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.'”

Arpaio Takes Stand In Profiling Trial

PHOENIX, (UPI) — Lawyers in Arizona’s racial-profiling trial used Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s public statements against him as he testified Tuesday.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs immediately began using Arpaio’s statements, press releases and books to depict him as a law enforcement officer whose policy on immigration enforcement is rife with discriminatory practices and in accordance with requests made by local racist and extremist groups, the Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

Stanley Young, a plaintiff attorney, pointed out Arpaio’s immigration enforcement plan was conceived in 2005 after Arpaio received a letter from the Minuteman militia group, asking why Arizona law enforcement agencies never question day laborers about their immigration status. Young then played a video in court of a 2007 news conference in which Arpaio said his plan was designed to target illegal immigrants whether or not they violated Arizona laws.

Arpaio attempted to clarify his position while testifying, the newspaper said, as Young produced other inflammatory statements Arpaio had made.

Arpaio attempted to deflect responsibility for some statements on staff members and the co-author of his biography, as he had done in numerous depositions and sworn statements prior to the trail, the newspaper said.

The case alleges the sheriff’s office engaged in institutional discrimination against Latinos, and seeks injunctive relief instead of monetary damages, specifically a declaration spelling out what deputies can and cannot do when stopping potential suspects, and a court-appointed monitor to ensure the agency abides by the rules.

American Civilian Killed In Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, (UPI) — An American civilian working in Afghanistan was among at least three people killed when gunmen attacked their minibus, U.S. and local officials said.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed the unidentified man, who spent decades working as an electrical engineer in Afghanistan, was shot to death Monday by gunmen while he was riding in a vehicle in northern Parwan province, Khaama Press reported. Two Afghan men, the driver and a colleague of the engineer, were also killed.

Khaama Press said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the killings.

Gun Sales Increase In Colorado

DENVER, (UPI) — The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said the number of people looking to purchase firearms has increased by 43 percent during the weekend.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reported approval of 2,887 background checks of people who want to buy guns from Friday to Sunday, a 43 percent increase from the Friday to Sunday period the week before, The Denver Post reported.

Some believe the increase in gun sales is connected to the shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater leading to 12 deaths and 58 casualties.

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

Military Spending A Poor Investment

The issue of whether the Federal government should cut defense spending has been coming up this week in the 2012 Presidential campaign, and one thing is clear: If you believe that American military spending should be thoroughly examined and trimmed, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is your guy.

Obama, during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday, accused Republicans of putting Pentagon funding in danger by calling for tax cuts. The cuts, claims the President, will further deepen the Federal government’s massive deficit and allow for automatic spending cuts, which don’t spare the military, to kick in.

“People in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” he said to VFW members in Reno, Nev. “And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.

“Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military. And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.”

Romney, in turn, criticized the President for even positing that across-the-board defense cuts were an option.

“Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be ‘devastating.’ And he is right,” Romney said.

The candidate continued,”… I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century.”

Obama, in a rare visit to the Pentagon earlier this year, held a press conference to discuss what he called a plan to reduce the size of the military while making sure that it remained a strong defensive and strategic force. Included with the plan was the agreement between the White House and Congress to cut a projected $480 billion from the Pentagon budget over the next decade. The cuts, however, are largely symbolic, as the military budget will simultaneously increase to account for the rate of inflation during the same time. By the end of the year, if Congress fails to reach a budget agreement, an additional $700 billion in defense cutbacks is set to be triggered. Lawmakers are unlikely to allow this to happen, according to most analysts.

As Romney and Obama make the same defense-cuts-make-us-less-safe arguments and offer different solutions (Obama’s tax increases and Romney’s politically impossible promise to increase defense spending without higher taxes), special interests are also having their say.

Last week, former Vice President Dick “Halliburton” Cheney told House Republicans that it would be fine to slash military spending in a safe world, but we don’t live in a safe world.

“There is no significant change in our strategic stance to justify these cuts,” Cheney told members of the House Republican whip team in the basement of the Capitol, according to a POLITICO source in attendance. “Actually, things are not better, they’re worse.”

With a spending allotment that has roughly doubled over the past decade as the United States finds itself perpetually battling “terror,” it seems Cheney’s claim that things are worse should defeat his own argument against cuts. If American defense policy isn’t really working (or, in Romney’s words, bringing “justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair”), why keep throwing money at it?

Here’s what American taxpayers have gotten for their benevolent investments:

Nearly a decade occupying Iraq at a cost of about $1 trillion in overall military spending has yielded a country rife with violence and extremism — a country less stable and arguably far more violent than it was under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The ongoing struggle in Afghanistan with 2,000 Americans killed; 16,000 Americans wounded; 12,000 Afghan civilian deaths and U.S. expenditures of $400 billion has yielded a politically corrupt and violence-stricken country with a bleak future. The country will likely depend on the United States as a crutch for decades, despite the fact that American-trained members of its military and police continue to shoot American service members and civilians.

The United States intervened in Libya earlier in the year, handing the country over to Islamic extremists; a similar scenario will likely play out in Syria in coming months.

Each of the places that have seen U.S. military intervention in the past decade, some experts argue, have become hotbeds for the same sort of violent Islamic extremism that sparked the Mideast invasions following Sept. 11, 2001.

Cheney is right; things are getting worse abroad. Of course, defense contractors and companies that receive government contracts for nation building won’t see anything get worse unless across-the-board budget cuts kick in. Last week, as Cheney was making his rounds speaking with Republican lawmakers, another man with interest in defense spending was also seen at the Capitol: the president of Lockheed Martin.

The Age Of GAVEAD

In my new book, The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy, I pose the question: When the lessons of history so clearly demonstrate that redistribution of wealth always ends badly for a nation, what could possibly motivate so many people to ignore such evidence?

I believe the answer is to be found in an acronym I like to refer to as GAVEAD (guilt, arrogance, victimization, envy, anger, demonization). These negative character flaws are powerful human failings that cause people to place their desire for wealth without work above moral considerations.

At its worst, GAVEAD manifests itself in bloody revolutions, such as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 and Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba in 1959. I know of no place or time in history when GAVEAD-inspired revolutions achieved a better, freer life for anyone who was not part of the ruling elite.

Although all GAVEAD is harmful, the GAVEAD trait that most annoys me is guilt. Guilt is a mental condition often found in wealthy people (particularly on the East and West Coasts of the United States), most — but not all — of whom did not acquire their fortunes through their own efforts.

The Kennedys and Rockefellers are good examples of guilt-ridden heirs to fortunes. Even today, the descendants of Joseph P. Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller are among the biggest advocates of wealth redistribution. And the most visible guilt-ridden Rockefeller of all is Jay Rockefeller, long-time progressive Senator from West Virginia.

From a psychological standpoint, it’s not hard to understand why someone who has been able to live in luxury all his life without ever having to do any real work would be inclined toward feelings of guilt. The problem is that the guilt feelings of those who have inherited great wealth often produce a desire in them to redistribute your wealth to those whom they deem to be in need.

From Bobby Kennedy to Teddy Kennedy, and now in some of their most vile progeny, we see this phenomenon play out again and again. Because these people have no idea what it’s like to start and run a business, meet a payroll and fight to keep afloat despite excessive government taxation and regulation, it is understandable that they cannot relate to the entrepreneur.

But it’s not just those who inherited their wealth who are afflicted with guilt. Guilt is also prevalent in those who have come into a lot of money quickly, again without having to do any real work. If you’re thinking Hollywood, you’re on the right track.

The main reason so many actors talk as though they have tapioca between their ears is that they have acquired enormous wealth by doing nothing more than excelling at pretending to be someone else while in front of a movie camera.

What is not as easy to understand is how some people who have actually built great fortunes through entrepreneurship — through creativity and hard work — end up feeling guilty about their wealth. In this category, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Bill Gates come to mind.

I think we can safely give much of the credit for making the super rich feel guilty to the far-left media that no longer report the news, but instead work, using subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ploys, to champion anticapitalist causes.

In his book White Guilt, Shelby Steele takes the guilt issue one step further by explaining that Americans are hopelessly trapped by the need to feel guilty for the sins of their fathers. Any person of color — not just black, but Arab, Latino, Asian or other — must be coddled and handed the keys to the country (or, at the very least, to the university of his or her choice). If you don’t agree, you are likely to be scorned by your friends and acquaintances and accused of lacking compassion.

A “Kinder, Gentler Nation”

If you have any doubts about how powerful media-induced guilt can be, think back on what happened as soon as Ronald Reagan left office. His successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, immediately started blathering about change, thereby beating Barack Obama to the punch by some 20 years.

When I say immediately, I’m talking about President Bush’s inauguration address. That was when he first made an appeal for Americans to join in an effort to create a “kinder, gentler nation” — a catchphrase that the media gleefully jumped on.

Never mind the fact that nations can be neither kind nor gentle. Only people can be kind or gentle — as well as nasty or harsh. But by implying that Americans were not kind and gentle, Bush also implied that they needed politicians to help them be so.

The biggest problem in this regard is that for decades Republicans have allowed their Democratic pals to make up the rules of the game. Their mantra has long been: “We must show Democrats we are reasonable, civil people who are willing to ‘reach across the aisle’ and ‘compromise.’” In other words, their desire for popularity trumps morality.

Finally, in 2001, with the country still reeling from Father George’s kinder, gentler nation talk, along came Son George, who, immediately after taking office, started blathering about a weird abstraction he called “compassionate conservatism.” RINOs seem to have an uncontrollable propensity toward guilt — and financial suicide.

Of course, there’s some pragmatism involved here as well. Most conservative politicians believe that the only way they can get elected to office, and re-elected, is to prove they are compassionate. But the term compassionate conservatism wrongly implies that true conservatism is not compassionate.

On the contrary, the term compassionate conservatism is a redundancy, because true conservatism (which, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, has libertarian principles at its heart) is compassionate.

America doesn’t need another Democratic Party. The one it has is already bankrupting and enslaving us. What it needs is a party that will stand up for freedom, and that would be possible only if its members would refuse to give in to the “G” word in GAVEAD.

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High School Graduation Held In Church Ruled UnConstitutional

For years, high schools have used large buildings in the community for graduation. But church buildings might have to be crossed off the list after a ruling in Wisconsin on Monday.

In September, a three-judge panel ruled it was Constitutional for the Elmbrook School District to conduct graduation ceremonies in a church. But that decision was reversed, largely because students were exposed to “conditions of extensive proselytization” (a cross, religious pamphlets and hymnals). The court also cited the involvement of minors as a reason for the decision.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint on behalf of a group of nine anonymous individuals consisting of parents and students. The initial claim was filed in 2009, but some of the plaintiffs have made claims for monetary damages due to emotional suffering.

“They felt graduation was ruined because it was held in such a deeply religious environment. We’re hopeful this case will have a big impact around the country,” said attorney Alex Luchenitser. “This decision upholds the separation of church and state, it upholds the Constitution. It ensures the students in Wisconsin will not be forced to enter an intensely religious environment as the price of attending their own high school graduation, a seminal event in their lives.”

Similar cases have been tried in Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey.

According to the school district, graduations were held at Elmbrook Church because it was an air-conditioned venue large enough to seat the friends and family of graduates.

7-Year-Old Calls Obama ‘Rude’

Clara Sutton, co-owner of Cool Blast Lemonade, has a message for President Barack Obama following his “You didn’t build that,” remark in Roanoke, Va. “I would say that’s rude,” Clara said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”

“We worked very hard to build this business, but we did have help,” she said. Seven-year-old Clara along with her 4-year-old sister, Eliza, started the lemonade business with the help of their father and step-mother. Their younger brother, Eirik, helps spot potential customers.

Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas) has backed the Houston-based business.

“You see these kids did it without government doing anything but getting out of their way,” he said.

Obama’s infamous comment has resulted in criticism from small business owners across the country. Hard working entrepreneurs are rallying together in defense of their dreams and dedication.

The video below was organized by Bristol Palin, “Let’s give the President a little lesson on how this country works. And let’s hurry, because he only has a few months left on the job!” she wrote on her blog.

Federal Agencies Poor Students Of Communication

A year ago, provisions of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which require Federal agencies to take steps to use clearer language in paperwork and laws so that average citizens can more easily understand the information, went into effect.

The Center for Plain Language has graded 12 Federal agencies based on how well they complied with the basic requirements and for efforts of implementing policies that would better help them comply.

“Unless federal agencies are held accountable, they won’t implement the changes required by the Plain Writing Act,” Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who authored the Act, said. “The mixed results of the first-ever Plain Language Report Card show that we still have a long way to go to make government forms and documents simpler and easier for taxpayers to understand. Some federal agencies have embraced the Plain Writing Act, and others haven’t. Until these grades are all A-plus, we’re going to keep holding bureaucrats’ feet to the fire.”

Here’s how the agencies scored when it came to being clear and concise in their communications:

AGENCYGRADE FOR COMPLIANCEGRADE FOR EFFORTS
TO IMPROVE
National Archives and Records AdministrationBC
U.S. Department of AgricultureAB
U.S. Department of DefenseBD
U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesCB
U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityDD
U.S. Department of JusticeCD
U.S. Department of LaborBF
U.S. Department of TransportationCF
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsFF
U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyCF
U.S. Social Security AdministrationCC
U.S. Small Business AssociationCC

An Open Appeal To Occupy Wall Street

I can certainly empathize with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. While ex-Goldman guy/U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, fellow ex-Goldman guy/New York Fed President Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke worked diligently to use taxpayer money to bail out Goldman Sachs and some other 1 percenters, the rest of us were dealing with layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcies — with no bailouts in sight, just more circular rhetoric and broken promises.

In the midst of all this has emerged a war cry directed against capitalism itself. It is here that I feel some of my fellow 99 percenters may have been misled and have thus misdirected their fiery and very justified frustration.

It is not free-market capitalism itself that has betrayed us, but rather the cronyism and mercantilism that pervades Washington, D.C. In a private letter to Col. Mandell House written in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt admitted: “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson—and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of W[oodrow] W[ilson].”

In a truly capitalist country, where the government neither favors nor disfavors particular business interests, highly leveraged risk-takers like Goldman Sachs would have failed in 2008 along with Lehman Brothers, to be replaced by more scrupulous and prudent firms. Unfortunately, however, as FDR noted in 1933, the powers in Washington are beholden to the influence of certain special business interests — special in the sense that they are wealthy, entrenched and organized. And they have a system: the two-party system.

From the very first day in office, the typical politician is thinking about re-election. This costs money — a lot of money. As we have repeatedly witnessed, the politician who spends the most money almost always wins. Where do politicians go to get money? To those who have the money, of course: the top 1 percent, through their corporations, trusts, foundations and Super PACs.

For these individuals, capitalism works perfectly. Politicians have power but need money to get elected and stay elected, and the top 1 percent have money but need the (use of) politicians’ power to further their own (usually corporate) interests.

The obvious problem here is this: You and I aren’t getting any of the money or any of the power. In fact, they’re taking our money through taxation and stealing our purchasing power through inflation.

This is not capitalism; this is mercantilism.

We often hold the naïve assumption that capitalism and other forms of government are mutually exclusive, but this is not so. Indeed, modern-day China has taught us that this is incontrovertibly false. China, as the world’s second-largest economy with bustling capitalism at almost every level of society, is run by a group of communist families who themselves profit immensely from this false ideology, thus the need for constant censorship.

At the risk of sounding “un-American,” is it not also true that our own socio-economic system is a hybrid somewhat similar to this? But instead of communism at the top, our uniquely American model of economics is a hybrid of capitalism at most levels with mercantilism reigning among the very top echelons.

The cycle of money from these elitists — through their lobbyists, corporations, foundations, and Super-Pacs to politicians on both sides of the aisle, back to these elitists through the state mechanism — is mercantilism, and anathema to free-market capitalism.

What’s worse, attacks on capitalism itself play right into their hands. A disposal of capitalism means a transition to something else, something worse. A sharing, loving world where everyone plays by the rules sounds great on campus; but the outside world just doesn’t play by the rules. Is more government regulation — more favoritism — going to help our plight?

What is needed is to sever the cycle of money from the elitists to the politicians, and thus regain ownership over our representatives’ power. That’s easier said than done.

So, again, I implore my fellow 99 percenters to stop the attacks against capitalism and redirect that energy where it belongs: toward cronyism and mercantilism. You can start by moving your tents from Wall Street in New York to K Street in Washington. That’s where they keep the “paid” lobbyists, your true representatives in Washington.

It’s not capitalism that has failed us, but we who have failed capitalism.

–J. Kevin Meaders

The Dog Days Of Global Warming

There have been massive forest fires and record temperatures across North America this summer. With this heat wave impacting so many millions of people, it must be definitive proof of global warming — or so the Big Green Machine would like us to believe.

I will admit that it has gotten so hot where I live that I had to go buy a couple of fans.

On July 1, even The Washington Post declared that Colorado’s destructive wildfires are global warming’s “smoking” gun: “Lightning and suspected arson ignited them four weeks ago, but scientists and federal officials say the table was set by a culprit that will probably contribute to bigger and more frequent wildfires for years to come: climate change.”

Remember The Coming Ice Age?

It all sounds familiar and for good reason.

In January 1971, my father decided my brothers and me were going to help him build a big reservoir that he could stock with fish. It was a natural gully filled with brush and trees. The spring runoff would provide the water after dirt was hauled in and one end was dammed.

I remember how cold that winter was. Between New Year’s Day and the end of February the thermometer rose above 0 degrees Fahrenheit only one day.

It had to be climate change right? That’s what the mainstream media were saying. Magazines like Time and Newsweek ran cover stories on the coming Ice Age, and climate experts predicted that humanity was on the brink of an environmental crisis.

The Big Chill was coming, said the scientists. It just so happened that it was a movie by that same title and it was released a decade later.

And Then Came Ozone

That was followed up in the 80s and 90s by fear over the depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone layer, scientists said, protects all DNA of all surface-dwelling life by absorbing Ultraviolet B from our sun.

Environmental scientists stated that the Earth’s future depended on people not using a certain version of Freon because it was eating away the lifesaving ozone layer. They made such a big deal about it that the Federal government got involved and forced all of us to pay more to replace the Freon in our cars and refrigerators. This pushed prices higher, plus the consumer had to pay for disposal fees.

These environmental idiots said they had proof that these things were damaging the environment — scientific proof.

Who Decided Scientists Know It All?

We all give so much credence to these experts that it shocks us when they are wrong or they admit that they may have been wrong.

That is what occurred a few months ago when James Lovelock — the man referred to as the “godfather of global warming” — recanted his catastrophic climate change predictions. The 92-year-old now says those predictions were “meaningless drivel.”

The implications were extraordinary because Lovelock is not some politician campaigning for votes or the latest pork barrel Green project. Lovelock is a world-renowned scientist whose Gaia theory — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — has had a major impact on the development of the global warming theory.

Lovelock, a former NASA scientist, invented the electron capture detector in the 1950s that allowed scientists to measure CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere. To some extent, Lovelock gave birth to the Greens.

Today isn’t like the Middle Ages. The Pope did not force Lovelock to recount. He did it on his own when he acknowledged:  “The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.”

Lovelock gave an interview to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which he delivered bombshells that must have angered environmentalists.

Lovelock blasted the Greens for their religious fervor.

“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock said. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use. The greens use guilt. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”

Lovelock also mocked something I have made fun of for 30 years (after I first saw them outside Palm Springs, Calif.): wind turbines.

Lovelock told The Guardian: “We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant.

“So-called sustainable development (like wind power)… is meaningless drivel.”

Lovelock admitted what most scientists will never confess: They are not all-knowing.

“One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it,” Lovelock told MSNBC.

If the men and women who practice science don’t know the truth, then neither do politicians, reporters or news anchors. This could just be one unusually hot summer.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers
Editor, Myers Energy & Gold Report

Visual Multitasking Dangerous In Driving

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UPI) — Ohio State University scientists researching distracted driving say they found people are better at juggling some types of multitasking than others.

Trying to do two visual tasks at the same time hurt performance in both tasks significantly more than combining a visual and an audio task, a university release reported.

However, researchers said people attempting two visual tasks at the same time rated their performance as better than did those who combined a visual and an audio task, even though in fact their performance was worse.

“Many people have this overconfidence in how well they can multitask, and our study shows that this particularly is the case when they combine two visual tasks,” OSU communications Professor Zheng Wang said. “People’s perception about how well they’re doing doesn’t match up with how they actually perform.”

Using eye-tracking technology, the study determined people’s gaze moved around much more when they had two visual tasks compared to a visual and an audio task. They also spent much less time focused on any one task, suggesting distracted visual attention, Wang said.

People who text while they are driving are combining two mostly visual tasks, she said, while people who talk on a phone while driving are combining a visual and an audio task.

“They’re both dangerous, but as both our behavioral performance data and eyetracking data suggest, texting is more dangerous to do while driving than talking on a phone, which is not a surprise,” Wang said.