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.

Hotel Replaced Bibles With 'Fifty Shades'

CROSTHWAITE, England, (UPI) — The owner of a hotel in Britain said he replaced the room Bibles with copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” to reflect the modern secular society.

Jonathan Denby, owner of the Damson Dene Hotel in Crosthwaite, England, said he decided to replace the Bibles with copies of E.L. James’ erotic novel because he decided the Bibles were “wholly inappropriate” for bedrooms in a secular society, NBC News reported Wednesday.

“I was thinking originally of putting in a book by Ayn Rand — ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was my first thought,” Denby said. “(But) because everybody is reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ we thought it would be a hospitable thing to do, to have this available for our guests, especially if some of them were a little bit shy about buying it because of its reputation.”

The Rev. Michael Woodcock, who oversees services at St. Mary’s Parish Church, told The Westmoreland Gazette he was dismayed by the hotelier’s decision.

“It is a great shame that Bibles have been removed from rooms and very inappropriate to have been replaced by an explicit erotic novel,” he said. “The Bible remains a source of comfort and inspiration that many people do find helpful.”

33,000 U.S. Troops To Leave Afghanistan

HEMLAND, Afghanistan, (UPI) — The Taliban’s presence in southwestern Afghanistan has weakened, allowing coalition forces to turn over security to Afghans, U.S. military officials said.

“It will be a rolling transition to more training and advising and assisting and less of the counterinsurgency operations,” said Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. “The Afghan security forces will be in the lead and we’ll be in support.”

President Barack Obama ordered a surge of 33,000 troops to the area more than two years ago to reverse the Taliban’s gains in the area. The president now wants most combat forces out of the country by the end of 2014, with 23,000 troops removed by September. That leaves 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, USA Today reported Thursday.

Marine Col. John Shafer, commander of Regional Combat Team 6 in Helmand, said Taliban fighters have been weakened and forced to the fringes of the region due to a boost in Afghan security forces.

“The insurgency cannot generate anything that can threaten the Afghan security forces at this time,” Shafer said. “Another couple punches, I think they’re going to go down,” he said of the Taliban.

Obama: 'A Lot Of Gun Owners' OK On Limits

NEW ORLEANS, (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday “a lot of gun owners would agree that AK47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals.”

Speaking in New Orleans, the president told the National Urban League he would “leave no stone unturned” in the search for ways to reduce violence. The address came as he wrapped up a four-day cross-country trip that included a stop in Aurora, Colo., where are least 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded in a massacre at a movie theater Friday morning.

“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms,” he said. “I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK47s belong in the hands of soldiers not in the hands of criminals, that they belong on the battlefield of war not on the streets of our cities,” the president said.

Obama listed locations were previous massacres have been carried out — Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Tucson — and told his audience the death toll in Aurora approximates the number of young people killed every day and a half in U.S. violence.

“For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans,” he said. “For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.

“And when there’s extraordinary heartbreak and tragedy like the one we saw there’s always an outcry immediately after for action,” Obama said. “There’s talk of new reforms and there’s talk of new legislation. And too often those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.”

The president said he took executive action following the massacre in Tucson at a campaign event for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., to make background checks for gun purchases “more thorough and more complete.”

The White House had billed the National Urban League Speech as an occasion on which the president would announce a White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. He told his audience the initiative would promote higher achievement among minority students and help prepare them better for higher education and careers.

Holmes May Have Mailed Plans To Doctor

DENVER, (UPI) — Theater shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes may have sent a notebook to a Colorado psychiatrist detailing his plans for the massacre, FoxNews.com reported.

The information was attributed to unnamed law enforcement sources.

FoxNews.com said the package, sent to a University of Colorado psychiatrist, went unopened until Monday.

“There were drawings of what he was going to do in it — drawings and illustrations of the massacre,” FoxNews.com reported Wednesday.

The Denver Post said a law enforcement source confirmed Holmes mailed a notebook to a psychiatrist but the source did not know what it contained, the newspaper said.

FoxNews.com said investigators found a package with Holmes’ return address on it that had been sent to a professor who also treats patients in the university’s outpatient facility. The package had been in the mailroom since July 12.

“Among the images shown in the spiral-bound notebook’s pages were gun-wielding stick figures blowing away other stick figures,” FoxNews.com said.

Twelve people were killed and 58 others were wounded when Holmes, 24, allegedly opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., theater last week.

Presidential Debate Dates Set

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The first of three U.S. presidential debates is set for Denver on Oct. 3, and will focus on domestic issues, the Commission on Presidential Debates said.

The commission announced the formats of this fall’s presidential and vice presidential debates Wednesday. Each debate will last 90 minutes.

The first debate will have six 15-minute segments with questions selected by the moderator, CBS News reported. Each candidate will get two minutes to respond. The remainder of each segment will be a discussion of a specific issue.

The second debate is set for Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., the commission’s Web site said. CBS said it’s scheduled to be a town meeting-style format. Undecided voters, selected by the Gallup Organization, will get to ask the candidates questions.

The third and final presidential debate is set for Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., the Web site said. CBS reported the debate will be on foreign policy and the format will be the same as the domestic policy debate.

The vice presidential debate on both domestic and foreign topics is set for Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

Debate moderators are set to be announced by the commission in August, CBS said.

The Web site said “candidates must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly reported results at the time of the determination.”

President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appear to be the only two candidates who qualify.

House Passes Bill To Audit Federal Reserve

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The U.S. House Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, that would require an audit of the Federal Reserve.

Staunch Tea Partiers, Republicans and Democrats came together to approve the bill by a vote of 327-98, boosting the profile of Paul, a perennial presidential candidate with largely libertarian views, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill would remove existing barriers to audits of the Fed, opening the books on transactions with foreign central banks and open-market operations and requiring a report from the comptroller general, the newspaper said.

However, the lopsided vote, brought on by lawmakers’ concerns that Wall Street isn’t feeling the effects of the recent recession as much as the average taxpayer, doesn’t mean the Senate will take up action any time soon, the Times said.

“Congressional review of the Fed’s monetary policy decisions would be a ‘nightmarish scenario,’ especially judging by the track record of this Congress when it comes to governing effectively,” said House Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “This bill increases the likelihood that the Fed will make decisions based on political rather than economic considerations, and that is not a recipe for sound monetary policy.”

Eighty-nine Democrats voted for the bill despite warnings from party leaders including Rep. Barney Frank, ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, who said the measure would destabilize the economy.

Paul for decades has blamed inflation on the Fed’s ability to control the country’s money supply.

“I don’t know how anybody could be against transparency and they want secrecy, especially when that secrecy is to protect individuals who deal in trillions of dollars — and these trillions of dollars bail out all the wealthy, rich people, the banks and the big corporations,” Paul said Tuesday.

“To say that we should have secrecy and say that it’s political to have transparency? Well it’s very political when you have a Federal Reserve that can bail out one company and not another company. That’s pretty political.”

Census: More Severely Disabled In U.S.

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The number of severely disabled people in the United States appears to be increasing, the Census Bureau said in a report released Wednesday.

In 2010, 56.7 million people, 19 percent of the total population, had a disability, demographers said. That was 2.2 million more than in 2005, with the percentage of the population considered disabled statistically the same.

But the number and percentage of people with severe disabilities and of those requiring assistance for ordinary tasks was up, possibly because of the increase in the number of elderly residents in the United States, the report said. About 15 million people have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living like eating, preparing food or answering the telephone, and 12 million need assistance to get through the day.

“Americans with Disabilities: 2010″ was the first report on the subject the Census Bureau has done since 2005.

The report’s release was timed to mark the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The data came from the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The bureau said that only 41 percent of those aged 21 to 64 with a disability were employed, compared to 79 percent with no disability. The disabled were also more likely to be poor, with 10.8 percent of those 15 to 64 with severe disability reporting persistent poverty compared to 4.9 percent with lesser disabilities and 3.8 percent with no disability.

The average monthly income of those 21 to 64 with a disability was $1,961, while it was $2,724 for those in the same group with no disability.

The Ride Of A Lifetime

You’ll have to pardon my digression. Far more pressing concerns dominate our national consciousness, as well they should. Tragedy, war and economic chaos are indeed worthy of most of the coverage they receive in the headlines. And I will indubitably rejoin the parade of political punditry posthaste. Nonetheless, something grabbed my attention Tuesday morning; and while it might pale in apparent importance when compared the rest of the events of that and every other day recently, it meant something to me.

Sally Ride passed away Monday at the relatively young age of 61. Ride, who exemplified American exceptionalism as much as anyone ever did, was a rare breed even among her spectacularly intelligent peers in the world of astrophysicists. Yes, she was a rocket scientist; but she was hardly the lab coat-wearing, bespectacled wallflower of cliché. Ride wasn’t merely a rocket scientist; Ride was a rocket driver.

In June of 1983, Ride boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger to become the first American woman in space. She wasn’t the first of her gender to visit the heavens; two Russian women had already made the trip. But she was the first woman to visit space about whom I knew more than her name. At the time of her mission, I was a 12-year-old kid who had abandoned the standard childhood dreams of action-adventure-style spacefaring in favor of more reasonable stuff — like playing center for the New York Rangers. Ride’s beyond-stratospheric jaunt reignited my imagination. I didn’t particularly care about her gender; I just happened to be teetering on the edge of adolescent apathy at the exact moment Americans rediscovered a fascination with space flight, and I went along for the ride.

Even a preteen lad who was starting to notice girls were far less awful than he had previously thought was swept up in space fever. “Star Wars” was finishing up the part of the trilogy that should have been made. “ET” had just phoned home. The Voyager probes had delivered images of Jupiter and Saturn that far surpassed anything we had imagined. And then, Ride and her four fellow astronauts on STS-7 reminded me that science was even cooler than science fiction. Six months after Ride’s ride, a serious miscalculation on my part regarding the speed at which a Flexible Flyer becomes unstable while attempting to negotiate a very large stand of pine trees put an end to any chance I would ever have to slip “the surly bonds of earth” or even enjoy the privilege of serving in the military. I should note that the accident didn’t really change my potential astronaut status. The people who make it aboard American spacecraft are exceedingly rare. Not only do they have to be physically capable of withstanding the extraordinary demands of spaceflight, but they have to be mentally capable of being useful during such. They’re essentially Olympic athletes with genius-level IQs. Think: the star quarterback with the mind of the chairman of the physics department.

We live in an era in which a man who murders a crowd of people in a Colorado movie theater receives love notes online, and that makes bigger news than the passing of one of America’s greatest modern pioneers. More people can identify the real housewives of wherever than can name Americans who have flown into space.

Don’t mistake my remarks for some maudlin lament or “we need better role models” sermon. Nor am I offering one of those weirdly sentimental eulogies that some folks employ to connect themselves to someone noteworthy. Ride wasn’t really a great role model. She was an enormously uncommon human being, even among uncommon human beings. Only a tiny percentage of the rest of us could ever hope to equal a portion of her life’s work. In the days since her passing, details have crept out about her life that some people might find objectionable, like her 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for President. But I say forget about all of that. Ride was nothing short of amazing. In an era in which American exceptionalism is viewed as either anachronistic or even shameful, she was neither.

–Ben Crystal

Why Are Obama, Democrats Economically Illiterate?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsIZIoISgFE?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

 

Welcome to Personal Liberty. I’m Wayne Allyn Root. My commentary today is about the economic ignorance gap between conservatives, capitalists and the dunces on the left.

Good old John Edwards was actually right about one thing. He said there were two Americas. Under Obama, the John Edwards fantasy has come true. The first America is represented by those who work in the government sector (who almost always support Obama and vote Democrat) and who think the private sector is doing just fine. The second America is represented by private-sector entrepreneurs, small-business owners and job creators (who almost always support conservative candidates and causes) who know the terrible truth: The economy is in horrible shape. The difference is due to economic ignorance. To save America, we must ignore those in the government sector and start listening to those in the private sector who are living at “ground zero.” They are the experts. They have “boots on the ground.” They understand firsthand what Obama’s policies have created: complete economic collapse.

The dirty secret rarely discussed or explained by the media is this gap between what Americans on the right think of the economy versus what those on the left think. See the polls. Democrats think the economy is in recovery with a bright future. Republicans think the economy is in horrible shape and worsening. How could two groups look at the same economy and see things so differently? Why don’t the media discuss this disparity? The simple truth is the media don’t like the answer.

The truth is Democrats who so want to support their President are either delusional or, more likely, ignorant of basic economics. Let’s call them economically illiterate. Quite frankly, it’s hard to blame them. Most Democrats I know work for big government, a big union, a big corporation or the media. They don’t sell anything. They don’t own a business or work on commission. They are paid for just showing up, never based on performance or profits. They don’t know about budgets, profits or losses. They get a safe paycheck every week and have a pretty much guaranteed job for life and a pension when they retire. They are nice people, but they don’t have a clue about what’s really going on, because they don’t sell things on Main Street. Nor do they have any of their own money at risk. Nor do they notice or care if their employer (the government) bleeds billions of dollars in losses. They can see only as far as their own weekly paycheck.

Most Democrats simply punch a clock and get paid week in and week out — the same as last year and five years ago and 10 years ago. As a matter of fact, they get automatic raises every year if they work for government. As long as they still have their job (which 99 percent of government employees do), their lives are pretty much untouched by the economic tragedy around us. No one is saying they are bad people. They aren’t. But they sure aren’t experts on how you create jobs or turn around an economy.

The private sector is a completely different story. Most of my friends who are Republican, conservative or Libertarian either work for themselves or get paid based on commission or performance (real estate brokers, stockbrokers, insurance brokers, mortgage brokers). They all know that the United States is in total economic collapse and headed for a Greece-like disaster. They know because their incomes are down by 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent and more. The private sector is devastated from coast to coast. We are all shell-shocked. We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetimes.

So there you have it. The economic ignorance gap explained.

When you want to fix a clogged drain, you don’t call an economist; you call a plumber. When you want to solve a murder, call a police detective. Put out a fire? Call a fireman. You want to learn math? Call a teacher. You want bread? Call a baker. Now, I can’t do any of those things. So calling me would be a big mistake. That’s why we shouldn’t listen to plumbers or bakers or teachers or government employees (even the ones who are heroes) when we want to save our economy or create jobs. You call a job creator. Call a businessman or businesswoman. But don’t call Obama, a community organizer. Don’t call any Democratic politician. You’ll get a Great Depression. Look around.

The people who live in a government world have the same basic income year after year. They know zero about economics or the risks of using their own money to run a business on a budget (or go broke and lose everything). In their world, government takes care of you, hands you a check, protects your job for life and allows you to retire early on a $100,000 pension. Their economy is just fine. They are blissfully ignorant and protected from the harsh reality of the real world. Who protects them? Who is their guardian against the realities and harshness of life in the real world? Obama and Democratic politicians like him. No wonder they vote for Obama, idolize him and ignore reality to protect him. Their jobs and incomes depend on his benevolence and bribery.

The same goes for members of the media. New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman is Exhibit A. Paul Krugman — like most government employees — thinks the answer to the bankruptcy of America due to binge spending by government, is more binge spending by government. They give you Nobel Prizes for that? What’s the category: delusion? Like Krugman, the economic knowledge of Obama’s supporters comes from books. Unfortunately, the books were written by Karl Marx.

Then there’s the rest of us, struggling in Obama’s America. Those of us in the private sector, who risk our own money, run our own businesses or are paid based on performance are being decimated, watching as our life’s work is melting away. Forget about paying ourselves; we’re struggling to keep our doors open, make payroll and, now, pay for Obamacare. It’s that bad. Oh, did I forget to mention that we are being hounded and harassed by the IRS like never before in history. How can anyone run a business and create jobs in an environment like this?

How about some examples? A Wisconsin flag seller just filed for bankruptcy. In Obama’s economy a patriot can’t make a living selling America flags. Next we’ll hear that Bible sellers are going out of business, too. The ESPN Zone restaurant chain went out of business. Under Obama, you can’t make a living anymore selling cheap food and overpriced beer.

Even Vegas is in trouble. The only casinos making money are those whose revenues are mostly from Macao. Their Vegas operations are dying, but they make so much money in China it doesn’t matter anymore.

And then there’s the NFL. The richest sport in the world can’t fill stadium seats anymore. Watch any sports event nowadays, and you’ll see wide swaths of empty seats. You can’t sell anything in Obama’s America — not even tickets to popular sports events.

Think these are isolated examples? Last week we heard that U.S. manufacturing activity plummeted to the lowest level in 3 years. Then, a few days ago, we got another horrendous jobs report with only 80,000 jobs created in the whole country. This all proves what I’ve been saying for 3 1/2 years: Obama’s toxic ideas have produced a slow-motion economic collapse. Just like in Europe, add together a toxic stew of big taxes, big spending, demonization of business owners, too many government rules and regulations, union intimidation, IRS intimidation, billions wasted on green energy, billions more on high speed rail that no one wants to ride and lawyers trying to sue us all out of business (if the unions, government regulations and IRS haven’t already succeeded), and you get economic disaster. It’s all happening right now, right in front of our eyes. It’s pretty simple to connect the dots.

So the economic ignorance gap tells it all. Anyone who makes a living by selling something, anything at all, is in deep trouble. They see an ever worsening disaster under Obama — up close and personal. They fear for the survival of their businesses and they are terrified for the future of America. These are the people we ought to be listening to. The private sector is in distress. We see and feel this Obama Great Depression deepening.

The Democrats who tell pollsters “everything is fine” may be nice people, but they are economically ignorant. Dunces. Put them in the corner with a dunce hat. Worse, their gravy train is based on stealing money from Peter (taxpayers) to pay Paul (themselves). So they aren’t just ignorant; they are biased. They have a rooting interest for an economy based on spending more so their gravy train continues. No wonder they think things are just fine.

But soon, when government announces there is no money to keep paying for 21 million government employees or the bloated pensions of millions of retired government employees, their story will change radically.

Don’t believe me? Just ask a government employee in Greece what the end feels like. Obama’s supporters will soon get a dose of economic reality.

I’m Wayne Allyn Root for PersonalLiberty.com. See you next week, same time, same place. God bless.

–Wayne Allyn Root

Paul’s Fed Audit Bill Passes House

Ron Paul’s revolutionary bill to audit the Federal Reserve passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly by a vote of 327-98 on Wednesday afternoon.

Paul’s bill received backing from all House Republicans but one (Representative Bob Turner of New York), as well as support from 89 Congressional Democrats.

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said of the bill: “The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of nothing and gives it to banks. Congress is in the dark. The Fed sets the stage for the subprime meltdown. Congress is in the dark. The Fed takes a dive on LIBOR. Congress is in the dark. The Fed doesn’t tell regulators what is going on. Congress is in the dark.”

He also noted that the vote occurred the same day The Washington Post published a damning story about how the New York Fed “did not communicate in key meetings with top regulators that British bank Barclays had admitted to Fed staffers that it was rigging LIBOR,” the index that sets interest rates worldwide.

Despite the victory, a Senior Senate Democratic aide said the bill isn’t likely to go anywhere in that chamber in the near future, according to the Huffington Post.

 

Los Angeles Bans Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles took a hit on Tuesday. The city council approved a measure that will ban dispensaries throughout the city. The ban was passed unanimously with a 14-0 vote.

There are 762 dispensaries operating in the city. Once Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signs the law, each dispensary will be expected to shut down immediately.

The city believes that the dispensaries have caused an increase in crime. Police Chief Charlie Beck said that most dispensaries are “for-profit businesses engaged in the sale of recreational marijuana to healthy young adults.”

But those who claim to use marijuana for medical purposes think the real crime is the banning of dispensaries.

“I have anorexia. I have a back injury. I have fibromyalgia. I have other things that are wrong with me,” said one woman at the hearing. “The only thing that helps is medical marijuana.”

After the vote was announced, police were called in to manage the crowd of medical marijuana supporters.

Legality issues concerning marijuana have been hazy since an initiative was passed in California in 1996 legalizing medical marijuana. The sale of marijuana remains illegal under Federal law.

Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Always False, Just Unpopular

In the wake of the tragic events that occurred in Aurora, Colo., last week, the familiar media trend of mindless chatter, finger-pointing and political polarization has emerged. Americans following the case continue to get a slow trickle of facts about the alleged shooter, James Holmes, and his past, along with continual analysis about what his mindset may have been from criminology and psychology experts.

There are people focusing on the smaller, more sociably acceptable reasoning as to why Holmes is alleged to have carried out the horrific slaughter.

The narrative plays something like: Holmes was a loner whose mother said had a socially reclusive history. Potentially a lonely sex fiend, the man frequented prostitutes in his locale. A lifetime “nerd,” he had faced considerable stress of late as his grades failed in his Ph.D. studies and he removed himself from the program. Holmes spent much of his time locked in his apartment — which he faced losing because he was no longer a student — with  lights low playing video games and frequenting online message boards and sex sites. His neighbors didn’t know very much about him.

His online footprint is miniscule, his criminal record nonexistent; there was “no reason for him to be on anyone’s radar.” As it continues, the narrative will likely paint a portrait of a mentally disturbed man who became infatuated by the infamy of his favorite evil movie characters, driven to leave his own nasty mark on society by isolation, mental illness and sadism nurtured by what he deems societal failure to accept him and others like him.

Indeed, the media are already reporting on how the man behaves in his jail cell as he is “trying very hard to act crazy.” He refuses to cooperate with investigators, according to some accounts.

The political consequences of Holmes’ alleged actions are yet to be known, but the rhetoric from lawmakers and opinion shapers has already heated up. It began with media attempting to unsuccessfully link Holmes to political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, and continued successfully into a conversation about gun rights and Internet privacy.

At a news conference on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department is complicit in arming Mexican drug cartels, said that the government must now think about the way in which the shooter acquired his AR-15, two Glock handguns, Remington shotgun, body armor and thousands of rounds.

“We have tried to come up with a better system with our instant background checks so that we have the ability to make sure that people who have emotional problems, people who have felony records, other people cannot get access to these kinds of weapons,” Holder said.

New York Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that police officers throughout the country should go on strike until the 2nd Amendment is suspended.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) — whose husband was killed in a shooting in 1993 — offered with regard to high-capacity magazines, “It befuddles me to think those things should be sold to the general public.”

The fact that Holmes used the Internet to purchase some of the supplies he allegedly used to carry out his crime has also led some lawmakers to suggest that more online spying by government agencies would catch people like him before they act.

There are factions that stand to reap political rewards if Americans accept the mainstream story and subsequent national conversation surrounding the events in Aurora. And for this reason, a small minority of Americans have risked being deemed conspiracy theorists by their peers because they are considering alternatives to the “official” story of events.

Gun control is an issue of perpetual debate in the United States. The most recent threat to the 2nd Amendment has come in the form of a U.N. small arms treaty drafted to fight “terror” and rebellion by taking guns out of the hands of “non-state actors” — read, private citizens — of signing countries. The treaty has been met with support by some U.S. officials, including the President, but has also received harsh criticism from U.S. gun owners and the National Rifle Association. While, if enacted, the treaty would not instantly ban firearms in the United States, it would create difficulties for gun owners such as making it more difficult for hunters and sportsmen to travel internationally, possibly creating a gun registration in the United States and even banning certain guns. The treaty and NRA’s fierce opposition were making headlines in the days leading up to the Aurora events.

And remember how Holmes wasn’t on “anyone’s radar?” For months, the debate about online privacy from government spying has raged as Congress offers up one after another acronym-laden bill to give the Federal government unchecked access to online information. Each one has been met with fierce public opposition. But now, Americans are offered this from a Wall Street Journal columnist:

The Colorado shooter Mr. Holmes dropped out of school via email. He tried to join a shooting range with phone calls and emails going back and forth. He bought weapons and bomb-making equipment. He placed orders at various websites for a large quantity of ammunition. Aside from privacy considerations, is there anything in principle to stop government computers, assuming they have access to the data, from algorithmically detecting the patterns of a mass shooting in the planning stages?

The columnist goes on to suggest that now is the perfect time for Americans to willingly relinquish any expectation of protection under the 4th Amendment, to protect the country from others like Holmes.

Mainstream media attacked Natural News and other alternative news sites for simply raising questions about the timing of Holmes’ alleged actions and the erratic nature of his behavior.

In the Natural News piece, the author posits that Holmes’ attack was a false flag, pointing out:

  • Holmes could have been hand selected by silent actors to carry out his actions because of his educational involvement in mind-altering neuroscience.
  • He was equipped with tactical knowledge and bomb-making expertise and supplies that are difficult to obtain and use correctly. He is alleged to have funded his arsenal in part with the help of a Federal education grant of $26,000, the details of which are sketchy.
  • He has no background and information about his past is sparse at best.

Of course, mainstream thinkers lambast anyone who would dare to suggest that such a tragedy would be foisted upon the American public by shady operatives of some clandestine force for political manipulation. This is the United States; our government is a benevolent one with only the best interests of all involved in mind, right?

History tells a different story.

The CIA has a long and well-documented relationship with experimentation in mind control for the purpose of developing the use of unsuspecting people as weapons. From the agency’s creation in 1947 until Congressional scrutiny befell the agency in 1976 with the help of Senator Frank Church, its experiments went unnoticed.

The Church hearings brought to light the agency’s involvement in years of psychological manipulation of test subjects using drugs, hypnosis and barbaric medical procedures. It was discovered that the CIA had developed the ability to control the minds of those it had manipulated using signals, often making them carry out sexual or deviant acts that would otherwise be out of character.

You can read more about some of the CIA mind-control initiatives in declassified documents that have been compiled by a global team of researchers and intelligence experts here.

It is also no secret that Federal agencies stage incidents on a regular basis. In recent years, to perpetuate the threat of terror, the FBI has coerced individuals into going along with outlandish terror plots and provided weapons and supplies to them. It has been estimated that 14 of the 22 major terror attack threats on American soil since 9/11 were actually FBI sting operations.

With such past evidence, it is a danger to cast aside any alternate explanation of Holmes’ actions as too outlandish, fearmongering or conspiracy. And such an easily politicized tragedy should — and would in a responsible society — be vetted for means, motive and opportunity from a variety of perspectives.

The U.N.’s Gun Grab

In October 2009, while the Barack Obama Justice Department was watching guns purchased from U.S. border gun stores “walk” into Mexico straight into the hands of narcoterrorists, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms.

The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area by seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. As long as that Conference operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will actively support the negotiations. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.

On a national basis, the United States has in place an extensive and rigorous system of controls that most agree is the “gold standard” of export controls for arms transfers. On a bilateral basis, the United States regularly engages other states to raise their standards and to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions.

You may recall that before the scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious broke, Attorney General Eric Holder was advocating for tougher gun laws, blaming Americans for the flow of weapons to Mexico. Now, the Obama Administration and Clinton are “committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty” — I suppose to save them from themselves.

Their commitment, however, doesn’t extend to stopping any sales that advance the Adminstration’s agenda — like arming terrorists in Syria trying to overthrow the Syrian regime.

Make no mistake: The Obama Administration is lying to you about its intentions regarding guns. And the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty being negotiated in New York this week is not about making the world a less violent place. It’s about disarming law-abiding citizens — Americans in particular — to grease the skids for the elite’s agenda. That’s why the treaty contains provisions that require countries to register all firearms and have in place a means to trace, confiscate, control and destroy them.

The Founding Fathers understood the importance of an armed citizenry. In debating the 2nd Amendment, no one questioned its intent was to maintain an armed populace to defend against a standing army, which Elbridge Gerry called “the bane of liberty.”

Pennsylvania’s proposed amendment read, “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them…” [i]

The Obama Administration is taking part in the U.N. negotiations and Obama has indicated he’d sign a treaty that did not interfere with the United States’ ability to import, export or transfer arms in support of national security or foreign policy interests or that covered ammunition and explosives or established an international enforcement body. But he’s getting a lot of pressure from his gun-grabbing constituency to sign the treaty.

If signed, the treaty would have to go to the U.S. Senate, where 58 Senators have signed letters raising concerns with any treaty that covers civilian weapons; the draft treaty says it would apply to “small arms and light weapons.”

Keep a close eye on what comes out of the U.N. this weekend.


[i] The Founding Father’s Guide to the Constitution, Brion McClanahan