Lost Wallet Returned After Nine Months

BOCA RATON, Fla.,  (UPI) —  A Florida woman said her wallet was returned to her with its contents intact nine months after she lost it on her way to depositing $153 cash in a bank.

Katt Mucklow of Boca Raton said she lost the wallet nine months ago while she was a student at Boca Raton High School, and eventually gave up on finding it when she set off for the University of South Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Thursday.

Alette Saylor said she found the wallet while shopping at a Whole Foods store and took it home after employees told her no one had asked about the lost item.

Saylor said she used Facebook to find Mucklow.

“I wrote, ‘This is your lucky day. I found your wallet. Please give me a call,” Saylor said.

However, Mucklow said she did not see the message for several months.

“I was really weirded out,” Mucklow said. “Now I have money, which is good, because I’m a poor college student. And I have gift cards too — I don’t even remember how many. It’s all exciting.”

Man Admits To White Powder Hoax

MIAMI, (UPI) —  A Florida man pleaded guilty in court to sending five envelopes containing a white powder to a sheriff’s office and courthouse.

Tarvess Taylor, 26, did not say why he sent the envelopes — four of which also contained threatening letters to himself — when he pleaded guilty to the crime Wednesday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

The envelopes were sent to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Broward County Courthouse on Oct. 4 from Miami.

After receiving the envelopes, the sheriff’s office had to be closed down and hazardous materials employees from the sheriff’s office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department had to be brought in to clear up the areas, which cost more than $32,000 to do.

The powder, which some employees said irritated their skin, turned out to be Ajax bleaching powder.

Experts said Taylor wore gloves when he handled the envelopes and investigators were able to link the powder and fibers caught under the stamps on the envelope to powder and gloves found at Taylor’s home, the report said.

They also were able to match his handwriting to the writing on the letters.

Taylor faces a maximum of five years in prison per charge against him. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 14.

Court Panel Rejects Texas On Voter ID

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  A federal three-judge panel in Washington Thursday rejected a request from Texas to approve its voter photo-identification law.

Under Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act, certain sections of the country, including Texas, must receive permission from the U.S. attorney general or a three-judge panel in Washington before implementing voter changes.

Blocked by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Texas officials asked the three-judge panel for a “declaratory judgment” that the state voter ID law “neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color” or membership in “a language minority group,” as required by Section 5.

U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel said in his opinion the three-judge panel finds “that Texas has failed to make this showing — in fact, record evidence demonstrates that, if implemented, (the voter ID law) will likely have a retrogressive effect. Given this, we have no need to consider whether Texas has satisfied Section 5’s purpose element. Accordingly, we deny the state’s request for a declaratory judgment.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the state will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who signed the legislation into law May 27, 2011 — posted a statement on his Web site calling the court ruling a “victory for fraud.”

“Federal judges subverted the will of the people of Texas and undermined our effort to ensure fair and accurate elections,” Perry said. “The Obama administration’s claim that it’s a burden to present a photo ID to vote simply defies common sense. I will continue to work with Attorney General Abbott to fight for the same right that other states already have to protect their elections.”

In a statement, Holder said the decision and another court ruling this week tossing sections of Texas’ redistricting maps “not only reaffirm — but help protect — the vital role the Voting Rights Act plays in our society to ensure that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted.”

“The Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive and even-handed,” he said.

Texas can still fight for the law though its request for a declaratory judgment was rejected. Tatel ordered officials from the U.S. Justice Department and Texas “to meet and confer as to a schedule to govern the constitutional issue and to file an advisory within 14 days.”

Blogger Urges Killings On Facebook

PHILADELPHIA, (UPI) —  A Philadelphia blogger’s “Kill Mitt Romney” Facebook page has drawn the notice of the U.S. Secret Service, officials said.

Joshua Scott Albert, 26, whose inflammatory and profanity-laced “Staph Meal” blogs attacked chefs and their restaurants until a lawsuit from noted chefs Georges Perrier and Shola Olunloyo caused Albert’s identity to be known, is back with Facebook pages titled “Kill John McNesby, the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police; “Kill Seth Williams,” Philadelphia’s district attorney, and “I Support Chancier McFarland & Rafael Jones,” references to men charged with the killing of a police officer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.

Albert’s “Kill Mitt Romney,” “Kill Dick Cheney” and “Kill Karl Rove” pages have been taken down, and the U.S. Secret Service is “taking the appropriate investigative steps,” a spokesman said.

The District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the pages, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Williams.

McNesby said, “I wouldn’t dignify with any type of conversation. He’s a professional antagonizer. He’s just a little punk. His day’s coming.”

Soldiers Face Death In Alleged Terror Plot

SAVANNAH, Ga., (UPI) —  Three Fort Stewart, Ga., soldiers charged with murder in attempting to keep a clandestine militia group secret could face the death penalty, officials said.

Isaac Aguigui, the alleged ringleader of a group that allegedly killed two people and described in court papers as plotting to overthrow the government and engage in domestic terrorist acts that include blowing up a dam in Aguigui’s home state of Washington, has been served with a notice that the state intends to seek the death penalty, Long County, Ga., District Attorney Tom Durden said.

Aguigui and three alleged accomplices shot and killed Michael Roark, believed to be a militia member pulling away from the group and likely to betray it, and Tiffany York, Roark’s girlfriend who was present at the execution-style slaying and needed to be silenced, Durden said.

The bodies of Roark and York were found along a deserted road near the Fort Stewart base in December, WSAV-TV, Savannah, Ga., reported Thursday.

Defendants Christopher Salmon and Anthony Peden have also been informed they will be tried with the state seeking the death penalty, on charges including domestic terrorism, the television station said.

A fourth defendant, Michael Burnett, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of Roark and York Monday, court documents said.

Friends Rally Around Ex-SEAL In Lawsuit

ST. PAUL, Minn.,  (UPI) —  Friends of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle rallied to his defense in a defamation suit filed by ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura over his portrayal in Kyle’s memoir.

Ventura, whose real name is James Janos and was known as the wrestler “The Body,” filed suit against Kyle’s portrayal of a bar fight in Coronado, Calif., in Kyle’s book, “American Sniper.” Kyle said he and a man identified as “Scruff Face” mixed it up after Scruff Face made derogatory comments about the war in Iraq during a wake for a SEAL killed in action, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday.

Kyle later acknowledged Scruff Face is Ventura, who has denied Kyle’s allegation he provoked the alleged bar fight by saying the SEALS “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq, or that Kyle “laid him out.”

Ventura’s lawsuit was moved has federal court in St. Paul, Minn., where Kyle’s attorney, John Borger, filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss two of the three counts, Stars and Stripes said. Borger said he would file a separate motion for summary judgment on the remaining defamation claim.

During the Vietnam war, Ventura was a member of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams, which was re-designated as SEAL Teams.

David Olsen, Ventura’s attorney, said he would respond in court.

Kyle said he and two others wrote “American Sniper” and that while the events are true, “I reconstructed dialogue from memory, which means that it may not be word for word. But the essence of what was said is accurate.”

The witnesses’ declarations generally support Kyle’s recounting of the alleged fight at a bar in Coronado during a wake for a SEAL who threw himself onto a grenade to save his comrades and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

In one declaration, the mother of the fallen SEAL said she heard Ventura criticize the war and disparage President George Bush. Ventura talked only of himself and “did not say he was sorry for my loss.”

Gas Prices To Reach Record Highs

According to estimates from AAA, an explosion at a Venezualen oil refinery and the effects of Hurricane Isaac are driving the price of American fuel through the roof leading up to Labor Day.

On Wednesday, gas prices shot up an average of 5 cents per gallon throughout the Nation. At a national average of $3.80 in the reading released Wednesday, gas is at its highest level since early May. Wednesday’s was the biggest one-day spike in prices since February 2011, when conflict in Libya threatened oil supplies.

Some analysts expect gas prices to reach national averages of $4 per gallon by the end of September, which could become a key topic in the upcoming Presidential debates. The first debate is scheduled to take place on Oct. 3.

There is some speculation that President Barack Obama will release supplies of the Nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves in order to ease political liability for the high gas prices.

“Given this administration’s belligerent rhetoric against the oil industry, it’s going to be very easy for Romney to pin the blame on Obama,” Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., told Bloomberg. “The White House will be on the defensive. It makes an SPR release likely sooner rather than later.”

The Mayor Of Token-Town

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa isn’t a particularly noteworthy fellow in his own right. Despite serving as the mayor of the Nation’s second-largest city, Villaraigosa is a virtual unknown outside Democratic Party flacks and pro-illegal alien hate groups. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Democrats deployed him to take an ugly race-baiting poke at the Republicans during the latter party’s convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_746Wf7iX2k&w=560&h=315]

 

“You can’t just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate,” Villaraigosa said.

Actually, Villaraigosa’s words are entirely accurate. Unfortunately, his intent is less so. While it ought to be true that race isn’t a factor in politics, the Democrats have turned it into the single most defining issue of the American political climate. Of course, if I had their track record on jobs, immigration or basic economics, I’d be talking about anything else, as well. If I had to run on the Democrats’ recent performance, I’d campaign on forcing the NCAA to further revamp the BCS.

The real irony — which is typically lost on the left — lies with Villaraigosa himself. Liberals love to accuse conservatives of racism. Indeed, since President Barack Obama began his occupation of the Oval Office, they’ve swatted at their enemies with that rhetorical rapier in response to any criticism of their beloved Barry. So why fly a mid-level party functionary all the way across the country just to repeat the same old slander? Why not simply let their corporate media sycophants handle it? Surely, David Gregory or Anderson Cooper could fill the bill, and even Cooper’s Q rating is higher than Villaraigosa’s. To borrow Villaraigosa’s own logic, you can’t just trot out a brown face or Spanish surname and expect people are going to take you seriously. Yet that’s precisely the reason the event was staged. In suggesting Hispanic Republicans are merely hood ornaments, the liberals brought a Hispanic Democrat 3,000 miles and used him like a hood ornament.

During the course of the same press conference, Villaraigosa expanded on his party’s point: “People are going to vote just like Anglos do, just like African-Americans do, and virtually every demographic group.”

Republican speakers at the Republican National Convention include: Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who is black; Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, who is part Cuban; and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who is of Mexican descent. As much as it pains the Democrats, Artur Davis (a black former Democratic Congressman who recently became a Republican) is on the roster, as well. But they’re part of a much larger group of speakers who will address the convention; and they’ll be treated with the same deference as the rest. Indeed, it’s likely that the light pink-hued Representative Ron Paul of Texas will be the most controversial guy in the room. Much like the upcoming Democratic National Convention, most of the speakers, most of the attendees and most of the politicians will be white.

In specifically pointing out the racial backgrounds of certain Republicans, Villaraigosa was specifically refuting his party’s entire strategy. He also painted his own party as very specifically presuming that members of minority groups will vote only as a racial bloc, meaning he made two contradictory arguments in the same breath — both concluding with Villaraigosa and the Democrats being bigots.

There’s no reason to think the Democrats will ease up on their “Republicans are racist” rhetoric. Their rank and file are well-trained and lack the introspection necessary to recognize the essential hypocrisy at the center of their leaders’ behavior. To be honest, I almost feel pity for Villaraigosa. He has allowed himself to be deployed as a shiny ethnic decoration for a party consumed by hatred. In an effort to downplay conservative minority voting, the Democrats turned a liberal minority voter into a hood ornament, a token, a “a brown face or a Spanish surname.”

–Ben Crystal

America Is Done

A historical moment is upon us.

As the Republican National Convention trudges on in Tampa, Fla., many Americans are unwittingly witnessing what the death of government by the people looks like. News reports of contention among two factions of the party — the old guard, follow-the-leader types and the raucous, new-to-politics Ron Paul types — from the Republican Presidential primary season notwithstanding, the inevitable took place on Tuesday as the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan GOP was validated.

Watching the C-SPAN live footage of the delegates taking to their microphones State by State to cheerfully assign their delegates to the Romney/Ryan ticket was painful. It was painful not because I believe there is any doubt that Romney amassed the largest number of delegates, but because it was the most sincere representation of what has become the American electoral system that I have witnessed throughout this entire campaign season.

We are Republicans; we are one.

Republicans, at the behest of their corporate-crony leadership, have adorned themselves with a veneer of self-reliance and objectivist philosophy that is proudly touted as the collective party ideal (sound mutually exclusive at all?). But the facade is a self-desecrating one, made up of mere talking points that serve only to occupy useful idiots. Real ideas, real suggestions and real optimism about a renaissance in the way American government works are not welcome from the Republican useful idiots. The function of the masses on the convention floor is to march, lockstep, to their own demise.

That is why they have been told to be excited about a new “conservative” leader who just happened to have been the inspiration for Obamacare.

That is why the Vice Presidential candidate licked the shoes of the same corporate masters as liberals and neocons when he voted for auto industry bailouts and damning inflationary spending.

That is why they are to be excited about a Presidential candidate with many of the same financial friends as the current Usurper in Chief.

That is why, despite Romney’s past Constitutional missteps, they are to believe his Administration would have a restorative effect on American freedom and liberty.

And for those who repudiate any of the things the party wants them to believe: They are shills, part of an evil liberal conspiracy to re-elect President Barack Obama. 2+2=5. If you don’t like it, you are against us, this collective, this Republican Party; and we don’t want you here.

The message was made astoundingly clear by the treatment of Paul and his delegates. The candidate was reportedly offered a speech, but only if Romney’s people approved the message and were given an endorsement. Paul turned down the opportunity. Fighting illegal rule changes proved futile, as months of fighting was undone in seconds with a close voice vote, the result of which determined by John Boehner. That’s fair, right?

Media are calling Paul’s revolution over. Many of Paul’s people are looking to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and a handful of them are likely hanging their heads and giving up. The Republican Party is chastising them for not supporting Romney. “A third party vote, a Paul write-in, is a vote for Obama.”

But perhaps a more poignant criticism should be foisted on those who believe Romney will save the Nation, or even help it: A vote for Romney is a vote for ignorance; it is a vote against liberty. A vote for Romney is bowing to a political machine that values your opinion as much as it values America’s founding principles. A vote for Romney is to spit on the graves of men who bravely died in the name of freedom. A vote for Romney is a vote for Obama, they are one in the same: representatives of the Grim Reaper sent to do in our Constitutional republic once and for all.

It may be too late to save the Nation, but isn’t it worth a try?

‘Tolerant’ Liberals Tweet Hateful Messages

Hurricane Isaac interfered with the Republican National Convention and resulted in a storm of tweets from liberals. Entertainers from “tolerant” Hollywood unleashed hateful messages aimed at those in Tampa, Fla., the site of the RNC.

Actress Ellen Barkin retweeted a message from one of her followers saying: “C’mon #Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean! #RNC.”

Samuel L. Jackson also got in on the action, tweeting that it was unfair that Hurricane Isaac missed the Republican convention, saying he didn’t understand God’s plan. Later, he apologized to God, Tampa, the GOP and Hurricane Isaac.

Cher did her own bashing, tweeting that it would be suiting if Representative Todd Akin got raped by a man with AIDS.

“…let Aiken get raped by man with HIV/AIDS.Nothing will happen, right?Body shuts down as defense mechanism Idiots,” she tweeted.

Obama Sneezes, Blames Republicans

President Barack Obama has become notorious for playing the blame game. Whatever goes wrong, it’s somebody else’s fault. Now, one more thing can be added to the list: sneezing.

In a recent stop in Colorado, Obama had a tickly nose while defending his healthcare plan. You could tell that the President was trying to hold off sneezing. But eventually, he let it go.

After the sneeze, Obama said: “See, it gives me a cold just thinking about what they might do.”

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y987J-D4GEw&w=560&h=315]
 
The following are headlines that have appeared in various publications since Obama ran for President in 2008.

  • Obama Blames Arab Spring and Japan’s Earthquake on Struggling Economy and Job Situation (Aug. 5, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Messy Democracy for His Failed Policies (Aug. 3, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Congress for US Debt Mess (June 29, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Republicans for Slow Pace on Immigration Reform (July 25, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Media for Lack of Compromise in Washington (July 22, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Technology for Struggling Economy (June 14, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Oil Spectators for High Oil Prices (April 19, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Reagan for America’s Out of Control Debt and Spending (April 13, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Bush and Congress for Lack of Fiscal Discipline (April 13, 2011).
  • Obama Blames Bush-Congress for Putting Off Tough Decisions (Aug. 17, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Tax Cuts, Deficits (June 30, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Deficits (June 8, 2010).
  • Obama Blames GOP for Events that Led to Gulf Oil Spill (June 3, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Republicans for America Not Being Able to Solve Problems (June 3, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Corporations for Everybody’s Problems (June 3, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Overall Standing of American Economy (April 19, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush, Congress for Deficits (Feb. 1, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Regulatory Policies (Jan. 17, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Overall Standing of Economy and American Standing (April 19, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush and Congress for Deficits (Feb. 1, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Regulatory Policies (Jan. 17, 2010).
  • Obama Blames Wall Street Fat Cats for Economic Disaster (Dec. 13, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Overall Economy (Sept. 27, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Stifling Unions (Sept. 7, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Prescription Drug Bill (Aug. 11, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Jobs (July 22, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Failure to Recognize Europe’s Leading Role in the World (April 3, 2009).
  • Obama Blames Bush for Deficits (Feb. 23, 2009).
  • Candidate Obama Blames Fox News for his Elitist Label (October 2008).
  • Candidate Obama Blames Fox News for Likely Loss in Kentucky Primary (May 2008).
  • Candidate Obama Blames Washington for High Gas Prices (April 25, 2008).

Class Warfare

The political class loves to pit one class against another. It does it in rhetoric to win elections. It does it in policy to win campaign donations from and provide favors to special interest groups.

Because of it, rather than a Nation united, we are a Nation divided.

Benjamin Franklin warned against it in Emblematical Representations in 1774. He wrote: “The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.”

You Didn't Win That Olympic Medal

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLF7ievYr-s?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

Hello, I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. The Olympics just ended about three weeks ago. They are still fresh in our mind. But it’s been enough time that our Olympic athletes will soon be visiting the White House for that ceremonial visit with President Obama. You know, the President who believes you didn’t build your business. You don’t get credit for success. It’s always government that made it happen. So I thought it would be funny to imagine what Obama might say to our Olympic heroes. I call this commentary, You Didn’t Win That.

Can’t you just hear Obama’s speech to the U.S. Olympic athletes when they visit the White House? He’ll point to their gold medals and say, “You didn’t win that. Government did it for you. We built the Olympic training center, the roads that lead to it; we provide the coaches and team doctors. Since we won the medals for you, please place them in the communal pot behind the stage. These medals are now the property of the United States government.”

But wait. There’s more. With ultra-liberals there is always another lecture. Obama cares so much about “fairness,” “equality” and “social justice,” he can’t possibly allow a teachable moment to pass without a lecture.

“I want all the champion gold medal winners to share their winnings with the losers. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, come on down. You guys are Exhibit A. It’s the collective — not the individual — that is important. All those gold medals you won hurt a lot of feelings. You are dividers — not uniters. You’re greedy. You should feel guilty for not slowing up enough to let others win a few medals too. We’ve got to spread the gold around.

“Michael and Ryan, you’re going to make $50 million off these Olympics. But that’s just not fair. What about all the other U.S. Olympians who will make nothing? The rowers, the fencers, the curlers. We can’t have winners and losers. Everyone should share in your success. So…

“Here is my Executive Order. Michael and Ryan: In the interest of equality, you will both give 50 percent of your $50 million endorsement money to the rest of the Olympians. That takes care of the Olympians. But remember, without our bean-counting bureaucrats and egomaniacal, blowhard politicians, you would never have won a thing. So, of the amount you have left, you have to give 70 percent to the IRS. I think that’s paying your ‘fair share.’ You owe us.”

But then Obama couldn’t help himself: “One more thing. I am taking this opportunity to announce my new Executive Order for Social Justice. It isn’t fair that there are so few African-American swimmers and so few white track athletes and basketball players. I am ordering the U.S. Olympic Committee to no longer determine who makes the Olympic team based on talent. From this day forward, it must be based on quotas and affirmative action. You must set aside 50 percent of all swimming spots for black athletes and 50 percent of all track and basketball spots for white athletes. And, of course, I’m also mandating a few token slots for Latinos, Asians and American Indians.

“For far too long, the Olympics have been about talent, regardless of race. That was wrong. That was offensive. That was then. Now it will be based on social justice. Who says people want to see good swimmers? I think they’d rather see a rainbow of diversity and equality.

“And, one last thing: taxes. Each medal winner has to pay a $25,000 tax on your medals. You know, those gold things you no longer own. Just because you work harder and smarter than the next guy you will no longer be allowed to hurt people’s feelings by beating them. Win and you will be punished with massive taxes.

“Finally, by Executive Order I’ve also added a United Nations carbon tax to your taxes due. Each of you polluted the world and caused a dramatic increase in global warming with your carbon footprints traveling to Europe. So whether you won a medal or not, each of you is fined $10,000. Make the check out to Michelle Obama.”

As the White House press conference ends, the athletes are depressed and bewildered. The entire Olympic team, now with no incentive to ever again train past the point of exhaustion, retires en masse. Obama is thrilled. It is exactly as he planned. By retiring at such a young age, they remind him of government employees. He promises them pensions for not working for the rest of their lives and, of course, that guarantees them as Democrat voters.

Thinking of the hope and change he has just created: fairness; equality; social justice; the joy of the collective; and, of course, the full credit now assigned correctly to government, for all of these Olympic triumphs bring tears of joy to Obama’s eyes. He thinks to himself: “Gosh, isn’t this great? The Olympics are now just like my economy. Talent is replaced by fairness. It’s great to be God!”

And now you know exactly how every business owner in America feels under Obama! I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. See you next week, same time, same place.

God Bless.

U.S. Arms Sales Hit Record $66 Billion

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Export of U.S. weapons abroad soared more than three times the previous level in 2011, at least partly because of the continuing tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program in the Persian Gulf region.

From $21.4 billion of sales in 2010 the total for last year reached $66.3 billion, the largest for a single year in the history of the U.S. arms export program, the report by the U.S. Congress Research Service said.

Analysts said the report contrasted with industry reports through most of 2011-12, which said the year would be marked by major downturns in weapons purchases worldwide. Fear of an arms sales slump prompted many industries to start looking at cybersecurity and other security challenges as alternative areas of potential business growth.

Despite the report’s upbeat results, the figures for weapons exports indicate that sales for U.S. rivals in the marketplace may not have been as impressive as originally expected.

Global weapons sales from all countries totaled about $85.3 billion, almost double the previous year’s sales of $45.2 billion. With U.S. weapons exporters claiming the lion’s share of those exports, the outlook for other exporters still needs to be determined.

The United States also ranked first in the value of arms deliveries worldwide, taking $16.2 billion of all global deliveries. The United States has led global arms deliveries for eight years running, the CRS report said.

Despite vigorous arms marketing Russia ranked a distant second to the United States in worldwide arms deliveries, earning $8.7 billion while Britain ranked third with earnings of $3 billion from weapons deliveries.

It wasn’t clear if the report of global arms sales includes statistics for two major emergency arms transfers, in Libya and then in Syria. While in Libya much of the arms deployed were sourced by industry analysts to European suppliers, the arms traffic to Syria remains muddled amid continuing conflict in that country.

The CRS report excludes arms sales by private companies and traders that remain classified. It also doesn’t include clandestine arms transfers by governments.

The leading buyer for U.S. weapons last year was Saudi Arabia, which began a military buildup in response to the crisis over Iran’s disputed nuclear program and internal security challenges posed by a spillover of Arab Spring protests in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has been the leading developing world arms buyer from 2004-11, making arms transfer agreements that have totaled $75.7 billion during the period.

During the same period, India has been the second major buyer with arms purchases of $46.6 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates with $20.3 billion, Egypt at $14.3 billion and Pakistan at $13.2 billion.

Citigroup Settles Suit For $590 Million

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  U.S. banking giant Citigroup said Wednesday it had agreed to a $590 million payment to settle allegations that it hid bank losses from shareholders in 2007.

The class-action lawsuit said Citigroup “concealed the company’s failure to write down impaired securities containing subprime debt.”

Citigroup reported a fourth quarter loss of $9.83 billion in 2007, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The losses came at the heels of billions of dollars in write-downs for collateralized debt obligations covering subprime mortgage loans.

Citigroup said Wednesday it “is fundamentally a different company today than at the beginning of the financial crisis.”

Although the settlement has to be approved by Federal District Court Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan, Citibank said it was “pleased to put this matter behind us.”

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said their case had become less cut and dry. “Although the plaintiffs believe that the defendants knowingly or recklessly misrepresented Citigroup’s CDO exposure and valuation, defendants have raised a host of factual and legal challenges increasing the uncertainty of a favorable outcome absent settlement,” the lawyers from law firm Kirby McInerney said in a court filing.

Clearly, shareholders took a beating in year in question. Shares values fell by more than 50 percent between late February 2007 and mid-April 2008, starting at about $55 per share, the Times said.

Citigroup was then deeply involved in repackaging and selling securities and insuring their value. The bank had $70 billion of exposure to the subprime mortgage market between 2004 and 2008.

Regulators have combed through the re-packaged securities banks sold during this period. In a separate case, Citigroup agreed to pay $285 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that the bank was betting against bundles of securities that it had helped put together, although they were sold to investors as solid money-makers.

U.S. Farm Income Rises Despite Drought

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  The extreme U.S. drought is expected to raise farm income to $122.2 billion, its highest level in nearly four decades, the Department of Agriculture said.

“It is a wild configuration,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economics Professor Bruce Johnson told the Lincoln Journal Star.

The 3.7 percent increase, to the highest level since 1973 after inflation is accounted for, was caused by surging prices for corn and other crops — out of fears of imminent supply declines — and by field-crop farmers’ widespread use of government-backed crop insurance, which pays them for crops damaged by drought, the USDA said.

Federal forecasters sharply cut their estimates for the fall harvest this month, projecting corn growers would have their lowest-yielding crop since 1995.

“Payouts in terms of insurance premiums are going to be astronomical,” Johnson told the newspaper.

But livestock and poultry producers didn’t benefit financially the way arable farmers did, the USDA said.

Livestock and poultry producers struggled with rising feed costs without comparable rises in the prices they’re getting for their animals, while dairy farmers faced higher operating costs and milk-price declines, the USDA said.

Many ranchers rushed to sell animals that had little forage to graze on, which created a short-term supply glut but is forecast to lead to a smaller herd in the long term.

The value of crops, driven by record-high corn and soybean prices, is expected to rise 6.7 percent to $222.1 billion this year, an all-time high.

“Commodity prices have just shot through the roof,” Johnson said.

By contrast, revenue from livestock sales will decline 0.1 percent to $165.8 billion, the USDA said.

“It is important to understand and remember that thousands of farm families, particularly livestock and dairy producers, continue to struggle with drought,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Tuesday’s estimates will be revised in November, the agency said.

Exercise Bigger Emotional Payoff For Some

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Low-income U.S. adults report a bigger emotional boost from exercising frequently and eating fruit and vegetables regularly than richer people, a survey says.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index of 180,299 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 2 to July 8 found low-income Americans experienced greater improvement across almost all of the items in the Emotional Health Index when they exercised frequently and ate produce regularly than do those at a higher income level.

The Emotional Health Index score is based on Americans’ self-reports of positive and negative daily emotions, as well as self-reported clinical diagnoses of depression.

For example, low-income adults who exercised three or more days per week were about 7 percentage points more likely than their counterparts who exercise less than that to report experiencing happiness a lot of the previous day, compared with a 4 percentage-point increase for high-income adults.

U.S. adults at all income brackets who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables at least four days per week reported widespread emotional health benefits, but it is particularly evident in those earning less than $36,000 per year.

For example, low-income Americans who consume produce regularly are 3.9 points less likely to experience sadness “a lot of the day yesterday” than are their counterparts who didn’t, compared with a decline of 1.9 points for those with annual incomes of $36,000 to $89,999 and -0.8 points for those making $90,000 or more per year.

The survey had a margin of error of 0.3 percentage points.

Stress Of Poverty May Last A Lifetime

NEW YORK,  (UPI) —  The stress of poverty — measured via stress hormones — leads to impaired learning ability in children and may last a lifetime, U.S. researchers say.

Clancy Blair of New York University said high levels of stress hormones influence the developing circuitry of children’s brains, inhibiting such higher cognitive functions such as planning, impulse and emotional control, and attention, known as executive function.

Poverty stress resulting from crowded conditions, financial worry, a lack of adequate child care and insecure food lead to impaired learning ability in children from impoverished backgrounds.

Blair added that although poverty is considered a major source of stress, the findings also suggested other sources might affect children in all income groups, including stress from divorce, harsh parenting, struggles with a learning disability or severe illness.

“The conclusion from this body of work is that working to reduce inappropriate environmental stresses facing young children would not only improve their overall well-being, but also improve their ability to learn in school,” James A. Griffin of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the September/October issue of Scientific American Mind.

If Power Outage, Keep Refrigerator Closed

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  Should the power go out due to Hurricane Isaac or any other storm, U.S. officials advise residents to keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said a refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed, a full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours — 24 hours if half-full.

“If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible,” FSIS officials said in a statement. “Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.”

The FSIS also advises to:

— Check refrigerator thermometer, it should be 40 degrees F or below to keep food safe.

— Freezers should be at 0 degrees or lower, but if a freezer has no thermometer, check each package of food. If food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees F or below when checked with a food thermometer, it may be safely refrozen.

— Discard any perishable food — meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items — kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40 degrees F for 2 hours or more.

Save Sports Drinks For Sports Or Exercise

CHICAGO,  (UPI) —  Sports drinks shouldn’t take the place of regular water intake unless a person is playing sports or exercising, a U.S. registered dietitian says.

Brooke Schantz, a Loyola University Health System registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics, said sports drinks will help hydrate you, but the average healthy child, adolescent and adult doesn’t need the extra carbohydrates and calories in the sugary beverages.

Carbohydrates are in sports drinks and those who exercise for 1 hour or longer should consume between 30-60 grams of carbohydrates to help maintain blood-sugar levels. Most sports drinks contain about 4-8 percent carbohydrates to help meet those needs.

“Consuming these beverages during exercise that lasts more than 1 hour can aid in hydration and help provide needed energy to hard-working muscles,” Schantz said in a statement.

Schantz advised to choose plain water:

— While sitting on the couch

— During a 3-mile run or bike ride.

— While sitting at a desk studying or working.

Choose a sports drink:

— While participating in a sporting event or endurance race that lasts longer than 1 hour.

— While exercising in extreme environments, such as in severe heat or humidity, the cold or at high altitude.

— If you are an athlete who has missed or not consumed a high quality, preworkout meal to sustain your physical activity.

Sickle Cell Higher Not Only In Blacks

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.,  (UPI) —  One-in-500 U.S. blacks has sickle cell disease, but it also disproportionately affects Hispanics, Asians and those of Middle Eastern descent, experts say.

An estimated 90,000 to 100,000 Americans are affected by the disease and more than 2 million people carry the gene that allows them potentially to pass it on to their children, Dr. Richard Drachtman, interim division chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, said ahead of Saturday’s start of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month.

People who inherit one sickle cell gene and one normal gene have the sickle cell “trait.”

“Sickle cell trait is diagnosed with a simple blood test. People at highest risk for having sickle cell trait are those whose ancestors come from Africa, South or Central America, the Caribbean, Mediterranean countries, India and Saudi Arabia,” Drachtman said in a statement.

Drachtman said in sickle cell disease, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and come to resemble C-shaped sickles used as farm tools.

The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. In addition, when these blood cells travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow, which can result in repeated episodes of severe pain, organ damage, serious infections or anemia,  said Drachtman, who also is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Experts emphasize that people with sickle cell disease can live full lives and enjoy most of the activities that other people do if they undergo regular checkups, prevent infections and develop healthy habits.