Gun Sales Up Following Batman Shooting

The Aurora, Colo., shooting has ratcheted up debates about gun laws. But in the State where the shooting occurred, something else has ratcheted up: gun sales.

Background checks needed to buy a gun legally are up 43 percent after James Holmes’ alleged shooting spree. Prosecutors say that Holmes, the alleged gunman, purchased all his weapons and ammunition legally. In the aftermath of the attack, citizens of Aurora have taken to gun shops to buy their weapons legally as well, to protect themselves against people like Holmes.

Over the weekend, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, 2,887 people were approved to buy a gun. Gun shop owners have also reported an increase in sales.

Dick Rutan, owner of Gunners Den, a gun shop in Arvada, Colo., told The Denver Post: “What they’re saying is: They want to have a chance. They want to have the ability to protect themselves and their families if they are in a situation like what happened in the movie theater.”

Jake Meyers, who works at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told The Post: “A lot of it is people saying, ‘I didn’t think I needed a gun, but now I do.’ When it happens in your backyard, people start reassessing — ‘Hey, I go to the movies.’ ”

According to reports, gun sales have also increased in Florida and Oregon.

Two other events in recent history sparked an increase in gun sales: the election of President Barack Obama and the shooting in Arizona that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.

Since the Aurora shooting, media outlets have been flooded with stories about gun control. Rapper-turned-actor Ice-T even got in on the action, defending the right to bear arms.

“The right to bear arms is because that’s the last form of defense against tyranny. … If somebody wants to kill people, they don’t need a gun to do it. … The United States is based on guns,” he said during an interview with Channel 4 London.

India Bans Tourism In Tiger Reserves

NEW DELHI (UPI) — India’s Supreme Court has ordered a ban on tourism in “core zones” of more than 40 of the country’s government-run tiger reserves.

In its ruling, the court warned states failing to put the bans in place and maintain them could face contempt proceedings and fines, the BBC reported.

The court had already imposed fines on six states for not complying with earlier tiger protection directives.

The tiger population has plummeted from an estimated 100,000 tigers in India a century ago, with a 2011 census finding only about 1,700animals living in the wild.

The court’s ruling was applauded by conservationists, who had petitioned for the removal of commercial tourism activities from core or critical tiger habitats in tiger reserves.

Most tiger reserves in India have “core zones” and also have buffer zones, fringe areas that surround tiger reserves up to a distance of six miles.

Officials say that while conservation efforts by the government and wildlife organizations have helped tiger populations increase, poaching and conflicts between the tigers and people living in and on the periphery of the tiger reserves remains a threat.

'Snapshot' Glasses Improve Visual Memory

DURHAM, N.C. (UPI) — Doing a physical activity while wearing eyewear that simulates a strobe-like experience can increase visual short-term memory retention, U.S. scientists say.

Participants in a Duke University study engaged in physical activities, such as playing catch, while wearing eyewear that limited vision to only brief snapshots of the activity.

Compared to participants who played catch without the eyewear, the study found participants who trained with the strobe eyewear gained a boost in visual memory abilities, a university release reported.

“Humans have a memory buffer in their brain that keeps information alive for a certain short-lived period,” Greg Appelbaum, Duke professor of psychiatry, said. “Wearing the strobe eyewear during the physical training seemed to boost the ability to retain information in this buffer.”

The strobe eyewear disrupted vision by only allowing the users to see glimpses of the world, causing them to adjust their visual processing in order to perform normally, researchers said.

This adjustment seemed to produce a lingering benefit, they said, and once participants removed the strobe eyewear there was an observed boost in their visual memory retention that was found to still be active 24 hours later.

“Improving human cognition is an important goal with so many benefits,” Appelbaum said. “Interestingly, our findings demonstrate one way in which visual experience has the capacity to improve cognition.”

 

Drought, Cull Reduce Australian Camel Herd

CANBERRA, Australia (UPI) — Numbers of wild camels in Australia have dropped by a quarter in recent years because of drought and a government-ordered cull, a wildlife survey shows.

Introduced in the 1800s as pack animals, the camel population was estimated at on million a few years ago but has fallen to 750,000, the Australian Feral Camel Management Project said.

The remaining camels now form the world’s biggest wild animal herd, it said.

With few natural predators and vast areas with little human population in which to roam, feral camels have caused significant environmental damage, put pressure on native Australian species by reducing food sources and destroyed habitat, officials said.

In 2010 the Australian government endorsed a control plan, including culling, the BBC reported.

Since then, the camel numbers have been decreasing, officials said.

“Between 2001 and 2008, it was estimated that there could have been as many as a million feral camels in the outback,” Jan Ferguson of the not-for-profit company Ninti One, which manages the AFCMP, said.

“Since then, however, there has been a major drought, the feral camel management program has come into effect and population survey techniques have been improved.”

Camels roam freely across an area of 1.3 million square miles in the states of Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, as well as the Northern Territory.

Apple Uncages Mountain Lion OS

CUPERTINO, Calif. (UPI) — Apple’s new Mac OS X Mountain Lion brings the company’s desktop and laptop computers closer to the iOS operating system of its iPad and iPhones, experts say.

Mountain Lion, released Wednesday, is the ninth significant upgrade to OS X in 11 years and in its look and feel echoes many features in the OS of Apple’s prized tablet and smartphone, USA Today reported.

Features from the iOS mobile system such as Notification Center, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, Messages, Dictation and AirPlay Mirroring have made their way into Mountain Lion.

Twitter and Facebook integration comes by way of a handy “share” button within apps, allowing users to share photos, videos, Web links and documents.

Apple’s iCloud online storage service is also integrated in Mountain Lion.

The new OS carrying version number 10.8, which Apple says contains more than 200 new features over its predecessor Lion 10.7, is available only as a download from Apple’s App Store, priced at $19.95.

NASA Makes Mars Landing Preparations

PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — NASA says it has adjusted the orbit of its Mars Odyssey spacecraft to provide a more prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth, but before the landing, Earth will set below the martian horizon from the descending spacecraft’s perspective, ending that direct route of communication, the space agency reported Wednesday.

Re-positioning Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process, scientists said, noting that without the orbital adjustment Odyssey would have arrived over the landing area about 2 minutes after Curiosity’s scheduled landing.

“Information we are receiving indicates the maneuver has completed as planned,” said Mars Odyssey Project Manager Gaylon McSmith of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Odyssey has been working at Mars longer than any other spacecraft, so it is appropriate that it has a special role in supporting the newest arrival.”

Two other Mars orbiters, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, will also receive radio transmissions from the Mars Science Laboratory during its descent but will be recording information for later playback, NASA said.

Only Odyssey can relay the information immediately, the agency said.

Most Obese Kids Have Heart Risk Factor

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Two-thirds of severely obese children have at least one cardiovascular risk factor, researchers in the Netherlands found.

Dr. Joana Kist-van Holthe of the Department of Public and Occupational Health, at the University Medical Center, Amsterdam, and colleagues conducted a nationwide surveillance study from July 2005 to July 2007.  Pediatricians in the Netherlands were asked to report all new cases of severe obesity in children ages 2-18 to the Dutch Pediatric Surveillance Unit.

Pediatricians were asked to complete a questionnaire for every severely obese child regarding sociodemographic characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and blood lipids.

Eighty-seven percent to 94 percent of the pediatricians completed the surveys for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The researchers found 500 children with newly diagnosed severe obesity were reported.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, found 67 percent had at least one cardiovascular risk factor — 56 percent had high blood pressure, 14 percent has high blood glucose, 0.7 percent had type 2 diabetes and up to 54 percent had low high-density lipoprotein, the “good,” cholesterol.

In addition, 62 percent of severely obese children ages 12 or younger had one or more cardiovascular risk factors, the study said.

Study: Fewer U.S. Teens Having Sex

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The average age — 16 — at which U.S. teens begin having sex hasn’t changed in about 20 years, federal health officials say.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told AIDS 2012, an international conference in Washington, the proportion of American high school students — ages 14-17 — who have ever had sex fell from 54 percent to 47 percent from 1991 and 2001, then hovered at that level until 2011, USA Today reported. Among blacks, those who said they had sex dropped from 82 percent to 60 percent.

The CDC researchers used data from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 1991 to 2011.

More high-schoolers used birth control, the researchers found. Among all sexually active students, those who said they used a condom the last time they had sex increased from 46 percent to 60 percent, and among black students usage rose from 48 percent to 65 percent, the study said.

Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis Prevention, said new infections of human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, has fallen from a mid-1990s peak to a plateau of about 50,000 a year during the last decade.

It Is Possible To Overeat Healthy Foods

CHICAGO (UPI) — It is possible to overeat healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, a U.S. registered dietitian said.

Brooke Schantz, a registered dietitian at the Loyola University Health System near Chicago, said overeating healthy foods is easy to do, but the same rules apply to healthy food as junk food.

“While fruits are nutritious, too much of even a healthy food can lead to weight gain,” Schantz said in a statement. “The key is to remember to control the portion sizes of the foods you consume.”

Weight fluctuates based on a basic concept — energy in versus energy out — so if total caloric intake is higher than the energy you burn off during a day, people gain weight, Schantz said.

“If it is lower, you will lose weight,” Schantz said in a statement. “I have had many patients tell me that they don’t know why they are not losing weight. Then they report that they eat fruit all day long. They are almost always shocked when I advise them to watch the quantity of food they eat even if it is healthy.”

There is one exception — non-starchy vegetables are difficult to overeat unless they are accompanied by calories from sauces, cheeses and butter, Schantz said.

“This is due to the high water and fiber content of these vegetables coupled with the stretching capacity of the stomach,” Schantz said. “But, limit vegetables high in starch, such as peas, corn and potatoes.”

People Eat Less When Food Is 'Segmented'

ITHACA, N.Y. (UPI) — Segmenting food — providing a visual cue to divide up food — results in people eating less of the food offered, U.S. researchers found.

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, had two groups of college students — 98 students total — eat tubes of potato chips, some of which contained chips dyed red, while they were watching video clips in class.

The study, scheduled to be published in the journal Health Psychology, found the red chips served as subconscious “stop signs” that curtailed the amount of food consumed.

In the first study, the red chips were interspersed at intervals designating one suggested serving size, or seven chips, or two serving sizes, or 14 chips. In the second study, this was changed to five and 10 chips.

Unaware of why some of the chips were red, the students who were served the segmented tubes ate 50 percent less than their peers.

“People generally eat what is put in front of them if it is palatable,” Wansink said in a statement. “An increasing amount of research suggests that some people use visual indications such as a clean plate or bottom of a bowl to tell them when to stop eating.”

New Home Sales Dropped In June

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Sales of new single-family homes declined month-to-month in June, but rose 15.1 percent from June 2011, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Sales fell from a revised May rate of 382,000 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 350,000 in June. The 8.4 percent monthly drop still left sales of new homes higher than June 2011, when the annual rate was estimated at 304,000.

The Commerce Department said the average sale price for a new home sold in June $273,900, unchanged from the previous month.

Going into July, there were 144,000 new homes on the market, enough to last 4.9 months at the current rate of sales, the Commerce Department said.

Nike Leans Harder On Vietnam For Shoes

BEAVERTON, Ore. (UPI) — U.S. sportswear firm Nike Inc. said in a regulatory filing it is relying a bit more on Vietnam as a manufacturing base.

Nike said 41 percent of its footwear is now made in Vietnam, with 32 percent made in China and 25 percent in Indonesia.

For its 2012 fiscal year, Nike moved its manufacturing slightly toward Vietnam and Indonesia, while pulling back slightly in China. Smaller percentages of the firm’s footwear are made in Argentina, Brazil, India and Mexico, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Tuesday.

Although its shoes are made elsewhere, 42 percent of the company’s revenue comes from U.S. sales.

The company said North American revenue jumped 17 percent in fiscal 2012. Sales also grew 18 percent in Greater China and 26 percent in emerging markets, the filing said.

The company employs about 7,000 workers at its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. Last year, its workforce rose from 38,000 to 44,000, the filing revealed.

Diller Says Newsweek Is Going To Change

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A co-owner of the iconic weekly U.S. magazine Newsweek said that it would transition further toward an all-digital production by 2013.

“The brand is good. So what is the problem? The problem is in manufacturing and producing a weekly news magazine, and that has to be solved,” said Barry Diller, owner of InterActiveCorp.

“The transition to online from hard print will take place,” Diller said, although he added, “I’m not saying it will happen totally.”

Forbes Magazine reported Tuesday that an analyst close to the company said Newsweek’s annual losses were about $20 million.

Together with the Daily Beast, the annual loss could be about $35 million, the source said.

Newsweek merged with the Daily Beast after the ailing weekly magazine was bought by billionaire Sidney Harman in 2010.

But Harman died in April 2012. Last week, Harman’s family announced they would no longer contribute capital to the company.

Diller said a decision on Newsweek would be made by October.

“The plan is going to be different next year than it is this year. I can’t tell you in what ways, but it’s going to be different,” he said.

Walmart Rejects Swipe Fees Settlement

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (UPI) — Walmart said Wednesday it will join other U.S. retailers in rejecting a class action settlement against credit card firms for allegedly colluding on swipe fees.

The multibillion dollar-settlement included a $6.6 billion payment, plus a temporary reduction in interchange fees, a gesture valued at about $1.2 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

However, “The proposed settlement (with Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and others) would not structurally change the broken market or prohibit credit card networks from continually increasing hidden swipe fees,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.

The company urged “all merchants to put consumers first and reject the settlement.”

Target and the National Association of Convenience Stores have also rejected the deal, which would cancel the retailers’ rights to sue for similar issues in the future, a major complaint among those rejecting the settlement, the Journal said.

“It’s a very real possibility that there could be a snowball effect. You do have two of the largest retailers speaking out against the settlement, which is significant,” said David Robertson, publisher of the payment industry newsletter the Nilson Report.

Walmart and Target speaking up against the deal could overturn it. The deal allows the credit card companies to back out if stores representing 25 percent of credit car sales volume reject it.

Magazine Compiles Exam Answer Mistakes

LONDON, (UPI) — A London-based higher education magazine has released the entries in this year’s “exam howlers” contest, which seeks to find the funniest test mistakes.

Times Higher Education said the entries in this year’s contest, which are submitted by professors, include a sentence about the time “Stalin began to build a buffet zone in Eastern Europe,” rather than a “buffer zone,” and a student’s statement that during the Middle Ages, “most books were written on valium,” rather than vellum.

“Spain was a very Catholic country, since Christianity had been taken there in the third century B.C.,” wrote one student, while another, submitted by the same professor, spoke of “Pope Paul V, himself a Catholic.”

The winner of the contest is scheduled to be announced in next week’s issue of Times Higher Education.

Man Attempts 'Joggling' World Record

HOUSTON, (UPI) — A University of Florida student said he will attempt the “joggling” world record by running a mile while juggling five objects in Houston.

Matthew Feldman, an engineering student, said he plans to attempt the Guinness World Record at the Rice University track at 7 p.m. Friday, WKMG-TV, Orlando, Fla., reported Tuesday.

Feldman said he is targeting the record of 7 minutes, 41 seconds for “joggling” — jogging and juggling simultaneously — a mile set by Bill Gillen.

Feldman said his record attempt will also raise money and awareness for victims of last year’s tsunami in Japan.

Missing Python Found In Owner's Yard

YORKTOWN, Va., (UPI) — Authorities in Virginia said they have found a Burmese python reported missing from its owner’s home.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said the 10-foot-long snake disappeared this month from its owner’s Yorktown home and was found Monday coiled up in the yard of the home, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.

The sheriff’s office said the snake was healthy and was returned to its owner.

'Goat Man' Was Hunter In Disguise

SALT LAKE CITY, (UPI) — A Utah wildlife official said the mysterious “goat man” photographed crawling near some goats was a California hunter testing out a goat stalking disguise.

Phil Douglass, conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said he was contacted recently by a 57-year-old California man who revealed he had donned a goat suit July 15 and appeared in Coty Creighton’s photograph near Ben Lomond Peak just north of Ogden, the Ogden Standard-Examiner reported Tuesday.

Douglass said the man, who did not give his name, gave information substantiating his claims and said he was testing out the goat suit for an upcoming hunting trip.

“He gave me details that convinced me it was him,” Douglass said. “I’m satisfied that this was a person preparing for a hunt and did it with knowledge and experience.”

Creighton said he had enjoyed the mystery about the goat man’s identity.

“I thought I wanted answers, but I was naive. I should have left well enough alone. Now I just want the mystery back,” he said.

Dog Saves Man From Snake

CLASKSVILLE, Tenn., (UPI) — A Tennessee man said his black Labrador, a former Army dog, saved him when he was confronted by a copperhead snake while out for a walk.

Darrell Layne, 70, a Navy veteran, said he was walking July 14 on a friend’s farmland in Clarksville with his 5-year-old dog, Onex, an Army veteran who served in the Middle East, when he noticed the venomous snake at his feet, Gannett Tennessee reported Tuesday.

“I’m looking down, and not far was a copperhead,” he said. “He was coiled up and ready to strike me.”

Layne said Onex growled at the snake and got its attention. He said he killed the snake with a fence post but not before it bit his dog twice on the face.

“I would have never got out of there,” Layne said. “He got real sick on me before we got back to the truck.”

Layne said he took Onex to a veterinarian, where he underwent two days of fluids and anti-venom.

The man said the incident strengthened his friendship with the dog.

“He’s very protective of me, and I’ve noticed this more since this happened,” he said. “I know what could have been if I didn’t have him.”

Biden: Middle-Class Tax Cuts 'Hostage'

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Republicans are holding middle-class tax cuts “hostage,” Vice President Joe Biden said as the U.S. Senate was to vote on rival party plans to extend tax cuts.

The votes, which could come as early as Wednesday morning, would be on a Democratic plan to extend current tax rates and other tax breaks for all income up to $250,000, while allowing income tax, capital gains and dividend rates to rise on earnings over that amount.

This is in keeping with their pledge to preserve the tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush presidency for the middle class but not the wealthy.

Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for all income, arguing any tax increase while the economy is still weak would hurt a recovery.

Democratic leaders told CNN they were confident that if Republicans would drop their filibuster, currently stalling action on the measure, the Democratic bill could get at least 51 votes. They said they doubted Republicans could do as well on their bill.

A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure permitting a lawmaker to delay or prevent a vote on a measure by speaking for as long as he or she wants on any topic.

A Senate filibuster can only be stopped when 60 senators move to bring the debate to a close.

“If Congress doesn’t get this done, there are going to be 114 million people — middle-class families — see their taxes go up and in effect a cut in their wages,” Biden told reporters in a rare conference call Tuesday.

“A typical middle-class family, making fifty grand, a family of four, is going to pay $2,200 extra,” Biden said.

The Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year.

“But the Republicans have fixated on extending all the cuts, and what they’re doing is very simple — and you can understand it from their perspective — they’re holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage,” Biden said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his party wants votes on three measures — the Democratic and Republican bills, plus a third on a President Barack Obama proposal some Senate Democrats oppose because of its changes to estate and dividend taxes.

Republicans indicated a split by the Democrats could hurt Obama politically, CNN reported.

“We think we should have a vote on all three proposals,” McConnell said. “Show the American people what’s really behind these proposals and what we stand for. If Democrats believe the president’s rhetoric, they’ll vote for his proposal. And he’ll work to get their support.”

Republicans threatened to continue their filibuster and deny votes on the Democratic and GOP bills if they didn’t also get a vote on Obama’s proposal.

Democrats said extending the Bush-era tax cuts under their plan makes economic sense.

“Everybody will get a cut on the first $250,000 of their income and, given our deficit position, that’s the right threshold,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who is running for re-election.

“Those who have done very, very well, even in this economy, have a responsibility to help pay off our national debt,” she said.

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office said Monday last summer’s political squabbling between the White House and Congress during the debt-ceiling crisis cost taxpayers at least $1.3 billion.

The figure — stemming from increased Treasury Department borrowing costs after suspending investments and then re-instating them when the crisis ended — is expected to rise as multiyear obligations and other outstanding costs are added later, the GAO said.

Some Colorado Victims Couldn't Get Vital Help

AURORA, Colo., (UPI) — The Colorado movie theater gunman must have had target practice, police said, and other officials said some victims were unable to get immediate medical help.

The law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times they based their target-practice assessment on the gunman’s “unusually high” hit rate in the shooting spree that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in Aurora, Colo.

The officials said authorities were searching the apartment of suspect James Holmes for evidence of a gun-range receipt, a brochure, related information he got online or phone calls he may have placed to a range, the Times said.

Such information would provide additional evidence of premeditation and suggest the suspect deliberately planned the attack, the officials told the newspaper.

The evidence would also weaken a defense strategy that Holmes was insane, the officials said.

Even if he didn’t go to a shooting range, the gunman could have gone out to the prairie east of Aurora and practiced alone, they said

The scope of the massacre was unprecedented for Aurora, 10 miles east of Denver, and emergency medical workers treated every victim they came across in a parking lot outside the multiplex movie theater, fire officials said.

But they were unable to immediately get into the theater because the lot was packed with cars from patrons and police — and they were treating victims in the parking lot.

“They were overwhelmed with patients,” Aurora Fire Capt. Al Robnett told The Denver Post of the first responders who arrived 4 minutes 59 seconds after they were dispatched.

“Patients were running toward them. They were covered with blood. We cannot move past a patient to get to another patient,” Robnett said.

What resulted was a medical response that initially helped the less seriously injured and then treated critically injured patients in the theater who couldn’t be moved, the newspaper said.

When medical help finally did reach them, ambulances weren’t available and police cars — which were not equipped or staffed for lifesaving — took victims to hospitals, dispatch recordings from that night indicated.

“I’ve got a child victim,” a recording indicated an officer called. “I need rescue at the back door (of) Theater 9. Now.”

But while the request was relayed right away, ambulances and trained medical responders stayed in the parking lot treating others.

By the time responders said they’d arrived at the back of the theater, 15 minutes, 49 seconds had elapsed since the call for help from Theater 9, and police had already moved nine or 10 patients into the parking lot.

The child patient apparently remained inside, the Post said.

She is believed to have been Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6, who did not survive.

Fire department rescuers were thwarted by a lack of ambulances for transport, the recordings indicate.

“FYI right now we’re loading patients into back of PD cars to get them transported,” the first fire department responder to reach the theater said. “Any ambos we could get would be nice.”

By then, 24 minutes had elapsed since the shooting.

None of the 25 ambulances that responded from several area hospitals were available or able to get where they were immediately needed, the Post said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper praised police for doing whatever it took to get medical aid to the wounded.

“I couldn’t believe how many people got to the hospital by police cars and not by ambulance,” Hickenlooper told the Post.

“Several people [he had spoken with from other jurisdictions] said: ‘You know, where I am, the police won’t touch injured people for fear they will hurt their back or whatever. These police looked at us, blood everywhere, and said, There are not ambulances here, we have to start taking people.'”