Study: Eating fresh fruits may reduce the risk of kidney stones

Eating fresh fruits may reduce the risk of kidney stones, study findsAccording to new research, those whose diet is rich in fruits and vegetables may end up with healthier kidneys and lower their risk of developing kidney stones.

A kidney stone is a solid piece of material that forms from the crystallization of excreted substances in the urine. The condition, which affects more than 1 million Americans, is particularly painful if the stone breaks loose and travels down the urinary tract.

For their study, scientists from Maine Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston assigned a score to each enrolled participant based on eight components of a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) style diet.

The diet—which is based on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains and is low in salt, sweetened beverages as well as red and processed meats—is designed to boost the levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, oxalate and vitamin C in the body.

Compared with those with the lowest DASH scores, participants with the highest scores experienced between 40 percent and 45 percent reduction in the likelihood of developing kidney stones, the scientists found.

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.

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

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.

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

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.


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.


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.

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.

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).