Higher Retail Salaries Boost Bottom Line

BOSTON (UPI) — A Harvard case study finds retailers QuikTrip, Trader Joe’s and Costco, which pay their workers well, have better bottom lines, a researcher says.

“Retailers start with this philosophy of seeing employees as a cost to be minimized,” Zeynep Ton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management told the National Journal. “That can lead businesses into a vicious cycle. Under investment in workers can result in operational problems in stores, which decrease sales and low sales often lead companies to slash labor costs even further. Many employers have turned full-time jobs into part-time positions with no benefits and unpredictable schedules.”

QuikTrip, a convenience-store and gas-station chain; Trader Joe’s, a grocery chain and Costco, a warehouse discount chain operate on a different model, Ton said.

“They see employees as assets to be maximized,” Tom said.

For example, the average U.S. cashier makes $20,230 a year, but at QuikTrip, entry-level employees make around $40,000, plus benefits, a year.

Yet, QuikTrip sales per labor hour are two-thirds higher than the average convenience-store chain and sales per square foot are more than 50 percent higher, Ton found.

During the recession, QuikTrip’s competition was laying off staff and shuttering stores, but QuikTrip expanded to its current 645 locations, Ton said.

Those hired at QuikTrip are trained for two weeks before they start work on every job from from ordering merchandise to cleaning the bathroom.

Although the approach seems like common sense — training and paying employees to help customers effectively — is more profitable than under valuing staff, Ton said.

Look no further than Borders or Circuit City, Ton said, both had sales plummet after staff cutbacks, and both ultimately went bankrupt.

Report: Cyprus, EU Deal Reached

BRUSSELS (UPI) — Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels have agreed to a deal to keep Cyprus in the eurozone and prevent the collapse of Cyprus’ banking system, officials said.

Cypriot leaders and eurozone bankers scrambled Sunday to come up with a bailout deal ahead of a Monday deadline for Cyprus to secure a $13 billion bailout. A deal reached last week collapsed when the Cypriot Parliament rejected a plan for a one-time tax on all bank deposits so the government could raise matching funds to secure the bailout.

Officials in Brussels agreed to a deal calling for a levy on bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros ($130,000), and some reports indicated the levy on deposits at Cyprus’ second-largest bank — Laiki Bank — could be as great as 40 percent, the BBC reported.

The deal may also call for Laiki to be divided into “good” and “bad” banks. Citing an EU official, the BBC said earlier Sunday a draft agreement called for Laiki Bank to be wound down.

It was unclear whether the Cypriot Parliament would agree to a tax on deposits of more than $130,000, the report said, but the BBC reported the provision on deposit taxes will, at the insistence of the IMF, not be subjected to a parliamentary vote.

Asian financial markets were up on news of the agreement.

The Nikkei average was up 1.38 percent to 12,508.71 in early trading and the HangSeng was up .97 percent to 22,330.16.

The Bank of Cyprus — the nation’s biggest lender — said Sunday it would further restrict depositors’ ability to take cash out of ATMs, limiting daily withdrawals to 120 euros ($155). Laiki Bank said it would limit daily ATM withdrawals to 100 euros ($130), the Cyprus News Agency reported.

Banks have been closed for a week and many retailers are refusing to accept payment in anything but cash, the BBC said.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades flew to Brussels for the meeting with Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and other financial officials, The New York Times said Sunday.

If no deal is made and no extension is offered, European funding essentially propping up Cyprus’ two main banks will stop and they will collapse, officials said.

“The situation is very difficult,” Anastasiades said in a statement.

It is estimated the banks need about 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion) to recapitalize.

Rally In Chicago Supports Saturday Mail

CHICAGO (UPI) — Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill, said at a Chicago rally for U.S. postal workers that it was “un-American” to pare back Saturday mail deliveries.

“It is really bad policy to try to shrink to survive. I feel this is un-American,” Schakowsky said, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday.

The downtown rally Sunday at Chicago’s Federal Plaza drew several hundred protesters, the newspaper said.

The Postal Service under Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has proposed cutting back on mail delivery for Saturdays. A congressional vote last week ensured Saturday mail service through Sept. 30 of this year.

But the issue is sure to resurface, the Sun-Times said.

Letter carrier union spokesman Michael Caref said that the bulk of the problem lay in a a congressional mandate for the Postal Service to pay more than $5 billion to a fund for healthcare benefits for future Postal Service retirees.

“Eighty-five percent of the losses the Post Office has incurred over the past five years,” was due to the mandated payments, Caref said.

‘Octomom’ Target Of Welfare Fraud Probe

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — Los Angeles County investigators have opened a welfare fraud probe into Nadya Suleman, the so-called octomom, who started receiving assistance in January.

The Los Angeles County Department of Welfare Fraud Prevention and Investigation is looking into Suleman, 37, who became infamous in January 2009 when she gave birth to eight children, ABC News reported Friday.

Suleman, who has 14 children, is entitled to welfare assistance if she makes less than $119,000, E! online reported. She originally stopped accepting welfare last summer.

Gina Rodriguez, a representative for Suleman, said in January the mother was going back on assistance because she had spent all of her income from strip dancing, a pornographic film and other publicity appearances and sought out “state assistance for a brief period of time.”

Rodriguez said Suleman’s savings were depleted when she entered rehab in October for “anxiety, exhaustion and stress.”

Suleman faces as much as three years in prison if convicted of fraud.

Caretaker Allegedly Drank $102K In Whiskey

SCOTTDALE, Pa., (UPI) — The caretaker of a Pennsylvania mansion is accused of drinking 52 bottles of whiskey appraised at a total $102,400.

Patricia Hill, who purchased the Scottdale mansion in 2012, said caretaker John Saunders, 62, helped her remove and dust off nine cases of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey that were apparently concealed in the walls of the home by industrialist J.P. Brennan, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday.

“My guess is that Mr. Brennan ordered 10 cases … pre-Prohibition,” Hill said. “I was told by his family that family members used to greet him at the door each day with a shot of whiskey.”

Hill said she discovered after Saunders moved out that he had apparently drank 52 of the 108 bottles of the whiskey, which was bottled in 1912 at the West Overton Distilling Co. She said the missing booze was appraised at a total $102,400 by New York auction house Bonhams.

“This whole experience has shocked me,” Hill said. “I was shocked when I found them, shocked to find Mr. Saunders drank them, and shocked when I received the appraisal. I had just planned to preserve them.”

Saunders was arrested and is now charged with receiving stolen property and theft. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Opa-Locka Mayor Orders Underwear Removal

OPA-LOCKA, Fla., (UPI) — The mayor of Opa-locka, Fla., has asked that residents of an apartment building stop hanging their underwear to dry on a city guard rail.

Residents of the apartment building on Ali Baba Avenue in Opa-locka have officially been asked to take their underwear inside, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Myra Taylor asked City Manager Kelvin Baker for the second time to have residents at the building to remove their underwear from the rail. She first asked Baker to talk to the owner of the apartment building on Feb. 27.

“Tell the people their underwear must come down,” she said. “I could say the drawers must come down.”

Taylor suggested putting up a fence to prevent the building residents from using the guard rail to air their laundry.

Jim Carrey Sings Anti-Gun Song On Funny Or Die Website

LOS ANGELES, (UPI) — Canadian-born comic actor Jim Carrey sings a satirical anti-gun song called “Cold Dead Hand” in a new Funny Or Die video posted online Monday.

The clip shows Carrey first doing a mocking impression of the late actor Charleston Heston, who was president of the National Rifle Association, then singing a country western-style song with a band, under the name of the band Lonesome Earl and the Clutterbusters, warning of the dangers of gun possession.

The video can be seen at http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/0433b30576/cold-dead-hand-with-jim-carrey?playlist=featured_videos=

“I find the gun problem frustrating and ‘Cold Dead Hand’ is my fun little way of expressing that frustration,” Carrey said in a statement.

Fatal Airport Sign Collapse Unexplained

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., (UPI) — Officials at an Alabama airport said they were still looking into what caused a sign to fall on a family, killing a 10-year-old boy.

Luke Bresette, 10, was walking through the pre-security concourse at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport in Birmingham Friday when a large electronic arrivals and departures sign fell on him and his family. The boy was killed and his mother remained in serious condition with two broken ankles and a broken pelvis. Two siblings, ages 8 and 5, were in good condition.

The Bresette family was traveling back home to Kansas following a spring recess vacation to the Gulf Coast, AL.com reported.

Airport officials held a closed-door meeting with representatives of several construction firms that recently renovated the concourse. The airport is undergoing a $209 million renovation, officials said.

Relatives: Newtown Families Should Get Aid

NEWTOWN, Conn., (UPI) — Some $15 million donated after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings should go directly to the victims, say relatives of those killed in mass tragedies.

In a weekend statement, 50 parents and family members directly affected by incidents such as Columbine and the World Trade Center said that in the past charities had failed to distribute aid to those most in need, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Virtually all the money donated since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School three months ago remains unspent. Most of the money, $10.2 million, was donated to the United Way of Western Connecticut, which transferred the funds to a local foundation that will decide who will receive the money and when.

Some family members expressed concern the donated money would benefit existing charities and causes not related to the shooting more than the victims.

Donors had the option of giving to funds set up specifically for family members affected by Newtown, said Kim Morgan, chief executive officer of the United Way of Western Connecticut. The main fund is unrestricted, however, to deal with far-reaching and unseen effects of such tragedies, she said.

More than 40 local funds were set after the shootings, Morgan said. She suggested some of them could be included in the local foundation that would be controlled by local residents would could decide how to distribute the money.

Scott Larimer, whose son was killed in the Aurora shootings, said he feared the current structure in Newtown would force the families of victims to plead for aid “hat in hand.”

He said a nationwide protocol should be created to establish guidelines for everything from who receives aid to whether contributions are tax exempt.

Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Blitz, DHS Buys More Bullets, IRS Wastes Your Money And Jim Carey Hates Charlton Heston: Monday Morning News Roundup 3-25-2013

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.

  • Ney York City Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a $12 million ad blitz against Senators who do not support gun control.

 

  • Your tax dollars at work: The Internal Revenue Service spent about $60,000 to produce a ridiculous “Star Trek” parody for training.

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security is making yet another big ammo purchase. This time the agency announced it plans to purchase another 360,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition.

 

  • Jim Carrey is no longer funny, if you ever thought he was. And, oh yeah, he hates guns.

 

  • The Federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

 

  • Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment that would prevent the United States from entering into the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in order to uphold the 2nd Amendment. His amendment passed on a 53-46 vote.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Never Again Go Where Your Guns Are Banned

Do you refuse to patronize establishments that ban guns? Well, thanks to a new app, you can avoid places that are posted gun-free zones and find gun-friendly alternatives.

The “Gun Free Zone” app was released last month for Android, Apple and Amazon devices for free. The app’s developers claim it has the ability to identify the “nearest 20 commercial locations, including businesses, churches and schools, as either firearm friendly or gun free.” The app depends on user input to determine where guns are welcome and where they are not.

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The app’s makers say in a press release that both gun advocates and anti-gun Americans can use the app to feel safer:

In some states, a gun free zone sign on the front door of a business has the effect of law. The GunFreeZone app can clearly identify these gun free zones on a map to alert people with concealed weapons, helping avoid those locations to shop elsewhere and avoid an unintentional offense. At the same time, people concerned about the proliferation of guns in society can easily identify gun free zones where they might feel safer.

When a user opens the Gun Free Zone app, GPS is used to determine location and the nearest 20 establishments. A simple click on a store’s name brings up the page where users can select to mark the store as either a gun-free zone or firearm friendly. The app tracks how many people have marked the location as either firearm friendly or a gun-free zone and the information is shared with every other user of the app.

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“We realized that people wanted to know where gun free zones are so that they could either avoid or support those locations and there wasn’t an easy way to get that information,” says John Peden, another founder of GunFreeZone. “We just released the app and already over 3000 people from every state in the US have downloaded the app and have marked almost 10,000 locations so far. At this rate, we expect every commercial location in the country to be marked in short order, allowing people to stay compliant with their state’s gun laws and also effectively support or boycott businesses according to which side of the gun coin they are on.”

CVS Demonstrates Your Future Under Obamacare

The consequences of the big lie that is Obamacare and the U.S. deathcare system continue to come to light. From layoffs to hour reductions to business closures to companies being dragged into court over abortion and contraceptive coverage to doctor shortages to rising deathcare costs, Obamacare is a building disaster of rising premiums, doctor shortages and rationing death panels. Now, legal drug pusher CVS Caremark pharmacy is telling its employees they must report specific personal health information or pay an extra $600 per year for their health insurance coverage.

Among the measures employees are required to report are their weight, body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Employees must also be tobacco-free or enroll in an addiction program.

“These changes aren’t just about costs, they’re about us, each of us taking personal accountability for our own health,” said Lisa Bissacia, CVS senior vice president and chief human resources officer, in a recorded video released by the company.

The irony that a company that peddles to an unsuspecting public pharmaceuticals with a list of side effects as long as your arm and responsible for millions of adverse reaction events and 106,000 deaths annually would actually be concerned about their employees’ health is no doubt lost on Bissacia. On top of that, such a policy is an egregious violation of the employees’ rights.

Employment lawyer Richard Schramm told KPIX 5 News: “(CVS Executives) better get some pretty good legal counsel and decide whether your policy is really legal, because the policy as announced is not legal.”

Schramm told KPIX 5 the company is trying to tell employees what they can and can’t do on their off time.

“If we granted that right to employers, employers could tell employees who to date, who to see, what kinds of foods to eat, what to drink, all kinds of behavior off site could be controlled. And that’s absolutely not the law in California,” he said. Nor anywhere else, except maybe Florida.

“The approach they’re taking is based on the assumption that somehow these people need a whip, they need to be penalized in order to make themselves healthy,” Patient Privacy Rights founder Deborah Peel, M.D., told ABC News.

For the company’s many low-wage in-store employees, it’s essentially blackmail. There’s no way they can absorb an additional $50 per month increase in premiums, so they’ll have to comply.

And what will CVS do with the information? Not to worry; CVS won’t have access to the personal information. It will be given to WebMD.

And therein lies another rub. WebMD is a major propaganda arm of Big Pharma, and Big Pharma and the health insurance cartel wrote the Obamacare law. Drug criminal Eli Lilly was an original investor of WebMD. Eli Lilly has repeatedly been cited, fined and successfully sued for illegal and deceptive marketing, covering up the harmful effects of its drugs and buying the influence of doctors and regulatory agencies (as have all the major drug manufacturers).

WebMD uses subliminal sales tactics to peddle drugs, including harmful psychotropics, according to research by OpEdNews.com.

Lilly is not the only pharma company receiving unmarked product placement on WebMD.

Last summer, a video featured a woman patient confessing she was fearful of life while a voice over said she needed treatment for “general anxiety disorder” and the camera showed bottles of Forest Pharmaceuticals’ antidepressant Lexapro moving down the manufacturer’s assembly line. Get it? No disclaimer on the video or “sponsored content” appeared.

Another unsponsored WebMD video last summer urged people on antidepressants to remain on their therapy “despite side effects” and a third suggested women concerned about cancer, heart attack and stroke risks of postmenopausal hormone therapy should continue their treatment at lowered doses. Hang in there, valued customers.

Also on WebMD is a “depression test.” The test is rigged and the questions framed to elicit “yes” answers to all the questions. But even after answering “no” to all the questions, you are told, “You may be at risk for major depression.” So everyone taking the test is depressed, according to test sponsor Eli Lilly.

As Joseph Mercola, M.D., writes on his site, WebMD and its subsidiaries claim to be independent, but how independent and objective can a company be with its health recommendations when one of its major investors is a drug company?

For example, (WebMD subsidiary) drugs.com has the following statement at the bottom of every web page:

“Drugs.com provides free, accurate and independent advice on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines & natural products.”

And yet drugs.com is owned by WebMD, which has close ties to Big Pharma, and recommends drugs for their advertisers and pharmaceutical partners…

Also counted among its financial backers are producers of harmful processed foods — the type that contain artificial “fruits” that can be, according to the Food and Drug Administration, peddled as fruits. Curiously, or maybe not, there is no mention of natural alternatives and supplements. So much for preaching a healthy lifestyle.

WebMD also has a partnership with the FDA, the first-ever public-private partnership for the agency. Why? To be the agency’s major propaganda arm. WebMD and its subsidiaries are four of the top 10 most-visited health information sites on the Internet.

WebMD’s own announcement stated:

The partnership will enhance the FDA’s ability to get crucial information to the American public, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, said in a news conference.

… “WebMD has been a leader with regard to innovation in the use of the web as a form of communication and service to the public,” von Eschenbach said. “What we will do by virtue of this partnership … is to really be able to present online … content material we at FDA feel is extremely important for consumers to be aware of as they are making critically important decisions for themselves and for their families about their health and the products that they use to ensure their health.”

Of course, the FDA is co-opted and owned by Big Pharma and regularly provides cover for the pharmaceutical companies to peddle drugs with harmful side effects — sometimes for a period of years — until the lawsuits mount to such an extent that the agency is forced to require them be pulled from the market. The drug manufacturers then pay a big fine and/or settlement and move on to the next case, raking in billions of dollars in the meantime on drugs that treat symptoms and create more diseases in a never-ending cycle.

Now, back to WebMD and how it might use the information obtained on CVS’s 161,500 employees.

According to WebMD’s privacy policy, it won’t share any of the information it has on you, with the following exceptions:

  • To comply with legal requirements, such as a law, regulation, search warrant, subpoena, or court order;
  • To our vendors and suppliers in the course of their provision of products or services to WebMD;
  • In the event of a corporate change in control resulting from, for example, a merger, a sale of assets, or bankruptcy; or
  • In special cases, such as in response to a physical threat to you or others.

So CVS employees can expect their personal information to be shared far and wide. There can be no expectation of privacy and the data can be used by anyone — government included.

With government running healthcare, expect programs like this to expand and the information to be used to force behavior modifications for everyone forced to buy into Obamacare.

But look on the bright side. Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg could head the new Federal Agency of Behavior Modification. Telling people how to live their lives seems right up his alley. He’ll be available come November.

Colt Could End 175 Years In Connecticut Over Gun Laws

The CEO of iconic American gun maker Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, Dennis Veilleux, threatened to initiate the process of moving the company headquarters from Hartford, Conn., as lawmakers in that State mull tough gun laws that could even include an AR-15 ban.

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In an op-ed in the Hartford Courant, Veilleux said that recent calls by Connecticut lawmakers and Governor Dannel Malloy for strict gun laws that would make illegal some of the products Colt manufactures could bring the gun maker to pick up its 175-year roots in the State and move the operation to a more gun-friendly environment.

From the op-ed:

We can educate gun owners and enforce laws on the safe storage of firearms in the home (Imagine if the firearms criminally and insanely misused in Newtown had been stored securely.) I have two young children and like so many in our state, I identify with, but can only imagine, the searing pain of those parents who lost children in Newtown. If I thought a ban would make the state and especially its children safer, I could not write these words.

The fact is bans don’t work. We tried to ban alcohol nearly 100 years ago, which just drove a regulated activity underground.

I know one thing that the governor’s proposed ban will do: It will irreparably damage — if not destroy — the brand of any Connecticut firearms manufacturer.

Our customers are unusually brand-loyal. In many cases, they personally identify with the firearm brand they choose. Although our Connecticut heritage has historically enhanced our brand, that will change overnight if we ban the modern sporting rifle.

The CEO said that the only real result of a Connecticut ban on certain classes of weapons would be to hurt the Colt brand name — as well of that of fellow Connecticut-based gun makers Mossberg and Stag Arms — as costumers opt to do business with companies located in gun-friendly States. Veilleux also said that Colt is constantly approached by other States with relocation offers, something the company would consider if tough gun laws are passed.

Earlier in the month, Veilleux closed down Colt for a day in order to have 400 workers visit the Connecticut State capitol to discuss with lawmakers the threat new State gun legislation poses to jobs at the firearm plant.

A similar situation happened in Colorado recently. When lawmakers passed a high capacity magazine ban in that State, gun accessory maker Magpul Industries made the decision to move its 200-man operation elsewhere.

Could It Happen Here?

Dear Bob,

I’m reading with alarm about the EU’s actions in Cyprus. Can you foresee a time when the government tries to take our savings or close the banks?

M.G.

Dear M.G.,

There is precedence. You may recall that in 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered banks closed and pushed through Congress the Emergency Banking Relief Act. Banks were shut down for four days and the government raided bank safe deposit boxes looking for gold, which it had just decided was illegal to own — despite the gold coins being legal tender in the U.S. The government is currently considering confiscating the retirement funds of Americans and converting them to bonds. I wrote about that here.

It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the U.S. government will decide to raid the savings accounts of Americans, close the banks for a period of time or revalue the currency. That is why I recommend keeping only the amount needed to cover monthly bills in the bank. At least one month’s worth of cash should be kept in a safe in your home, hidden away, to protect you from bank holidays or other emergency situations. Gold and silver are the only real money and I recommend everyone own some, especially junk silver. Junk silver is pre-1965 silver U.S. coins (dimes, quarters, halves and silver dollars). Because of their silver content they will retain their value no matter what the government does to currency. They will be readily acceptable in trade because they look like the coins we use every day.

Best wishes,

Bob

Gluten-Free Food Storage

What is gluten? Gluten is found in anything made with wheat, barley or rye. It is the ingredient that makes yeast bread dough stretch like elastic. Without it, the ingredients would not bind together into dough that can be kneaded and stretched in that way. Gluten-free dough does not stretch, so the dough tends to be thicker — like batter rather than dough. Most bread made from gluten-free flour tends to be more like a quick bread rather than a yeast bread. You can substitute the flour called for in any recipe with other grains that do not contain gluten. There are hundreds of gluten-free recipes for breads and other food items on the Internet.

What Is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten intolerance means you react to gluten, either with celiac or gluten sensitivity. If you suspect that you are gluten-intolerant, you must be prepared to cut out all products containing gluten. Gluten comes from three different grains that are cleverly hidden and disguised in everyday foods. Wheat, barley and rye attack the intestinal tracts of innocent consumers unaware of the hidden grains.

Symptoms Of Gluten Intolerance

Our nation has seen a rise in the number of people that are being diagnosed with diseases directly related to the consumption of breads, cereals and other items containing certain grains. The gluten in the grain triggers a reaction in the intestinal tract that causes inflammation and results in a very painful bowel disease. If you suspect that you have an intolerance to wheat, barley or rye, do not store these grains.

The following are symptoms potentially caused by gluten intolerance, celiac disease or gluten insensitivity:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Anemia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bloating.
  • Brain fog.
  • Constipation.
  • Depression.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Heartburn.
  • Joint pain.
  • Rashes.

Avoid The Foods That Contain Gluten

A crisis is not the time to discover that you have a problem with gluten. You could have a double crisis if you are not prepared for a situation where you cannot get to the grocery store and you need foods that are gluten-free. You must be a label reader to make sure grain flours containing gluten, as well as hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, are not hidden in the mixes.

Avoid anything that contains wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale and all wheat products such as bulgur wheat, durum wheat, cracked wheat cereal, farina, wheat bran, bran cereals, wheat germ, couscous, wheat starch and any packaged meals that contain the flour from these grains. Also avoid semolina flour, panko, surtan, udon, faro and orzo.

Check the labels on prepackaged bakery products such as cake, pancake, pizza, muffin and biscuit mixes, or any pasta dishes with sauces that contain flour. Wheat pasta contains gluten, too. Watch out for products such as soy sauce, thickeners, bread coatings, mustard, salad dressings, sauces, gravies and anything that contains natural flavors. Flour is added to other items that you may not even be aware of such as toothpaste, lipstick, chutneys, relish, curry powder, white pepper, hard tack candy, licorice, cheap chocolate and even some cheap brands of supplements and pharmaceutical products.

Oat groats and oatmeal have been known to trigger a reaction in some people because of cross contamination of oats and wheat in farmers’ fields and storage been. If you have a gluten problem, you will need to make sure that the oats you purchase are pure oats that are organic and have not been cross contaminated. They should be certified gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Foods That Can Be Stored

Vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, corn, green peppers, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, onions, spinach, tomato powder, vegetable stew blend and zucchini.

Fruits: Apple slices, apple crystals, banana slices, mango, papaya, pineapple, raspberry, raisins and tropical fruit blend.

Fats and oils: Vegetable oil, olive oils, shortening, mayonnaise and some salad dressings with oil and vinegar in the mix.

Canned and bottled fruits, vegetables, beans, soups and tomato sauces: Plain canned fruits and vegetables, canned beans and lentils, spaghetti sauces, and organic pre-packaged vegetable soups are all a great addition to a gluten-free food storage program.

Snacks: Popcorn, gelatin and dried fruits.

Canned and freeze-dried meats: Canned fish (tuna, salmon and sardines), canned ham, chicken, beef and other meats. Freeze-dried meats packed for long-term storage.

Grains, seeds and thickeners: Acceptable gluten-free grains are amaranth, millet, quinoa, brown and white rice, rice bran and rice flour, teff, and buckwheat. Flax seeds, arrowroot flour, cornstarch and potato starch can be used to thicken gravies and sauces and are also gluten-free.

Condiments: Apple cider and white vinegars (but not malt vinegar), mustard, ketchup, horseradish, jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, relish, pickles and olives.

Cereals: Cream of rice, millet, pure organic oats (certified gluten-free) and gluten-free cereals.

Baking Items: Sugar, salt, pepper, herbs, spices, evaporated or condensed milk, corn meal, tapioca, baking soda, baking powder, gluten-free flours, high-quality baking chocolate, and cocoa.

Beverages: Coffee (some flavored coffees contain gluten), tea , soft drinks, fruit juice, powdered protein and other drink mixes.

Dairy products and eggs: Powdered milk and dried eggs are a great addition to a gluten-free food-storage program. Dried dairy products include dried butter powder, buttermilk, cream cheese powder, cheddar cheese powder, sour cream powder, scrambled egg mix, and whole egg powder. Dried dairy products can be used in baking as well as substituted in any recipe calling for the fresh product.

Beans and legumes: Dried beans are all gluten-free. Beans can be dry or canned. Dried beans can be ground into a bean flour and used as a thickener in gravies and sauces. Dried bean flour can also be cooked with boiling water until it is the thickness of refried beans. Refried beans can be used in any Mexican dish or made into a bean dip.

The following varieties of beans and legumes are available and will store for many years: 16-bean mix, baby lima beans, butter beans, large lima beans, black-eyed peas, black turtle beans, lentils, small red beans, small white navy beans, split peas, red kidney beans, refried beans, garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), great northern beans and pinto beans.

With the rise of diseases due to gluten intolerance or allergies to wheat, it would be a good idea to stock up on these gluten-free products.

–Peggy Layton

Local Cops See Ammo Shortage While Congress Asks Big Sis: Bullets? Why You Need Those Stinkin’ Bullets?

Maybe something will give soon. More and more members of Congress are beginning to dial up the heat on the Department of Homeland Security to divulge its justification for taking steps to amass an alleged 20 years’ worth of ammunition.

Infowars reported Friday that Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and 14 other House members have written DHS to determine what all these bullets are really for, and whether the big buy is part of an effort to artificially choke supply and drive up prices.

The letter comes on the heels of bipartisan clamoring for DHS head Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano to speak plainly on the topic — something she so far hasn’t done.

The Congressmen should be helped along by emerging reports that city and county cops across the United States are having to ration bullets, be put on waiting lists or even barter with other agencies in order to avoid running out of ammunition for both training and patrol use.

CNS News compiles several such reports in the past two months, from Texas to Montana to Tennessee to Wisconsin. One Ohio city is applying for an ammo grant.

As you likely know, DHS isn’t military; it’s an agency ostensibly preoccupied with domestic safety. A February analysis determined the United States would have had to extend the most heated portion of its Iraq war for an additional 24 years to expend the amount of ammo our supposed Homeland protectors have snatched up.

J-Schools Hold Up Mirror To Current Domestic Drone Policy, Teach Use Of Tiny Devices To Gather News

If the Feds can use drones to watch what’s going on, so can everybody else.

That’s essentially the thinking that lies behind a recent surge in new coursework at a handful of journalism schools, where future reporters are learning how to use observation drones to get close to events in a way an individual often can’t.

Under the present iteration of the FAA Reauthorization Act, it’s illegal for commercial entities (well, at least those without a defense contract) to fly drones until 2015. But public universities such as the University of Nebraska and the University of Missouri don’t fall under that restriction. These and other universities engage drone technology across several of their academic departments — mostly those dealing in applied sciences, but journalism is starting to get in on the action.

At the University of Missouri’s prestigious journalism school, students and faculty describe potential news-gathering uses for drone technology in pretty benign terms. One of the Missouri professors keeps his comments on how the media can use drone tech pretty far on this side of the invisible line that, doubtless, the current President and the Department of Justice are carefully waiting for someone to test on 1st Amendment grounds.

“We have a class here of journalism students who are learning to fly J-bots, for journalism robots, or drones,” Professor William Allen told ABC News. “So they learn to fly them, and also do what reporters do: brainstorm ideas, go out and do reporting, do drone based photography and video. We’re trying to see if this is going to be useful for journalism.”

He knows it will be useful for journalism, if lawmakers don’t snatch away the ability for media (or any inquisitive citizen) to begin employing drones in similar watchful fashion as law enforcement already is doing.

The question, though, is whether lawmakers will let it happen. Can Congress treat domestic drone policy with the fair play required to preserve Americans’ rights to keep pace with what it allows the executive branch to get away with?

Remarkably, Congressional talk (in these post-Rand-Paul-filibuster days) over where America’s domestic drone policy is heading has tended toward bipartisan concern over how the coming proliferation of drones threatens to infringe citizens’ Constitutional liberties. The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed domestic drones’ future Wednesday, with Republican and Democratic Senators (including Dianne Feinstein) alike voicing their skepticism that drones and individual liberty can easily coexist.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed resignedly accommodating of all forms of Orwellian surveillance when he asked a local radio audience on Friday: “It’s scary, but what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean, intellectually, I’d have trouble making the distinction.”

Access and mobility for starters, moron: That’s, intellectually, the distinction. Drones can follow you. Some of them can do far, far more than watch you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to coax an updated list of entities presently authorized to maintain and use drones. An interactive map describing each location can be accessed here; it is current through October of last year. Under present laws, it’s of course filled with public entities of various kinds.

Here’s hoping it either disappears entirely (not likely) or becomes a bit more balanced, once Federal Aviation Administration guidelines have been revised.

Survey Shows Doctors Pessimistic About Obamacare

A peer survey of practicing doctors reveals a growing apprehension among the medical profession of the coming implementation of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

According to the survey, conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, more than 60 percent of doctors said they, or peers they know, plan to retire within the next one to three years.

Nearly as many said they believed they would begin cutting their own hours as they move toward “team-based” models of providing healthcare services.

Four out of 10 surveyed said their net income decreased last fiscal year, with 40 percent of those saying Obamacare is the reason. Nearly half of all surveyed said they expect their income to go down again this year as more of the Act’s measures come online.

Just more than half reported they feel that Obamacare will also harm the doctor-patient relationship, due to the opening of admitting privileges to more patients who qualify for treatment under the Act.

Congress Afraid Of Itty Bitty Knives On Planes

The Transportation Security Administration recently reversed a policy barring small knives on airplanes, but some members of Congress evidently believe the move makes U.S. airspace unsafe. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have filed legislation to reverse the TSA decision.

“Introduced amendment to prevent TSA from allowing passengers to carry small knives onto planes again with @lisamurkowski,” Schumer announced via Twitter.

The legislative effort comes on the heels of a letter sent to TSA Administrator John Pistole calling for the agency to reverse its decision to allow small knives on airplanes.

From the letter:

On September 11, 2001, hijackers on board United 93, United 175, American 77, and American 11 took over these planes using mace, box cutters and knives to attack passengers and crew,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, first drafted by Reps. Michael Grimm (R, N.Y.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on March 12.

After these deadly terrorist attacks of 9/11, all knives and dangerous sporting equipment, like pool cues, were placed on a list of prohibited items and banned from planes… Congress acted swiftly to ensure that TSA was afforded the resources and authority to ensure a secure aviation system for the American flying public. We strongly believe that the prohibition of dangerous items is an integral layer in the safety of our aviation system.

TSA officials say taking the knives off the list, however, actually makes American flyers safer.

“That’s what risk-based security is all about, trying to identify what are the most significant risks … and making sure that our officers and our entire national U.S. government national security team is trying to be as precise and focused on those threats that cause the greatest damage,” Pistole said.

Rangel Claims ‘Millions Of Kids Dying’ From Assault Weapons

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) toed the company line in admirable fashion in an interview on MSNBC this week, spicing up his gun control rhetoric with a helping of hyperbole so big it might get him banned for excess in his home State’s largest city.

Asked his thoughts on Democratic Senators’ failure at preserving a proposed ban on assault weapons, Rangel offered this:

We’re talking about millions of kids dying – being shot down by assault weapons, were talking about handguns easier in the inner cities, to get these guns in the inner cities, than to get computers. This is not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue and so when we condemn the NRA we should not ignore the fact that a lot of people that have taken moral positions have been solid on this big one.

Don’t bother searching MSNBC’s site for a pullout quote on this one. It took other news outlets to point out Rangel’s exaggeration.

By the way, here’s some info on what’s being used to kill people in domestic murders, and in what quantity. And here’s a pretty well-done analysis of some of those numbers.

Even if you combine all types of murder methods (strangling, slashing, shooting, beating, poison, getting pushed off cliffs and all the rest), the number of weapons involved in all U.S. murders over the past is a couple of orders of magnitude beneath Rangel’s “millions” — try a high of 14,916 in 2007 (a figure that’s reliably gone down every year since).