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.”

Alleged Anti-Muslim Filmmaker Arrested

PMLOS ANGELES, (UPI) —  A man behind the anti-Muslim film blamed for unrest in the Muslim world was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles for alleged probation violations, authorities said.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in California Thursday afternoon, court officials said in a news release.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies took Nakoula into custody Sept. 15 for what a department spokesman called a voluntary interview with probation officials. He covered his face as sheriff’s deputies escorted him from a home in Cerritos, Calif.

Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said at the time the Office of Probation in the Central District of California was evaluating whether Nakoula’s alleged involvement in producing the anti-Muslim film and posting it online violated his probation in a 2010 bank fraud conviction. Under the terms of his probation, he is not allowed to access the Internet without permission from his probation officer.

The film, “Innocence of Muslims,” depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a power- and sex-hungry bisexual pedophile of indeterminate parentage. It sparked protest at U.S. State Department facilities in dozens of nations, including some that turned violent.

GOP Female Politicians More Feminine Faces?

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) —  In what researchers dub the “Michele Bachmann effect,” the more conservative voting record of U.S. female politicians, the more feminine facial features.

Lead author Colleen M. Carpinella, a graduate student, and senior author Kerri Johnson, an assistant professor of communication studies and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the feminine features had nothing to do with hair or makeup.

“We weren’t looking at hairstyle, jewelry or whether a person was wearing makeup or not,” Carpinella said in a statement. “We wanted to get an objective measure of how masculine or feminine a face is, based on a scientifically derived average for male or female appearance.”

The faces of male and female politicians were studied for 100 subtle dimensions, including the shape of the jaw, the location of eyebrows, the placement of cheek bones, the shape of eyes, the contour of the forehead, the fullness of the lips and the distance between such features as the bottom of the nose and the top of the lip.

The researchers showed 120 undergraduates photos of 434 politicians from the U.S. House of Representatives and asked them to guess the lawmaker’s political party.

When the undergraduates guessed a female politician was Republican, their judgments were 98 percent more likely to be accurate for women with the highest rankings for femininity; when they guessed a politician was a Democrat, their judgments were 58 percent less likely to be accurate for more feminine-looking women. However, the faces of male Republicans, on average, scored as less masculine than the faces of their Democratic counterparts.

Republican representatives whose features ranked as highly feminine were Cathy Rodgers McMorris and Michele Bachmann, while Democratic representatives whose features ranked as less gender-typical were Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota and Anna G. Eshoo of California.

Displays of femininity can be problematic for female professionals because past research showed people tend to view women as either competent or feminine, but not both, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Helicopter Ben Strikes Again

I did a double take when I saw the story on CNN.com. For a moment, I thought I had clicked on the Personal Liberty website instead — something I do with great frequency. Here’s what the subhead read:

“Central banks are printing money like crazy. And inflation is gold’s best friend.”

Not much to disagree with, is there? Knowing about CNN’s liberal bias, you won’t be surprised to learn that the actual headline wasn’t nearly as kind to those of us who skew slightly to the right. It read: “Not just for lunatics.”

So while you and I (and our fellow gold bugs) might be crazy as loons, our ranks are growing every day. Welcome, former middle-of-the-roaders!

If you’re not concerned about what the money masters in Washington are doing to the U.S. dollar, you should be. It has been losing value virtually every day since the Federal Reserve was founded nearly 100 years ago. The reason why is as simple as Economics 101: When you produce more of something, the price, or value, of each individual unit goes down.

The Fed has been producing an awful lot of dollars in recent years. And Ben Bernanke, its chairman, just announced that the flood of fiat currency is about to get a whole lot worse.

At the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting two weeks ago, the group issued an announcement that included the following:

“To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”

In that Sept. 13 announcement, the committee made it clear what it meant by “highly accommodative.” It would launch a third round of quantitative easing, purchasing $40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities every month for an indefinite period. This will be in addition to the $45 billion in Treasury bonds it is already committed to buying through Operation Twist.

How long will it last? Until “Helicopter Ben” and his buddies on the committee decide it’s no longer necessary. That could be a very long time, my friends. No wonder some pundits are referring to this third round of “quantitative easing” (Fed speak for “massive money creation”) not as QE3, but as QE Infinity.

Basically, the Fed has guaranteed that the money spigot will pour out half a trillion dollars more a year. In addition, the Fed also said that it would keep interest rates at “exceptionally low levels” by maintaining a target range for bank borrowing (the federal funds rate) of 0 to .25 percent. And it would do so, the statement said, “at least through mid-2015.”

Since Wall Street loves every short-term stimulus it sees, no matter the long-term effects on the economy, it came as no surprise the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared to their highest levels in five years after the Fed announcement. Gold and silver also rose, along with other traditional inflation hedges, such as real estate and other commodities. Not surprisingly, the U.S. dollar dropped in value.

The Rest Of The World Jumps On The Bandwagon

But it isn’t just our own central bank that has promised more stimulus. Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, announced that the ECB would buy “unlimited” amounts of European sovereign debt, in an effort to keep stimulate the economies of Europe.

This follows a ruling by the German high court that the European Stability Mechanism does not violate the country’s constitution. The court did declare, however, that the German parliament must approve any further increases to the ESM. Currently, German is liable for about 27 percent of the 700 billion euro total, or 190 billion euros.

Last week, Japan joined the party. The Bank of Japan announced on Sept. 19 that it would expand its own stimulus program. It plans to increase the amount of debt it purchases from 70 trillion yen to about 80 trillion yen, a difference of $126 billion. It will continue its purchases throughout 2013. So Japan is also in the trillion-dollar stimulus club.

At the same time it announced its new stimulus program, the Bank of Japan also did away with its previous minimum bids for Japanese government bonds. Previously, the floor had been set at 0.1%. Under the new rules, the yield on Japanese bonds can go below zero. In other words, buyers at the end of the loan period could receive less money than they invested, making a negative return on their investment.

What’s an investor to do?

Porter Stansberry, one of my favorite analysts, warned that “the Bernanke Asset Bubble is now in full force.” Indeed, it is. In fact, there seems to be a globally coordinated plan among the world’s central bankers to “stimulate” their respective economies.

You and I may believe that the best way to do this is for government to get the heck out of the way. Let the free enterprise system do what it does so well: create new jobs and even whole new industries. Turn millions of people from tax recipients to taxpayers. And then see how a steadily improving economy can mean more prosperity for almost everyone. And, yes, even more income (taxes) for Uncle Sam.

Of course, a free and unfettered economy is the last thing the bureaucrats and money manipulators in Washington want us to have. No, their solution will continue to be the creation of a massive amount of new money and credit.

The inevitable effect will be a decline in the purchasing power of the dollar — and the euro and the yen, too. There will also be an increase in the prices of all sorts of assets, including stocks, housing and commodities.

But the biggest winner of all is likely to be gold — just as it has been for the past decade (for the past two millennia, in fact). Oh, and don’t forget its less-expensive sister, silver.

Both precious metals have come off of their all-time highs. And it’s possible they could even correct a bit further in the next few weeks.

But long term, there has never been a better way to protect the purchasing power of your savings than to exchange paper currencies for things of real and enduring value. And nothing does that job better than gold and silver.

Buy some today and some more tomorrow. When the tide of new money begins hitting, you’ll be very glad you did.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Blaming Romney

Accuse them of what our side is doing. Guess what? The New York Times agrees that one of the candidates for President is trying to pit one class against another in this country. And it’s decided that the culprit is Mitt Romney. “There is class warfare being waged in the 2012 campaign,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “It is Mr. Romney who is waging it, not President Obama.” I guess that’s what can happen when an editorial writer reads only what appears in his own paper.

Facebook founder loses a fortune. According to the latest list of the Forbes 400, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the biggest financial loser in the group in the past year. The magazine says his estimated net worth plunged $8.1 billion, thanks to the sharp decline in the value of his stock. He fell from No. 14 on the list to No. 36. But Zuckerberg shouldn’t run out of money anytime soon; according to Forbes, he’s still worth a rather hefty $9.4 billion.

The top spots stay the same. No surprise who occupies the top spot on the Forbes 400 list. For the 19th year in a row, it was Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $66 billion. Warren Buffett again took second place, with $46 billion. And Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison remained third, with $41 billion. Twenty newcomers joined the list this year, including Shahid Khan, the flamboyant new owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Pledging allegiance to whom? The Barack Obama campaign is urging supporters to write on the back of their hands why they support the President — and then take a photograph of themselves with their hand held over their heart and share it online. Talk about a cult of personality!

–Chip Wood

Afghan Troop Surge A Deadly Failure

It’s no secret that the United States has failed miserably in its efforts to enact positive change in the Mideast, specifically in Afghanistan; but a new military report details just how terribly flawed policies in the region have been.

Last week, the Afghanistan troop surge ordered by the Administration of Barack Obama came to an end, and the new report acquired by Wired’s “Danger Room” blog shows that the country is in worse shape than it was before the surge began.

The stated purpose of the surge was to stop the Taliban from gaining power and influence in the region, but the number of insurgent attacks has been higher every month in 2012 than in 2009 when the country was in so much turmoil that the President thought the surge necessary.

According to Wired, there were about 2,000 insurgent attacks in Afghanistan in July 2009. More than 3,000 insurgent attacks were recorded in July of this year. Furthermore, 475 attacks from homemade bombs were recorded in July 2009 compared to 625 in July 2012.

About 1,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan since the President announced the troop surge.

With the surge coming to an end, the future of the U.S. in Afghanistan looks to be uncertain but the likelihood of the Nation ever becoming disengaged in the Mideast country is nil. This is due in part to the fact that the U.S. plan to cede control of Afghan security to U.S.-trained Afghan forces is proving a damning one, as the trainees continue to attack American soldiers.

PETA Wants To Advertise In School Lunchrooms

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has its sights set on young people, hoping the next generation will quit eating meat. PETA wants to advertise on school lunchroom trays, starting in Cleveland.

The ad is a cartoon sketch of a chicken with the words “I am not a nugget” and “Go vegan.”

Ashley Palmer, a spokesperson for PETA, hopes that the message will cause students to be more compassionate toward animals.

“Vegan food is really healthy and considering the amount of artery-clogging cholesterol that’s in meat and dairy and egg products, vegan choices are a great option for schools,” Palmer said.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District Communications Officer Rosann Canfora said they will consider whether the advertising “is a legitimate revenue source worthy of further investigation.”

The idea has been met with mixed reviews from parents.

Parent Shari Litton told FOX 8 Cleveland that she thinks the idea is “great” and “wonderful.”

But other parents disagree.

“There’s a lot of meat eaters out there,” parent Deshon Conel said.

A Culture Of Delusion

A writer’s greatest disappointments are readers who have knee-jerk responses. Not all readers, of course. Some readers are thoughtful and supportive. Others express thanks for opening their eyes. But the majority are happy when a writer tells them what they want to hear and are unhappy when he writes what they don’t want to hear.

For the left wing, Ronald Reagan is the great bogeyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by using the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down economics” and tax cuts for the rich. Leftists don’t understand that the Reagan Administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the Cold War. Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the 1 percent and the neoconservatives’ wars for U.S. hegemony.

In 1981, curtailing inflation meant collapsing nominal gross national product and tax revenues. The result would be budget deficits — anathema to Republicans — during the period of readjustment. Ending the Cold War meant curtailing the military/security complex and raised the specter in conservative circles of “the anti-Christ” Mikhail Gorbachev deceiving Reagan and taking over the world.

In pursuing his two main goals, Reagan was up against his own constituency; he relied on rhetoric to keep his constituency on board with his agenda. The left wing heard the rhetoric but failed to comprehend the agenda.

When I explain these facts, easily and abundantly documented, some of leftish persuasion send in condescending and insulting emails telling me that they look forward to the day that I stop lying about Reagan and tell the truth about Reagan like I do about everything else.

“Knee-jerk liberal” is a favorite term of conservatives. But conservatives can be just as knee-jerk. When I object to Washington’s wars, the mistreatment of detainees and the suspension of civil liberties, some on the right tell me that if I hate America so much I should move to Cuba. Many Republicans cannot get their minds around the fact that if civil liberties are subject to the government’s arbitrary discretion, then civil liberties do not exist. The flag-waving element of the population is prone to confuse loyalty to the country with loyalty to the government, unless, of course, there’s a Democrat in the White House.

Rationally, it makes no sense for readers to think that a writer who would lie to them about one thing would tell them the truth about another. But as long as they hear what they want to hear, it is the truth. If they don’t want to hear it, it is a lie.

Both left and right also confuse explanations with justifications.

When a writer writes about the perils that we as a society face and the implications, it is very discouraging for the writer to know that many readers will not listen unless it is what they want to hear. This discouragement is precisely what every truth-teller faces, which is why there are so few of them.

This is one reason I stopped writing a couple of years ago. I found that solid facts and sound analysis could not penetrate brainwashed and closed minds seeking vindication to keep the mind locked tightly against unsettling truths. Americans want to have their beliefs vindicated more than they want the truth. The success of print and TV pundits is based on allying with a prominent point of view or interest group and serving it. Those served make the writer or talking head successful. I never thought much of that kind of success.

But success as a whore is about the only kind of success that can occur in Washington or in the media these days. Those who refuse to prostitute themselves arouse pity and denunciation, not admiration. A couple of years ago an acquaintance from a university in the Northeast called me to say he had recently had lunch with some of my former associates in Washington. When he inquired about me, he said the response was, “Poor Craig, if he hadn’t turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.”

I replied that my former associates were undoubtedly correct. My acquaintance said that he hadn’t realized that he was having lunch with a bunch of prostitutes.

The incentive to speak the truth and the reward for doing so are very weak. And not just for a writer, but also for academics and experts who can make far more money by lying than by telling the truth. How else would we have gotten genetically modified organisms, jobs offshoring, the “unitary executive” and a deregulated financial system? It is a very lucrative career to testify as an expert in civil lawsuits. It is part of America’s romance with the lie that experts purchased by the opposing sides in a lawsuit battle it out as gladiators seeking the jury’s thumbs-up.

And look at Congress. The two members of the House who stood up for the Constitution and truth in government will soon be gone. Ron Paul is stepping down, and Dennis Kucinich was redistricted out of his seat. As for the Senate, these thoughtful personages recently voted 90-1 to declare war on Iran, as the sole dissenter, Rand Paul, pointed out. The Senate is very much aware, although only a few will publicly admit it, that the U.S. has been totally frustrated and held to a standoff, if not a defeat, in Afghanistan and is unable to subdue the Taliban. Despite this, the Senate wants a war with Iran, a war which could easily turn out to be even less successful. Obviously, the Senate not only lies to the public but also to itself.

Last week the Pentagon chief, Leon Panetta, told China that the new U.S. naval, air and troop bases surrounding China are not directed at China. What else could be the purpose of the new bases? Washington is so accustomed to lying and to being believed that Panetta actually thinks China will believe his completely transparent lie. Panetta has confused China with the American people: Tell them what they want to hear, and they will believe it.

Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement. There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaida connections. Saddam’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Moammar Gaddafi fed his troops Viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change — yes, we can! The U.S. is “the indispensable country.” America is broke because of food stamps and Social Security, not because of wars, bankster bailouts and a failing economy. Russia is America’s No. 1 enemy. China is America’s No. 1 enemy. Iran is a terrorist state. Jobs offshoring is free trade and good for the U.S. economy. Israel is America’s most loyal ally. The U.S. missile shield surrounding Russia is not directed at Russia. The South China Sea is an area of U.S. national interest. Financial markets are self-regulating.

The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars.

The endless lies have created a culture of delusion. And this is why America is lost. The beliefs of many Americans, perhaps a majority, are comprised of lies. These beliefs have become emotional crutches, and Americans will fight to defend the lies that they believe. The inability of Americans to accept facts that are contrary to their beliefs is the reason the country is leaderless and will remain so. Unless scales fall from Americans’ eyes, Americans are doomed.

–Paul Craig Roberts

City In Kansas Overturns Ban, Allows Open Carry

Five years ago, a city in Kansas decided to ban the open carrying of guns. On Monday, that decision was reversed.

Overland Park’s City Council decided to allow citizens to walk the streets with guns in full view. The ban was overturned with an 11-1 vote.

Citizens can open carry with a few caveats: The weapon has to be holstered, the safety has to be on and citizens cannot carry guns into city-owned buildings.

Some citizens support the ban being overturned, while others think the decision is not wise.

“As a matter of respect to the right of a person to own a gun and carrying, clearly, I do support that,” said Michelle Dunham of Overland Park. “But as a person would be walking next to people carrying guns out, yeah, that’s more concerning to me.”

Business owner Sheila Weiford thinks the new open carry law is outdated.

“We don’t need someone walking around toting a gun. That’s not what we’re all about. It’s not the Dodge City days,” she said.

Gut Bacteria Linked To Diabetes Epidemic

Healthy gut bacteria have been directly linked to good overall health in numerous studies. New research amplifies the importance of ensuring the friendly bacteria in your gut are plentiful.

A new study published in the medical journal Nature indicates that the epidemic of type 2 diabetes often discussed by health professionals is directly related to the lack of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

“We have demonstrated that people with type 2 diabetes have a high level of pathogens in their intestines,” said the lead researcher for the Nature study, Jun Wang from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Biology and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, in a media statement.

Researchers found that study subjects with type 2 diabetes often had accompanying high levels of toxic gut bacteria. They plan to do further research to learn whether the unhealthy bacteria are the root cause of diabetes.

“We are going to transplant gut bacteria from people that suffer from type 2 diabetes into mice and examine whether the mice then develop diabetes,” said another of the lead scientists behind the project, professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen from the University of Copenhagen.

The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has snowballed in recent years. Scientists believe there are just as many undiagnosed people with the illness. With the possibility of a direct link between the disease and gut bacteria, there are a few easy dietary measures you can take to ensure gut bacteria health.

  • Avoid antibiotics, which kill healthy bacteria.
  • Eat a diet filled with raw foods and prebiotics, such as: fruits, legumes and whole grains.
  • Eat probiotic foods such as yogurt and naturally fermented sauerkraut to replenish healthy gut bacteria.

Survey Lists Jobs With Most Coffee Need

CANTON, Mass., (UPI) —  Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts and CareerBuilder.com said workers in food preparation and the service industry have the greatest need for coffee.

The online survey of 4,152 U.S. workers, conducted Aug. 13-Sept. 3 by Harris Interactive, found food preparation and service workers were the most likely to say their productivity would drop without coffee, followed by scientists, sales representatives, marketing/public relations workers, nurses, media workers, business executives, teachers, engineers and IT workers.

The survey, which was commissioned by Dunkin’ Donuts and CareerBuilder.com in honor of National Coffee Day Sept. 29, found 55 percent of respondents said they drink at least one cup of coffee per day and 63 percent of coffee drinkers tend to have two or more cups of java during the workday.

The survey had a margin of error of 1.52 percentage points with a 95 percent probability.

Man Finds Alleged Robbers On Facebook

DELRAY BEACH, Fla., (UPI) —  Police in Florida said a robbery victim turned the tables on the suspected culprits by using Facebook and Twitter to learn their identities.

Sam Drummond, 26, of Delray Beach, said he received a phone call Sept. 8 at Palm-Tech, his recently opened cellphone shop in Lantana, from a man he knew as Jean Jacques, a recent customer who had sold an iPhone to the shop, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Thursday.

Drummond said Jacques, who he at the time considered to be “a nice guy,” offered to sell another iPhone to the shop and asked the owner to come by his house because he was unable to find a ride.

However, when Drummond arrived at the Palm Beach Plantation Mobile Home Park, Jacques asked him to wait and fetched a second man. Both men got into the car with Drummond and the man he did not know put a gun to his head.

Drummond said the men took his cellphone and $2,000 cash.

He said he reported the incident to police and proceeded to do some of his own detective work online. Drummond said he plugged Jacques’ phone number into Facebook and discovered he lived in Lake Worth and had posted a picture of himself holding cash with the caption “crime pays.”

Drummond said a Google search for “Jean Jacques” and “Lake Worth” uncovered a mug shot of Billy Jean Jacques, 19, from a previous arrest.

The victim said he researched one of Jacques’ Facebook friends who resembled the gunman and used the name “Jbo Tha Prince.” He said he found a Twitter account with the man’s real name, Jonathan Coleman, 20.

Both men were arrested Tuesday and charged with robbery, police said.

Man Had Friend Serve His Prison Sentence

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, (UPI) —  Swedish authorities said an international arrest warrant has been issued for a man who had a friend pose as him to avoid a prison term.

Police said the 37-year-old Gothenburg man was sentenced to one year in prison in January 2008 after being convicted of charges including copyright infringement, breaking Swedish medical laws and handling smuggled goods, the Swedish news agency TT reported Thursday.

However, the man was not held in remand in between being sentenced and the start of his prison term, and police said during that time he convinced a friend to serve the sentence for him. Investigators said the convict took out a driver’s license bearing his own name and the picture of his friend to carry out the identity swap.

Police said the other man had served the majority of the sentence by the time the ruse was discovered. The man was set free.

“We were the victims of advanced con,” said Ulf Jonson of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.

Police said an international arrest warrant has been issued for the convict, who is believed to have fled to the Philippines.

Election May Decide Uses Of Torture

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The future of use of torture as an interrogation technique may rest on differing attitudes of the presidential candidates, a Romney campaign document suggests.

A five-page policy paper entitled “Interrogation Techniques,” written in 2011 by the Romney campaign’s foreign policy brain trust, comprised mostly of veterans of the George W. Bush administration, presents a hard-line attitude toward interrogation including approval of prolonged sleep deprivation, shackling into “stress” positions and waterboarding, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Among the Obama presidency’s first acts was an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of non-abusive tactics. Although his presidency has offered a hawkish approach to other counter-terrorism issues, such as drone strikes and indefinite detention, the no-torture policy has been maintained, the newspaper said.

Romney’s policy paper acknowledges it is difficult to ascertain the outcome if the Bush policy continued, but it argues that Obama’s approach “hampered, or will hamper, the fight against terrorism” by restricting techniques “that we should feel, as a nation, that we have a right to use against our enemies.”

Flight Passengers Restrain Man With Belts

SANTA ANA, Calif., (UPI) —  Several passengers on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to California said they were forced to restrain a man who was harassing and scaring passengers.

Arash Durrani, 26, was arrested after the plane landed at John Wayne Airport Tuesday night for the incident, The Orange County (Calif.) Register reported.

The incident on United Flight 473 began around 9 p.m. Tuesday when Durrani allegedly began pacing around the plane and bothering other passengers.

“He was inappropriately touching women and aggressively harassing people,” said fellow passenger David Truong. “He was walking in and out of the restroom and at one point I was scared that he may have done something or gotten something in the restroom, so I asked him to sit.”

Passenger Nona Pitts said Durrani was drinking heavily during the flight.

“Everyone was getting annoyed with him,” she said. “He was completely wasted. He had three straight Jack Daniels and a beer and he was getting another drink.”

Truong said flight attendants asked Durrani to stay seated but he wouldn’t comply. He then started to scare children. That’s when Truong said he and several other male passengers decided to restrain Durrani.

“He was unbelievably strong,” Truong said. “I was on his chest and three other guys were holding his arms and legs.”

Truong said he and the other men held Durrani down nearly three hours during the rest of the flight.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Durrani will be charged with interference with a flight crew, a federal offense, for the incident.

Slain Abortion Doc’s Practice Reopening

WICHITA, Kan., (UPI) —  The building that housed a slain abortion provider’s practice in Wichita, Kan., is set to reopen and doctors will resume the procedure, officials said.

The Wichita medical office of George Tiller, the doctor killed by an anti-abortion activist, was purchased by a group calling itself Trust Women Foundation, the Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday. The group is run by Julie Burkhart, an abortion-rights activist who once worked for Tiller, who was killed by Scott Roeder in June 2009.

The newspaper notes if the practice is to reopen, it must conform to hospital-like building codes under a new law regulating Kansas abortion clinics.

Romney Charges ‘Character Assassination’

WESTERVILLE, Ohio, (UPI) —  U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is engaging in “character assassination.”

Romney, in an interview with CBS News Wednesday, said the Obama campaign tries to “completely misrepresent my point of view, along with why I’m in this race.”

“This is a campaign, not about character assassination, even though that’s what I think has come from the Obama camp by and large,” Romney said.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday Romney “and his team have a tendency to look at the president and make outrageous accusations about his truthfulness,” but she said the Republican campaign has a “record of mistruths.

“If Mitt Romney were Pinocchio, his nose would be reaching from Virginia to Ohio, with the number of lies and untruths in the ads that his team has put out.”

Romney and Obama both campaigned in Virginia Thursday.

Romney told supporters in Ohio Wednesday his tax-reform plan would probably not cut Americans’ tax bills as much as they might be thinking.

“By the way, don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes, because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions,” Romney told a crowd in Westerville, near Columbus.

“But by bringing rates down, we’ll be able to let small businesses keep more of their money, so they can hire more people,” he told the crowd. “My priority is jobs and I’ll make it happen.”

His campaign also backed away from statements Romney’s tax plan would preserve most deductions for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is less than $200,000 a year.

A staff member told The Wall Street Journal an alternative scenario would preserve those deductions for people who earn $100,000 or less, thus raising revenue by letting fewer taxpayers take deductions.

“What we’re proposing is a tax reform — it’s not a tax cut,” a campaign staffer told the Journal.

The staff member said the campaign hadn’t committed to a plan, so things could change.

Romney has long proposed cutting all income-tax rates 20 percent and lowering the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent. He has said lower rates would spur economic growth.

He has also called for keeping the 15 percent top rate on capital gains and getting rid of capital gains taxes altogether for people making less than $200,000 a year. He has additionally said he would scrap the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax.

The Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, has said Romney can’t do all those things without adding greatly to the deficit.

Several outside estimates have said Romney’s tax plan could cut revenue by $5 trillion over 10 years, which would expand the deficit considerably.

Obama seized on this Wednesday.

“My opponent and his running mate are big believers in top-down economics,” he said in Bowling Green, Ohio, near Toledo. “They basically think that if we just spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts that favor the very wealthiest … then prosperity and jobs will rain down on everybody else, the deficit will magically go away and we will live happily ever after.”

While Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, told reporters as late as last week, “I want to lower taxes on middle-income people,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in a broadcast that aired Sunday that because he plans to limit exemptions and deductions, most people will essentially pay the same taxes as before.

“That’s right. Middle-income people will probably see a little break, because there’ll be no tax on their savings,” he said.

University To Pay Over Protest

DAVIS, Calif., (UPI) —  The University of California has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to settle a lawsuit over the pepper spraying of students at a peaceful protest last year.

The university announced Wednesday that it has agreed to pay 21 UC Davis students who were sprayed with pepper spray at a Nov. 18 Occupy rally $30,000 each, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The school also agreed to pay a total of $250,000 to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, as well as set up a maximum of $100,000 to pay up to $20,000 to any other individuals who join the class-action lawsuit who were either arrested at the protest or directly pepper-sprayed. The University of California will paid the settlement out of its $600 million self-insurance program.

Controversy was sparked after a video of the protest showed campus police pepper-spraying students directly in their faces at close range.

Fatima Sbeih, 22, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who was pepper-sprayed, said the settlement shows that universities can be held responsible for how they treat demonstrators.

“It’s a lesson for other UCs and universities across the nation to really think critically and not make rash decisions when dealing with protesters because they will be held accountable for it,” she said.

Woman Appeals Fine For Profane Bird

WARWICK, R.I., (UPI) —  A Rhode Island woman fined $15 for the noise generated by her profanity-spouting cockatoo is appealing the ruling, her lawyer said.

Stephen Peltier, a lawyer for Lynne Taylor of Warwick, said his client is appealing the ruling by Municipal Court Judge Joel Gerstenblatt, who determined Sept. 17 that Taylor has violated an ordinance barring pet owners from allowing their animals to create habitual noise, The Providence Journal reported Wednesday.

Peltier said Taylor, who was accused of allowing her cockatoo to spout profanity, is appealing to the Superior Court on the grounds that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it provides no parameters to determine at what point a pet’s noise is a violation.

“Warwick’s statute merely says if it annoys somebody, it’s a public nuisance,” Peltier said.