Hearing Loss Accelerates Brain Decline

BALTIMORE (UPI) — Older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than those whose hearing is normal, a U.S. researcher said.

Senior study investigator and Johns Hopkins otologist and epidemiologist Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., said all study participants had normal brain function when the study began in 2001. They were initially tested for hearing loss, defined as recognizing only those sounds louder than 25 decibels.

The data on a subset of 1,984 men and women ages 75 to 84 came from a larger, ongoing study monitoring the health of older blacks and whites in Memphis and Pittsburgh.

The volunteers with hearing loss had repeated cognition tests over six years.

The study found those who had hearing loss also had cognitive abilities that declined some 30 percent to 40 percent faster than those whose hearing was normal.

Levels of declining brain function were directly related to the amount of hearing loss, the researchers said.

The findings, published in the journal Internal Medicine, found that on average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.

Buy Guns On The Cheap At Gun Buybacks

The gun buybacks that are routinely held at police departments, churches and public venues throughout the Nation are laughable schemes designed to disarm law-abiding citizens, opportunists and the naïve. But, as demonstrated at a recent buyback event in Seattle, buybacks can also be beneficial to people with an appreciation for guns.

Fear about government plans to categorically ban certain classes of firearms is driving up prices on guns, accessories and ammunition throughout the Nation. Meanwhile, cities are hosting gun buybacks where a modest $100 is paid routinely for handguns, shotguns and rifles and $200 for so-called assault rifles.

Seattle gun enthusiasts, realizing that Americans willing to hand over their firearms for such little money often don’t know what they have, were also drawn to the gun buyback. There, gun collectors set up miniature gun shows with signs offering cash for collectible firearms, good hunting weapons and assault rifles.

Though the happenings upset some of the police officers working the gun buyback, there is nothing illegal about the private gun sales taking place at the event. In States that allow unfettered private party gun sales between law-abiding citizens, nothing can stop collectors from attending the buyback events in hopes of scoring good deals on quality firearms.

Below are some pictures from the Seattle event, via SLOG:

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Consumer Confidence Slides

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. consumer confidence dropped in January for the third consecutive month, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

Despite a recent spate of positive economic data and improvements in the housing market, the Conference Board said the Consumer Confidence Index deteriorated further in January, dropping from 66.7 in December to 58.6.

Economists had expected a much milder decline,calling for a drop to 64..

The Conference Board uses 1985 as a base year, assigning the average confidence of 1985 a value of 100, giving the index a reference point.

In January, 16.7 percent of respondents to a survey that involves more than 5,000 households indicated they believed business conditions were “good,” a drop from December, when 17.2 percent indicated economic conditions were favorable for business.

Respondents who indicated they believed business conditions were “bad” in January rose from 26.3 percent to 27.4 percent.

The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were “plentiful,” fell from 10.8 percent to 8.6 percent while those indicating jobs were “hard to get” rose from 36.1 percent to 37.7 percent, the Conference Board said.

“Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situation. The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers’ spirits and it may take a while for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover from their initial paycheck shock,” said Lynn Franco, director of the board’s Consumer Research Center.

Service Industries Show Revenue Gain

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Ten of 11 service sector industries showed revenue growth from 2010 to 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The exception for revenue growth noted in the 2011 Service Annual Survey was in the finance and insurance sector where revenue declined by $35 billion to $3.3 trillion year-to-year, the report said.

Within the finance sector, the report said investment banking and securities posted $135 billion in revenue for 2011, down 13.1 percent from the $155.9 billion in revenue for 2010.

Despite the slow economic recovery, even real estate and rental and leasing as a group experienced a 5 percent year-to-year revenue increase from $406.4 billion to $426.8 billion.

The sharpest revenue jump came in the information sector. Within that group, revenue for Internet publishing and broadcasting and Web search portals rose 20.8 percent from $41.7 billion in 2010 to 50.4 billion in 2011, the bureau said.

Among the highlights, utilities experienced a revenue climb of 3.4 percent to $550.2 billion, transportation and warehousing experienced a bump of 11.1 percent to $736.3 billion, wireless telecommunication carriers saw their revenue climb 6.9 percent to $208.9 billion, and educational services experienced a 5.9 percent revenue gain to $59.2 billion.

Home Prices Off Slightly Month To Month

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. home prices slipped October to November, but showed strong gains from 12 months earlier, a closely watched price index said.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller report said prices dropped 0.2 percent from October in a 10-city composite sample of U.S. cities. Prices slid 0.1 percent month-to-month in the report’s 20-city sampler.

Prices in the 10-city grouping rose 4.5 percent from November 2011, however, while prices among the larger sampling group rose 5.5 percent.

Nineteen of 20 cities had annual price gains in November. Prices rose 22.8 percent in Phoenix, 12.7 percent in San Francisco, 11.9 percent in Detroit, 1.8 percent in Cleveland, and 0.8 percent in Chicago.

The price index fell 1.2 percent from November 2011 in New York, the only city where prices fell over 12 months.

On a month-to-month basis, prices were down in half the cities monitored in the report.

Prices dropped from October in Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, New York, Portland, Ore., Tampa, Fla., and Washington.

Prices rose from October in Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

“Winter is usually a weak period for housing which explains why we now see about half the cities with falling month-to-month prices compared to 20 out of 20 seeing rising prices last summer,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The better annual price changes also point to seasonal weakness rather than a reversal in the housing market. Further evidence that the weakness is seasonal is seen in the seasonally adjusted figures: only New York saw prices fall on a seasonally adjusted basis while Cleveland was flat.”

U.S. Home Ownership Rate Remains Low

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. home ownership rate dropped in the fourth quarter of 2012, matching the lowest percentage since early 1997, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.

The home ownership rate fell from 65.5 percent in the third quarter to 65.4 percent in the fourth, which matches the first-quarter rates in 2012 and 1997. It has remained higher in every quarter in between.

Home ownership peaked in the first quarter of 2005 at 69.1 percent.

The Census Bureau said 86.3 percent of housing units were occupied in the third quarter of 2012.

The home ownership rate is the percentage of households that are owner occupied.

 

Study: Overseas Profits Find Tax Havens

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A congressional research team said U.S. multinational firms were shifting massive profits to tax havens where their investments were marginal.

The Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan branch of Congress, sometimes referred to as a government think-tank, said it studied profits multinational firms claimed were earned in five reputed tax havens and compared them to profits claimed in countries where multinational firms have major investments.

The five small tax havens chosen for the study were Bermuda, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and Switzerland.

The study found that multinational firms claimed 43 percent of their overseas profits in those five locations. In contrast, multinational companies declared only 14 percent of their profits in Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, Australia and Germany.

In terms of investment, only 4 percent of the multinational firms’ workforce and 7 percent of their overseas investments were in the five reputed tax havens. In comparison, 40 percent of their overseas workforce and 34 percent of their overseas investments were in the five larger countries, the report said.

Multinational firms claimed $940 billion in overseas profits, the study said.

Strikingly, the profits declared in Britain, Germany, Canada, Mexico and Australia made up 1 percent to 2 percent of those countries’ gross domestic products. In the smaller countries, the profits declared by multinational firms averaged 33 percent of their gross domestic products, the Congressional Research Service said.

Herbal Therapies Recommended For Menopause

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (UPI) — Herbal treatments for postmenopausal symptoms can be recommended as an alternative to hormonal replacement therapy, a U.S. researcher says.

Review author Iris Tong of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Province, R.I., Rhode Island, said up to 75 percent of women use herbal and complimentary medicines to treat their postmenopausal symptoms.

“Therefore, it is vitally important for healthcare providers to be aware of and informed about the non-pharmacological therapies available for women who are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms and who are looking for an alternative to HRT,” Tong said in a statement.

HRT is the most effective treatment of hot flushes, improving symptoms in 80 percent to 90 percent of women, but there are possible health risks associated with breast cancer, blood clots, stroke and cardiovascular problems, Tong said.

The review, published in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, found as many as 50 percent to 75 percent of postmenopausal women used herbal options to treat hot flushes. Complimentary therapies, soy, red clover and black cohosh were most investigated.

Soy, the most common plant containing estrogen — found in food and supplements — was found to reduce hot flush symptoms from 20 percent to 55 percent of women in the studies. Red clover, a legume also containing estrogen, and black cohosh, a plant originating from the eastern United States and Canada, were also reported to ease postmenopausal symptoms.

The author of the review recommended herbal treatments as there are no significant adverse side effects associated with them, as long as they are used in women who do not have a personal history of breast cancer, are not at high risk for breast cancer and are not taking tamoxifen.

However, the review notes that herbal medicines are not regulated in many countries, and therefore the contents of a given product may vary from sample to sample.

People worldwide living longer, but sickerSunday, January 27, 2013 9:15 PMSEATTLE, Jan. 27 (UPI) —  The majority of the people in the world live longer, but spend more years in poor health compared to 20 years ago, U.S. researchers say.

Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and colleagues found life expectancy increased in 19 of 21 regions around the world but people are spending their later years living in relatively poor health.

Comparing healthy life expectancy for 187 countries in 1990 and 2010, the researchers were able to evaluate major patterns and trends in global health over two decades.

Gains in healthy life expectancy during the last two decades have been made primarily through reductions in child and adult mortality, rather than reductions in years lived with a disability, the researchers said.

“In the past two decades, there has been less attention toward reducing the impact of non-fatal disease and injury than towards reducing mortality,” Dr. Haidong Wang, professor of global health at IHME, said in a statement. “As the global population is living longer, efforts to improve health need to also incorporate the burden of disease that affects how we function.”

With more people surviving to more advanced ages, there is increased recognition of the need to prioritize healthy aging, the researchers said.

The findings were published in The Lancet.

Hypothermia Can Occur In 40 Degrees F

ATLANTA (UPI) — Hypothermia is most likely at cold temperatures, but it can occur even at 40 degrees F if chilled from rain, sweat or submersion, U.S. officials say.

Victims of hypothermia are often elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; or people who remain outdoors for long periods — the homeless, hikers, hunters, walkers; and people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs, health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said the warnings signs of hypothermia in adult are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants the signs are bright red, cold skin, or very low energy.

The CDC said if you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, the situation is an emergency and get medical attention immediately.

“When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature,” the CDC said in a statement.

“Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.”

Those Favoring Local Food Eat Healthier

MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) — Young people who favor organic, local and sustainable foods are more likely to make healthier food choices, U.S. researchers say.

Jennifer E. Pelletier, Melissa N. Laska, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer and Mary Story of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Epidemiology and Community Health conducted a cross-sectional study, which examined the characteristics and dietary behaviors of 1,201 students.

The study participants were at a two-year community college and a four-year public university in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. The participants reported low, moderate, or high importance on alternative food production practices.

“Almost half of the young adults placed moderate to high importance on alternative production practices of food,” Pelletier said in a statement. “And no differences were found by race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status in this sample.”

The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found women, young people age 25 and older, vegetarians and those living outside their parent/family home reported the highest importance on alternative production practices.

Compared with those who placed low importance on these practices, those who placed high importance on alternative production practices also consumed:

— 1.3 more servings of fruits and vegetables.

— More dietary fiber, fewer added sugars and less fat.

— Breakfast approximately one more day per week.

— Fast food half as often.

The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Behavioral Therapy Effective For SAD

BURLINGTON, Vt. (UPI) — There is growing evidence cognitive behavioral therapy — a type of talk therapy — can help patients with seasonal affective disorder, U.S. researchers say.

“For the ‘cognitive’ part of cognitive behavioral therapy, we work with patients to identify negative self-defeating thoughts they have,” Dr. Kelly Rohan, a SAD specialist at the University of Vermont, said in a statement. “We try to look objectively at the thought and then reframe it into something that’s more accurate, less negative, and maybe even a little more positive. The ‘behavioral’ part of cognitive behavioral therapy tries to teach people new behaviors to engage in when they’re feeling depressed, to help them feel better.”

Behavioral changes might include having lunch with friends, going out for a walk or volunteering in the community, Rohan said.

“We try to identify activities that are engaging and pleasurable, and we work with patients to try to schedule them into their daily routine,” Rohan said.

A preliminary study by Rohan and colleagues compared cognitive behavioral therapy to light therapy. Both were found effective at relieving SAD symptoms over six weeks in the winter.

“We also found that people treated with cognitive behavioral therapy have less depression and less return of SAD the following winter compared to people who were treated with light therapy,” Rohan said.

Monkeys Move Together Like Humans Do

TOKYO (UPI) — Primates have been found to modify their body movements to be in tune with others just like humans do, researchers in Japan say.

Humans unconsciously modify their movements to be in synchrony with their peers, scientists at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute said, for example when they adapt their pace to walk in step or clap in unison at the end of a concert.

In an experiment, pairs of macaque monkeys were also found to spontaneously coordinate their movements to reach synchrony, a RIKEN release reported Monday.

The monkeys, taught to push a button with one hand, increased or decreased the speed of their push-button movement to be in synchrony with another monkey, whether the partner was real or presented as a video.

Such neurophysiological studies of spontaneous synchronization in monkeys could shed light into human behavioral dysfunctions such as those observed in patients with autism spectrum disorders, echopraxia and echolalia — where patients uncontrollably imitate others, they researchers said.

Still, they said, more research will be needed.

“The reasons why the monkeys showed behavioral synchronization are not clear,” the researchers wrote in the journal Scientific Reports. “It may be a vital aspect of other socially adaptive behavior, important for survival in the wild.”

Secrets Of Spider Silk’s Strength Studied

TEMPE, Ariz. (UPI) — U.S. researchers say studies of spider webs have revealed why the fiber that spiders spin is, weight for weight, at least five times as strong as piano wire.

Using a sophisticated but non-invasive laser light scattering technique, scientists at the University of Arizona have determined a wide variety of elastic properties of the silk in several intact spiders’ webs, a university release reported.

“Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know,” chemistry and biochemistry Professor Jeffery Yarger said. “This work represents the most complete understanding we have of the underlying mechanical properties of spider silks.”

Spider silk is a biological polymer, related to collagen in skin and bones but much more complex in its structure, the researchers said.

The researchers said studying its molecular structure could lead to materials ranging from bulletproof vests to artificial tendons.

“This information should help provide a blueprint for structural engineering of an abundant array of bio-inspired materials, such as precise materials engineering of synthetic fibers to create stronger, stretchier, and more elastic materials,” Yarger said.

Researchers Find People Are Born Leaders

LONDON (UPI) — British researchers say they’ve found it’s at least partially true some people are born leaders, thanks to a specific DNA sequence.

Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of the University College London School of Public Policy, who led an international team at Harvard, New York University and the University of California, said about a quarter of the observed variation in leadership behavior between individuals can be explained by genes.

“We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations,” lead author De Neve said in a statement. “The conventional wisdom — that leadership is a skill — remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait.”

To find the genotype, the researchers analyzed data from two large-scale samples in the United States, available through the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Framingham Heart Study.

They compared genetic samples of about 4,000 individuals with information about jobs and relationships and found there was a significant association between rs4950 and leadership.

Leadership behavior was measured by determining whether or not individuals occupied supervisory roles in the workplace.

The study, published online in Leadership Quarterly, found although acquiring a leadership position mostly depends on developing skills, inheriting the leadership trait can also play an important role.

128 GB iPad Coming For $799?

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — Apple may soon release a 128-gigabyte version of the fourth-generation iPad starting at $799, a U.S. tech site says.

That will buy a WiFi only version, with a model with both WiFi and LTE connectivity going for $929, 9to5Mac reported Monday.

The 9to5Mac site said it received information on pricing from “a high-profile U.S. retailer.”

Other than the increased storage capacity, the new model is rumored to identical internally and in its overall design, so the performance will likely be on a par with existing models, Slash Gear reported.

With increasing numbers of people using an iPad as their main day-in and day-out computer, it would make sense for Apple to increase the storage capacity to accommodate users who want their units to be able to hold more music, videos and photos.

Existence of a 128-gigabyte model was first suggested by a developer who spotted evidence of an upgraded model embedded in iOS 6 firmware, Slash Gear said.

Electronics Could Get Atom-Thick Sheets

HOUSTON (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve joined a conductor and insulator into a single atoms-thick layer that may advance the ability to shrink electronic devices.

Scientists at Rice University in Houston say the material — graphene as a conductor and hexagonal boron nitride as an insulator — have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions.

Researchers say the technique suggests the possibility of building 2-D, atomic-layer circuits that could offer manufacturers the possibility of condensing electronic devices into even smaller packages.

While the Rice researchers have created sheets with features to a resolution of about 100 nanometers, they say the only real limits are those defined by modern lithographic printing techniques. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)

“It should be possible to make fully functional devices with circuits 30, even 20 nanometers wide, all in two dimensions,” Rice researcher Jun Lou said in a university release Sunday.

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 1-29-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • President Barack Obama is expected to lay out his ideas for immigration reform in a speech in Las Vegas today. The plan will likely include a fast-track path to citizenship for immigrants already in the Nation.
  • A Philadelphia theater company says that it’s time to bring “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” back to the stage, but with a twist. This time, the slaves will be white and their masters black.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Life Comes Last

If half a million people march for life on Washington, D.C., and the media pretend not to hear them, did they still make a statement in defense of the unborn? Ask the corporate media flacks and their Democratic overlords, and I’m quite sure they’d respond: “Did you hear about the college football player and his fake girlfriend?”

A half million citizens did shake down the thunder in our Nation’s Capitol this past weekend; and the media did ignore their roar, opting instead for incisive coverage of a linebacker’s love life. In fact, the March for Life — which managed to draw a crowd more than five times the size of a sold-out Notre Dame home game without any of the criminal hijinks or mountains of litter of a liberal get-together — fell behind not only Manti Te’o’s heartbreak on the information superhighway but also behind a comparatively meager get-together of anti-2nd Amendment activists.

Now, pointing out that the corporate media list badly to port is as groundbreaking an observation as noting Bill Clinton likes chunky gals. But there’s a difference between allowing your biases to bend your coverage and letting them delete it entirely. Liberals will stop traffic to preserve access, especially taxpayer-subsidized access, to abortion; ask anyone who has ever witnessed those creepy vagina costumes.

Half a million Americans stood together and stood up to be heard on behalf of the voiceless. Their collective shout dwarfed even the racket made by U.S. Department of Justice lawyers booing Representative Paul Ryan on Inauguration Day. Their force of will radiated more powerfully than a diva lip-syncing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Yet the people charged with informing Americans of important goings-on paid more attention to a few dozen people wailing plaintively against something called “assault weapons” and something else they refer to as “gun violence.” Moreover, they updated us on Te’o’s sad tale — again. I’m sure they aren’t keeping that sideshow on life support just to keep from noticing the crowd as large as a medium-sized city down the street, demanding protection for the innocent.

To be fair, some corporate media types did take note of the March for Life. One of the bit players for the Democrat Channel (MSNBC) managed to work in some material about the march. A fellow who calls himself “Touré’” (like Prince, except that Touré is “The Artist Formerly Known As No One Special”), in discussing the march, crowed: “I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation, abortion was there to save me.” I suspect God doesn’t want the credit for that, buddy. Indeed, I suspect God doesn’t want credit for you, either. You could have tried stepping up as a man and taking responsibility for your behavior. For that matter, you could have avoided the whole mess by behaving responsibly from the moment you realized she was unconscious. (I’m guessing at that last part.) Call it a hunch. No matter; at least Touré’s pro-abortion parable stems from his own lack of compunction.

I prefer that to the usual liberal efforts to present the extermination of the most innocent among us as a minor elective procedure. Senator Barbara Boxer (Butcher-Calif.) calls abortion a “health decision.” The circumstances in which pregnancy presents an actual threat to the mother’s life are exceedingly rare. The rest of the time, the “women’s health issue” is just a matter of convenience. Democrats like to frighten their masses with claims of some conservative “war on women.” Of course, anyone fighting to protect defenseless babies must be consumed with misogyny. And pro-life women are beyond the pale; just ask Sarah Palin.

There were other Democrats paying attention to the March for Life. The Twitterverse ran hot with their rage:

 

 

 

I’ll bet other pro-abortionists would excuse their threats as support for really, really late-term abortion.

In recent days, the scientific world has been riveted by the likelihood that life may have — and may yet — exist on Mars. Though that life is probably merely microbial in nature, astronomers are as excited by the possibility as Touré is by a “drunken lingerie lock-in” at a sorority house. Yet the media have focused far more attention on Martian bacteria than human children — and on Te’o’s fake girlfriend, of course.

–Ben Crystal

People Who Never Married May Die Earlier

DURHAM, N.C. (UPI) — Not having a permanent partner or spouse during midlife is linked to a higher risk of premature death during that part of one’s life, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues at Duke University Medical Center analyzed data for 4,802 people who took part in the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study — an ongoing study of individuals born in the 1940s.

The study authors were particularly interested in stability and change in patterns of marital and non-marital status during midlife, controlling for personality at college entry, socioeconomic status and health risk behaviors.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found having a partner during middle age was protective against premature death. Those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life.

Being single or losing a partner without replacement increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly.

Even when personality and risky behaviors were taken into account, marital status has a major impact on survival.

“Social ties during midlife are important to help us understand premature mortality,” the study authors wrote in the study.

You Can’t Protect Your Private Property From The Surveillance State

If you’re looking for police officers who believe their job is to protect and serve, don’t look to Naperville, Ill. There, officers support and help to enforce 4th Amendment violations.

The city, like many across America, is installing “smart” electric meters on homes. “Smart” meters are government surveillance devices designed to accumulate data that includes day-to-day activity in such detail that the “enforcers” are actually using power usage records to obtain search warrants on homeowners.

Naperville homeowner Jennifer Stahl has long opposed the installation of a “smart” meter on her home. She was one of the last holdouts. But a locked gate, fenced yard and standing between power workers and her home did not prevent the totalitarian badge-wearing enforcement class from pushing her aside and installing the meter anyway. After cutting the lock off the gate, police arrested her and charged her with interfering with police officer and preventing access to customer premises. Her interference consisted entirely of standing in her own yard.

Stahl’s friend and partner-in-crime, Malia “Kim” Bendis, who videotaped the whole encounter from a distance, was charged with attempted eavesdropping and resisting a peace officer. This arrest came on the heels of a Federal court’s ruling in an Illinois case that taking video of police officers performing their duties in public was not a crime.

But if Naperville police dismiss the 4th Amendment so easily out of hand, it’s no surprise that a Federal court’s ruling means nothing to them.

By the way, those “smart” meters are open invitations for thieves both out of and in government to steal all sorts of personal information. They transmit data on unencrypted frequencies. They are surveillance devices when installed on the home:

1. They individually identify electrical devices inside the home and record when they are operated causing invasion of privacy.

2. They monitor household activity and occupancy in violation of rights and domestic security.

3. They transmit wireless signals which may be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. Those signals can be used to monitor behavior and occupancy and they can be used by criminals to aid criminal activity against the occupants.

4. Data about occupant’s daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which are accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data.

5. Those with access to the smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants.

6. Those databases may be shared with, or fall into the hands of criminals, blackmailers, law enforcement, private hackers of wireless transmissions, power company employees, and other unidentified parties who may act against the interests of the occupants under metered surveillance.

7. “Smart Meters” are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private and personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those people who are monitored.

8. It is possible for example, with analysis of certain “Smart Meter” data, for unauthorized and distant parties to determine medical conditions, sexual activities, physical locations of persons within the home, vacancy patterns and personal information and habits of the occupants.

The message from Naperville is, “Resistance is futile.”

Obama, Imperialist By Fiat

Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote “The Imperial Presidency” in 1973 to call to attention President Richard Nixon’s vast abuses of executive authority to circumvent Constitutional limitations of the office. Democrats have since described a number of Republican Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as being imperial Presidents. But as Barack Obama continues to push the limits of Presidential power, those who have traditionally rallied against the onset of Presidential imperialism are noticeably silent.

In an updated edition of his treatise against Presidential imperialism, Schlesinger writes:

The Imperial Presidency reached a twentieth-century climax with Nixon. The post-Watergate reaction cut back on some presidential excesses. None of Nixon’s successors, for example, used emergency powers against political opponents. The presidency of Jimmy Carter even led to concerns about the impotency of the office. “We have not an imperial presidency,” former president Gerald Ford said in 1980, “but an imperiled presidency.” But such lamentations were soon refuted when Ronald Reagan showed that a president with only a misty understanding of issues could still dominate the government and lead the country.

In a 2004 re-issue of “The Imperial Presidency”, Schlesinger added more recent abuses of Presidential power, including the vast expansion of power laid out in the Patriot Act and Bush’s unConstitutional wars.  Schlesinger died in 2007 before the onset of the Obama Administration. But even though Schlesinger was a lifelong Democrat, most historians would probably argue that the Obama Presidency fits into his definition of the imperial President.

Last Friday a U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruled unConstitutional the power grab Obama made just over a year ago when he made three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and appointed a director to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau—all of which required “advice and consent” of the Senate per the Constitution—unilaterally. Obama justified the appointments by using the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which allows the President to “fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” But when Obama made those appointments, the Senate was in session.

“Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointment power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers,” Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote in the 46-page ruling.

The case will likely go to the Supreme Court.

Another example of President Obama’s imperialist tendencies occurred last year when he consulted the United Nations, and not Congress, in deciding to engage in what boiled down to a preemptive war in Libya.

The current President’s foreign and domestic policy procedures for combating terrorist threats (i.e. NDAA, remnants of the Patriot Act, drone strikes in countries where the U.S. isn’t at war and the killing of American citizens) fall almost in lockstep with the policies that earned Bush the title “Imperialist President.”

The President has vowed to push an ambitious second-term agenda—complete with draconian new gun control policies— with “a judicious use of executive power” if Congress fails to comply with his wishes.

“[W]hat I do see is that there are certain issues where a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate-enough import that we can’t afford not to do it,” Obama said in a recent interview.

And the President’s willingness to act unilaterally is evidenced by his use of signing statements and executive actions— like his 2012 order that barred the deportation of young illegal immigrants to the country. More recently, the President deemed the mass shooting incidents that have sparked the Nation’s current debate over gun control as being “of immediate-enough import” to issue 23 separate Presidential directives related to gun ownership.

It remains to be seen just how imperial the Presidency could become under an Obama unworried about the challenges of reelection. Many conservatives fear that every Federal agency is rife for abuse via executive fiat in the coming years, especially if Congress remains as ineffective as it was during Obama’s first term.