Police Reportedly Getting Access To Skype

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Skype, the online phone company now owned by Microsoft, is more willing to work with law enforcement to track its users, The Washington Post says.

The Post, citing industry and government officials, said online voice conversations are still safe because the technology to monitor them does not yet exist. But Skype has become more cooperative with requests for text exchanges and other information.

The service has been a favorite of people who wanted to stay off the radar, including political dissidents, drug traffickers and pedophiles. Islamist Web sites recommended Skype, and police have said they heard the targets of wiretaps saying they would switch to Skype.

One industry insider told the Post Microsoft has been dealing with the issue of law enforcement access with “tremendous sensitivity and a canny awareness of what the issues would be.”

Liberals: Obama Must Back Social Security

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Some liberals in the U.S. Congress worry that President Obama would be open to scaling back Social Security and Medicare if he wins a second term.

Senators Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, and Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, cite his silence on the campaign trail, The Hill reported. They say the president has criticized a budget plan backed by Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, that would lead to sharp cuts but has not unequivocally said he will make none of his own.

“Have you heard him? I haven’t heard him,” Sanders said. “It causes me concern, and I’m chairman of the caucus to defend Social Security.”

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said he is not worried because even Republicans have stopped talking about cutting Social Security.

Penn State Insurer: No Coverage

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., (UPI) — Penn State’s primary liability insurer says the school should be denied coverage because it failed to disclose Jerry Sandusky’s behavior.

The Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association filed a motion in common pleas court saying Penn State did not provide it with information needed to assess the risk the association assumed, CNN reported.

The association has insured Penn State under general liability policies since 1976.

“It would be unlawful and contradictory to public policy to require PMA to provide coverage to PSU under any policy issued to PSU after May 1998 with respect to PSU’s concealment of Sandusky’s sexually abusive conduct … and failure to take appropriate action to prevent Sandusky from molesting minors,” the motion, filed Wednesday, said.

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier denied a role in a university coverup of Sandusky’s actions and has not been charged. But an investigation by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh said he helped university officials conceal allegations of sexual abuse against the former assistant football coach.

No one from the Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association was immediately available for comment, CNN said.

A jury convicted Sandusky, 68, in June of 45 of the 48 sexual abuse counts he faced, involving 10 victims. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Heroes In Aurora

Amazing acts of courage. Like you, I was heartsick at the stories of the massacre at that movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week. But I was also impressed by the heroic acts that occurred there. Four of the victims were men who gave their lives to protect the women who were with them. The courage, bravery and self-sacrifice of Alex Teves, Matthew Robert McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk and John Larimer should be an inspiration for us all.

The Boy Scouts refuse to compromise. For several years now, the Boy Scouts of America has been the target of the militant homosexual movement because it has refused to allow homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters. Despite the intense pressure and publicity, an 11-member special committee formed by top Scout leaders in 2010 recently voted unanimously to reaffirm the ban as “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” You can expect the intolerant left to increase its pressure against the Boy Scouts as a result.

Aren’t you glad you paid for it? Thanks to a reader for sharing the following story: On a recent episode of “Bridezillas,” a friend of the bride said her wedding gift would be paying for the $600 wedding cake. Knowing her friend was broke, the bride-to-be asked the baker how her friend was going to pay for the cake. The baker said the friend wanted to pay with “food stamps.”

Paying government to hold your money. How low can interest rates go? Recently, the German central bank sold $5 billion worth of two-year notes that pay a negative 0.06% interest rate. That means the bondholders not only won’t receive any interest payments for the next 24 months, but when their principle is returned two years down the road, they’ll actually receive less money than they lent the government. Of course, once taxes and inflation are taken into consideration, savers in the United States also end up losing money on such “safe” investments.

–Chip Wood

Teen Saves Money To Start Business, City Shuts Him Down

A 13-year-old Michigan teen saved nearly $1,000 to start a hot dog business as a way to help take pressure off of his disabled parents. On the same day he set up shop, the city of Holland shut him down.

“I was trying to help my mom and my dad, because they’re both on disability,” recounted Nathan Duszynski. “So I was just trying to bring in some money for them and the household while they’re struggling.”

Duszynski set up a hot dog stand for about 10 minutes before he was told he would have to leave the location. The Michigan teen thought he had jumped through all the necessary hoops, but a zoning law prevents food stands from competing with certain restaurants.

“What makes market capitalism work is the ability of individuals to provide highly nuanced, competing alternatives to some existing business,” commented Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “This seems like just another sad episode of some government micromanaging the lives of many to benefit a few.”

The teen’s efforts to help his parents, one of whom suffers from epilepsy and the other from multiple sclerosis, were profitable. Shoreline Container, a local packaging company, bought Duszynski’s cart for $2,500. Shoreline Container plans to use the cart for outdoor cookouts.

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar, a company that has faced its own share of legal issues, said: “Policy makers must stop criminalizing capitalism. This begins by stopping the practice of creating new criminal offenses, or wielding obscure foreign laws, as a method of regulating businesses.

“Especially in a bearish economy, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate without the fear that inadvertently breaking an obscure regulation or unknowingly violating a foreign statute could shut down their company and land them or their employees in jail.”

Obama Announces Education Program For Black Youths

President Barack Obama announced an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The President said it will give black students “a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.”

“We also believe that every entrepreneur should have a chance to start a business, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like,” he added. “That’s why we’ve helped African-American businesses and minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses gain access to more than $7 billion in contracts and financing that allow them to grow and create jobs.”

The plan calls for local communities to work with the Federal government in an attempt to prepare black students for high school and college. As part of the initiative, Obama wants to see the price of college tuition drop.

“A higher education in the 21st century cannot be a luxury. It is a vital necessity that every American should be able to afford. I want all these young people to be getting a higher education, and I don’t want them loaded up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to get an education. That’s how we make America great,” he said. The remarks came during a speech on Wednesday in New Orleans to civil rights group National Urban League Convention.

The campaign stop was meant to rally black voters. A recent Gallup poll showed that 89 percent of blacks support Obama. In 2008, 95 percent of blacks voted for Obama.

According to a National Urban League Policy Institute report, if the turnout of black voters returns to 2004 numbers, Obama will lose in North Carolina and perhaps in Ohio and Virginia.

Rising Food Prices, Social Unrest In Coming Months

The drought that has swept across much of the United States will likely drive up food prices throughout the Nation and, some people fear, may even spark global unrest as food becomes scarce in some parts of the world.

The Federal government said this week that U.S. consumers should expect rising prices on agricultural goods like milk, beef, chicken and pork in the next year. The government also said that a price jump should be expected in processed foods, many of which contain corn as a staple ingredient, because of the drought’s devastating toll on corn crops. About 88 percent of corn crops are growing poorly or have been destroyed.

The government indicates that consumers should expect a 4 to 5 percent price increase on beef next year, and a slightly lower increase on pork, eggs and dairy.

The New England Complex Systems Institute predicts that while the rising prices will likely have a nominal impact on American consumers, those in developing countries who import U.S. agricultural goods will likely be heavily affected.

“The drought is clearly going to kick prices up. It already has. What happens when you have speculators is that it goes through the roof,” said NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam. “We’ve created an unstable system. Globally, we are very vulnerable.”

In conjunction with the rising prices, the researcher says that mass social unrest and violence in parts of the world are possible.

The Lie That Should Sink Obama

If there is one sentence that determines who will win this year’s Presidential election, I hope it will be Barack Obama’s incredible statement that “you didn’t build that.”

In just four short words, Obama confirmed his bias against America’s business builders and job creators — the men and women who slaved and sacrificed to help make us the wealthiest, most productive and most generous Nation the world has ever known.

Yes, I know, I’ll be accused of taking his words out of context. That he really wasn’t engaging in the blatant, anti-business bias I’ve accused him of. Baloney! Let’s look more closely at exactly what our Great Leader said. Here is a verbatim quote from his campaign speech in Roanoke, Va., on July 13:

[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Obama’s apologists like to claim that the President was merely referring to “roads and bridges” when he said “you didn’t build that.” What a bunch of nonsense! First of all, let me play grammarian here and point out that “roads and bridges” are plural, not singular. Anyone with a fifth-grade education, much less two college degrees, would know to say “you didn’t build those,” not “that.”

Moreover, if you try to accept the apologists’ explanation, then you have to admit that Obama not only made a grammatical mistake, he made a factual one as well. Anyone who drives a car or truck did pay for those “roads and bridges.” All of this infrastructure (and a lot more besides) was financed by the taxes on the fuel we used.

No, the message the President was trying to convey seems pretty clear to me: Every successful entrepreneur in America owes a debt of gratitude — and a lot more taxes — to government. Not only that, but the more successful you are, the more you owe.

So Henry Ford can’t take credit for giving birth to the automobile industry. Thomas Edison would never have invented the light bulb if it weren’t for “somebody else” who made it happen. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and thousands of other modern builders and inventors wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t for the helping hand of government.

In fact, the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis of this world go even further. They seem to believe that government is entitled to all of the money you make. And anytime our beneficent rulers allow you to keep some of your earnings, it is somehow doing you a favor. How else can you explain the attitude that cutting your taxes is somehow giving you a subsidy? That letting us keep anything is doing us a favor?

If “you didn’t build that,” then you really have no right to own it or control it. If “you didn’t build that,” then government is entitled to tax it, to regulate it, even to seize it, if it so desires. If “somebody else made that happen,” then government has every right to seize what you have and share it with “somebody else.”

The truth is 180 degrees the opposite of what these grade-school Marxists proclaim: Most business creators and job builders in this country have succeeded in spite of government, not because of it. And they would have been able to invest a lot more money, take a lot more risk, build more businesses and create more jobs, if they had been allowed to keep more of the money they earned.

Dan Danner, the president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has this to say about Obama’s comments:

His unfortunate remarks over the weekend show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs.

I’m sure every small-business owner who took a second mortgage on their home, maxed out their credit cards or borrowed money from their own retirement savings to start their business disagrees strongly with President Obama’s claim.

I certainly hope so.

One of Mitt Romney’s favorite campaign themes is how the coming election will be a battle for the soul of America. “Do we believe in an America that is great because of government?” the presumptive Republican nominee has asked. “Or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams to build their future?”

In this debate, there can be no doubt where our redistributionist President stands. We’ve got less than 100 days left before Americans get to cast their vote on which vision of the future they want.

Will the builders and creators and those who support them work as hard as the takers and receivers and those who pander to them? We’ll soon find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Teaching Tolerance

Progressives are tolerant people. Just ask them.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says, “Chic-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.”

Boston has 10 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Massachusetts’ violent crime rate is half that. Boston’s unemployment rate was 6 percent in June, but the city had shed 2,600 jobs that month. The city’s poverty rate is 21.1 percent. In many communities, 85 percent of families are headed by a single parent — usually the mother — and at least 20 percent of adults have no high school diploma. About 42 percent of children in those communities live in poverty, the densest cluster of childhood poverty in the State, according to a study sponsored by the Boston Foundation.

Chicago has 10.54 violent crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 4.35 per 1,000 in the rest of Illinois. Chicago’s unemployment rate is 9.8 percent. The city’s poverty rate is 27.5 percent. The city is in the grips of a gang war. City police say there are at least 100,000 gang members. At least 275 people have been killed this year and many more injured in gang violence — many of them innocent bystanders like 7-year-old Heaven Sutton and 10-year-old Kitanna Peterson.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press: “[A]s an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”

In a radio interview, Cathy said: “As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

There is no evidence that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against anyone in hiring or service. No one has claimed such. The owner simply said he ran his business based on biblical principles, and expressed his opinion — again based on his biblical beliefs — that marriage should be between a man and woman.

But Menino and Emanuel don’t believe Christian values are Boston or Chicago values. If you look at what goes on there, obviously that’s the case. It’s also telling that Emanuel yesterday welcomed Louis Farrakhan and his “army” into the city, ignoring Farrakhan’s history of racism and anti-Semitism.

Like most big government statists, Menino and Emanuel are tolerant — as long as you agree with them. Perhaps that’s why their cities are shrinking, crime-infested dens of corruption.

Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, is doing quite well despite “tolerant” people like Menino and Emanuel. It employs about 50,000 workers across the country at 1,500 outlets in 40 States. It has more than $4 billion in annual revenues.

You wouldn’t want any of that coming your way, would you, Mayors?

Huckabee, Santorum Plan Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day

Following Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy’s comments on traditional marriage, gay rights activists are making plans to boycott the restaurant until the cows come home. They found Cathy’s remarks utterly disturbing. But Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have a different plan in mind.

The two Republicans are organizing Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

“No signs and no protests are needed to make your voice heard,” Santorum wrote in an email on Wednesday. “Just simply have a meal at Chick-fil-A on August 1 for ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’ and our support for traditional values will be heard loud and clear.”

In an interview that has caused a firestorm, Cathy told the Baptist Press: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

Since making the comment, Cathy has faced pressure on many fronts.

“You called supporters of gay marriage ‘prideful,’” wrote Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to Cathy. “Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are ‘guilty as charged.’ We are indeed full of pride for our support of same sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggested that Chick-fil-A is unwelcome in Chicago, saying: “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values. …If he’s in the business of selling chicken in Chicago, he should be in the business of having equal rights for everyone.”

Muppet maker Jim Henson Co. has refused to work with Chick-fil-A “on any future endeavors.”

Gay advocacy group Equality Illinois is urging people to eat at restaurants on Aug. 1 that support same-sex marriage. The group is also urging gay and lesbian couples to “show their disdain for Chick-Fil-A’s policies with public displays of affection in front of their restaurants.”

More than 100,000 people have vowed to eat at Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1 to show their support of Cathy.

Foreclosures Rise In First Half Of 2012

IRVINE, Calif. (UPI) — Foreclosure activity rose in nearly 60 percent of the U.S. metropolitan areas in the first half of the year, a private online marketplace said.

RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure activity, said 125 metropolitan areas of 212 tracked saw an increase in foreclosure activity January through June.

The firm tracks market activity in cities with a population of 200,000 or more.

RealtyTrac said “despite the increases” from the second half of 2011 to the first half of 2012, a very similar number of cities, 129, posted decreases in foreclosure activity in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2011.

In the first half of the year California had seven of the 10 cities with the highest foreclosure and 10 of the top 20. Four of the top 20 were in Florida.

The highest foreclosure rate in the country was in Stockton, Calif., which had a foreclosure rate of 2.66 percent of housing units or one in every 38. That was three times the national average, RealtyTrac said.

All of the top five cities on the list are in California, including Modesto with a rate of 2.61 percent, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario with a rate of 2.59 percent, Vallejo-Fairfield at 2.56 percent and Merced at 2.15 percent.

“Increasing foreclosure starts in many local markets helped push total foreclosure activity higher in the first half of this year compared to the second half of 2011,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac.

“Those foreclosure starts are welcome news for prospective buyers and real estate brokers in many local markets where a shortage of aggressively priced inventory has been holding up sales activity,” he said.

First-Time Jobless Claims Down By 35,000

WASHINGTON (UPI) — First-time jobless claims fell by 35,000 in the week ending Saturday, almost erasing the 36,000 increase from the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department said.

The weekly report issued Thursday said last week’s total for first-time unemployment benefit claims was 388,000, not 386,00 as previously reported.

For the current week, claims fell to 353,000. The four-week rolling average, which gives a steadier indication of the direction of jobless claims, fell by 8,750 to 367,250, the department said.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending July 14 were in California (up by 26,244), North Carolina (up by 11,948) and Georgia (up by 8,372). The largest decreases were in New York (down by 10,794), Michigan (down by 7,453) and Kentucky (down by 4,904).

The U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 percent. After rising 0.1 of a percentage point from April to May, it remained unchanged in June on the addition of 80,000 jobs.

Pending Home Sales Reinforce A Trend

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A leading index for the U.S. housing market, the Pending Home Sales Index, mirrored a market trend, dropping May to June, but rising from a year earlier.

The National Association of Realtors said the index on contracts of intention — the legal limbo between paying a down payment and closing on a house — fell 1.4 percent May to June to 99.3.

May’s index was also revised lower, to 100.7, the NAR said.

From June 2011, however, the index is up 9.5 percent, the trade group said.

Similarly, the Commerce Department said this week that sales of new single-family homes declined month-to-month in June, but rose 15.1 percent from June 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said, “Buyer interest remains strong, but fewer home listings means fewer contract signing opportunities.”

“We’ve been seeing a steady decline in the level of housing inventory, which is most pronounced in the lower price ranges popular with first-time buyers and investors,” he said.

The trend of a recent drop, but an annual gain, held true for three of four U.S. regions.

The NAR said the pending home sales index fell 7.6 percent in the Northeast, but is 12.2 percent higher than a year earlier. In the Midwest, the index fell 0.4 percent month-to-month, but remains 17.3 percent above 12 months earlier.

In the South, pending home contracts fell 2 percent, but are up 8.98 percent from June 2011.

The West is the exception. The pending home index rose in June, up 2.6 percent. That index is 3 percent higher than June 2011.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Fixed mortgage rates on long-term loans in the United States hit record lows again in the week ending Thursday, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent for every week but one in 2012, Freddie Mac said, as interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate loans dropped from 3.53 percent to 3.49 percent with 0.7 points.

In the same week of 2011, interest rates for 30-year loans averaged 4.55 percent.

For 15-year loans in the week ending Thursday, interest rates fell from 2.83 percent to 2.8 percent with an average 0.7 points. A year ago, 15-year loan rates averaged 3.66 percent.

Illness, Recession Cause Early Retirement

BOSTON (UPI) — Those hardest hit by recessions and those who are ill are more likely than others to enroll early for Social Security, U.S. researchers said.

Study authors Matthew S. Rutledge, Norma B. Coe and Kendrew Wong of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found those age 62 filed for benefits about six months earlier during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, than during the less severe recession 2001 to 2003 — and about 10 months earlier than if there had been no recession.

“As a result of the change in timing, monthly benefits were $56 per month less, or 4.6 percent less than in the Minor Recession scenario,” the researchers said in a statement. “High unemployment during the Great Recession is projected to have increased the probability of claiming Social Security benefits early, relative to a less severe recession, by 5.6 percentage points.”

This increase was nearly uniform across socioeconomic groups — suggesting many older individuals, not just those in vulnerable groups or with lower life expectancy, use Social Security as income insurance during economic downturns, Rutledge said.

The simulations indicated, compared to a less severe recession, individuals moved up their time to collect Social Security by about six months, which reduced their monthly benefits by about 5 percent.

Those retiring — early — at age 62 and eight months, had an expected benefit of $1,141 a month.

When there was no recession, the average retirement age was 63 years, 6 months, and the expected Social Security check was $1,235.

Night Artificial Light, Depression Linked

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UPI) — Chronic exposure to artificial light at night may play some role in the rising rates of depression in humans during the past 50 years, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Tracy Bedrosian, doctoral student in neuroscience and colleagues at Ohio State University, said hamsters exposed to light at night for four weeks showed evidence of depressive symptoms, but those symptoms essentially disappeared after about two weeks after exposure to normal lighting conditions.

Even changes in the brain that occurred after hamsters lived with chronic light at night reversed themselves after the hamsters returned to a more normal light cycle, Bedrosian said.

“The good news is that people who stay up late in front of the television and computer may be able to undo some of the harmful effects just by going back to a regular light-dark cycle and minimizing their exposure to artificial light at night,” Bedrosian said in a statement. “That’s what the results we found in hamsters would suggest.”

The findings were published online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

'AC/DC' Virus Hits Iranian Nuclear Plants

TEHRAN (UPI) — A Web site monitoring spyware said statements from Iran suggest nuclear plants were hit by a virus causing computers to play music from rock band AC/DC.

F-Secure Security Labs reported that it reviewed messages from Iranian nuclear energy scientists that stated the computer systems at the Natanz and Fordo nuclear facilities were compromised by a computer worm.

The scientists, which the lab confirmed were Iranian, said the Metasploit hacker tool was used to attack and shut down its automated network and Siemens hardware.

“There was also some music playing randomly on several of the workstations during the middle of the night with the volume maxed out,” the message, as translated by the lab, read. “I believe it was playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC.”

The lab reported it couldn’t confirm any of the details, though the e-mail message it translated came from within the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The Stuxnet computer virus disrupted more than 10 percent of Iranian nuclear centrifuges. Stuxnet works by targeting the speed at which specific components in the centrifuge works, causing problems with the rotational speed.

The Iranian National Computer Emergency Response Team recently distributed software to protect against a type of malware dubbed Flame. Iran in April unplugged computer servers from an oil terminal at Kharq Island following a virus outbreak believed to have been caused by the malware.

Lion Sculptures In Turkey Are A Puzzle

KARAKIZ, Turkey (UPI) — Two 5-ton life-size sculptures of lions discovered in Turkey have scientists saying they’re puzzled over what the granite statues could have been used for.

The lifelike lions were created by the Hittites, whose empire included the foothills of Turkey at a time when the Asiatic lion roamed the region.

Created between 1400 and 1200 B.C., they may have been part of a monument marking a sacred water spring, researchers said.

“The lions are prowling forward, their heads slightly lowered; the tops of their heads are barely higher than the napes,” Geoffrey Summers of the Middle East Technical University wrote with co-researcher Erol Ozen in the American Journal of Archaeology.

The two lion sculptures have stylistic differences and were almost certainly made by different sculptors, they said.

“The sculptors certainly knew what lions looked like,” Summers told LiveScience.

Archaeological and ancient historical records show the Asiatic lion, now extinct in Turkey, was still common in the area and well known to the Hittites, he said.

On-The-Job Cussing May Hurt Career

CHICAGO, (UPI) — Cussing at work may feel good in the moment but could be a career-sinking habit over the long haul, a survey by a U.S. online employment search firm indicates.

CareerBuilder.com in Chicago said in a release Wednesday that 64 percent of employers said they’d think less of an employee who habitually swears, and 57 percent said they’d be less likely to promote someone who curses in the office.

How common is swearing in the office? The survey said 51 percent of workers report they’ve done it — more likely in front of co-workers than the boss, however.

Men (54 percent) are a bit more likely to cuss at work than women (47 percent), the survey found.

Employers aren’t immune to workplace swearing, with 25 percent admitting they’ve cussed out employees.

Workplace swearing is most common in Washington (62 percent) and Denver (60 percent), followed by Chicago (58 percent), Los Angeles and Boston (56 percent), Atlanta (54 percent), Minneapolis (50 percent), Phoenix (47 percent) and Philadelphia (44 percent).

The nationwide survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and 3,800 workers was conducted May 4-June 4. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 to 2 percent.

Las Vegas Wedding Wagon Delivers Nuptials

LAS VEGAS, (UPI) — A pair of Las Vegas men said they are offering curbside nuptials from the back of their Las Vegas Wedding Wagon van for only $99.

Andy Gonzalez and James Cass, who became ordained to perform weddings on the Internet, said they decided to get a piece of the 7,000 to 9,000 weddings held each month in Las Vegas and chose to take the business mobile, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

“We both saw the potential,” Gonzalez said. “There could be real money here.”

The men said they charge $99 for a 10-minute wedding.

Gonzalez and Cass said the van will drive anywhere in the city to perform the ceremonies.

21-Pound Lobster Donated To Aquarium

BOSTON, (UPI) — The New England Aquarium in Boston said it has obtained a 21-pound lobster from an anonymous bidder who won it in a raffle.

Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the aquarium, said the lobster arrived Monday and will be displayed in the Cold Marine Gallery following the standard 30-day quarantine period, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

The lobster was caught in Orleans and sold to Capt’n Elmer’s Fish Market, which held a raffle in honor of the lobster to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The winner was to have received 21 pounds of retail-sized lobster and the chance to witness the giant crustacean’s release into the wild, but the winner instead asked for the lobster to be donated to the aquarium.

The winner of the raffle asked to remain anonymous.

Disney Guest Told To Be Less 'Santa-ish.'

ORLANDO, Fla., (UPI) — A guest at Florida’s Walt Disney World said an employee told him to dress less “Santa-ish” and banned him from signing autographs or posing for pictures.

Thomas Tolbert said he was visiting the Orlando park on a family vacation when he ran into a familiar situation — children asking him to sign autographs and pose for photos as Santa Claus, WKMG-TV, Orlando, reported Wednesday.

Tolbert said he wasn’t dressed as Kris Kringle, but his clothing was “Santa-related.”

“I had a shirt that had — it would be like a collage — and it had Santa faces and it had sayings from ‘The Night Before Christmas,'” Tolbert said.

He said a Disney representative approached him and asked him to change into something less “Santa-ish.”

However, he said changing clothes did not help.

“The face and the persona is what makes Santa,” Tolbert said. “They’re looking at my face and they’re looking at my features.”

Tolbert said he was told to turn children away.

“Disney had informed me that I must inform anybody who came up to me that ‘I am not who you think I am, I am on vacation and please leave me alone,'” Tolbert said.

He said Disney gave him free tickets to the park for his trouble.