Cultural Exchange To Take Place Between U.S. And Communist Cuba

America will take part in a cultural exchange with communist Cuba.The United States placed a near total embargo on Cuba in 1962 and it has stood ever since, barring most commerce with the island nation. However, the Barack Obama Administration has decided to ease relations with the communist country.

One sign of this increased acceptance of communism is the recently agreed-to cultural exchange between the U.S. and Cuba that will involve the Florida Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba. According to the St. Petersburg Times, this will be the first time that such an exchange has taken place since 1999, when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House.

However, such an exchange lends credibility to Cuba and its communist leaders, according to many lawmakers.

These types of exchanges “only serve as a propaganda tool for the octogenarian clique that oppresses Cuba. It is very unfortunate that some would advocate for exchanges that have little impact on bringing freedom and democracy to Cuba,” U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who heads the Committee on Foreign Affairs, told the news source.

The first trip by orchestra members will take place this coming September, reports the news provider.

Could Broccoli Compounds Be Used As Alternative Medicine For Cancer?

Could broccoli compounds be used as alternative medicine for cancer?Past research and conventional wisdom dictate that cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are part of a nutritious diet because they contain an abundance of healthful properties — from antioxidants to fiber.

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University are now reporting that a compound called sulforaphane found in broccoli and its brethren may also be effective at killing cancer cells.

“It is well-documented that sulforaphane can target cancer cells through multiple chemopreventive mechanisms,” said study authors. “Here, we show for the first time that sulforaphane selectively targets benign hyperplasia cells and cancerous prostate cells while leaving the normal prostate cells unaffected.”

Sulforaphane works by inhibiting the histone deacetylase enzymes, an approach that has been gaining popularity in cancer treatment, both from a pharmaceutical and dietary standpoint.

However, authors noted that just because a compound is found in food does not automatically make it safe to use as a treatment. As a result, further research is needed to test the safety of sulforaphane therapy.

Results of this study were published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

China Credit Rating Agency Says U.S. Is Defaulting

A Chinese credit rating agency says that America is defaulting on its obligations.While the Barack Obama Administration has attempted to paint a rosy picture of the economy, one of America’s largest creditors is not so sure that the United States will be able to pay its debts.

At least one credit rating agency in China, which holds $1.1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, says that America is defaulting on its loans.

“In our opinion, the United States has already been defaulting,” Guan Jianzhong, the president of Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. Ltd., said, reports AFP.

Guan’s company is the only credit agency in China that gives sovereign ratings. The official also said that the U.S. was defaulting because it allowed its currency to slip compared to others.

Fox News reports that the top three credit agencies are warning that America’s credit rating might slip. According to the news source, Fitch has warned that America could lose its sterling rating if it fails to deal with its long-term deficits.

America’s credit rating will also likely be impacted by whether Congress raises the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, which is the date lawmakers have been given by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Geithner said that if no action is taken by that time, the U.S. would likely have to default on some of its obligations, according to Fox.

Gates Criticizes European NATO Members For Making U.S. Carry Their Weight

Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the European members of NATO.The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been central to American foreign policy for decades, but according to retiring United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the European partners in the group need to pull their own fair share of the weight.

Gates said that America is unfairly burdened with providing funding for and the muscle behind NATO, which was formed as a defense against increasing Soviet power in the late 1940s.

The Defense Secretary said that NATO faces a “dim, if not dismal” future if the European countries don’t step up to the plate.

“The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense,” he said.

Gates said that Afghanistan has highlighted the unwillingness of the European countries to match the commitment of the U.S.

“Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform, not counting the U.S. military, NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more,” he said.

Judgment Day For Obama?

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 48 percent of Americans believe the U.S. economy is headed for another depression within a year. This is great news, because it means nearly half of all Americans are starting to awaken from their slumber and realize President Barack Obama and his media allies have been lying about the existence of a nonexistent recovery.

I say “starting,” because I have no way of knowing how many of these people truly understand the underlying causes of the depression they believe is on the way. (I hasten to add that, in truth, we have long been in an invisible depression — a depression shielded from the public by easy credit and excessive money creation. But that’s a story for another day.)

There’s another piece of good news to go with CNN’s 48 percent figure. In a recent Allstate/National Journal poll, 47 percent of Americans said they “would definitely or probably” not vote for Obama. The 48 and 47 percent figures sound like a winning combination — or, put another way, a losing combination for Obama.

The bad news is Mitt Romney is the early front-runner for the Republican nomination, with the Tea Party candidates stuck at the back of the pack. Nevertheless, if Romney does end up winning the nomination, I believe he will make Obama look and sound like a fumbling, stumbling high school kid in head-to-head debates.

So what’s the problem? If Romney becomes President, probably the best we can hope for is that he will be another George W. Bush. Yes, I’m talking about the same George W. Bush who, just as Herbert Hoover did for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, gave Obama the Presidency with his big-spending policies. And the worst that might happen to the United States, courtesy of the guy who created the model for Obamacare, is too bad to even contemplate.

Another piece of bad news offsets the 48 and 47 percent anti-Obama figures. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll also shows 75 percent of Americans approve of Obama “personally.” Huh? What planet do these folks live on? They obviously know little or nothing about Obama’s upbringing, his past and current associations, his debt and spending policies, and his endless, ongoing lies that everyone can easily witness on television and the Internet on a daily basis.

Obama will obfuscate, lie and spin the truth thousands of times over the next 17 months. He will unmercifully smear whoever his opponent may be. That’s the problem. It isn’t hard to imagine Obama swinging enough voters over to his side to dramatically reduce the 47 percent figure (people who say they won’t vote for him) and, in the process, win re-election.

Once he is out of campaign mode, you can be sure Obama will go right back to putting the redistribution-of-wealth throttle on full thrust in an attempt to finish the job he was taught to do by his radical mother, his proud-to-be-a-communist father (his mother’s words), his ideological mentor Frank Marshall Davis, his spiritual mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright, community-organizing guru Saul Alinsky, American-hating terrorist Bill Ayers, Frances Fox Piven (of “overwhelming the system” fame), etc. The list is endless, ugly, Marxist and lethal.

Clearly, the Republicans need a Presidential nominee who is willing to be bold and aggressive in exposing the truth about Obama, his background, his allies, his ideology, his policies and his vision of America as a model collectivist state. What will not work is the make-nice stuff like Jon Huntsman’s self-righteous statement, “I believe we ought to have a civil discourse in this country.” The Republican Party needs to nominate a Tea Party type.

Unfortunately, another poll — this one by Rasmussen Reports — makes it clear the Tea Party folks are going to have a huge hill to climb to get one of their own nominated. The poll found only “16 percent of all voters now consider themselves members of the Tea Party movement, down from 21 percent at the end of last year.” That is not good news.

So the big problem Republicans now face is how to find and nominate a candidate who believes, deep down in his or her heart, in Ayn Rand’s tenet: “Judge and prepare to be judged.”

The Master of Misdirection has had nearly 2½ years to show us what he meant by “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Now it’s time for him to be judged — candidly and harshly — for bringing America to its moral and financial knees. It’s time for his free pass to come to an end.

But if Romney is the guy who ends it, don’t get your hopes up that we will see smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom. I could be wrong, but … in any event, stay tuned. Things are likely to change every week. Let’s just hope the changes are for the better. We have already found out the hard way that change can also result in our worst nightmare.

(On that note, please keep in mind that this article was submitted Monday morning, prior to the CNN Republican Presidential debate Monday evening.)

–Robert Ringer

New FBI Surveillance Rules Allow Agents More Freedom

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plans to release new surveillance rules, which would give agents more freedom in their investigations of both suspects and informants. The new rules would make it easier for agents to administer lie-detector tests and dig through trash, among other things.

“I would call these minor tweaks based on feedback from agents in the field who began operating under the original (rules)… Not sweeping new powers,” the FBI said in a statement quoted by a FoxNews.com article.

However, the article said the new rules would allow agents to investigate informants with many of the same methods previously used to investigate only suspects.

“One of the changes would allow agents to look up people on various databases without opening up a low-level inquiry known as an ‘assessment.’ Currently, agents have to take that formal step before looking into someone’s background,” the article read.

“In addition, the new rules reportedly would allow agents to use surveillance squads multiple times during the ‘assessment’ phase. Currently, those teams can only be used once during that phase.”

Federal Welfare Programs Can Negatively Affect Kids

A researcher at the University of Missouri (MU) found that the stress of complying with Federal welfare program requirements can put a strain on families, inadvertently having a negative effect on the families’ children.

Associate Professor Colleen Heflin at MU’s Truman School of Public Affairs studied the cognitive scores of children whose families receive assistance from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). She found that 3-year-old children whose families were on TANF had much lower cognitive scores than children not on the program.

“Our findings suggest that the way these assistance programs are structured could have negative effects on child outcomes,” Heflin said in a press release on the MU website. “While TANF traditionally has been the main social program to offer financial support to low-income households with children, current program requirements may create pressures that conflict with the objective of improving child outcomes.”

Heflin said programs like TANF often have requirements that force parents to interact less with their children in order to comply, ranging from random drug testing to attending job-development classes to accepting minimum-wage jobs that require single mothers to be away from their families during evenings and weekends.

“We don’t create policies to hurt young children, we try to help them,” Heflin said. “TANF has created enough pressure on families trying to comply with its regulations that it has actually begun to exert a negative force on these families at the margins.”

Palin Emails: Less Scandal, More Unwarranted Media Scrutiny

The mainstream media’s love-to-hate relationship with Sarah Palin rages on, as they dissect the recently released emails from her time as Alaska’s Governor. The sheer number of emails, more than 24,000, was supposed to offer an unheard-of glimpse into the intricacies of her time as Governor.

That glimpse reveals that during her time in office, Palin was juggling her responsibilities as Governor, Mom and eventually, Vice-Presidential candidate.

“The trove of… emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics,” Toby Harnden, the U.S. editor for the U.K. newspaper the Daily Telegraph, wrote in a blog.

“If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced.”

The emails (the full text of which has been published online by several left-leaning publications) contain both the minutiae of governing a State and the personal concerns of a mother whose family was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight.

“I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but can’t figure out how to do that,” Palin wrote shortly after her daughter’s pregnancy was revealed.

“Whether or not she runs for the White House — and the solid consensus among Republican leaders is that she won’t — the scramble over the Palin emails confirms her status as a pivotal figure in the race to challenge President Barack Obama next year,” Harnden wrote.

 

Obama Courting The Wall Street ‘Fat Cats’ He Decried

A year and a half ago, President Barack Obama had no kind words for Wall Street. However, as he enters his re-election campaign, the President begins by courting the very people he called “fat cats.”

“A few weeks before announcing his re-election campaign, President Obama convened two dozen Wall Street executives, many of them longtime donors, in the White House’s Blue Room,” The New York Times reported. “Mr. Obama, who enraged many financial industry executives a year and a half ago by labeling them ‘fat cats’ and criticizing their bonuses, followed up the meeting with phone calls to those who could not attend.”

While Republicans hoping to capture the GOP nomination are busy traveling to various battleground States to court voters, members of Obama’s team traveled to New York to court Wall Street.

“Mr. Obama will return to New York this month to dine with bankers, hedge fund executives and private equity investors at the Upper East Side restaurant Daniel,” the article read.

“The first goal was to get recognition that the administration has led the economy from an unimaginably difficult place to where we are today,” Blair W. Effron, an investment banker closely involved in Obama’s fund-raising efforts, told the paper. “Now the second goal is to turn that into support.”

An unnamed Democratic financier told the paper “it was ironic that the same president who once criticized bankers as ‘fat cats’ would now invite them to dine at Daniel, where the six-course tasting menu runs to $195 a person.”

Palin Emails Show Governor Who Was Focused On Her Constituents

The Palin emails showed a committed Governor.Many in the mainstream media were eagerly anticipating the release of Sarah Palin’s emails, hoping to find some scrap of embarrassing information on the former Governor of Alaska. However, the more than 24,000 emails largely showed Palin as a pragmatic leader focused on her State.

The emails had been released three years after reporters had asked for them in an open-records request, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the news source, one of the things that emerged from the emails was that, despite some media claims to the contrary, Palin was not much concerned with the 2008 Presidential campaign until she was tabbed to run with John McCain. Instead, Palin was focused on doing her job in Alaska.

“Our time and efforts will continue to be spent on serving Alaskans, not party politics,” read one email written before Palin was tabbed as a Vice-Presidential candidate and after she had agreed to speak at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The emails added “nuance and depth” to Palin, according to The New York Times.

Tim Crawford, the treasurer of Palin’s political action committee, said that the emails would “show a very engaged (Governor) Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state.”

Jobless Claims Up As Economy Continues To Flounder Under Obama

Jobless claims continue to rise.Claims for unemployment benefits in the United States continue to rise, perhaps indicating that the government has not done enough to lift the country out of the recession.

The Labor Department announced that there were 427,000 first-time unemployment benefit claims for the week ending June 4, which was an increase of about 1,000 over the previous week, reports CNN.

The news source reports that jobless claims have been higher than 400,000 for nine weeks in a row, something that some economists say is distressing.

“Jobless claims above 400,000 are consistent with a recession, and they are also consistent with an economy recovering from a severe recession,” Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo, told the news source. “And now that we’re stalling instead of recovering, that’s pretty disconcerting.”

This was only the latest blow for the American economy as statistics showed that a mere 54,000 jobs were gained in May. This figure is less than a quarter of the average gain of 220,000 jobs per month over the previous three months, reports Fox News.

America No Longer The Land Of The Free

The President and all 535 members of Congress take oaths to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. One has to wonder how many have ever read it. They certainly seem hell-bent on disregarding it.

Article 1, Section 1 says all legislative powers are vested in Congress, which consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. That’s apparently no longer the case, although I can’t find where that was legally changed through an Amendment.

The Environmental Protection Agency believes it holds legislative power. According to U.S. News & World Report: “Two new EPA pollution regulations will slam the coal industry so hard that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and electric rates will skyrocket 11 percent to over 23 percent, according to a new study based on government data.”

There is no Constitutional authority for an EPA, nor is there Constitutional authority for Congress to cede its lawmaking powers to the EPA. But apparently, Congress doesn’t care.

The EPA is just one of dozens of Federal agencies that have taken it upon themselves to regulate and control the lives of Americans while Congress sits idly by. Many of the bureaucrats who run these regulatory agencies are appointed by the President, so they do his bidding.

When Boeing decided to build 30 percent of its 737s in South Carolina, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint in an effort to force the company back into the unionized Washington plant. In effect, the President — through his politically appointed board — was telling a company where it could and could not conduct business. This is Third World thuggery.

The President, ordered by a court to resume granting drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico, directed his Secretary of Interior to disregard the court. No drilling permits are issued. The feckless court system does nothing. There is no rule of law left in America.

We currently have wars going on in five Middle Eastern countries — Afghanistan (which should be over, since we supposedly fulfilled the goal of killing Osama bin Laden), Iraq (which should be over, since we supposedly fulfilled our goal of toppling Saddam Hussein), Pakistan (undeclared and illegal), Libya (undeclared and illegal) and Yemen (undeclared and illegal) — with no end to them in sight.

Aside from a few lone voices — Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — Congress, which alone has the authority to declare war, says nothing. In fact, 265 members of the House — Democratic and Republican alike — voted against a resolution to end the unConstitutional war in Libya.

There are grave doubts that President Barack Obama is a natural born citizen and eligible to hold the office of President. He refuses to release any documents that would show who he is and where he comes from. He finally released a long-form birth certificate that he says proves he is natural born, but more and more document experts have come forth to show the document a forgery. It is apparently a compilation of birth certificates from others born in Hawaii at the time of Obama’s reported birth. There is increasing evidence Obama committed some kind of fraud to obtain his Social Security number, which came from Connecticut, a State in which Obama never lived or worked.

People who bring up these issues are automatically dismissed by the corporate media talking heads as quacks and labeled “Birthers” in an effort to marginalize them. Congress, with the duty to investigate and remove the President if he is found to be ineligible for the office, runs from the issue. Again, the members of Congress refuse to uphold their oaths to the Constitution.

The Department of Homeland Security and local police forces have vans and trucks patrolling our streets with the capability of looking inside passing cars and into homes. The Transportation Security Administration forces airline passengers into choosing between harmful naked-body scanners or full-body groping sessions for the “crime” of buying an airline ticket. The grope-and-peek procedures are being expanded to include rail travel and attendance at sporting events and concerts, and technology is being developed to allow agents to funnel large crowds of people through mobile command centers so they can be questioned while computers monitor their physiology as they respond.

Law enforcement uses parabolic antennas to listen in on far-away conversations, video cameras to follow people’s every move and face recognition software to identify them — even if they have not been charged or convicted of a crime.

These actions are blatant violations of the 4th Amendment. Congress does nothing… and says little.

When States do try to take a stand — as Texas did recently in considering legislation to ban the TSA from performing its gropefest/pornshow activities there — the thugocracy in Washington that is the Obama Justice Department threatened to impose a no-fly zone. This is a direct assault on Article IV Section 2 of the Constitution, which states: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

Any time a State attempts to nullify a law or regulation that it deems unConstitutional, it is threatened by the Justice Department, sued or refused funds. Those funds, by the way, go to the Federal government after they are taken from workers who have no choice but to comply with the onerous tax code or go to prison.

The 4th Amendment, the one that guarantees Americans the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, was eviscerated by a recent Supreme Court ruling that gave police license to enter a home without first obtaining a warrant if they hear what they deem suspicious sounds inside.

The USA Patriot Act, passed while the rubble of the World Trade Center still smoldered following the false flag terrorist attack of 9/11, gave the Federal government license to create all sorts of reasons and excuses to surreptitiously listen in on electronic conversations, rifle through bank records and imprison people without trial.

Local police departments are becoming increasingly militarized. In Chicago, an armed SWAT team forced its way into a home and stole the daughter of a woman who chose an alternative treatment option for her child’s behavioral problems — a treatment she originally sought voluntarily. In Pima County, Ariz., police fired 71 shots in seven seconds at a former Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq. Saying they were there to serve a narcotics search warrant, officers first claimed Jose Guerena shot first. That lie fell apart because the safety of his weapon was still on.

According to a report by the Cato Institute, this sort of thing is becoming increasingly common: “Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

“These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.”

The streets are no longer safe from police harassment and overreaction as, more and more, it seems police believe they are above the law. All across the country, thanks to the growing proliferation of cell-phone and video cameras, law enforcement is shown to be abusing citizens for simply doing what people do: taking photographs, talking to one another and observing police actions. It is not uncommon for people to be detained and have their cameras and cell phones taken away or destroyed if police officers believe they will be cast in a bad light.

We now have a quasi-military roaming the streets terrorizing citizens, a Congress neglecting its authority, a Supreme Court disregarding the Bill of Rights and a President — who may not even be eligible for the office — taking on the powers of a dictator through his regulatory agencies and so-called Justice Department.

America, land of the free? Not anymore.

Learn A Thing Or Two From Survival Shows

This week, we’re going to take a break and have some fun. Specifically, we’re going to talk about TV shows that actually might have survival lessons included. In recent years, there have been several survival shows that have come onto the market, and it looks like several of them are going to be regular features.

Now, don’t think that watching a survival TV show for 42 minutes a week is going to make you a survivalist. That’s about as ridiculous as thinking that watching UFC fights is going to make you a fighter. They are both entertaining, and you will probably learn some new skills and tactics, but you really need to practice the skills to become proficient.

So, let me go over some of the survivor shows that are on TV. I’ll tell you what they cover and whether my wife and I consider them being worth the time to watch to help you get more prepared for surviving disasters.

I’ll start with the better-known ones, but the better shows are actually at the end of the list.

Survivor on CBS: This series is one of the grandfathers of reality survival TV, and I’m thankful for it because of that. But there are few, if any, survival lessons to be learned from it. There have been some interesting political and human-interaction lessons from it; but for the most part, it’s become a glorified soap opera. Even though the series has a great name, we don’t watch it.

Survivorman on Discovery Channel: This series ran in 2004, 2007 and 2008 and featured Les Stroud in the wilderness facing various survival situations without support. In fact, he carried all of his own camera equipment. The shows emphasized focus on the basics and how little time there is to focus on anything other than the basics in a survival situation. I don’t know Stroud, but we have a common acquaintance. He’s the real deal. He’s not superman, but he is willing to stake his survival on how well he performs in survival situations. I’m not a fan of his new series, but I do still watch Survivorman repeats occasionally.

Man vs. Wild on Discovery Channel: This is a very entertaining survival show and there are usually one or two good tips or tactics in each episode. Bear Grylls knows his stuff, but he is supported by a crew. And in order to make things more interesting, he takes a lot of risks that are unnecessary in a true solo survival situation. It does make good TV, but you really need to keep in mind the fact that a lot of Grylls’ stunts would be foolish to do without a support crew standing by to pick up the pieces.

Worst-Case Scenario on Discovery Channel: These are also very entertaining and well-filmed survival shows. Bear Grylls is the main expert in this one as well. The episodes I watched were primarily entertainment, but there were some good points. Grylls was one of the first survival experts to do shows on survival strategies in urban environments, and most of this series is set in urban areas. I disagree with his willingness to take unnecessary risks and his approach on self-defense — especially his emphasis on techniques that take a lot of skill and practice to use successfully. But, like in Man vs. Wild, it does make good TV.

Out Of the Wild on Discovery Channel: The first season ran in 2009 and followed several small groups of people surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. This series emphasized just how much effort it can take to simply cover your most basic needs in a survival situation. It clearly showed how important attitude, fire, shelter, water, food and sleep are. I don’t think you can appreciate how hungry, thirsty and tired you can get until you’ve gone a day or two in a survival situation without a good meal or clean water, but this series showed how various people break down in survival situations. I really enjoyed this series. There aren’t very many hard skills taught, but the human interaction and psychological lessons make it worth watching.

The second season, which was filmed in Venezuela, was a great look into how starvation, dehydration and exhaustion can wipe out people, place group dynamics under stress and dramatically change a person’s psychology in a matter of days. I really liked this series and strongly recommend catching a rerun or buying the DVD.

Dual Survival on Discovery Channel: This series is currently running again on Discovery. I originally recorded it because of my appreciation of Cody Lundin. I kept watching because of the vastly different approaches Lundin and Dave Canterbury take to wilderness-survival situations. Every episode follows the same script, much like real wilderness survival: Figure out shelter, fire, water, food and navigation, and get out. The neat part about this is that Lundin is a self-reliant, shoeless hippie and Canterbury is a former U.S. Army sniper/scout. In every challenge they face, I find myself relating to one or the other of their approaches.

Man, Woman, Wild on Discovery Channel: This is one of our favorite survival shows simply because there is a woman on the show whom my wife can relate to. In the show, Special Forces survival expert Mykel Hawke and his wife Ruth England take on various wilderness-survival scenarios starting with only knives and clothes. There are some how-to components to the show, but it mostly highlights the dynamics of two people being in a survival situation with only one of the two being a survival expert. And I can’t emphasize this enough: My wife likes this show way more than the all-man survival shows.

The Colony on Discovery Channel: This is urban-survival reality TV. The premise for season one was that a pandemic killed off the majority of the population and a mismatched group of people found each other and decided to work together. There were some bad pieces of advice — for example, using a bank of car batteries to power appliances — but it was a great series with at least a half-dozen solid urban survival lessons in each episode. Season two was a combination of a few good lessons and a lot of hair-pulling. That being said, it is a great tool to use to come up with scenarios to contemplate — especially figuring out how you would deal with being forced to survive with people who have very different skill and motivation levels.

MidwayUSA’s The Best Defense: Survival! on Outdoor Channel: This top-notch series was developed by three friends of mine: Michael Bane, Mike Janich and Rob Pincus. We have been trying to figure out how to best tie in my SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course with this series. Hopefully, we will get it figured out in time for the season three launch in early 2012. This series is all meat and how-to. The Outdoor Channel let Bane, Janich and Pincus take off the gloves for season two, and they knocked it out of the park. They covered survival rooms, food, water, medical, bugging out, surviving in place and more.

The important thing about all of these shows is that the skills they teach are next to useless until you take ownership of them, practice them and make them your own. There are occasional stories about how people survive disasters by doing something that they saw on TV, but the reason those stories make the news is because they are so rare. Someone who learns skills, practices them and successfully applies them under stress is normal and not newsworthy.

Do you have any favorite survival or preparedness TV shows or movies you like? Do you have any thoughts on the series I mentioned? When you watch a show that demonstrates survival skills, do you go out and practice it afterword? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Proposed UN Treaty Would Restrict Gun Rights In America

A proposed UN treaty could affect gun rights in the U.S.In a recent column on the Forbes website, contributor Larry Bell wrote about the danger posed to the 2nd Amendment by a treaty proposed by the United Nations.

According to the University of Houston professor, if the Small Arms Treaty is passed by the international body and ratified by the United States Senate, the rights of gun owners would be harmed in a number of ways.

If the treaty were adopted in the U.S., it would become tougher for American citizens to obtain gun licenses, giving law-abiding people even more hoops to jump through to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms. In addition, the treaty would seek to ban the sale and ownership of all semi-automatic weapons that have magazines, according to Bell.

The U.N. says that the treaty is designed to combat terrorism, but a number of prominent figures are cautioning that the rights of Americans could be severely restricted by the agreement.

The U.N. “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control,” said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she would support the Small Arms Treaty.

Human Breast Milk… From A Cow?!

Research shows that human breast milk has many health benefits, including immune-boosting and antibacterial qualities. In theory, mass-producing human breast milk sounds like a good thing.

A group of Chinese scientists wants to test that theory. They genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk.

“The transgenic herd of 300 was bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows,” read an article on MyFoxNY.com. “The milk produced by the transgenic cows is identical to the human variety… scientists at China’s Agricultural University in Beijing said.”

The milk is not yet for sale, as it is still undergoing government health tests. However, the scientists are confident that it will be available for purchase in supermarkets in as little as three years.

“There are 1.5 billion people in the world who don’t get enough to eat,” said Professor Li Ning, the director of the research project. “It’s our duty to develop science and technology, not to hold it back. We need to feed people first, before we consider ideals and convictions.”

Swiss Annuities Still Recommended

Dear Bob,

Do you still recommend Swiss annuities? Do we have to report them to the Internal Revenue Service beginning June 30, 2012? An IRS tax consultant I talked to said I do. The IRS tax consultant also said I owe an excise tax on the Swiss annuity. If this is correct, do you have any information on how to figure that or know someone who does?

Thanks,

John Hansen

Dear John Hansen,

Yes, I still recommend Swiss annuities. There is no excise tax required to be paid. Congress tried to have that inserted in the bill, but it was removed. The IRS requires the reporting, but the annuity company is not required to disclose it.

Best wishes,

Bob

Individual Mandate At Heart Of Court Debate Over Obamacare

Judges skeptical over Obama administration's healthcare arguments.The Barack Obama Administration’s Acting Solicitor General was recently in court to defend the healthcare overhaul law and was reportedly met with skepticism by the judges.

The three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals listened to arguments from Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who was appealing an earlier decision that ruled that the law was unConstitutional.

The main question at the heart of the debate was whether the mandate that everyone in the United States purchase health insurance is permissible by the Constitution.

“If we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on Congress’s power left?” Judge Joel Dubina said, reports Fox News.

The Los Angeles Times reports that many legal commentators had initially dismissed concerns regarding the individual mandate but that Federal courts have struggled to come to a consensus on the provision of the law.

“(The government has) a lot of authority to regulate health insurers and a lot of authority to regulate people who voluntarily purchase health insurance,” the plaintiffs’ representative Paul Clement said. “But I would submit they don’t have the authority to compel people to engage in the transaction.”

The lawsuit against the healthcare overhaul has been filed by 26 States.

The Benefits Of ‘Sucking Up’ To Your Boss

Sycophants unite — it turns out that sucking up to the boss can be healthy.

A study recently published in the Journal of Management Studies is likely to be re-tweeted by bosses everywhere, as researchers found that ingratiating yourself to your employers (also known as “sucking up”) can have benefits for both your career and your mental health.

The study reports that savvy professionals who use ingratiation as a career aid may avoid the psychological distress encountered by other, less cunning members of workplace culture. Employees who don’t use ingratiation can become ostracized, experiencing more job tension, emotional exhaustion and depressed moods at work.

Researchers examined the relationship between workplace ostracism and employee psychological distress, with a focus on moderating effects of ingratiation and political skill. The study surveyed 215 employees from two oil and gas companies in China.

“Our data confirmed that workplace ostracism was positively related to psychological distress,” explains Ho Kwong Kwan, one of the study’s authors. “We found that ingratiation neutralized the relationship between workplace ostracism and psychological distress when used by employees with a high level of political skill.

Outspoken DNC Chairwoman Makes Stream Of Gaffes, GOP Cheers

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the newly appointed chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, spent the first four weeks in office committing gaffe after political gaffe.

“In the four weeks since she succeeded Tim Kaine, Wasserman Schultz has been called out by four nonpartisan fact-checkers for mischaracterizing the GOP’s Medicare plan. She’s accused Republicans of wanting to reinstate segregation and of waging a ‘war on women,’” read a POLITICO article. “She has asserted, somewhat nonsensically, that the GOP wants to make illegal immigration — by definition against the law — ‘a crime.’ She’s also been mocked for driving a foreign car after pounding Republicans for not supporting the American auto industry.”

Thus far, Democrats are standing by her. The consensus seems to be that Wasserman Schultz has simply had a rocky start. Republicans are less forgiving, though, enjoying many a laugh at the chairwoman’s expense.

“It is reassuring to know that there’s someone standing by to step in, just in case Joe Biden needs time off,” wrote Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in an email newsletter, quoted by the article.

“Obama’s chair of the DNC’s got a case of foot-in-mouth disease, and we’re just begging: Don’t shut up, please!” proclaims a YouTube video produced by conservative group American Crossroads, according to the article.

Wasserman Schultz’s latest misstep came in comparing some States’ legislative efforts to require voters to show photo identification. Sunday, on the African-American network TV One’s “Washington Watch” program, the DNC chair said Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally — and very transparently — block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.”

“You know, personally, she has my sympathy,” Huckabee wrote. “In these days when there are far too many partisan attack dogs stirring up divisiveness and vitriol, it kind of speaks well for her that she’s that bad at it.”

 

Newt’s Top Advisers Take Ball, Go Home

Many have voiced their unhappiness with Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s decision to pursue the 2012 Republican nod for the Presidency. Unfortunately for Gingrich, some of his campaign’s top advisers apparently count themselves among the unbelievers.

A large number of Gingrich’s strategists, advisors and senior staff members recently left the campaign en masse, some to support other candidates.

“Among the senior staff members Gingrich is losing are spokesman Rick Tyler and campaign manager Rob Johnson, along with other strategists. Insiders say Gingrich and senior aides were unable to agree on the direction of the campaign,” FoxNews.com reported on Thursday.

“Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was a co-chairman of Gingrich’s campaign until Thursday, has now joined former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s team.”

The mass exodus puts Gingrich in a difficult position, but on Thursday Gingrich assured his Facebook fans he is still in the race. “I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” he wrote.

“The source said those resignations came following disagreements about how to use campaign resources including the candidate’s time,” the article read.