Missing Horse Found With Help Of Telepathic Communicator

REDMOND, Wash., (UPI) —  A Washington state woman said rescuers got help from a telepathic animal communicator when they found her horse trapped in a ravine.

Barbara Linstedt said Gemma, her 4-year-old Norwegian fjord, escaped Monday from her stall at the Saddle Rock Stables in Redmond and caretakers spent hours searching for the 800-pound horse before calling in horse communicator Joan Ranquet, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Linstedt said Ranquet used her abilities to communicate telepathically with the horse and determine she was trapped in a tight space near shrubbery where she could hear both road noise and water.

Linstedt said she decided Ranquet must be referring to the ravine, and Gemma was found on a ledge about 70 feet down.

Rescuers led by the Washington State Animal Response Team put a helmet and harness on Gemma Tuesday and they were able to lift her up using pulleys.

“It’s amazing,” Linstedt said. “It’s an absolute miracle that we found her and got her out.”

FBI Intercepts Possible Ricin-Laced Letter Sent To President Obama

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The Secret Service said a possible ricin-tainted letter sent to President Obama Thursday seemed similar to a letter sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A spokeswoman with the FBI’s Washington Field Office said the Secret Service intercepted a “suspicious letter” and the FBI was testing it for the highly toxic material, The Washington Post reported.

“U.S. Secret Service can confirm that the White House mail screening facility intercepted a letter addressed to the White House that [was] similar to letters previously addressed to Mayor Bloomberg in New York,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “This letter has been turned over to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation.”

On Wednesday, authorities intercepted ricin-contaminated letters mailed to Bloomberg and the gun-control group he founded, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has been an outspoken advocate in the recent push for stricter gun laws.

Earlier this year, ricin-laced letters were sent to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a Mississippi judge. Police in Washington state last week also arrested a man in a death threat to a judge and two ricin-tainted letters sent earlier this month.

Here’s Why Cruz Doesn’t Trust The Republicans

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Congressional establishment he didn’t trust them, whether Democrat or Republican, with the task of crafting a budget that will force government to spend within its means. His “Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans” retort to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has resonated with true fiscal conservatives nationwide since then.

In a Breitbart column Thursday, contributor (and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan) Al Regnery has taken Cruz’ now-famous declaration and used it as the jumping-off point for a little history lesson that serves as an instructive refresher on how, for years, establishment Republicans led the charge toward fiscal irresponsibility that President Barack Obama has simply accelerated.

From Medicare Part D to No Child Left Behind and from the Wall Street bailout to the “original” Republican White House economic stimulus program, establishment Republicans are guilty of the same fiscal foolishness as the current Presidential Administration is perpetrating.

It’s a good read, so check it out and pass it along.

Marines Tortured, Killed Couple For Pleasure, Prosecutor Says

RIVERSIDE, Calif.,  (UPI) —  Three former U.S. Marines tortured and killed a fellow Marine and his wife for pleasure, a California prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments.

Prosecutor Daniel DeLimon said the defendants were “Marines by day, criminals by night,” The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif., reported.

Tyrone Miller, 25; Emrys John, 23; and Kevin Cox, 25, could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of murder, burglary, robbery and sexual assault.

They are being tried in the deaths of Sgt. Jan Pietrzak, 24, and his wife, Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, in their home on Oct. 15, 2008.

DeLimon told jurors the defendants committed the crimes partly for profit but also for “the enjoyment of the entire experience.”

Cox’s attorney, Ryan Markson, argued his client had only a minor role but went along out of fear of the other defendants.

Markson said Miller had a motive to kill Pietrzak because the sergeant had threatened Miller’s potential promotion to corporal.

The trial began in April. Closing arguments began Wednesday in Cox’s case, and a second jury was expected to hear closing arguments Thursday for Miller and John.

Genetically Engineered Wheat Found In Oregon Field

EUGENE, Ore., (UPI) —  The discovery of what appears to be genetically engineered wheat on a farm in eastern Oregon could threaten the state’s exports, officials say.

A farmer in eastern Oregon made the find when he sprayed a field with the weed-killer glyphosate to prepare it for spring planting, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Wednesday. The farmer discovered some wheat survived the spraying, suggesting it was genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto Co. markets glyphosate under the name Roundup and sells genetically engineered seed advertised as Roundup-ready.

Much of Oregon’s wheat crop is exported to East Asia to be used for noodles and crackers, but state Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said many countries will not accept genetically engineered crops.

“Clearly there’s a concern about market reaction,” Coba said. “Japan and Korea jump out. They do not want genetically engineered food, they do not want genetically engineered wheat. They could shut off the market to us.”

She said the wheat industry might have to pay to have exports tested.

Mike Firko — assistant director of Biological and Technical Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — said no other genetically engineered wheat has been found so far.

Obama’s Brother To Sell Hand-Written Letters From President

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  U.S. President Barack Obama’s brother is selling two letters the president wrote to relatives in Kenya for $15,000 each, officials said.

The handwritten letters will be available through U.S. collector Gary Zimet’s Momentsintime.com, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Zimet said he reached out to Obama’s half-brother, Malik Abongo “Roy” Obama, who lives in the Kenyan village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, the Obamas’ ancestral home, and asked if he had received any letters from his brother.

“I wrote to Malik and didn’t know if I would get a response. I was astonished when I did. I sent a letter to a post office box in Kenya. I asked him if he had any letters from his brother. I didn’t expect to hear from him ever, but he wrote back and said, ‘I have two letters,'” Zimet said. “These letters show great interest on the president’s part in his family, they are priced at $15,000 each. We didn’t go too much into Malik’s relationship with his half-brother, I got a sense it was cordial but not overly warm.”

Malik Obama, 55, is the son of the president’s father and his first wife.

U.S. Soldier To Plead Guilty In Afghan Massacre

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., (UPI) —  The U.S. Army soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan villagers in a grisly predawn attack plans to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, his lawyer said.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales plans to enter guilty pleas before a military judge next week, criminal defense attorney John Henry Browne told The New York Times.

Military prosecutors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., have agreed to accept the plea agreement, Browne said.

Base spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said he could not confirm a deal had been reached or even if the two sides were negotiating a plea bargain.

“John Henry Browne is probably not saying it just to be saying it,” Dangerfield told the Times. “But I can’t confirm whether they are in talks.”

A plea hearing is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, he said.

Bales, 39, held at the base’s Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, is charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder in the March 11, 2012, killings.

He is charged with walking off a small outpost in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district before dawn that day and shooting or stabbing to death 16 people — including nine children, four men and three women — in two villages. Six other people were wounded.

Eleven of the dead were from the same family. Witnesses said the family members were shot in the head, stabbed and then gathered into a room and set on fire. Burning the bodies is considered desecration under Islamic law.

Bales was apprehended as he returned to base.

U.S. and allied forces apologized for the massacre — widely considered one of the most gruesome U.S. soldier atrocities in the Afghanistan war — and promised a thorough and quick investigation.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the incident “absolutely tragic and heartbreaking.”

At Bales’ November Article 32 hearing, similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian law, a fellow soldier testified Bales told him he had “shot up some people.”

A lab examiner testified Bales had blood from at least four people on his clothes when taken into custody.

U.S. Army prosecutors said in December they would seek the death penalty for Bales.

Six U.S. military members are on death row, but none has been executed since Pfc. John A. Bennett was hanged in 1961 after being convicted for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

People Can Be Trained To Be More Compassionate

MADISON, Wis. (UPI) — Adults can be trained to be more compassionate, or be more caring for people who are suffering even those they have conflict with, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Helen Weng, a graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, said the investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering.

In the meditation, participants asked to envision a time when someone suffered and then practiced wishing that his or her suffering was relieved. They repeated phrases to help them focus on compassion such as, “May you be free from suffering. May you have joy and ease.”

Participants practiced with different categories of people, first starting with a loved one, someone whom they easily felt compassion for such as a friend or family member. Then, they practiced compassion for themselves and, then, a stranger. Finally, they practiced compassion for someone they actively had conflict with called the “difficult person,” such as a troublesome co-worker or roommate.

“It’s kind of like weight training,” Weng said in a statement. “Using this systematic approach, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

Compassion training was compared to a control group that learned cognitive reappraisal, a technique where people learn to reframe their thoughts to feel less negative.

“We found that people trained in compassion were more likely to spend their own money altruistically to help someone who was treated unfairly than those who were trained in cognitive reappraisal,” Weng said in a statement.

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Ranks On Top As Fittest U.S. Metro Area

INDIANAPOLIS (UPI) — The American College of Sports Medicine has ranked Minneapolis-St. Paul the healthiest, fittest U.S. metropolitan area for the third year in a row.

The American Fitness Index — established six years ago with support from the WellPoint Foundation — evaluates the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas. Also included in the analysis are preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, healthcare access and physical activity resources.

Washington was second, followed by Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Denver; Boston; Sacramento; Seattle; Hartford, Conn.; and San Jose, Calif.

“We have issued the American Fitness Index each year since 2008 to help health advocates and community leader advocates improve the quality of life in their hometowns,” Walter Thompson, chairman of the AFI Advisory Board, said in a statement.

To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, the ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the annual report.

Researchers used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other research.

Summer Heat Bakes Pollution, Raises Respiratory Health Risk

DALLAS (UPI) — High levels of air pollution can increase asthma, respiratory infections, lung cancer and even death, and heat makes it worse, a U.S. researcher says.

Dr. Jonathan Weissler, director of the James M. Collins Center for Biomedical Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said the combination of sunlight and heat essentially bakes the atmosphere and the various airborne chemical compounds.

This chemical concoction mixes with naturally occurring nitrogen oxides in the air to create smog, or ground-level ozone, Weissler said.

“Oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, smoke and ozone are irritants of the airways and can worsen any pre-existing lung condition,” Weissler said in a statement. “People with chronic lung disease should try to minimize their time outdoors when air quality becomes extremely poor.”

Dallas/Fort Worth has consistently ranked among the nation’s list of cities with poor air quality, Weissler said. The 2012 State of the Air Report, released in late April by the American Lung Association, ranked the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex 12th worst among 232 U.S. cities for ozone-related air pollution — the most hazardous type of pollution to health.

Los Angeles tops the list, followed by six other California areas: Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, Hanford, Sacramento and San Diego.