Savannah’s Vile Visitors

During my older brother’s college years, the Ku Klux Klan planned a march through the sleepy Southern town in which his school tended the delicate young minds in its charge. As the fateful day approached, the college administrators wrung their hands over the best approach to dealing with the potentially explosive mixture of goose-stepping knot heads and a couple thousand college students drunk on school spirit and youthful vigor. The students ultimately formulated a plan to hold a giant picnic on the intramural fields located on the far side of campus from the Klan’s planned steel-toed strut. The residents of the town were all personally invited, and nearly all attended. The Klan marched through a town empty of all but the ghosts of their sad delusions.

I think the picnic idea was nothing short of brilliant, if for no other reason than that loosing my brother and his friends on the Pinhead Pageant would have generated a bigger crowd of shrieking lunatics in white dresses than the half-off sale at a Manhattan bridal superstore. Where better than college to learn that even soft-underbelly-of-society types like Klansmen have the right to hoot, holler and wear the laundry? Where better than college to learn the value of ignoring them?

But the Klan is easy to ignore. Not that its particular brand of hate isn’t noteworthy; I just can’t get that worked up about a bunch of clowns who have trouble spelling multisyllabic words but know more about thread count than a Beverly Hills madam.

This weekend in Savannah — a city that has endured my presence for years — another group of more virulently venomous villains will be smearing this lovely town with filth. Fred Phelps and his twisted minions of the Westboro Baptist Church have delivered to Savannah the dubious honor of being the latest locale to suffer their foolishness. Unlike a Klan march in a sleepy college town, the Westboro sideshow in a city of more than 250,000 is likely as difficult to ignore as a palmetto bug in your grits.

Ever since word filtered out that the Westboro crazy caravan was headed this way, all Savannah has been abuzz with plans to assemble to demonstrate against Westboro, prank them or simply gawk at the goings-on. There are Facebook groups dedicated to organizing peaceful counter protests, and there are other groups that have more “energetic” responses planned. I will be among neither the former nor the latter.

I am man enough to admit I lack the compunction to stand within range of reprobates like the Westboro flock. If one of them shoved one of those “God Hates Fags” signs in my face, I would make him eat it. (Just in case my mom is reading this, I would be polite about it. I’d offer him some sweet tea to wash it down.) One of my more spiritual friends recently reminded me that Jesus would not only tolerate Phelps and his herd, He would likely love them in accordance with Scripture. My response was a fairly colorful version of: “Do we think there’s a great deal of confusion over which one’s Jesus and which one’s Ben?” I will eschew a visit with Phelps, because I suspect writing “Outside the Asylum” while inside the big house would be fairly difficult.

Allow me to offer the inevitable caveat: As long as Phelps and his accomplices abide by local ordinances (which they seem maddeningly willing to do), they are — and they should be — allowed to make absolute buffoons of themselves. Those of us with crania larger than Georgia white shrimp are allowed likewise to either point out observable buffoonery or pointedly ignore Westboro’s cavalcade of crazy.

Whether it’s Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam or “Creepy McStalkerston” and the Montana chapter of the Moody Loners’ Militia, America endures even its most aggressively stupid children. At the very least, their presence reminds us how blessed we are to know better than cheer the deaths of men and women in uniform, 9-year-old girls and/or Ronnie James Dio.

This weekend, while the Westboro Baptist Church slithers into my neighborhood to offer its high-decibel condemnations of military heroes, children and former Monsters of Rock mid-carders, I will be playing in my flag football league’s playoffs. It’s not that I don’t have some choice words for Phelps, it’s just that I would rather sweat, wheeze and limp for three or four days than find a way to make bail.

Cornstarch An Effective Vehicle For Vitamins

Cornstarch proven an effective vehicle for vitaminsSometimes, when an individual takes a nutritional supplement, the vitamins it contains are destroyed by acid in the stomach.

Penn State researchers have discovered oil-soluble vitamins encapsulated in a cornstarch pocket can pass through the dangers within the stomach to the small intestine, where the vitamins can be absorbed into the body.

The researchers said that when cornstarch is mixed with fatty acid esters, it creates a barrier that is both hydrophobic and hydrophilic. The balance between these two properties is essential for a good delivery vehicle for the vitamins, the authors said. Additionally, cornstarch can accommodate molecules of various sizes, as opposed to current complexes that can carry only small molecules.

The scientists said that cornstarch is not only an ideal vehicle, but is easily digested, readily available and inexpensive.

In addition to its uses in the pharmaceutical and food industries, cornstarch may also be useful in cosmetics, optic devices and electronic equipment, study authors said.

“We have more work and research to do,” said co-author Gregory Ziegler. “The trick is how can we set this up so we can do it simply.”

GOP Senators Block Repeal Of Oil Subsidies

GOP Senators block repeal of oil subsidiesSenate Republicans have blocked a bill that aimed to eliminate tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies in the United States.

On May 17, the Democratic-led chamber voted 52-48 in favor of the legislation, which is called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act. However, the law — which was heavily endorsed by President Barack Obama — fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure.

Nearly all GOP Senators and three Democrats voted against the bill, which was designed to repeal $21 billion in tax subsidies for the top five U.S. oil companies over the next 10 years, according to The Washington Post. Many Democrats have claimed that profitable oil companies must make sacrifices to help reduce the national deficit, while GOP lawmakers argued that the bill would hinder job growth in the oil industry. They also refuted claims that the tax subsidies would somehow lower the prices at the gas pumps.

"This is not an energy strategy, this is a public relations strategy, this is a 'how do I get re-elected' strategy," said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) of the Democrat-backed bill, quoted by The Associated Press. "It does not solve the problem or the pain that Americans are feeling at the pump."

Responding to the legislation proposal, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it "misguided, unwarranted and ultimately counterproductive," according to the news provider. 

Gingrich Backs Off His Criticism Of Ryan Budget, Reaches Out To Tea Party

Gingrich backs off his criticism of Ryan budget, reaches out to Tea PartyNewt Gingrich has begun backpedaling following his verbal attack on Representative Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal, which calls for significant Medicare reform.

The former House Speaker fielded harsh criticism from Tea Party leaders after he described Ryan's plan as "right-wing social engineering" during his May 15 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. In addition, Gingrich, who is vying for the GOP Presidential nomination, publicly backed the individual mandate in Barack Obama's healthcare law during his television appearance.

According to media reports, Gingrich has admitted he made a mistake, saying that he apologized to Ryan during a phone conversation on May 17. Rick Tyler, Gingrich's press secretary and longtime aide, told Politico.com that the former House Speaker also held two conference calls with Tea Party leaders to explain what he meant on Meet the Press.

The Huffington Post reported that Gingrich is expected to denounce the individual mandate provision of Obamacare despite his track record of supporting the controversial measure.

William Temple, the chairman of the Tea Party Founding Fathers, slammed Gingrich during a speech in Kansas City, Kan. on May 17.

"Like President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitt Romney, Mr. Gingrich also favors forcing mandatory health insurance upon American citizens," said Temple. "They all quibble about whether States or the Federal government should do the imposing, but they would all use the power of government to force Americans to buy a product they may not wish to buy." 

Precious Metals And Commodities: What’s Their Real Value Today?

A lot has been written about commodities and precious metals in the recent past. While some investors believe that we are in the middle of a super cycle for commodities and precious metals, others think that there is already too much speculation built into current prices — that we are in a speculative bubble that will have to burst eventually.

Since discussions about commodity and precious metals prices are often conducted with a great deal of emotion, I hope this article serves the purpose of rationally analyzing what is going on in these markets, what the fair value of precious metals and commodities is today and what the risks and opportunities are going forward.

The investment case for commodities and precious metals is a bit more complex than it looks at first, so let’s start with a brief review of the underlying drivers of these asset classes.

First, I would like to point out that I am not a “gold bug,” but looking to invest money in commodities and precious metals is part of our job, and we think that holding investment exposures in commodities and precious metals should be part of a well- and globally diversified investment portfolio.

In an ideal world, our allocation to precious metals would be very moderate. Unfortunately, we are living in a world that is far from ideal. With the economic and political changes we are facing today, I think we have to deal with a number of very big challenges in coming years. These challenges might be even greater than what we have seen in the last decade.

Ten years ago, precious metals were not a big investment theme. Gold prices had been falling for the most part of the 80s and 90s when central banks were selling huge quantities of gold. This pushed the price down to about U.S.$250 per ounce.

Today, this has changed completely. Central banks have become net buyers again, especially Asian central banks. This, together with investors’ growing concerns about government deficits and money printing policies, has resulted in an almost perfect investment case for precious metals.

The ongoing rally of precious metals prices in the recent past is showing us that there is growing concern among investors worldwide about the health and stability of the financial system and that there is also a lack of trust in central banks and governments. Investors worldwide are worried about future inflation and forced money devaluation. The chart below shows how much gold and silver have gone up in the past 10 years (please note that the blue line is showing the relative performance of silver) as a reaction to those concerns.

 

In order to protect and preserve capital, investors are looking for a safe and stable storage of value, which has led to the strong demand for precious metals.

The reasons behind the strong increase of commodity prices in the past two years are different, but to some extent they are related to the precious metal boom. The strong rally in commodity prices has been equally impressive, as the following chart shows.

Remember, despite the strong recovery of equity prices in the past two years, Western equity markets have been flat for the past decade, as you can see from the chart below.

 

So considering the disappointing performance of equity markets and the very low yields in fixed-income markets, investors have been looking to put money into alternative investments such as commodities. Here, rising prices are driven by rapidly expanding demand, while supply is only growing at very moderate levels.

 

The growing number of people on our planet, especially the rise of Chindia (China and India), is creating the increased demand for a broad range of commodities. Let’s not forget that despite slow economic growth in the West, world gross domestic product is still expected to grow at about 4.5 percent this year. Emerging markets, and especially the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, contribute almost 80 percent of global GDP growth this year. Investors not only expect a good long-term profit on their commodity investments, they also hope to get at least some hedge against future inflation.

No question, the basic investment case for precious metals and commodities is as good as it can possibly get, BUT have prices gone up too far too quickly?

No matter how good an investment case looks long-term, investors have to realize that market prices can go down dramatically within a short period of time. When short-term capital flows go against the long-term investment case, investors can experience huge losses. Therefore, you always have to know where market prices are and what can influence them.

Let’s look for example at energy prices, in 2008 when oil was trading at U.S.$140 per barrel and people thought it would be at U.S.$200 per barrel soon. A very severe correction followed and prices fell to U.S.$40 per barrel within a few months:

 

Commodity prices (especially energy) have unique supply and demand curves which are steeper than normal. This means small shifts in supply and demand can cause very large price swings.

The increasing amount of investment and speculative money has made that problem even worse in recent years. While we think the days of “cheap” oil are probably behind us, we have no doubt that oil prices could easily drop U.S.$30-$40 per barrel again should we see increasing evidence that demand is slowing. This could be caused by lower growth in emerging markets, for example. On the other hand, should global growth be stronger than expected in coming years, prices of U.S.$200 per barrel are possible as well.

So what is the true value of commodities and precious metals today and what is the impact of increasing amounts of investment money that has been moving to these asset classes in recent years? Let’s try to answer these questions by looking at historical prices and pricing relationships with other assets.

One of my favorite charts you can see below. It shows the pricing relationship between hard assets (such as precious metals) and soft assets (for example, the stock market).

What is very obvious is that hard assets have become more expensive relative to paper assets after reaching a bottom in early 2000. This relationship had been falling for almost two decades starting in the early 80s, and it shows that these trends can continue for a long period of time.

The period between the early 80s and the year 2000 was also a time when globalization of trade and production resulted in strong deflationary forces, which brought interest rates to the low levels we are seeing today. However, there is increasing evidence that the days of record low interest rates in many parts of the world are over.

Actually, rates have started to go up in some parts of the world, including Europe, despite the sovereign debt crisis in a number of European countries. The Federal Reserve in the U.S. has not done anything yet. Actually, it is trying to keep rates at very low levels.

Rates are being kept low by ongoing monetization of debt, which means that the Federal Reserve is buying a lot of bonds that are issued by the Treasury Department. This has resulted in a mind-blowing expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet.

The investment community often refers to this mechanism as money printing. While rates could be kept low, this strategy has been the main driver behind the recent devaluation of the U.S. dollar.

The chart above makes it obvious that the pricing relationships between precious metals, commodities and “paper” money can experience large swings over time, and investors should always know about these relationships because it contains valuable information for investing. Today, gold is trading at about U.S.$1,500 per ounce and has had a very impressive rally in the past few years. It is a clear indication that investors globally are worried about the health of the international money system and currencies worldwide.

The expansionary monetary policies of most central banks are clearly lowering the faith of investors in fiat currencies. Therefore, investors have a real need for assets that are preserving the purchasing power of their assets, and gold and other precious metals are seen as the ideal solution.

The price of gold has gone up from about U.S.$300 per ounce to today’s price of about U.S.$1,500 ounce. That’s a very impressive rally. But is gold now overpriced or still too cheap considering all the money printing that is going on?

One way to answer that question is to look at the Fear Index, invented by James Turk of GoldMoney. This index compares the price of gold, multiplied by the quantity of gold a country owns, divided by the country’s money supply (M3). This index hit a 16-year high last year, but still stands way below its all-time high reached in the early 80s.

Gold also doesn’t look overpriced when compared to the stock market. The Dow/gold ratio, which compares the value of gold against the value of the Dow Jones Industrial index, currently stands at 8.3. That’s only slightly higher than the low reached in 2009, which was 7.1.

The conclusion is that precious metals and commodities have been a great investment in recent years and, considering today’s problems and challenges, the long-term outlook remains positive. But, investors have to be very careful as significant short-term price corrections are very likely in the future, no matter how good the long-term investment case for both might be.

The long-term investment case for commodities and precious metals remains positive, but investors should be careful and only make such investments as part of an overall, well-diversified investment portfolio.

Prepare For Vehicular Emergencies

I recently returned from a trip to a mountainous part of the Pacific Northwest where I spent a good part of my time driving off the beaten path on forest service and other remote roads. A recent news story about a woman who was found alive in her van after being stranded for seven weeks on a remote road in a Nevada wilderness brought to mind the countless survivor stories I uncovered while researching my book Getting Out Alive. Though the scenarios I explored included a broad spectrum of environments such as deserts, open sea, jungle and mountains, the recurring theme in so many of these stories was that of an individual, couple or family venturing out in some kind of motorized vehicle or boat to a remote place they would not normally be willing or able to walk into (or back out of). Trusting fully in technology to get them there and back, they strike out with little in the way of extra gear or supplies, fully expecting to return to the comfort of civilization after their brief foray into the wild.

The trouble begins when the vehicle either breaks down or gets stuck or somehow disabled. Imagine being 20 miles from the nearest paved road in the desert with only a couple bottles of water, or stranded on a snowy mountain pass with no means of starting a fire and no sleeping bag or adequate warm clothing for the extreme-low temperatures of the nighttime hours. Such scenarios unfold time and time again, no matter how many stories are published or make the evening news — all because people put too much trust in technology and fail to take the “what-ifs” into consideration.

To be fully prepared to go into a remote place, you have to imagine what you would do without the vehicle that takes you there and what you would need if circumstances extended your stay much longer than expected. A lifetime of hiking with a backpack, riding into remote places on motorcycles and mountain bikes and traveling by sea kayak, canoe and sailboat has reinforced this idea in my consciousness time and time again. As a result, I always have extra food and water, even for the shortest excursions. And a sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest® pad, tarp, machete, fire-starting tools and other essentials are as much a part of my vehicle’s equipment as a spare tire and jack. There have been times when having these extras has saved me from great discomfort. If you travel off the beaten path enough, there will come a time when you will need them, too.

County Keeps Funding For Viagra In Budget — Despite $300 Million Shortfall

The Montgomery County, Md. County Council has decided it’s not going to let budget problems stand in the way of its employees’ bedroom activities and has decided to continue paying for their little blue pills.

The County Council is keeping funding for Viagra off the chopping block, despite the jurisdiction’s $300 million budget shortfall, according to an article on WashingtonExaminer.com.

“County Executive Ike Leggett proposed eliminating taxpayer-funded coverage for erectile dysfunction drugs in Montgomery’s employee health insurance program,” read the article. “However, the council has stepped in on behalf of those needing a little help in the bedroom. Under a new council blueprint, county employees would be eligible for six doses of such drugs a month. Previously, employees had no limits on the number they could get.”

“This should not be trivialized,” Councilman Marc Elrich, Democrat-at large, told the Examiner. “I know it’s an easy headline. But this is a quality-of-life issue. This can affect relationships.”

A spokesman for Leggett told the newspaper, “It doesn’t belong in the budget; we thought it wasn’t justified,” adding that not covering the drugs would have saved the County $400,000 annually.

Data Show Possible Link Between Atmospheric Activity And Earthquakes

The recent Great Tohoku earthquake that destroyed so much in Japan on March 11 is providing large amounts of data to scientists, and not just geologists.

Thursday’s Physics blog for MIT’s TechnologyReview.com, discusses how scientists at NASA are releasing findings on atmospheric data from Japan’s earthquake and others, with startling results.

“They say that before the M9 earthquake, the total electron content of the ionosphere increased dramatically over the epicenter, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck,” the blog said. “At the same time, satellite observations showed a big increase in infrared emissions from above the epicenter, which peaked in the hours before the quake. In other words, the atmosphere was heating up.”

There is an idea that is consistent with these findings, called the Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling mechanism, which suggests that “in the days before an earthquake, the great stresses in a fault as it is about to give… releases (sic) large amounts of radon.”

Ultimately, if scientists could gather enough atmospheric data from past earthquakes, they may be able to more quickly warn citizens of an impending earthquake.

Obama Getting Rich Off U.S. Debt

Recently, the White House released the financial disclosure forms for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The form shows that large portion of the President’s wealth is seated in Federal debt.

CNN’s White House blog reported, “The President and first lady Michelle Obama had assets valued between $2.8 million and $11.8 million in 2010. And between $2 million and $10 million of their assets are invested in super-safe U.S. Treasury securities, according to the disclosure form. That’s up from $1.5 million to $6 million reported invested in Treasury notes and bills in 2009.”

Because the form uses broad ranges to report the President’s income (a result of each asset being reported individually), it is impossible to tell exactly how much the President is profiting from the United States’ debt.

The President and first lady, however, are not in debt.

The forms are a requirement of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires Federal officials in the upper echelons to publicly disclose their personal financial interests, to prevent conflicts of interest.

Liberal Billionaire Sways Media

Billionaire George Soros has spent $48 million funding media properties, including media-industry organizations, journalism schools and investigative journalism.

The left-leaning Soros, No. 46 on the Forbes list of The World’s Billionaires, has devoted his life to taking over American media, according to a report from FoxNews.com.

Through various philanthropic organizations, Soros has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets — including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Associated Press, NBC and ABC. Soros’ reach extends to training new journalists: He has provided funding for Columbia University’s School of Journalism (the President of which sits on the Pulitzer Prize committee, which recently awarded Soros-backed ProPublica its second Pulitzer).

As Fox put it, “Imagine if conservative media punching bags David and Charles Koch had this many connections to journalists. Even if the Kochs could find journalists willing to support conservative media (doubtful), they would be skewered by the left.”

Representative Ron Paul Suggests Selling Fort Knox Gold To Pay U.S. Debts

As the debate over raising the Federal debt limit rages, policy groups have suggested selling off Federal assets to pay debts. One Presidential contender, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), said the United States should sell the gold in Fort Knox — that is, if Fort Knox has any gold to sell.

Paul called for an audit of the Federal government’s gold reserves in August 2010, but was voted down. He said, “If there was no question, you’d think they would be very anxious to prove to us that the gold is there.”

Now, Paul recently told The Sun that choosing to sell the gold reserves is “a good and moral decision. An individual would have to do the same.”

However, an unnamed senior administration official told The Washington Post, “Selling off the gold is just one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore.”

Experts agree with Paul, though. An analyst at the Heritage Foundation, Ron Utt, told The Washington Post, “Given the high price (gold) is now, and the tremendous debt problem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”

The Sun estimates, “at recent prices of $1,500 an ounce, (the U.S.’s gold bullion) would be worth about many tens of billions of dollars.”

Schools May Hold The Key To Improved Pediatric Health

Schools may hold the key to improved pediatric healthWhen students in Ann Arbor, Mich. were provided with nutritious food options in the cafeteria, more physical education classes and lessons on making healthy lifestyle choices, they had the added benefits of lowering their cholesterol levels and improving their resting heart rates, according to University of Michigan researchers.

The team of scientists conducted the four-year intervention study of more than 590 students in order to measure the long-term outcome of such efforts.

Authors of the study said that the improvements that the kids made in their health could mean a lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, the interventions appeared to have a lasting impact.

“Results of the wellness survey indicate that, after four years, students continued to make health-conscious decisions,” said co-author Elizabeth A. Jackson.

On average, the students lowered their cholesterol levels by about 18 points. Also, the average resting heart rate of a child was 81.3 beats per minute (BPM) before the intervention, but was reduced to 78.3 BPM at the end of the four years.

Huckabee, Trump Duck Out Of Presidential Race

Huckabee, Trump duck out of Presidential raceThe field of candidates for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination thinned out this past weekend, as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and business mogul Donald Trump removed themselves from consideration.

During his weekly FOX News program on May 14, Huckabee announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination to avoid “brutal” and “savage” attacks on his family. He was considered a favorite in the current field of potential candidates, but pundits have stated that Huckabee had little personal or financial motivation to run for President.

On May 16, Trump revealed that he would prefer to remain in the private sector, rather than run for public office. Although the reality TV star’s rumored candidacy was viewed as a publicity stunt by many political observers, he garnered ample support in a number of national polls. Trump also played a big role in the “birther movement,” prompting the White House to release a copy of President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate last month.

The two announcements have further opened up a field that was already considered unpredictable. On May 15, Mike Campbell, who was Huckabee’s campaign chairman in South Carolina during the 2008 race, announced that he has joined forces with Jon Huntsman, the former United States ambassador to China and Governor of Utah.

Huntsman has already enlisted the services of former political advisors to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who won the GOP nomination in 2008, The Boston Globe reported.

‘Failed’ Terrorist Plots And The Fight To Keep America Scared

“Should we accept everything they say as true? Probably not.” Those are the words of CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence, talking about the accounts of Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo) detainees, in documents released by WikiLeaks starting on April 24. The documents contain startling amounts of intelligence about failed or rejected al-Qaida plots. So why does Lawrence tell us not to take every word at face value?

Because it’s all probably bunk, made up to avoid torture.

“The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses — in most cases, the prisoners’ fellow prisoners — whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo,” WikiLeaks said.

So why would CNN (and plenty of other mainstream news outlets) run this story? Because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed “mastermind” behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, is one of the prisoners mentioned in the documents.

Mohammed claimed there were plans to attack the “tallest building in California” (and Washington state), destroy the Brooklyn bridge and blow up gas stations.

There was even a plot involving the use of Sega game cartridges as remote-controlled firing devices. I guess they don’t have the Wii in Afghanistan.

The release of all these documents — many of which refer to terror threats the Department of Homeland Security claims to have already handled — serves an interesting dual purpose.

On the one hand, the good guys caught the bad guys, and aren’t we so lucky that the government stopped so many terrorist plots? Isn’t it wonderful knowing we’re safe? Maybe we don’t need all those Constitutional rights after all.

But hold on — if these are the terrorists they caught, what about all those bad guys who are still out there?! We killed their boss; the terrorists are going to be really mad now. We need to pay these higher taxes — the Government needs more of my money to keep me safe.

George Orwell was right: “When memory failed and written records were falsified — when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.”

Federal Lawsuit Takes Aim At Illinois’ Ban On Concealed Guns

Federal lawsuit takes aim at Illinois' ban on concealed gunsTwo private citizens and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) have filed a Federal lawsuit challenging Illinois’ prohibition of the carrying of firearms for self-defense.

According to The Associated Press, Illinois residents Michael Moore of Champaign and Charles Hooks of Percy, along with the SAF, filed the suit on May 12, eight days after a measure that would have allowed residents to carry concealed weapons failed in the State Legislature. Moore is a former corrections officer and Hooks is a farmer, the news provider reported.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only States that ban citizens from carrying concealed firearms for self-defense. However, SAF Vice President Alan Gottlieb asserted that Wisconsin at least allows its citizens to carry non-concealed weapons.

“Only Illinois makes it statutorily impossible for average private citizens to carry firearms for self-defense,” said Gottlieb. “Whether Illinois lawmakers like it or not, the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms is the law of the land.”

Gottlieb added that he was surprised that Illinois legislators have not acquiesced to last year’s Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. Chicago, in which justices ruled that the 2nd Amendment applies to State and local governments.

Treasury Taps Into Federal Retirement Funds As Government Hits Debt Ceiling

Treasury taps into Federal retirement funds as government hits debt ceilingThe United States government has officially hit the debt ceiling limit, prompting the Treasury Department to undertake emergency measures in order to avoid the nation’s first-ever default.

On May 16, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that the government had reached its $14.3 trillion debt limit. He added that the Treasury would, among other measures, use Federal pension funds in order to make debt payments until early August.

Geithner urged lawmakers to increase the debt limit by Aug. 2 “to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences for citizens,” according to media reports.

Speaking to financial executives at the Economic Club of Chicago on May 16, Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reiterated his party’s stance: A deal on raising the debt limit would have to be accompanied by significant spending cuts.

“For every dollar the president wants to raise the debt ceiling, we can show him plenty of ways to cut far more than a dollar of spending,” said Ryan, quoted by Reuters.

Last week, while speaking at the Economic Club of New York, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that spending cuts should exceed the debt-ceiling increase granted by Congress. He emphasized that reductions should be “in the trillions of dollars, not billions.”

Barack Attack!

“They want what every first-term Administration wants — a second term.” — from the movie “Clear and Present Danger”

America hasn’t had a leader like President Barack Obama in generations. He is more shrewd than a Chicago mayor, more powerful than the Tea Party and able to read a teleprompter at a single glance. He is ObamaMan! Not since former President Harry Truman’s capture of former Prime Minister of Japan Hideki Tojo has the nation had such a “presidential” President.

The “interdiction” ordered against Osama bin Laden, aided by the best fighting force in the world, is sure to make Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize a footnote for some of his biographers. And depending on whom you listen to, the President has either eradicated Muslim extremism or set a course for democracy in the Middle East.

No doubt Hollywood producers are hoping Wesley Snipes will be released from jail so he can play the role of the commander in chief. Expect the screenplay to deviate from the truth. In the film version the President will probably overcome an army of Muslim bodyguards armed with AK-47s before kicking down a steel door and dealing with bin Laden mano a mano.

The true story is not nearly as engrossing. It is about a president desperate for reelection and seeking the spotlight for an American electorate who only glance at headlines.

But the question remains: Why did it take our government nearly a decade to kill the worst mass murderer of the 21st century? And why was our closest ally in the Middle East protecting him? In the final analysis, both Pakistan and the White House may have to answer for the medieval meltdown that is the Muslim world.

We are left watching The Barack Obama Tour, with visits by the President to Ground Zero, an hour-long interview on 60 Minutes and a jingoistic speech in front of America’s real patriots, the men who carried out the mission: the Navy SEAL assault force the President spoke to at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

If you think I am wrong about Obama being an opportunist, consider what Gary D. Barnett wrote for The Daily Reckoning:

“There has never been such an opportunity for the U.S. government to stage a false flag event in order to start yet another war as there is today. The setup is obvious to Libertarians and some sane others, but it eludes most (sic) all Americans who are busy dancing in the street after the so-called killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Consider the timing of this attack by U.S. Navy SEALs, and then consider recent events. First, the economy is in shambles, unemployment is sky high, price inflation is excessive, and the U.S. military has been bombing civilians in an attempt to assassinate (Moammar) Gadhafi, including murdering innocent little children. Our money is being destroyed before our eyes. The wars are not going well for the ruling elite, and Obama’s ratings are horribly low at the beginning of his presidential crusade.

“What better reason then for an event to solidify the masses… ”

It is the dangerous masses, a growing Muslim mob that is becoming more belligerent to America each passing year. Arab governments collect billions of dollars from us while secretly supporting jihad when our backs are turned. What makes it all the more maddening is that a tidal wave of Arab hate created bin Laden and not the other way around.

More lives than a cat

According to the CBC TV program The Fifth Estate, there were nine previous attempts by the U.S. to kill or capture bin Laden before his death. They commenced with the Administration of former President Bill Clinton and finally succeeded this month. But should it take more than a decade and three Presidents to kill one man living next door to Pakistan’s version of West Point?

On more than one occasion, Pakistan’s government or security apparatus, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), tipped off bin Laden. That is a bad deal to U.S. taxpayers who have provided Pakistan with more than $10 billion since 9/11. Then again, bin Laden was a cash cow for the Pakistani government, which only feigned being his bounty hunter.

But that gravy train might soon be over, as announced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Democrat from California said that if it turns out the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding, Congress may cut $1.5 billion dollars in annual aid to Pakistan. That should have happened years ago, and the Obama Administration knows it.

The problem with PakiSatan, a Muslim power with more than 100 nuclear warheads, is its intelligence service and the government itself are corrupt — begging for money from the United States in a pretense to arrest extremism while at the same time providing aid and support to Islamic extremists. The evidence comes from the Pakistani government which first insisted it knew nothing of the planned assault, then claimed to have provided crucial intelligence for the raid on the compound.

Pakistan can’t have it both ways, or can it? The government of Pakistan even wants an apology from Washington for conducting a military operation on its soil to get bin Laden. So strained have relations between the two countries become that, on occasion, U.S. troops have had to engage Pakistani soldiers in firefights, and the Navy SEAL team was prepared to shoot its way out of Pakistan should it have to engage the enemy… I mean ally.

It is hard to know who America’s real friends are in the Muslim world, as many Islamists are outraged over the killing of bin Laden. They don’t understand our outrage, and I partially blame Obama for that. Obama was sympathetic to the mosque being built next to Ground Zero and shared his outrage over Pastor Terry Jones’ burning the Quran.

American troops are still falling in Afghanistan as the Obama Administration props up corrupt and unpopular Muslim leaders. These diplomatic failures will in the end far outweigh the killing of one aging terrorist.

While it is wonderful to have bin Laden dead, others are carrying the torch of hate. In the end, one dead Saudi isn’t going to pave a road to peace.

Yours in good times and bad,

John Myers
Myers’ Energy & Gold Report

Lindbergh Flies Solo Across Atlantic

All pilots know this is an incredibly important week in aviation history. Leading the list was Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic. It was a rainy morning on May 20, 1927, when Lindbergh took off from Long Island’s Roosevelt Field. He landed 33.5 hours later at Le Bourget field in Paris, France.

Lindbergh’s plane The Spirit of St. Louis carried so much fuel that it barely cleared the trees at the end of the runway when he took off for Paris at 7:52 a.m. But clear the trees he did and he remained airborne for 3,610 miles, averaging a mere 108 miles per hour. The flight made Lindberg an international hero.

Here’s an interesting footnote to that historic flight: My mother was a teenager working in New York City when she helped throw confetti from her office window several days later, as “Lucky Lindy” starred in a tickertape parade down Broadway. Fewer than 40 years later, Mom watched on live TV as an American astronaut walked on the moon. Imagine the progress those two events represent. What technological miracles we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes!

A mere 12 years after Lindbergh’s miraculous flight, Pan American Airlines began transatlantic passenger and airmail service on May 20, 1939, flying from New York City to Marseilles, France. The cabin actually had bunk beds built in, much like sleeper cars on trains today, so passengers could sleep part of the way across the ocean.

– Chip Wood

 

 

 

Some OB-GYNs Refusing To Treat Overweight Patients

According to the American Medical Association, “Obesity kills more Americans every year than AIDS, all cancers and all accidents combined.” So why are some doctors refusing to accept otherwise healthy new patients solely because they are overweight?

The Sun Sentinel conducted a poll in South Florida and found 15 obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 “said they have set weight cutoffs for new patients starting at 200 pounds or based on measures of obesity — and turn down women who are heavier.”

“People don’t realize the risk we’re taking by taking care of these patients,” Dr. Albert Triana told the paper. Triana’s two-physician practice in South Miami declines patients classified as obese. “There’s more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in (pregnancies).”

But other doctors disagree. Dr. Bruce Zafran told the Sun Sentinel, “No doctor should be unable to treat patients just because they are heavy.”

“This completely goes against the principles of being a doctor,” James Zervios, a spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition, told the paper. “Healthcare professionals are there to help individuals improve their quality of health, not stigmatize them according to their weight.”

Representative Ron Paul Introduces Bill To Allow Sale Of Raw Milk Across State Lines

Representative Ron Paul asks, “How much freedom do we have if we can’t even drink unpasteurized milk?” in a statement on his website announcing his introduction of HR 1830 into the House. 

The bill would allow the shipment and distribution of unpasteurized milk and milk products for human consumption across state lines, a practice currently forbidden by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The FDA claims its regulatory powers over food safety give it the authority to ban the interstate sales of raw milk, but this is an unconstitutional misapplication of the commerce clause for legislative ends,” Paul said.

“Mr. Speaker, many Americans who the government wishes to deny the ability to purchase unpasteurized milk have done their own research and come to the conclusion that unpasteurized milk is healthier than pasteurized milk.” Paul said in his statement introducing HR 1830.

“These Americans have the right to consume these products without having the Federal government second-guess their judgment about what products best promote health. If there are legitimate concerns about the safety of unpasteurized milk, those concerns should be addressed at the state and local level.”

Obama’s Quiet Crackdown On Leaks

The Administration of President Barack Obama has used the Espionage Act to bring criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks. That is more than all previous Administrations combined.

In an article on NewYorker.com, reporter Jane Meyer discusses the case of Thomas Drake, a former senior executive for the National Security Agency. Drake is being charged under the Espionage Act for talking to a reporter at The Baltimore Sun about “fraud, waste and abuse and the fact that there were legal alternatives to the (George W.) Bush Administration’s ‘dark side.’”

“When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as ‘often the best source of information about waste, fraud and abuse in government,’” the article read. “Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute… says, ‘Ironically, Obama has presided over the most Draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.’”

In the article, Drake said he had hoped Obama would be different, “But power is incredibly destructive. It’s a weird, pathological thing. I also think the intelligence community co-opted Obama, because he’s rather naive about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy. We’re in a scary space in this country.”

Nearly 20 Percent Of New Obamacare Waivers Go To Pelosi’s District

President Barack Obama has been signing one-year Obamacare waivers, temporarily exempting businesses that cannot afford the law’s first-year requirements. Apparently, the gourmet restaurants, trendy nightclubs and expensive hotels that populate former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district are among those American businesses that cannot afford Obamacare.

According to an article on DailyCaller.com, “Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers.”

Thirty-eight of the 204 waivers Obama approved in April are for such “struggling” businesses as “Café des Amis, which describes its eating experience as ‘a timeless Parisian style brasserie’ which is ‘located on one of San Francisco’s premier shopping and strolling boulevards, Union Street,’ according to the restaurant’s Web site,” the article said.

“The reason the Obama Administration says it has given out waivers is to exempt certain companies or policyholders from ‘annual limit requirements.’ The applications for the waivers are ‘reviewed on a case-by-case basis by department officials who look at a series of factors, including whether or not a premium increase is large or if a significant number of enrollees would lose access to their current plan because the coverage would not be offered in the absence of a waiver,’” the article read.

“The waivers don’t allow a company to permanently refrain from implementing Obamacare’s stipulations, but companies can reapply for waivers annually through 2014.”