Study: Being Alone Makes Danger Appear Closer Than When In A Group

EAST LANSING, Mich. (UPI) — Humans when alone see threats as closer than they actually are but in a close group that misperception disappears, Michigan State University researchers say.

Their study is evidence people’s visual biases change when surrounded by members of their own group, creating a perception of “safety in numbers,” they said.

“Having one’s group or posse around actually changes the perceived seriousness of the threat,” psychology Professor Joseph Cesario said. “In that situation, they don’t see the threat quite so closely because they have their people around to support them in responding to the threat.”

The research was inspired by an earlier MSU study of wild hyenas in Kenya where scientists played recordings of hyenas from other parts of Africa and found the Kenya hyenas were more likely to approach the source of the sound when they were in groups and more likely to flee when they were alone.

In two studies of more than 300 participants, Cesario and colleague Carlos Navarrete found people who are alone judge threats as much closer than when they are in a group.

It’s an evolutionary adaptation found in many social species, they said.

“This is about evolutionarily significant threats, such as members of a different group coming to steal resources or attack you,” Cesario said. “The cost of not responding soon enough to a threat like that could be death or serious injury. So seeing that threat as closer allows you to respond with enough time to spare.

“What our work shows is that having your group or coalition around you makes that kind of early responding less necessary.”

Bill Could Mandate Background Checks For Gunpowder

A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would mandate background checks on anyone attempting to buy traditional gun powder, commonly known as black powder.

The move comes as Democratic Senators react to the Boston Marathon bombing. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), on whose behalf Reid introduced the bill, said requiring the checks “is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our communities.”

While gunpowder is no longer used in the majority of modern consumer ammunition, it’s still used for explosives, fireworks and muzzle-loading weapons. Other types of munitions powder, including modern smokeless powder, would also require background checks for amounts exceeding 50 pounds.

 

Survey: Most Family Caregivers Lie To Those They’re Caring For

NAPLES, Fla. (UPI) — Seventy-three percent of U.S. adults who care for an elderly parent of family member admit to lying to the person they’re caring for, a survey indicates.

AgingCare.com surveyed more than 700 people taking care of an elderly parent or family member and found:

— Of the 73 percent of family caregivers, who admitted to lying to the person they’re caring for; 43 percent lied on a weekly basis.

— Half who admitted to lying said it was justified because it either made their own life easier or it’s for the elderly family member’s “own good.”

— Only 28 percent, who lied said it was wrong and felt guilty.

Family caregivers are most honest about their loved one’s medical condition and least honest about their own feelings: 65 percent lied about their own feelings, while 10 percent lied about their loved one’s medical reports or test results.

The AgingCare.com Caregiver Forum provides an outlet for caregiver honesty; members can share their candid feelings or worries without condemnation, without guilt and without hurting the one they love.

For example, one forum member said: “People tell me how great I am for taking care of my mom and when they tell me this I feel worse because of the way I really feel deep inside. I want my life back.”

Another member said, “I’m usually pretty compassionate but people who compare taking care of someone with dementia to taking care of a child should be whomped upside the head.”

No survey details were provided.

More Green Spaces: Better Health, Less Stress, More Money

EXETER, England (UPI) — People who live in cities with more green space reported less mental distress, better health, higher life satisfaction and income, British researchers say.

Mathew White and colleagues at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School examined data from a national longitudinal survey of households in Britain.

“Living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space compared to one with relatively low levels of green space was associated with a positive impact on well-being equivalent to roughly a third of the impact of being married vs. unmarried and a tenth of the impact of being employed vs. unemployed,” White said in a statement.

The study, published in Psychological Science, showed even if stacked up against other factors that contribute to life satisfaction, living in a greener area had a significant effect.

“These kinds of comparisons are important for policymakers when trying to decide how to invest scarce public resources, e.g. for park development or upkeep, and figuring out what ‘bang’ they’ll get for their buck,” White said.

Findings from previous research suggested a correlation between green space and well-being, but those studies weren’t able to rule out the possibility that people with higher levels of well-being simply moved to greener areas, White said.

White and colleagues said they solved the problem by using longitudinal data from the national survey collected annually from more than 10,000 people from 1991-2008.

Meeting The Sexual Needs Of Partner Helps Keep Spark Alive

TORONTO (UPI) — People willing to meet their partner’s needs above their own may keep the sexual spark alive in long-term relationships, Canadian and British researchers say.

Amy Muise, a post-doctoral fellow of the University of Toronto, and colleagues at the University of Cambridge in England and the University of Guelph in Canada said in a 21-day daily experience study of 44 long-term couples, individuals higher in sexual communal strength engaged in daily sexual interactions for approach goals, and in turn, reported high levels of daily sexual desire.

“Communal relationships” refers to giving to a partner based on need without the expectation of direct reciprocation, where exchange relationships involve giving with the expectation that similar benefits will be returned or tit-for-tat.

“Sexual communal strength is communal motivation in the specific domain of sexuality — so a motivation to meet a partner’s needs without the expectation of direct reciprocation,” Muise told United Press International.

Sexual communal strength also buffered against declines in sexual desire over a four-month period of time. These associations held after controlling for general communal strength, relationship satisfaction, sexual frequency, age and whether or not the couples had children, the study said.

In other words, those who put the needs of their partner ahead of their own and put the relationship ahead of their own needs, ended up having higher intimacy and more desire for sex.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the May issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Mangoes May Help Lower Blood Sugar And Cancer Risk

STILLWATER, Okla. (UPI) — Mangoes may have a positive effect on blood sugar in obese individuals and help to limit inflammation, U.S. researchers suggest.

Edralin Lucas, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Oklahoma State University, examined the effects of daily mango consumption on clinical parameters and body composition in obese subjects — body mass index of 30 or more.

Eleven men and nine women participated in the study, which included daily dietary supplementation with 10 grams of freeze dried mango — the equivalent to approximately 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces, of fresh mango for 12 weeks.

Blood sugar levels at the conclusion of the study were significantly lower than the baseline in both male and female subjects, but there no significant changes in body composition for either gender, and BMI increased significantly in female subjects but not male subjects.

These findings are the result of a single study and more research is needed on the effects of mango consumption on human health.

“The results of this study support what we learned in our recent animal model, which found mango improved blood glucose in mice fed a high-fat diet,” Lucas said in a statement. “Although the mechanism by which mango exerts its effects warrants further investigation, we do know that mangoes contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds. Research has shown that several other plants — soy, green tea and grape seed — and their polyphenolic compounds have a positive effect on adipose tissue.”

The findings were presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Boston.

Expert Suggests Not Reheating Food In Plastic In Microwave

TEMPE, Ariz. (UPI) — Heating leftovers in the office microwave can leave possible toxins in the food and cold spots that harbor bacteria, a U.S. expert says.

Rolf Halden, the director for the Center for Environmental Security at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, said the level of chemicals leaching into food while being reheated in the microwave depends on the type of plastic put in the microwave, the time it is heated and the physical condition of the container, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We don’t know if and how many people die from plastic exposure, but we do know that in the developed world we suffer from a lot of diseases —  breast cancer, obesity and early onset puberty — that are less prevalent in developing countries,” Halden told the Journal. “These are a result of our lifestyle. From a public health perspective, we should consider heated plastic an unnecessary source of exposure to harmful elements and eliminate it.”

Halden, who has done studies on emerging contaminants and plastics for more than a decade, said phthalates can leach into food, resulting in hormone imbalances and birth defects — but no one knows at what level those effects are triggered.

Bisphenol A is potentially worse. Used in everything from the lining of metal soup cans to receipt paper, BPA was banned from baby bottles by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but other exposure continues.

Old, cracked plastic containers and those washed hundreds of times often give off more toxins when heated, Halden said.

Instead of plastic, Halden suggested using glass or ceramic for microwave heating, or better yet, avoid the the hot and cold spots of microwave reheating and use an oven or the stove.

Mortgage Activity Rises Marginally

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. mortgage activity rose slightly last week, as long-term interest rates dropped, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

The association said mortgage activity rose 0.2 percent in the week, while refinancing activity rose 0.3 percent from the previous week.

Interest rates for 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgages decreased from 3.67 percent to 3.65 percent during the week. Points for 30-year conforming loans fell from 0.5 to 0.41.

The average interest rate for 30-year contracts on jumbo loans — larger than $417,500 — was unchanged at 3.77 percent. Points for 30-year jumbo loans rose from 0.27 to 0.37.

Interest rates for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell from 2.91 percent to 2.89 percent, with points rising from 0.34 to 0.4.

The average rate for 30-year loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration held at 3.37 percent with points rising from 0.55 to 0.64. The average rate for short-term, adjustable-rate mortgages rose in the week from 2.57 percent to 2.62 percent in the week, with points falling from 0.29 to 0.21, the MBA said.

Durable Goods Down In March

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. durable goods orders dropped 5.7 percent in March, marking the second downturn in the past three months, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Factory orders dropped to $216.3 billion, down by $13.1 billion after a 4.3 percent increase in February, which was previously reported as a 5.7 percent gain.

Excluding transportation equipment, factory orders for goods expected to last at least three years fell 1.4 percent. Excluding defense orders, new business for factories dropped 4.7 percent, the Commerce Department said.

Transportation orders, which have been see-sawing for seven months, dropped 15 percent or $11 billion to $62.4 billion.

Among transportation orders, non-defense aircraft and parts led the decline with a drop of $8.5 billion in new orders.

Durable goods inventories, up for 17 of the past 18 months, rose slightly to $377.2 billion. Shipments, up six of the past seven months, rose 0.4 percent to $230 billion.

New orders for capital goods in March fell by 10.6 percent or $8.3 billion to $70.2 billion.

The capital goods category is considered a leading indicator, showing how much businesses are investing in themselves for items such as printing presses, tool and die presses, backhoes and other equipment. If business managers sense a downturn ahead, they hesitate to invest in new equipment.

Women Associate Business With Immorality More Than Men

BERKELEY, Calif. (UPI) — U.S. researchers suggest women enter business school at a lower rate than men and are underrepresented in high-ranking positions because of ethical concerns.

Laura J. Kray of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and Jessica A. Kennedy of the University of Pennsylvania said they propose women, more than men, find ethical compromises unacceptable.

Ethical compromises may be especially prevalent in business organizations because the primary goal in business is to produce profit, a secular value. Many business executives feel obligated to compromise their values to advance their careers and achieve company goals.

Although all careers may involve ethical compromises to some extent, the profit motive distinguishes business from other fields, such as law and medicine, which also have ethical values, such as justice and health, as underlying justifications, the researchers said.

In one study, the researchers found when reading decisions that compromised ethical values for social status and monetary gains, women reported feeling more moral outrage and perceived less business sense in the decisions than men.

In the second study, the researchers established a causal relationship between aversion to ethical compromises and disinterest in business careers by manipulating the presence of ethical compromises in job descriptions.

In the third study, Kray and Kennedy found women implicitly associated business with immorality more than men did.

“Women’s relatively strong implicit association between business and immorality may explain why they are underrepresented in business careers,” the study said.

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Opposition To SEC Disclosure Rule Joins Forces

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Three major business groups in Washington have lined up against a proposed rule that would force firms to disclose political donations, a joint letter shows.

The letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable was sent to executives of Fortune 200 companies encouraging them to oppose efforts to force publicly traded firms to disclose political donations, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Securities and Exchange Commission officials, however, have indicated that they are working on a rule that could be proposed by the end of the month, the Times said.

While business groups stand in opposition to current laws that allow for secret political donations, the SEC has been flooded with requests for the agency to create a regulation that would have companies under their jurisdiction disclose what they dole out to political campaigns.

Close to a half a million comments have been submitted to the SEC on the issue, the most comments filed on any issue in the agency’s history, the Times said.

Overwhelmingly, the comments are in favor of a new rule.

Companies fear political retaliation or a negative reaction from customers if their political donations are exposed.

The issue is so heated that Republicans in the House have introduced a bill that would prohibit the SEC from writing a rule concerning transparency of political donations.

“The SEC has to deal with its own problems, and with what they’re actually authorized to be doing,” said Steve Lonegan, an official with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political organization.

On the other hand, “it’s a basic precept of American securities law that shareholders should be given the information they need to evaluate their companies,” said Robert Jackson Jr. a law professor at Columbia University.

McDonald’s Burger Survives 14 Years Without Deteriorating

ST. GEORGE, Utah, (UPI) —  A Utah man said a McDonald’s burger he bought to use as a demonstration item in 1999 has shown few signs of aging in 14 years.

David Whipple of St. George said he bought the hamburger — topped with a pickle, mustard and ketchup — July 7, 1999, at a McDonald’s in Logan and let it age for a month for a lesson on enzymatic action he gave to a group of weight loss advocates, KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, reported Wednesday.

“At the little meeting, I showed the hamburger and the pickle, which was just starting to disintegrate,” Whipple writes. “There was no decomposition to the meat or bun, nor any mold, fungus or smell. It had no bad odor at all.”

Whipple said he put the burger in his jacket pocket, where it spent a summer in the trunk of his car before being discovered in a closet a year or two later.

“It was purely a fluke about hanging on to it,” Whipple said.

Whipple said the burger has since survived without refrigeration or any other types of preservation and still looks like it did the day he bought it, sans pickle.

He said he does not know how the burger managed to survive for so many years without any signs of mold or decomposition.

“That’s the million-dollar question. They dig up things in King Tut’s tomb,” he said. “It’s going to take a smarter person than I am to figure that out.”

Man With Sword Comes To Neighbor’s Aid

SALT LAKE CITY, (UPI) —  A Salt Lake City woman being assaulted by a co-worker was rescued by a group of neighbors, including one wielding a sword.

Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said the 35-year-old woman was leaving her home just after 7 a.m. Tuesday when she was attacked by a 38-year-old man against whom she had obtained a stalking injunction after they ceased to be co-workers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.

Hoyal said the man chased the woman down the street and she attempted to use pepper spray against him but failed.

Police said numerous neighbors came to help the woman, including a man wielding a sword.

Kent Hendrix, 47, a fourth-degree black belt in the martial arts known as Kishindo, said his son woke him and told him a woman was being attacked outside their home.

“I threw on some clothes and grabbed my sword,” he said.

Hendrix chased the man and was able to take down the man’s license plate number.

Volunteers Sought For One-Way Trip To Mars

NEW YORK,  (UPI) —  A Dutch non-profit called the Mars One Foundation announced in New York it is taking applications for volunteers willing to take a one-way trip to Mars.

The foundation announced at a New York news conference it is planning to send the first group of humans to Mars in 2022, with an aim to land in 2023 and establish the first permanent human settlement on the red planet, CNN reported Tuesday.

Bas Lansdorp, chief executive officer of Mars One, said “no new inventions are needed to land humans on Mars” and the largest obstacles facing the mission are financial. However, he said money will be saved by making the trip one-way, as new technologies would have to be developed before a return trip could be made possible.

Lasdorp said the idea is for the volunteers to live out the rest of their lives on Mars.

“It’s likely that there will be a crematorium,” Lansdorp said. “It’s up to the people on Mars to decide what to do with their dead.”

Grant Anderson of the Paragon Space Development Corp., which manufactures life-support systems and is a partner in the Mars One effort, said some technological obstacles still need to be cleared before the mission can proceed.

“Questions of reliability and robustness have to be answered before we leave Earth,” he said.

Lansdorp said anyone over the age of 18 can apply for the mission by submitting a video and a $38 application fee.

“We are very excited about launching the selection program. Round One is where we open the doors to Mars for everyone on Earth. This is an international mission and it is very important for the project that anyone anywhere can ask themselves: Do I want this? Am I ready for this? If the answer is yes then we want to hear from you,” Lansdorp said.

Teen Lands 759-Pound Marlin On Make-A-Wish Trip

HONOLULU, (UPI) —  A Texas teenager on a Make-A-Wish Foundation sponsored trip to Hawaii caught a 759-pound marlin with the help of a boat crew.

Sterling Ellis, 19, of Houston, who is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant, was sent to Hawaii by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and spent the day fishing 15 miles off Kewalo Basin in Honolulu with the crew of The Wild Bunch, KHNL-TV, Honolulu, reported Tuesday.

“We just call it a blind strike. Just out of nowhere. We thought it was a tuna first. We really did.” captain Karl Adams said of Ellis’ unexpected catch.

“I was reeling it, and then I saw this big black fin and then it just started going the opposite direction, taking all my line,” Ellis said. “My arm hurt a little bit and he’s like just keep reeling and I’m like, I don’t think I can. Not that it’s like pressure on me, but my arm is like locked up and I can’t really reel.”

Ellis said it took more than an hour to reel in his catch with the help of the crew. The fish turned out to be an 11-foot-long, 759-pound marlin.

“He was a little tired and that was half the battle, bringing it back in the boat. We’re one of the few boats that don’t have a transom door but we do have a Jim pole to get him in. And it took all my deckhands and myself and two kids that are not that big to get it in the boat,” Adams said.

The captain said Ellis will get to keep the marlin’s bill as a souvenir of his catch. The rest of the fish will be sold by the charter boat to pay its fuel cost.

Obamas Caution Daughters With ‘Family Tattoo’

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  President Barack Obama told NBC’s “Today” show he and first lady Michelle Obama have a threat in place to keep their daughters from getting tattoos.

Obama said in an interview aired Wednesday with host Savannah Guthrie that he and Michelle have told their daughters,  Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, they are free to get tattoos — but there’s a catch, Politico reported Wednesday.

“What we’ve said to the girls is that ‘If you guys ever decide to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo, in the same place, and we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo,'” Obama said.

Group Says Mosque Accused Boston Bombers Attended Has Ties To Radicals

BOSTON, (UPI) —  The mosque attended by the two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings is associated with other terror suspects, an interfaith organization said.

Several people who attended the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., have been investigated for terrorism, while its sister mosque in Boston, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, has invited guests who have defended terrorism suspects, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev attended the Cambridge mosque and are accused of setting two bombs that killed three people and injured at least 260 others at the April 15 Boston Marathon. On Friday, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, later was captured.

Charles Jacobs, leader of the interfaith Americans for Peace and Tolerance that investigated the mosques, said the two mosques teach a type of Islamic thought that promotes grievances against the West, a distrust of law enforcement and opposition to Western government, dress and social values.

“We don’t know where these boys were radicalized, but this mosque has a curriculum that radicalizes people. Other people have been radicalized there,” Jacobs told USA Today.

Leadership of the two mosques is intertwined, and the ideology they teach is the same, Jacobs said.

Ilya Feoktistov, the Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s research director, said more than half of the $15.5 million used to found the Boston mosque came from Saudi source.

Yusufi Vali, executive director at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, said his mosque does not preach radical ideology and isn’t responsible for the acts of its worshipers.

“If there were really any worry about us being extreme,” Vali said, U.S. law enforcement agencies would not partner with the Muslim American Society and the Boston mosque to hold monthly meetings to reach out to the Muslim community.

The two mosques are both affiliated with the Muslim American Society, an organization that describes itself as an American Islamic revival movement, USA Today said. The society also has been described by federal prosecutors as the “overt arm” of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent organization of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi Seen As Most Polarizing Congressional Leader

PRINCETON, N.J., (UPI) —  Party leaders in the U.S. Senate and House are generally the most unpopular members of Congress, a Gallup poll released Wednesday indicated.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was the most well-known and the least well-liked, results indicated. Thirty-one percent of Americans said they view Pelosi favorably and 48 percent said they viewed her unfavorably.

Pelosi’s net minus-17 image score compares with minus-11 image score for Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, minus-10 for Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, and minus-8 for Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.

Americans also rated Pelosi as the most polarizing of the four congressional leaders, a view held the last time the four were rated in May 2010.

Gallup said Pelosi, when compared with Boehner, Reid, and McConnell, received the highest favorable reviews from members of her own party and the highest unfavorable reviews from members of the opposing party.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,012 adults conducted April 11-14. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Man Cleared Of Ricin Involvement Says He Feels ‘Vindicated’

TUPELO, Miss., (UPI) —  A celebrity impersonator once accused of mailing ricin-laced letters to the White House said he feels “vindicated” after his release from a Mississippi jail.

Authorities dropped charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, of Tupelo, Miss., saying they found no evidence he was behind the mailing of the poison to President Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a Mississippi county judge, CNN reported.

“It’s like a train has been lifted off my shoulders,” Curtis told CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” Tuesday. “I’m overwhelmed. I’m extremely happy to be vindicated and out and able to see my kids.”

Lawyers for Curtis said he had been framed by J. Everett Dutschke, whom authorities said was a person of interest in the case. Dutschke is a martial arts instructor and is considered a longtime personal enemy of Curtis,’ Tupelo’s Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

“I do believe that someone who was familiar and is familiar with Kevin just simply took his personal information and did this to him,” said Christi McCoy, Curtis’ lawyer. “It is absolutely horrific that someone would do this.”

“I think now, how many people are thrown in jail because of circumstantial evidence and someone can frame you that easily,” Curtis said

It isn’t immediately clear why the two men clashed but Curtis said they exchanged angry email messages to each other for years.

A law enforcement official told The Wall Street Journal the FBI wanted to find out if the alleged feud between the two men was behind the letters sent to Washington.

The National Guard searched Dutschke’s neighborhood and house Tuesday, though have brought no charges against him, the Daily Journal said.

Dutschke, 41, has denied involvement in the incident.

Dutschke attorney Lori Nail Basham was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying her client was “cooperating fully” and hadn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

At a news conference after his release, Curtis, 45, a celebrity impersonator, said he had no ill feelings toward prosecutors or the president and was glad to be free.

“I respect President Obama,” he said. “I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official.”

Dutschke was arrested in January on charges of child molesting. He was released on $25,000 bond and is awaiting trial.

He ran for the lower house of the state Legislature in 2007 but lost to incumbent Steve Holland. Holland’s mother, Sadie Holland, is the county judge who received one of the letters.

Petraeus Named Visiting Professor At NYC Honors College

NEW YORK, (UPI) —  Former CIA Director David Petraeus was named visiting professor of public policy at Macauley Honors College at City University of New York, the school said.

The highly decorated four-star general’s position will begin Aug. 1, a release from the college said Tuesday.

“CUNY is profoundly honored to welcome Dr. Petraeus to our academic community,” CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein said. “With his appointment, our students will have a unique opportunity to learn about public policy firsthand from a distinguished leader with extraordinary experience and expertise in international security issues, intelligence matters and nation building.”

“I am very pleased to have an opportunity to work with the talented students at Macaulay Honors College. Sixty percent of Macaulay students are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, and as the son of an immigrant who settled north of New York City, I identify with them and applaud their achievements in earning a place in CUNY’s honors college,” Petraeus said.

“Beyond that, I look forward to leading a seminar at Macaulay that examines the developments that could position the United States and our North American partners to lead the world out of the current global economic slowdown,” he added.

Petraeus resigned as CIA director Nov. 9 after admitting he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

Gay Paris, Washington Whitewashes Words, Acquittals For Gosnell, Wrong Guy In Ricin Case, And Pay Up, Mr. President: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 4-24-2013

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.

  • Amid a highly charged and polarized atmosphere of vehement support and opposition, the French parliament legalized gay marriage Tuesday. Then, in the streets of Paris, things got ugly.
  • No more offensive words like “penmanship,” “freshman” or “fireman.” The Governor of Washington State has signed into law a bill that mandates words that could be construed as favoring one gender (the male one) be eradicated from all State legislation, both existing and in the future.
  • With more murder charges still pending, Pennsylvania abortion provider Kermit Gosnell was acquitted by a judge Tuesday on three murder counts, as well as one count of infanticide and five counts of abusing a corpse. There’s no reason to go into the grisly details of this man’s trial here, but the grand jury report describes more than you could ever want to know.
  • The Tupelo, Miss., man arrested last week for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to the President and some members of Congress has been set free and his charges dropped. The FBI says it can’t find evidence that Paul Kevin Curtis had any access to ricin after searching his home.
  • President Barack Obama was in the California town of Atherton a few weeks ago, attending a series of dinners to help raise funds for the Democratic National Committee. The visit, which had nothing to do with Obama’s job, required the town to commit its police services as supplements to the President’s already beefy retinue of Federal security guys. So the city council is sending him an $8,000 bill.

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

Pew Study: Nearly All Americans Lost Worth Under Obama-Led ‘Recovery’

According to a new statistical report, the only Americans who saw their money grow during the past two years of “economic recovery” touted by the Administration of President Barack Obama are those who weren’t hurting to begin with: the wealthy.

Everybody else? On the whole, they lost money. But who does that group include, exactly?

Why, nearly everyone.

According to the report, published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, 93 percent — that’s 93 percent — of the American population saw their households’ mean net worth fall by an average of 4 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Four percent isn’t negligible, but it’s at least small enough a number to defend rhetorically: “[W]e are poised to grow in 2013,” Obama dissembled in February, after a bad economic report indicated his spending-spree recovery policy might not be working.

But 93 percent isn’t negligible. That’s almost everyone — every household in the United States. Whether incomes in those households rose a little, stayed flat or fell, their net worth, on average, was less in 2011 than it was in 2009.

And here’s another number that isn’t negligible: 28 percent. That’s how much the net worth of the richest 7 percent of American households grew, on average, over the same time period.

In contrast with the unwashed masses, who got 4 percent poorer while the American Recovery and Investment Act went forward and the Federal Reserve printed money, the rich got 28 percent richer:

From 2009 to 2011, the mean wealth of the 8 million households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3,173,895 from an estimated $2,476,244, while the mean wealth of the 111 million households in the less affluent group fell to an estimated $133,817 from an estimated $139,896.

That’s because speculation under Obama is good business, while real goods keep seeing their worth shrivel. “Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial holdings, while less affluent households typically have their wealth more heavily concentrated in the value of their home,” the report notes.

Guess what the stock market’s done over the past two years? Now think about home values over the same time period. The money made by the richest 7 percent was still enough to lift the aggregate wealth of American households, both rich and poor, by $5 trillion, or 14 percent.

Rand Paul Says Gang Of Eight Immigration Bill Doesn’t Address System’s Failures

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wrote a letter Monday urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to hold up any action on proposed immigration reform until Congress better understands what’s actually broken with the immigration laws already in place — laws that failed to halt the immigration of the alleged Boston bombers from proceeding unchecked.

“Before Congress moves forward, some important national security questions must be addressed,” Paul said. “The facts emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing have exposed a weakness in our current system. If we don’t use this debate as an opportunity to fix flaws in our current system, flaws made even more evident last week, then we will not be doing our jobs.”

A coalition of Congressional leaders — you know them as the Democrats and RINOs of the “Gang of Eight” — are backing an immigration bill up for debate this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

That bill includes a number of new immigration enforcement provisions, including measures to tighten the U.S.-Mexico border, monitoring visa holders and adding more customs agents. And, in keeping with President Barack Obama’s immigration reform blueprint, the bill would set illegals on a 13-year track toward American citizenship.

Paul is arguing that these steps are borne more from concerns over illegal immigration originating from the southern U.S. border, but don’t do much to examine how the system as a whole fails to stop the entrance of Islamist terrorists who came here legally from across the Atlantic.

Why did the current system allow two individuals to immigrate to the United States from the Chechen Republic in Russia, an area known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, who then committed acts of terrorism? Were there any safeguards? Could this have been prevented? Does the immigration reform before us address this?

…In the wake of 9/11, there was a comprehensive reform of our intelligence gathering system, yet our improved intelligence gathering system did not adequately detect these extremists. We need to understand possible intelligence failures and craft solutions.

Paul is calling for hearings in the Senate Homeland Security and Government affairs committee to study ways that would-be immigrants hoping to enter the United States from “high-risk areas” can be vetted by a more thorough security screening process.

Other Republicans, like Senator John Conryn of Texas, have expressed similar security concerns with the Gang’s proposed reform.

Then there are real cops, who have to enforce whatever Congress passes. They think the proposed comprehensive reform bill stinks.

“Never before have I seen such contempt for law enforcement officers as what I’ve seen from the Gang of Eight,” Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, said in testimony Monday. “Senators invite illegal aliens to testify before Congress… but American citizens working as law enforcement officers within our nation’s broken immigration system are purposely excluded from the process and prohibited from providing input.”

On the whole, Paul is voicing a conservative view shared by many who, in light of the Boston bombings, have reflected on just what the proposal before the Senate really accomplishes (amnesty) and what it can’t prevent (terrorism).

But with the proposal’s strong media play, as well as assiduous support from the Obama Administration, pointing out the other side of comprehensive immigration reform to average Americans, who are being sold the plan with every “click” of the TV dial, may prove too challenging for Paul and other conservative critics to overcome.