Campaign Finance Reform Bill Gathers Momentum

Campaign finance reform bill gathers momentum As the 100th member of the U.S. House of Representatives recently signed on to the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R.1826.), the Fair Elections Now Coalition has called for an urgent passage of the bill.

The bipartisan act, which was introduced by Representative John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, and Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, offers candidates for Congress a way to run for office without having to rely on big money contributors.

Specifically, it provides a public grant to those who qualify by collecting 1,500 contributions from people in their state in amounts of up to $100. After reaching that threshold, the candidates can continue to raise small contributions that are matched on a four-to-one basis up to a limit.

The coalition—which includes groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice, Change Congress and Democracy Matters—has said the only way to have a fair and balanced political debate is by allowing members of Congress to focus their attention on issues other than the pressures of fundraising.

"[The healthcare], energy, and financial regulation debates [show] the power and influence of the millions of dollars well-heeled interests spend in the political process in order to tilt public policy in their favor," it stressed.

The Senate version of the act is sponsored by Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
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When Gold Was a Lifesaver—Literally

Gold protects wealth. This lesson isn’t new. But even I had to learn it the hard way.

Back in 1975 I was a senior officer with the world’s oldest and largest dealer in precious metals and foreign currencies, Deak-Perera. I learned this lesson firsthand and it forever taught me about the importance of the “barbaric relic”… gold!

Deak-Perera was one of the few financial institutions in the United States with a combined expertise in precious metals, foreign currencies and international banking. As a result of this knowledge the company was invited by the State Department in April 1975 to assist the South Vietnamese refugees that were pouring into the U.S. as Saigon fell. The company became the exclusive “moneychanger” for all five of the Vietnamese refugee camps.

You may recall that, as of Jan. 1, 1975, Americans could once again legally own gold bullion. It had been illegal to own gold since 1933, when President Roosevelt took the U.S. off the gold standard and ordered all privately held gold coins and bullion be surrendered to the government.

Unaccustomed as we were to handling displaced persons, it was nonetheless clear that even the most prominent of these refugees would be arriving at the camps with little more than the clothes on their backs and whatever valuables they could carry. And who knew just how valuable some of their belongings would be?

Only one thing was certain: They wouldn’t be drawing checks on their local banks. All banks in Vietnam had been taken over by the communists, along with the rest of the economy. At the time, the cruel joke was Vietnam was a true “cash-and-carry economy.” If you had the cash, you got to carry off anything you wanted.

A Day that Changed My Life

May 1975 found me at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., one of the five refugee camps. I will never forget my experience with two families in particular. The experience is burned into my mind forever.

A middle-aged man, trim and well-spoken, was wearing what had once been an expensively tailored suit. He obviously cared deeply for his bedraggled family. He had been a businessman in Vietnam. In fact, I was later to learn, he had been a very successful banker. But now all his family’s wealth was in the small dingy canvas bag that he was hanging onto for dear life.

Even through all the adversity he and his family had recently experienced, there was still a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Despite losing his job, his home and his country, he still wore a relieved expression whenever he gazed upon that canvas bag. It was his key to a new life in a new country. It was, quite literally, a golden anchor.

Gently, carefully, he poured the contents of the bag onto the table in front of me. There, gleaming in the sun, was an enormous collection of golden taels. For those of you who are not familiar with taels, they are a form of gold bullion indigenous to Southeast Asia. Each tael was 1.2 ounces (37.5 grams) of .9999 pure gold. They looked like tiny wafers—thin sheets of gold, delicately wrapped in paper.

It was Deak-Perera’s job to buy the gold taels from the refugees, and, with the proceeds, issue traveler’s checks.

A Lifetime of Savings, Now Worthless

Further back in line there was another refugee who was less fortunate than the banker carrying the golden taels. Much like the banker, he was a successful businessman before he and his family were uprooted by war.

He approached my table with two suitcases in hand. Like his countryman with the taels, he had worked very hard, saved extremely well and carried all his worldly wealth in those satchels.

But there was one major difference. His wealth was in the form of piasters, the currency of the Republic of Vietnam. These were paper promises of a government that no longer existed. I had to tell this man his piasters were worthless. They would not buy anything—not even a Coke or a pack of cigarettes—in his new country.

Can you imagine toiling and saving for a lifetime for two suitcases filled with worthless currency?

Sad to say, other formerly valuable pieces of paper were now worthless as well. One was the Military Payment Certificates (MPC), issued by the U.S. military. Each one carried the likeness of a famous Hollywood movie star. Now they would not buy admission to a show.

Other items, even valuable diamonds, jade and loose gems, were hard to exchange on the spot for a fair price. Only gold had an immediate market at a fair price.

Before that day I always knew that precious metals were an important asset. But, after looking into the eyes of these two men and their families, I knew firsthand the value of gold and other precious metals. Gold holds its value when nothing else will.

Does gold in 2010 offer the same peace of mind and protection to Americans that it has through 5,000 years of history? Absolutely!

As an American, there are many threats to your hard-earned wealth. The most insidious is not military in nature. It is the weakening of the U.S. dollar.

In the past year these mounting costs exceeded our government’s revenue by more than $1.4 trillion. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve loaned or guaranteed another $2 trillion. How will this debt ever be repaid? The only politically acceptable solution is to print more money. But creating more dollars means, inevitably, that each one is worth less. The dollar is being devalued right in front of our eyes.

Get Ready for Fireworks in the Gold Market

My friend Doug Casey likes to say that the price of gold is not only going to the moon, it’s going to several planets beyond.

When this happens… when gold prices double from where they are now and continue rising… when the dollar falls into the abyss… which would you rather own? Which do you think will better protect your life’s work?

Would you rather be holding two suitcases full of worthless U.S. paper? Or a canvas sack full of gold?

I’m going to choose the latter. I hope you will, too.

If you’d like to know about the safest, most secure way I’ve found to own gold, let me tell you about the Perth Mint Certificate program.

It’s one I helped develop 12 years ago, and it comes with the most rock-solid guarantee you’ll find anywhere. In case you’re not familiar with it, the Perth Mint is wholly owned by the Government of Western Australia. It has been storing and dealing in precious metals for more than a century.

The Perth Mint is the only depository operating today that can offer you a comprehensive storage and trading program, with the unconditional written guarantee of one of Australia’s wealthiest states. In addition, all precious metals stored at the Perth Mint, including your metals lodged under this program, are insured (at the Perth Mint’s cost) by Lloyds of London.

When we designed this storage program, we wanted to make sure it was SAFE. That is, that it offered Security, Affordability, Flexibility and Exclusivity. The Perth Mint Certificate Program has our highest endorsement on all counts.

Purchasing gold or other precious metals through the Perth Mint Certificate Program requires an initial investment of $10,000 or more. Sale amounts or additional purchases must be for $5,000 or more. There is no additional cost for unallocated storage; the one-time administrative fee is a very reasonable $50 per certificate.

When you are ready to dispose of some or all of your holdings, the Perth Mint will arrange to purchase them back from you at the then-current market price. Or you can take delivery of your holdings at the Mint or via insured delivery to most any location in the world.

To learn more about how the Perth Mint Certificate Program can help you find a safe haven for some of your assets in an increasingly troubled world, please contact my company, Asset Strategies International. You may email us at info@assetstrategies.com, or call us at 1-800-831-0007 or 301-881-8600.

Please let us know how we can help you achieve your financial goals.

Live Strong,

Michael Checkan
President
Asset Strategies International

Activists Express Concern About New Governor’s Stance On Gun Control

Activists express concern about new governor's stance on gun control Bob McDonnell won the gubernatorial race in Virginia on Nov. 3, raising concerns among some state residents about the future of its gun laws.

One organization— called Virginians for Public Safety (VPS), which promotes ways to reduce crime and gang violence and says it aims to "keep guns away from criminals, domestic abusers and children"—has criticized McDonnell’s support for unregulated firearm sales at state gun shows, as expressed during his electoral campaign.

Citing the governor-elect’s stated belief that appropriate lessons have been learned from the Virginia Tech shooting, VPS has pointed out that state legislators have taken no action to address the so-called "gun show loophole." It allows individuals who are not licensed firearms dealers to sell guns at gun shows without conducting background checks or maintaining records of sale.

According to VPS, the Virginia Tech Review Panel, which was set up to provide an independent review of the shooting, recommended that the General Assembly pass a law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms at gun shows, but this has not happened.

"McDonnell has also chosen to ignore the voices of those who were directly affected by [that] tragedy," the organization has stated.

Following the shooting, Governor Tim Kaine signed an executive order, which became codified in legislation, to require Virginia’s courts to forward Orders of Involuntary Commitment to the State Police so they can make them available to licensed firearm dealers for background checks.
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Culture of Corruption by Michelle Malkin

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As a candidate, Barack Obama vowed to change the way Washington worked and to end politics as usual. As president, Obama has demonstrated that his “hopeychangey” mantra was all talk and his nominations, appointments and associations bear this out, according to Michelle Malkin in her latest book, Culture of Corruption.

Starting with the failed nominations of people like Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson and Nancy Killefer, Malkin takes the reader step-by-step through the sordid history of graft, tax evasion and insider deals of Obama’s cabinet nominees and official wannabees in the president’s inner circle.

For instance, the ultimate insider, former Senator Tom Daschle, was slated to be Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, where he would lead the charge to reform the nation’s healthcare system. He and the president were so sure that Daschle’s confirmation was in the bag that Daschle already had office space decked out on the ground floor of the West Wing of the White House.

But that came crashing down under “furious funnel clouds of ethical scandal, conflicts of interest, and tax avoidance,” Malkin writes. Daschle, it seems, had neglected to tell the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about his use of a chauffer and private car provided by an equity firm for which he lobbied.

Malkin covers the other tax cheats in the administration as well: people like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Killefer. But cheating on taxes isn’t the only thing that hampered Obama’s early appointees. Ethical lapses and questionable associations and writings, missed or ignored by the Obama’s vetting team, doomed people like Richardson, Jon Cannon and Charles Freeman.

Malkin also covers the sordid history of Michelle Obama and her brass knuckle, Chicago-style thuggery. And Vice President Joe Biden—portrayed as just “Average Joe” by the media—is unable to evade Malkin’s telling research.

Good ole’ train-ridin’ Joe—who never heard a folksy personal story he couldn’t steal for his own—is neck deep in insider sweetheart deals that have enriched him and his family. But he’s not alone in the Obama administration on that account. And Malkin fleshes them all out.

Malkin is an award-winning investigative journalist who exposed government corruption in Seattle for the Seattle Times. She knows how to dig out the dirt and graft, and she took on both Republicans and Democrats while in Washington Sate.

She backs up her work in Culture of Corruption with extensive footnotes that take up 75 pages. That is why, in television appearances discussing politics and her book, she is personally attacked by defenders of Obama while the facts presented in her book go unchallenged.

Malkin can be seen regularly on Fox News—where she is a contributor—and her writings appear on her blog, www.michellemalkin.com. Watching her commentary and reading her blogs you can see that she is not afraid to challenge those in power, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Those who are unwilling to accept that the current commander-in-chief is completely different from the Hope and Change, larger-than-life presidential candidate on display during the campaign, need not buy this book. But if you are interested in learning the truth about Obama and his associates, as well as learning exactly how things work in Washington, D.C., then this is one book you’ve got to read.

Folate Supplementation May Help Lower Women’s Cancer Risk

Folate supplementation may help lower women's cancer risk According to new research, enriching one’s diet in folate—also known as folic acid or vitamin B9—may reduce the odds of developing colorectal cancer in women.

The results were reported by a Reuters article which said a team of researchers from South Korea discovered that females who ate the most folate lowered their risk of getting the disease by about two-thirds, compared with those who consumed smaller amounts of the vitamin.

However, they did not find the same correlation when it came to men’s intake of folic acid.

The researchers stress the significance of the results which suggest that a simple dietary modification may help cut the risk of the disease that was diagnosed in more than 140,000 Americans in 2005.

Folate is known to support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia and homocysteine build-up in the blood. It’s also important for proper neurological function and is believed to prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures and some forms of dementia, according to WHfoods.com.

In additional to nutritional supplements, folic acid can also be found in romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, calf’s liver, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and lentils.
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Maine Voters Repeal Same-sex Marriage Law

Maine voters repeal same-sex marriage lawIn a closely watched ballot on Nov. 3, voters in Maine rejected the law legalizing gay marriage that had been signed by Governor John Baldacci on May 6.

The president of the conservative group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, praised the 53 percent to 47 percent result, saying it expressed a disapproval of the policies of the Democratic-led legislature "who failed to protect the rights of families and children by refusing to protect the institution of marriage."

However, same-sex marriage advocates have described the vote’s outcome as "a setback for all of us," in the words of Elbridge James, director of the Maryland Black Family Alliance, which is an advocacy organization of straight African-Americans.

In addition, Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine, stressed the vote was "about treating gay and lesbian families with dignity and respect under Maine law," and expressed her disappointment that Maine voters "chose not to do that, [and it is] difficult mostly because of the families who today continue to go unprotected," quoted by South Florida Blade.

Meanwhile, Governor Baldacci suggested the issue will be revisited as he vowed to continue to work to ensure that all Maine residents are treated equally.
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Republicans Boycott Committee Vote On Climate Bill

Republicans boycott committee vote on climate billThe Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Clean Energy Jobs for American Power Act on Nov. 5th in a vote that its Republican members all but boycotted.

The only Republican that showed up to explain the reasons for their absence was Senator George Voinovich of Ohio. The GOP has demanded a deeper analysis than the one provided by the Environmental Protection Agency in order, Voinovich said, "to have the best information available as we debate and amend the bill that will have consequences for every person in the country."

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, one of the bill’s sponsors, has been criticized by the Republicans for moving ahead with the vote. But supporters such as activists from the Sierra Club called the legislation "an important step toward a clean energy economy," that will make the U.S. "more energy independent [and create] new jobs with safer, cleaner energy sources."

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by 2050. It also offers tradable permits to polluters that would ease their transition away from fossil fuels.

According to media reports, opponents of the bill are looking for a "Plan B" that would include more incentives for nuclear power, renewable fuels and domestic drilling to win support of moderate Democrats and Republicans.

GOP members have also said the Democrats’ proposal will impose a massive energy tax on consumers and businesses alike.
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Gold Price Reaches Fresh High On NYMEX

Gold price reaches fresh high on NYMEX Continuing economic uncertainly and a weakening dollar have contributed to a sustained upward march in gold prices, which reached a new high on Wednesday.

Gold futures for December delivery briefly hovered at a high of $1,119.10 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange in morning trading, before falling back and settling at $1,114.60, which represented an increase of $12.10 from Tuesday’s closing, according to the Associated Press.

The development comes as the Federal Reserve announced it would keep interest rates low to aid the sluggish economic recovery, sending the dollar to a 15-month low.

This, coupled with government economic stimulus measures, has rekindled fears of inflation and prompted investors to seek safety in commodities such as gold.

"If [the DXY U.S. Dollar Index Future] fails or extends lower we could easily see gold push on to new highs above the $1,150 level," said James Moore, analyst at TheBullionDesk.com, quoted by TheStreet.com. His sentiment was echoed by experts such as Jim Steel, senior vice president and metals analyst at HSBC, who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the WSJ reported that gold got an additional boost last week on news that India’s central bank bought 200 metric tons of the 403.3 tons the International Monetary Fund put on the market.

The AP says gold prices are up 26 percent from last fall.
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Study Shows Probiotics May Help Weight-loss Surgery Patients

Study shows probiotics may help weight-loss surgery patients Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common side effect of gastric bypass surgery, but according to a new study supplementation with probiotics may help patients avoid the problem.

The research was completed at Stanford University School of Medicine where scientists enrolled 44 individuals who had undergone a weight-loss surgery. Their results suggest that patients who received a probiotic supplement everyday for three months following the procedure had higher levels of vitamin B12 than the control group.

Vitamin B12 is a key compound that ensures healthy metabolism, proper formation of red blood cells and the well-being of the central nervous system

In addition, the researchers found that the treated patients experienced a nearly 48 percent weight loss compared with a 38.5 percent loss in those who received a placebo.

Statistics suggest that nearly 66 percent of adult Americans are overweight.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria strains that are known to aid in digestion. They can be found in yogurt and other cultured milk products as well as miso, some juices and soy beverages or nutritional supplements.
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Obama’s Bear Market: How to Survive and Prosper

They say you can just buy just about anything, even love. But the truth is you can only rent a bull market and the lease on this one is about to run out.

After devastating losses that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 6,440 in early 2009, the Dow broke above 10,000 last month for the first time in 53 weeks. All thanks to President Obama and his bagmen at the Federal Reserve.

You see, President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have already injected more than $1 trillion in new money.

Part of this has been in the form of bank bailouts. More has been given to Detroit automakers. And finally, Washington has inserted a whopping $850 billion directly into the U.S. banking system. It is this final act that will wreak the greatest havoc on the U.S. stock and bond markets.

When the credit crisis hit last year the Fed began “running the printing presses.” We are talking about the creation of hundreds of billions of dollars, so presses aren’t really running. Instead, the Fed has created all this money with the touch of a key-stroke. Soon this mountain of money will spill over into the economy and the markets.

The graph above shows the Fed’s unprecedented creation of U.S. bank reserves.

In his Nov. 2, column, Robert Murphy of PrisonPlanet.com explained: “The United States has a ‘fractional reserve’ banking system, meaning that if you added up all of the checking account balances for the customers of a given bank, the total amount of deposits would far exceed the amount of cash reserves in the vaults of the bank.”

As a result, said Murphy, all this fresh Fed money will soon be lent out at a multiple. A conservative estimate is five times the amount injected. That means that the $850 billion in new bank reserves will be transformed into more than $4 trillion in new money. That would take M1 money supply from $1.7 trillion to $6 trillion in just the next few years!

To read all of Murphy’s story, click here.

 

Even before the avalanche of new money, M1 has risen 50 percent since January 2001 (see graph M1 Money Supply).

With all this fresh cash on the bank’s books, M1 could easily double to more than $3 trillion in the next two years. That would make M1 money supply almost 10 times higher than it was when Ronald Reagan took office.

We haven’t seen this kind of excess monetary growth since the stagflationary 1970s. It was bad for stocks and bonds then and it will be just as bad for them today.

A Short History of Stagflation
Between 1970 and 1981, M2 money supply tripled. A record amount of liquidity was being injected into the economy by the Fed. But all this money wasn’t helping an economy that was just limping along.

From the beginning of 1971 to the end of 1979 the gross domestic product (GDP) rose by just one-third—from $3.9 trillion to $5.2 trillion (in constant dollars).

As the amount of money in the economy vastly exceeded the goods and services being produced, inflation was inevitable.

The consumer price index for the 1970s rose by a staggering 6.5 percent each year. By 1980 a 1970-dollar that had been stuffed in the mattress would buy you just 52 cents worth of goods and services. It marked the end of dollar stability and the post-war economic boom that fueled a bull market in stocks.

In January 1950, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was under 200. In January 1966, it breached 1,000 for the first time. Over the next few years, the Dow moved sideways, twice testing, but never again breaking above the magic 1,000 point level.

Stocks fell into a funk. Money supplied by the Fed was not producing real gains and the stock market reflected this.

In April 1980, the Dow was trading at 759. That might not seem too bad compared to its 1966 apex, but factor in inflation and the 1980 Dow, measured in 1966 terms, was really trading at $329. In real terms the Dow had lost two-thirds of its value in 14 years.

Bond investors also did poorly. In the late 1970s prices on 30-year Treasury bonds fell more than 25 percent as the yields-to-maturity on the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond climbed from a rate of 7.75 percent in 1977 to 14.7 percent in 1981.

The end result was a massive renunciation of paper as investors began switching out of dollars and buying real assets.

Yet while many Americans lost their savings in Big Board stocks and bonds, some investors made incredible gains in precious metals.

Pitfalls and Profits
I first began investing in gold when I was just a teenager and it was selling for $35 per ounce. I kept that gold until it topped out at $840 and corrected back to the $650 per ounce range. So even though I didn’t get out at the top, I did get an 18-fold profit.

If that sounds like ancient history and something that can’t be repeated, don’t be so sure. Nine years ago last month I started writing Outstanding Investments. I told subscribers then to buy gold, silver and platinum as well as precious metal equities. At the time gold was selling for less than $280 per ounce.

Today bullion is trading back over $1,050 per ounce and I have been bullish on the precious metals throughout the decade. I still believe that bullion prices could very well double in the next two to three years. Given the excess of Obamabucks, I can see gold trading for more than $2,000 per ounce by the end of 2012.

And don’t be surprised to see silver rising to $80 per ounce (versus $17 today) and platinum to more than $3,000 per ounce.

Action to Take

It is imperative that you get out of Big Board stocks and all long-term debt instruments including Treasury notes and bonds. Look for a major correction to come in the Dow, the S&P and the NASDAQ in early 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the markets hit new lows. At the same time, bonds are just as susceptible to huge losses as I expect interest rates to go up. I urge you put your money into cash in the form of three-month T-bills.

A T-bill is simply a short-term debt obligation backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The key to a bill is that it’s very short-term (and pays an incredibly small interest return). It has a maturity of less than one year and is sold in denominations of $1,000. You can buy maturities of one month, three months or six months. I like the three-months T-bills because you are not locked in very long but you don’t have to constantly roll them over.

Three Ways to Buy T-Bills

  1. Go to your local bank and ask to buy Treasury bills. This may be the easiest option because you already make periodic trips to your bank.
  2. Call your investment broker. Tell him or her that you want to purchase three-month T-bills and roll them overuntil further instructions.
  3. Buy Treasury bills directly from Uncle Sam. The Treasury Direct Website will guide you through this process and give you lots of information as well. You can access that site at: www.treasurydirect.gov.

I also urge you to buy some physical gold. If you are just starting out, I suggest you buy 1-ounce U.S. American Eagle coins as well as 1-ounce Canadian Maple Leaf and South African Krugerrand coins.

—John Myers
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

PS—Next week I will be writing the first of a two-part series on energy. If you think wind power is the answer to tomorrow’s problems you will want to read Part I. It will include why fanciful presumptions by the Obama administration are, at best, ignorance, and at worst, the purposeful deceit of the American public. In Part II, I will tell you the core truth about America’s dwindling petroleum reserves and I will give you a new energy stock pick that should be in your portfolio.

U.S. To Lift HIV Travel Ban

U.S. to lift HIV travel ban The Obama administration has announced it will drop HIV from the list of diseases that prevent visitors from entering the country, beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

The ban was first introduced in 1987 and, among other things, required those who aspired to immigrate to the U.S. to submit to HIV testing.

In announcing the step, President Obama said that "we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we have treated a visitor living with it as a threat," quoted by the Voice of America.

He also added that it was inconsistent with America’s status as a leader in research on AIDS and its efforts to stem the pandemic to bar people who are HIV-positive from entering the country.

The move was praised by interest groups such as The Lesbian & Gay Foundation from the UK whose representative Andrew Gilliver expressed his hope that "by lifting the negative stigma associated with the ban, hopefully this long overdue move will inspire others to fight HIV stigma in a similar way."

The foundation has cited data from the advocacy group Immigration Equality which suggest that 11 other countries ban HIV-positive travelers and immigrants, and they include Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sudan.
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New Credit Card Act May Help Protect Assets

New credit card act may help protect assets In order to protect consumers from unfair market practices, U.S. lawmakers have decided to move forward the date on which the credit card reforms will become effective.

Media reports in recent months have suggested credit card companies have been hiking interest rates and fees in anticipation of the reforms that were set to take effect in February and August 2010 and bar them from similar practices.

The 331-92 House vote on the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act—sponsored by two Democratic Representatives Carolyn Maloney of New York and Barney Frank of Massachusetts—has moved the effective date to Dec. 1, 2009.

In response to the vote, Representative Maloney said the companies "brought this on themselves" and the ban will crack down on actions that "have kept far too many consumers trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt."

News reports states that among the provisions that will become effective earlier than planned are a prohibition on arbitrary interest rate increases and universal default on existing balances and a ban on interest charges on debt paid on time. Moreover, issuers will be required to set penalties in such as way as to be reasonable and proportional to the omission or violation.
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Dismantling the Berlin Wall

On the night of Nov. 9, 1989, the most hated symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, was turned into a pile of rubble. All night long, East and West Germans celebrated their new freedom by smashing the 28-mile-long (and 28-year-old) barrier. The following morning, East German troops were ordered to dismantle all of the wall. Soon, East and West Germany were reunited.

Two years earlier President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate (one of the many checkpoints into Communist East Germany) and declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The wall was the last desperate effort by East Germany’s then boss, Walter Ulbricht, to stop defections to the west.

But by 1989, the Soviet Union and its various satellites were on the verge of collapse. Erich Honecker, East Germany’s brutal head of state since 1976, resigned. A day later, so did Bulgaria’s communist boss, Todor Zhikov. By Christmas of that year, most former Soviet satellites had gained their freedom, as a sort of reverse domino effect took place.

—Chip Wood

Low Vitamin D Level May Raise Mortality Among Elderly, Study Says

Low vitamin D level may raise mortality among elderly, study saysAccording to recent research, seniors who have insufficient levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than individuals with adequate levels of the vitamin.

The study, which analyzed the link between levels of the vitamin in the bloodstream and the death rates of those 65 and older, was published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

It found that seniors with a vitamin D deficiency were three times more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases and two and a half times more likely to die from any cause, compared to those who maintained optimum levels of the vitamin.

The study’s lead author Dr. Adit Ginde, who works at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine’s Division of Emergency Medicine, explains that considering the aging U.S. population and the easiness with which vitamin D levels can be increased, "a small improvement in death rates could have a substantial impact on public health."

Vitamin D is found in milk, fish and eggs as well as cod liver oil and nutritional supplements. It is also produced in the body after exposure to the sun.
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FBI Releases Cheney’s Testimony In Valerie Plame Affair

FBI releases Cheney's testimony in Valerie Plame affair Newly released details of a May 2004 interview with the FBI show the then-Vice President Dick Cheney repeatedly invoked poor memory when asked about the circumstances of the leakage of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media in 2003.

In fact, during the course of the lengthy interview Cheney is heard using the phrase "I don’t recall" a total of 72 times, according to media reports. The phrase was in reference to any discussions he may have had about Plame with his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was ultimately convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about the leak.

The 28-page summary was released after the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a watchdog group in Washington, sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act.

The organization’s Executive Director Melanie Sloan commented that Cheney’s "near total amnesia regarding his role in this monumental Washington scandal" explains why special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald famously declared that there is "a cloud over the vice president."

Valerie Plame was the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who was a critic of the Iraq war. The leaking of her name became the subject of one of the biggest controversies of George W. Bush’s presidency. Libby was the only person convicted in the case, but his sentence was later commuted by President Bush.
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Research Shows Why Diabetics Should Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency

Research shows why diabetics should avoid vitamin D deficiency Based on new research, scientists are beginning to understand why people with diabetes should be particularly wary of vitamin D deficiency.

Anyone with low levels of the vitamin may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, but a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found vitamin D deficiency causes diabetics to be unable to process cholesterol normally.

As a consequence, cholesterol builds up in their blood vessels, which leads to an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, a Washington University endocrinologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, said that vitamin D inhibits the absorption of cholesterol by cells known as macrophages.

"When people are deficient in vitamin D, the macrophage cells eat more cholesterol, and they can’t get rid of it…They become what scientists call foam cells, which are one of the earliest markers of atherosclerosis," he explained.

Individuals at risk for high cholesterol may consider eliminating red and processed meats from their diet and replacing them with omega-3 fatty acids which have proven heart benefits and which can be found in oily fish and nutritional supplements.
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The Results of Our Ignorance

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, education or awareness.

There are many people today who know little or nothing about the U.S. Constitution. There are many who know little or nothing of U.S. history, let alone world history. There are many who know little or nothing about central banks, and how they are used to steal our wealth.

There are many who buy into the glossed-over news of the day. There are many who take at face value the words of the elected class, the pundits and main stream media talking heads and printed headlines.

There are many who buy into the party line of their preferred political party. There are many who blindly believe the various political parties have a platform on which they base their actions and agendas and are committed to following through on those policies. There are many who believe the president, senator or representative they elected has in their hearts the best interests of the people they supposedly serve.

There are many who are ignorant.

It’s not all their fault—particularly the younger generations. Their education system has been corrupted by 1960s radicalism—the same radicalism that has infected our government.

Public education has become a sad joke. Its downward slide accelerated with the passage of “No Child Left Behind.” None are left behind because none are allowed to get ahead. The intelligent children are left languishing and fending for themselves while extra resources are devoted to those unable to keep up.

In speaking with a seventh grader recently I asked what he had been studying in his U.S. history class. Well, we spent about 20 minutes on World War II, then several class periods on how the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, was the reply.

In class they watched Miracle, the 2004 movie about the team and its victory.

How backward is that? Twenty minutes spent learning about a six-year war spawned from the feckless, irresponsible and dastardly policies of the elected and ruling classes that resulted in the deaths of somewhere between 62 million and 79 million people worldwide. Several class periods on a three-hour hockey game that gave Americans a temporarily thrilling victory over a Cold War foe at the tail end of four moribund years of Jimmy Carterism.

Even the seventh grader was perplexed by his teacher’s decision.

Also glossed over in his class was more than 230 years of American history.

Is it any wonder there is so much ignorance?

Lack of understanding of the founding of our great country has led us to where we are now. Lack of understanding of the origins of the Federal Reserve—and other government attempts to establish a central bank—has led us to where we are now. Lack of understanding of the causes of Great Depression and the misguided (deliberately or unintentionally) attempts to head it off, and how government policies affected the country’s financial health for years has led us to where we are now. Lack of understanding of how a president’s policies can affect a country has led us to where we are now.

Where are we now? In an economic pit of our own making—suffering the aftereffects of a Fed-created bubble that spurred individuals and businesses to borrow and spend like there was no tomorrow. Now there may not be one.

Where are we now? Exacerbating the problem by dumping money out of helicopters in an attempt to stop it—at least that’s what the elected class tells us they’re trying to do. It’s a policy enacted by a supposed conservative, George W. Bush, and perpetuated on a grander scale by Barack Obama.

Where are we now? Watching as the elected class finds more ways to spend more money and steal the wealth of the individuals through massive tax hikes under the guise of healthcare reform.

Where are we now? Waiting for the other shoe to drop in the form of Cap and Trade, which amounts to more taxes and more spending.

Where are we now? Enduring the Obama presidency, which equals Jimmy Carter to the second power.

Sadly, many are ready to go full steam ahead with such policies.

Never mind that the elected class isn’t even considering whether such things are Constitutional. Forcing Americans to buy a product—health insurance—is okay with the elected class.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer said it’s permissible under the general welfare clause of the Constitution. Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told the press the president wasn’t even considering whether it was constitutional and no one had brought it up.

Don’t think the elected class is ignorant. They’re not. They know exactly what they’re doing—stealing your wealth and your liberty.

Never mind whether it’s Constitutional, says the elected class. We know what’s best for you.

Never mind whether it’s Constitutional, it’s free, say the ignorant.

Our healthcare system is in terrible shape, we need to have competition, says the elected class. Government can do it better than the free market can.

Yeah. With the compassion of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the efficiency of the Post Office.

Where are we now… really? Many are sitting in front of the television watching Simon Cowell or anxiously awaiting the result of who is getting kicked off the island next or watching some stars in a dance contest.

Some are waking up. The Tea Parties demonstrate that.

But too many are ignorant. And apparently they’re ready to accept anything as long as it’s “free.”

After all: ignorance is bliss and free is good.

Research: Combination Of Light Therapy And Green Tea May Reduce Skin Aging

Combination of light therapy and green tea may reduce skin aging, research findsThose looking for all-natural ways of preserving the skin’s youthful appearance may soon have another option to turn to as researchers have shown light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a green tea extract-based cream may help reduce wrinkles.

Although phototherapy has been used to treat skin imperfections for many years, scientists from Germany have demonstrated that combining it with antioxidant-rich green tea cream may help eliminate potentially harmful reactive oxygen species produced by light therapy.

During the course of the study, the researchers applied a daily combination of LED light and green tea lotion to the wrinkles of a human volunteer for one month and found that it resulted in "less pronounced wrinkle levels, shorter wrinkle valleys and [a more] juvenile complexion."

Based on these results, they say the experiment has opened a new way to effective, safe and non-invasive rejuvenation process. The study has also contributed to the body of knowledge on the impact of reactive oxygen species on cellular aging.

Individuals interested in boosting their immunity and a preserving youthful appearance may also turn to antioxidant nutritional supplements.
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AHAM Offers Safety Tips For Safe Home Heating

AHAM offers safety tips for safe home heating As cold weather arrives in parts of the U.S., so does the risk of fires resulting from faulty heating equipment or practices. That is why the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has published a list of suggestions that can help Americans heat their homes safely this winter.

The association cites recent figures from the National Fire Protection Association which suggest most injuries from fires involving heating equipment occur when the user is asleep or when a child under 10 is left unsupervised with the equipment.

Hence, they recommend never leaving an operating heater unattended and always unplugging it when not in use.

It is also important to keep flammable or combustible materials, such as gas cans, matches, furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes and curtains at least three feet from the front of the heater and away from the sides and rear, and not to block heater’s air intake or outlet.

Safety experts also advise to check the heater’s cord periodically and never use equipment with a damaged cord. In addition, no other electrical device should be plugged into the same outlet as the heater as this could result in overheating and fire.

Finally, it is crucial to read manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels before using any electrical equipment.
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I have heard conflicting information about coffee drinking and whether it is good for your or bad.

Dear Bob,

I have heard conflicting information about coffee drinking and whether it is good for you or bad. What do you think?

A: “It is critical that coffee is completely eliminated from our diet. Coffee raises levels of cortisol and insulin, hormones that accelerate aging and store body fat. Substitute green tea instead, which contains catechin polyphenols, antioxidants that boost metabolism and slow aging.

“Green tea can also block the absorption of bad fats by 30 percent, while the amino acid theonine promotes a sense of calm and improves one’s mood. And, of course, avoid chemical-laden diet sodas.

“It has been shown that drinking just two cups of coffee can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. An elevation of this hormone can have adverse effects on the immune system, brain cells, sugar metabolism, and weight gain.

“In addition, coffee drinking has been reported to cause increased body fat. Although it is not clear why coffee affects weight gain, clinical studies show that by reducing coffee intake, body fat goes down. When coffee drinkers substituted tea, especially green tea, they discovered that it has the opposite effect and helped them to lose weight.” (From the book, The Perricone Prescription by Nicholas Perricone, M.D.)

Best Wishes,
Bob

Bipartisan Opposition To Senate Climate Bill Growing

Bipartisan opposition to Senate climate bill growingThe climate change bill that was scheduled to be marked up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is facing growing opposition not only from Republicans but also from some Senate Democrats.

The "cap and trade" bill is sponsored by Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts, and would require U.S. manufacturers, utilities and refineries to reduce their carbon pollution output 20 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.

However, many lawmakers have expressed concerns about the possible impact of the bill on their regions’ utilities and consumers.

Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska told CNBC that he believed that "at the end of the day, the people who turn the switch on at home will be disadvantaged."

Meanwhile, a more powerful opposition is coming from the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus of Montana who said that while "we cannot afford the unmitigated impacts of climate change … we also cannot afford the unmitigated effects of legislation."

The developments come against the backdrop of calls from President Obama for the Senate to pass climate change legislation.

Speaking at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida, the president also warned that "the closer we get to this new energy future … the more we’re going to hear from special interests and lobbyists in Washington whose interests are contrary to the interests of the American people."
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