Russia Confirms Creation Of 117th Element

MOSCOW, (UPI) — Russian scientists say they’ve successfully repeated their synthesis of the 117th chemical element, paving the way for formal addition to the periodic table.

The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna outside Moscow first synthesized the 117th element in 2010, but the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry requires such experiments to be reproduced before registering a new element.

The researchers have already filed an application to register the new element, Andrei Popeko, an official at the Dubna institute, told RIA Novosti Monday.

However, obtaining a proper name and formally adding it to the periodic table could take up to a year, Popeko said.

Elements beyond uranium, No. 92 in the periodic table, do not occur in nature and have to be artificially created in reactors or laboratories.

The Dubna Institute said it has already synthesized element 118, while a German research center is working to synthesize elements 119 and 120, RIA Novosti reported.

Female Jogger Fights Off Teenagers

VANCOUVER, Wash., (UPI) — A Washington state woman who has studied martial arts for nearly two decades said she fought off two teenage boys who accosted her while she was jogging.

Priscilla Dang, 23, of Vancouver said she was jogging on the path along Padden Parkway June 14 when a teenage boy on a bicycle distracted her to allow a second teenager to swat her on the buttocks, The Columbian in Vancouver reported Monday.

“I hate when men think they can do that stuff,” said Dang, who said she regularly studies Wushu martial arts. “There was no question.”

Dang said she threw the boy to the ground and demanded an apology, which he offered, but the other boy called her a derogatory term and she struck him, leading him to get off his bicycle and attempt to punch her.

The jogger said the teenager pulled out a knife when he was unable to land a punch and she blocked his weapon with the bicycle until a passerby spotted the confrontation and called 911.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Josiah Sullivan, 18, who allegedly slapped Dang’s buttocks, on suspicion of misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.

Deputies referred charges of displaying a dangerous weapon against the second teen, a 16-year-old boy whose name was not released.

Wedding Party Falls Into Lake

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (UPI) — A Michigan bride whose entire wedding party plunged into a lake when a dock collapsed said the incident “makes for a good story.”

Eric and Maegan Walber said their wedding party gathered on the dock at the Bay Pointe Inn in Grand Rapids to take pictures after the ceremony Saturday and the dock began to wobble after about 30 seconds, Mlive.com reported Monday.

“I saw the thing starting to tilt, and I’m like, ‘Oh, yup, this is going to happen,'” Eric Walber told WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids. “We went right under.”

“Everyone was laughing,” he said. “It was one of those things that it just happens and you roll with it.”

Maegan Walber said the plunge made her wedding day all the more memorable.

“It makes for a good story,” she said. “We’ll be telling our grandkids.”

Couple Fined For Giving Booze To Teens

NAPERVILLE, Ill., (UPI) — An Illinois couple who admitted in court to allowing underage drinking at an after-prom party they hosted at their home were placed on court supervision.

Michael and Cathy Bushman, both 47, of Naperville were also fined $1,000 in Judge Mary O’Connor’s courtroom after pleading guilty under a city ordinance to permitting the consumption of alcohol by minors, the Sun-Times Media Network reported Monday.

Naperville police said they were investigating reports of damaged mailboxes in the Century Farms neighborhood and the investigation led them to discover the Bushmans had hosted an after-prom party late April 28 and early April 29. Police said the couple provided alcoholic beverages to the Naperville North High School students.

Police said 26 teenagers were ticketed April 29 for unlawful consumption of alcohol by minors.

Woman Complains After Haircut Punishment

PRICE, Utah, (UPI) — A Utah mother said she filed a formal complaint against a judge who had her slice off her 13-year-old’s ponytail as punishment for cutting a 3-year-old’s hair.

Valerie Bruno said she has filed a formal complaint against 7th District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen, who told her he would cut the 276-hour community service sentence imposed on her daughter, Kaytlen Lopan, by 150 hours if the mother cut off the teenager’s ponytail in his courtroom, The Deseret News reported Monday.

Lopan had been sentenced in Johansen’s courtroom in May after she was convicted on an assault charge for cutting several inches of hair from the head of a 3-year-old girl they met at a McDonald’s in Price.

“I guess I should have went into the courtroom knowing my rights, because I felt very intimidated,” Bruno said. “An eye for an eye, that’s not how you teach kids right from wrong.”

Colin Winchester, executive director of the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission, said a complaint against a judge can take several months to be resolved.

Thieves Take Shoes One At A Time

NEW YORK, (UPI) — New York shoe sellers said they have noticed a pattern of thieves taking a single display shoe from separate stores to make matching pairs.

Salissou Mohamam, 40, manager of sneaker store Michael K, said workers at his store and a city Foot Locker have noticed thieves targeting the same sneakers for the opposite feet, the New York Post reported Monday.

“They go to Foot Locker, which has all right-sided shoes. Then they come here because we display left-sided shoes,” Mohamam said.

He said about 50 pairs of shoes are stolen each year using the technique.

Jennifer Lee, 52, owner of the Sneaker Box, said her store has also been targeted by the thieves.

“They know before they steal which stores are selling which styles and sizes, left and right. They calculate before they come in,” she said.

Postal Workers Hunger Strike

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Ten postal workers said they launched a hunger strike Monday to protest U.S. Postal Service plans to close or consolidate 48 mail processing plants.

The strikers — who call themselves Community and Postal Workers United — said they want Congress to drop an annual mandate requiring the U.S.P.S. to prefund healthcare benefits for future retirees, CNN reported.

“That payment is causing great hardship to the Postal Service,” said Nannette Corley, a Maryland mail clerk participating in the hunger strike. “We are the people. What is it that Congress wants us to do? Starve and make everybody homeless?”

Currently in the works is a U.S.P.S. plan to shrink the postal network by 28,000 jobs by 2014, which will ultimately slow the delivery of first-class mail, CNN reported. The Postal Service has already offered buyouts and retirement packages to 21,000 postmasters and 45,000 mail handlers.

“Rallies and marches just aren’t working anymore,” said Tom Dodge, 58, a postal truck driver from the Baltimore area. “It’s time to take a stand on this. The post office is a part of our Constitution.”

The strikers said they plan to start eating again Thursday and will follow up with demonstrations throughout Washington next week, CNN reported.

Carter Blasts U.S. Targeted Kill Policy

ATLANTA, (UPI) — Washington, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has migrated from its position as the moral authority on human rights, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.

Carter writes in The New York Times that targeted assassinations of individuals deemed a direct threat to national security, including U.S. citizens, is a “disturbing” trend.

Washington uses policies enacted after the 2001 attacks by al-Qaida to justify its policies against suspected terrorists.

Carter writes that since those attacks, bipartisan executive and legislative actions have endorsed the direct targeting of suspected terrorists “without dissent” from the U.S. constituency. As a result, he writes, Washington “can no longer speak with moral authority” on critical human rights issues.

Authorities at the United Nations in October said there were troubling trends in counter-terrorism operations, where some conflicts know no borders. Last week, Amnesty International said U.S. justification for its targeted kill operations weakens U.S. credibility in the human rights arena.

“As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years,” writes Carter.

Court: No Life Without Parole For Teens

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that mandatory sentencing of teenage killers to life without parole is unconstitutional.

Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four-member liberal bloc to form the majority. The court’s remaining four conservatives dissented.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion, saying Supreme Court precedent “and our individualized sentencing decisions make clear that a judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles.”

Kagan said by requiring that all children convicted of homicide “receive lifetime incarceration without possibility of parole, regardless of their age and age-related characteristics and the nature of their crimes, the mandatory sentencing schemes … violate this principle of proportionality, and so the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Chief Justice John Roberts led the dissenters.

“Determining the appropriate sentence for a teenager convicted of murder presents grave and challenging questions of morality and social policy,” Roberts wrote. “Our role, however, is to apply the law, not to answer such questions. The pertinent law here is the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’ Today, the court [majority] invokes that amendment to ban a punishment that the court does not itself characterize as unusual, and that could not plausibly be described as such.”

Twenty-nine states impose life without parole on some of those who killed as teenagers.

Nearly 2,500 prisoners across the country are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for murders they committed before the age of 18.

One of the cases that brought the ruling involves a 14-year-old who beat a man with a baseball bat, robbed him and left him to burn to death in a trailer nearly 10 years ago in Lawrence County, Ala. The defendant was 14 at the time.

The other case involved an Arkansas defendant who also was sentenced to life without parole for a homicide committed at age 14. But in that case, the teenager did not do the killing but participated in a robbery that ended in a killing by someone else.

The Supreme Court majority reversed lower court rulings supporting the sentences.

3 Out Of 4 Americans Don’t Have Sufficient Savings

A new survey conducted by Bankrate.com shows that only 25 percent of Americans have saved six months of expenses. And 28 percent have no savings at all.

The data reveal the dire reality for many underemployed and unemployed Americans.

“Incomes are largely stagnant, so it’s difficult for people to make significant headway on savings when household expenses are creeping higher but incomes are not,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “Prolonged unemployment has also depleted the savings of many people who at one time had a more appropriate cushion.”

The survey concluded that nearly 50 percent of people did not have three months of savings. Some people may use this figure as proof of an improving economy — six years ago, 61 percent did not have three months of savings. But the reality is that Americans were wealthier in 2006.

The discrepancy is likely due to the fact that, six years ago, people were more confident in their earning potential. Plus, analysts note that savings accounts were lower in 2006 because people viewed their house as an investment.

The Fast And The Spurious X: Oh, Yes, They Did!

Last Thursday’s White House press briefing was a fairly standard affair. Pressed by the few reporters in attendance whose primary concern was neither parroting Democratic talking points nor fixing their hair, President Barack Obama’s chief sock puppet Jay Carney awkwardly attempted to portray the Operation Fast and Furious scandal as a “fishing expedition.” Carney lied, feigned ignorance, sneered, whined and mocked the overwhelming number of Americans who want answers about Obama’s gift of weapons to Mexican narcoterrorists. In other words, it was another Thursday in the Obama White House.

And then, Carney treated observers to what his boss might have called a “teachable moment.” During his faux-casual dismissal of the disastrous OFF and its tragic consequences, Carney forgot border agent and OFF victim Brian Terry’s name.

We already know that neither Obama nor Holder has apologized to Terry’s family for the murder of their son at the hands of narcoterrorists armed by the Obama Administration. We also know from recent events that senior members of the Obama Administration have repeatedly lied to the Nation and to Congress about the development and implementation of OFF. Holder perjured himself — oops, “misspoke” — on at least three separate occasions. And in recent days, we have watched as the Democratic Party has thrown in with Obama and Holder for better or worse (much, much worse) on the whole affair. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi concocted the theory that the entire investigation is a Republican conspiracy:

They’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states…It is a plan on the part of Republicans. These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote.

Pelosi didn’t offer an explanation as to how bringing the Obama Administration to justice for OFF would keep Democrats from voting as early and often as they normally do, but I’m still waiting for her to offer an explanation as to how she sneaks out of the psych ward each morning. The Democrats’ television outlet — MSNBC — said no scandal exists. Of course, MSNBC thinks filming Ed Schultz working out what appear to be some fairly serious issues makes for good television.

Most of this knowledge can be gleaned from simple knowledge of the Democratic Party. Consumed by rage at perceived “unfairness,” guided by obscenely wealthy hypocrites who buy votes and control in the form of what they call “public assistance” and we call “a taxpayer-funded hammock” they see literally everything in political terms. Their by-any-means-necessary theory of political power causes them to react to opposition with distraction, slander and/or outright fraud. But OFF is different. Unlike the other myriad scandals that have defined the Obama Administration — from Obamacare to illegally offered amnesty for illegal aliens — OFF seems ridiculous on its face. Career Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents warned against it. The shop owners forced to assist warned against it. And Obama — well, the as-yet-unnamed sap who will likely take the fall for Obama — ignored their advice and went ahead with the program anyway. It’s hardly a secret that OFF didn’t just fail; it failed like Chris Matthews on “Jeopardy.”

But why did Obama go through with it in the first place? Even if the goal was to create a crisis to which he could respond by clamping down on the Bill of Rights, why hand weapons to members of Mexican drug cartels (hardly a circumspect bunch when it comes to killing)? Moreover, why try to cover it up afterward? Anyone self-important enough to smile while trampling the Constitution as routinely as Obama does should hardly care if he gets caught doing so.

And that’s the lesson Carney offered last Thursday when he demonstrated Obama’s complete lack of concern for the real victims of OFF. They did it all for one simple reason — the reason that drives the Democrats (particularly the current crop running wild in Washington) to visit upon the rest of us virtually every scandal, every violation of our civil liberties, every imperial decree and every crime they’ve gladly committed: because they can. God save us if we don’t disabuse them of that notion in November.

–Ben Crystal

Lawyerball: The First Thing We Do

Two years ago, a woman named Elizabeth Lloyd sat down at a picnic table next to a Little League field in Manchester Township, N.J. Not long after, an 11-year-old catcher named Matthew Migliaco began warming up a pitcher in the bullpen next to Lloyd. And then, tragedy struck. Well, perhaps not tragedy. Tragedy implies human suffering on a grand scale. Had young Master Migliaco suddenly fired a rocket-propelled grenade at Lloyd, that would have been tragic. If the young backstopper had lept the fence with a bat and set to Lloyd the way Trayvon Martin — ahem, allegedly — set to George Zimmerman, that would have been tragic. No, what happened was purely an accident. An errant toss by Matthew hit Lloyd. Oops! A bad throw by an 11-year old. Bummer. The normal response would likely entail wincing, spitting out a stream of verbiage one would normally want to keep from using next to a Little League baseball field, an angry return throw and then a trip home to put a bag of frozen peas on the affected area.

But Lloyd is one of an increasingly large number of Americans who thumb their rhetorical noses at “normal” on their way to the courtroom. Two years after Matthew accidentally hit her, Lloyd and her husband are demanding $150,000 for medical costs and punitive remuneration for pain, suffering and something her husband, a party to the suit, calls a loss of “services, society and consortium.” I’m no lawyer, but I’m going to guess that means Lloyd, once viewed by her husband as the Gisele Bundchen to his Tom Brady, is now less appealing to him than a week at a nudist colony with Roseanne Barr.

Lloyd took a baseball in the kisser while sitting next to a baseball field in use by a group of 10- and 11-year-old baseball players. As anyone who’s watched The Bad News Bears is already aware, 10- and 11-year-old baseball players tend not to possess the talent — much less the aim — of Derek Jeter. Therefore, sitting next to a field on which a game between two teams loaded with the best talent the local plumbing-supply house can sponsor would carry with it what one lawyer friend of mine described as “an assumption of risk.”

Yet Lloyd believes Matthew targeted her with the malice of Randy Johnson staring down a rookie who’s crowding the plate, and she and her husband managed to find a lawyer willing to charge the proverbial mound. Their attorney is the kind of roach-with-a-briefcase who illuminates the reasoning behind Shakespeare’s famous line from Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, scene ii: “The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.” The Lloyds’ lawyer is merely the latest in a long line of ambulance chasers who tear this country apart bit by bit — another galling example of the parasites who ply the emergency rooms and emblazon bus stop benches and phone book covers with their grinning mugs, looking for their next slip-and-fall payday.

These are the foot soldiers in the liberal campaign to turn us into a Nation of squabbling twerps who can turn even the most innocent mishap into a battle royale of mistrust, resentment and recrimination. While the Lloyds’ decision to abduct Matthew’s innocence and dump it in a ditch is appalling, it’s hardly isolated. Of course, the granddaddy of all idiotic lawsuits would be the infamous case in which a woman sued McDonald’s after she spilled hot coffee in her lap and burned herself. That she won close to $3 million is testament only to the perverse courtroom skills of her attorney and the frighteningly high number of exceptionally stupid people in the jury pool. Perhaps the most famous of the practitioners of this sort of law would be former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards, who made an estimated $50 million pile while convincing juries to reward his clients for all manner of questionable ills.

And the Lloyds’ lawyer, much like Edwards and the rest of their legal-beagling siblings, are sucking the life out of us all. When someone takes the case of Lloyd vs. Migliaco, America’s Pastime, et al., a little of the joy in all of us dies. Baseball fields get shrouded in protective rubber matting to protect picknickers. Then the players themselves get wrapped in the stuff as well. Baseball begins to (as an 11-year-old might put it): “like, totally suck big time.” They go home and play Xbox all day. They get fat, and then their parents sue Microsoft for making the Xbox. Little League folds, and the commissioner gets so upset that he spills his coffee in his lap and burns himself. He sues McDonald’s, and the cycle continues.

Someone sits down next to a Little League field, gets hit by a baseball and sues the ballplayer. Someone else spills hot coffee in his lap and sues McDonald’s. Someone else slips in your driveway and sues you, the driveway contractor and anyone else their attorney can hit with a tsunami of paper.

Don’t mistake my intent. I would part with The Bard and acknowledge that not all lawyers need killin’. Beyond the defenders of decency in the civil courtrooms, our justice system needs someone to stand up for society in the criminal docket as well. If we abandon the legal profession to the Johnny Cochrans of the world, who will guide the jury to recognizing that the only real choice should have been about into which of O.J. Simpson’s arms to stick the needle? In fact, the Simpson murder trial is a perfect example: Simpson had the master showmen Cochran and Robert Shapiro. And justice retorted with Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden.

We need decent people to stand in a courtroom when one of Edwards’ colleagues demands $3 million for pain and suffering caused by spilled hot coffee to respond with a legally appropriate version of: “The plaintiff is a doofus.” For every Edwards, we need an Antonin Scalia to talk the jury off the roof. For every ambulance chaser whose chosen profession has pushed malpractice insurance — hence, healthcare costs — into the stratosphere, we need a dignified jurist to remind people that “yes, the patient has a reduced quality of life following his heart surgery, but he is alive, and it’s a good thing the surgeon didn’t go to law school instead.” And for every Elizabeth Lloyd and her attorney, there must be someone with an understanding of both basic decency and the law who can stand up and remind the jury that she was sitting next to a baseball field on which 11-year-olds were playing — of all things — baseball, a sport in which baseballs are routinely used and often leave the field of play.

It would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t note the political bent of the sort of people who sue Little League baseball players when their clients are hit by flying baseballs. They’re the same attorneys who filed the lawsuits against McDonald’s for hot coffee and the same who filed suit against McDonald’s on behalf of parents with fat kids. They’re Edwards, Cochran (were he still alive) and Shapiro. They’re also Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama. They bend, twist and deform the law to assuage their greed for money and/or power. And they crush the dreams of Little League players, force doctors into the poorhouse, deny justice to murder victims and diminish the quality of the lives of virtually everyone with whom they cross professional paths.

Even if Matthew successfully fends off the Lloyds’ abominably frivolous lawsuit, they and the lawyer who took their case have stolen a big chunk of Matthew’s childhood. We all lost a little bit when Matthew was served with the papers for this suit. We all lose a little bit every time some lawyer plays the lawsuit lottery like this. All of us, that is, except the lawyers.

Maybe Shakespeare was right all along.

–Ben Crystal

Why We’re Fat And Sick

There is a reason Americans are fat and sick. It’s called high fructose corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup is a cheap non-food filler. It contains no nutrition — only calories. It is, as a report in The Guardian describes, a highly sweet, gloppy syrup produced from surplus corn that is incredibly sweet.

HFCS was discovered in the 1950s; by the 1970s, a means had been devised to mass produce it. It quickly began to be included in every processed food made: pizza, coleslaw, meat, bread, cakes, candies, soft drinks, etc. It was cheap to make and could be included in everything, making the production of all food cheaper.

HFCS does four things:

  • It blocks the assimilation of calcium. Have you ever heard of the osteoporosis epidemic in America? Most Americans chase their calcium supplement with a drink containing HFCS. Almost everyone over age 50 suffers from a dangerous loss of calcium.
  • HFCS causes cancer in test animals. It predisposes humans to cancer.
  • As a synthetic sugar, it bypasses the pancreas. This eventually causes the pancreas to shut down, leading to diabetes. Harvey Wiley, the first head of the Bureau of Chemistry (the forerunner of the Food and Drug Administration), warned of the deceptive marketing of glucose (which preceded HFCS) and other adulterated corn products and their introduction into food. He predicted a diabetes epidemic.
  • It causes obesity and is highly addictive.

The FDA approves its use, yet claims to look out for our health. It is a world-class scam and attack on people’s health.

TSA Fails To Keep Airports Safe

The Transportation Security Administration caused quite a ruckus in the Big Apple over the weekend.

TSA failed to screen countless travelers at John F. Kennedy International Airport. A metal detector was unplugged.

Screener Alija Abdul Majed failed to realize that the metal detector was never set off throughout the morning. At 9:44 a.m., it was discovered that the metal detector had not been plugged in.

When agents realized that tons of people had passed through unscreened, the airport was in a state of pandemonium. Flights were delayed, and two planes that had already taken off were called back to the airport. Passengers were forced to go back through security screening.

“How many hours will it take to send a terminal full of people BACK through security?” tweeted one passenger.

The day before, about 10 miles away at LaGuardia Airport, TSA’s efforts to keep travelers safe went up in flames as an X-ray machine caught on fire. Six hundred people were evacuated from the terminal.

“It’s an adventure. They’re doing a good job. They’re doing the best they can. Things happen,” said one passenger.

Despite TSA’s recent boondoggles, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is considering a bill that would give TSA oversight over other forms of mass transit.

“We have put in place through TSA a very elaborate system [in airports]. We all go through those metal detectors and those secondary searches. And we’ve put a lot of focus on the airlines for good reason. But we have neglected the mass transit components, generally speaking,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). The House passed the bill on May 30.

Obama Refuses To Pay, Individual Picks Up Tab

A local resident will pay part of the bill for President Barack Obama’s trip to Durham, N.H. The town of Durham could not afford the security costs of the President’s visit. City officials refused to cover the costs. The Obama campaign also refused.

It cost the town $20,000 to supply police, fire and EMS services — money that Durham does not have at its disposal. Although the Obama campaign clearly has the funds, it expected Durham to cover the bill.

The campaign says that decisions regarding expenses “are exclusively within the control of the appropriate government officials.”

Because the Obama campaign would not cover the security expenses, a local resident came forward and offered to pay what Durham couldn’t afford.

“An anonymous donor, a Durham resident, contacted the town administrator and council chair, and offered to pay for town public safety costs up to $20,000. The donor wanted us to make public his or her sentiment that the town had done the right thing in asking the campaign to do its part,” said Town Council Chair Jay Gooze.

Sunscreen Banned In Schools, Students Burned

An elementary school in Tacoma, Wash., is feeling the heat after it banned students from wearing sunscreen. Two sisters were severely burned at an all-day school function. One of the sisters suffers from a form of albinism.

“It feels like your eyeballs are just going to pop out,” said Zoe Michener, a fair-skinned 9-year-old.

The mother of the two girls, Jesse Michener, blogged about the ordeal.

“My children indicated that several adults commented on their burns at school, including staff and other parents. One of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was ‘just for her,’” wrote Michener.

Parents need to be aware that in 49 States, sunscreen is treated as an over-the-counter drug. Therefore, students must have a doctor’s note to use it. California is the only State that does not regulate sunscreen use on school campuses.

“We have learned that it’s important to stand up for what you believe in,” Michener said. “This has always been about making sense of a policy that doesn’t make sense and trying to change it.”

Boomers Buying Cars They Wanted As Teens

NASHVILLE (UPI) — Baby Boomers are buying the cars they wish they had as teenagers, custom car restorers say.

Jim Brandea of Spring Hill, Tenn., who has an online collector car magazine called the Gear head Gazette, said baby boomers have more cash as their children get out of college and they want to recapture part of their youth, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Sunday.

Brandea, who also co-owns custom car restoration shop called Hot Rods & Threads in College Grove, Tenn., said muscle cars such as the Dodge Challenger and Charger, Chevrolet Camry, Ford Mustang and Pontiac GOT are among the most popular cars with boomers.

“People are really wanting those cars, trying to relive the days when horsepower was king. But trucks play a role, too. It really depends on what your flavor is,” he told the newspaper.

New Home Sales Rose In May

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Sales of new single-family homes rose 7.6 percent in April to May, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday.

Sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000, which topped the revised April rate of 343,000 and came in 19.8 percent higher than 12 months prior when an estimated 308,000 new single-family homes were sold.

The Commerce Department said the average sale price for a new home sold in May was $273,900.

Going into June, there were 145,000 new homes on the market, enough to last 4.7 months at the current rate of sales, the Commerce Department said.

 

Blueberries Overtake Peaches In Georgia

ATLANTA (UPI) — Georgia’s blueberry industry is steadily outpacing “The Peach State’s” famous peach industry, data from the University of Georgia indicates.

The data show the blueberry industry produced $133 million in 2010 — making Georgia the third biggest blueberry-producing state behind Michigan and Oregon — while the peach industry produced $47 million, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Blueberry sales have increased by 500 percent since 2003 while peach sales have remained flat.

More than 19,000 acres of land in Georgia are devoted to blueberry farming compared to 8,000 acres 10 years ago. Only 12,000 acres of land in Georgia are devoted to peach farming, compared to 16,000 acres a decade ago.

The rise of the blueberry industry and the fall of the peach industry has split Georgia residents over their true agricultural identity.

“Georgia law says the peach is what we’re known for, but it’s good to have some diversity when it comes to agricultural economy,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said. “They are providing a good income and land utilization for a lot of our growers.”

“There’s nothing as sweet as a Georgia peach, not even a little old blueberry,” said Perry Swanson, president of the Peach County Chamber of Commerce. “Besides, would people say, ‘That girl’s as pretty as a Georgia blueberry?'”

Long-Haul Drivers In Short Supply

ARLINGTON, Va. (UPI) — Mike Card the chairman of the American Trucking Associations, said long-haul drivers are in short supply despite a U.S. unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

“It’s getting harder to get drivers. I could hire 50 guys right now,” said Card, who is also the president of Combined Transport of Central Point, Ore.

USA Today reported Monday that an annual salary of approximately $50,000 is not enticing many laid off factory or construction workers in part because of the six-week training costs, which run as high as $6,000.

With a shortage of drivers, some companies are reporting delayed delivery times and the turnover of drivers has jumped from 75 percent in 2011 to 90 percent among larger trucking firms, a four-year high, the association said.

In a another repercussion, despite the delays, high customer demand and a driver shortage has pushed freight rates 2 percent to 5 percent higher, said Benjamin Hartford, an industry analyst at R.W. Baird.

The government has also made finding drivers more difficult and contributed to higher prices.

The government began publicizing safety records among trucking firms, which forced some firms to seek out drivers with unblemished driving records, which contributed to the shortage. Meanwhile, anti-pollution standards have made trucks more expensive, USA Today reported.

Older Workers Lead The Comeback

CHICAGO (UPI) — U.S. workers aged 55 and older have enjoyed the largest comeback of any age group in the slowly recovering economy, a private research group found.

Over the past 28 months, employment among three age categories – teenagers, workers aged 35- to 44-year-olds, and 45- to 54-year-olds – declined, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Monday.

Workers aged 20- to 24-years-old added 980,000 jobs in the same time frame. Workers aged 25- to 34-years-old have gained 882,000 jobs since Jan. 1, 2010, the firm said.

Those age 55 and older, however, gained 2,998,000 jobs or 69 percent of the total in employment growth, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

Part of the reason behind the trend is thrift. Older workers have experience in various job and can often wear more hats at a company than a younger worker, the firm said.

“A seasoned candidate who brings a wide variety of skills and experience to the table is going to have an advantage over younger candidates. For employers, one experienced candidate is worth two or three younger, greener candidates, in terms of the ability to make immediate and meaningful contributions to output and the bottom line,” said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.

Banana Flour Touted For Gluten-Free Pasta

RIO DE JANEIRO (UPI) — University of Brazil researchers say their gluten-free pasta from green banana flour tastes better than regular whole-wheat pasta.

Lead investigator Renata Puppin Zandonadi of the University of Brazil compared a standard whole-wheat pasta preparation made from whole-wheat flour and whole eggs with one made from green banana flour, egg whites, water and gums.

The alterations reduced the fat content and increased the protein value of the modified pasta. The egg whites and gum resulted in pasta that was less sticky than typical gluten-free pastas, and promote firmness, elasticity, moisture and uniformity.

The modified pasta decreased fat content by more than 98 percent — particularly important to patients with celiac disease, because many gluten-free products compensate for the removal of gluten with high levels of fats.

Fifty testers who did not have celiac disease and 25 celiac disease patients tasted the pastas.

The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found both groups said the modified pasta was better accepted than the standard in aroma, flavor, texture and overall quality.

The findings indicated the product could possibly be commercialized to a wider market than just those with celiac disease, Zandonadi said.

“There was no significant difference between the modified pasta and standard samples in terms of appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall quality,” Zandonadi said in a statement. “For banana growers and pasta product makers, there is the possibility of diversifying and expanding their market.”

 

Thyroid Problems Cause Pregnancy Issues

HOUSTON (UPI) — Researchers in India suggest pregnant women should be screened for thyroid dysfunction within the first three months of getting pregnant.

Dr. Jubbin Jagan Jacob of Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, India, and colleagues found even moderate thyroid dysfunction during early pregnancy significantly increases the risk of serious complications.

Thyroid hormone, produced by the thyroid gland, helps regulate the process of turning food into energy, but excessively low hormone production, or hypothyroidism, may cause symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures, constipation and depression.

However, during pregnancy untreated, hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and other serious complications. Although previous research has suggested that women with moderate thyroid dysfunction, or subclinical hypothyroidism, also are more likely to suffer complications, the level of risk was uncertain.

The study found even mild thyroid dysfunction that did not meet the criteria for hypothyroidism greatly increased the risk of serious problems — compared to pregnant women with normal thyroid function, the risk was doubled for miscarriage, premature labor, low birth weight and seven times greater for still birth.

The finding were presented at The Endocrine Society’s 94th annual meeting in Houston.