Central Atlantic Business Decline Slows

RICHMOND, Va.,  (UPI) —  The Richmond, Va., Federal Reserve Bank said manufacturing activity shrank in the central Atlantic states in August, but at a slower pace than July.

The overall manufacturing index showed business activity, which fell from minus one in June to minus 17 in July, recovered slightly, coming in at minus nine in August.

Prior to June, manufacturing had enjoyed six consecutive months of growth, indicated by numbers above zero.

The new orders index in August rose from minus 25 to minus 20. while the jobs index dropped from a positive reading of one to negative 5.

The wage index showed continued growth, but the pace moderated with a reading of three in August following a more robust nine in July.

Housing Nudges Stocks Higher

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  U.S. stock indexes turned slightly higher in New York Tuesday as a closely watched home price report indicated a nascent recovery in the housing market.

The S&P Case-Shiller report said home prices rose May to June in all 20 of the cities the report monitors. Prices were up in 13 of the 20 cities on an annual basis.

In midmorning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 14.45 points or 0.11 percent to 13,139.12. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index added 5.40 points or 0.18 percent to 3,078.59. The Standard and Poor’s 500 gained 1.82 points or 0.13 percent to 1,412.29.

The benchmark 10-year treasury rose 5/32, yielding 1.64 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2563 from Monday’s $1.2499. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 78.52 yen from 78.75 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 255 index lost 52.10 points, 0.57 percent, to 9,03329.

Home Prices Gain On Solid Ground

NEW YORK,  (UPI) —  U.S. home prices rose in the second quarter on three closely watched indexes, the monthly Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller report said Tuesday.

Home prices rose in the Case-Shiller 10-city and 20-city indexes and in the U.S. National Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, the report said.

The U.S. National Home Price Index showed a gain of 1.2 percent in the second quarter over the same period a year earlier. The 10-City Composite Index posted an annual gain of 0.1 percent, while the 20-City Composite Index  showed a gain of 0.5 percent, Case-Shiller said.

The 10-city and 20-city figures were also up comparing June to May, rising 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the national composite gained 6.9 percent in the second quarter compared to the first.

All 20 cities saw home prices rise in June and all of those, save two, saw gains accelerate compared to their gains in May.

“Only Charlotte and Dallas saw a deceleration in their annual rates,” the report said.

“In this month’s report all three composites and all 20 cities improved both in June and through the entire second quarter of 2012. All 20 cities and both monthly composites rose for the second consecutive month. It would have been a third consecutive month had we not seen home prices fall in Detroit back in April.,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.

Despite the blitz of positive numbers, the index is down on an annual basis in six cities — Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Calif., and Las Vegas and flat in Boston.

Blitzer said the gains, however, put a housing market recovery on solid footing.

“We seem to be witnessing exactly what we needed for a sustained recovery: Monthly increases coupled with improved annual rates of change.”

“The market may have finally turned around,” he said in a statement.

Awards For 5D Robotics

SAN DIEGO,  (UPI) —  A U.S. company that produces software for use with robots has, with its partners, won several awards at the 2012 Robotics Rodeo at Fort Benning, Ga.

California company 5D Robotics Inc. said its software “integrates human behaviors with leading robotics hardware.”

“We’re happy to be providing a single common software package to so many different companies,” said David J. Bruemmer, 5D’s vice president for research and development. “At Benning, we enabled a wide range of behaviors on robots ranging in size from 5 pounds to 5000 pounds.”

The Robotics Rodeo was sponsored by the U.S. Joint IED Defeat Organization and exhibited the latest technology in unmanned ground systems.

5D Robotics worked with DRS, Mesa Technologies, Segway, AMREL, RE2, MacroUSA and Bokam. Among the awards garnered were: second place dismounted, for DRS’ adaptive mission payload; third place mounted for Mesa’s ACER; and third place portable for MacroUSA’s Scorpion robot.

Navistar CEO Steps Down

LISLE, Ill., (UPI) —  U.S. truck and bus maker Navistar International Corp. said Monday Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ustian is retiring, effective immediately.

The company’s statement did not mention the company’s current troubles, which include a loss of $172 million in the second quarter and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of “certain accounting and disclosure matters,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Company shares dropped 14 percent in value when the investigation became public the first week of August.

The company’s board appointed Lewis Campbell, former chairman, president and CEO of Textron Inc. to serve as  interim CEO.

Campbell is now on the board of directors at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sensata Technologies Holding N.V. and Noblis Inc., a not-for-profit science, technology and strategy organization.

After 37 years with Navistar, Ustian is also quitting the board of directors, the company said.

The changes include a promotion for Troy Clarke, now president of truck and engine operations. He will be president and chief operating officer for the company.

Sleep Lack Slows Visual Observation Skill

BOSTON, (UPI) —  Not getting enough sleep might make a person worse at noticing things, but most people don’t realize it, a U.S. researchers says.

Jeanne Duffy of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said 12 people took part in a one-month study in a sleep laboratory. Participants’ sleep was cut back from 10-to-12 hours a night to fewer than 6 hours and the participants were then asked to search for differences in pictures on a computer screen.

The participants who had less sleep performed the task slower than the others, even if they didn’t realize it, Duffy said.

“When they cut back on the amount of sleep that they’re getting, especially if they do that on a regular basis, they may not realize how impaired they are by their own sleepiness,” Duffy said.

The study was published in the Journal of Vision.

Half Of Military Crashes In Humvees

BALTIMORE,  (UPI) —  Nearly half of military personnel involved in motor vehicle crashes in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan from 2002-2006 were in Humvees, U.S. researchers said.

Principal investigator Keshia Pollack of The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues examined the risk factors for injuries to U.S. military personnel from crashes involving highly mobile multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or HMMWVs, better known as Humvees.

The study, published in the journal Military Medicine, found involvement in combat and serving as the vehicle’s operator or gunner posed the greatest risk for injury.

U.S. Department of Army motor vehicle crashes — both privately owned and military vehicles — account for nearly one-third of all U.S. military fatalities annually and are among the top five causes of hospitalization for military personnel, Pollack said.

“The finding that the odds of being injured when the crash occurred in combat indicates that in a high-stress situation, the soldier may be distracted or less likely to take self-protective measures or follow safety regulations,” study co-author Susan P. Baker, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement. “As motor vehicle crashes are responsible for one-third of all U.S. military deaths annually, it’s imperative that significant measures be taken to save lives.”

Fitness Before Age 50 Slows Aging

DALLAS,  (UPI) —  Being physically fit before age 50, not only helps extend lifespan, but it also increases the chances of aging healthily, U.S. researchers say.

Senior author Dr. Jarett Berry of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and colleagues at The Cooper Institute examined data on 18,670 patients participating in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study — research that contains more than 250,000 medical records maintained over a 40-year span.

These data were linked with the patients’ Medicare claims filed later in life from ages 70-85.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, indicated when patients increased fitness levels by 20 percent in their midlife years, they decreased their chances of developing chronic diseases — congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer — decades later by 20 percent.

“We’ve determined that being fit is not just delaying the inevitable, but it is actually lowering the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life,” Berry said in a statement.

This positive effect continued until the end of life, with more-fit individuals — walking, jogging or running at least 2.5 hours per week — living their final five years of life with fewer chronic diseases in both men and women, Berry said.

How To Prepare Food For Power Outages

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  As Gulf Coast residents prepares for Tropical Storm Isaac the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service urges food safety preparation.

“Storing perishable food at proper temperatures is crucial to food safety but can become difficult if you lose electricity for your refrigerator and freezer,” Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, said in a statement. “For those living in Tropical Storm Isaac’s projected path, we recommend stocking up on canned food, bottled water, batteries, and dry ice.”

A publication atwww.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Severe_Storms_and_Hurricanes_Guide.pdf can be printed and kept for reference during a power outage.

To prepare for a possible weather emergency:

— Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to ensure the refrigerator is at 40 degrees F or lower and the freezer should be 0 degrees F or lower.

— Store food on shelves high enough to avoid contaminated water in case of flooding.

— Group food together in the freezer to help food stay cold longer.

— Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer.

— Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.

— Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

— Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

Why Some Fats May Cause Heart Disease

ALBUQUERQUE, Aug. 28 (UPI) —  Some fats may boost harmful bacteria in the digestive system creating an immune response resulting in low-level inflammation, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Joe Alcock of the University of New Mexico and VA Medical Center and colleagues at Northwestern University said the body evolved to recognize these fats to create an immune response to preempt the impeding changes in harmful bacteria. The resulting low-level inflammation over the long-term causes chronic disease such as heart disease, Alcock said.

Some fats — mostly unsaturated fats found in plants and fish — have strong anti-microbial properties and react chemically with bacterial cell membranes, weakening them, Alcock said.

“If you expose unsaturated fats on bacteria, the bacteria have a tendency to dissolve. The combination of long chain unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and innate host defenses like gastric acid and antimicrobial peptides, is particularly lethal to pathogenic bacteria,” Alcock said in a statement. “Saturated fats on the other hand generally lack those anti-microbial properties, and in fact can provide a carbon source that bacteria need to grow and flourish.”

It may be these differing microbial effects that are at the root of why some fats are inflammatory and some aren’t, Alcock said.

However, while this hypothesis is well supported by current data, there’s much more research to be done, Alcock warned.

The findings are scheduled to be published in The Quarterly Review of Biology in March.

Short-Term U.S. Gas Price Spike Expected

DETROIT, (UPI) —  Pipeline closures in the Midwest and production shortfalls because of Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico are affecting gasoline prices, analysts said.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to reach hurricane status Tuesday as it approaches the southern coast of Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center expects Isaac to eventually become a Category 1 storm.

U.S. supermajor Chevron said it evacuated personnel from offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico as a precaution.

“Some production has been affected due to third-party pipeline closures,” a statement read.

Other operators in the gulf closed facilities ahead of the storm, curbing overall production in the United States.

Motor club AAA reports the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Tuesday in the United States was $3.75, unchanged from Monday but 4 cents higher than the average for last week.

Drivers in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, however, saw their averages top $3.80. Detroit drivers paid on average $3.93 for gasoline Tuesday, 2 cents higher than Monday.

A 650-mile pipeline from Chicago was closed following a release of undisclosed amount, said West Shore Pipe Line Co. in a statement.

Nancy Cain, a spokeswoman for AAA Michigan, told The Detroit News that gasoline prices should increase because of the gulf storm.

Tom Kloza, an analyst at the Oil Price Information System added that while a price increase was expected, it “should not be a long-term trend.”

Tennessee Coal Plant To Get $1B Upgrade

NASHVILLE, (UPI) —  A coal-burning power plant 30 miles from Nashville will get $1 billion in pollution controls meant to reduce emissions by as much as 95 percent, officials said.

Tennessee Valley Authority officials said without the upgrades to the workhorse Gallatin Fossil Plant that runs 24 hours a day and burns 13,000 tons of coal daily, it probably wouldn’t meet future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and would have to shut down.

The upgrades will see the installation of four large scrubbers to cut down on sulfur dioxide emissions and a catalytic system to reduce nitrogen oxide levels, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Monday.

“SO2 is sulfur dioxide, and by removing 90 to 95 percent, it is cleaning up the atmosphere of the Tennessee Valley,” Larry Nathan, who works with TVA’s generation construction group, said.

However, some environmental groups argue the TVA could find better uses for the $1 billion.

“For what you will pay for the pollution controls on a doomed coal plant,” Louise Gorenflo, a volunteer with the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, said, “you can replace Gallatin and be well on the way to joining other modern utilities in generating energy savings.

“Seriously, invest the money in energy efficiency that you intend to waste on unhealthy and dangerous technologies,” she told a meeting of the TVA board last week.

Bird Feeder Lands Woman In Court

HULL, Mass.,  (UPI) —  A Massachusetts woman’s love of birds — coupled with a tendency to overfeed them — has run her afoul of the law, officials said.

Hull, Mass. town officials sought an injunction Monday against Gail Kansky, 71, arguing in court she has been constantly overfeeding swarms of birds, creating a public nuisance. The officials argued that Kansky’s habit of frequently refilling a bird feeder has led to more than 100 birds taking up residence in the area, The Boston Globe reported.

Neighbors have complained the leftover bird feed has created a rat problem and the bird droppings regularly soil cars and homes in the area, a town lawyer charged.

A judge has given both sides two weeks to submit written arguments before making a ruling.

Kansky, though, isn’t leaving her perch.

“I won’t take down the bird feeder because I’m not wrong,” she told the Globe.

Facebook's Oldest User Meets Zuckerberg

MENLO PARK, Calif.,  (UPI) —  A 101-year-old California woman, believed to be Facebook’s oldest user, was treated to a tour of the company’s headquarters and met co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Florence Detlor of Menlo Park paid a visit to the company’s corporate office Monday and had her photo taken with chief executive officer Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.

“Honored to meet Florence Detlor, who at 101 years old is the oldest registered Facebook user. Thank you for visiting us Florence,” Sandberg said on her Facebook page.

Schools Still Picking Freshmen's Roommates

AMHERST, Mass., (UPI) —  Officials at schools, including Amherst College in Massachusetts, say they are resistant to allowing freshmen to choose their own roommates.

Amherst officials said they use questionnaires to choose dormitory roommates for incoming freshmen as part of an effort to encourage new students to step outside their comfort zones and to get to know people from different backgrounds, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Tufts University, Harvard College and Smith College also assign roommates to first-year students. Michael McCorvey, director of residence life at Babson College, said roommate requests are allowed by the school, but students rarely take the option.

“We like to think students recognize that there is a value in getting to know somebody else,” McCorvey said.

Police Bust Fake Fed In Florida

VERO BEACH, Fla., (UPI) —  Police in Florida said they arrested a man who claimed to be a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration/CIA agent and demanded free items from a Dunkin’ Donuts.

A pair of patrons of the Vero Beach store told police Aug. 18 that Clayton Joseph Schwey, 36, repeatedly entered the eatery during the preceding week and tried to convince workers he was entitled to free doughnuts, coffee and ice cream for being a DEA/CIA agent, TCPalm.com reported Tuesday.

One of the patrons asked to see Schwey’s identification and the man said he did not have to show a badge because he was working undercover at the doughnut shop to investigate “crooked cops.”

Police said Schwey, who assured officers he was a federal agent who had done work for Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar, was arrested on a felony charge of falsely impersonating an officer.

Lawsuit: Braces Left On For 11 Years

PORTLAND, Ore.,  (UPI) —  An Oregon 18-year-old is suing an orthodontist over permanent injuries he says were a result of wearing braces for 11 years.

Devin Bost’s Multnomah County circuit court complaint against Brad Chvatal alleges the orthodontist caused injuries to his teeth, mouth and gums by having him wear braces for 11 years, ABC News reported Tuesday.

David Hollander, Bost’s attorney, said the suit is seeking $35,100, the amount Bost had to pay for corrective oral surgery and other procedures, and $150,000 for pain and suffering.

Chvatal said he could not discuss the specifics of the case due to confidentiality rules, but the situation was “very complicated.”

John Buzzatto, president of the American Association of Orthodontists, said braces are typically worn for 1 to 3 years. He said he “could not think of an instance” where someone would need to wear the braces for 11 years.

Mom: Stapling Of Son's Mouth A Hate Crime

FRANKLIN, Mich.,  (UPI) —  A Michigan State University student was recovering at his home Tuesday after having surgery for a broken jaw his family said was a hate crime.

The mother said two men at a party asked if her son, Zachary Tennen, was Jewish, gave a Nazi salute, knocked her son out then stapled his mouth as about 20 people watched, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“It’s an awful hate crime, and what he’s gone through emotionally and physically, it’s scary to put it into words,” mother Tina Tennen said from the family home in Franklin, Mich. “Hopefully the worst is behind us. It’s going to be hopefully not too rough.”

Her son said none of the party-goers came to his aid as he was attacked.

The family filed a police report with East Lansing Police, the Free Press said.

Although the attackers’ identities are not known, Tina Tennen said, “I hope that they get prosecuted, go to jail. You hear about it in the news, but I guess it’s something that you think never will happen to you.”

She said her son hopes to return to MSU in about a week.

“The school’s been involved; we’ve been in touch with them,” she told the Free Press. “They’ve outreached to us. But we’re still trying to find [the attackers]. The job isn’t done.”

South Carolina: No Racial Aim In ID Law

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  The chief authors of South Carolina’s voter identification law dispute accusations the statute is intended to suppress black voter turnout.

Republican lawmakers Alan Clemmons and Chip Campsen said their legislation would combat election fraud and is not racially motivated, McClatchy Newspapers reported Tuesday.

The two were questioned in federal court by lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups who charge the purpose of the law is to suppress the votes of African-Americans who overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates.

Staff attorney Nancy Abudu of the American Civil Liberties Union said requiring voters to show a photo ID “disproportionately impacts minorities, the elderly and other groups.”

“We’re here to protect people’s constitutional right to vote,” she said in an ACLU release.

Implementation of the measure, signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley in May 2011, was blocked by the Justice Department for violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires South Carolina to submit all election changes to federal review.

South Carolina filed suit against the Justice Department for blocking the ID law.

The case is expected to eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Customer Shoots, Kills Store Robber

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.,  (UPI) —  A customer at a store in North Jacksonville, Fla., shot and killed one of two gunmen trying to rob the store, police said.

Lt. Rob Schoonover of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the 57-year-old man was at the Dollar General store picking up groceries Monday when the two robbers entered the store and the store manager alerted customers of the situation, the Florida Times-Union reported Tuesday.

“One of them [the robbers] had the clerk and one of them was at the front cash register,” Schoonover said.

“The customer, who had a concealed firearms permit and a firearm, fired at [one of] the suspect, striking him apparently two times, killing him,” Schoonover said.

The other suspect fled, the sheriff’s department said.

After the incident, police allowed the customer, who was not identified, to call his family, the Times-Union said.

“We just get a phone call saying, ‘I’m OK, but something happened,'” the man’s son told the newspaper. “It just sucks that we have to work late and have to carry a gun.”

Law enforcement officials said the customer was questioned, but no charges were pending, Schoonover said.

“The citizen did not get shot, none of the employees were hurt, this worked out good tonight,” Schoonover said.

Obama Warns Residents Not To 'Tempt Fate'

WASHINGTON,  (UPI) —  A somber President Obama warned residents of the Gulf Coast not to “tempt fate” if asked by officials to evacuate as Tropical Storm Isaac took aim at the area.

The president declared Louisiana a disaster area Monday in advance of Isaac’s landfall. Forecasters expect the storm to reach hurricane strength and strike New Orleans for the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed some 1,800 and caused billions in damage.

Obama Tuesday told reporters at the White House he wanted “to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate. We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area. Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings.”

The president said he is getting updates from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Hurricane Center in Miami “on preparations that are under way in the Gulf (of Mexico region).”

“This storm isn’t scheduled to make landfall until later today, but at my direction FEMA has been on the ground for over a week working with state and local officials in areas that could be affected — from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Florida, and more recently, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi,” he said.

“Yesterday I approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place. And right now, we already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm.”

Isaac was on the verge of becoming a hurricane early Tuesday, forecasters said, and was on a course that revived horrible memories for residents of Louisiana.

Isaac was predicted to reach shore Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning in Louisiana with a storm surge of 6- to 12 feet, the National Hurricane Center said.

Should the storm make landfall Wednesday in Louisiana, it will do so on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Officials in Gulf Coast states have suggested residents along the coast head for higher ground.