Irish Monument’s Kennedy-Linked Flame Goes Out

NEW ROSS, Ireland (UPI) — An Irish memorial with a flame carried from U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s grave in Arlington, Va., went out due to a soot buildup, officials said.

Eamonn Hore of the of Wexford County Council said the Emigrant Flame in New Ross went out Wednesday night, just four days after it was lit using flames carried from Kennedy’s eternal flame at Arlington National Cemetery by the late leader’s sister Jean Kennedy Smith, daughter Caroline Kennedy and Irish Premier Enda Kenny, NBC News reported Friday.

Hore said the council had miner’s lamps lit from the Arlington flame so the memorial can be restarted.

“It is a fact that with a flame like that as part of the maintenance anyway it will be switched off,” he said.

Hore said the flame went out due to a buildup of soot.

The memorial was lit to observe the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s visit to Ireland.

Senate Aide Says White House Working On Replacement For Bernanke

WASHINGTON (UPI) — White House officials are working to select a replacement for U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose second term ends in January, a Senate aide said.

“They’ve indicated that they are working to get us a nominee in time for us to do our due diligence,” the  aide said.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said the Obama administration’s media team would not comment on a personnel matter “until the president has made his decision and is ready to announce them.”

While indications are that Bernanke will leave the Fed when his term ends on Jan. 31, 2014, the short list for the next Fed chairman includes Bernanke himself, The New York Times reported Friday.

Bernanke could be persuaded to stay, although President Obama said in an interview recently the chairman, in his second four-year term, “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or was supposed to.”

People familiar with the matter said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was putting together a short list of possible replacements.

The candidate most frequently mentioned as the front-runner is the current vice chairwoman, Janet Yellen, the Times said.

Yellen served as the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration. She has also been president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve and a Fed governor.

Other strong possibilities for the position include former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has said he does not want it, former Vice Chairmen Alan Blinder, now a Princeton University professor, and Christina Romer, who previously headed the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers could also be considered a candidate for the post, the Times said.

Senate Panel To Look Into Smithfield-Shuanghui Deal

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The Senate Agriculture Committee said it would investigate a deal to sell U.S. meat processing giant Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International of China.

The companies announced a $4.7 billion purchasing agreement, which they said would help increase U.S. pork exports to China.

The committee chaired by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is concerned the sale could somehow diminish U.S. food standards, The New York Times reported Friday.

The committee has scheduled a hearing for July 10 to review the deal, the Times said.

The sale is also being scrutinized by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, even though that panel generally deals with foreign investments that might compromise national security, such as the sale of a sensitive technology company or an aerospace firm.

“We welcome a full review and fair consideration of the Shuanghui-Smithfield combination from the U.S. government. We believe the proposed combination does not present any national security concerns, is good for U.S. farmers and agriculture and will advance U.S.-China relations. We will continue to provide Congress and [the committee] with all the information requested to allow a full and timely review of the combination,” the company has said.

A spokesman for Shuanghui declined to comment, the Times said.

15 Percent Of U.S. Infertile Men May Have Higher Cancer Risk

STANFORD, Calif. (UPI) — Men diagnosed as azoospermic, infertile due to a lack of sperm, are more prone to developing cancer than the general male population, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Michael Eisenberg, assistant professor of urology at the medical school and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues said diagnoses of male infertility and azoospermia are surprisingly common in the United States.

About 4 million U.S. men — 15 percent of those ages 15-45 — are infertile, of which some 600,000 are azoospermic, the study said.

Eisenberg conducted most of the analysis at Stanford using data gathered from the Texas Cancer Registry and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he completed his medical training.

The study involved 2,238 infertile men who were seen at a Baylor andrology clinic from 1989-2009. Their median age was 35.7 when they were first evaluated for the cause of their infertility.

Of those men, 451 had azoospermia, and 1,787 did not. There were no further apparent initial differences between the two groups.

The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found a diagnosis of azoospermia before age 30 carried an eight-fold cancer risk.

“An azoospermic man’s risk for developing cancer is similar to that for a typical man 10 years older,” Eisenberg, said in a statement. “There is evidence that infertility may be a barometer for men’s overall health, and a few studies have found an association of male infertility with testicular cancer.”

The study not only assigns the bulk of infertile men’s increased cancer risk to those with azoospermia, but also suggested this risk extends beyond testicular cancer, Eisenberg said.

High-Carb Foods May Trigger Addictive Response In The Brain

BOSTON (UPI) — Eating cookies and sweet drinks containing refined carbohydrates may trigger addictive behavior just like nicotine or cocaine, U.S. and German researchers say.

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues at Ulm University in Germany, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School examined effects of the glycemic index on brain activity after an interval of several hours after eating.

Glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in the food and how much each gram of carbohydrate in the food raises blood glucose levels. It is based on the glycemic index — the grams of available carbohydrate in the food times the food’s glycemic load and divided by 100.

The study involved 12 overweight or obese men ages 18-35, who consumed high- and low-GI meals controlled for calories, macronutrients and palatability on two occasions — two milk shakes, with the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates that tasted equally sweet, but one with a much higher glycemic index from carbohydrates.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found those who drank the milk shake with the higher glycemic index had their blood-sugar levels surge, then crash a few hours later, leaving them feeling hungry.

The brain scans showed the high glycemic milk shakes activated the nucleus accumbens, which is also triggered by drugs, which are addictive, the study found.

Survey: 96 Percent Say Best Sex If Emotionally Connected

NEW YORK (UPI) — Ninety-six percent of U.S. adults say the best sex is with someone with whom they are truly emotionally connected, a survey indicates.

The survey by Durex, the condom manufacturer, and YourTango.com, a relationship website, also found 92 percent of the website readers said it’s a turn-on when their partner shows some vulnerability, because it is an important part of emotional closeness.

Respondents ranked “being with someone I love” as the top confidence booster in bed, followed by “feeling good about my sexual abilities,” and “when my partner compliments me,” the survey said.

Nevertheless, respondents indicated great sex cannot exist without the three elements: physical attraction, emotional intimacy and feeling secure/loved.

“We’ve been conditioned by the media to believe that sex is primarily physical and a couple’s sex life will inevitably fizzle with time. However, these findings indicate just the opposite — getting closer on an emotional level is the key to getting closer physically,” Andrea Miller, YourTango chief executive officers, said in a statement. “Still, the majority of respondents reported having sex one to two times per week but would like to have sex three or more times per week.”

Ninety percent of respondents indicated it was possible for sex to actually get better over time.

No survey details were provided.

U.S. Midwest Gas Prices Back To ‘Normal’

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Retail gasoline prices for consumers in the U.S. Midwest are closer to the national average after a series of refinery issues, the U.S. Energy Department said.

AAA reports a national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday of $3.51, nearly 10 cents less than the same time last week. Drivers in Illinois paid an average $3.80 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday, compared to the $3.99 average reported by AAA one week ago.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department, said unscheduled and routine maintenance in the Midwest market this spring meant gasoline inventories were lower than average, meaning higher prices for consumers.

The EIA said refineries started returning to normal operations after mid-May inventory declines. Most refineries do not produce enough gasoline to meet regional summer demand, so it takes longer for prices to return to normal because of gasoline deliveries from other regions.

The price reduction comes ahead of the Independence Day holiday in the United States. AAA said it expects less road travel this season when compared to last year.

EIA expects a seasonal average price of $3.53 per gallon.

Florida A&M Lifts Marching Band Suspension

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UPI) — Florida A&M University’s interim president said he lifted a suspension on the school’s marching band, a year and a half after the hazing death of a student.

Larry Robinson said Thursday the school’s Marching 100 would be back on the field under direction of new director Sylvester Young, CNN reported.

Activities of the 400-member band were suspended in November 2011 after drum major Robert Champion died hours after a hazing incident.

Champion endured 300 blows from band members while on a bus after the band performed at a football game. The hazing was known among FAMU band members as “Crossing Bus C.”

As part of a school overhaul to combat the prevalence of hazing, officials created two new positions — a music department compliance officer and a special assistant to the president who focuses on anti-hazing, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Another change will be that the Marching 100 will be significantly smaller than before, and there will be new academic requirements for band members, The New York Times reported.

“We don’t think you need to be the biggest,” Robinson said. “You just need to be the best.”

Champion’s parents said the anti-hazing steps the school is taking aren’t enough, CNN reported.

“You need a lot more in order to get that message out,” said Pam Champion. “You need to be in those schools, in their face, every opportunity that you can get.”

Trial Date Set For Suspects In Hacking Death Of British Soldier

LONDON (UPI) — Two men accused of hacking British soldier Lee Rigby to death had their trial date set for Nov. 18 at a London court hearing Friday, officials said.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, both charged with murder, appeared at the hearing via video link from separate prison cells and spoke only to confirm their names, ITV News reported.

Members of Rigby’s family were at the hearing, the BBC reported.

The suspects are accused of killing Rigby with weapons that included a machete outside his Woolwich barracks in May.

Witnesses at the scene said Adebolajo told them he killed Rigby in retaliation for the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in the Middle East and Asia.

Florida Police Looking For Women Who Drugged Men, Stole Their Valuables

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (UPI) — Police in Florida say they are looking for four women accused of drugging men they meet at bars, going to their homes, and robbing them.

The suspects — identified as Subhanna Beyah, 25; Johnnina Miller, 25; Keshia Clark, 27; and Ryan Elkins, 23 — have allegedly drugged and stolen items from at least four men, CNN reported Friday.

Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dani Moschella said it’s possible other victims “haven’t come forward because they’re embarrassed.”

“We anticipate identifying other suspects and other victims,” she said.

Scott Rosen, 54, told CNN he met two of the suspects at a Fort Lauderdale bar and invited them to his home, where one of them distracted him while the other made him a drink that knocked him out.

“I got drugged,” Rosen said.

Rosen said he woke up to find the women gone and more than $250,000 worth of his personal items had been stolen, including his handguns, diamonds and the Rolex watch he was wearing when he brought the women to his home.

“It could have been worse,” he noted. “They could have shot me with my own handgun.”

The sheriff’s department has issued arrest warrants for the women on charges of one count of grand theft each.

“We really want to get these women off the street … because they’re drugging their victims, presumably,” Moschella said. “We don’t know how long it will be before they end up killing somebody accidentally.”