Republicans worried about escalating GOP feud

Republicans worried about escalating GOP feud Following their massive defeat in last year’s general election, growing internal acrimony risks derailing the GOP’s plans to shore up its base and find a visionary leader.

In a latest development, Dick Cheney, speaking on CBS Sunday Morning, seemed to suggest Rush Limbaugh better reflected the Republican ideas than former Secretary of State Colin Powell, once again stimulating speculations that the controversial radio show host has become an unofficial voice of the party.

Meanwhile, GOP Committee Chairman Michael Steele has engaged in a "war of words" with Mitt Romney after he had cast doubt on the former Massachusetts governor’s conservative credentials.

"[I]t was the base that rejected Mitt because of his switch on pro-life, from pro-choice to pro-life," Steele said while guest-hosting a recent radio show.

"It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism [and] because they thought he was back and forth and waffling on [economic issues]."

There is also an ongoing feud between Sarah Palin’s supporters and Romney, who has said the Alaska governor should never have been placed on Time’s most influential list.

According to media reports, Palin backers have released a web video using the footage of a bear and Mitt Romney jogging near his summer home in New Hampshire, suggesting the former presidential candidate is running away. The video reportedly ends with "Palin firing a hunting rifle and a bear’s head on her trophy wall."
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ACLU files lawsuit against gene patents

ACLU files lawsuit against gene patentsThe American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for the reversal of a patent currently held by a pharmaceutical company that prevents other companies from pursuing vital cancer researcher.

ACLU joined forces with the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to allege that patents held by Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid.

"A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene," the organization said in a statement.

"As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents," it added.

In response, Myriad Genetics, whose lab is the only place in the country where diagnostic testing can be performed, has vowed to "vigorously defend" itself against the legal challenge, according to a CNN.com report.

The lawsuit challenges genetic patenting in principle given that about 20 percent of all human genes are patented, including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy and asthma.
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Meditation may enhance short-term memory

Meditation may enhance short-term memoryBesides the stress-reducing benefits, new research has also linked meditation to temporary improvement in visuospatial abilities.

The study was inspired by evidence that suggests Buddhist monks have exceptional imagery skills and are able to maintain complex images in their visual short-term memory for hours. It was conducted by psychologists from the George Mason University who investigated the effects of different styles of Buddhist meditation on such skills.

The scientists focused on Deity Yoga (DY) and Open Presence (OP) techniques and asked meditation practitioners along with nonmeditators to participate in visuospatial tasks conducted in two stages.

The tasks tested their mental rotation abilities (being able to mentally rotate a 3-D structure) and visual memory and revealed that all of the participants performed similarly on the initial set of tests.

However, following mediation, practitioners of the DY style showed a dramatic improvement on both tasks compared to OP practitioners and the control group.

DY is the fundamental Vajrayana practice in which practitioners visualize themselves as the meditation Buddha. It enables them to release themselves from spiritual obscurations and to practice compassion and wisdom simultaneously.

The research results also confirm DY allows practitioners to access greater levels of visuospatial memory resources.

"[These findings have] many implications for therapy, treatment of memory loss and mental training," the authors conclude.
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Conference touts offshore opportunities, while government vows clampdown

Conference touts offshore opportunities, while government vows clampdownBermuda has held a conference on wealth and asset protection, in particular in offshore jurisdictions. However, the event coincided with a new U.S. government warning against banks assisting tax evasion.

According to SovereignSociety.com, the meeting of wealth management and protection experts aimed to "demystify" offshore banking and present the benefits of a well-crafted asset protection plans.

One of the speakers, representing Jyske Global Asset Management, suggested currency diversification away from the dollar and careful risk management were critical in today’s economic environment.

Another participant suggested considering life insurance policies.

"[A]n insurance policy is merely a tax-deferred investment vehicle," said Colin Bowen from Isle of Man Assurance Group, quoted by the website.

"They can help you protect your capital, make estate preparations, maximize tax efficiency and diversify your holdings," he added.

An insider with offices in Western Samoa, Anguilla and Belize talked about "smart" approaches to offshore investments that include contacting regulators and licensing agencies in the jurisdiction where the investor hopes to set up the trust.

However, those who would like to transfer their assets offshore would be well advised to consider the U.S. government’s pledge to go after undeclared profits shielded in tax havens.

According to the New York Times, the IRS is preparing to pursue foreign banks suspected of facilitating tax evasion by wealthy Americans.

The Swiss bank UBS has already been forced to pay U.S. authorities $780 million in fines and promised to identify some of its American clients.
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ATF: Tax proposal ‘will kill U.S. jobs’

Tax proposal 'will kill U.S. jobs,' according to the ATF President Obama has vowed to raise more than $200 billion through a crackdown on what he called corporate tax loopholes, causing the anger of many in the business community.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) has given voice to that criticism by enumerating some of the "job-killing" provisions of the current tax code.

Quoting OECD statistics, it says the U.S. has a combined marginal corporate rate of nearly 40 percent, the highest in the developed world.

It also claims America is one of the few countries that double-taxes the international profits of its companies, although there are regulations, such as the deferral provision, that allow companies to avoid this double taxation until they repatriate the profits to the U.S.

The organization concludes that if Obama follows through on his plan to scrap the deferral rule without lowering the corporate rate or reforming the tax code, American companies will set up permanent foreign headquarters, taking jobs and capital with them.

Obama has said the money is needed to narrow the yawning budget deficit that is projected to reach $1.8 trillion this year.

He has also suggested that removing incentives for U.S. companies to move their operations offshore to avoid paying corporate income taxes will encourage them to create more jobs in America, spurring economic growth.
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Desperate times call for meditation

Desperate times call for meditation As anxieties associated with the bad economy are adding to the stresses of daily life, health experts have suggested powerful natural techniques that can help people get through difficult periods.

One such non-drug therapy is meditation, which has grown out of ancient spiritual traditions and has been attracting growing numbers of followers in recent years, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Practitioners have praised its effectiveness on calming nerves and improving mood, and there are various techniques to choose from, depending on individual needs, the article says.

They include mindfulness meditation which focuses on awareness and acceptance of the present moment, transcendental meditation and compassion meditation whose goal is to foster a feeling of loving kindness toward others.

The article also discusses growing evidence supporting the value of meditation as a health resource. Studies have shown meditation and other relaxation techniques work in cells, turning off genes that are associated with inflammation, cell aging and free radicals.

It has also long been known to help battle eating disorders, substance abuse, ease chronic pain and reduce blood pressure.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health estimates some 9.4 percent of adults surveyed in 2007 had tried meditation at least once during the previous 12 months, a significant increase from 7.6 percent in 2002.

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Anti-tax group criticizes budget’s energy provisions

Anti-tax group criticizes budget's energy provisions According to the calculations by Americans for Tax Reform (ATF), the energy provisions in President Obama’s FY 2010 budget could result in an increase in the tax burden of as much as $10,000 per person each year.

The organization based its estimates on the tax increase costs of the carbon tax, Section 199 repeal and other energy tax hikes added together.

"When President Obama told the American people that he wasn’t going to raise taxes on over 90 percent of the population he lied," says Grover Norquist, president of ATF stressing that everybody uses energy, not just the rich.

Referring to the elimination of Section 199 for energy companies, Narquist adds, "If the President wants to eliminate an income tax cut for companies that create jobs in America and call it a ‘loop-hole closer’ instead of a direct increase in income taxes that will be passed onto every American family then he is insulting all of our intelligence."

Section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code allows for tax deduction for companies which engage in production within the U.S.

ATR is a non-partisan coalition of taxpayers and taxpayer groups who oppose all federal, state and local tax increases

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Pension plans improve in April

Pension plans improve in April Bank of New York Mellon Asset Management has reported the funding status of U.S. pension plans improved by 3.9 percentage points last month.

According to the company, the increase was driven by a second consecutive month of strong performances by global equity markets.

Assets for a typical portfolio increased 6.7 percent in April, compared to the 1.4 percent gain in liabilities during the month. For the year to date, the funding ratio for the typical plan is up 9.5 percentage points, as represented by the BNY Mellon Pension Liability Index.

Peter Austin, executive director of BNY Mellon Pension Services, the pension services arm of BNY Mellon Asset Management also noted that corporate bond spreads, while narrowing in April, continue to be above average past levels.

"We continue to be wary of narrowing corporate spreads, which have the potential to increase liabilities," he said, adding, "At that point, plans will need additional help from equities to protect their funded status or they will need to be particularly astute in managing their exposure to liabilities through effective asset allocation."

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation is a financial services company operating in 34 countries. It has $20.2 trillion in assets under custody and administration, $928 billion in assets under management, services more than $11 trillion in outstanding debt and processes global payments averaging $1.8 trillion per day.
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Survey: Herbal menopause treatment growing popular with doctors

Herbal menopause treatment growing popular with doctors, says surveyWith hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increasingly discredited, healthcare providers have become supportive of the use of the black cohosh extract as an alternative to treat menopausal symptoms, according to a new study.

Black cohosh is a perennial woodland plant native to the eastern parts of North America, and its root has long been used to prepare herbal supplements and remedies.

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine, who designed the survey, says 63 percent of respondents admitted discussing the use of the extract with their doctors, and nearly 54 percent said their physicians were ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of the therapy.

"We hypothesize that the reason for the high level of support among healthcare providers was because the black cohosh extract is the most widely researched non-pharmaceutical therapy for reducing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and occasional irritability," says Minkin.

The primary reason women said they used black cohosh was to avoid HRT after recent scientific studies have linked it to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

Results of the web-based survey of 692 women were presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists annual meeting in Chicago.
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Report: Wages, employment for legal workers grew after raids

Wages, employment for legal workers grew after raids, says report A report by the Center for Immigration Studies has examined the impact of the 2006 raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies of six meatpacking plants owned by Swift & Co and noted an improvement in the legal workers’ situation in the aftermath.

The report, entitled The 2006 Swift Raids: Assessing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement Actions at Six Facilities, says meatpacking workers’ wages, adjusted for inflation, fell by 45 percent between 1980 and 2007. In addition to that, some 23 percent of Swift’s workers were illegal immigrants.

Jerry Kammer, a senior research fellow at CIS and author of the report, writes that all six facilities resumed production on the same day as the raids and returned to full production within five months, an indication the plants could operate at full capacity without the presence of illegal workers.

A crucial finding, however, suggests that after the raids the number of native-born workers increased significantly, and at the four facilities for which the researchers were able to obtain information, wages and bonuses rose 8 percent on average with the departure of illegal immigrants.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research organization that examines the impact of immigration on the U.S.

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