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.

The Entrepreneur

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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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUNYRsE3ahA&w=420&h=315]

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzZ0XNptRMA&w=560&h=315]

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.

Probe Cites Safety In 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

HOUSTON (UPI) — A U.S. investigation into the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico suggested worker safety and performance trumped disaster prevention for BP and Transocean.

In 2010, sea water, oil and natural gas was ejected up to the platform, struck an ignition source and an explosion on caused BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig. Eleven rig workers died in the accident that led to one of the worst offshore oil disasters.

An audit by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board found that companies such as BP and rig-owner Transocean focused more on issues that could lead to a work slowdown more than on the factors that may have contributed to the spill.

“BP and Transocean had multiple safety management system deficiencies that contributed to the Macondo incident,” the Houston Chronicle quoted the report as stating.

The board took note of worker safety issues when it reviewed the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2007. A report from U.S. regulators determined that the blowout that led to the explosion that sunk the Deepwater Horizon platform came from the failure of a cement barrier at the underwater well.

BP and Transocean officials were cited by the Houston newspaper as saying there were committed to enhancing operational safety measures.

Report Lays Out Illegal Wildlife Trade

LONDON (UPI) — The World Wildlife Fund says Vietnam, Laos and Mozambique rank lowest in their report focusing on the illegal rhino horn, ivory and tiger-part trade.

Vietnam was the “top destination for rhino horn,” creating a poaching crisis in South Africa, said the report, which identified 23 countries “facing high levels of poach and trafficking” in horns, ivory and animal parts.

Laos and Mozambique were cited as having failed on ivory trade compliance and enforcement, the BBC reported.

Vietnam, the report found, failed on “key aspects of compliance and enforcement” for the rhino and the tiger-part trades.

“It is time for Vietnam to face the fact that its illegal consumption of rhino horn is driving the widespread poaching of endangered rhinos in Africa, and that it must crack down on the illegal rhino horn trade,” Elisabeth McLellan, WWF Global Species Program manager, said in a statement.

The wildlife group commended progress made in some countries.

“There were important advances in compliance in 2010-2012, with introduction of stricter legislation, wildlife trade controls and penalties in a number of countries, including China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and Zimbabwe,” it said.

However, it noted, “major prosecutions for wildlife crime are still rare.”

'Red Tide' Organism Deadlier Than Thought

STORRS, Conn. (UPI) — A tiny aquatic organism in algal blooms known as “red tides” is even deadlier than thought and could affect entire marine food chains, U.S. scientists say.

A University of Connecticut researcher and his team have discovered the plankton species Alexandrium tamarense contains not one but two types of toxins. One is deadly to large organisms and one kills small predators.

“If it’s killing multicellular animals with one toxin and small [single cell] protists with another, it could be the killer of the ocean world,” marine scientist Hans Dam said in a university release.

This ability to harm both large and small oceanic predators could lead to disruptions in the marine food web during large blooms such as the red tide that occurred along the Northeast coast in 2005, severely affecting the Cape Cod area, Dam said.

While Alexandrium are normally harmless to humans in small numbers, Dam said, when they’re eaten by other clams, mussels or other microorganisms — which are then eaten by small crustaceans that in turn are consumed by larger crustaceans or fish — the toxins can build up in large amounts.

In some parts of the world, eating contaminated shellfish, such as lobsters, clams and fish, has led to illness or death, he said.

“The amazing thing is, when you look at these algae under a microscope, they’re so beautiful — but they’re so deadly,” Dam said. “We call them the beautiful assassins.”

NASA Tests Inflatable Space Heat Shield

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (UPI) — NASA says it has tested a large inflatable heat shield that survived a trip through Earth’s atmosphere travelling at hypersonic speeds up to 7,600 mph.

The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment, or IRVE-3, was launched by sounding rocket Monday from its Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., the space agency reported.

The test was intended to show a space capsule could use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during planetary entry and descent, such as in missions to Mars, or in returns to Earth with cargo from the International Space Station, NASA said.

“It’s great to see the initial results indicate we had a successful test of the hypersonic inflatable aerodynamic decelerator,” James Reuther, deputy director of NASA’s Space Technology Program, said.

“This demonstration flight goes a long way toward showing the value of these technologies to serve as atmospheric entry heat shields for future space.”

IRVE-3 is a cone of uninflated high-tech rings covered by a thermal blanket of layers of heat resistant materials.

About 6 minutes into its suborbital flight, the 680-pound inflatable aeroshell, or heat shield, and its payload separated from the launch vehicle, then an inflation system pumped nitrogen into the shell until it expanded to a mushroom shape almost 10 feet in diameter.

Ground controller monitors video from four onboard cameras that confirmed the inflatable shield held its shape despite the force and high heat of reentry.

Self-Esteem Irresistible To Opposite Sex

NEW YORK (UPI) — A sense of humor and self-confidence are the most irresistible traits in a potential love interest, not physical traits, a U.S. survey indicates.

A survey by Tango.com, a Web-based source for love and relationships, indicated 89 percent of respondents agreed that when one or both partners in a couple has poor self-confidence, relationship problems ensue.

“Conventional wisdom holds that attraction typically begins with physical appearances,” Andrea Miller, chief executive officer of YourTango, said in a statement. “We were thrilled to learn that what’s on the inside is what matters most to both men and women.”

Perfume/fragrance was the beauty product that made women feel the most irresistible, followed by mascara then eyeliner/eye shadow, the survey found.

“Sixty-six percent of respondents said compliments/affirmations and giving him/her your undivided attention are the best ways to instill confidence in one’s partner,” Miller said.

Both men and women said the top way to avoid complacency in a relationship was to try new things together, followed by, for men, having sex regularly, and for women, small gestures such as writing love notes or doing the other’s chores.

Elderly Drinking May Up Dementia Risk

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (UPI) — U.S. researchers say their analysis of alcohol use over a long period of time found when and how much a person drinks affects alcohol’s impact.

Tina Hoang of The Veterans Health Research Institute, San Francisco, and the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues tracked more than 1,300 women age 65 and older for 20 years.

They measured frequency of current and past alcohol use at the beginning, midpoint — years six and eight — and late phases — years 10 and 16 — of the study.

Hoang said previous research had found light to moderate alcohol consumption — seven to 14 drinks/week — has generally been considered to have some health benefits, including possibly reducing risk of cognitive decline later in life.

The study found moderate drinkers at baseline or at midpoint had similar risk of cognitive impairment to non-drinkers; but moderate drinkers in the late phase of the study were roughly 60 percent more likely to develop cognitive impairment.

Women who changed from non-drinking to drinking during the course of the study had a 200 percent increased risk of cognitive impairment, the study said.

“In this group of older women, moderate alcohol consumption was not protective,” Hoang said. “We found that heavier use earlier in life, moderate use in late-life, and transitioning to drinking in late-life were associated with an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment. These findings suggest that alcohol use in late-life may not be beneficial for cognitive function in older women.”

The findings were published in the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver.

Parents Key To Teen's Alcohol, Drug Use

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (UPI) — Some parents assume whatever they say about drugs and alcohol may be drowned out by peer pressure, but U.S. researchers say parents are key.

Michael Cleveland of the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University said influences on what teens do often come from their friends, but parents have big roles.

Cleveland and colleagues interviewed high school freshmen and sophomores, asking them about their substance use, their friends — and their parents’ discipline behaviors and knowledge of their social lives.

They also grouped students based on their friends.

“Substance abuse was lowest for those teens whose parents were knowledgeable and consistent, and who also had friends whose parents were knowledgeable and consistent,” Cleveland said in a statement. “Parents should be aware of their teens’ whereabouts. They also can keep track of who their teens are friends with, and get to know the parents of those other kids.”

Many Focus On Personal Health On Vacation

NEWTON, Mass. (UPI) — Most people who try to eat healthy and exercise try to keep to their healthy regime even when on vacation, a U.S. survey indicates.

TripAdvisor, a travel Web site, surveyed more than 1,400 U.S. travelers and found 69 percent said healthy eating was important to them when traveling for leisure, while 53 percent always or often exercised when on the road.

The survey found the travelers’ top physical activities on vacation were:

— 87 percent said walking.

— 46 percent said swimming.

— 23 percent said using cardio machines.

— 16 percent said biking.

The travelers’ favored spots for vacation workouts included:

— 52 percent said hotel gym.

— 42 percent said the hotel pool.

— 38 percent said beach.

— 27 percent said the hotel room.

— 9 percent exercised while on a flight.

Among those who said they exercised on vacation, 31 percent said their primary motivation was to maintain their fitness regimen, while a further 28 percent exercise in vacation to avoid gaining weight, while 14 percent said they wanted to capitalize on having more free time to work out.

“While most Americans will spend at least some of their vacation relaxing, many now balance their fun with fitness and a significant number of travelers also prioritize personal health on their trips,” Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor, said in a statement.

No further survey details were provided.

Raisins Provide Workout Boost

FRESNO, Calif. (UPI) — Raisins may provide the same workout boost as sports chews, a study funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board suggests.

Researchers at the University of California-Davis evaluated the effects of natural and commercial carbohydrate supplements have on endurance running performance.

Runners depleted their glycogen stores in an 80-minute run followed by a 5K time trial. Runners completed three randomized trials — raisins, chews and water only — separated by seven days.

The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found those who ingested raisins or sports chews ran their 5K on average 1 minute faster than those who ingested only water.

Eating raisins and sports chews promoted higher carbohydrate oxidation compared to water only, the study said.

“Raisins are a great alternative to sport chews as they also provide fiber and micronutrients, such as potassium and iron, and they do not have any added sugar, artificial flavor or colors,” James Painter, nutrition research adviser for the California Raisin Marketing Board, said in a statement.