The World’s Funniest Joke?

To paraphrase a famous commercial, we deserve a break today. There’s been so much negative news, so much bleating and blaming about the problems we face, so much feigned outrage and false promises, that it’s enough to depress Mary Poppins.

So this week, let’s do something a little bit different. Let me tell you a joke. In fact, let me tell you three of them and you decide which one is the funniest. I’ll tell you in a moment what 1.5 million of your fellow humorists decided. And what one professor learned about humor around the world when he set out to discover what makes us laugh.

Ready? Here’s joke No. 1:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip. After finishing their dinner, they retire for the night. Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend.

"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see," the famed sleuth says.

"I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes," exclaims Watson.

"And what do you deduce from that?" Holmes asks.

Watson ponders for a minute. "Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are but a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Holmes?"

"Watson, you idiot!" Sherlock exclaims, "Somebody’s stolen our tent!"

Okay, did that make you laugh out loud? Or at least crack a smile? If not, let’s see how you react to joke No. 2:

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: "That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen. Ugh!" The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming.

She turns to the man next to her and says, "That driver just insulted me!"

The man says, "You go right up there and tell him off. Go ahead. I’ll stay here and hold your monkey."

Mmmm, that one’s got a bite in its tail, doesn’t it? It’s interesting how often we find humor in a put-down. That must say something about human nature, but I’m not exactly sure what. It also says something about our cousins across the Atlantic, because the folks in the United Kingdom selected this as the funniest joke of all, out of a list of 40,000.

The first joke above led in the balloting for several weeks, but finally finished a very close second to this one:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What should I do?"

The operator says, "Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead."

There is silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, "Okay, now what?"

If you tell me this one had you rolling in the aisles, I’m going to worry about you, my friend. If the second joke had a bit of a barb, this one is downright nasty. Because someone misunderstood the emergency operator, he murdered his friend—and we’re supposed to find this hilarious?

The sad truth is an awful lot of people did. In worldwide voting, with 1.5 million ballots cast for 40,000 different jokes, this one came in No. 1. Do you find that as troubling as I do?

Some of the other conclusions on this study were equally strange. It all started when British professor Richard Wiseman, in cooperation with the British Association for the Advancement of Science, set out to learn what makes us laugh. He asked people to submit their favorite joke to a website he created called LaughLab.

The good professor later explained the results: “We asked everyone participating to tell us which country they were from. We analyzed the data from the 10 countries that rated the highest number of jokes. The following ‘league table’ lists the countries in the order of how funny they found the jokes: Germany, France, Denmark, UK, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, USA, New Zealand and Canada.”

At the time, the professor’s comments were widely misinterpreted in the media (now, there’s a surprise) as saying that Germans had the best sense of humor. Personally, I find that assertion funny.

I’ll grant you, the Germans have a better sense of humor than some of their colleagues on the continent—the Swiss, for example. But the funniest people of all? Not by a long shot.

Wiseman went on to say that his study revealed some fascinating differences between cultures in terms of the jokes people found funny. For example, he said that many European countries, such as France, Denmark and Belgium, liked jokes that were somewhat surreal. He gave this example:

An Alsatian went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote: “Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.”

The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: “There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.”

“But,” the dog replied, “that would make no sense at all.”

Did that crack you up? I thought not. Let’s try again. According to the good professor, Americans and Canadians much preferred gags where there was a sense of superiority—either because a person looked stupid, or was made to look stupid by another person. He used this example:

Texan: “Where are you from?”

Harvard grad: “I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with prepositions.”

Texan: “Okay—where are you from, jackass?”

That’s better. I actually smiled at that one. Could that be because I’ve met so many jackasses from Harvard? (Which reminds of the one about the Harvard and Yale grads in the men’s bathroom…)

Wiseman found that many countries in Europe also enjoyed jokes that involved making light of topics that often make us feel anxious such as death, illness and marriage. He gave this example:

A patient says: “Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip. I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: ‘Could you please pass the butter.’ But instead I said, ‘You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life.’”

Did that one crack you up? Me neither.

In closing, let me tell you what has had me laughing these days and then invite you to join in the fun. Use the comments section below to share a joke you’ve enjoyed, or to recommend a book, TV show or movie that’s brightened your day.

The most hilarious book I’ve read in a long time is the latest from Dave Barry. It’s got a title I can relate to—I’ll Mature When I’m Dead. It is filled with hilarious comments and side-splitting observations. One chapter alone—“A Letter to a First-Time-Father-to-Be”—is worth the sale price. Any older gentlemen in the audience should be sure to see his chapter about Dave getting his first colonoscopy. It is, appropriately enough, near the end of the book.

And speaking of hilarious books, I’ve got to mention my favorite funny crime author, Donald Westlake, who left this vale of tears last December. A three-time Edgar winner and Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, Westlake’s most famous creation is the hapless criminal, John Archibald Dortmunder. If you’ve never read anything featuring this sad-sack of a thief, start with the first book in the series, The Hot Rock. It will have you howling with laughter.

Topping the list of my favorite funny movies are two classics, “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and Blake Edwards’ first masterpiece (with the greatest pie-throwing scene ever filmed), “The Great Race.” If you need cheering up, rent either one of these classics. If they don’t have you laughing out loud, better check your pulse. You may not be among the living.

Until next time, keep some powder dry—and a smile on your face.

—Chip Wood

The Goldman Sachs Lie

*Goldman Sachs lied to its customers. The best summary I’ve seen about what Goldman Sachs did wrong comes from my friend Eric Fry. Here’s what he said in the Daily Reckoning, one of my favorite ezines:

“As one of America’s largest purveyors of toxic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), Goldman played the role of financial cigarette salesman. Nothing wrong with that… so far. But this particular cigarette salesman took out insurance policies on its biggest customers. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit morally ambiguous, but it is still perfectly legal… as long as the cigarette salesman didn’t lie to his customers about the potential consequences of smoking cigarettes.

“But Goldman did lie. To continue our metaphor, Goldman not only ‘whited out’ the Surgeon General’s warning on every pack it sold, it also substituted its own warning that read something like: ‘These cigarettes are full of sugar and spice and everything nice, just like little girls.’

“Goldman informed its clients that John Paulson—the guy who secretly helped construct the Abacus CDO that is at the heart of the SEC’s complaint—was a large buyer of this security, when in fact he was a large short-seller of the security. That was a lie. Importantly therefore, Paulson did not utilize his legendary expertise of the CDO market to select the securities that would succeed, he used his expertise to select the securities that would fail.

“Goldman’s failure to disclose this very material fact was a fraud… big time. If Goldman had merely informed its customers that the "cigarettes" it sold were full of ‘frogs and snails and puppy dog tails’ and/or that the guy who helped select the securities comprising this particular CBO was selling it short, Goldman could have purchased life insurance on its customers all day long in full compliance with every applicable securities law.”

—Chip Wood

Bernanke Predicts Moderate Economic Growth, Will Not Raise Interest Rates

Bernanke predicts moderate economic growth, will not raise interest rates Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday that he is cautiously optimistic that the United States will not fall back into a "double dip" recession.

During a dinner sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Bernanke said that consumer spending and private sector investments should allow the economy to continue to moderately improve, according to Market Watch.

"We’ve seen consumers coming back," he said. "We’ve seen firms spending more. There are some signs the private sector is picking up the baton and moving the economy forward."

However, Bernanke also noted that the banking sector is "not completely healthy" and that the level of economic growth is not strong enough to put a dent in the elevated national unemployment rate, which now stands at 9.7 percent.

The Fed chairman also encouraged Congress to put together a long-term debt reduction plan to help the nation evade another economic crisis.

When asked about the possibility of increasing interest rates, Bernanke responded vaguely, stating that it will happen sometime "in the future."

Meanwhile, the National Inflation Association said last week that the Fed’s handling of the economy is bound to result in skyrocketing inflation, and that Bernanke’s expectations of a "very stable" U.S. dollar are off the mark.

"It’s mind-boggling to us how the mainstream media could believe anything Bernanke says about inflation after how wrong he has been about everything else," said the organization. "We are 100 percent sure that Bernanke will be proven wrong again."
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Calderon Blasts Border Patrol Following The Death Of A Mexican Migrant

Calderon blasts border patrol following the death of a Mexican migrant Mexican President Felipe Calderon said on Monday that the death of an illegal immigrant who was in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection agents is an "unacceptable violation" of human rights.

Anastasio Hernandez, a 42-year-old migrant worker who resided in San Diego for years, allegedly resisted arrest last week when immigration officers attempted to deport him following an illegal border crossing. Local authorities said that force needed to be used to restrain Hernandez after he became combative, according to CNN.

"One of the agents used a baton to administer to the subject to get him to stop fighting," said San Diego homicide Captain Jim Collins. "When that was not successful, they used the Taser."

Hernandez died three days later after doctors disconnected him from life support. His death was ruled a homicide, although acute methamphetamine intoxication and hypertension were said to be contributing factors.

Calderon also reiterated his condemnation for Arizona’s new immigration law, which he said "opens a Pandora’s Box of the worst abuses in the history of humanity."

During a visit to Washington in May, Mexico’s president urged lawmakers to pass Federal immigration reform to stop the flow of illegal weapons across the border, the Agence France Presse reports.
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Olive Oil Consumption Can Help Breast Cancer Survivors Lose Weight, Lower Risk Of Recurrence

Olive oil consumption can help breast cancer survivors lose weight, lower risk of recurrence Breast cancer survivors can safely lose weight by consuming a diet rich in plant-based olive oil, according to a new Miriam Hospital study. Previous research has suggested that post-menopausal breast cancer patients can lower their risk of developing a recurrence by maintaining a healthy weight throughout the treatment process and beyond.

For the study, lead researcher Mary Flynn and her colleagues enrolled 44 clinically overweight women over the age of 50 who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and assigned them to follow an olive oil-based diet or a standard low-calorie diet.

After eight months, four out of five women who followed the plant-based olive oil diet lost more than 5 percent of their original weight. In contrast, only 31 percent of those who enrolled in the low-calorie diet attained similar results.

Flynn noted that the majority of patients involved in the study did not know there is a link between cancer recurrence and body mass index.

"That’s why it was important for us to compare these two diets and determine which one the women not only enjoyed following, but also produced the best weight loss, because that’s the diet they’re more likely to stick with," she said.
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Opposition To Kagan’s Supreme Court Nomination Growing

Opposition to Kagan's Supreme Court nomination growing As the review of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee’s legal writings continues, national conservative groups are stepping up their efforts to block Elena Kagan’s appointment.

For example, a conservative student outreach organization called Young America Foundation (YAF) declared June 8 "Keep Out Kagan Day" and urged citizens to contact their Senators in order to dissuade them from voting for her confirmation.

Among the top reasons for that, the organization cites Kagan’s decision to deny military recruiters access to Harvard Law School because of the law banning homosexuals from military service, according to OneNewsNow.com.

"As dean of the Harvard Law School, she prevented students from meeting with military recruiters," said Evan Gassman, a spokesman for YAF, quoted by the news source.

"She signed an amicus brief that opposed the Solomon Amendment, which… is an amendment defending students’ rights to get organized with ROTC," he added.

These sentiments were echoed by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins who recently addressed the Baton Rouge Press Club on the issue.

He said that "Kagan is part of a movement that is willing to sacrifice our [freedom of speech and religion] for the sake of a narrow ideological agenda," and should be rejected by Congress. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19825697-ADNFCR

Poll Shows Americans ‘Ashamed’ At Politicians’ Performance

Poll shows Americans 'ashamed' at politicians' performance With the primary season in full swing, and with the race for Congress in November heating up, the tone of the United States political discourse has sharpened, and most Americans find this troubling, according to a recent public opinion survey.

Commissioned by the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College, the poll found that although an overwhelming number of Americans want civility and compromise in politics, they believe that these values are not reflected in today’s political environment.

In particular, when asked if Americans should be proud or ashamed of the way elected officials handled the healthcare reform, 69 percent said "ashamed" and only 21 percent said "proud."

"We’ve taken a good look at what folks think about the political process and there is deep disappointment," said Daniel M. Shea, Allegheny College political science professor and the study’s lead author.

"Our study should be seen as a wake-up call for elected officials, media commentators and radio talk show hosts: Clean up your act—and fast," he added.

The survey found that individuals who follow political news on a regular basis are four times as likely to say that the tone of political discourse has gotten worse than those who pay only modest attention. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19825678-ADNFCR

Would They Do That? Benevolent Totalitarianism

Remember David Koresh and the Branch Davidians?

You look like me. You talk like me. You go to the same schools and churches with me. You grew up in the same culture. Why would you use force of arms against me and even kill me and my children, maybe burn us alive? Because your mind is seduced by government propaganda and you are on the Federal payroll and pension plan.

The truth is the government and its military complex can create serious and divisive issues that can separate families and even set family members against each other. And of course government always has the issues of race, class and economic warfare at its disposal.

Currently 50 percent of the American population supports the other 50 percent with their income taxes. The producers support the non-producers.

Your Congressmen and Senators are supported by the super rich, but they legislate in favor of the non-producers at the expense of the producing middle class. They never use terms that express what they are doing. They address the people with altruistic and collectivist statements. They use “for the greater good” which translates “share your production with the non-producers and the non-producing parasite system.”

The term “the greater good” is not for the individualist and his pursuit of happiness.

Big government has an endless bag of tricks to keep the pot of population boiling over with issues that divide the people against themselves.

The American people still believe, or can easily be persuaded that if the “Feds” get after you, then you must have done something wrong. They don’t stop to think that the men manning the guns are government employees. They are paid gunmen even if they are ordered to shoot their brothers.

And then there is that subtle economic class war syndrome that implies that the accumulation of wealth makes one dirty.

Aha! But governments are subject to public opinion when it rises toward unanimous. Foreign wars now fit this category. The public mind no longer believes government’s reasons for going to war. The people are building an immunity to war propaganda.

Fiat governments have endless means to achieve what they want. And they want war. They want foreign wars and they want domestic wars.

The means to war is paper money. Propaganda and fiat (paper money) is the cause and makes it all possible. Does anyone think that war in any age could be carried out with a gold monetary system? Governments would find it impossible to get enough gold to carry on the high cost of war.

World War II and subsequent wars were possible because all combatants used fiat money which each country could create for nothing.

Benevolent Totalitarianism
Benevolent totalitarianism is a term created to describe the modern system of government that is fascism in all but name. It is all hidden under that loving word “democracy.” This is a political lock with an iron grip on the minds of the population.

Any political, economic or military alchemy or chicanery is hidden behind the word “democracy.” This is a major, major key to understanding reality today.

Let me explain: Nazism was an unvarnished police state based on massive propaganda that funneled the German mind to focus on the State for protection and safety. Millions were persuaded to die. The men were drafted with the support of the population until their destruction could be ignored no longer.

The German fiat army was defeated by the American and British fiat army only with greater numbers of fiat soldiers and fiat war material.

So what is the difference between ugly and obvious Nazi fascism and modern fascism under the pretense of democracy? Modern fascism is hidden and twisted under an aura of benevolence.

After all, the modern propagandists have learned volumes since Nazi fascism. The modern police state does everything possible to make modern fascism palatable. It is being refined every minute of every day.

The lid is still on but millions are beginning to slip through the cracks. They no longer trust the propaganda, the politicians and the ruling elite.

As the American people are impoverished, they may consider that they have less to lose by confrontation to the system.

The “benevolent” police state is no longer characterized by the loud knock on the door in the middle of the night but by an unassuming letter in the mail from the government tax collector which has all the power and intimidation of the Gestapo. That letter is backed by the police power of the State and harassment of assuming tax authority that has a very detailed profile on every filing taxpayer who has made himself available to “voluntary compliance.”

American taxing authority is, “Your papers, please. Where are your papers?”

When “benevolent government” seeks a citizen out it has a complete dossier and profile which can be manipulated in a thousand ways against a “suspected enemy of the State.” The jackboot and the Swastika have been replaced with a suave and very sophisticated information system backed by State police power. The noose is formidable but not visible to the mundane public.

Experienced Patriots Needed

Samuel Adams, known as the father of the American Revolution, once said, “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

He must have been looking at Barack Obama in a crystal ball when he said it, for Obama is the poster child for a “vain and aspiring” man.

While thousands of gallons of oil spews into the Gulf of Mexico each day, while the unemployment rate remains right at 10 percent, while the stock market drops, while Greece teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, while American soldiers die on foreign battlefields and while North and South Korea stand with knives at each others’ throats, Obama parties, vacations and golfs… and blames others for the troubles.

When he does address his subjects—the American people—he does it with an arrogant disdain developed from years in Ivy League schools and in the dining halls of some of the nation’s most famous leftists.

He’s been mostly “too busy” to deal with the Gulf oil leak, having made only three trips to the region in almost two months—two of those in the last two weeks and then only after Democrat operative James Carville ripped him for his lack of interest in the crisis. And for the longest time he was “too busy” to read Arizona’s new immigration law and meet with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer—he finally relented and granted her a brief audience—to discuss it, even though he found time to criticize it.

But he had time hold lavish White House parties with entertainers like Paul McCartney, Kelly Clarkson, George Lopez and Lionel Richie. He had plenty of time to vacation in Chicago—though he didn’t have time to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. Oh, and golf—there’s been plenty of time for golf.

The main stream media attribute Obama’s demeanor to an ability to detach himself emotionally and deal with problems using logic. Some have equated him to Star Trek’s Spock, an unemotional but brilliant Vulcan.

But Obama’s aloofness seems to stem more from arrogance; an attitude that he is dealing with people he considers his lessers. It comes across every time he goes off the teleprompter and answers a question or makes a comment. It is manifested in the look in his eyes, the cadence in his voice and—mostly—the tilt of his head.

November 2012 can’t come soon enough. Perhaps until then we’ll have enough experienced patriots in office to stave off America’s ruin.

Poll: Obama’s Approval Rating Dwindling Among Hispanics

Poll: Obama's approval rating dwindling among Hispanics Results of a newly released survey suggest that the administration’s lack of progress concerning immigration reform may have changed the perception that many Hispanic-Americans have of President Obama.

According to Monday’s Gallup poll, the president’s approval rating among Hispanics has fallen by more than 20 percent since January. In contrast, his popularity among African Americans and Caucasians has remained static over the last six months.

"The decline in Obama’s approval rating with Hispanics is seen mainly among those interviewed in Spanish: an 11-point drop in the past month and a total of 21 points since January," said the researchers. "However, his approval among Hispanics interviewed in English is down just 5 points since January."

Previous Gallup polls have indicated that the vast majority of respondents who are not proficient in English were born outside of the United States, leading the researchers to suggest that immigration reform may be a contributing factor in the president’s declining approval rating. Approximately one-third of the phone surveys were conducted in Spanish.

Many Hispanic groups have become disenchanted with Obama after he failed to live up to his campaign pledge to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill soon after taking office.
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Green Tea Extract May Help Leukemia Patients

Green tea extract may help leukemia patients An active ingredient in green tea may be capable of reducing the number of cancerous cells in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), according to a phase 2 trial recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting.

Lead author Tait Shanafelt and his colleagues from the Mayo Clinic undertook the study after discovering that the compound—known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—was able to safely kill off leukemia cells in a lab setting. The current study represents the first time the extract has been used in a human trial, according to Health Day News.

For the research, Shanafelt and his team recruited 42 early stage CLL patients and assigned them to receive high-level doses of EGCG for a period of six months. At the point of follow-up, nearly one-third of patients experienced at least a 20 percent reduction in blood leukemia count. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of those with enlarged lymph nodes saw a significant reduction in node size.

"Without a phase III clinical trial, we cannot make a recommendation that EGCG be used by CLL patients, but those who want to take supplements should consult with their oncologists and need to receive appropriate monitoring using laboratory tests," said co-author Neil Kay.
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Civil Rights Groups Criticize Movie Industry Lawsuit

Civil rights groups criticize movie industry lawsuit The United States Copyright Group has filed a brief that threatens to sue Time Warner Company (TWC) for copyright infringement if the company does not reveal the information about consumers who downloaded films using the BitTorrent application. However, civil rights groups have asked the court to block the subpoena.

The law firm filed the brief on behalf of a group of independent film producers, including those behind “The Hurt Locker,” who are planning to simultaneously sue thousands of BitTorrent users for allegedly downloading pirated movies, according to Wired.com.

However, TWC claims that complying with the request would take so much time that it would make it impossible for the company to comply with any law enforcement requests for information, as it only keeps its IP backup logs for six months, the news provider stated.

In addition, civil rights groups have criticized the way the brief has been framed, saying it may violate individuals’ rights to privacy and due process.

"Lumping thousands of unconnected individuals into a few cases in a court far from where they live, without providing them adequate notice and a real opportunity to challenge the subpoenas, is not [the way to do it]," said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU in Washington, D.C., added that people have the right to view internet content anonymously, and that if someone wants to find out their identities, they must "make an adequate factual showing in a proper court, whether the anonymous individual is accused of copyright infringement, defamation or any other improper conduct." ADNFCR-1961-ID-19823077-ADNFCR

Surveys Reveals Americans May Be Torn Between Taxes And Health

Surveys reveals Americans may be torn between taxes and healthA pair of recent polls has shown that there may be a growing tension between people’s desire to pay fewer taxes and their aspirations to live healthier lives.

Earlier this month, an Adweek/Harris Poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that 56 percent of Americans oppose a tax on soft drinks, and interpreted the result as suggesting that it reflects Americans’ weariness of new taxes. It also appeared to illustrate people’s displeasure at the idea that the government can use taxes to dictate what they eat or drink.

"They see the tax for what it is—a money grab to pay for more government. It’s time for lawmakers to bury this ill-conceived tax once and for all," said Kevin Keane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Beverage Association.

However, a different poll, recently conducted in Philadelphia, found that 55 percent of likely voters in that city would support a tax of 2 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages, if funding was dedicated to support programs to combat childhood obesity.

"Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Philadelphia and across the country," said Andrew Hysell, project director for the Campaign for Healthy Kids, which commissioned the survey.

He added that "today’s children could be the first generation in United States history to live sicker and die younger than their parents’ generation," and that "the majority of Philadelphia voters support the sugar-sweetened beverage tax as part of a public health policy to combat the childhood obesity epidemic." ADNFCR-1961-ID-19823078-ADNFCR

It’s The Greens That Sowed The Seeds Of The Gulf Oil Disaster

To the Greens I have six words regarding the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico: Your President, your policies, your fault.

After all Barack Obama was the progressive Green candidate, a thinker who could steer the course in the 21st Century. Oprah anointed then-Senator Obama as "The Chosen One". To Oprah and a great majority of Liberals, Obama was the anti-Dubya; a larger than life leader with savior qualities that would lead us to peace and overcome all obstacles.

So far, so bad. America’s endgame for Iraq is in question because of increasing levels of Shiite-Sunni violence. Afghanistan looks more untenable all the time. The recovery is sluggish and healthcare has been rammed down the throats of the American people. Now we face an enormous crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been almost two months since an explosion sent crude pumping into the Gulf and the Obama administration has shown an astonishing lack of leadership.

David Gergen, a centrist political commentator and advisor to four Presidents, has pointed out a basic lack of leadership from the Obama administration: “Ultimately it is not the responsibility of BP or any other company to protect American interests but the responsibility of the Federal government.”

While on Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN, Gergen added: “If our government had fought World War II like the way we’re fighting the oil spill, there’s a good chance many of us would be speaking German today.”

Gergen is hardly alone in the criticism. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the general who endorsed Obama in 2008, says the President has been far too slow in asserting leadership over the Gulf spill and the time has come for a "comprehensive and total attack" on the problem.

So here it is, a news flash to Oprah and the Liberals: When it comes to leadership, Barack Obama is a lot more Herbert Hoover than he is Harry Truman, regardless of how many “the buck stops here” speeches Obama chooses to give. Little wonder that a recent USA Today/Gallup survey showed that six out of 10 Americans believe the Federal government is doing a “poor” or “very poor” job handling the spill.

The President bristles at criticism that the Gulf crisis is his Katrina. Even in the face of the failure of BP to stem the spill with its top-kill option, Obama was defending the Federal government’s record and promised aggressive action to ensure future drilling is done safely. He has extended a moratorium on new exploration drilling in the Gulf and announced that 33 current projects in the deep water will be suspended along with two permits for exploration wells in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska.

“As we continue our response effort, we’re also moving quickly on steps to ensure that a catastrophe like this never happens again,” he said. “I’ve said before that producing oil here in America is an essential part of our overall energy strategy. But all drilling must be safe.”

Respectfully Mr. President, can we not worry about future leaks until we fix this one? After all, the BP gusher has well surpassed the 1989 Exxon spill in Alaska as the largest ever in the United States. Crude has continued to spew for 52 days after it began with a rig explosion that killed 11 people. Every effort to stop the spill has so far proved unsuccessful.

When I was a boy on the farm we didn’t worry about the horses that might get out; we scurried about to catch the horse that had gotten out. And right now there is a big and nasty animal rolling about the Gulf presenting a clear and present danger to the United States. Meanwhile we are getting the Green lecture—how to stop future oil spills. Which brings me to my second news flash—it is Green policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

The Greens Made Us Drill So Deep
Last January I wrote about the problems and costs of drilling for oil at such extraordinary depths as those being worked off the coast of Louisiana. It was called The Deep Truth About Oil and the Gulf of Mexico.

In that column I said: “Chevron has spent 10 years and a whopping $2.7 billion for this project. This is the cost of running a drill and casing more than 30,000 feet through earth and ocean, the same distance that an airliner flies above the earth. Chevron will spend billions more and in the end, even with all the high-tech in the world, there are no guarantees that its deep-water experiment will hit pay-dirt. In fact there is less than a 50/50 chance that Chevron’s latest deep-sea adventure will yield anything. Still Chevron and their brethren don’t have a choice.

“The Wall Street Journal sums up the situation: ‘Big easily tapped oil fields close to shore have become off-limits.’”

Fast forward a few months and we saw the real danger in not drilling in shallow waters and places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). We see what happens when Big Oil is forced to drill in 5,000 feet or more of seawater; depths at which accidents can’t be easily repaired.

I’ve been talking to my friends in the Alberta oil patch about this for weeks. But the problem didn’t see the light of day until the May 29 episode of Meet the Press. There Host David Gregory asked White House Energy Adviser Carol Browner if in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill, America should start drilling in ANWR.

Gregory asked: "Is the problem that we’re drilling in water that’s just too deep?" 

Gregory continued: "Should you (the White House) even rethink your own approach to the environment to say… maybe in the Arctic Wildlife Reserve; we ought to be drilling there… we ought to be going into shallower waters so that this can be done more safely?"

Incredibly Gregory wasn’t given an answer. But even I know this simple truth—that we need to be drilling in shallow water and places like ANWR. Places where accidents can be corrected.

Don’t expect any leadership on this from the President even though his decision to suspend deepwater drilling off the U.S. coast will have consequences.

“An extended moratorium on safely producing our oil and natural gas resources from the Gulf of Mexico would create a moratorium on economic growth and job creation,” said Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American petroleum Institute.

It’s worth noting that the Gulf of Mexico currently produces about 1.6 million barrels of oil per day—an amount larger than the output of Canada’s oil sands. It was expected to grow to 1.9 million barrels by 2025. But the jury is out on this until Obama—"The Chosen One"—chooses leadership over politics and stops this catastrophe.

Yours for real wealth and good health,

John Myers
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

“Tear Down This Wall!”

It was 23 years ago this week that President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in the divided city of Berlin and urged Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to "tear down this wall!"

At the time, several members of the President’s staff opposed the remark. Chief of Staff Howard Baker said it sounded "extreme." National Security Advisor Colin Powell agreed, declaring it was "unpresidential." Reagan ended the debate by saying, "I think we’ll leave it in."

About 45,000 people attending the speech heard the American leader declare: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

While many commentators in the East and the West derided our "cowboy" President for his anti-communist rhetoric, just 29 months later the wall began to fall. And the rest, as they say, is history.

—Chip Wood

Can Fluorescent Lighting Improve A Vegetable’s Nutrient Capacity?

Can fluorescent lighting improve a vegetable's nutrient capacity? Results of a new study suggest that shoppers may want to consider where a vegetable is located in the food store before making a purchase. According to the research, the fluorescent lighting commonly found in supermarkets can enhance the nutritional value of leafy vegetables, especially spinach.

Lead authors Gene Lester, Donald Makus and Mark Hodges tested this theory by exposing fresh spinach leaves to continuous fluorescent lighting for varying periods of time.

After three days, spinach that was stored in clear plastic containers close to retail-style lighting contained significantly higher levels of vitamins C, K, E and folate, compared to "control" vegetables that were not situated directly under artificial lighting.

When kept under continuous light exposure for nine days, the levels of folate and vitamin K in the spinach increased by as much as 100 percent. In contrast, the nutrient levels of vegetables that were not stored under fluorescent lighting fixtures either diminished or remained unchanged.

The authors of the study believe the findings may open doors to improving the way that vegetables are stored.
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S.C. State Senator Refers To Obama, Haley As ‘Ragheads’

S.C. State Senator refers to Obama, Haley as 'ragheads'Republican South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts apologized last week for using a racial slur to disparage both President Obama and Republican State Representative Nikki Haley, who was born in the United States and is of Indian decent.

During an interview on the Internet talk show Pub Politics, Knotts allegedly said, "We’ve already got a raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion," according to the show’s co-host Phil Bailey. Due to technical problems, the audio of the conversation was not recorded.

While Knotts admitted that he did use the slur, the state senator said that his comments were intended in jest, and compared the talk show to a radio version of Saturday Night Live.

Haley, who was recently endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is one of four Republicans and three Democrats in the running to replace Mark Sanford as the governor of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, Haley, a 38-year-old married mother of two, has been accused twice in the last 10 days of having an extramarital affair. Haley vehemently denied both accusations, casting them aside as examples of unethical politics.

"As Nikki Haley rises in the polls, the good old boys in Columbia see their taxpayer-funded fraternity party coming crumbling down," said campaign spokesman Tim Pearson. "They will say or do anything to hold on to their power."

Haley said earlier in the week that she would resign immediately if any proof of an affair comes to light.
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Managing Allergies: An Herbal Approach

Spring and summer present many with a certain nagging problem: allergies. No matter what you do, if you’re prone to allergies you will get them. And each year seems to be worse than the previous one.

Allergic reactions are caused when the immune system reacts to allergens in the environment. Actually, the immune system over-reacts, or works too hard, to battle the symptoms common to allergies. Such symptoms include red, itchy, swollen and/or watery eyes, stuffy or runny nose, post nasal drip, headache, fatigue, itchy throat, dry mouth, coughing and wheezing.

Allergies are generally caused by wind-born pollen from trees, grass, plants or weeds entering the nasal passages. When these allergens collide with the body’s defense systems the nasal mucosa swells, blocks the passageway and can cause sinus infections.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), we say that allergic rhinitis is caused by a deficiency of lung and kidney wei qi (or “defensive energy”; you could call it the immune system). This allows what is termed “wind-cold” (clear mucus) or “wind-heat” (yellow mucus) to retain in the nasal passages and/or lung system. The term “wind” is used to mean an airborne cause.

Luckily, TCM has several natural herbal approaches to remedy these symptoms by balancing the body’s defensive energy. These herbal formulae are Bi Yan Pian, Pe Min Kan Wan and Xin Yi San. Before taking them, you should consult a TCM practitioner to determine your “pattern” of allergic reaction so the correct formula is used. Reading more about them in a simple online search is another way to decide if they are right for you. In any event, these formulas are natural and harmless, meaning they will cause no side effect if an incorrect formula is taken.

Pe Min Kan Wan (Nasal Clear Pills) treats allergies, common colds and nasal or sinus congestion. It does this by dispersing wind, clearing heat, expelling toxins, transforming phlegm and unblocking the nose.

Pe Min Kan Wan is a formula comprised of different herbs including: jin yin hua (honeysuckle), cang er zi (xanthium), ye ju hua (wild chrysanthemum), bai zhi (angelica), e bu shi cao (centipeda) and bo he (mint).

This herbal formula is indicated for wind or wind-heat obstructing the nasal passages. If this formula is for you, you would be experiencing nasal obstruction, copious amounts of clear or white watery nasal discharge, or thick yellow or green nasal discharge, sinus pain, headache, dizziness, sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, heat and redness around the sinus cavities, earache, cough and wheezing. Also, your tongue would be redder in color than usual. This formula is especially effective for nasal or lung problems with an allergic component.

In terms of specific ‘allopathic’ designations, Pe Min Kan Wan possesses anti-inflammatory and mucolutic properties. As such, it effectively treats allergic rhinitis, acute and chronic rhinitis, perennial rhinitis, acute and chronic sinusitis, sinus headaches, frontal headaches, otitis media, allergic asthma, common cold and influenza.

Note: Do not use this formula unless you are experiencing chronic congestion with colored mucus. As this is a drying formula, continued use after congestion and mucus are resolved can dry out the mucus membranes.

Bi Yan Ning (Calm the Nose and Throat) treats allergies, common cold and nasal or sinus congestion. It does this by dispersing wind from the nasal passages, clearing heat, expelling toxins, transforming phlegm and unblocking the nose.

Bi Yan Ning (also spelled Bi Ye Ning), is a formula comprised of different herbs including: cang er zi (xanthium), xin yi hua (magnolia flower), zhu dan zhi (pig bile), e bu shi cao (centipeda), chan tui (cicada shell), huo xiang (agastache), bing pian (borneol), huang qin (scute), dang gui (Chinese angelica), and huang qi (estragalus).

This herbal formula is indicated for wind-heat obstructing the nasal passages with congealing of the nasal fluids. If this formula is for you, you would be experiencing nasal congestion, swollen and inflamed mucus membranes, thick yellow nasal mucus, purulent malodorous mucus, watery mucus, sneezing, reduction or loss of sense of smell, nasal voice, sinus congestion and pain, frontal or sinus headache, dizziness, red itchy eyes, excessive tearing. Your tongue color would be the normal pink to red with a yellow coating.

In terms of specific ‘allopathic’ designations, Bi Yan Pian posses anti-inflammatory, mucolytic and antibacterial properties. As such, it effectively treats allergic rhinitis, acute and chronic rhinitis, perennial rhinitis, acute and chronic sinusitis, sinus headaches, frontal headaches, upper respiratory tract infection, common cold and influenza.

Note: While this formula is similar to Pe Min Kan Wan it is cooler to the body and slightly stronger. Do not use this formula unless you are experiencing chronic congestion with colored mucus. As this is a drying formula, continued use after congestion and mucus are resolved can dry out the mucus membranes.

Xin Yi San (Magnolia Flower Teapills) treats allergies, common cold and nasal or sinus congestion. It does this by dispelling wind-cold, eliminating dampness, unblocking the nose and alleviating pain.

Xin Yi San is a formula comprised of different herbs, including: xin yi hua (magnolia flower), bai zhu (atractylodes), fang feng (siler), sheng ma (cimicifuga), mu tong (akebia), chuan xiong (cnidium), xi xin (asarum), gao ben (ligusticum), gan cao (licorice), and qiang huo (notopterygium).

This herbal formula is indicated for wind-cold invasion attacking the head. If this formula is for you, you would be experiencing nasal and sinus congestion, nasal or sinus pain, copious clear nasal discharge, post-nasal drip, sneezing, sinus or frontal headache, stiff and achy neck and upper back, fatigue, mental cloudiness and loss of sense of smell. Your tongue color would be the normal pink color with a thin white coating.

In terms of specific ‘allopathic’ designations, Xin Yi San posses diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. As such, it effectively treats acute and chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, acute and chronic rhinitis, sinus headaches, frontal headaches, upper respiratory tract infection, common cold and influenza.

Note: There are no reported contraindications with use of this formula.

I hope this brief article on Chinese herbals for allergies helps you to 1) find the correct formula for your issues, and 2) understand that taking a pattern-specific approach is better than the “shotgun” approach of the generic pharma allergy medications or herbal products advertised for “allergies” in general.

It is not necessary for you to experience ALL of the above symptoms within a grouping, but the group that most completely describes the overall pattern of what you are experiencing with your allergies, indicates the formula that is best applied.

It is commonly observed within TCM clinics and hospitals that the long-term result for treating allergies is strengthened with the addition of acupuncture sessions. Additionally, it is highly advised to refrain from consuming any animal milk product during allergy season, especially when infection is present.

These formulas are among the 400 common “Chinese patent herbal formulas” sold all over the world and used for centuries in Asia. They are currently manufactured in pharmaceutical or nutraceutical laboratories that are inspected buy the World Health Organization. As such, the products sold in the United States are GMP Certified and safe A simple online search of these names will bring up a number of sites selling these products. Or you could visit a Chinatown near you.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

Do-It-Yourself Alzheimer’s Treatment

A simple vitamin, niacinamide B3 has been shown by researchers to improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

In fact, niacinamide has been used for years to revive and enhance impaired memory in general. It is a safe vitamin and has been used by the public since the 1950s. Its effectiveness undoubtedly has to do with improved brain circulation.

I once sat in on a lecture by Abram Hoffer, M.D., PhD., who famously used niacinamide to successfully treat schizophrenia.

Years ago I took niacinamide B3 during bouts of depression. It is very safe in 500 milligram (mg) to 1,000 mg doses.

Any of you with a history of Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia in your family should try this simple and very safe vitamin. Let me hear how it works for you.

(Reference: Nutrition and Healing by Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, March 2009 issue by Healthier News LLC, 702 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201.)

EBRI Report Details Americans’ Retirement Income Sources

EBRI report details Americans' retirement income sourcesIn the current economic climate many Americans are increasingly concerned about their income when they retire. Unfortunately, recent studies do not paint an optimistic picture and show once again the importance of investment in safe assets.

According to a new report released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), in 2008 Social Security was the largest source of income for those aged 65 and older, accounting for nearly 40 percent of their income on average.

However, given the decades-long mismanagement of Social Security and the lack of reforms that would prevent its bankruptcy, there is no guarantee that future generations of retirees will be able to benefit from it, something which may affect lower-income individuals most.

Hence, some financial experts suggest investing in tangible assets with intrinsic value such as real estate or precious metals. The latter, in particular, can shield people’s life savings from the ravages of inflation, which many believe will result from the growing national debt.

The importance of making a wise retirement savings decision is further stressed by the report’s findings that show that only 13 percent of Americans derive their retirement income from assets, while 19.7 percent rely on pension and annuities.
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Obama, Brewer Meet, But Fail To Agree, On Arizona Immigration Bill

Obama, Brewer meet, but fail to agree, on Arizona immigration billAmid a harsh domestic dispute over Arizona’s new immigration law, the state’s governor traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Obama to discuss the issue. However, it appears that the two sides did not come to any substantive agreements.

Although the White House said in a statement that the meeting "went well," Obama still stressed the importance of states working together on a comprehensive immigration reform, and complained that a patchwork of individual laws will complicate enforcement, according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, Brewer stressed the need to secure the border first, and stated that Obama declined to discuss whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) will file a lawsuit to block the law before it takes effect next month, the news provider further reported.

When the law was passed in April, Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters that the DOJ was "considering all possibilities, including the possibility of a court challenge."

He also spoke of the bill’s unconstitutionality, but later admitted that he had not read it, which organizations such as Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) called "absolutely outrageous."

"Our nation’s highest law-enforcement officer is issuing threats and intimidation over a law he has not bothered to read," said Marilyn DeYoung, chairwoman of CAPS.

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Reports Show Why It Is Hard To Create Satisfactory Tax Policy

Reports show why it is hard to create satisfactory tax policy A pair of recently released reports shows why politicians are often in a quandary when it comes to fashioning taxation policies—the first suggests that lower taxes increase national debt, while the other blames poverty on state income taxes.

According to a new report by the Pew Economic Policy Group, a think tank, extending the 2001 and 2003 federal income tax cuts would sharply increase the national debt, even if extensions are limited to individuals earning below $200,000.

These cuts have been proposed in the administration’s budget, but "in light of the escalating national debt, policymakers need to understand the long-term costs of any extension of the tax cuts," said Ingrid Schroeder, director of the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative.

Meanwhile, another economic policy institute estimated that 13 states had fiscal policies that pushed working families deeper into poverty last year.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that in some of those states low-earning families faced several hundred dollars in state income taxes, a significant amount for anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck.

"States’ budget challenges are real, but so are the challenges that hard-working families are facing in today’s tough economy," said Nicholas Johnson, director of the Center’s State Fiscal Project.

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