U.S. Has Added More Jobs Than Thought

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. economy added 386,000 more jobs than previously estimated between April 2011 and March 2012, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said it had initially undercounted job growth, and the latest report indicates BLS preliminary job reports during the period were underreported by an average of 32,000 jobs per month, The Hill said.

The development means President Barack Obama may now claim the economy had a net gain of jobs since he took office in January 2009, Forbes reported.

Forbes said the development deprives the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of one of its arguments — that the economy has lost jobs under Obama.

Alan Krueger, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a blog post that the revised numbers suggest the recession that began in 2007 was deeper than previously thought and “the jobs recovery over the last 2.5 years has been a bit stronger than initially reported.”

The BLS report was issued the same day the Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the best showing in two months.

Many economists believe a total of 375,000 first-time claims for unemployment is an indicator the unemployment rate is coming down, Forbes said.

Consumer Spending Flat In Real Terms

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. consumer spending rose 0.5 percent in August but most of that was due to rising prices, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday.

Spending saw its biggest increase since February, gaining 0.1 percentage points more than July’s month-to-month increase, the department said. But prices rose 0.4 percent, leaving spending up 0.1 percent when the figures are adjusted for inflation.

Incomes rose 0.1 percent — $15 billion — and disposable income gained 0.1 percent or $12.5 billion. But when adjusted for inflation, disposable incomes fell 0.3 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

Private wages and salaries rose by 0.1 percent or $4.7 billion in August after rising $9.3 billion in July.

With spending rising faster than incomes, the savings rate declined from 4.1 percent to 3.7 percent.

U.S. Banks Overwhelmed In Cyberattacks

NEW YORK (UPI) — A computer security expert said U.S. banks were besieged   this week with “unprecedented” cyberattacks meant to disrupt business.

Attacks systematically hit Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank, CNNMoney reported Friday.

“The volume of traffic sent to these sites is frankly unprecedented,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, which is involved in an investigation of the cyberattacks.

The attacks were meant to overwhelm computer systems, with more requests for service than the systems can handle.

The attacks were enormous, Alperovitch said.

“It’s 10 to 20 times the volume that we normally see, and twice the previous record for a denial-of-service attack.”

The attacks are referred to as “denial-of-service” because a bank’s computers are kept so busy denying service to unwanted requests that other parts of the system are slowed or the systems simply crash.

To pull off such an attack, “thousands of high-powered applications servers,” send requests to the banks, CNNMoney reported.

The attacks did not involve theft of personal information, officials said.

Regulator Recommends Libor Overhaul

LONDON (UPI) — Martin Wheatley of Britain’s Financial Services Authority said Friday administration of the London Interbank Offered Rate requires a systematic overhaul.

“The disturbing events we have uncovered in the manipulation of Libor have severely damaged our confidence and our trust — it has torn the very fabric that our financial system is built on,” Wheatley said in remarks accompanying completion of an investigation into bank malfeasance connected to the Libor benchmark, which is supposed to be the average borrowing rate among commercial banks when they loan each other money.

The report recommends a new system for Libor processing, with banks required to provide “relevant trade data” so regulators can double-check the accuracy of the submissions, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The report recommends the British Banking Association be stripped of its Libor administration duties and the task be assigned to the Financial Conduct Authority, which Wheatley will head when it opens next year.

Barclays recently settled charges that it was manipulating the figures it submitted that went into the Libor assessment. The bank agreed to pay $450 million to settle the case.

Other large banks have been frequently mentioned as Libor manipulators, but no others have been fined.

The recommendations include making it a criminal offense to manipulate the Libor, which is used to help set the rate of $300 trillion in financial contracts.

“We can’t allow the unfettered attitude that banks enjoyed previously. Much greater rigor and transparency must be introduced to the process of submission,” Wheatley said.

Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King said the central bank “very much welcomes the Wheatley review’s proposals to improve the functioning, governance and regulation of Libor and would want these to be implemented as soon as possible.”

Barclays had no comment on the report, the newspaper said.

Breast Cancer Survivors Urged To Exercise

SAN DIEGO (UPI) — Officials at the American Council on Exercise encourage breast cancer survivors to incorporate regular physical activity into their everyday routines.

ACE officials said it has been showed physical activity helps prevent recurrence of breast cancer and increase survival rates.

Regularly exercising has been found to provide a multitude of physical and psychological benefits, including improved immune function, improved sleep, reduced fatigue and cancer-related fatigue, enhanced happiness and reduced stress, ACE officials said.

ACE recommends breast cancer survivors interested in beginning an exercise regimen to:

— Always consult a doctor before starting an exercise program.

— Engage in aerobic activities at moderate intensity for a total of 150 minutes per week or vigorous/strenuous intensity for 75 minutes per week. A combination of both is also beneficial.

— Strength training that works the major muscle groups in both the lower and upper body is recommended two or three times per week. This also helps reduce the risk of developing breast cancer-related lymphedema.

— Stretch major muscle groups when aerobic and strength-training activities are performed.

— Allow time for healing after surgery and then evaluate arm/shoulder mobility before performing upper-body exercises.

— Avoid exercising on days of extreme fatigue or pain.

— Set short-term goals, especially if undergoing chemotherapy, to prevent loss of interest or motivation. Chemotherapy can cause nausea, which may lead to lack of appetite and then to low energy. Account for these times when you may feel weak in your goal-setting.

Split-Second Eye Injury Impacts A Lifetime

CHICAGO (UPI) — Accidental eye injury is one of the leading causes of U.S. visual impairment, but only 35 percent wear protective eyewear when doing home projects.

Officials at the American Academy of Ophthalmology said more than half of the 2.5 million eye injuries that occur every year in the United States happen within or around the home when working with power tools, yard debris, cleaning fluids and chemicals.

“Eye injuries can happen in a split second but can have an impact on vision for the rest of our lives,” Hugh R. Parry, president of Prevent Blindness America, said in a statement.

When performing household chores, Prevent Blindness America urges everyone to wear eyewear approved by the American National Standards Institute, which has a “Z-87″ logo stamped on the frames.

It also recommends to help prevent eye injuries at home:

— Wear eye protection when doing automotive work, including changing the oil, jump-starting a dead battery, or even when using bungee cords to secure items to the roof.

— Secure rugs, remove tripping hazards and provide effective lighting and handrails to improve safety on stairs and walkways to reduce the risk of falls.

— Never mix cleaning agents. Read manufacturer instructions and warning labels, and always use these products in well-ventilated areas.

— Wear safety glasses with side protection or dust goggles to protect against flying particles and chemical goggles to guard against exposure to fertilizers and pesticides.

Higher Rank, More Power = Less Stress

STANFORD, Calif. (UPI) — Conventional wisdom says government and corporate leaders have high levels of stress, but U.S. researchers say more authority means less stress.

Professor James Gross of Stanford University and Jennifer Lerner, a professor of public policy and management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, suggested leadership positions were associated with lower levels of stress.

In other words, the feeling of being in charge of one’s own life more than makes up for the greater amount of responsibility that accompanies higher rungs on the leadership ladder, the researchers said.

“We live as social beings in a stratified society,” Gross said in a statement. “It’s our relative status in a group that disproportionately influences our happiness and well-being.”

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found the connection between power and tranquility was dependent on the total number of subordinates a leader had and on the degree of authority or autonomy a job conferred, the researchers said.

The researchers said they were unable to say whether leadership leads to low stress levels, or whether people who are predisposed to feel little stress are more likely to be leaders.

Red Wine May Help In Weight Loss

TEMPE, Ariz. (UPI) — Bees decreased their food intake when given resveratrol — a compound in red wine — and lived up to 38 percent longer, U.S. and Norwegian researchers say.

Brenda Rascon, a doctoral student with Gro Amdam, an associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and colleagues tested the effects of resveratrol on the lifespan, learning ability, and food perception in honey bees.

The findings, published in the journal Aging, confirmed not only does this compound extend the lifespan of honey bees by 33 percent to 38 percent, it also changes the decisions that bees make about food by triggering a “moderation effect” when they eat.

The research team discovered bees given resveratrol were less sensitive to sugar. They used different sugar solutions — some very diluted and some with stronger concentrations — and found the bees receiving resveratrol were not as interested in eating the sugar solutions unless the sugar was highly concentrated.

In a final experiment, the team measured how much food the bees would consume if given the opportunity to eat as much sugar water as they wanted.

“The bees were allowed to eat as much as they pleased and were certainly not starving — they simply would not gorge on the food that we know they like. It’s possible resveratrol may be working by some mechanism that is related to caloric restriction — a dietary regimen long-known to extend lifespan in diverse organisms,” Rascon said in a statement.

Hurricanes Can Impact Water Quality

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (UPI) — The water quality of U.S. lakes and coastal systems could be degraded if hurricanes intensify in a warming world, researchers at Yale University say.

During last summer’s Hurricane Irene, the worst storm to hit the New York area in 200 years, record amounts of dissolved organic matter were found in Catskill waters and in the Ashokan Reservoir that supplies New York City with drinking water, they said.

The Catskill Mountains watershed is a primary source of drinking water for New York City, and over a two-day period in late August Irene dropped over 11 inches of rain, 17 percent of the average annual rainfall, on one of the creeks that feeds the Ashokan.

“This is the biggest rain event ever sampled for the region,” Yale doctoral student Bryan Yoon said, noting the volume of water discharged by Esopus Creek increased 330-fold, sending an unprecedented amount of dissolved organic matter to the Ashokan.

Excessive amounts of dissolved organic matter could lead to numerous environmental problems, Yoon said.

Dissolved organic matter binds with metal pollutants and transports them, interferes with ultraviolet processes that reduce pathogens in water, affects aquatic metabolism and leads to the formation of carcinogenic disinfection byproducts, he said.

“All of those problems become more serious as larger quantities of dissolved organic matter are transported to lakes and coastal systems,” Yoon said. “Hurricane Irene was a prime example that there is no limit to the amount of dissolved organic matter that can be exported by extreme rain events.”

Pluto Captured In Best Telescope Image

HILO, Hawaii (UPI) — U.S. astronomers say they’ve captured the sharpest-ever ground-based images of the “demoted” dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon.

Astronomers at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii used Pluto, no longer the solar system’s ninth planet but rather reclassified as a dwarf planet, and its largest moon as a surrogate extrasolar planetary system to produce exceptionally high-resolution images with the observatory’s 26-foot telescope using a method called reconstructive speckle imaging.

Gemini obtained a large number of very quick “snapshots” of Pluto and Charon that researchers reconstructed into a single image after subtracting the blurring effects and ever-changing speckled artifacts caused by turbulence in the atmosphere and other optical aberrations.

The resolution obtained in the observations corresponds to seeing the separation of a pair of automobile headlights in Providence, R.I., from San Francisco, astronomers said.

The images captured of Pluto and Charon in visible light hint at the exoplanet verification potential of a large state-of-the-art telescope when combined with speckle imaging techniques, they said.

NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has already proven a powerful exoplanet discovery tool, can benefit greatly from the speckle imaging technique as well, Steve Howell of the NASA Ames Research Center said.

“This is an enormous gain in the effort under way to confirm small Earth-size planets,” Howell said in a Gemini Observatory release.

Volcano In China Showing Signs Of Activity

BEIJING (UPI) — A volcano on the border of China and North Korea is showing signs of increasing activity and could erupt in the next few decades, Chinese researchers say.

A massive eruption of Changbaishan around 1,100 years ago spread ash and volcanic gases for 30 miles and left a 3-mile-wide crater atop the volcano, scientists said.

Three smaller eruptions have occurred since then, the most recent in 1903, they said.

Seismic activity, ground deformation and gas emissions recorded in a period of heightened activity from 2002 to 2006 suggests the magma chamber beneath the volcano is growing.

This activity suggests an explosion could occur in the next couple of decades, researchers said.

“We need to upgrade our current monitoring system in order to be able to meet the need for the early warning system for Changbaishan,” Jiandong Xu, a vulcanologist at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet.

Of the dozen or so volcanoes located in mainland China Changbaishan is the most likely to experience an eruption with potential catastrophic effects, Xu said.

Volcano In China Showing Signs Of Activity

BEIJING (UPI) — A volcano on the border of China and North Korea is showing signs of increasing activity and could erupt in the next few decades, Chinese researchers say.

A massive eruption of Changbaishan around 1,100 years ago spread ash and volcanic gases for 30 miles and left a 3-mile-wide crater atop the volcano, scientists said.

Three smaller eruptions have occurred since then, the most recent in 1903, they said.

Seismic activity, ground deformation and gas emissions recorded in a period of heightened activity from 2002 to 2006 suggests the magma chamber beneath the volcano is growing.

This activity suggests an explosion could occur in the next couple of decades, researchers said.

“We need to upgrade our current monitoring system in order to be able to meet the need for the early warning system for Changbaishan,” Jiandong Xu, a vulcanologist at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet.

Of the dozen or so volcanoes located in mainland China Changbaishan is the most likely to experience an eruption with potential catastrophic effects, Xu said.

African Habitat For Apes Said Disappearing

LEIPZIG, Germany (UPI) — Suitable habitat in Africa for the continent’s great apes such as gorillas, chimps and bonobos is experiencing significant decline, wildlife researchers say.

In a survey across Africa, Eastern gorillas, the largest living primates, were found to have lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s while habitats Cross River gorillas, chimps and bonobos have suffered considerable losses, scientists said.

“Several studies either on a site or country level indicated already that African ape populations are under enormous pressure and in decline,” Hjalmar Kuehl of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who helped organize the research, told the BBC.

“But despite these expectations it is outrageous to see how our closest living relatives and their habitats are disappearing,” he said.

In western Africa forest clearance and hunting are destroying habitats while in Central Africa large regions of forest are no longer suitable for great apes because of extensive hunting to supply the trade in bushmeat, researchers said.

“The situation is very dramatic; many of the ape populations we still find today will disappear in the near future,” Kuehl said. “In an increasingly crowding world with demand for space, wood, mineral resources and meat, apes will continue to disappear.”

Fish Stocks Said Declining In The Adriatic

ROME (UPI) — Sardines and anchovies are disappearing from the Adriatic as a result of poor fishery management, Greenpeace said while urging sustainable fishing practices.

The environmental watchdog’s report focused on Chioggia, one of the largest fishing ports in the Mediterranean, and Pila di Porto Tolle in Veneto. Together, the two ports “supply a considerable proportion of the Italian sardine and anchovy market all year round” and also “export catches to other countries,” Italy’s ANSA news agency reported Friday.

Fish populations in the north and central Adriatic have declined largely during the last 40 years because the Italian government has allowed an increase in the number and capacity of authorized boats and issued “experimental” licenses, Greenpeace said.

The Greenpeace report urged European governments and the European parliament to adopt laws to guarantee fish stocks can be naturally replenished.

New York Plans 625-Foot Ferris Wheel

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans Thursday to build the world’s largest Ferris wheel, measuring 625 feet tall.

Bloomberg said the $230 million New York Wheel will be part of a retail and hotel complex designed to bring nearly $500 million in private investment to Staten Island’s St. George waterfront, the Staten Island Advance reported Thursday.

“Our administration has made major investments all along the North Shore of Staten Island, because we know this area is full of potential for economic growth,” Bloomberg said. “But this newest plan is the most exciting of all — it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for economic development.”

The Ferris wheel, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, would top the current world record holder, a 541-foot wheel in Singapore.

Man Offers $64M To Marry Off Daughter

HONG KONG, (UPI) —  A Hong Kong man is offering $64 million to any man who marries his daughter, and the girl — a rumored lesbian — said she found the idea “quite entertaining.”

Gigi Chao, who Chinese media outlets said married another woman, Sean Eav, last week at a civil ceremony in Paris, said her father, Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, made the “very entertaining” offer because he “loves her very much,” CNN reported Thursday.

When asked about her marriage to Eav, Chao said she was “not in a position to verify that.”

However, Cecil Chao Sze-tsung said the marriage was only “a rumor.”

He said prospective suitors looking to marry his daughter can be of any nationality or economic background, requiring only that the man “loves my daughter, and she loves him.”

Chao said “we will see” if her father’s offer leads to a wedding.

Candy Wrappers With GPS To Bring Prizes

LONDON, (UPI) —  The British maker of Kit Kat chocolate bars says hidden tracking devices in candy bar wrappers could bring lucky winners prizes of thousands of pounds.

Candy maker Nestle says its “We Will Find You” competition will involve global positioning system chips placed in six chocolate bar wrappers.

Once one of the lucky bars is opened the GPS chip will be activated, sending a signal to Nestle, which says the winner will be located within 24 hours by a helicopter for hand delivery of a briefcase containing $16,000 in cash.

The embedded chips will be placed in wrappers of KitKat 4 Finger, KitKat Chunky, Aero Peppermint Medium and Yorkie Milk chocolate bars, the company said.

A promotional video from Nestle says it will “scramble a crack team of highly trained individuals” to find the winner of the jackpot.

Jesus Statue Moved Away Fom Highway

CLIFTON, N.J., (UPI) —  A New Jersey monastery said a statue of Jesus that some residents feared had been stolen was actually moved to a “safer and more dignified” location.

A monk from the Holy Face Monastery in Clifton said some motorists who regularly travel on eastbound Route 3 had feared the Jesus statue was stolen, but the monastery actually had the statue moved further from the highway, where it can be seen only by westbound motorists, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Thursday.

The monk, who asked not to be named, said the new location is a “safer and more dignified place” for the statue.

“The finger has been broken (and) the hand has been broken,” he said.

The monk said the move was approved by all of the monastery’s monks and authorities in Rome.

Coffin Shop Holds Halloween Sale

ST. PAUL, Minn., (UPI) —  The owner of a Minnesota coffin shop said he is holding a Halloween sale, offering full-sized coffins for as little as $100.

Mike Zoff, 57, who opened Affordable Coffins & Artery in St. Paul in January to sell the wooden coffins he makes in his garage, said the business has been profitable enough that he quit his old job as real estate broker to sell coffins full-time, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported Thursday.

Zoff said customers often use the coffins for unusual purposes, such as one patron who wanted a coffin with legs to use as a coffee table and several who have asked for shelves in their coffins to allow them to store books.

“It just keeps taking different turns, this business,” Zoff said.

Zoff said he is starting a special Halloween sale at the shop, offering his most basic wooden coffins for $100, a sharp discount from the usual $295-$780 price tag for his coffins. He said he is marketing some of his less-study early works as holiday decorations.

“It’s an undeniable segment of the business, away from the more traditional use,” he said. “The Halloween sale thing, I’ve been getting a call or two a day.”

Soros Donates $1M To Obama Super PAC

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Billionaire financier George Soros has donated $1 million to Priorities USA, a super PAC backing President Barack Obama, sources told The Hill.

The donation is the first Soros has given directly toward supporting Obama for the 2012 election. He had previously donated to other pro-Democratic super PACs earlier this year, The Hill reported Thursday.

“Soros has always been a supporter of the president, reports to contrary not withstanding,” said Michael Vachon, Soros’ adviser.

The New York Times reported Soros donated a total of $500,000 to Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, which back Congressional Democrats.

Chicago Judge Tosses Occupy Charges

CHICAGO, (UPI) —  A Chicago judge ruled the arrests of 92 Occupy protesters for curfew violations were unconstitutional because, he said, police routinely do not enforce curfews.

Police arrested more than 300 Occupy protesters Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 in 2011 for violating the curfew at Grant Park. At the time, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel considered the arrests a model for how to maintain order while respecting protesters’ rights.

Associate Judge Thomas Donnelly, though, threw out the charges against 92 of the protesters, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Donnelly said his ruling was based on the fact that the city routinely did not enforce the curfew law for events it supports, like the 2008 rally on the night Barack Obama won the presidency.

“We’re incredibly pleased by Judge Donnelly’s ruling. This is a significant First Amendment ruling for the Occupy protesters, and all Chicagoans,” said lawyer Thomas A. Durkin, who represented 12 University of Chicago students.

Durkin said it was unclear whether Thursday’s ruling would affect the cases of more than 200 protesters who took court-supervision offers in exchange for avoiding a conviction on their records.

Obama, Romney Aides Downplay Debate Hopes

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Don’t expect home runs from U.S. President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney during the presidential debates, aides to both nominees said.

Obama “will have some time to prepare, and he’s been doing some studying, but it is certainly less than we anticipated,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

She explained that “events in the Middle East,” Obama’s “busy travel schedule” and “just the constraints of governing” got in the way of debate prep.

Obama is to begin official preparations Sunday in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas, three days before the first 90-minute debate Wednesday.

That debate, at the University of Denver’s 7,200-seat Magness Arena, is expected to focus on domestic policy, with questions likely dealing with the economy, healthcare, “the role of government and governing,” moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor and former anchor of the “PBS NewsHour,” said last week.

The final two debates are to take place Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t explain Obama’s debate preparations but indicated the president would work on making clear, concise answers to questions.

“The president is familiar with his own loquaciousness,” Carney said. He pointed out that in a debate “you have a limited amount of time to answer a question, to give feedback, to push back on your opponent’s answers. So that’s certainly something he and all of us are cognizant of.”

Psaki said she saw Romney as having “a lead on how prepared he is.”

The former Massachusetts governor has been prepping for the debates for several weeks at his home in New Hampshire, at his Boston headquarters and while he travels, aides have said.

He huddled at a Los Angeles hotel part of last weekend with senior adviser Beth Myers and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Portman took the role of Obama in mock debates, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But Myers, like Psaki, sought Thursday to lower expectations of her boss’s performance. In a widely leaked memo, she said Obama enjoyed a “significant advantage” going into the debates.

“Obama is a universally acclaimed public speaker and has substantial debate experience under his belt,” Myers’ memo addressed to “interested parties” said.

Romney has “the issues and the facts on his side,” she said, but “Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker” who “is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history.”

She said Wednesday’s debate would be Obama’s “eighth one-on-one presidential debate,” whereas it will be Romney’s first.

Her memo didn’t mention Obama’s last presidential debate was four years ago while Romney participated in 19 debates with other Republican hopefuls during the rough-and-tumble GOP primary from June 13, 2011, to Feb. 22, 2012.

Myers also said, “We fully expect [Obama to use the debate as] a 90-minute attack ad aimed at tearing down his opponent.”

By contrast, Romney would “talk about the big choice in this election — the choice between President Obama’s government-centric vision and Mitt Romney’s vision for an opportunity society with more jobs, higher take-home pay, a better-educated workforce, and millions of Americans lifted out of poverty into the middle class,” she said in the memo.

Psaki wouldn’t preview Obama’s debate strategy Thursday but told reporters the Romney people “fully expect” Wednesday’s debate “is going to be their turning point. And we know people want to write a comeback-kid story.”

When asked what the worst thing was that could happen to Obama during the debate from a campaign perspective, Psaki said, “Well, he could fall off the stage.”