Crossing Guard Has 11 College Degrees

WAKEFIELD, England, (UPI) — A British man with 11 university degrees, including a doctorate in philosophy, said he took a job as a school crossing guard to give back to the community.

Bruce Berry, a member of the high-IQ organization Mensa, said he took a job as a crossing guard five days a week near the Crofton School in Wakefield, England, The Sun reported Monday.

“I love working for degrees but wanted to do something for the community. It’s nice to get kiddies to and from school safely,” said Berry, who speaks five languages fluently.

Berry, who makes $325 per month at the job, said his father was a teacher at Crofton.

“I feel part of the family there,” he said.

30,000 Bees Found In New Jersey Attic

CAPE MAY, N.J., (UPI) — A New Jersey couple who noticed an unusual number of honeybees in their garden said they found a honeycomb and 30,000 of the insects in their attic crawl space.

Victoria Clayton and Richard White, who live at a former bed and breakfast on Washington Street in Cape May, said they noticed many of the bees from their garden were entering their home through a third-floor laundry vent and they soon found there was a honeycomb in the attic crawl space with 30,000 honeybees tending to it, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

The couple enlisted the help of Gary Schempp, 57, founder of insect rescue group Busy Bees NJ, to relocate the insects.

Schempp said he and his assistant, John Reed, first poured some liquid smoke into the crawlspace, which caused the bees to believe the home was on fire and gorge themselves on honey until they were docile.

The men then pulled out about 25 pounds of honey and nectar, which they said was unsuitable for consumption due to being polluted with dust.

Schempp and Reed used a specially designed vacuum to gather up the bees and transport them back to Schempp’s farm.

Missouri City Tosses Chicken Legislation

BALLWIN, Mo., (UPI) — Residents of a Missouri city said they were disappointed when officials refused to further consider draft legislation to allow the keeping of backyard chickens.

Michael Coggin, who brought the Ballwin Board of Aldermen a petition from his neighbors in favor of legalizing the keeping of the birds in city backyards, said he was disappointed when only Alderman Mark Harder voted in favor of continuing the discussion at the April 23 board meeting, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday.

“I see the rise of gardening and being able to grow your own food in urban and suburban areas as not just a trend, but one of the results of rising food and fuel prices,” Coggin said. “Raising hens is a direct extension of some of the changes that have been taking place in people’s mind set towards growing their own food.”

Aldermen said the majority of residents they heard from on the issue were opposed to keeping chickens inside the city.

“There is zero interest in chickens in Ballwin, and I feel that’s the overwhelming sentiment of most in the city,” Alderman Frank Fleming said.

Waitress: Secret Service Partied In 2005

SALT LAKE CITY, (UPI) — A restaurant server in Salt Lake City said Secret Service agents partied in Utah’s capital several years ago, not just recently in out-of-country venues.

Emily Sloan-Pace, a waitress at a Hilton Garden Inn restaurant when former President George W. Bush went to Utah’s capital to give a speech in August 2005, said eight members of Bush’s protective detail ran up a $400 bar tab on beer and liquor, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The agents spent the evening “aggressively trying to get us [Sloan-Pace and another server] to go back to their rooms with them,” she said. “They were relentless. They kept asking and asking us to go to their rooms with them. They were drinking a lot.”

The waitresses didn’t go to any rooms, Sloan-Pace said. She said she and the other woman each were tipped $60.

Secret Service scandals recently and last year involved agents and prostitutes in Colombia and El Salvador. The agents under investigation were in the South American and Central American countries in advance of visits by President Barack Obama.

Rubio 2010 Senate Campaign Fined $8,000

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The 2010 Senate campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was fined $8,000 by the Federal Election Commission for unallowable contributions, an FEC report shows.

Rubio has been mentioned, among others, as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The FEC said in a report released Friday that Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign received “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions totaling $210,173.09,” The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

Several members of the Republican establishment have been vocal in their criticism of Rubio, backed by Tea Party activists and conservatives as a potential vice presidential candidate.

“He is not ready to be on a national ticket in 2012,” former Pensacola Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough said on his MSNBC show “Morning Joe” before the fine was revealed. “He’s not ready to be in the Oval Office. He’s not ready to be vice president of the United States.”

It wasn’t the Rubio’s first miscue, the Herald said.

In 2008, the Miami newspaper revealed that Rubio failed to properly disclose a home loan from a politically connected bank and appeared to have charged some personal expenses on a Republican Party of Florida credit card opened for political purposes.

The Herald and the Tampa Bay Times discovered Rubio double-billed taxpayers and the state GOP card $3,000 for flights, which he later reimbursed the state.

Late last year, a Rubio critic reported to the media the senator’s Web site incorrectly said his parents fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba when they actually fled when dictator Fulgencio Batista was in power.

Michigan Economy Shows Signs Of Rebound

DETROIT, (UPI) — Michigan’s economy, hard-hit by the nation’s recession, has started to show signs it is rebounding, observers say.

The Detroit Free Press reported home sales have risen and the number of first-time filings for unemployment benefits has dropped off considerably.

The newspaper said gains could be attributed largely to the rebound of Detroit automakers.

But even amid signs of recovery, 400,000 Michiganders are unemployed, office buildings remain empty, and many auto factories and dealerships are closed.

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan said calls for help with utilities, food and other basics rose 4 percent in the first quarter, and numerous businesses are struggling.

“The glass is getting fuller, but it’s still a lot emptier than we would like,” said Charles Ballard, an economist at Michigan State University.

On the upside, business investment projects have risen 70 percent from last year’s level.

Housing starts in southeast Michigan were up 47 percent, reaching the highest level in five years but still a fraction of pre-recession levels, Housing Consultants of Clarkston said.

Metro Detroit ranked first in CoreLogic’s ranking of most improved housing markets, measured by increases in sales and declines in delinquencies.

Unemployment in the state, which had hit a high of 14.2 percent in August 2009, has declined to 8.5 percent.

Police See Domestic Violence-Economy Link

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Police are responding to more reports of domestic violence that is related to the U.S. economic malaise, a survey of law enforcement agencies indicated.

Fifty-six percent of 700 responding agencies said the economy is a factor in an increase in domestic conflict, up from 40 percent of agencies in a similar survey in 2010, results of a review by the Police Executive Research Forum indicated.

In Camden, N.J., for example, police responded to 9,100 domestic incidents in 2011, up from 7,500 calls in 2010.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said it was “impossible” to disconnect the economy from the domestic violence reported in the city where unemployment is 19 percent, USA Today reported Monday.

“When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases,” Thomson said. “We see it on the street.”

In Eugene, Ore., Police Chief Pete Kerns told USA Today increases in assaults coincided with the timing of the financial crisis and the slow recovery. In 2011, aggravated assaults rose to 234 from 188 in 2010 and there were 1,552 simple assaults, up from1,440 in 2010.

Chuck Wexler, executive director for the Washington-based law enforcement think tank, said police have expressed concern about the increased domestic violence-related calls for at least two years.

“You are dealing with households in which people have lost jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs,” Wexler said. “That is an added stress that can push people to the breaking point.”

Statistical information about the survey was unavailable.

Spending In March Up Modestly

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in March, down from February’s 0.8 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday.

Spending was up by $29.6 billion in March.

Personal incomes rose by $50.3 billion or 0.4 percent. Disposable incomes rose by 0.4 percent, $42.5 billion, the agency said.

Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income rose from 3.7 percent in February to 3.8 percent in March. Both are sharply lower than the 4.3 percent savings rate in January.

Core prices, which exclude food and energy items, rose 0.2 percent after increasing 0.1 percent in February.

 

 

Bribery Scandal Turns Up Anti-Walmart Heat

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (UPI) — U.S. retail giant Walmart said the firm would stick with expansion plans despite recent allegations of bribes in Mexico meant to speed up expansion there.

Despite investigations into the company’s behavior in Mexico, “We remain committed to opening stores all across the United States, including large cities,” said Steven Restivo, a Walmart spokesman.

But the anti-Walmart heat is being turned higher due to the the allegations, The New York Times reported Monday.

Politicians, community activists and union leaders have seized on articles, published in the Times this month, as ammunition to shore up anti-Walmart campaigns.

Much of Walmart’s recent push to expand in the United States has centered on cities that have been able to thwart Walmart’s efforts to open stores in the past.

In Mexico, Walmart opened 431 stores in 2011 alone. The Times article contends that Walmart paved the way with bribery. Then, after top executives heard of the potential problem, they launched an in-house investigation, the results of which they summarily ignored, the newspaper alleged.

Walmart then promoted the head of its Mexican subsidiary, the Times said.

“The corruption scandal and reported coverup exposed an unacceptable failure of leadership within Walmart,” said Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

Now groups contesting a Walmart proposal to open a store in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles have added the bribery allegations to their appeal to have a building permit revoked.

In Boston, community activists are calling for a full disclosure of Walmart’s campaign contributions.

“There definitely is a pattern of giving campaign contributions to politicians who support what they want,” said Dorian Warren, a political science professor at Columbia University who is writing a book about Walmart’s efforts to open outlets in Chicago and Los Angeles.

“When you take that to the context of New York or Los Angeles, it’s going to make it harder for politicians to accept campaign contributions from Walmart,” he said.

Scandals Impacting News Corp. Expansion

NEW YORK (UPI) — Scandals at News Corp. have likely derailed the firm’s efforts to expand in Britain and Turkey, The New York Times reported Monday.

News Corp.’s attempt to buy the remaining 60 percent of British Sky Broadcasting that it doesn’t own has been at least disrupted by an e-mail that shows the possibility a company lobbyist and Britain’s cultural minister conspired to get the $12 billion deal done, the Times said.

The deal would be a strong asset for News Corp., given it made $1.7 billion in profits in 2011.

Similarly, a deal to buy Sabah-ATV — a media firm valued at up to $1 billion — would have added to News Corp.’s stable of pay TV stations.

However, given the scandal of reporters hacking phones and computers for stories in Britain, the company is “persona non grata right now as a bidder on assets,” a source told the Times.

In addition, an accusation of bribes in Russia could result in billions of dollars in fines, the Times reported.

The case involves News Outdoor Russia, a billboard company formerly owned by News Corp., that is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possibly bribing officials to further its agenda in Russia.

Those allegations would fall under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which regulatory attorney Behnam Dayanim said “may be the single most feared corporate criminal statute out there today.”

 

Chronic Pain Common In American Adults

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Nearly half of all adult Americans lived with chronic pain of one type or another last year, a survey found.

One-third of U.S. adults in their mid-50s and older have chronic neck or back pain, while a similar percentage have chronic knee or leg pain, the Gallup-Healthways survey results indicate.

The organization’s Well-Being Index daily tracking data surveyed 353,000 U.S. adults in 2011 found an average of 31 percent of U.S. adults reported having a neck or back condition, 26 percent had a knee or leg condition and 18 percent had recurring pain.

In total, 47 percent of U.S. adults reported having at least one of the three types of chronic pain, while 7 percent reported all three types.

Americans’ reports of chronic pain increased most sharply from their mid-20s to late 50s, most likely due to repeated use of muscles, joints and ligaments, as well as this age group’s increased likelihood of being overweight or obese.

However, when people reach their early 60s, rates of self-reported chronic pain level off and do not increase further, even as Americans move into their 70s, 80s and 90s.

Those with an annual income of less than $36,000 were much more likely to report having chronic pain than those with higher incomes.

The survey’s margin of error was 1 percentage point.

 

Survivors Get Tips To Avoid Cancer Return

ATLANTA (UPI) — Cancer survivors who want to reduce the odds their cancer will return should follow the same advice given for all to prevent cancer, a U.S. expert says.

Colleen Doyle of the American Cancer Society said when she talks with people diagnosed with cancer, they tend to ask three things: “What can I do to reduce the chance that my cancer will come back? What can I do to help me not develop some other kind of cancer? How can I help my family reduce their risk for cancer?”

“For many years, answering questions two and three was a cinch. We’ve known for years that for people who don’t smoke, the most important ways to reduce their risk of cancer are to strive to be at a healthy weight, live a physically active lifestyle, eat a diet made up mostly of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and watch how much alcohol is consumed — if any, at all,” Doyle said in a statement.

“Answers about how to reduce the risk of recurrence were not as clear. But, over the last several years, evidence has accumulated for a number of cancers that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough physical activity and eating a healthy diet can reduce the chance of recurrence and increase the likelihood of disease-free survival after a diagnosis of cancer.”

For example, among breast cancer survivors, a recent analysis showed that getting exercise after diagnosis was associated with a 34 percent lower risk of breast cancer deaths, a 41 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence.

The society’s recommendations, and those of the American College of Sports Medicine, encourage survivors to aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, and to include strength training exercises at least two days per week.

Girls Happy With Bodies Less Depressed

SAN DIEGO (UPI) — Teen girls happy with the size and shape of their bodies report higher levels of self-esteem, U.S. researchers said.

Kerri Boutelle, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, said the study involved 103 overweight adolescents surveyed between 2004 and 2006. The girls were assessed for body satisfaction, weight-control behavior, importance placed on thinness, self-esteem, and symptoms of anxiety and depression, among other factors.

“We found that girls with high body satisfaction had a lower likelihood of unhealthy weight-control behaviors like fasting, skipping meals or vomiting,” Boutelle said in a statement.

Boutelle added that the positive relationship shown in this study between a girl’s happiness with her body and her behavioral and psychological well-being suggested that improving body satisfaction could be a key component of interventions for overweight youth.

The study, scheduled to be published in the June edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found overweight teens who were satisfied with their bodies are less depressed and less prone to unhealthy behaviors than girls unhappy with their bodies.

“A focus on enhancing self-image while providing motivation and skills to engage in [effective] weight-control behaviors may help protect young girls from feelings of depression, anxiety or anger sometimes [associated] with being overweight,” Boutelle added.

 

Pests Appearing Due To Mild Winter

DALLAS (UPI) — In the past 12 months, 84 percent of America’s homeowners experienced a pest problem — nearly half were invaded by ants, a U.S. survey indicated.

The survey, for HomeTeam Pest Defense, of 1,319 U.S. adults also found in the past year 43 percent had to deal with spiders, 37 percent flies, 34 percent mosquitoes, 30 percent mice and 29 percent wasps.

“Pests have appeared earlier than usual this year due to warm winter, early spring and recent heavy rains,” Russ Horton, national technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense, said in a statement. “We have already seen termite swarms in Texas, Georgia and Florida, odorous house ants in the Mid-Atlantic and scorpions in Arizona.”

Additionally, 80 percent of homeowners are concerned about pests termites, cockroaches, rats, bed bugs and mice in the home. Thirteen percent said they actually experienced termites in the last 12 months, 22 percent of homeowners experienced structural damage to their home from a pest problem.

To help prevent pest problems, Horton suggested:

— Seal cracks and small openings around doors, windows, garage doors and utility entry points.

— Get rid of standing water around the home.

— Cut back tree branches and bushes, keeping them away from the side of the house and roof.

— Install or repair screens on windows and doors.

— Fix dripping taps and leaking pipes to remove the water and humidity that some pests need to survive.

— Empty garbage cans and recycle bins regularly.

— Store food in sealed containers.

The survey has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

Not All With Atrial Fibrillation Treated

CHICAGO (UPI) — More U.S. patients with atrial fibrillation — irregular heartbeat — could receive treatment when having other cardiac surgery, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Richard Lee, surgical director of the Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders at Northwestern Memorial’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, said patients who are undergoing surgery for other cardiac issues, don’t always have their atrial fibrillation problem fixed.

“This study indicates that atrial fibrillation should be surgically treated when a patient is undergoing another cardiac surgery procedure,” Lee said in a statement. “By fixing two issues at once, we can improve patient outcomes.”

Only 38 percent of patients with abnormal heart rhythm receive simultaneous treatment at the time of cardiac surgery. However, at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, 90 percent of patients with a history of atrial fibrillation were treated when they had cardiac surgery.

Some patients with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition until it’s discovered during a physical examination, but those with symptoms may experience palpitations or sensations of a racing, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain or lightheadedness.

“Not all patients require surgery for atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Brad Knight, medical director for the Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders. “However, this study suggests that it should be strongly considered when the patient is already undergoing another cardiac surgery procedure, as addressing both issues simultaneously may positively impact long-term heart health.”

The findings were published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

Communication Towers Said Killing Birds

LOS ANGELES (UPI) — Communication towers in North America are responsible for the deaths of nearly 7 million migrating birds as they fly south, researchers say.

The 84,000 communication towers that dot North America, some rising as high as 2,000 feet, are proving deadly to birds migrating from Canada and the United States to Central and South America, a study in the journal PLoS ONE reported.

And the taller the tower the greater the threat, the study found; the approximately 1,000 towers above 900 feet account for only 1.6 percent of the total number of towers but killed 70 percent of the birds, about 4.5 million a year, the researchers said.

“This is a tragedy that does not have to be,” lead author Travis Longcore at the University of Southern California said.

The majority of the birds are not killed by running into the towers but rather in collisions with the dozens of cables, known as guy wires, that prop up the thin, freestanding structures, Longcore said.

During bad weather birds are pushed down by cloud cover and fly at lower altitudes, deprived of navigation cues such as stars, leaving only the blinking or static red lights found on most towers, he said.

The lights often confuse the birds, he said, causing them to circle the towers.

“In the presence of the solid red lights, the birds are unable to get out of their spell,” Longcore said. “They circle the tower and run into the big cables holding it up.”

Longcore suggests businesses share towers to reduce their number and build more freestanding towers to reduce the need for guy wires.

“One of the things this country has been great about is saying we care about not losing species on our watch,” he said. “With these towers, we are killing birds in an unnatural way. This is senseless.”

 

New Jersey Teens Win Math Competition

NEW YORK (UPI) — Five New Jersey high school students have won scholarships in a competition in which math was used to solve a current U.S. transportation issue, officials said.

The contest drew nearly 5,000 11th- and 12th-graders from the eastern United States who were asked to use mathematical modeling to determine the best regions in the country to revive the Department of Transportation’s planned High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program.

The Mega Math (M3) Challenge was organized by Philadelphia’s Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and sponsored by The Moody’s Foundation from New York.

Teams of three-to-five students put their math skills to the test to determine the best regions for the rail lines, predict ridership numbers and estimate the cost of implementation and the effect of such a program on foreign-energy dependence, a Moody’s release said Friday.

Teams had 14 hours to study the issue, collect data and devise models before uploading solutions online in the form of a research paper.

Five students from Lincroft, N.J., High Technology High School — Vineel Chakradhar, Stephen Guo, Daniel Takash, Angela Zhou and Kevin Zhou — were found to have come up with the most sound mathematical solution to the proposed new high-speed rail program.

 

Saturn Moon Called Planet ‘Building Block’

PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — A NASA space probe has shown that Phoebe, one of Saturn’s moons, has more planet-like qualities than previously thought, U.S. scientists say.

Data from NASA’s Cassini mission and a computer model of the moon’s chemistry, geophysics and geology show Phoebe is a so-called planetesimal, or remnant planetary building block, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported Thursday.

“Unlike primitive bodies such as comets, Phoebe appears to have actively evolved for a time before it stalled out,” Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.

“Objects like Phoebe are thought to have condensed very quickly. Hence, they represent building blocks of planets. They give scientists clues about what conditions were like around the time of the birth of planets and their moons.”

The Cassini images suggest Phoebe originated in the Kuiper Belt, the region of ancient, icy, rocky bodies beyond Neptune’s orbit.

Astronomers estimate Phoebe formed within the first 3 million years of the beginning of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago and may have been porous but appears to have collapsed on itself as it warmed.

Phoebe was spherical and hot early in its history, researchers said, and has denser rock-rich material near its center.

Phoebe likely was captured by Saturn’s gravity when it got too close to the giant planet, they said.

“By combining Cassini data with modeling techniques previously applied to other solar system bodies, we’ve been able to go back in time and clarify why it is so different from the rest of the Saturn system,” said Jonathan Lunine, a Cassini team member at Cornell University.

 

Caribbean Lizards Face Extinction Threat

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (UPI) — Twenty-four new species of lizard were recently discovered in the Caribbean and almost half are already close to extinction, researchers say.

A team led by Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, discovered and named the 24 species of lizards known as skinks, an article in the journal Zootaxa reported.

“Now, one of the smallest groups of lizards in this region of the world has become one of the largest groups,” Hedges said. “We were completely surprised to find what amounts to a new fauna, with co-occurring species and different ecological types.”

These New World skinks arrived in the Americas about 18 million years ago from Africa by floating on mats of vegetation, he said.

Though long established in the Caribbean, almost all of the identified species now face extinction, Hedges said, primarily to predation by the mongoose — an invasive predatory mammal introduced by farmers to control rats in sugarcane fields during the late nineteenth century.

“The mongoose is the predator we believe is responsible for many of the species’ close-to-extinction status in the Caribbean,” Hedges said. “Our data show that the mongoose, which was introduced from India in 1872 and spread around the islands over the next three decades, has nearly exterminated this entire reptile fauna, which had gone largely unnoticed by scientists and conservationists until now.”

A sharp decline in skink populations coincided with the introduction of the mongoose, he said.

“By 1900, less than 50 percent of those mongoose islands still had their skinks, and the loss has continued to this day,” Hedges said.

Town Boycotts Gas Stations, Prices Drop

Gas prices in New Lenox, Ill., were higher than those in surrounding communities, so the town’s residents did something about it.

Mayor Tim Baldermann had been receiving complaints about high costs at the pump. After comparing the prices in New Lenox with the prices in neighboring towns, he determined that his city had gas prices that were 10 to 20 cents higher than most areas of northern Illinois.

Baldermann encouraged the residents of New Lenox to drive somewhere else to fill up. Within 48 hours, gas prices dropped.

Six out of the seven gas stations in New Lenox are owned by large corporations.

Police: Man Sold Fruit-Flavored Moonshine

BUNNELL, Fla., (UPI) — A Florida moonshiner has been arrested for luring customers with fruit-flavored booze, investigators say.

Bob Tibbs, 69, was arrested Friday after a two-month undercover investigation, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was released after posting $5,500 bail.

“Thanks to a tip, this illegal operation was shut down,” Flagler County Sheriff Donald W. Fleming said in a statement. “A lot of people may be surprised that moonshine operations still exists. It does and it is illegal.”

Deputies said they purchased moonshine flavored with apple, blackberry and strawberry as well as the unflavored stuff. Tibbs, who allegedly sold the booze out of his truck on the side of U.S. 1, provided a choice of 130- and 150-proof, they said.

Tibbs also sold fresh fish.

Deputies found a still on his property and broke it up, Fleming said.