N.Y. Times Announces Chinese Website

NEW YORK (UPI) — The New York Times has announced plans for a Chinese-language website aimed at China’s new middle class and the upscale advertisers trying to reach them.

Joseph Kahn, the Times foreign editor who is in charge of the project, said the website will not register as an official Chinese news organization and will have its server outside the country. He said the staff would be held to the newspapers’ standards of journalism.

“We’re not tailoring it to the demands of the Chinese government, so we’re not operating like a Chinese media company,” Kahn said. “China operates a very vigorous firewall. We have no control over that. We hope and expect that Chinese officials will welcome what we’re doing.”

In a news release, the Times described the target audience as “educated, affluent, global citizens.”

About two-thirds of the content will be translated from the English-language newspaper, with the rest coming from editors and freelancers in China. The paper plans to hire about 30 editors and translators.

Denise Warren, the Times chief advertising officer, said Bloomingdale’s, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier and the Milstein China real estate company all plan to advertise on the site.

The Wall Street Journal and Britain’s Financial Times already have Chinese-language sites.


Consumer Spending Falls Flat In May

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Consumer spending was flat in May for the first time since November 2011, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

Spending was unchanged following a 0.1 percent rise in March and April and a 1 percent rise in February.

Incomes rose, but showed a decline in growth. Incomes in May rose 0.2 percent, matching the growth rate in April, which was half the income growth rate of February and March.

The figures indicate that hiring has stalled. In turn, consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of the gross domestic product, came in unchanged.

Solar 'Tornadoes' Said Powering Sun's Heat

SHEFFIELD, England (UPI) — Solar tornadoes may be powering the atmosphere of the sun, warming it to millions of degrees and making it even hotter than the sun’s surface, scientists say.

“One of the major problems in modern astrophysics is why the atmosphere of a star, like our own sun, is considerably hotter than its surface,” Robertus Erdelyi of the University of Sheffield in Britain said.

“It is understood that the energy originates from below the sun’s surface, but how this massive amount of energy travels up to the solar atmosphere surrounding it is a mystery,” he said in a Sheffield release.

Scientists have observed solar tornadoes they suggest may carry energy from the energy reservoir below the sun’s surface, called the convection zone, to the outer atmosphere in the form of magnetic waves.

They’ve estimated there are as many as 11,000 of these rotating magnetic structures above the sun’s surface at any time.

If the process could be replicated on Earth to energize plasma in a fusion reactor, it could lead to a new source of energy, researchers said.

“If we understand how nature heats up magnetized plasmas, like in the tornadoes observed in the sun, one day we may be able to use this process to develop the necessary technology and build devices on Earth that produce free, clean, green energy,” Erdelyi said.


'Crowd-Funded' Telescope To Keep Sky Watch

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A former NASA astronaut says he is launching a crowd-funded program to build an orbiting space telescope for spotting asteroids that may threaten Earth.

The telescope, dubbed Sentinel, would launch in 2017 or 2018, drift toward Venus and then spend more than 5 years surveying the inner solar system while orbiting the sun, said Ed Lu, a physicist who flew on the space shuttle and the international space station.

Asteroids larger than about 100 feet across — large enough to threaten cataclysm should they hit Earth — will be visible to the space telescope’s eye, he said.

Observations by Sentinel are meant to provide time to prepare a mission to deflect or destroy threatening asteroids, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Lu acknowledges the project needs to raise “a few hundred million” dollars to get off the ground.

“This is crowdsourcing but on a grand level,” he said.

NASA spends millions annually searching for giant “planet killer” asteroids but no one is looking for smaller but still possibly dangerous space rocks, Lu said.

“The chances were pretty minimal somebody else was going to do this,” Lu said.

“Federal budgets being what they are, it’s just not going to happen” without public participation, he said.

Tomato Color Comes At Expense Of Taste

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The reason bright, uniformly red tomatoes in supermarkets lack the flavor to match their intense color is genetics, U.S. plant researchers say.

A gene mutation that makes a tomato uniformly red, favored by farmers as it produces a visually attractive product, stifles genes that would contribute to its taste, scientists said.

The chance mutation discovered by tomato breeders has been deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes for the color it provides.

Researchers writing in the journal Science report the gene that was inactivated by that mutation — resulting in a brighter uniform color — plays an important role in producing the sugar and aromas that are central to a flavorful tomato.

The wide adoption of tomatoes with the genetic mutation is “a story of unintended consequences,” said study co-author James J. Giovannoni of the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service.

The discovery “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” said Harry Klee, a tomato researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the research, told The New York Times.

“That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.”

'Zombie' Worms Attack Bones With Acid

SAN DIEGO (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve discovered deep-sea “zombie worms” use acid to bore into bones of seabed skeletons and consume nutrients.

The root-like tissues worms of the Osedax family use to attach to bones contain acid-secreting enzymes, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, reported.

Living on the skeletons of whales and fish — “Osedax” is Latin for “bone devourer” — the worms have intrigued marine scientists since their discovery in 2002.

Scientists wanted to understand how worms fed on bone since they lack body parts that could physically “drill” into bones.

Scripps researcher Sigrid Katz and colleagues said they suspected the worms had a chemical strategy for penetrating the bones. The found acid-secreting enzymes were abundant in the root-like parts of the worms that attach them to bones.

“The acid is secreted through the skin of the roots region,” Katz told the BBC.

“The skin cells in this region are very long cells and the upper end has lots of [microscopic protrusions, which] enlarge the surface multiple times, so lots of acid can be secreted,” she said.

Seventeen species of the “zombie” worms have been recorded worldwide, including in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Sweden, and the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Japan and California.

Ethnic Food Often Spicier And Healthier

LAS VEGAS (UPI) — U.S. adults are choosing more ethnic foods and ingredients that not only offer unique flavor and texture, but a variety of health benefits, a researcher says.

“Very authentic and regional cuisines are becoming very popular,” Janet Carver, senior culinary team leader at Ingredion Inc., said in a statement. “Not just Chinese, but Thai, Korean, and foods from other countries and regions.”

Many television food shows and competitions reflect the trend, as they increasingly highlight fusion or “global mash up” cooking, which use the ingredients of many cultures and regions, Carver said.

“Ethnic foods and ingredients offer powerful, distinct flavors, as well as unique nutritional and health benefits,” Carver said. “Everyone wants to enjoy their food; they also want it to be flavorful and healthy.”

Diego Serrano, director of product development at McCormick & Co., said ethnic cooking can deliver more than 2 grams of spices and herbs per serving.

“Studies increasingly support health benefits of different spices that are often found in ethnic cuisine,” Serrano said.

For example, he said Indian food typically contains twice as many spices as usual American fare.

A Journal of Pain study reported that ginger reduced muscle pain and soreness; cinnamon might help maintain healthy blood sugar levels; turmeric, ginger and garlic might block fat absorption and oregano has as many antioxidants as three cups of spinach, Carver said.

The findings were presented at the Institute of Food Technologists’s annual meeting and food expo in Las Vegas.


People Make Relationships With Characters

MANHATTAN, Kan. (UPI) — Celebrity deaths can strongly affect their fans, who often use social media to grieve the loss of people they’ve never met, a U.S. researcher says.

Richard Harris, professor of psychology at Kansas State University, said many people develop relationships with media figures in a manner similar to the way they do so in real life — a phenomenon referred to as parasocial interaction.

The one-sided relationship is most commonly observed between celebrities — or even fictional characters — and fans. A prominent example cited by Harris was the popular television show “Friends.” The show aired for 10 years and revolved six principal characters.

“Many people have probably spent more time with the characters on ‘Friends’ than they have with most of their real-life friends,” Harris said in a statement. “Of course they haven’t interacted with them — it’s very one-sided. People can, if drama is particularly well acted and written, identify with the characters. That’s a significant relationship.”

Spontaneous displays of grieving after the death of a celebrity are not new. Impromptu memorials appeared for Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and John Lennon following their deaths.

Harris said these losses have a distinct difference from the loss of a family member.

“We don’t have the social structures and support for grieving the loss of a media character or, in particular, a fictional character,” Harris said.

Social media postings can be therapeutic for some fans, and celebrities have even taken to social media sites to mourn the loss of fellow stars or influential people, Harris said.

Report: Norwegians Want Less English

OSLO, Norway, (UPI) — The Language Council of Norway’s 2012 status report said a survey suggests two-thirds of Norwegians think there is too much English in advertising.

The council, which wrote in its report Norway is under “continual pressure from English in many areas of society,” said the respondents said all advertising and marketing materials should be in the Norwegian language, the Norwegian News Agency/The Local.ne reported Friday.

The report said Nynorsk, or New Norwegian, which was developed in the 19th century, remains less used than the majority Bokmal language and has lost ground to the older tongue in the country’s schools.

However, the report said Nynorsk is used more online, with its version of Wikipedia growing at twice the rate of the older language.

Airports Charge More For Cars Than Planes

LONDON, (UPI) — A British study found it is cheaper to park a light aircraft at several airports than it is to park a car at the facilities for the same amount of time.

The Daily Telegraph reported Manchester Airport charges about $54.89 for a full 24 hours of parking in the short-stay car lot, while parking a six-seat aircraft for the same amount of time costs only $32.94.

Parking a car for 24 hours at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport costs $62.73 compared with $16.81 for a light aircraft, the Telegraph said.

Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport charges $36.86 for 24 hours of car parking and $18.67 to park a light plane for the same amount of time.

The newspaper said London’s Luton Airport was the only place where plane parking, $60.99, was more expensive than car parking, $56.46.

“Years ago airports made all their money from the planes,” said Russell Craig of Manchester Airport. “Now at Manchester, aviation income makes up less than half of our revenues. To be able to keep investing, you’ve got to find new revenue streams and some of that is car parking. But pre-booking is the way to save money. The turn-up prices are what they are.”

Mayor Greets Olympic Torch In Sausage Suit

LOUTH, England, (UPI) — A British mayor showed up to greet the Olympic torch while dressed as a sausage to support a campaign to get protected status for Lincolnshire sausages.

Mayor Jill Makinson-Sanders of Louth, England, greeted the torch in her town Wednesday while dressed as a Lincolnshire sausage to show her support for the European Union granting status to the food that would protect manufacturers from outside imitators, This Is Grimsby reported Friday.

“I’m here as a member of the community — not the mayor,” Makinson-Sanders said. “Today is Louth Sausage Day. Louth welcomes the Olympic Torch and is proud to announce that the day will also be a celebration of sausages. There are free samples and sausage deals from all of the Louth butchers. I’m here support the Lincolnshire sausage and be part of this amazing day. So far the response has been very welcoming.”

NYPD Rookie Proposes After Graduation

NEW YORK, (UPI) — A New York Police Department rookie said he enlisted the help of two police officer uncles to propose to his girlfriend while celebrating his graduation.

Anthony Grosso, 23, who graduated Thursday from the Police Academy, said retired officer John Delgardo and detective Mark Moran rolled up in a patrol car while he was celebrating his graduation with family and friends and handed him the flowers and ring he used to drop to one knee and propose to Melissa Galassi, 24, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

“Perfect career, perfect girl, perfect day,” Grosso said after Galassi accepted his proposal.

Grosso said he was inspired to join the NYPD by police officer relatives who supported him when he developed rheumatic fever and a heart condition at the age of 9 and testicular cancer at the age of 15.

“They came on their days off … to take me to the hospital and made sure my family was taken care of,” Grosso said.

However, Delgardo said he sees things differently.

“He says I’m his hero — no way,” the uncle said. “What he went through in his life, he’s my hero.”

Transport Official Suspended For Face Lick

NEW YORK, (UPI) — New York transportation officials said a supervisor accused of licking a female subordinate’s face has been suspended and will likely be fired.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Charles Seaton said division manager Earl Bryan’s badge and work pass were confiscated at the close of a first-level disciplinary hearing Monday and officials are moving to fire him following a “complete and exhaustive investigation,” the New York Daily News reported Friday.

Nancy Jenkins, an MTA bus driver, said she was receiving her route assignment early one April morning when Bryan grabbed her by the shoulders and “licked me from under my chin all the way up to my eyebrow.”

Local 100 President John Samuelsen said he filed federal and state lawsuits at the MTA for taking so long to take action on the case.

“It’s outrageous that it has taken nearly two months for the MTA to act,” Samuelsen said Thursday. “We have more than 8,000 female transit workers in all job titles. They have been subjected to lousy rest facilities, disrespect, suggestive language and sexual harassment for too long. Hopefully, this incident and the courageous actions of Bus Operator Nancy Jenkins and others coming forward to out this supervisor will serve notice on everyone at the MTA that sexual harassment has no place in any workplace, but especially in a workplace so public and so important to the people of the City of New York as our public transit system.”

California's Ban On Foie Gras Looms

SACRAMENTO, (UPI) — French foie gras producers are gearing up to fight the impending California ban on the livers of force-fed ducks and geese.

The California law, signed in 2004 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes effect Sunday. Animal-rights activists, who argue force-feeding is cruel to birds, lobbied for the ban.

CIFOG, the group representing the French industry, is planning to take the issue to the World Trade Organization, Radio France Internationale reported. Officials say the government backs them.

The United States is actually not a big market for French foie gras, but CIFOG says the ban gives the product a bad name. Producers argue force-feeding does not harm birds because they have elastic esophagi.

“Since we respect the physiology of the animal, we cannot just let this go without reacting,” Marie-Pierre Pe, a spokeswoman said.

In California, meanwhile, restaurants were offering last-minute foie gras binges, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ken Takayama, chef at Melisse in Santa Monica, said the restaurant has offered a “Foie for All” menu for the past seven months. Even though the price tag is $185, that’s what half his diners are now choosing.

“I have never bought so much foie gras in my entire cooking career,” Takayama said. “It’s just insane.”

Air Force Expands Sex Abuse Investigation

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force says it is expanding an investigation of a sexual misconduct scandal involving dozens of instructors at basic-training sites.

The investigation began a year ago, with a woman filing a complaint at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It has grown into what observers say could become the worst sex scandal in the U.S. military since 12 male soldiers were charged with abusing female recruits and trainees at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Air Force investigation is focused on a unit of boot-camp instructors at Lackland, near San Antonio. About a fourth of the instructors in the 331st Training Squadron either were charged with crimes or are being investigated for sexual misconduct. One trainer was charged with raping or sexually assaulting 10 recruits.

Senior Air Force officials said problems were found in other units, prompting them to open more investigations to determine how extensive harassment toward female recruits is and whether the Air Force’s process for selecting male instructors is flawed, the Post said.

“We are leaving no stone unturned,” Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., Air Force commander of training and education, said Thursday. “I am being as aggressive as I can.”

Rice was in Washington to brief congressional members and Pentagon officials on the investigations.

Last week, the Air Force relieved Lt. Col. Michael Paquette, commander of the 331st Training Squadron, citing “an unacceptable level of misconduct” by unit members.

The Air Force appointed a two-star general to investigate whether the Lackland boot camp and other training sites have “systemic” sexual-misconduct issues, the Post said.

About 3,200 incidents of sexual assault were reported or investigated by the armed services in 2011, Defense Department data indicated.

In April, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced policies designed to encourage victims to come forward and to requiring that senior officers investigate all sexual assault complaints.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has called on the House Armed Services Committee to conduct hearings as it did in the Aberdeen scandal, the Post said.

“This scandal is exploding at Lackland, and it is frighteningly similar to what happened at Aberdeen,” Speier told the Post.

Shootings At Fort Bragg Kill 1, Injure 2

FORT BRAGG, N.C., (UPI) — A soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., shot and killed a battalion commander, then wounded himself, military officials said.

A third soldier was “slightly injured” by a ricocheting bullet, investigators said.

Fort Bragg officials said the shootings occurred Thursday during a unit safety briefing, The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer reported.

A spokesman for Fort Bragg said the names and ranks of the three soldiers, all members of the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, wouldn’t be released until relatives were notified.

NBC News reported the soldier killed was a battalion commander, citing a Defense Department official.

The wounded shooter was in custody, said Col. Kevin Arata, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg spokesman.

“This is a tragedy for our community,” Arata said. “We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected families to help them through this extremely difficult period.”

U.S. Heat Wave Moves East

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — A record-setting heat wave in portions of the U.S. midsection pushes east and south this weekend, weather officials said.

Temperatures were expected to approach 100 degrees along the Interstate 95 corridor, challenging record highs in Washington, Baltimore and Richmond, Va., AccuWeather.com reported.

Temperatures were expected to hit 100 in several southern cities, including Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville; and Birmingham, Ala.

A huge high-pressure system was responsible for more than 1,000 record high temperatures this week, forecasters said.

Monthly records were either tied or broken from Ohio to Arkansas, The Weather Channel said.

Hill City, Kan., recorded its sixth straight day of 110-plus degree heat Thursday.

St. Louis topped out at 108 degrees, the warmest day since July 18, 1954, and the temperature rose in Louisville to 103 degrees, topping the all-time June record high of 102 set in 1936 and tied in 1944 and 1952, The Weather Channel said.

Forecasters said Nashville could have 100-degree temps into next week.

Asheville, N.C., in the Blue Ridge Mountains, could get several days of 100-degree heat, forecasters said.

Raleigh, N.C., could have triple-digit temperatures through the weekend, The Weather Channel said, challenging the city’s record high for June, 104 degrees on June 27, 1954.

Face-Eater Had No 'Bath Salts' In System

MIAMI, (UPI) — The man who bit off parts of a homeless man’s face in Miami had marijuana but no other drugs in his system, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office said.

The May 26 attack, captured on a Miami Herald security camera, had led to speculation the attacker, Rudy Eugene, was under the influence of harder drugs, the Herald reported.

The head of the Miami police union had speculated Eugene, who was fatally shot by a police officer, was under the influence of “bath salts,” synthetic stimulants that have been blamed for what appeared to be psychotic episodes elsewhere in the country.

The medical examiner, who enlisted the help of an outside forensic toxicology lab, found no evidence of common ingredients of bath salts.

The Herald said the lab found no evidence of synthetic marijuana or LSD and the medical examiner found Eugene had not taken cocaine, heroin, PCP, oxycodone, amphetamines or any other known street drug other than marijuana, which isn’t known to cause violence.

Eugene, 31, had stripped his clothes off along the MacArthur Causeway, then attacked 65-year-old Ronald Poppo.

Poppo is recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Congress Holds Eric Holder In Contempt

WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) — Congress Thursday voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not turning over documents in to the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

Congress voted 256-67 to make Holder the first Cabinet member ever held in contempt of Congress. The vote came after Holder declined to comply with subpoenas for documents relating to the controversial gun program, which was started under the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Seventeen Democrats joined the Republican majority in the vote, with more than 100 Democrats, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, walking out of the chamber as voting began.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer accused Republicans of executing a politically motivated agenda, calling the vote “a politically transparent stunt.”

“Republicans pushed for political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight,” he said in a statement following the vote.

After the vote, Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., moved to authorize the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its chairman, Darrel Issa, R-Calif., to obtain a court judgment enforcing its subpoenas of Justice Department officials, including Holder.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a District of Columbia Democrat, called the contempt resolution a “serious, baseless charge of coverup” and asserted Holder began an investigation into Fast and Furious when he learned of it and fired the Bush-era officials involved.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va, called the resolution “unfounded, unfair and unwise” noting Holder has already handed over “thousands of documents in response to multiple subpoenas” and blamed Bush’s last attorney general, Michael Mukasey, for allowing the program to continue.

Holder issued a statement on the vote, saying:

“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically motivated — investigation during an election year. By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety. …

“When concerns about Operation Fast and Furious first came to light, I took action — and ordered an independent investigation into what happened. We learned that the flawed tactics used in this operation began in the previous administration — but I made sure that they ended under this one. I also made sure that agents and prosecutors around the country knew that such tactics must never be used again. I put in place new policies, new safeguards, and new leadership to make certain of this — and took extraordinary steps to facilitate robust congressional oversight. Let me be very clear — that was my response to Operation Fast and Furious. Any suggestion to the contrary simply ignores the facts.”

Before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the resolution “abusive” and “factually not true.”

“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ or not vote,” Pelosi said. “It’s Eric Holder one day, you don’t know who it is the next.”

Earlier, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the vote was part of lawmakers’ constitutional duty.

“It’s an unfortunate place where we are. But our members raise their right hand and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the United States. And we’re going to do our job,” Boehner said, vowing to press ahead with the civil and criminal contempt votes after the Justice Department refused to hand over all its memos and e-mails that reflect internal deliberations that took place after Congress began its inquiry into a botched gun-tracking operation.

The White House has invoked executive privilege in the matter.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, had appealed to Boehner to halt the precedent-setting action to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt.

He identified 100 “errors, omissions and mischaracterizations” in a report the committee drew up recommending the contempt citation.

The Fast and Furious dispute stems from an oversight committee claim the Justice Department may have sought to mislead the committee about the gun-tracking operation when it said incorrectly in a Feb. 4, 2011, letter the operation did not use a tactic, officially against Justice Department policy, called gun-walking.

The department later retracted that statement.

The 2009-11 Fast and Furious operation was part of a strategy begun during the Bush administration to combat Mexican drug and organized-crime cartels.

News reports have said the operation, run by Arizona agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, used gun-walking, which let suspected smugglers buy more than 2,000 firearms — including AK-47 variants, .50-caliber sniper rifles, .38-caliber revolvers and semiautomatic pistols — without intercepting the weapons.

The stated goal of permitting the purchases was to track the firearms as they were transferred to higher-level traffickers and key cartel figures, which would presumably lead to the figures’ arrests and the cartels’ dismantling. But the agents lost track of several hundred of the weapons.

Some guns later turned up at crime scenes on both sides of the border, including that of a Dec. 14, 2010, shootout in which U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed.

The gun-walking operation became public after Terry’s death, when enraged agents went to lawmakers about the operation.

Your Vote Matters

Finally, Obama said something I agree with. President Barack Obama was roundly criticized for his long, disjointed and uninspiring speech on the economy two weeks ago. But he said something in his conclusion that I’m sure most conservatives would agree with: “Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a nation — not just tomorrow, but for years to come.”

Food stamp use explodes. Remember when Bill Clinton bragged that his welfare reform was taking Americans off the dole? The Administration of Barack Obama sure has reversed that. At the end of fiscal 2008, the food stamp program cost taxpayers $34.6 billion. Today, the tab has more than doubled, to $78 billion, with one in seven Americans on the dole. And believe it or not, the Department of Agriculture is spending millions of dollars on an advertising program to get even more people signed up. They’ve even got a $500 million bounty to reward States for finding more participants.

Meanwhile, families’ net worth plummets. A report by the Federal Reserve says that the average American family’s net worth dropped almost 40 percent between 2007 and 2010. It went from a high of $126,400 in 2007 to just $77,300 in 2010 — a level last seen in 1992. Most of the decline was attributed to the sharp drop in housing values. Family income is also falling, from an average of $49,600 in 2007 to just $45,800 in 2010. Does anyone want to bet that things have gotten better in the past 18 months?

How much will this matter in November? What do Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin have in common? First, they’re all considered toss-up States in the Presidential election. Whoever wins most of these electoral votes will undoubtedly win the White House. But second, they are all States where voters approved an amendment to the Constitution declaring that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

–Chip Wood   

Vote Republican? Bah!

The Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obamacare strikes to the heart of an argument used by the Republican Party to accept the unconservative and unpalatable candidates — Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush — it continues to hoist as its standard bearers for President: You must vote Republican in order to ensure conservatives are appointed to the bench.

So-called “conservative” Chief Justice John Roberts (appointed by George W. Bush) joined decidedly activist justices appointed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to allow the Federal government to force Americans into government-run healthcare programs or pay a penalty.

Of course, healthcare in America should rightfully be called deathcare. There is no desire from the mainstream medical community to cure disease. There is too much money to be had from continually treating disease and making people sick through government-mandated vaccinations.

The elites and bureaucrats who run government and the regulatory agencies accept big money from Big Pharma and the conventional medicine cabal to restrict healthcare choices. They frown on alternative medicine. Their public relations arm in the mainstream media works overtime to deride alternative treatments, natural supplements and healthy eating choices as quackery.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is doing all it can to quash the supplement industry. It restricts access to natural foods like raw milk. It allows genetically modified foods to be passed off as natural and approves the use of harmful hormones and antibiotics in poultry, beef and pork. Its so-called well-regulated Big Agriculture processing plants are rife with harmful bacteria (creating disease and sparking recalls) and the egregious treatment of farm animals. Small, organic farms are forced out of business, despite producing healthier products.

The Food and Drug Administration pushes drug use and approves drugs that come with warning labels a mile long and allows big food companies to use unhealthy additives (like high fructose corn syrup) and call imitation fruit products real fruit, but prevents sellers of all-natural products like walnuts and cherries from touting their health benefits.

So now, thanks to a “conservative” Supreme Court appointee, more bureaucrats get to decide what is and what isn’t acceptable medicine. Yeah, let’s count on Republicans to preserve our rights.

Cellphone Companies Give Your Info To Cops, Not You

Mobile phone service providers log data about your locations and store it for years. In the event of a criminal investigation, they routinely release such data to police; it is also provided — with personal information removed — to companies for advertising purposes.

But, according to ProPublica, you can rarely gain access to your own location data.

The organization asked its staffers to request such information from their cellphone providers. Here’s what they discovered:


On releasing location data to you: “Verizon Wireless will release a subscriber’s location information to law enforcement with that subscriber’s written consent. These requests must come to Verizon Wireless through law enforcement; so we would provide info on your account to law enforcement— with your consent— but not directly to you.”

On responding to requests from law enforcement: “Unless a customer consents to the release of information or law enforcement certifies that there is an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury, Verizon Wireless does not release information to law enforcement without appropriate legal process.” A spokesman said being more specific would “require us to share proprietary information.”


On releasing location data to you: “We do not normally release this information to customers for privacy reasons because call detail records contain all calls made or received, including calls where numbers are ‘blocked.’ Because of an FCC rule requiring that we not disclose ‘blocked’ numbers, we only release this information to a customer when we receive a valid legal demand for it.”

On responding to requests from law enforcement: “If the government is seeking ‘basic subscriber information’ (defined in 18 USC sec. 2701, et seq) it can obtain that information by issuing a subpoena. If the government is seeking Sprint records relating to our customers that go beyond ‘basic subscriber information’ then the government must furnish Sprint with a court order based on specific and articulable facts. If the government is seeking customer’s content then it must obtain a warrant based on probable cause.”


On releasing location data to you: “Giving customers location data for their wireless phones is not a service we provide.”

On responding to requests from law enforcement: “We do share data with law enforcement as part of a valid legal process – for example, a court order or a subpoena.”


On releasing location data to you: “No comment.”

On responding to requests from law enforcement: “For law enforcement agencies, we release customer information only when compelled or permitted under existing laws. This includes, but is not limited to, circumstances under which there is a declaration from law enforcement of an exigent circumstance, as well as other valid legal process, such as subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders.”

The phone companies hand over cellphone location information to police and the FBI thousands of times each year when a court order is provided.

ProPublica’s observation comes as the government is increasingly looking to use mobile phone location data to bolster prosecutions after a Supreme Court ruling that said the government must obtain a warrant to affix a GPS device to track a vehicle’s every move.