Expert Offers Portfolio Advice As Dollar Keeps Falling

Expert offers portfolio advice as dollar keeps falling As the U.S. dollar has fallen some 15 percent against the euro since March 2009, and it is widely expected to continue to weaken further, financial experts believe those who would like to protect their wealth and assets may consider changes to their portfolios.

Paul J. Lim, senior editor of Money Magazine, says he believes buying foreign stocks to diversify one’s portfolio is a smart way to reduce the risks associated with a falling greenback. In a recent article he pointed out that only 10 years ago U.S. stocks made up more than a half (54 percent) of the world’s stock market value. But today they only account for about a third.

"As investors shift out of the U.S. market, they exchange dollars for the currencies of countries where they’re doing their buying, reducing demand for the buck," he wrote.

Lim went on to add that the long-term decline trend suggests it may be a good idea to keep between 25 percent and 50 percent of one’s stock portfolio in foreign shares.

Meanwhile, other financial experts—such as those associated with the National Inflation Association—recommend buying gold and other precious metals as the dollar keeps loosing value.

Last Thursday morning, gold for February delivery traded at $1,115.90 per ounce on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
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Sea Water and Sea Salt

When I get near sea water I always bring two gallons home. Here is why:

These are major components of sea water (salts) according to the order of magnitude of these elements:

Natural chlorine55.2 percent
Sodium30.4 percent
Sulphur as SO47.7 percent
Magnesium3.7 percent
Potassium1.1 percent
Carbon as carbonic acid0.35 percent
Bromine0.19 percent
Boron0.07 percent
Strontium0.04 percent

There are 40 more minor elements in sea water, which no doubt contain every known or unknown trace element of nutritional significance. (From Dr. Royal Lee, The Significance of Sea Salt)

A small amount of sea water in the diet is beneficial. I take a tablespoon each day in a glass of water.

Popularity Of Marijuana Growing Among Teenagers, Study Finds

Popularity of marijuana growing among teenagers, study findsThe use of marijuana has become more prevalent among U.S. teenagers, even as they have cut down on cigarettes, binge drinking and using methamphetamines, according to a recently released national study.

Scientists who conducted the research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse speculated that the result may stem from the national debate over the possible medical use of marijuana, which may have made the drug seem safer to teenagers.

The government has used the study to call for intensifying the efforts against substance abuse.

"We must redouble our efforts to implement a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to preventing and treating drug use," said Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the White House drug czar, quoted by the Associated Press (AP).

However, there are those who argue in favor of legalizing marijuana, citing its medicinal properties such as helping to treat chronic pain and nausea.

According to ProCon.org, an online resource that aims to present controversial issues in a nonpartisan way, a total of 13 U.S. states, including Alaska, Montana and Rhode Island, have legalized medical marijuana. Meanwhile, Arizona and Maryland have favorable laws, such as allowing medical use defense in court, but have not legalized it.
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The Senate’s Christmas Gift

Senate Democrats are working overtime to get an Obamacare bill passed before Christmas. They no longer even pretend to be doing it to reform healthcare. Now they’re just doing whatever it takes to get a bill passed, even if it costs somewhere between $848 billion and $2.1 trillion, depending on which math you use.

Never mind that the Realclearpolitics.com average of polls shows that Americans oppose the Democrat’s healthcare bill by a 54.2 percent to 39.7 percent margin. Democrats have gone all in, as the saying goes, and nothing is going to stop them.

As an unnamed Democratic strategist told Byron York of The Washington Examiner, “Once you’ve gone this far, what is the cost of failure?”

Comparing Democrats to bank robbers—how appropriate—who have gone past the point of no return, the strategist said, “They’re in the bank, they’ve got their guns out. They can run outside with no money, or they can stick it out, go through the gunfight, and get away with the money.”

Of course, money is what it’s all about. Not saving it mind you, but stealing yours.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) told The Hill that Democrats will have the 60 votes needed to pass a bill this week. They’re buying off reluctant Democrats left and right.

For Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu the price was $300 million in federal aid to her state. As columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, if Landrieu got $300 million, Sen. Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.)—said to be holding out for removal of a provision in the bill that allows federal funding to pay for abortions—gets a Caribbean island, or two. Or, if some news reports are correct, a threat to close a military base in his state if he doesn’t join in.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I.-Conn.) is back on board. We don’t yet know what he got in return, aside from a lot of face time on television. In an effort to get one or more Republicans to sign on so the bill can be cast as bi-partisan, Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are being courted as well. Look for Maine to get a bundle of cash for snow plows or something.

Meanwhile, Joe and Jane Citizen only get dunned. If you are a family with an annual income above $88,200 and your employer doesn’t provide coverage, prepare to fork out $15,200 a year for a federally-mandated insurance fee, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as reported by CNSNews.com. And few employers are going to provide coverage for their employees once the plan kicks in.

Why? There is an incentive not to. If employers don’t pay their share of their employees’ premiums they’ll have to pay $750 per employee fine. That’s much less than the employer contribution on a complete health plan.

What’s more, there are tax increases in the bill. Lots of them. According to the Heritage Foundation, Medicare taxes increase from 2.9 percent to 3.4 percent, the top marginal tax rate goes from 35 percent to 39.6 percent and, in the House version of the bill, a surtax of 5.4 percent is put on incomes above $500,000.

Following is a list from the Heritage Foundation of other tax increases currently in either the House or Senate bill or proposed by the Barack Obama administration to “pay” for healthcare reform:

  • An excise tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans that cost more than $8,500 a year for individuals or $23,000 for families.
  • An excise tax on medical devices such as wheelchairs, breast pumps and syringes used by diabetics for insulin injections.
  • A cap on the exclusion of employer-provided health insurance without offsetting tax cuts.
  • A limit on itemized deductions for taxpayers with a top income tax rate greater than 28 percent.
  • A windfall profits tax on health insurance companies.
  • A value-added tax, which would tax the value added to a product at each stage of production.
  • An excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages including non-diet soda and sports drinks.
  • Higher taxes on alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits.
  • A limit on contributions to health savings accounts.
  • An 8 percent tax on all wages paid by employers that do not provide their employees health insurance that satisfies the requirements defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • A limit on contributions to flexible spending arrangements.
  • Elimination of the deduction for expenses associated with Medicare Part D subsidies.
  • An increase in taxes on international businesses.
  • Elimination of the tax credits paper companies take for biofuels they create in their production process—the so-called “Black Liquor credit.”
  • Fees on insured and self-insured health plans.
  • A limit or repeal of the itemized deduction for medical expenses.
  • A limit on the Qualified Medical Expense definition.
  • An increase in the payroll taxes on students.
  • An extension of the Medicare payroll tax to all state and local government employees.
  • An increase in taxes on hospitals.
  • An increase in the estate tax.
  • Increased efforts to close the mythical “tax gap.”
  • A 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery and similar procedures such as Botox treatments, tummy tucks and face lifts.
  • A tax on drug companies.
  • An increase in the corporate tax on providers of health insurance.
  • A $500,000 deduction limitation for the compensation paid by health insurance companies to their officers, employees and directors.

And the kicker is the taxes go into effect immediately after Obama signs the bill. The healthcare benefits don’t start until 2014.

All the taxes are designed to confiscate the wealth of Mr. and Mrs. Citizen and drive them into a public option—even as Senate Democrats say the bill doesn’t include one, yet.

On Dec. 16 the president went on television and said if Congress doesn’t pass a healthcare bill the Federal government will go bankrupt. Poppycock. If a healthcare bill is passed it’s Mr. and Mrs. Citizen that go belly up.

The spend-and-tax policies of Obama and the Democrats—stimulus bills, TARP bill, healthcare bill, etc.—are what is pushing us toward economic collapse.

Face it. The healthcare reform plan Democrats are ramming through is nothing more than the greatest transfer of wealth and most massive power grab in the history of the world.

Frankly, I don’t consider that much of a Christmas present.

Republicans Prepare To Dig In Heels On Clean Water Restoration Act

Republicans prepare to dig in heels on Clean Water Restoration ActDemocratic Representative James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has decided to defer introducing the Clean Water Restoration Act until next year due to heavy criticism from the GOP.

Oberstar’s proposed legislation would allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers, to protect and control all of the nation’s waterways, according to The Washington Times.

Currently, the EPA only monitors "navigable" waters that are large enough for ship traffic. The Clean Water Restoration Act would allow the government to regulate 20 million acres of U.S. wetlands and 59 percent of the nation’s streams that do not flow year-round, regardless of whether or not they are on private property.

The proposed bill has recently come under heavy scrutiny after reports surfaced that Oberstar would try to quietly pass the legislation through the House before the end of the year. Nearly 30 Republican Congressmen publicly criticized the bill in a letter written to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The government wants control of all water," said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo), quoted by Fox News. "That also means that they want control over all of our land including the private property rights of people from the Rocky Mountain west, the western caucus and the entire U.S.," he said.

Oberstar said he plans on introducing the bill in early 2010.
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Holistic Salt Cave Opens In Cleveland As Alternative Health Option

Salt caves are said to help with one's allergies and sinusesThere’s a salty smell in Cleveland’s air and it has nothing to do with food.

The Europa International Salon and Spa has opened what is called a "salt cave," which some believe has anti-inflammatory properties that can treat the common cold and allergies, WKYC.com reports.

"I had somebody here sleeping for 20 minutes. And she got up, and said she had the feeling as if she slept for eight hours, completely relaxed, pink cheeks and healthy," spa owner Tanya Sigal told the news provider.

Salt therapy, which is also known as halotherapy, has reportedly increased in popularity in some Eastern European spas with many enthusiasts claiming the caves can treat various conditions, including some allergies.

Sigal added that the cave, which is surrounded in natural Himalayan salt, was a good way to relax and rid a person of stress, which may be heightened in many given the rising unemployment rate and weakened economy.

This kind of treatment could help serious conditions as well.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2006 that found halotherapy to be a safe and effective supplemental treatment for patients living with cystic fibrosis.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19480013-ADNFCR

Enzyme May Lead To Alternative Approach To Treating High Blood Pressure

Enzyme may lead to alternative approach to treating high blood pressureAn enzyme called ACE2 may help doctors develop an alternative therapy for patients suffering from hypertension, a new study has found.

According to researchers at the Northwestern University School of Medicine, ACE2 can break down angiotensin II, a protein that causes blood vessels to constrict and may raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Currently there are traditional therapies that can block the formation of angiotensin II, but ACE2 is novel because it can break down hazardous protein that is already formed in blood vessels.

"This therapeutic approach can be superior to existing therapies that block the activity of the renin-angiotensin system…and therefore provide a more complete and effective suppression of this system to treat not just hypertension but many other medical conditions where angiotensin II overactivity is undesirable," said lead researcher Daniel Batlle.

The Mayo Clinic reports that diet and exercise are the best ways to naturally lower blood pressure. There are also several supplements that may be used to help treat hypertension including calcium, cod liver oil, omega-3 fatty acids and garlic.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga or deep breathing have been known to relieve stress and temporarily lower blood pressure.
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GOP Senator Stalls Healthcare Debate With Parliamentary Tactic

GOP Senator stalls healthcare debate with parliamentary tacticOn Wednesday, as Democrats pushed forward to meet self-imposed deadlines, Senate Republicans tried to halt the healthcare debate by insisting that a 767-page amendment be read out loud in its entirety.

The amendment, introduced by Independent Senator Bernard Sanders from Vermont, would call for a single-payer, government-run public health system.

As the bill was being introduced, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma objected to a request to bypass the reading of the amendment, a courtesy that is nearly always granted in Congress, TheHill.com reports. Sanders was soon forced to withdrawal the bill, which would have taken up to 10 hours to read aloud.

A Republican aide confirmed to CNN that GOP members had discussed the parliamentary tactic at their caucus meeting and had expected the move.

Coburn immediately defended the decision, blaming Democrats for trying to hurry a much needed debate. "It’s unfortunate that (Majority Leader Harry) Reid waited until the last minute to introduce his bill and now wants to rush it through the Senate," he said.

Reid quickly responded, stating that the tactic only pushed back other time-sensitive pieces of legislation.

"The only thing that Sen. Coburn’s stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the [defense] appropriations bill that funds our troops," he told CNN.
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Judge Decrees ACORN Funding Cut-off Unconstitutional, Conservatives Outraged

Judge decrees ACORN funding cut-off unconstitutional, conservatives outragedA federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government’s decision to cut off funding to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon issued a preliminary injunction against the government, saying that it is in the public’s best interest to continue to fund the controversial and embattled anti-poverty group, according to the Associated Press (AP).

In its lawsuit, ACORN claimed that Congress’ decision to cut off its funding was unconstitutional because it targeted an individual organization without due process.

Gershon agreed, stating in her ruling that ACORN raised a "fundamental issue of separation of powers."

"They have been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or even administrative, process adjudicating guilt," said Gershon.

Meanwhile, two congressmen have called on the Justice Department to appeal the decision, calling it "nothing short of preposterous," according to Fox News.

Representatives Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder explaining how the ruling would set a dangerous precedent.

"The district court’s decision is troubling in many respects, but most significantly, if allowed to stand, it would effectively excise from the Constitution Congress’ express Spending Clause power to refuse to appropriate federal funds to an organization that has shown itself likely to misuse those funds in the future," the letter states.
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