Canada Criminalizes ‘Bath Salts’ Drug

OTTAWA (UPI) — The Canadian government made the street drug known as bath salts illegal Wednesday, putting it in the same category as heroin and cocaine, officials said.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq made the announcement in Ottawa, saying it was now “illegal to possess, traffic, import or export, unless authorized by regulation.”

The name for the drug is methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. It resembles, but is no way related to, such legitimate bath salts such as Epsom salts, a health ministry release said.

Most users eat the drug but it can be snorted through the nose.

Users get a similar “rush” as with amphetamines but since the drug appeared in 2010 there have been unconfirmed reports of users experiencing violent behavior, heart attack, kidney or liver failure and suicide. Hallucinations and panic attacks have also been linked to the drug’s use.

The health ministry said police and the Canada Border Services Agency can make arrests and confiscate illicit bath salts.

While more than 30 U.S. states have similar bans, UPI found various websites still offering bath salts for less than $30.

Verizon Joins Cybersecurity Group

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (UPI) — Communications company Verizon has joined the Lockheed Martin Cyber Security Alliance to counter cybertreats to U.S. information technology infrastructure.

The alliance, composed of leading companies in the security industry brings together cybersecurity capabilities and technologies in a collaborative effort.

“With its use of technology, broad industry knowledge and solid portfolio of cybersecurity solutions, we are pleased to welcome Verizon to the Lockheed Martin Cyber Security Alliance,” said Curt Aubley, vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed’s NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center.

“Through close collaboration with the other Alliance members, we will work with Verizon to explore and identify emerging network defense capabilities to support customers in both government and commercial areas.”

Lockheed’s NextGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center is a research and development facility that brings together alliance members and their customers to develop pilot cybersecurity programs.

Lockheed Martin said it and Verizon will apply their intelligence-driven threat detection and defense methodologies to various projects undertaken by the alliance. Verizon also will contribute insights gained its studies on data breaches.

“The threats posed by cyber-crime are very real and impact every person and organization across the United States and around the world,” said Susan Zeleniak, senior vice president, public sector markets, Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

“By working together through organizations such as the Lockheed Martin Cyber Security Alliance, we can identify common-sense solutions to combat these threats and help ensure the integrity of critical data, applications and systems.”

Retail Sales Up Slightly In Week

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. retail sales receipts rose 0.6 percent in the week ending Saturday compared with the previous week, a trade association in Washington said.

The International Council of Shopping Centers said sales rose modestly week-to-week, but were up 2.9 percent compared with the same week of 2011, a climb from the 2.1 percent year-over-year gain of the previous week.

The council’s report, issued Tuesday, said the national average temperature dropped 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit compared with the same week of 2011. The upper Midwest experienced its first hard frost, Weather Trends International said.

That same cool weather pattern “likely boosted” sales of fall apparel, the trade group said.

After 11 consecutive weeks of gains, the national average price of gasoline — having gained 50 cents in the 11-week climb — eased back, dropping 5.2 cents to $3.826 per gallon in the week ending Monday.

Ford To Cut Costs In Europe

DEARBORN, Mich. (UPI) — U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. said it would trim its workforce in Europe to cut costs during the region’s economic downturn.

“When you look at the gross domestic product in Europe, almost every country is clearly in a recession and it’s getting worse,” said Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally.

CNNMoney reported Wednesday that Ford forecast it would make a profit in 2012 despite the expectation of losing $1 billion in Europe this year.

“We’re very pleased with the leadership trying to look at fiscal and monetary policies, trying to deal with sovereign debt,” in Europe, Mulally said. “But clearly (it has) a long way to go.”

Ford said most of the work reduction among salaried staff would be through voluntary programs.

Ford also said it would cut back on production schedules in Europe.

“That’s the most important thing we do for residual values and to protect the interest of the customers,” Mulally said. “So we continue to take those actions to restructure ourselves.”

New Home Sales Fell Slightly In August

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Sales of new single-family homes dropped marginally July to August, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Sales fell 0.3 percent from a revised July rate of 374,000 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 in August.

Sales also rose 27.7 percent more than the annual rate of 292,000 from August 2011.

The Commerce Department said the average sale price for a new home sold in August was $295,300, a gain over the average price in July of $263,200.

The seasonally adjusted estimate how many new homes were on the market at the end of the month was 141,000, which is 1,000 less than July and represents a 4.5-month supply at the current rate of sales.

BofA To Close Its Childcare Centers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (UPI) — Bank of America said it was closing down its 10 childcare centers, which are run by Bright Horizons, a Massachusetts company.

The move is part of a cost-cutting strategy that includes freezing the company’s pension plan and shifting to contributions to 401(k) plans and cutting 30,000 jobs, with 16,000 of those job cuts expected by the end of the year, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported Tuesday.

Bright Horizons said it had opened a phone line to help parents find new arrangements for day care.

“If employees are treated well, they in turn take care of customers, and that affects the bottom line, which improves shareholder value,” said Hugh McColl Jr., the chief executive officer of Bank of America in 1992, when it was known as NationsBank.

Since then, Bank of America has been repeatedly recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the 10 best companies in the country for working mothers in part because of its daycare centers, the newspaper said.

Kansas State No Longer K-State

MANHATTAN, Kan., (UPI) —  The president of Kansas State University said he wants the school to be known nationally as Kansas State, instead of the traditional informal K-State.

President Kirk Schulz told Gov. Sam Brownback and state business leaders during a meeting of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors the school should be referred to as Kansas State to prevent it from being confused with other schools, such as Kentucky State University, The Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World reported Wednesday.

“We are consciously moving in that direction to a single brand,” Schulz said.

However, the president’s presentation violated his own policy when he handed out copies of the school’s long-range plan, which was titled “K-State 2025: A Visionary Plan for Kansas State University.”

Poll: N.J. Voters Support Pet Seat Belts

TRENTON, N.J., (UPI) —  A poll of New Jersey voters indicates 45 percent support a bill requiring pets to be restrained during car trips, with 40 against.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll of 901 registered voters, conducted Sept. 6-12, found 45 percent of respondents support a state Assembly bill that would require pets to be in restraints or crates during car trips, with 40 percent saying they oppose the bill, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.

The measure would carry a $20 fine for violations and could lead to animal cruelty charges bearing fines of up to $1,000.

Assemblywoman Grace Spencer, D-Essex, the bill’s sponsor, said police in East Brunswick believe an unrestrained dog may have contributed to an incident leading to the deaths of two pedestrians.

“Not to trivialize text messaging, but people didn’t think people having cellular phones in cars were going to be a problem until they became a problem,” Spencer said. “How many people died or were in accidents prior to the legislation being written?”

A competing bill from Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, would clarify failing to restrain pets in cars does not constitute animal cruelty.

“These proposals have received both attention and ridicule,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and poll analyst. “But it seems like New Jersey voters are taking this seriously.”

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Babe Ruth Autograph Donated To Library

CLERMONT, Fla., (UPI) —  A Florida library said a Babe Ruth-autographed postcard discovered by volunteers sorting through donations appears to be authentic.

Terry Moherek, president of the Cooper Memorial Library Association, said the penny postcard was found among the photos, maps, papers and other items donated to the library in Clermont and experts have said the autograph appears genuine, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Wednesday.

“We don’t know where it come from or who gave it to us,” Moherek said. “When we first saw it, I thought, ‘Oh, wonderful!'”

However, Moherek said the item has been “damaged” by someone tracing over part of the “B” and making markings above the signature.

Babe Ruth, whose real name was George Herman Ruth, hit 714 home runs during his 1914-1935 baseball career, most of which was spent with the New York Yankees.

Police Bust Alleged Drunken Horse Rider

BUNNELL, Fla., (UPI) —  Police in Florida said a man charged with resisting arrest led officers on a chase while allegedly riding a horse intoxicated.

Bunnell Police Chief Jeffrey Hoffman said police received a call shortly after 2 p.m. Monday about a drunken man on horseback seen urinating in someone’s yard and the rider, later identified as Charles Cowart, 29, led officers on a chase through the city’s housing authority property and onto some railroad tracks, The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal reported Wednesday.

“He made it into the heart of the city and was in and out of traffic,” Hoffman said. “He was causing quite a hazard. He made his way onto the railroad tracks, and we had to stop a southbound train.”

“We were going to have (Flagler County sheriff’s) deputies come out on horseback to assist us,” he said. “His father tackled him off the horse in the middle of U.S. 1, and we eventually caught him.”

Cowart was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, aggravated fleeing and eluding, cruelty to animals and interference with a railroad track. He was jailed in lieu of $2,000 bail.