Design Of F-15SE Weapons Bay Tested

ST. LOUIS, (UPI) — The aerodynamics of the conformal weapons bay design by Boeing of the United States and Korean Aerospace Industries has been validated in wind tunnel tests.

Boeing conducted the test as part of the Silent Eagle project — the upgrade to the F-15E, which is being offered to South Korea as the country pursues a future fighter program.

“Boeing and its partners have advanced to the next phase in the development of the Silent Eagle, an evolved derivative of the combat-proven F-15 family of aircraft,” said Roger Besancenez, F-15 Program vice president for Boeing.

“We are now testing production-representative hardware as we continue to validate our affordable and low-risk design.”

The F-15SE will feature stealth technology, including the carrying of weapons within the fuselage.

Boeing said that for the conformal weapons bay test it used a scale model of the Silent Eagle to determine the effect of various air speeds and flight angles. Future testing will focus on the “aerodynamic effects of multiple weapons loads, as well as opening and closing the upper and lower CWB doors.”

Vitamin D Lack Linked To Weight Gain

PORTLAND, Ore., (UPI) — Older U.S. women with insufficient levels of vitamin D gained more weight than those with sufficient levels of the “sunshine” vitamin, researchers say.

Study author Dr. Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., said the study involved more than 4,600 women age 65 over nearly five years.

The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found those with insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about 2 pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin.

“This is one of the first studies to show that women with low levels of vitamin D gain more weight, and although it was only 2 pounds, over time that can add up,” LeBlanc said in a statement. “Nearly 80 percent of women in our study had insufficient levels of vitamin D. A primary source of this important vitamin is sunlight, and as modern societies move indoors, continuous vitamin D insufficiency may be contributing to chronic weight gain.”

Seventy-eight percent of the women had less than 30 nanograms per millimeter of vitamin D in their blood — the level defined as sufficient by The Endocrine Society panel of experts who set clinical guidelines on vitamin D deficiency.

In the group of 571 women who gained weight, those with insufficient vitamin D levels gained more — 18.5 pounds over five years — than women who had sufficient vitamin D,” LeBlanc said. “The latter group gained 16.4 pounds over the same period.”

Lung Cancer Increasing In Southern Women

ATLANTA, (UPI) — Lung cancer death rates for women are relatively high in some Southern states that lack “effective policies” to limit smoking, a U.S. researcher says.

Ahmedin Jemal of the American Cancer Society analyzed lung cancer death rates from 1973 through 2007 by age among white women for 23 states for which there were adequate data, using the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results mortality database.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found lung cancer death rates declined continuously by birth year for women born after the 1950s in California, but rates in other states declined less quickly or even increased.

California has been aggressive in using public policy to reduce cigarette smoking. It was the first state to establish a comprehensive statewide tobacco control program through increased excise taxes in 1988 and pioneered local government ordinances for smoke-free work places as early as the mid-1970s. The trend in New York followed California, except the decreases were less steep.

In contrast, public policies against tobacco use have been weaker in many Southern and Midwestern states, particularly among tobacco-growing states in the South, Jemal said.

“The dramatic rise in lung cancer death rates in young and middle-aged white women in several Southern states points to a lack of effective policies or interventions, like excise taxes and comprehensive smoking bans, that deter initiation of smoking among teenagers and promote smoking cessation among adults,” Jemal said in a statement.

Ozone Linked To Heart Attacks

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., (UPI) — Young, healthy adults exposed to ozone for 2 hours developed changes in their cardiovascular system, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Robert B. Devlin of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, N.C., said the study involved 23 healthy volunteers, ages 19-33, exposed to 0.3 parts per million of ozone — higher than the federal government’s 8-hour ozone standard of 0.076 ppm.

Study participants underwent two controlled exposures — one to clean air and one to ozone-polluted air — at least two weeks apart. During each exposure, participants alternated 15-minute periods of stationary cycling and rest.

None of the participants reported complaints or physical symptoms after inhaling clean air or ozone, but immediately following and the morning after ozone inhalation, tests showed significant ozone-induced vascular changes compared to clear-air exposure.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, found an increase in blood levels of interleukin 1beta, a signature marker of inflammation that appears to play a key role in heart disease; a decrease in plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 and plasminogen, components that play an important role in dissolving blood clots that may form along arterial walls; and a change in heart rhythm, indicating altered autonomic nervous system control of heart rate.

“This study provides a plausible explanation for the link between acute ozone — air pollution and sunlight — exposure and death,” Devlin said in a statement.

An estimated 40,000-50,000 U.S. deaths occur each year because of acute exposure to air pollution.

Middle-Age Drinkers Higher Quality-Of-Life

BOSTON, (UPI) — Moderate drinkers appear to have better quality-of-life than those who abstain or drink too much, U.S. researchers say.

Harvey Finkel of the Boston University Medical Center and colleagues tracked about 5,400 Canadians at age 50.

The study found those who drank in moderation — no more than 14 drinks a week and no more than three a day for women and four a day for men — have better overall scores than those who abstained completely from alcohol, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Quality-of-life was measured using the Health Utilities index, which looks at factors including dexterity, emotion, cognition and mobility.

The researchers said regular moderate drinkers scored highest in each of the health indices.

Better Weather Boosts U.S. Exercise

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — More U.S. adults reported exercising in May than in any month since the recession began in 2008, a Gallup Poll indicates.

The Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index survey, conducted by telephone May 1-31, of 30,252 U.S. adults, found 55.2 percent said they exercised for at least 30 minutes three or more days per week in May — up from 53.9 percent in April, and the highest month since the survey on exercise began in 2008.

Exercise generally changes seasonally — down in fall and winter and more in the spring and summer. However, from October 2008 — the start of the U.S. economic crisis — through December 2009, monthly exercise levels were lower than Gallup recorded during the same months before or after that period.

However, U.S. exercise habits rebounded in early 2010 and have been generally at four-year highs in 2012, Gallup officials said.

U.S. adults exercise rates have been up since last December — a trend that coincided with the unusually warm weather since winter. This winter was the fourth-warmest on record, Gallup said.

The survey has a margin of 0.7 percentage points.

BP Sells $1.2 Billion In Assets

LONDON, (UPI) — British energy company BP announced it was selling oil and natural gas assets in the United States and the North Sea worth at least $1.2 billion.

BP said it was selling its minority stake in the Alba and Britannia fields in the British waters of the North Sea to Mitsui and Co. for $280 million in cash.

The company said both fields had an average production rate of around 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. BP’s production in the North Sea stands at roughly 200,000 boepd.

In the United States, BP said it was selling its upstream operations in Wyoming to LINN Energy for $1.02 billion in cash.

BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said the Wyoming sale would help BP reinvest in parts of North America.

“BP has invested $52 billion in the U.S. over the past five years, more than any other oil and gas company,” he said in a statement.

BP secured the rights to explore for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico during a U.S. lease sale last week.

BP faces a multitude of fines and penalties from the 2010 oil spill in the gulf, one of the worst such accidents in the history of the oil industry.

Human-Powered Copter Set Duration Record

COLLEGE PARK, Md., (UPI) — A University of Maryland team, one of three building human-powered helicopters, says it set an unofficial record of 50 seconds airborne in its Gamera II design.

The student team from Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering said its record would become official once verified by the National Aeronautic Association.

The Maryland team currently holds the record of 11.4 seconds set last July, and is one of three teams competing in the American Helicopter Society Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition for a $250,000 prize, TG Daily reported Monday.

To win the prize, a human-powered helicopter must lift off and hover for 60 seconds and must attain an altitude of at least 3 meters, almost 10 feet, at some point during the 60-second flight.

The Gamera II helicopter is pedal-powered, with four 42-foot rotors at each end of a 60-foot central X-shaped frame. Made with balsa, foam, mylar, and carbon fiber, the vehicle weighs 101 pounds.

High-Speed Data Ride On Beams Of Light

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — A research team led by U.S. scientists says it’s developed a system of transmitting as much as 2.56 terabits of data per second using twisted beams of light.

Broadband cable can move about 30 megabits per second, so the twisted-light system transmits more than 85,000 times more data per second, scientists at the University of Southern California, which led the research, reported Monday.

The technology has potential applications for high-speed satellite communication links, short free-space terrestrial links or could be adapted for use in the fiber optic cables used by some Internet service providers, researchers said.

“You’re able to do things with light that you can’t do with electricity,” Alan Willner, a USC electrical engineering professor, said. “That’s the beauty of light; it’s a bunch of photons that can be manipulated in many different ways at very high speed.”

The researchers used beam-twisting “phase holograms” to manipulate eight beams of light so each one twisted in a helical shape as it traveled. Each beam had its own individual twist and was encoded with “1” and “0” data bits, making each an independent data stream.

The researchers used the beams to transit data over open space in a laboratory, simulating the kind of communications that might occur between satellites in space.

The work extended research conducted at several European universities.

“We didn’t invent the twisting of light, but we took the concept and ramped it up to a terabit-per-second,” Willner said.

Oldest Orangutan In North America Dies

PHOENIX, (UPI) — North America’s oldest Bornean orangutan has died of lymphatic cancer at the age of 52, officials at the Phoenix Zoo said.

The orangutan named Duchess was euthanized Sunday morning to prevent further suffering from the aggressive cancer, they said.

“She hadn’t been doing well the last few days,” zoo spokeswoman Linda Hardwick told The Arizona Republic.

Duchess was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma about two weeks ago after her keepers noticed a loss of appetite and lethargy and zoo vets said she had but a few weeks left to live.

Hardwick said a desire to give her some peace and preserve her dignity in her final days led to the decision to euthanize the orangutan matriarch.

Duchess has 14 descendants currently living at various zoos.

She lived roughly 22 years longer than the typical orangutan in the wild and about 12 years longer than those living in captivity, officials said.

“Although we are deeply saddened by Duchess’ passing, she long surpassed the number of years that orangutans live in zoos and preserves, as well as in the wild,” Bert Castro, the zoo’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

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