Insect Found To Use Milky Way As Guide

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (UPI) — An African insect with a tiny brain and minimal computing power is the first animal proven to use the Milky Way to orient itself on the Earth, researchers say.

African dung beetles have eyes too weak to distinguish individual constellations but can use the gradient of light to dark provided by the Milky Way to ensure they keep rolling their dung balls in a straight line and avoid circling back to competitors at the dung pile, Swedish and South African scientists report in the journal Current Biology.

While birds and humans navigate by the stars, the discovery is the first convincing evidence for such abilities in insects, the researchers say.

“Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,” Marie Dacke of Lund University in Sweden said. “This led us to suspect that the beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation — a feat that had, to our knowledge, never before been demonstrated in an insect.”

The beetles can transport their dung balls along straight paths under a starlit sky but lose the ability under overcast conditions, the researchers said.

On starry nights the beetles climb on top of their dung balls to perform a “dance” during which they locate light sources to use for orientation, they said.

“The dung beetles don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile,” Marcus Byrne of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa said.

Ancient Chinese Arrowhead Found In Japan

OSAKA, Japan (UPI) — Archaeologists say an ancient Chinese arrowhead unearthed in Okayama City in Western Japan is the first of its kind discovered in the country.

The bronze arrowhead has been dated to the Warring States period of ancient Chinese history, 475 B.C. to 221 B.C., China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

Researchers said the Chinese artifact, a “double-winged bronze arrowhead,” was unearthed at the Minamigata ruins located in the city center of Okayama.

The arrowhead, 1.4 inches long by a half inch wide, was found together with pottery fragments and pieces of stoneware dated to Japan’s Iron Age Middle Yayoi period, about 300 B.C. to 100 B.C.

The double-winged shape of the arrowhead represents a distinctive manufacturing style from the era of ancient China, suggesting it  was imported by an influential group with care from the continent to western Japan, archaeologists said.

“Considering that there is a considerable time gap between its original production in China and the actual usage in Japan, the thin bronze arrowhead must have been used as a ritual item or burial good rather than a weapon,” Minoru Norioka, director of Okayama City’s properties division, said.

NASA To Join In ‘Dark Universe’ Hunt

GREENBELT, Md. (UPI) — NASA says it is joining a European Space Agency mission designed to investigate the cosmological mysteries of dark matter and dark energy.

A space telescope named Euclid will launch in 2020 and spend six years mapping as many as 2 billion galaxies spread over more than one-third of the sky.

Its mission is to gather clues about the dark matter and dark energy that influence the evolution of the universe in ways that still are poorly understood, the space agency reported Thursday.

“NASA is very proud to contribute to ESA’s mission to understand one of the greatest science mysteries of our time,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington.

NASA will contribute 16 state-of-the-art infrared detectors and four spare detectors for one of two science instruments planned for Euclid, he said.

Dark matter first was postulated in 1932, but still has not been detected directly. Called dark matter because it does not interact with light, its existence can only be inferred though its interaction with ordinary matter through gravity.

While dark matter pulls matter together, dark energy — about which even less in known or understood — is pushing the universe apart at ever-increasing speeds.

It is hoped Euclid will yield the best measurements yet of changes in the acceleration of the universe, providing new clues about the evolution and fate of the cosmos, NASA said.

Mars Rover Snaps First Nighttime Photo

PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — NASA says its Mars Curiosity rover has taken its first nighttime photos of the Red Planet’s surface, using both white and ultraviolet lights of its instruments.

Scientists used the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager instrument for a close-up nighttime look at a rock target called “Sayunei,” in an area where Curiosity’s front left wheel had scuffed the rock to provide fresh, dust-free materials to examine, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Thursday.

The Curiosity science team said the photos were taken in the area where they expect to instruct the rover to drill into a rock in coming weeks.

The lens imager, or MAHLI, is an adjustable-focus color camera, and carries its own LED illumination sources in both white light and ultraviolet light wavelengths.

“The purpose of acquiring observations under ultraviolet illumination was to look for fluorescent minerals,” said MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. “These data just arrived this morning (Thursday).

“The science team is still assessing the observations. If something looked green, yellow, orange or red under the ultraviolet illumination, that’d be a more clear-cut indicator of fluorescence.”

False Beliefs Resist Online Correction

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UPI) — A person will often retain a false belief even if a correction to false information is instantly provided online, researchers at Ohio State University report.

Instant corrections to obviously false information seen on the Internet may not be effective at dispelling inaccurate beliefs, particularly among people who already want to believe the falsehood, the researchers said.

“Real-time corrections do have some positive effect, but it is mostly with people who were predisposed to reject the false claim anyway,” lead author R. Kelly Garrett, a professor of communication, said.

“The problem with trying to correct false information is that some people want to believe it, and simply telling them it is false won’t convince them.”

As an example Garret cited the rumor that President Obama was not born in the United States, circulated on the Internet and widely believed during the past election season even though it was quickly and thoroughly debunked.

There are efforts underway to create systems that would alert users when they opened a webpage with a disputed claim, he said.

“Although the average news user hasn’t encountered real-time correction software yet, it is in the works and I suspect it will see more widespread use soon,” he said.

The results of this study cast doubt on the theory that people who believe false rumors need only to be educated about the truth to change their minds, Garret said.

“Humans aren’t vessels into which you can just pour accurate information,” he said. “Correcting misperceptions is really a persuasion task. You have to convince people that, while there are competing claims, one claim is clearly more accurate.”

Chicken Council Says Super Bowl Covered

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The National Chicken Council in Washington said rumors of a chicken wing shortage ahead of the Super Bowl are unfounded.

Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst for the National Chicken Council, said this week in the 2013 “Wing Report” that Super Bowl watchers shouldn’t have too much trouble finding chicken wings to enjoy along with the Feb. 3 showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, Tribune Newspapers reported Friday.

“The good news for consumers is that restaurants plan well in advance to ensure they have plenty of wings for the big game,” Roenigk wrote.

However, Roenigk cautioned wing-lovers not to wait until the last minute.

“If you’re planning to cook your own wings, I wouldn’t advise being in line at the supermarket two hours before kickoff,” he wrote.

The report said U.S. consumers are expected to eat 1.23 billion chicken wing “portions” during Super Bowl weekend.

“To put that in perspective,” the report said, “if 1.23 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore … 27 times.”

Ohio Man Banned From Having Children

ELYRIA, Ohio, (UPI) —  An Ohio judge ordered an admitted deadbeat dad not to have any more children until he proves he can support the four he already has.

Asim Taylor, 35, of Elyria was ordered not to procreate during the 5-year probation he was given by Lorain County Judge James Walther after pleading guilty to nearly $79,000 in unpaid child support going back to 2009.

The Elyria Morning Journal said Walther wrote his order is in the “interests of doing justice, rehabilitating the offender.”

Walther’s order can be lifted if Taylor proves he has the wherewithal to support another child in addition to his current brood of four. But Taylor’s lawyer said the sentence was overboard because it dings him for being poor and, in effect, bans him from having sex for five years.

Subway Suit: ‘Footlongs’ Not Long Enough

MARLBORO, N.J., (UPI) —  A New Jersey man is suing the Subway sandwich chain after he discovered the restaurant’s “Footlong” subs often fall short of 12 inches.

Jason Leslie, 32, of Marlboro, said he discovered from a New York Post article last week that the chain’s “Footlongs” often fall an inch to an inch and a half short of a full foot — and he discovered four days later his meatball sub was less than the advertised 12 inches, the New York Post reported Thursday.

“They advertise in all these commercials, ‘Footlong, Footlong, Footlong,’ and now I feel like an idiot,” said Leslie, who estimated he has purchased about 50 Sunway sandwiches a year since he was 18. “I can’t believe I fell for that trick.

“The sandwiches are anywhere between a half-inch to an inch shorter .. I feel cheated,” he said.

Leslie’s federal class-action suit, filed Wednesday in Trenton, comes after a state suit was filed Tuesday in Burlington County, N.J., which also accuses Subway of deceptive marketing.

Attorney Stephen DeNittis, who said he is filing a similar lawsuit Thursday in Philadelphia on behalf of Charles Pendrak and John Farley, said he wants Subway either to ensure its sandwiches measure up or “put up a disclaimer.”

Subway said in a statement its “commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches.”

“We have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve.”

Woman Busted On 1991 Warrant After Cruise

ORLANDO, Fla., (UPI) —  A Connecticut woman arrested on a 1991 warrant after getting off a cruise ship in Florida was released after paying her decades-old fine.

Robin Hall, 41, paid her $85 fine Tuesday for a 1991 theft conviction in Orange County, Fla., after she was arrested Jan. 17 upon debarking a cruise ship in Port Canaveral, Fla., Florida Today reported Thursday.

Police said they discovered Hall had a warrant for her arrest when they checked the passenger list of the Disney Dream for known terrorists, WESH-TV, Orlando, Fla., reported Thursday.

Hall was taken to the Brevard County jail and later transferred to the Orange County jail, where she was able to pay her fine and secure her release.

Hall said the unpaid fine stemmed from a theft conviction when she was 18-years-old.

“Back in 1991, I shoplifted cigarettes from Walmart,” Hall said.

‘Princess Bride’ Shirt Worries Flight Crew

SYDNEY, (UPI) —  A man who boarded an Australian flight to New Zealand wearing a T-shirt bearing a famous line from “The Princess Bride” said he was asked to change.

Wynand Mullins, a New Zealand native living in Sydney, said he boarded a Qantas flight to Auckland Sunday evening wearing a T-shirt bearing a line from the 1987 film, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” Stuff.co.nz reported Thursday.

Mullins said he thought the reaction from the flight crew was “a bit over the top.”

“The flight attendant said to me: ‘Are you able to remove it because some of the passengers are quite intimidated by it’. I thought it was all a bit silly. The person next to me was laughing, because they knew the movie,” Mullins said.

He said the flight attendant said she would attempt to find him another shirt, but never brought him one. Mullins said the flight attendant did not make eye contact with him for the rest of the flight.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they had someone watching me the whole time,” he said. “The whole experience was a bit over the top, but also a bit comical.”

A Qantas spokesman said the company had no record of the incident, so it must have been handled by the flight crew.

“Qantas does have dress standards for passengers travelling on our aircraft … particularly for slogans which other passengers may find offensive or threatening,” the spokesman said.

Afghan Attacks Harm Civilians, Troops

KABUL, Afghanistan, (UPI) —  Friday was a bloody day in Afghanistan as two separate attacks left many dead and wounded among both civilians and coalition forces, officials said.

A suicide car bomb intended for a NATO convoy in Kapisa province killed five civilians and injured at least 15, Khaama Press reported.

The bomber detonated the explosives in front of a home in a residential area of Jalo Khel in the Tagab district, said deputy provincial governor Aziz-ur-Rahman Tawab.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior said the five dead included four members of one family, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a text message to journalists, the Taliban took responsibility for the blast, claiming 12 American soldiers were killed or injured and two tanks destroyed.

NATO said there were no reports of casualties among the forces in the convoy.

Three Georgian soldiers were injured in a separate attack, Khaama Press reported.

Georgian defense officials said militants opened fire while the troops were on patrol.

Two of the men were in stable condition with minor injuries, the officials said. A third soldier was seriously wounded by an anti-personnel mine.

The exact location of the incident was not disclosed.

Obama Names McDonough Chief Of Staff

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  U.S. President Barack Obama Friday said longtime adviser Denis McDonough will succeed Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew as White House chief of staff.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Obama said McDonough — who currently serves as deputy national security adviser — is “a man of deep faith, and he understands that in the end, our policies and our programs are measured in the concrete differences that they make in the lives of our fellow human beings and in the values that we advance as Americans.”

The president said he has been “counting on Denis for nearly a decade — since I first came to Washington, when he helped set up my Senate office.”

Obama got a laugh when he said McDonough was among the Capitol Hill veterans who were “able to show me where the restrooms were and — how you passed a bill.”

“He has been an indispensable member of my national security team as well,” the president said. “Denis has played a key role in every major national security decision of my presidency — from ending the war in Iraq to winding down the war in Afghanistan; from our response to natural disasters around the world like Haiti and the tsunami in Japan to the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ to countless crises in between, day and night — and that includes many nights.”

Obama said McDonough “understands the importance of reaching across the aisle to deliver results for the American people — whether it’s on jobs and the economy, healthcare or education, reducing the deficit or addressing climate change.”

Israel May Rank High On Kerry’s Agenda

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  One of John Kerry’s first trips, should he be approved as secretary of state, will be to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israeli officials say.

If the plan is confirmed, it would indicate President Obama’s desire to relaunch peace talks in the region that have been on hold since 2010, Haaretz newspaper reported Thursday.

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton largely focused her diplomatic attentions on the Far East, rather than the Middle East, after she was sworn in four years ago, The Hill said.

Kerry, a five-term senator, addressed the need to spark resumption of the talks during his confirmation hearing Thursday.

“We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs.

Should efforts fail, “the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody,” he said.

He added both he and Obama prefer a diplomatic resolution to the “challenge” of Iran, but that “no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.”

Addressing the conflict in Syria, Kerry said President Bashar Assad’s involvement in the killing of his own people is “reprehensible” and said the Syrian leader has “not long for remaining as the head of state in Syria.”

Kerry had pushed for the United States to re-establish relations with the Syrian president before the start of the civil war, al-Jazeera reported Friday.

U.S. Prepared To Deal With N. Korea

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  As North Korea rants over new U.N. sanctions, the United States says it is ready to deal with any provocation from the isolated Communist country.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters North Korea has a clear choice between its current course of provocation and negotiating responsibly with other nations, along with providing for its people.

He was responding to the North saying it would target its “sworn enemy” the United States with rocket launches and a “higher-level” nuclear test because of the latest U.N. Security Council’s resolution condemning its Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch and expanding existing sanctions against it.

White House press secretary Jay Carney had earlier said the North’s comments were “needlessly provocative.”

Panetta in his comments said the U.S. “is fully prepared, we remain prepared, to deal with any kind of provocation from the North Koreans,” while adding that he hoped North Korea would “determine that it is better to make the choice to become part of the international family,” the Defense Department said on its web site.

Panetta said while he follows intelligence on North Korea closely, it is difficult to predict whether a North Korean launch or test is imminent, based on what he’s seen.

“We’ve seen no outward indications, but that doesn’t tell you much,” he said. “They have the capability, frankly, to conduct these tests in a way that [makes] it very difficult to determine whether or not they’re doing it.”

The United States also issued sanctions against more North Korean bank officials and businesses dealing with the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Daniel Pinkston, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group covering Northeast Asia, told CNN the North’s reaction to the U.N. resolution was an expected outcome. “I think they are completely outraged and insulted by it,” he said.

Commenting on the threats against the United States, Pinkston told CNN: “I don’t believe they have the capability, the intention or the will to invade or destroy the United States. They wish to deter interference from the U.S. or any outside powers.”

Other analysts told CNN the North needs to do lot more work to master the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile or accurately target it.

The North has conducted two nuclear tests in the past in 2006 and 2009 and some South Korean officials have said a third one might be in the cards.

Ruling Limits Liability Of Aurora Theater

DENVER, (UPI) —  A federal magistrate has recommended limiting the grounds on which victims of the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre can sue the theater’s owner.

In an opinion released Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty said lawsuits against Cinemark USA are limited by the Colorado Premises Liability Act, The Denver Post reported. He said that would bar claims for wrongful death and negligence.

Twelve people were killed and many others wounded at the Century Aurora 16 on July 20 during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Hegarty’s ruling involves seven lawsuits. At least three more have been filed.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson, who is overseeing the litigation, can overrule the magistrate.

James Holmes, a former University of Colorado graduate student, was arrested outside the theater. He is awaiting trial.

TGIF Morning News Roundup 1-25-2013

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.

 

 

 

 

  • Republican National Convention Chair Reince Priebus says that big changes are coming to the GOP in the next few years. If you’re hoping for a rebirth that involves less spending, smaller government and more libertarian values, don’t hold your breath.

 

  • Inflation alert: Charles Shaw Wine, famous for relative drinkability and cheapness and nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck” wine, has increased in price in California for the first time in 11 years. The price per bottle has gone from $1.99 to $2.49.

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

The Gun Fight Will Be Local

Senator Dianne Feinstein (Communist-Calif.) introduced her draconian and unConstitutional bill to ban weapons with scary-looking features and high-capacity magazines and create a national registry system yesterday. It was classic sleight of hand.

The bill was introduced with sound and fury by a person who has stated it’s her goal to confiscate every firearm in America. It was done in violation of Washington, D.C.’s existing gun laws. Of course, laws don’t apply to the 1 percent (just ask David Gregory). They get special exemptions and specially exempted body guards to watch over them. Over the course of the coming days, the gun grabbers will hail her as a heroine.

The CINO (conservative in name only) Republicans in Congress will wail and gnash their teeth. Threatened by Tea Party challenges from the right and the National Rifle Association, most will not cave.

Senators are already indicating that passing a gun ban will be a tough sell. And Congressional Republicans — who have already alienated conservative Americans by agreeing to an unConstititutional fiscal cliff deal that raised taxes on 77 percent of the population — would be committing suicide by passing more gun laws.

That’s not to say you can ignore Congress. Lawmakers will do all they can to walk the tightrope between what their masters want (disarmament of Americans) and what the voting population and the NRA will endure.

The real gun grab is coming by stealth. President Barack Obama’s (Fascist-Who knows where?) bank, Bank of America has frozen the accounts of two gun manufacturers. Another gun manufacturer has had his liability insurance, held by GEICO, cancelled because his vehicle “does not meet our underwriting guidelines because it is used in conjunction with a company that deals in the weapons industry.” GEICO, of course, is owned by Obama’s BFF, Warren Buffett.

On the State level, gun rights are being snatched overtly and covertly. New York just rammed through a comprehensive gun ban that will allow weapons to be confiscated once the original owner dies. It will also institute a database of gun owners and require re-registration every five years.

In Missouri, the Senate is considering a bill that would require a parent or guardian of a Missouri school student to notify the school board in writing that he or she owns a firearm. Parents of children who commit crimes with guns would be prosecuted as felons.

Though ordered by a recent Federal appeals court to create a law that would allow for concealed carry in Illinois, gun grabbers there are rather seeking ways to circumvent the ruling and keep guns in the hands of criminals but away from law-abiding citizens.

States like Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota and South Carolina have bills pending before their legislatures that would block enforcement of unConstitutional Federal firearms laws. Other States like Pennsylvania, Alabama and perhaps a dozen more, have pro-gun rights bills set for their next sessions.

Dozens of local sheriffs have declared that they will defend the Constitution and resist unConstitional gun laws. The real gun fight will go on at the State and local levels.

Meanwhile, the gun grabbers and Obama through his executive orders are Balkanizing America. It seems that disarmament and division are their main goals, and they’re using children as human shields. And don’t forget, they’ve accumulated billions of rounds of ammunition to deal with those who won’t peaceably comply.

Bill Proposes Prescriptions For Cigarettes

SALEM, Ore. (UPI) — An Oregon lawmaker has proposed making it illegal to possess or distribute cigarettes without a doctor’s prescription.

The bill, sponsored by State Representative Mitch Greenlick of Portland, classifies cigarettes as a Schedule III controlled substance, such as ketamine, lysergic acid and anabolic steroids, KPTV Portland reported Wednesday.

“The state Board of Pharmacy may adopt rules placing requirements and limitations on the sale or transfer of products containing nicotine,” the bill states.

Offenders of the bill would face maximum punishments of one year in prison, a $6,250 fine or both.

“I think it’s pretty crazy,” said Juan Silva of Salem. “I don’t see it going through. It’s going to be something to watch for, but I don’t think it’ll pass.”

Jamie Foxx, Gun Hypocrite

Jamie Foxx is one of a bevy of Hollywood celebrities who appear in a new video urging Washington to come up with a plan to end gun violence. Chris Rock, Amy Poehler, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Will Ferrell join Foxx in pleading: “For the children of Sandy Hook, we demand a plan.”

But of course, like liberals everywhere, they’re talking about more controls over you and me — not what they do in their own lives. Or even more significantly, the on-screen violence that pays many of them so well. A majority of the films that received a Best Picture nomination this year are replete with bloodshed. Take gun violence out of “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Django Unchained,” “Argo” and “Lincoln” and there wouldn’t be much a movie left. Hey, murder and mayhem sell.

The ultra-violent flick “Django Unchained” has already raked in more than $129 million at the box office. Foxx plays a revenge-seeking ex-slave.

While hosting “Saturday Night Live” last month, Foxx bragged about all the bloodshed in the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie.

“I kill all the white people in the movie,” he boasted. “How great is that?”

That’s actually a bit of an exaggeration. Django doesn’t kill all the white people — just a whole bunch of them.

And, of course, all of the violence in “Django Unchained” and others like it is portrayed with as much realism as possible, which these days means very realistically indeed.

But movies are just one source of the mindless violence that permeates our society these days. Cable television has always been known for pushing the borders of sex and violence. Now, broadcast TV is following suit. “The Following,” a new series on Fox Television, literally wallows in blood as star Kevin Bacon tries to stop a serial killer and his cult of followers.

I’ve seen estimates that by the time the average teenage male reaches high school, he has witnessed more than 10,000 killings on TV and in the movies. If he’s a fan of ultra-violent video games — as was the case for Adam Lanza, the deranged shooter in Newtown, Conn. — that number is no doubt considerably higher.

Michael Medved pointed out in his syndicated column: “The fact that violent entertainment doesn’t influence everybody doesn’t mean that it fails to influence anybody. The habits of prolific mass murderers — including the insane shooters at Columbine,Aurora and, apparently, Newtown — reveal a taste for brutal diversion.”

Yet don’t anyone dare suggest there could be some sort of relationship with a fascination for on-screen violence and the fantasies of a mentally unstable young man. The Entertainment Merchants Association, which represents video game makers and other parts of the home entertainment industry, sent an open letter to Vice President Joe Biden warning him against even investigating any possible relationship between movies, video games and real-life violence.

And former Senator Chris Dodd, who is now the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, has been quoted as saying: “What we don’t want to get involved with is content regulation. We’re vehemently opposed to that.”

Of course they are. And, as a matter of fact, so am I. The only thing worse than the present situation would be to give some committee in Washington the power to dictate what we are allowed to see. I’d hate to see what would happen to Personal Liberty Digest™ if that were ever allowed to occur.

It should come as no surprise that there is nothing in President Barack Obama’s latest gun control proposals that will do anything to change the culture of violence that pervades Hollywood today.

Interestingly enough, even with all of the publicity and the emotional outpouring that followed the terrible tragedy in Newtown, most Americans do not believe that more gun control is the answer. In a new Gallup survey, when asked to identify “the most important problem” facing the country, responders rated “gun control” No. 6.

What were the five issues that were of much more concern to a majority of Americans? You won’t be surprised to learn that the economy was in first place, followed by the Federal budget deficit, dissatisfaction with government, unemployment and lack of money.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found similar results. “Enacting stricter gun-control laws” ranked fourth on a list of priorities that the public wants Washington to address. No surprise what was No. 1: It was the economy again. “Reducing federal spending” came in second. No. 3 was “restructuring the federal tax system.”

But none of this matters to the zealots in the White House and their liberal allies. Remember what Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, said three years ago: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. … the opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

That is precisely why we are seeing such an aggressive push on gun control today by the Obama Administration and their friends. Remember: When promoters talk about additional gun control measures, what they’re really talking about are more measures to control you and other law-abiding Americans. Virtually none of the 23 executive orders promulgated by Obama will have any effect on deranged people who obtain weapons and then attack innocents in schools, theaters and other “gun-free” places.

That said, I’m not too worried about horribly restrictive new gun control measures being passed by Congress. In fact, it won’t surprise me if one of our best allies on this issue turns out to be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Here’s why:

There are 34 seats in the U.S. Senate that will be decided in 2014. Of those, 14 are held by Republicans, 20 by Democrats. But get this: Many of the latter seats are in bright red States. In fact, Obama lost seven of those 20 States in November’s election.

That’s why Ted Cruz, the newly elected Senator from Texas, made this interesting observation: “There have got to be some Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 who are very, very nervous right now that President Obama is picking this fight. The citizens of their states are not interested in the federal government banning gun ownership for law-abiding citizens.”

Yes, I’m sure we’ll see a slew of new gun-control legislation being submitted in the new Congress. Most of it will have three things in common:

  • One, it will be ineffective.
  • Two, it will be unConstitutional.
  • And three, I’m happy to say, it won’t get approved.

Yes, this is one battle we can win — despite all of the hype, hoopla and emotional rhetoric the left will use against us. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should relax one iota. Eternal vigilance is still the price of liberty.

So until next time, keep some powder dry… and your Congressmen on notice.

–Chip Wood

Eye Disease May Be Linked To Aspirin Use

SYDNEY (UPI) — Regular aspirin use may be linked with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, Australian researchers say.

Gerald Liew of the University of Sydney and colleagues said the study involved 2,389 participants of which 10.8 percent were regular aspirin users — defined as once or more per week in the past year.

The study, published in the online first journal Internal Medicine, found that after a 15-year follow-up, 24.5 percent developed incident AMD.

“The cumulative incidence of neovascular AMD — existing late AMD in the fellow eye — among non-regular aspirin users was 0.8 percent at five years, 1.6 percent at 10 years, and 3.7 percent at 15 years; among regular aspirin users, the cumulative incidence was 1.9 percent at five years, 7 percent at 10 years and 9.3 percent at 15 years, respectively,” Liew and colleagues wrote in the study. “Regular aspirin use was significantly associated with an increased incidence of neovascular AMD.”

However, the study authors noted any decision concerning aspirin therapy is “complex and needs to be individualized.”

“Currently, there is insufficient evidence to recommend changing clinical practice, except perhaps in patients with strong risk factors for neovascular AMD in whom it may be appropriate to raise the potentially small risk of incident neovascular AMD with long-term aspirin therapy,” the study authors concluded.

“The findings are, at best, hypothesis-generating that should await validation in prospective randomized studies before guiding clinical practice or patient behavior.”

Score! Stocks Will Rise This Year

Stock bulls will like this Super Bowl. Are you familiar with Wall Street’s Super Bowl Predictor? It says that the stock market will go up in a year that an original National Football League team wins the Super Bowl, but will fall whenever a team from the former American Football League is victorious. Hey, don’t scoff; it’s been right more than 80 percent of the time. And since both contestants in this year’s Super Bowl were part of the original National Football League (the Baltimore Ravens trace their lineage back to the old Cleveland Browns), followers say the market will be up for the year. Time will tell if they’re right again.

Surprising opposition to the Hagel nomination. The Washington Post published an unusually harsh editorial opposing the nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to be our new Secretary of Defense. The Post wrote: “Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.” Meanwhile, some anticipated opposition to the nomination vanished when New York Senator Charles Schumer issued a warm endorsement of his former colleague after a private meeting between the two.

Wal-Mart steps up. In a speech at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. business, said the company will hire more than 100,000 honorably discharged veterans over the next five years. He said vets “are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.” Simon also announced that the company will purchase an additional $50 billion of American-made products over the next 10 years, in an effort to create more jobs here at home.

Conservative group sues to stop new gun controls. FreedomWatch, a conservative activist group, has filed suit in Federal court to block President Barack Obama’s new gun-control initiatives, including the 23 executive orders he issued on Jan. 16. The group claims that the White House task force that created the proposals conducted illegal meetings with lobbyists, without the public notice that is required by law. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a ruling in the group’s favor.

–Chip Wood

Gun Control Has Always Been A Part Of American History

Let’s allow momentarily for some advocacy of the devil in the gun debate and admit that, for better or for worse, gun control is deeply rooted in the history of the United States.

In our modern, sound bite society, the politicization of any given issue leads to a national discussion that includes neither historical reference nor reasonable debate. Evidence enough is the discourse that has emerged in the wake of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And given our human limitations, coupled with a political system in which leaders benefit, both financially and in reputation, by screaming at the top of their lungs either for or against something, there’s no reasonable expectation of any well-thought-out or balanced ideas surfacing.

The debate thus far has been a fallaciously toned one, which ignores a trove of interesting historical footnotes that could no doubt lead the populace to a Constitutionally and socially responsible consensus on the right to bear arms. So far, Americans have instead been prodded into one of the following collective conclusions:

  • Children at Sandy Hook died at the barrel of a gun. A child dying is tragic; therefore guns are bad.
  • Mass killings sometimes involve assault rifles; therefore, banning assault rifles would stop mass killings.
  • Per the Constitution, gun control is un-American; therefore, there should be absolutely no gun control.
  • Gun control has preceded tyranny at some points in history; therefore, any advocate of gun control is an enemy of freedom.

To take on the first point, it is helpful to reference the President’s gun-control address that followed his signing of 23 executive actions related to guns earlier this month. At one point, President Barack Obama called for more gun-related research as he stood in front of a group of schoolchildren placed as an agenda-driving prop and uttered these words: “We do not benefit from ignorance.”

That is, perhaps, one of the most useful things the current President has ever said. So let’s not allow ourselves to be ignorant of the fact that even though what occurred at Sandy Hook was a heart-wrenching and senseless loss of life at the peak of innocence, children have been spared harm on numerous occasions when would-be assailants were stopped by firearms.

Next, if we are to believe that banning classes of firearms based on aesthetics will in any way make Americans safer from the prospect becoming the victim of a mass murderer, we must then accept that there will never be another Charles Whitman, Timothy McVeigh, highway sniper or Monroe Phillips in our midst.

Moving on the Constitutional issue of gun control, most conservatives — and the National Rifle Association, for now — will argue that the 2nd Amendment expressly prohibits infringement on the right to bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

But, as many religious people also do with the Bible, conservatives and liberals are guilty of failing to take the words as a whole. Conservatives often put all the emphasis of the Amendment on the latter phrasing, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The same holds true for liberals reading the Amendment, salivating over, “A well regulated…”

Conservatives would do better to further the cause of protecting the 2nd Amendment from draconian anti-gun legislation by refuting the assertions of the NRA and anyone historically dishonest enough to believe that the Founders’ vision of firearm responsibility lent itself to a libertarian free-for-all. The Militia Act of 1792 — which by some examinations lends credence to the President’s healthcare mandate — required the purchase of firearms by able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 and the inspection of said firearms, and it led to door-to-door questioning about firearm ownership to create records of compliance.

From the Act:

I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.

The best possible gun legislation would solve two poignant modern American disagreements: How big does our military need to be, and who is allowed to own guns in America? British essayist Christopher Hitchens put it well in his 1994 essay “The Myth of Gun Control”:

In exchange for abolition of the military-industrial complex, who would not consider reporting for the occasional weekend – as in many democratic European nations – and acquiring the rudiments of weapons training, to be accompanied by a reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Utopian, you say. No more than the half-baked pacifism that, when preached by gun-controllers, has as its corollary a duopoly of force in the hands of the state and the criminal. Certainly no more utopian than the pathetic “guns for vouchers” swap meets that are now making police precincts a laughingstock as they concentrate on the disarmament of the law-abiding (and the opportunist).

While Congress mandated that any able-bodied man should be prepared to purchase a firearm and join a militia, there were certain segments of the population that were categorically denied the right to bear arms during this period. That group included slaves and free blacks as well as law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the new Nation.

While the idea of banning guns on a racial basis or in retaliation for failing to pledge allegiance to the State is unsavory, today’s gun laws also contain restrictions that are not so Constitutionally unfavorable. Gun bans on the basis of mental competency, criminality or routine chemically altered states of perception all seem reasonable to even the staunchest defenders of the right to bear arms.

A favorite accusation of gun grabbers, Piers Morgan in particular, is that 2nd Amendment advocates simply want to live in an “utter Wild West hell.” But Morgan fails to realize that the John Wayne and Clint Eastwood depiction of America’s frontier towns was not historically accurate. In fact, local gun laws that mandated that travelers turn over their six-shooters to the town lawman before entering populated town areas were popular at the time.

The Federal government didn’t get in to the business of banning classes of weapons until the 1930s when, emboldened by the government’s foolish prohibition of alcohol, gangsters like Al Capone became a force to be reckoned with when they took to the streets with fully automatic rifles that were a byproduct of World War I. Interestingly enough, the NRA fully backed legislation at the time to take automatic rifles off the streets.

Adam Winkler, author of  Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, recounts how NRA Director Karl Frederick appeared before Congress at the time and was asked whether the 2nd Amendment barred legislation that would restrict access to the weapons; he replied that he had “not given it any study from that point of view.”

His response reflects what the organization’s original intention had been. The NRA was started in 1871 by Union Civil War veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate. Dismayed at the bad shooting skills of the men with whom they had served, they wanted to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” The organization spent the early part of its existence focused on shooting safety, hunter education and law enforcement and military training.

Perhaps the most accurate of the above-mentioned arguments against heavy regulation of guns is that the lack of firearms for self-defense often leads to tyrannical infringement. This is noted both in the Founders’ remarks about the importance of the 2nd Amendment and in the Nation’s historical record. Ironically, Obama, the Nation’s first black President and the man who so affirmatively stated only days ago that we do not benefit from ignorance, is ignorant of the gun views of the civil rights leaders whom he claims to so admire.

Throughout the Nation’s history, the gun-control laws that have been the harshest are those that were levied against blacks, who, as any compassionate, serious and well-informed student of history would be remiss to deny, have endured tyrannical force at many times since the Nation’s founding.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, States all over the Nation grew increasingly fearful of the prospect of a black uprising that they felt could be carried out by slaves or freed blacks. Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831 kicked off a number of gun-control laws aimed at blacks in America’s States.

Virginia responded to the rebellion by prohibiting free blacks the right “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead…” Later, in 1834, the Tennessee Constitution was changed from “That the freemen of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence” to “That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.” The antebellum South was rife with racist calls for gun control.

These abuses did not stop following the Civil War with the onset of black freedom and, in fact, continued through the Jim Crow-era South right up until the civil rights era.

Martin Luther King Jr., upon whose Bible Obama swore to uphold the Constitution on Monday, reportedly kept an arsenal of firearms in his home to ease his mind about the near-constant death threats he received. The peace-promoting civil rights leader even applied for an Alabama concealed carry permit, but was denied due to racism on the part of the police that had the authority to issue the permit. The Alabama permit law under which he was denied had been an NRA-backed initiative.

King knew that if his life was in danger, he could not count on the police for protection. His willingness to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights was also shared by other notable civil rights activists. Among them, Malcom X, who famously posed on the cover of Life magazine with an M1-Carbine.

The Black Panther Party took Malcolm X’s firearm brandishing and made it a part of their persona. At a time when police harassment of blacks was epidemic throughout the Nation, members learned about gun safety when they weren’t studying Marxism.

The YouTube videos of people open carrying through neighborhoods today to assert their 2nd Amendment Rights are reminiscent of similar armed displays by the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. Panther leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale said that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.”

The Panthers took to patrolling urban neighborhoods while brandishing firearms to essentially “police the police,” who were infamous for abusing black Americans at the time.

Throughout all of this, the NRA has been on both sides of the gun debate and even supported a measure signed into law by then-Governor Ronald Reagan that set California on track to having some of the Nation’s strictest gun control laws. The 1967 Mulford Act effectively neutralized the Panther Police Patrols by prohibiting the carry of loaded guns in public.

At the NRA national convention in 1977, the group was overtaken by 2nd Amendment purists who shaped the organization more into the lobbying machine that it has become today. Oddly enough, the views the organization’s leaders now espouse are more Black Panther when it comes to gun control than target practice.

Gun control has always been a part of American history. And there is plenty of fairly obvious evidence for both sides of the debate to examine what has worked, what hasn’t and which gun control laws led to tyrannical force being used over segments of the population. If the emotional toll of dead children and the lucrativeness of NRA loudmouthing could be removed from the equation, the Founders’ true intentions could be fulfilled.

With hundreds of millions of guns in American homes, a gun-free future is not going to happen; if it is forced, a bloody and unwarranted fight is likely in the cards. But by taking a look at the gun laws we already have and understanding where they could improve, the debate can come to an end.

Instead of hacking for more membership money by saying what if feels will drive the most fear, the NRA should focus more than ever on its original mission of training Americans to be responsible and well-versed firearms owners.

In every State, before taking control of another potentially deadly machine a competency test is required. The process of driver licensing ensures that vehicle operators are physically and mentally capable of operating a motorized vehicle. Different classes of vehicles require different classes of licenses. Perhaps this is a good universal firearm requirement, both well-regulated and relatively un-infringed.

It’s unfortunate that options like these must be considered, but gone are the days when many young people are raised hunting and seeing the effects firsthand of what a firearm is capable of. Instead, watching the sometimes slow and painful death of an animal downed by a shot that was not placed just so has given way to young minds racking up mass computer-generated casualties onscreen, complete with bloody, cartoonish splatters and bodies that disappear rather than become cold and rot. The demographic of the most recent round of mass shooters makes this evident.

We don’t need new, misguided gun laws that harken back to the days of racial gun bans; we need an emphasis on responsibility and gun respect. And more than ever, we need leaders within the gun movement whose motives are pure.

Marijuana In Colorado Leads To Rethinking Of Laws

Since Colorado voters opted to legalize marijuana, State lawmakers have deemed it necessary to come up with a plan to navigate the murky legal waters of how to police driving while stoned.

The pressure is on for lawmakers to come up with stoned driving laws, as research published following the passage of the Colorado pot legalization initiative indicates that 13 percent of fatal crashes in the State involved pot.

While the law regarding driving under the influence of alcohol is pretty clear, officials say that proving a person is heavily under the influence of pot is a little tricky. Lawmakers say they will set blood limits for pot intoxication at 5 nanograms of THC — pot’s active ingredient — per milliliter of blood.

Critics of the measure say it will lead to drivers who police claim simply smell like pot being hauled in and given blood tests unnecessarily. Unlike alcohol, there is no breath test to test for pot, so suspects will have their blood drawn and tested.

As the State makes moves to cope with the newly legal substance, legislators and advocates in other States throughout the Nation are looking at the measures passed in Colorado and Washington to plan for legalization pushes in their States. Currently, recreational and medical marijuana-legalization options are being mulled over in New York, Illinois, New Hampshire, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Advocates expect a national push to reform marijuana laws to gain steam in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election, when young voters are expected to show up at the polls in larger numbers.