Study: Brain Waves Changed By Game Playing

TORONTO (UPI) — Playing an action videogame, even for just a short time, causes differences in brain activity and improvements in visual attention, Canadian researchers say.

Twenty-five subjects who had not previously played videogames, taking part in research at the University of Toronto, played a game for a total of 10 hours in 1- to 2-hour sessions.

Sixteen of the subjects played a first-person shooter game and, as a control, nine subjects played a three-dimensional puzzle game.

The subjects’ brain waves were recorded before and after playing the games as they attempted to detect a target object among other distractions over a wide visual field.

Subjects who played the shooter videogame showed significant changes in their brain waves and also showed the greatest improvement on the visual attention task, something not seen in those who played the puzzle games, the university reported Thursday.

“Studies in different labs, including here at the University of Toronto, have shown that action video games can improve selective visual attention, such as the ability to quickly detect and identify a target in a cluttered background,” research psychologist Ian Spence said. “But nobody has previously demonstrated that there are differences in brain activity which are a direct result of playing the video game.

“Superior visual attention is crucial in many important everyday activities,” Spence said. “It’s necessary for things such as driving a car, monitoring changes on a computer display, or even avoiding tripping while walking through a room with children’s toys scattered on the floor.”

The study is being published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

‘Cannibal’ Shrimp In U.S. Waters A Worry

WASHINGTON (UPI) — An invasion of giant “cannibal” shrimp into America’s east coast and gulf coast waters appears to be getting worse, U.S. governmental researchers say.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday sightings of massive Asian tiger shrimp, which can eat their smaller shrimp counterparts, were 10 times higher in 2011 than in 2010.

“And they are probably even more prevalent than reports suggest, because the more fisherman and other locals become accustomed to seeing them, the less likely they are to report them,” Pam Fuller, a USGS biologist, told CNN.

Native to Asian and Australian waters, the tiger shrimp, which can grow to 13 inches long, have been seen in coastal U.S. waters from North Carolina to Texas.

Tiger shrimp can be eaten, Fuller said.

“They’re supposed to be very good. But they can get very large, sorta like lobsters,” Fuller said.

But it’s the Tiger shrimps’ own eating habits that have researchers concerned.

“Are they competing with or preying on native shrimp?” Fuller asked. “It’s also very disease-prone.”

The invasive species will be the subject of a research project, scientists said.

“The Asian tiger shrimp represents yet another potential marine invader capable of altering fragile marine ecosystems,” NOAA marine ecologist James Morris said in a statement.

“Our efforts will include assessments of the biology and ecology of this non-native species and attempts to predict impacts to economically and ecologically important species of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”

Pigeons Have A ‘Compass’ In Their Brains

WACO, Texas (UPI) — Pigeons navigate by recording information about Earth’s magnetic field, using certain brain cells as a sort of biological compass, U.S. scientists say.

The finding gives insight into how many birds can migrate thousands of miles, flying day and night, even when the sun or stars are obscured by clouds, the researchers said.

Two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have solved a central part of the mystery of how the birds accomplish such feats, identifying specific cells in a pigeon’s brain responsible for sensing and orienting the magnetic field.

Researchers Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman identified a group of cells, or neurons, in the brain stem of pigeons that record both the direction and the strength of the magnetic field, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Wu and Dickman found the birds’ orientation determined which neurons were active, as each neuron was tuned to respond to signals from one direction while also registering the strength of the magnetic field.

The researchers say there is evidence the information the cells are recording is coming from the inner ear, but that “is still something we want to pursue,” Dickman said.

EIA: $6 More To Drive For Vacation

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Prices at the gasoline pump could reach record levels during the summer, suppressing consumer demand, the U.S. Energy Department said.

The U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration expects gasoline consumption to reach an average of 8.8 million barrels per day by summer, the lowest level since 2001. Prices at the pump, meanwhile, are expected to be 24 cents a gallon higher when compared with last year, the EIA said.

The agency’s short-term energy outlook reports an April average price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $3.95 compared with $3.71 for the same time last year.

The EIA said better fuel efficiency for gasoline-powered vehicles and higher prices at the pump would suppress demand during the summer months.

It’s expected to cost an extra $6 for an average family to take a 500-mile roundtrip vacation during the summer, the EIA said.

Gasoline was the subject of U.S. political debate this year. Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama blamed his domestic energy policies for high gasoline prices, which topped $4 per gallon early this year.

The EIA said, however, that high prices at the pump were “mostly” the result of activity on the global market

 

Group Wants The Word ‘Illegal’ To Be Illegal

A public education campaign wants the word “illegal” to be filed away under the annals of hate speech. With the rally cry “No Human Being Is Illegal,” Drop the I-Word is hoping that citizens and immigrants alike will be more accepting of each other.

The campaign believes: “‘Illegals’ is a racially charged slur used to dehumanize and discriminate against immigrants and people of color regardless of migratory status. The i-word is shorthand for ‘illegal alien,’ ‘illegal immigrant’ and other harmful terms.”

The campaign states: “We call on media outlets and elected officials to uphold reason, due process and responsible speech by dropping the i-word.”

The site contains pictures and stories from people of all nationalities. One representative, identified as Sonia, prefers to be called “undocumented.” Her argument for the abolition of the word “illegal” includes this:

Many times, when I am asked who I am, I respond with “I am undocumented.” I haven’t always identified as undocumented. …No one comes to this country because they want to be exploited, and treated less than human. No one migrates to this country and wants to identify as “illegal”. …I always knew that I was undocumented, but I trusted there was a fair system that would fix that up. …I stand with the undocumented youth across the states because we are beautiful amazing leaders.  …They and I are not “illegals”. I am undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.

Human Impact On Reef Sharks Studied

MANOA, Hawaii (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve completed a first large-scale estimate of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean — and the news for the predators is not good.

Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries, their study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, reported.

“We estimate that reef shark numbers have dropped substantially around populated islands, generally by more than 90 percent compared to those at the most untouched reefs,” researcher Marc Nadon of the University of Hawaii said.

“In short, people and sharks don’t mix.”

The findings highlight the enormous detrimental effect that humans have on reef sharks, he said.

“Around each of the heavily populated areas we surveyed — in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Archipelago, and American Samoa — reef shark numbers were greatly depressed compared to reefs in the same regions that were simply further away from humans.” Nadon said.

“We estimate that less than 10 percent of the baseline numbers remain in these areas.”

Another Reporter Edits Zimmerman Call

Miami’s NBC6 has fired a reporter for making the same edit to the George Zimmerman 911 call that the Today show made.

Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran, has been released. The Miami station has issued an apology.

The recording, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” omitted that the operator had asked Zimmerman if the person was “black, white, or Hispanic?”

The engineered clip was used to convince viewers that Zimmerman committed a racially motivated, cold-blooded murder.

Geese Cause 8-Mile Traffic Backup

CINCINNATI, (UPI) — Authorities in Cincinnati said a family of geese walking along Interstate 71 caused a rush hour traffic backup stretching back about eight miles.

Scott Brown, a supervisor for Hamilton County’s dispatch center, said the two adult geese and four goslings were spotted in the southbound lanes of the road in the Kenwood area during the evening rush hour Wednesday and the slowed traffic caused an eight-mile-long backup, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Thursday.

Brown said police arrived on the scene and directed traffic to allow the birds to cross the road unharmed.

A dispatcher who asked not to be named said the geese had no respect for traffic laws.

“They were not maintaining lanes whatsoever,” the dispatcher said.

Detroit Tigers Have Most Expensive Beer

DETROIT, (UPI) — A financial Web site’s analysis of beer prices at Major League Baseball games found the Detroit Tigers have the most expensive small draft beer in the league.

The Street.com said its analysis found the Tigers’ Comerica Park charges $8.75 for a small draft beer, the highest price in the league, The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

The Web site said the average price for a beer at an MLB game is $6.61.

The only other team to break the $8 mark was the Miami Marlins, which charges the amount for a 16-ounce beer, The Detroit News reported. The next most expensive team was the Philadelphia Phillies, who charge $7.75 for 21 ounces of suds.

Police Seek Diamond-Swiping Prostitute

NEW YORK, (UPI) — Police in New York said security cameras recorded a prostitute fleeing her client’s hotel room after taking $500,000 worth of diamonds while he slept.

Investigators said they are searching for Erika Cooper, 34, aka Bianca Williams, after she stole the diamonds from client Kurt Kaiser’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel April 17, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Police said Cooper was recorded fleeing by a security camera and she gave Kaiser her real phone number, which allowed them to identify her from mug shots taken after a previous prostitution bust.

Kaiser, a gem trader, said he has two partners who were also affected by the theft. He said he suspects he was drugged by Cooper.

House GOP Wants To Hold Holder In Contempt

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — House Republicans said they’ll seek to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for hindering an investigation of a failed gun-tracking operation.

GOP leaders said they’ve drafted a proposed contempt of Congress citation in which they charge Holder and the Justice Department repeatedly “obstructed and slowed” the congressional investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ flawed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was given the green light to proceed, sources who did not want to be identified told the Times.

If adopted, the contempt resolution would be delivered to the U.S. attorney’s office or perhaps sent to an independent counsel to try to force the Justice Department to give the committee tens of thousands of internal documents.

Holder and other Justice Department officials have said they are cooperating with congressional investigators. Holder said the department had responded to more than three dozen letters from members of Congress, facilitated witness interviews and either submitted or made available more than 6,400 pages of documents.

The attorney general also has cautioned about lines blurring in the separation of powers, especially since there were several “open criminal investigations and prosecutions” resulting from the Fast and Furious case.

In Operation Fast and Furious, ATF agents allowed weapons to be illegally bought and circulated on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Two weapons turned up after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in southern Arizona a year ago, and many others reportedly were used in crimes in Mexico.

Issa’s draft report, obtained by the Times, discusses evidence collected by the committee that contends several top Justice Department officials knew the ATF allowed about 2,500 guns to be illegally purchased in Arizona, then later “walked” to Mexican drug cartels.

“The department’s refusal to work with Congress to ensure that such a mistake [as Fast and Furious] is never repeated is inexcusable and cannot stand,” the draft report said. “Those responsible for allowing Fast and Furious to proceed and those who are preventing the truth about the operation from coming out must be held accountable for their actions.”

Boehner: Obama Cheapens The Presidency

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — John Boehner accused Barack Obama of cheapening the U.S. presidency over student-loan rates as the House was to vote Friday on keeping the rates from doubling.

“This week the president traveled across the country on taxpayers’ dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour insisting the Congress fix a problem that we were already working on. Frankly, I think this is beneath the dignity of the White House,” the House speaker said at a press briefing.

“For the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic,” said Boehner, R-Ohio.

“This is the biggest job in the world, and I’ve never seen the president make it smaller,” Boehner said.

He called on the Obama re-election campaign to reimburse the Treasury “for the cost of this trip.”

Obama spoke to student audiences at the University of Iowa Wednesday and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder Tuesday.

At the stops, the president assailed congressional Republicans for actions he said held up legislation to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent July 1.

The loans are taken out by nearly 8 million students each year.

The specially configured Boeing 747-200B Air Force One jet that Obama flew in typically costs $179,750 an hour to operate, the Defense Department says.

White House spokesman Jay Carney defended the travel as a successful effort to champion an important policy issue

“It is eminently obvious that the president was out talking about a policy issue,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “This is official business. And he did it effectively.”

Carney said Boehner “praised a trip by President [George W.] Bush to Ohio in 2004, to talk about education, as absolutely the right thing to do.”

“It is also, to me, ironic that the arguments about this are coming from people who know that we assiduously follow all the rules in terms of the delineations between campaign travel and official travel, just as our predecessor did,” Carney added.

A liberal Web site, politicsusa.com, said Thursday Bush spent more than $124 million in taxpayer dollars for 77 vacation trips aboard Air Force One to his Crawford, Texas, ranch while he was president.

The House was to vote Friday on a $5.9 billion Republican bill to keep interest rates on the subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent.

The bill would pay for this by taking money from Obama’s healthcare-overhaul law, Boehner said.

Boehner said Wednesday the one-year extension of the low interest rate would be paid for out of a $17 billion prevention and public health fund in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law.

Boehner called the healthcare money, which covers breast cancer screening and childhood immunizations, a “slush fund.”

“It may be a slush fund for him, but it’s survival for women,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday shortly before Boehner spoke. “That just goes to show you what a luxury he thinks it is to have good health for women.”

House Democrats introduced their own measure, which would cancel tax subsidies for big oil companies as a way to pay for freezing student loan rates at current levels.

The low interest rate resulted from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for the following four academic years to 3.4 percent, with the proviso the rates would revert to 6.8 percent July 1.

When the 2007 law was passed, 77 Republicans — including many still in Congress — voted for it, The New York Times said.

ACLU: Marine’s Free Speech Rights Violated

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — The American Civil Liberties Union said a U.S. Marine’s constitutional rights were violated when he was discharged for criticizing President Obama on Facebook.

Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, on his Facebook page called Obama a coward and an enemy and promised never to salute him or follow any of his orders he considered illegal. The military’s administrative separation board said Stein, a nine-year veteran who served in Iraq, made disparaging comments that were detrimental to good order and violated military law.

The board demoted Stein to lance corporal and gave him an other-than-honorable discharge, making him ineligible for many federal benefits, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Civilian lawyers said they will fight to have Stein reinstated to the military, the newspaper said.

“I don’t believe Sgt. Stein did anything other than engage in political speech,” said the ACLU’s David Loy. “Since the days of Valley Forge, I seriously doubt that there haven’t been members of the armed forces who haven’t complained about their government.”

Bin Laden Family Deported To Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, (UPI) — Osama bin Laden’s three widows and two daughters were deported from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia Thursday, a family attorney said.

Aamir Khalil said Pakistani officials last week ended the detention of bin Laden’s relatives for living in Pakistan illegally, CNN reported.

“The family was kept safe and sound in a guest house,” a Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman said. “They have been deported to the country of their choice, Saudi Arabia, today.”

The widows — identified by U.S. and Pakistani officials as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar — had been in Pakistani custody since the May 2011 U.S. Navy SEALs raid that killed bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, where he hid for years under the nose of Pakistan’s military.

Saudi authorities declined to comment on the deportation order, CNN said.

Minnesota Governor Vetoes Abortion Clinic Bill

MINNEAPOLIS, (UPI) — Minnesota’s governor Thursday vetoed a bill that would have required the state to license abortion clinics.

Sponsored by state Sen. Claire Robling, a Republican, the legislation would have required the state to license any clinic that does 10 or more abortions a month, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported

Gov. Mark Dayton, a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, said in his veto letter the bill would have imposed “inappropriate and unworkable” new requirements on the clinics, and was so vague, complaints could have been filed for any reason.

Clinics would have been monitored for “conduct or practices detrimental to the welfare of the patient,”

The governor said the state’s six abortion clinics are among 1,250 outpatient clinics in the state that operate without requiring a state license, the Star Tribune reported.

But the regular clinics operate under strict oversight, the newspaper said.

Supporters said the measure was common-sense and it was absurd for the state to license tattoo parlors and hair-braiding salons, but not abortion clinics.

Dayton responded that if the issue was health and not just abortion politics, then the state should license all 1,250 outpatient clinics, not just the six abortion clinics, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, a bill to require a physician be present when abortion pills are prescribed or taken passed the Legislature Thursday morning.

Politicians Avoiding Questions Pertaining To Policy

I still remember the yellow tint of the dodgeball that crushed my face in seventh grade. Had I been more like a Senate or House candidate, I would have been able to avoid the pugnacious projectile altogether.

Vacillating on political issues gives opponents fodder for campaigns. Attack ads are filled with clips of the same person espousing different viewpoints.

Perhaps candidates for the Senate and House are catching on. If you refuse to let people know your plans and ideas by dodging the issues, then your political enemy can never say you contradicted yourself. On the other hand, if you refuse to reveal your plans and ideas, why would anyone vote for you?

Enigmatic, ambiguous obscurity is what this year’s Senate and House races are made of. Or maybe it’s just plain ol’ ignorance.

You might say it’s a bipartisan effort. Finally, both parties are taking the same route.

When Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, a Republican from Missouri, was asked about the Violence Against Women Act, she responded: “I’m not sure what that is, because I’m not serving right now.”

Democratic candidate Heidi Heitkamp, running for Senator of North Dakota, wants to get well established in the race before talking about policy: “There will be a lot of months ahead to talk about the details.”

Representative Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who is running for re-election, was asked by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd about student loan interest rates and he gave this answer: “If you don’t mind, Chuck, I want to talk about what’s happening here in the state of Florida.”

Democrat Christie Vilsack, a candidate for Representative of Iowa, isn’t concerned about things that have happened in the past. When asked about Obama’s healthcare law she retorted: “I don’t go back and try to figure out what I would have voted for.”

I guess they figure it’s better to keep your mouth closed and have people believe you’re ignorant than to open it and remove all doubt.

‘Even Obama Is Doing Worse Under President Obama’

Thanks for the laugh, Jay. Jay Leno cracked me up last week with this observation in his opening monologue: “President Obama released his tax returns. It turns out he made $900,000 less in 2011 than he did in 2010. You know what that means? Even Obama is doing worse under President Obama.”

Fudging the unemployment numbers. Barack Obama’s supporters have been bragging that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in March. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that only 120,000 new jobs were created last month – 58 percent fewer than experts had predicted. The reason the unemployment rate dropped is that 164,000 discouraged Americans quit looking for work at all. Heck, if every unemployed person would stop looking for work, the unemployment rate would drop to 0.

Lost luggage drops dramatically. Here’s good news for frequent flyers: Your luggage is a lot more likely nowadays to arrive at your final destination when you do. SITA, a Swiss airline consulting firm, says the rate of mishandled bags has fallen from 18.88 per 1,000 passengers in 2007 to just 8.99 last year: a 52.4 percent decline. And most bags that go astray are found and delivered within 48 hours. It’s no surprise that the more connections you have, the more likely that you and your luggage will get separated.

Talk about bias in the media. Media Matters for America, the leftwing organization funded by George Soros, says it was formed to oppose the “biased” national media. And just what biases will it counter? The group’s application for tax-exempt status read: “It is common for news and commentary by the press to present viewpoints that tend to overly promote corporate interests, the rights of the wealthy, and a conservative, Christian-influenced ideology.” Right. Is there anyone anywhere who actually believes the national media are biased in favor of free enterprise and “conservative, Christian-influenced” values?

–Chip Wood

Burger King Agrees To Use Cage-Free Eggs And Pork

The burgers at Burger King may be double-stacked, but the pigs and chickens used to produce their products won’t be.

By 2017, Burger King plans to buy all its eggs and pork from cage-free facilities.

“We believe this decision will allow us to leverage our purchasing power to ensure the appropriate and proper treatment of animals by our vendors and suppliers,” said Jonathan Fitzpatrick, chief brand and operations officer.

Those who push for the humane treatment of animals are pleased that Burger King is raising the bar.

“For every cage-free egg or piece of bacon from a gestation-free pork system that Burger King sells, animals have been spared lifelong confinement in a cage so small they can barely even move,” said Matthew Prescott, the Humane Society of the United States food policy director.

In times past, animals “were going to be slaughtered at some point, but they could have a decent life,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS. Pacelle believes that the treatment of food animals has worsened in the past 50 years.

Recently, Hellman’s, Sonic, Subway, Ruby Tuesday and Kraft Foods have increased the percentage of cage-free eggs they use in their products.

But not everyone thinks the trend is a positive one. Those who oppose cage-free facilities believe that it causes disease occurrence, as well as prices, to increase.

Pacelle disagrees: “When you are good to animals, there are often good outcomes the rest of the way,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

So Now It’s Doggiegate?

Last week in this space, I predicted that this year’s Presidential contest would be the dirtiest in our history. Guess I should have added that some of the attacks against Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, would also be among the silliest we’ve seen.

The latest example — and I’m sure there will be many more to come — is the “Seamus scandal.” In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s based on a vacation trip the Romney family took to Canada more than 20 years ago.

Not wanting to put Seamus, the family dog, in a kennel while they were gone, but not having room for him in the family car, Romney built a special box for the Irish setter and tied it to the roof of the car.

When I first heard the story, all I could think of was the image of Aunt Edna (played by Imogene Coca) strapped in a rooftop rocker in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” But in the movie, Aunt Edna was already dead. In real life, Seamus made the trip back and forth in complete safety.

Nevertheless, some of President Barack Obama’s fierce defenders have latched onto the story, convinced it proves that Romney is a heartless, uncaring elitist. New York Times columnist Gail Collins has written about the incident more than 50 times! Obama strategist David Axelrod has taken to tweeting pictures of dogs. There is even a website devoted to “Crategate.” The Facebook page Dogs Against Romney has more than 50,000 friends.

I don’t know how much damage the story has actually done to Romney’s reputation. But out of all of the fuss and bother has come an even weirder tale. It seems that when Obama was a child growing up in Indonesia, he and his family actually dined on dog.

I kid you not. Bloggers are having a field day with the allegations. There are rumors that Obama eats “pup tarts” and loves “chicken poodle soup.”

Can the campaign get any weirder than this?

Yes, it can. And if the Supreme Court declares that any part of Obamacare is unConstitutional, it probably will.

The Court is expected to issue its ruling sometime this summer. Most analysts predict that, at a minimum, the insurance mandate — the very heart of Obamacare — will be struck down. Many analysts expect all 2,700 pages of the law to be rejected.

Obama has already gone on the offensive against the Court. In a speech last month, he declared:

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.

Of course, there would be nothing unprecedented at all by the Court issuing such a ruling. Obama’s comments revealed such a patently distorted view of history that even many of his supporters were appalled. The funniest reaction may have come from Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), who wrote:

His comments belie a grasp of constitutional concepts so lacking that perhaps the University of Chicago Law School should offer a refund to any students “taught” constitutional law by then-Professor Obama!

Ann Coulter pondered whether Obama actually passed any of the courses he took on the U.S. Constitution, writing: “I guess now we know why Obama won’t release his college and law school transcripts!”

Conservative columnist Thomas Sowell was even more blunt. He wrote:

There is no way that Barack Obama has never heard of it or really believes it to be “unprecedented” after two centuries of countless precedents.

In short, he is simply lying.

… On this and on many other issues, you would have to know what the facts are to know that he is lying. He is obviously counting on the fact that, in this era of dumbed-down education, many people have no clue as to what the facts are.

He is also counting on something else — namely, that the pro-Obama media will not expose his lies.

Can I hear an amen?

One Federal appeals court judge has put the Justice Department squarely on the hot seat over the President’s remarks. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments recently in another case challenging certain aspects of Obamacare. As Dana Kaersvang, the government’s attorney, began arguing in favor of Obamacare, Judge Jerry Smith interrupted.

“I want to be sure that you are telling us that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases,” Smith said. He ordered Kaersvang to write him a letter stating the position of the U.S. attorney general and the Justice Department on the concept of judicial review.

“The letter needs to be at least three pages, single spaced, no less and it needs to be specific. It needs to make specific reference to the president’s statements,” the judge said.

We can’t know for certain how the Supreme Court will rule. But there is no question that most Americans want to see the Federal mandate repealed. The latest opinion poll I’ve seen puts the number at 72 percent of Americans who want this part of Obamacare overturned. A smaller majority want the entire measure repealed. And that was even before we saw the latest estimates of what this incredible boondoggle will cost.

Last month, the Congressional Budget Office released new estimates of what the Affordable Care Act will cost us taxpayers over the next 10 years. It turns out it’s not nearly as affordable as Obama and his supporters promised.

In March 2010, the CBO estimated the Obamacare would cost $940 billion over the next decade. Their new number is a staggering $1.76 trillion. Since taxes will cover less than half that amount, Obamacare will add a chunk to our national debt.

It’s now been two years since Obamacare was rushed through Congress. At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Well, now we know what’s in it. And the more we learn, the less we like it.

Let’s hope that in November, most voters pay attention to issues that really matter — such as their freedom and prosperity — and ignore such frivolous sideshows as doggiegate.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Military Terror Training Ramping Up

Recently, a State Department official quietly announced that the “War on Terror” had officially come to an end, but Americans are still subject to all of its implications.

Terror is now a commonplace theme in American life, used by the ruling class in the decade following September 11, 2001, to strip citizens of liberty and basic Bill of Rights protections.

Americans expect to hear about the “threat of a terrorist attack” and they expect to see drills that involve military vehicles patrolling their communities, even though such obvious militarization of the state has not always been the norm in this country. It has become the norm in other nations throughout history, with tyrannical circumstances.

In the name of safety, societies will do almost anything, even to the detriment of the individuals within; thinkers through the ages have warned us against the very nature of our new “safer” military state:

  • “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” — Benjamin Franklin’s statement was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania (1759).
  • “In some ways she [Julia] was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connexion to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep people frightened’. This was an idea that had literally never occurred to him.” — George Orwell writes in his dystopian novel “1984.”
  • “Over-grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” — George Washington
  • “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears, he is a protector.” — Plato
  • “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” — James Madison
  • “Terrorism is the best political weapon, for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.” — Adolf Hitler

There are countless other quotations warning of the dangers of allowing domestic military control to become the rule of the state out of fear.

But fear of terror still reigns in the United States. With the warming spring and summer months it appears that Americans throughout the country will witness terror drills conducted by local military and law enforcement agencies.

In May, the United States will invite airborne troops from Russia to hold joint anti-terror drills in Colorado. It will be the first time that the Russian airborne forces have held exercises with the U.S. airborne forces on the U.S. territory.

From Business Insider:

 It’s worth noting the Russians will have access to U.S. military weapons training at the Army’s Fort Carson — “Home of America’s Best” — ahead of the scheduled May 24-31 drills. They’ll also be trained to understand and operate hardware used by U.S. forces in airborne missions including “parachuting, operation planning, reconnaissance, assault operations and evacuations by helicopter.”

If you live in Minnesota, don’t be alarmed if you receive an empty pill bottle in your mailbox on May 6. It is only a test — “Operation Medicine Delivery” — wherein the State’s Postal workers and law enforcement officials are practicing to deliver medicine to about 37,000 households in the event of an Anthrax attack. It’s a strategy that’s been studied nationally since 2004, but has not been tested full scale until now.

At Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala., a government contractor is seeking people to act as role players in a “mass casualty exercise” on the base from May 8-13.

From an ad posted on Craigslist:

Military Mock simualted disaster role players

Government contractor is seeking individuals to act as role players to participate in a “mass casualty exercise” on the Ft McClellan military installation. Role players will participate in an exercise that will replicate civilians in the anniston area that have been injured during a disaster that is used in the scenario over 6 days. Role players will be medically treated during this exercise at numerous locations on Ft McClellan. The objective of this exercise is to train and assess medical units with regards to civilians that have been injured during a disaster.

It has been speculated by some highly respected intelligence officials that a fabricated crises will arise in the months leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. Some people believe the training exercises are extremely valuable and feel safer, others believe them to be propaganda efforts at best and, at worst, preparation for a false flag event.

Rubio Puts On His Big-Boy Britches And Talks Tough

Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-Tea Party sellout) donned his big-boy britches Wednesday and unveiled a hawkish foreign policy that surely endeared him to the military-industrial complex.

Rubio, who has eligibility issues that rival those of President Barack Obama, unveiled “new proposals on foreign policy” at the Brookings Institution that sound like more of the same empire building and interventionism we’ve seen for the past several decades. In his speech he advocated for a more active and energetic foreign policy and “repeatedly stressed,” according to Human Events, that American engagement has made the world a better, freer and richer place.

In reality, American engagement abroad has made America — and more importantly, Americans — bankrupt and much less free. And there are many in the Mideast particularly, and in other parts of the world generally, that would argue that they are much worse off thanks to American interventionism.

Rubio also pulled out the old Cold War bogeyman that sends tingles down the spines of all neocons: Russia. “[Vladimir] Putin might talk tough, but he knows he is weak,” the speech text reads. “Everywhere he looks, he sees threats to his rule, real and imagined. And so he uses state-owned media to preach paranoia and anti-Western sentiments to Russians. He faces a rising China to the east and hostile Islamic forces to the South, but he tells his people the biggest threat they face is from NATO.”

It turns out threats to Putin’s rule are real and come from U.S.-backed non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which worked to disrupt and delegitimize Russian elections. The mainstream media also created protests that weren’t occurring by using news footage from other countries and claiming it was from Russia. But this is a topic for another day.

“I disagree with voices in my own party who argue we should not engage at all,” Rubio said. “Who warn that we should heed the words of John Quincy Adams not to go ‘abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.’” Rubio, I’m sure, is glad there are so few of those in the GOP. In fact, outside of Ron and Rand Paul I’m at a loss to name any on the national stage.

Warmongering Senator John McCain and his lapdog Senator Lindsey Graham were pleased with Rubio’s speech, I’m sure, as was the Brookings Institution, which is a neocon think tank funded by the fascist global corporations.

According to the Institution’s website, Brookings expert Leo Pasvolsky was instrumental in refining the blueprint for the United Nations. It also brags that, after 9/11, “With remarkable speed, Brookings experts produced influential proposals for homeland security and intelligence operations. They also testified before Congress and used the Institution’s outreach capacity, including its in-house television studio, to explain the new global reality to a frightened public.”

Tea Partiers, you have been duped. Your darling Rubio is another puppet of military-industrial complex. A team of Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio will ensure more years of war and conquest abroad and increased deficit spending and greater tyranny at home.

Conceal In Style

If you carry a concealed firearm, you know that sometimes it can be difficult to remain inconspicuously armed in your everyday clothing.

Sometimes a holster is not an option and can’t be easily concealed.

Iconic clothier Woolrich, realizing this problem, has designed a pair of $65 chino pants that have the clean profile of a standard pair of pants with no external cargo or utility pocketing, but offer the added advantage of a hidden chamber pocket strategically placed for weapons concealment.

The New York Times reports that the company is not alone in creating innovative clothing options for individuals who exercise their 2nd Amendment rights every day, and demand for concealed carry garments for daily wear is on the rise.

The Times reports:

Carriers of concealed guns say the new options are a departure from the law enforcement and military look, known as “tactical,” long favored by gun owners.

The latest styles, by contrast, are called “concealed carry” or “covert fashion.”…

…companies are rushing to meet the demand for concealed-carry clothing. Under Armour, best known for its sports and action gear, will be adding a jacket and a plaid shirt with Velcro pockets for easy gun access.

Increased demand for these types of products could be a good sign for gun rights activists, as it may mean gun ownership for protection is growing in popularity.

Reports indicate that in recent years, gun sales are on the rise. According to figures released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, gun sales jumped from $19 billion in 2008 to $31 billion in 2011. The FBI’s figures show more than 14-million criminal background checks requested for firearms purchases in 2010 and that number has grown. Employment in the firearms industry jumped 30 percent in the same three years.