United States when he’s delivering a speech to a joint session of Congress. But Rep. Joe Wilson managed the feat 10 days ago, when he blurted out, “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s pitch for his healthcare proposals.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle were quick to jump all over the Republican congressman from South Carolina for his rudeness. Katon Dawson, the former head of the Republican Party in South Carolina, opined, “If Joe’s mother or father were alive, they’d take him to the woodshed and whip him for bad manners.”

Before the night was out, Wilson had been pressured to call the White House to apologize. Not content that Rep. Wilson apologized directly to the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her cronies demanded he also apologize on the House floor. When he refused, they voted 240-179 to "disapprove" his actions. Ah well, at least it distracted them from spending a few billion more of your tax dollars for a day or two.

By the end of the day last Thursday, Rob Miller, his opponent in last year’s election, reported that he had received some $400,000 in contributions from 11,000 donors to help him defeat Wilson next time around. Wilson promptly announced that he too had received a big chunk of moola from patriots who want him to stay in Washington. Looks like next year’s election in that district will be mighty interesting.

Lost in all of the hullabaloo were two things worth mentioning: First, Wilson’s outburst paled in comparison to the treatment President George W. Bush received on numerous occasions from his Democrat opponents. There were times during George W.’s State of the Union speech in 2005 when there were so many jeers, cat-calls, mutterings and murmurings it was difficult to hear what he was saying. Anyone remember the liberal media expressing its outrage then?

But my second point is far more important: For all of his impoliteness, Wilson was telling the truth. Obama wasn’t.

Wilson’s outburst was in response to the president’s claim that nothing in the Democrats’ proposals would lead to federal funding of healthcare for illegal immigrants. Wilson knows something most Americans don’t: Liberals in Congress have defeated every single attempt by Republicans to put such provisions into law. Of more than 20 such amendments that were introduced in the past year, not a single one has been allowed out of committee.

No wonder Wilson was so upset. He knows what’s really been going on behind those closed committee doors. He knows Obama was playing fast and loose with the truth. And so did everyone else in the House chamber that night.

I wasn’t surprised by all the blatant falsehoods in Obama’s speech. For me, the tone was set in the first five minutes, when the president told the assembled lawmakers, “I am not the first president to take up this cause. But I am determined to be the last.”

That may have been great rhetoric. The assembled Democrats obviously thought so, because they gave the president an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Yes, it might have sounded good. But it wasn’t the truth. And everyone listening to the president knew it.

Is there anyone anywhere who honestly believes that the government’s role in providing healthcare for the public will no longer be an issue when President Obama leaves office? That no one on either side of the aisle—Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative—will ever introduce new legislation to “improve” whatever system Congress agrees to during Obama’s tenure?

Give me a break. This debate will continue until long after your great-grandchildren have collected their last Social Security check. Obama knows that. So does every member of the House and Senate who sat through his speech that night. And to pretend otherwise is nothing short of political duplicity. (That’s a more polite way of saying, “He lies!”)

Another obvious fantasy in the president’s address was his claim, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future—period.”

Let me see if I’ve got this right. Under ObamaCare, some 40 million Americans who currently do not have health insurance will suddenly get coverage … and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime? Does anyone believe this?

I was amused to hear the president say that one reason his plan would be more efficient is that the government-run program, unlike private insurance, wouldn’t have to make a profit. Nor would it have to pay all those expensive executive salaries.

Has anyone anywhere found one example of a government-run program that is more efficient than private enterprise? Anyone? Anyone?

It’s hard for me to believe that any adult American could be so gullible as to believe this. What I do believe is that a majority of Congress will pretend to believe it, knowing that a bunch of their constituents want it to be true. (Or, far more likely, don’t care if it is or not, so long as they get all those “free” benefits they’ve been promised.)

Another misleading remark in Obama’s address was his claim that “no federal funds will be used to fund abortions.” Did you notice that not a single pro-abortion legislator (who as a group are probably the most outspoken extremists in Congress) said anything in opposition to this part of Obama’s speech?

That’s because they know the fix is in. Despite repeated efforts by pro-life legislators, not a single proposal to put this into law has been approved in Washington. No matter what Obama says now, the pro-abortion crowd is confident that whatever legislation is finally approved, it will include a provision requiring that so-called “public option” health insurance covers abortions.

Finally, let me say a few words about the part of Obama’s speech I found the most offensive. That was his “my way or the highway” attitude. He accused talk radio hosts, cable news and conservative leaders of deliberately spreading falsehoods. He wants you to believe that everyone who opposes his plan to nationalize medical care is lying.

There was not a word of criticism for the attack dogs on the left, such as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called opponents of these plans “un-American.” Or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who labeled those who disagree with him as “evil mongers.”

After denouncing virtually everyone who has disagreed with him, the president then said, “Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together.” The amazing thing to me is that no one laughed out loud at the hypocrisy of such a statement.

As every conservative on Capitol Hill knows, there has been absolutely no effort to include them in this debate. Their ideas are not welcome—and neither are they.

To say that conservatives and libertarians have never offered any constructive suggestions about healthcare is a flat-out lie. Anyone who cares can check out proposals on “How to Insure Every American” by Republican Representatives John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra. Or the very sensible ideas for health-care reform by John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods. Or the detailed analyses and proposals from the Cato Institute, Reason magazine, the Heritage Foundation and a dozen others.

Republicans haven’t been included in negotiations on Capitol Hill for months. House Speaker Pelosi has shown nothing but disdain for those who disagree with her. Nor is it any different at the White House, where conservatives have been locked out of discussions on healthcare since early spring.

While he says he wants bipartisanship, Obama means he wants opponents to sit down, shut up and go along with his proposals. He seems determined to use the Democrat majority he enjoys in the House and the Senate to ram through the most drastic reorganization of healthcare this country has ever seen.

He doesn’t want to debate, he wants to dictate. We’re about to find out if a majority in Congress will let him.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

Chip Wood

Diet may prevent Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Diet may prevent Alzheimer's disease, study finds A Mediterranean-style diet may become a new weapon for those who would like to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as a new study has found that when combined with physical fitness, it lowers the odds of developing neurodegenerative conditions.

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center studied two groups of 1,880 elderly New Yorkers without dementia at the start of the study, measured their dietary habits and physical activity and then followed up with them for an average of 5.4 years. During that period, a total of 282 people developed Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists found statistical evidence that both physical activity and a Mediterranean diet adherence were significantly associated with AD incidence, the research report says.

In a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association the scientists wrote that compared with control individuals, high physical activity plus high diet adherence was associated with a 35 percent to 44 percent relative risk reduction.

The research also concurs with a recent study conducted in France that found that the diet was associated with slower cognitive decline.
The hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet include high consumption of fresh produce, especially fruits, vegetables and legumes, as well as cereal and fish, and low intake of red meat and poultry.
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NIA criticizes Tea Party protest for neglecting inflation

NIA criticizes Tea Party protest for neglecting inflation Last weekend, tens of thousands or, by some estimates, more than a million people descended on Washington to protest against high spending and the federal government’s expansion, but the National Inflation Association says few participants called on Washington to address the threat of inflation.

The protesters marched to the Capitol chanting slogans and waving posters that voiced a range of grievances against the government and some of its leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama.

Organizations involved in sponsoring the march included the National Taxpayers Union, GrassFire.org, Tea Party Patriots, the Campaign for Liberty and FreedomWorks. The latter, a conservative organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, organized several groups from across the country.

FoxNews quoted one protester, a 57-year-old Vietnam War veteran and former Teamster, who said that although healthcare reform is needed, Obama’s approach was not the way to go.

"My grandkids are going to be paying for this. It’s going to cost too much money that we don’t have," he said.

Echoing his sentiments, NIA said it was disappointed none of the speakers at the rally mentioned the monetary inflation that is taking place and that it is says threatens to destroy the wealth of most Americans.

"We need to wake up America and help everybody become aware of how we will pay for and feel the consequences of the government’s destructive actions, and it will be through hyperinflation," it says.
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Healthcare bill proposal draws bipartisan criticism

Healthcare bill proposal draws bipartisan criticism The newly unveiled Senate Finance Committee healthcare bill proposal was designed to help garner bipartisan support for the reform, but instead it appears both parties are united in criticizing it.

The draft presented by the committee chairman, Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, scraps the public option in favor of nonprofit healthcare cooperatives that would negotiate collective insurance coverage for members. It also mandates coverage for all Americans and includes provisions for greater regulation of private insurance companies, barring them from denying or dropping coverage of sick individuals or imposing lifetime limits on benefits.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the plan will cost $774 billion -significantly lower than some other proposals – and would save $49 billion between 2010 and 2019.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not been thrilled with the proposal, and while she acknowledged it includes some key provisions of the House bill, such as sweeping insurance reforms and consumer protections, she said including a government-run health insurance option would be the best way to achieve greater affordability, increased coverage and lower costs.

Meanwhile on the GOP side, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is reported to be against mandating coverage for all Americans and against requiring large companies to offer it, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. He also opposes taxing high-cost insurance plans, something the Baucus plan makes provisions for in order to help pay for the reform.

None of the three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have backed the proposal.
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Study: Oriental techniques work to improve work-related stress

Oriental techniques work to improve work-related stress, study says New research suggests that as little as 20 minutes of workplace meditation and yoga can lower the level of stress and contribute to greater productivity and better work performance.

Researchers from Ohio State University arrived at this conclusion after using a modified version of the so-called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), originally developed in 1979 to help hospital patients in Massachusetts assist in their own healing.

Participants in the study attended one-hour weekly group meetings held during lunchtime and practiced 20 minutes of meditation and yoga per day at their desks. After six weeks, they reported greater awareness of external stressors, felt lower stress levels and fell asleep more easily, compared to the control group.

Maryanna Klatt, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Ohio State, says many studies have linked persistent stress to chronic disease so she decided to focus on how to reduce stress before it has a chance to contribute to health issues.

She further explains that this natural approach may benefit businesses and the healthcare system as it can help employees avoid missing work days due to illness and reduce doctor’s visits, thus lowering overall healthcare costs.
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