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).

Cruz Amendment To Do Away With Obamacare Voted Down

Today, the Senate rejected an effort by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to repeal Obamacare; but it is probably far from the last attempt by Republicans to dismantle President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan.

Cruz’s effort would have been carried out through an amendment to the Senate budget proposal that sought to “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” The amendment failed 45-54.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put out a statement Obamacare  for being too expensive and “not working” in the way that was promised by Democrats.

“Three years later, the President’s health care law remains a job-killer that grows the government and slows the economy, which is why it’s important to repeal the whole thing and replace it with commonsense reforms that lower costs and that Americans actually want,” McConnell said.

 

Chicago To Close 61 Schools

CHICAGO (UPI) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration announced the closing of 61 schools to help avoid a projected $1 billion budget shortfall next year.

City officials said the school closures would affect approximately 30,000 children, mostly in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Emanuel has prodded officials for months to work on the downsizing of the school district to help soften the blow of next year’s deficit, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

“We have resources that are spread much too thin,” said Todd Babbitz, the district’s chief transformation officer.

The closures, and upgrades of remaining schools to handle the influx of new students, are expected to initially cost the city $233 million, though the district projects a savings of $560 million over the next decade.

Anxious parents expressed concern over students’ displacement and potentially longer and more dangerous walks to a new school, the Tribune reported.

Some youngsters were worried, too.

“People there may be fighting,” said fourth-grader Jayshawn Vinson, who will have to walk an additional mile to school over the busy Martin Luther King Drive. “They may be shooting. I don’t know what will happen in the neighborhood.”

Police Shoot, Kill Man Holding Fake Gun

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (UPI) — Police in Huntington Beach, Calif., shot and killed a man who was brandishing what turned out to be a fake gun, officials said.

Huntington Beach Police Lt. Mitchell O’Brien said officers were responding to a report of a man and a woman fighting behind a restaurant around 4:30 p.m. PDT Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The person who reported the incident told police that the man claimed to have a handgun.

When police arrived at the scene, the couple were walking through a nearby housing tract. Police confronted the man who then pulled out what was later determined to be a “replica semiautomatic pistol,” O’Brien said.

An officer opened fire on the man and killed him. The woman was unharmed in the incident, police said.

Three Dead In Quantico Shootings, Suicide

QUANTICO, Va. (UPI) — A U.S. Marine staff member at the Officers Candidate School at Quantico in Virginia killed two colleagues before taking his own life, officials said Friday.

One of the slain Marines was a woman, The Washington Post reported. A spokesman said all three Marines were in the same unit and described the shootings as an “isolated incident.”

“At no point was this suspected to be a mass shooting,” Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine at the Pentagon, said.

The first call about the incident came in at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday at a barracks at the school on Marine Base Quantico, the Post said, although there were no reports of shots fired. The base was put on lockdown at 11 p.m.

The gunman seized a female Marine and shot her and later himself, investigators said.

Col. David Maxwell, the Quantico commander, said early reports the gunman was engaged in a standoff on the base were erroneous.  But he said the second shooting occurred sometime after the first one.

All three of the dead knew each other. An officer who didn’t want his name used told the Post investigators are trying to determine the motive for the violence, including the possibility of a romantic relationship.

Sandstorm Fouls Obama’s Israel Schedule

JERUSALEM (UPI) — Sandstorms moving from Egypt to Israel polluted the air Friday, reduced visibility for drivers and forced U.S. President Barack Obama to change his schedule.

Obama, who had planned to travel by helicopter to Bethlehem on the West Bank, made the trip by motorcade instead, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. As a result, he arrived in Amman, Jordan, his next stop, an hour late.

The Egyptian Meteorological Authority urged drivers to stay off the roads and fishermen to stay in port because of low visibility, Ahram Online reported. High winds, in addition to blowing sand, kicked up 10-foot waves in the Red Sea.

Four Red Sea ports were closed because of the storm.

In Israel, the Ashkelon National Park was closed by the storm, Haaretz said. The Environmental Protection Ministry advised pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with respiratory diseases to remain indoors.

Obama’s transport problems caused inconvenience for others. The highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was closed for a time to allow the presidential motorcade to get to Ben Gurion International Airport unimpeded.

House Seeks Ways To Assess Border Security

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Washington lawmakers are expressing bipartisan frustration over the failure of Homeland Security officials to develop standards of assessing border security.

Members of a House committee say the lack of measures to accurately determine the level of security is imperiling the passage of immigration legislation, The New York Times reported.

Addressing Mark Borkowski, a senior Department of Homeland Security official U.S. Rep. Candace Miller, R-Mich., chairwoman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on border security, said she didn’t want the agency to be a “stumbling block” for immigration reform.

“You’ve got to get in the game,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a supporter of President Obama’s immigration proposals.

Obama administration officials said they don’t want only one way to measure border security because Obama doesn’t want obstacles to eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants.

They said locations where people smugglers and drug traffickers cross the border from Mexico could change rapidly, as well as where border agents were concentrating resources.

Since 2010, border security has been measured largely by how many illegal crossers are caught. Those numbers have declined sharply.

String Theory Work Wins $3 Million Prize

GENEVA, Switzerland (UPI) — A Princeton University physicist’s work on string theory has won a $3 million prize set up to award work in fundamental physics, organizers in Switzerland said.

At a ceremony at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland, Alexander Polyakov was awarded the 2013 Fundamental Physics prize for his contributions to quantum field theory and string theory, NewScientist.com reported Thursday.

The Fundamental Physics prize was started by billionaire Russian Internet investor Yuri Milner in July 2012 to highlight theoretical advancements in physics that don’t lend themselves to experimental testing and thus are not likely to be considered for a Nobel prize.

“Fundamental physics underlies almost every aspect of modern life, but does not get the recognition it deserves,” CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer said at the ceremony honoring Polyakov.

Two special Fundamental Physics prizes were awarded in December to Stephen Hawking for his voluminous work on black holes, and to the leaders of the teams at CERN that discovered the Higgs boson.

Polyakov’s work focused on magnetic monopoles, hypothetical particles that would act like magnets with only one magnetic pole. Research suggests if they exist they are so rare they may never be found, but the search for them could lead to a better understanding of the basic forces in the universe, prize organizers said.

First Space Message Joins U.S. Archive

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The first audio message transmitted from outer space will be preserved as part of the National Recording Registry, the U.S. Library of Congress said Thursday.

Relayed from the world’s first communications satellite, SCORE, the audio recording of then-President Dwight Eisenhower conveying “America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere,” was broadcast back to Earth Dec. 19, 1958.

The 30-second message, which could be received by shortwave radio sets on Earth as the satellite traveled around the globe, is one of 25 recordings selected by the Library of Congress for their cultural, artistic and historic importance in the history of the United States, SPACE.com reported.

“Congress created the [Registry] to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage,” James Billington, Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “And to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations.”

The SCORE message with join other audio selections for 2012, including Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” and Chubby Checker’s rendition of “The Twist” to bring the total number of recordings held in the registry to 375.

Study: Most Toddler Meals Too High In Salt

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) — Nearly 75 percent of commercial pre-packaged meals and savory snacks for toddlers are high in sodium, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Joyce Maalouf of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and colleagues compared the sodium content per serving of 1,115 products for babies and toddlers using data on major and private label brands.

Baby food was categorized as intended for children less than age 1, while toddler food was for children ages 1-3. A product was defined as high in sodium if it had more than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, found toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals, and some toddler meals were as high as 630 mg per serving — about 40 percent of the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The foods with the most sodium were savory snacks and meals for toddlers, Maalouf said.

“Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life,” Maalouf said in a statement. “The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older.”

Traffic Linked To Chronic Childhood Asthma

BASEL, Switzerland (UPI) — Fourteen percent of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads, researchers in Europe say.

Lead author Dr. Laura Perez of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute said until now, traffic pollution was assumed to only trigger asthma symptoms, but the research did not account for chronic asthma caused by the specific range of toxicants found near heavily used roads.

The researchers used data from existing epidemiological studies which found that children exposed to higher levels of near-road traffic-related pollution also had higher rates of asthma, even when taking into account a range of other relevant factors such as passive smoking or socioeconomic factors.

The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found 14 percent of asthma cases across the 10 European cities could be attributed to near-road traffic pollution.

“Air pollution has previously been seen to trigger symptoms but this is the first time we have estimated the percentage of cases that might not have occurred if Europeans had not been exposed to road traffic pollution,” Perez said in a statement.

Insurance Companies Warn Of Premium Hikes

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Insurers are telling brokers some healthcare premiums will rise in 2014 even though U.S. officials project lower rates overall under the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services has projected lower premiums, along with an increase in the number of people with health insurance in the individual market — from 15 million in 2011 to 35 million by 2016.

The cost estimates are based on a 2009 report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

HHS says several factors, including competition among insurers, should help push premiums lower.

Some insurance companies have a different message.

They say rates will go up for many when major features of the healthcare reform law take effect in 2014, the newspaper said.

John Lacy, vice president of group benefits at the Clearwater, Fla., broker Bouchard Insurance, told the Journal insurers are advising brokers to “brace our clients” in advance of higher premiums.

UnitedHealth Group has said some rates for small businesses could rise 50 percent while rates for individuals could rise 116 percent, the Journal reported. Aetna Inc. told its national broker advisory council last fall rates for some individual plans would rise 55 percent on average while premiums for small businesses would increase 29 percent. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina told insurance brokers last week premiums on individual plans could rise 50 percent.

The ACA provides federal subsidies for lower-income people but those numbers are not reflected in insurers’ projections on premiums, the newspaper said. Some consumers and businesses can expect lower premiums under the law, analysts say.

Insurance companies are expected to file proposed prices with regulators within the next few months, the Journal said.

Prosecutor Files Groundhog ‘Indictment’

HAMILTON, Ohio (UPI) — An Ohio prosecutor has filed a tongue-in-cheek “indictment” against Punxsutawney Phil, accusing the groundhog of incorrectly predicting the weather.

Michael Gmoser of the Butler County, Ohio, prosecutor’s office said the groundhog, which is called on each Feb. 2 in Punxsutawney, Pa., to predict the start of spring, “did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause people to believe that spring would come early,” CNN reported Friday.

I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing, the snow was flying, the temperatures were falling, and I said ‘Punxsutawney, you let us down,'” Gmoser told CNN.

John Griffiths, one of Phil’s handlers, defended the groundhog’s predictions.

“If you remember two weeks ago on a Sunday, it was probably 60, 65 degrees,” he said. “So, I mean, that basically counts as an early spring.”

Man Wants Bitcoins For Alberta Bungalow

EDMONTON, Alberta (UPI) — A man selling his Alberta bungalow is asking for about $400,000 — or 5,613 digital Bitcoins — with a preference for the Bitcoins.

Taylor More, 22, a former currency trader, said he prefers Bitcoins, worth $72.50 each, for the two-room bungalow on 2.9 acres because he believes there is a future for the digital currency, which Walmart recently began accepting for purchase of gift cards, ABC News reported Friday.

“I just really believe in them and once I read my first article about them, I was hooked,” More said. “I can take control of my own money, I don’t have to worry about the government stepping in and taking it and freezing my account.

“I have a few ventures that I am working on that involves Bitcoins and I am going to need a lot of Bitcoins to do them. I thought this might help Bitcoin gain some ground, once people see that you can actually buy a piece of property or a physical tangible thing,” More said.

He said he can’t yet reveal the details of his planned ventures.

“If someone had a partial payment in Bitcoins, I would be willing to negotiate, but I wouldn’t turn down somebody who had cash,” More said.