Cashless As Of Tomorrow?

Dear Bob,

I read via “Human Events” e-letter yesterday that on 4/30/13 the Fed will proclaim that the US is now a CASHLESS SOCIETY. Can you comment on the truth of this and what the affects will be on Cash on Hand, people’s investment choices, etc.? Thank you.

Linda S.

Dear Linda S.,

Almost anything can be expected now, but I doubt that it will happen this soon. I believe that the system might implode by then.

Best wishes,
Bob

Researchers: Fight Depression With Faith

Spirituality and science have had a strained relationship in recent years as heated emotions continue to surround debates over creationism versus evolution and other subjects that pit faith against observation. A recent study, however, points out that there are things about which the scientific and spiritually minded can agree, among them: Faith can have the power to heal.

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry showed that belief in God can offer people “significant protection” against depression, which is slated to become the world’s most prevalent disease by 2030.

For the study, Harvard University researchers observed 159 mental-health patients at Massachusetts’s McLean Hospital for a year to investigate the relationship between religious belief, the patients’ expected health outcome and the actual outcome. The researchers asked each patient to rank belief in God on a scale of 1 to 5 and questioned about how positive they felt that medical treatment would help their depression symptoms. Seventy-one percent of the individuals registered at least slight belief in a higher being.

According to the researchers, the individuals who said they had “no” or only “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to benefit from clinical treatment for depression symptoms.

Regardless of religious affiliation, however, a majority of patients with a “high” level of faith in God reported better treatment outcomes.

The researchers concluded: “Belief in God, but not religious affiliation, was associated with better treatment outcomes. With respect to depression, this relationship was mediated by belief in the credibility of treatment and expectations for treatment gains.”

California Lawmakers Pushing For Statewide Tax On Sugary Drinks

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t the only liberal with statist visions of better living through legislation.

Over on the left coast, California legislators are concocting a variation on Bloomberg’s famous — and failed — attempt to ban large soft drinks, only with an eye toward redistributing a little more of the wealth of the State’s 12.4 million households.

Democratic State Senator Bill Monning is sponsoring a bill that would impose a regressive penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugary sodas and energy drinks, converting the funds raised through the tax into public spending thorough a new entity called the Children’s Health Promotion Fund. That fund would back community obesity prevention programs and further support public health programs in schools.

Remarkably, Californians actually seem to favor the State’s social engineering/money grab measure. A February Field poll found 68 percent of voters in favor of the bill, with the percentage among ethnic voters even higher. The tax would apply not only to canned and bottled beverages, but to fountain sodas sold at restaurants statewide as well.

Predictably, the bill also enjoys positive spin from the very State agencies in line to expand their bureaucratic offerings if the tax is approved. Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy called the tax “fair-minded” in a statement of support for the measure:

Californians are becoming increasingly concerned about the obesity epidemic and its heavy burden on the well-being of Californians, especially our children. More than ever, California voters want solutions that not only hold the biggest contributor to the problem (sugary beverages) accountable, but that also raise funds to address the impact on our children. SB 622 does both of those and is a smart, fair-minded policy to protect our children, our state’s health and, ultimately our state budget.

“Protect… our state budget,” really? Check out some other ways California’s leaders are currently attempting to protect the State budget:

  • Imposing a 9.9 percent “oil severance tax” on oil extraction — an anti-business move against a “captive” industry in a State that has already seen other businesses flee to escape high taxes, regulations and penalties.
  • Raising the registration fee for every privately owned vehicle by $6.
  • Adding a State tax to every point-of-sale purchase of prepaid mobile phones, as well as to every separate purchase of additional phone minutes.
  • Issuing $9 billion in municipal bonds on a $69 billion high-speed rail system that has no set start date for construction, that Governor Jerry Brown wants China to help fund and that the White House is eager to subsidize by an additional $3 billion.

Last month, the State auditor concluded California had a net worth of minus $127.2 billion. Viewed from that awful perspective, there’s no doubt the State’s political power brokers “need” the public’s money.

That California voters have voluntarily continued their support of government tax-and-spend efforts — the rail system, the drink tax and hikes to both income and sales taxes (via the passage of voter referendum Proposition 30) — also reveals, beyond any doubt, that nothing’s going to change in the Golden State anytime soon.

How Would You Handle A Home Intruder: With Lethal Force Or With Non-Lethal Ammo?

To kill or not to kill. That is the question. You may be perfectly within your legal and ethical rights to end the life of a home intruder, but is that what you want to do? That’s what you have to ask yourself, and I’d recommend that you do it before it happens, not afterward.

If I wake up to an uninvited person in my home at 3 in the morning, there is only one assumption that I can make: that he is there to rob me and very possibly to rape, kill or kidnap my wife and/or my children. If I assume anything less than that, I’m a fool.

So I already feel that I have the right to protect myself in any fashion that I choose, including shooting to kill if that’s the option that seems best in order to accomplish my goal of keeping my family members safe. By breaking into my home, this intruder has forfeited his rights to a friendly, sit-down chat; and if he ends up dying under my roof, well, better him than one of us who lives there.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment, because there are repercussions to everything that we do in life. If I end the life of a home intruder, there’s no bringing him back. Regardless of how he got in and what his intentions were, he’s gone forever.

What if I find out after the fact that I shot a mentally handicapped person who was too confused to know where he was and didn’t even have a weapon? Or what if he was an unarmed teenager who was trying to “prove himself” to his friends? I’m not saying that I would not be within my rights to use lethal force; I’m just saying that if I ever ended up regretting my decision to shoot the intruder dead, those regrets would go unresolved.

And, of course, there is also the possibility that I could harm my wife or one of my children if I use live ammo to try to kill a home intruder. One or more of my family members could be near the intruder when I shoot without me seeing them in the dark. Or what if one of my bullets passes through a wall and strikes my child or wife?

I strongly believe that I am within my rights to shoot and kill a home intruder. But that doesn’t mean that doing it is necessarily the right response for everyone. Another option for possibly taking down a home intruder without ending his life is non-lethal ammo. If you choose this route, here are five types you may want to consider:

  • Rubber bullets: They won’t penetrate the skin, but will leave serious welts that will require medical attention.
  • Wax bullets: These could penetrate the skin at close range or if they strike a sensitive body part.
  • Plastic bullets: These are used by police for riot control. They’re also used for target practice.
  • Electric bullets: These are metal or rubber bullets that release an electrical charge when they hit a target, much like a Taser or other shock weapon.
  • Bean bag rounds: These are designed to incapacitate the target and leave large welts, but not penetrate the skin.

The biggest concern that some people have with non-lethal ammo is that it might result in only slowing down some intruders — including particularly large men — and not stopping them. They say that non-lethal ammo could end up infuriating the home intruder and making the situation even worse for you and your family. And if you end up in a gun fight with a home intruder, it’s very likely that he will be using live ammo.

So, if you use live ammo to try to stop a home intruder, you’re within your rights to do so. But if you can’t bring yourself to do that for whatever reason, there are alternatives, including non-lethal ammo. Only you can make the decision that’s right for you and your family. The most important thing is to make this decision in advance and then be as prepared as possible should that nightmare situation ever present itself.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from a home intruder, check out my blog post on 40 homemade weapons you already own and join in the discussion.

–Frank Bates

Gun Grabbing Chicago Policies Not Helping As Homicides Rise

According to a crime-tracking blog, stripping residents’ 2nd Amendment rights isn’t doing much to get guns out of criminals’ hands in the Windy City.

Crime In Chicago tallies 510 shootings and 105 homicides through the first four months of 2013.

The blog provides daily updates on violent crime, and maintains data on crime in the city from previous years.

For 2012, the site reports 2,670 shootings in Chicago, an increase of 20 percent from the 2,217 shootings in 2011. Homicides in 2012 totaled 535, compared with 441 in 2011.

Mormon Bishop Ends Attack On Woman, Using His Samurai Sword

A weapon in a good guy’s hands — be it a gun or, maybe, something else — is far from dangerous.

For a woman who was being attacked Tuesday in front of a Salt Lake City home, a 29-inch samurai sword proved to be her salvation.

That’s because homeowner Kent Hendrix awoke to a commotion, went outside and saw the woman being mugged. His son had told him something bad was happening outside, so Hendrix grabbed his sword on the way out and approached the scene.

One look at the blade and its wielder, who also happens to be a Mormon bishop and a fourth-degree black belt, was enough to convince the alleged perpetrator to scram. Hendrix noticed the man appeared to have dropped a tube of Chapstick as he fled, so Hendrix snapped it up and yelled, “I’ve got your DNA and I’ve got your license plate [memorized] — you are so done!”

An hour later, suspect Grant Eggerston turned himself in. He was booked for robbery, attempted burglary, trespassing and violation of a stalking injunction.

Hat Tip: The Blaze

 

War Drums Sound For Conflict With Syria, Iran

As a handful of lawmakers urge American intervention in Syria over alleged usage of chemical weapons by the Bashar Assad regime, the possibility of more Mideast wars is looking likelier by the day.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), based on unsubstantiated reports of chemical weapon use in Syria, called for the United States to “provide weapons to people in the resistance who we trust” as well as other forms of military support for Syrian rebels.

“Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin,” the White House said in a letter Thursday.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has riled war hawks in making remarks about another Mideast nation with tense U.S. relations: Iran.

“I don’t know if all of these efforts that we’re applying in dealing with Iran — one being the international economic sanctions — will in fact change their attitude about what we think is their objective, moving toward a nuclear weapon” Hagel told reporters in Southwest Asia. “I don’t know if what we’re doing will shift their thoughts or their approach.”

Google Reports Content Takedown Requests At A Record High

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (UPI) — Google says takedown requests by governments worldwide to remove content from its services have hit an all-time high.

Between July and December 2012, the search giant said, it received 2,285 government requests for the removal of content on its services, covering 24,179 separate pieces of content, a new record.

In the first half of 2012, Google received 1,811 requests to remove more than 18,000 pieces of content, CNET reported Thursday.

Part part of the company’s Transparency Report launched three years ago, Google’s latest release suggests attempts at political censorship are becoming an increasingly troublesome issue.

“In more places than ever, we’ve been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services,” Google stated. “In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates.”

The requests showed a sharp increase in numbers from Brazil during municipal elections held last fall in that country, Google reported.  Russia also requested many more takedowns, jumping from just six in the first half of 2012 to 114 in the second half.

Google said its YouTube service was the target for 20 countries asking requesting removal of clips from the movie “Innocence of Muslims.”

Google scrutinizes all requests carefully to make sure they’re legal and comply with Google’s policies, the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said in a blog post last year.

To be considered, a request typically must be made in writing, signed by an authorized official, and issued under an appropriate law, he wrote.

Study Of Bizarre Star System Confirms Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity

TORONTO (UPI) — Canadian astronomers say study of a bizarre binary star system show Einstein’s theory of relativity holds true even in the most extreme condition ever observed.

“The unusual pair of stars is quite interesting in its own right but we’ve learned it is also a unique laboratory for testing the limits of one of our most fundamental physical theories, general relativity,” University of Toronto astronomy Professor Marten van Kerkwijk, a member of an international research team, said.

The binary system studied is exceptional because of the unique characteristics of each star and their close proximity to each other, a Toronto release said Thursday.

One is a tiny but unusually heavy neutron star, one of the most massive confirmed to date, with gravity more than 300 billion times stronger than that on Earth.

It is orbited by a rather lightweight dwarf star that travels around the neutron star every two and a half hours, an unusually short period.

Astronomers say observation of the pair have detected a significant change in the orbital period of the binary of eight-millionths of a second per year.

Given the masses of the pulsar and the white dwarf, this turns out to match exactly what Einstein’s theory predicts should be happening.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity says gravity is a consequence of the curvature of space-time created by the presence of mass and energy, and as two stars orbit each other gravitational waves are emitted — wrinkles moving out in space-time.

As a result, the binary slowly loses energy, the stars move closer, and the orbital period shortens as predicted by Einstein.

The study of the extreme binary system provides “further confidence that Einstein’s theory is a good description of nature — even though we know it is not a complete one, given the unresolved inconsistencies with quantum mechanics,” van Kerkwijk said.

Whales Share Knowledge And Learn From Others Much As Humans Do

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (UPI) — Humpback whales are able to learn from each other, passing on hunting techniques in much the same way humans share knowledge, British researchers say.

A study led by the University of St Andrews in Scotland found a new feeding technique, brought on by the need to find new prey, has spread to 40 per cent of a humpback whale population.

Humpback whales in the Atlantic Ocean off New England were forced to find new prey after stocks of herring, their preferred food, crashed in the early 1980s.

A new hunting technique — hitting the water with their tails to herd prey — has spread through the population by cultural transmission, a university release reported Thursday.

“Our study really shows how vital cultural transmission is in humpback populations — not only do they learn their famous songs from each other, they also learn feeding techniques that allow them to buffer the effects of changing ecology,” St. Andrews biologist Luke Rendell said.

Humpbacks around the world normally herd shoals of prey by blowing bubbles underwater to produce ‘bubble nets,” but the new technique, dubbed “lobtail feeding,” involves the whales hitting the water with their tails before diving to produce the bubble nets.

The innovation is specific to a particular prey — sand lance — because its use is concentrated around Atlantic spawning grounds where the sand lance can reach high abundance, the researchers said.

The findings strengthen the case that cetaceans — whales and dolphins — have evolved sophisticated cultural capacities, the researchers said.

Social Norms Not Just Human

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (UPI) — Adopting the behavior of others when on their home territory is not just a human attribute, British scientists say, but has been observed in non-human primates.

The findings could help explain the evolution of human desire to seek out local knowledge — “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” — when visiting a new place or culture.

Researchers at the University of St Andrews observing wild vervet monkeys in South Africa said they found adult males migrating to new groups conformed quickly to the social norms of their new neighbors whether it made sense to them or not.

“At first sight their willingness to conform to local norms may seem a rather mindless response — but after all, it’s how we humans often behave when we visit different cultures,” researcher Andrew Whiten said. “It may make sense in nature, where the knowledge of the locals is often the best guide to what are the optimal behaviors in their environment, so copying them may actually make a lot of sense.

“Our findings suggest that a willingness to conform to what all those around you are doing when you visit a different culture is a disposition shared with other primates,” Whiten said.

Leading primate experts have hailed the study as rare experimental proof of “cultural transmission” in wild primates.

Earth’s Core Hotter Than Thought, Hot As Sun’s Surface

PARIS (UPI) — New measurements suggest the Earth’s inner core is far hotter than previously thought, at 10,8000 degrees F as hot as the sun’s surface, French scientists say.

The Earth’s core is solid, a crystalline form of iron, but the temperature at which that crystal can form has long been debated.

New experiments used X-rays to measure tiny samples of iron at extraordinary pressures in laboratories to analyze how the iron crystals form and melt.

The first such measurements in the early 1990s of iron’s “melting curves” — from which the temperature of Earth’s core can be estimated — suggested a core temperature of about 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientists at the French research agency CEA used the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the source of some of the world’s most intense X-rays, to re-analyze the measurements.

“It was just the beginning of these kinds of measurements so they made a first estimate … to constrain the temperature inside the Earth,” CEA researcher Agnes Dewaele said of the earlier experiments.

“Other people made other measurements and calculations with computers and nothing was in agreement. It was not good for our field that we didn’t agree with each other,” she told BBC News.

“We have to give answers to geophysicists, seismologists, geodynamicists — they need some data to feed their computer models.”

The researchers’ new experiments yielded an estimated core temperature of about 10,800 degrees F, give or take 1,000 degrees, or about the same as the temperature of the sun’s surface.

More importantly, Dewaele said, “now everything agrees.”

Sugary Drinks May Increase Risk Of Diabetes

LONDON (UPI) — One sugar-sweetened soft drink a day can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 percent, researchers in Britain say.

Dr. Dora Romaguera of Imperial College London and researchers from the InterAct consortium analyzed the consumption of juices, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and artificially sweetened soft drinks collected in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found roughly one can of a sugary drink drunk per day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent.

This increase in risk fell slightly to 18 percent after accounting for total calorie intake and body-mass index suggesting the effect of sugar-sweetened soft drinks on diabetes is not purely linked to body weight, Romaguera said.

People who drank more artificially-sweetened soft drinks were also more likely to get type 2 diabetes, but this association appeared to be because participants with a higher BMI tend to drink more artificially sweetened drinks and are also more likely to develop diabetes, the study said.

However, drinking pure fruit juice or diluted juices, sometimes with additives was not associated with diabetes risk, the study said.

“The increase in risk of type 2 diabetes among sugar-sweetened soft drink consumers in Europe is similar to that found in studies in North America,” Romaguera said in a statement.

Gen X Not The Slackers Expected, They’re Burdened Like Their Parents

NEW YORK (UPI) — The MTV Generation, often derided as “slackers,” are affluent, stable and saddled with jobs, mortgages and families as their parents, a U.S. survey found.

A study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute reported 70 percent of Gen Xers — born between 1965 and 1976 — live with a spouse or partner. They have an average of 2.5 children and 82 percent own their own homes, although 17 percent said the value of their homes was less than the debt attached to them.

The Gen Xers grew up in the 1980s and 1990s listening to Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, and watching “MTV” and “The Cosby Show” on TV. They identify with the characters in the movies, “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Forty-six percent were latch-key children whose parents both worked outside the home.

Forty-three percent said they remained in the same type of career throughout their working years and about 40 percent were with the same employer for 10 years or more, while 75 percent said they were working full or part-time. Most were part of a dual-earner household.

Now ages 36-47, Gen Xers are part of the so-called sandwich generation. Many care for both their children and their parents, and 10 percent are grandparents.

Just 19 percent earn less than $35,000 per year and 29 percent earn more than $100,000. Forty-three percent graduated from college and 50 percent said they were behind on their retirement savings.

The survey of 1,000 Gen Xers was conducted by GfK Custom Research North America on behalf of the MetLife Mature Market Institute from Nov. 29-Dec, 19, 2012. No margin of error was provided.

About Half Of U.S. Obese Children Deficient In Vitamin D

DALLAS (UPI) — Nearly half of U.S. children who are obese do not have sufficient levels of vitamin D, a U.S. pediatrician says.

Dr. Christy Turer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, said risk of vitamin D deficiency was even higher for severely obese and minority children.

“One-in-2 children with severe obesity is vitamin D deficient, and only about 10 percent of severely obese African-American children are not deficient,” Turer said in a statement. “While we don’t know for sure what causes the deficiency, there are things parents can do to reduce their child’s risk.”

Left untreated, vitamin D deficiency can pose serious health risks that include rickets and osteomalacia, a condition that causes softening of the bones. The deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and severe asthma, Turer said.

Helpful behavioral changes include limiting television/computer and video game time to less than 2 hours a day, increasing physical activity to more than 2 hours a week and encouraging children to drink 2-3 cups of low-fat vitamin D-fortified milk per day.

While 600 international units of vitamin D per day is recommended for healthy children, obese children may need more, Turer said. Parents should talk to their pediatrician regarding the appropriate dose, Turer advised.

Survey: Gender Gap Wider In Top-Paying Jobs

CHICAGO (UPI) — The balance of genders among top professions leans heavily toward men but women are making strides forward, U.S. employment firm CareerBuilder said.

“While employers have made strides in equalizing compensation for both genders, historical gaps are still present in some organizations today,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder said in a statement.

“Also contributing to the disparity in income levels is a higher representation of men working in more lucrative occupations. Fortunately, we’re starting to see that balance out as women account for a larger percentage of the overall workforce and pursue employment in high-paying areas,” she said.

A CareerBuilder survey indicated that four of 15 top-paying jobs are dominated by women. Among oral and maxillofacial surgeons and among orthodontists, 57 percent are women. Among prosthodontists, 62 percent are women. And 66 percent of pharmacists are women, the survey indicated.

Among physicians and surgeons the gender disparity is modest with 45 percent women and 55 percent men. Among dentists, it is close with 49 percent women.

But in most top-tier jobs, men have most of the positions. Among chief executive officers, 83 percent are men, for example.

Men also comprise 97 percent of engineering managers, 77 percent of computer and information systems managers, 72 percent of natural science managers and 90 percent of air traffic controllers.

Men dominate the fields of petroleum engineers, marketing managers, airline pilots, lawyers and general managers’ positions.

Women dominate in the fields of registered nurse — 96 percent women — and psychiatry, 62 percent of psychiatrists are women.

The survey indicated women make up 57 percent of anesthesiologists, 58 percent of pediatricians, 66 percent of probation officers and 70 percent of translators and interpreters.

Claims adjusters, industrial-organizational psychologists, public relations specialist, curators, graphic designers, editors and mathematical technicians are all mostly women, as are bartenders, 59 percent of whom are women, the survey said.

Where is there balance? There is an even split among political scientists, advertising and promotions managers and school bus drivers.

There is only a small gender gap among arbitrators, mediators and conciliators, sociologists, computer operators, bakers, medical scientists, accountant and auditors, statisticians, retail sales persons, optometrists, art directors, post secondary teachers, and training and development managers, CareerBuilder said.

The survey, conducted in March by Harris Interactive, included interviews with 1,746 men and 1,475 women, CareerBuilder said.

Jobless Claims Down Sharply

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Labor Department said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 16,000 to 339,000 in the week that ended last Saturday.

The department revised last week’s estimate from 352,000 to 355,000.

The four-week rolling average for the week fell by 4,500 to 357,500.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 13 were in California, with 24,303 additional claims, Texas  with 3,050 and Florida with 2,623.

The largest decreases for the week were in New York with a drop of 14,113, Michigan down by 5,998 and New Jersey with a decline of 4,204.

Mortgage Rates At Or Close To Record Lows

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. mortgage rates hit record lows or close to them in the latest week, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said Thursday.

Rates slid for the fourth consecutive week with five-year adjustable rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate loans both hitting record lows, Freddie Mac said.

Average interest rates for five-year ARM loans dropped to 2.58 percent from 2.6 percent with 0.5 point, Freddie Mac said. Average rates for 15-year fixed rate loans fell from 2.64 percent to 2.61 percent with 0.7 point.

Rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages slid from 3.41 percent to 3.4 percent with an average 0.8 point to 3.41 percent with an average of 0.7 point, Freddie Mac said.

One point is equal to 1 percent of the amount of the loan and is typically paid up front. It includes a corresponding discount on the loan’s long-term interest rates.

One-year adjustable rate mortgages using 10-year bonds as a benchmark averaged 2.62 percent with 0.3 point in the week, down from 2.63 percent in the previous week.

U.S. Economy Expanded 2.5 Percent In First Quarter

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. gross domestic product expanded in the first quarter but less than expected, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday.

The economy grew 2.5 percent January through March, shy of the 3 percent gain economists had predicted but a sizable jump from the 0.4 percent gain of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Economists had expected a pendulum swing forward in inventory buildup and a boost from the housing market.

The 2.5 percent gain is considered an advanced figure that could be revised as more information becomes available.

The bureau said positive contributions were broad in the first quarte, with gains in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, residential investment and non-residential fixed investment, which refers to commercial property.

The gains were offset by declines in federal, state and local government spending. There was also an increase in imports, which subtracts from the GDP.

The price index for the quarter, which reflects prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.1 percent after rising 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Prices excluding food an energy, the category known as core prices, rose 1.3 percent January through March after increasing 1.2 percent October through December.

Personal spending in the quarter rose 3.2 percent after a 1.8 percent gain in the previous quarter.

Spending on goods expected to last three years or more rose 8.1 percent. Spending on non-durable goods increased 1 percent.

Federal spending fell 8.4 percent in the quarter after dropping 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. National defense spending fell 11.5 percent after a 22.1 percent drop in the previous quarter.

Canadians To Obama: Put Up Or Shut Up On Keystone

Canadian officials are urging President Barack Obama to move to end delays holding up the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Canadian natural resource minister Joe Oliver said the President risks damaging relations between the two countries in not doing so.

As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to keep the State Department from approving the project, the Canadian official said that a rejection of the Keystone plan “would represent a serious reversal in our long-standing energy relationship.”

He also wants environmental objectors to know that Canada is going continue to develop and export its available resources regardless of what the U.S. decides.

“Make no mistake,” Oliver said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Canadian resource development and export, including from the oil sands, will continue, Keystone or no Keystone.”

He later went on, “Anyone who equates the rejection of Keystone XL with some kind of body blow to the oil sands is just plain wrong.”