Obama administration tougher on immigration than previously thought

Obama administration tougher on immigration than previously thought A new report from Syracuse University appears to contradict the claims that the Obama administration is lax on immigration enforcement. In fact, it has noted an upward trend in the number of criminal prosecutions filed during the last few months.

The study conducted by the university’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that there were 2,147 new prosecutions referred by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in May – a 19 percent increase from April – and the May total was 30 percent higher than that recorded in May 2008.

However, although 55 percent of the prosecutions were filed for immigration offenses, and 33 percent resulted from drug offences, the report found no cases were brought against employers under the statute that makes it illegal to hire an undocumented alien.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Southern districts led the way with the highest number of prosecutions, with Arizona recording 314 new cases, the Western District of Texas 303 and the Southern District of California 293.

New Mexico, Central California and Miami, Florida, were also in the top 10 districts in May.

ICE is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

Study: Weight loss possible even with a small reduction in carbs

Weight loss possible even with a small reduction in carbs, study saysRecent research may offer new hope for those who find it difficult to drastically cut down on cookies and bread – it suggests that even a moderate change in carbohydrate intake can make a significant difference.

The study was conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and measured the weight of participants who derived a standard amount of calories from carbohydrates versus those whose meal had a moderate reduction in calories from that source.

The results indicated the group which slightly reduced their carb intake experienced smaller fluctuations in glucose levels and stayed full for a longer period of time.

Dr. Barbara Gower, professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, says those following the moderate carbohydrate diet had a smaller increase in insulin and thus a more stable glucose level.

She adds that "this may help with weight loss because people may be less likely to overeat due to hunger pangs."

Scientists say simple carbohydrates – found in products such as soft drinks, processed foods or white bread – cause a spike in insulin levels, which lowers glucose levels and sends hunger signals to the brain.

The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, DC.


Uncertain future of the public healthcare option

Uncertain future of the public healthcare option In a sign of a split within the Democratic party over a public option in the healthcare reform, top party and government officials have been sending contradicting signals in recent days.

Appearing on a talk show last weekend, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged that there needs to be "a competitor" to private insurers, but declined to say whether or not it will be in the form of a public option.

Meanwhile, Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, said a public option did not have enough support among congressional Democrats.

This has ignited a political firestorm, with some accusing President Obama of not keeping his electoral promises.

As a result, White House aide Linda Douglass issued a statement yesterday in which she reiterated her boss’s commitment to a government-run competitor as the best way to achieve lower costs, affordable coverage and increased competition in the health insurance market.

Several key Democrats also appeared to endorse the public option, including Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaking on Monday at Drexel University, Specter said, "I’m not willing to write off the public option … [which] I think is the best approach to give people choices," quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dropping the public option idea would have satisfied congressional Republicans and conservative Democrats, but came under fierce criticism from the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said the only thing in the House reform bill worth doing was the public option, according to TheHill.com.


Groups stress costs of immigration

Groups stress costs of immigration During the last few weeks, several immigration reform advocates have issued announcements designed to attract attention to the cost the American society is paying due to undocumented as well as legal aliens who continue to arrive in the country.

The Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW) launched a series of TV ads which focus on the fact that although some 15 million Americans are unemployed the government continues to bring 1.5 million foreign workers a year to take American jobs.

CFAW also appealed to the Obama administration to make sure all employers are using E-verify and to boost worksite enforcement of immigration laws.

Meanwhile, a study released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has documented the cost of illegal immigration in Pennsylvania.

According to the report, it costs the state $660 million a year to educate – including special instruction in English – the children of illegal aliens, $50 million a year to provide healthcare for illegal aliens’ families and an estimated $17.5 million to incarcerate criminals who are undocumented foreigners.

FAIR’s president Dan Stein stresses that "even as the state wrestles with a budget crisis that has brought it to the brink of being unable to pay its bills, illegal immigration is draining nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars from state coffers."

Another study documents benefits of omega-3 on eye health

Another study documents benefits of omega-3 on eye health A new study has added to the quickly accumulating body of evidence which shows consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, or appropriate supplementation, can help prevent vision loss.

Tufts University researchers conducted a study which found omega-3 play an important role in slowing down or preventing progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

However, the outcomes depend on the stage of disease and the intake of other supplements.

The researchers looked at the consumption of DHA and EPA of 2,924 people, aged 55 to 80 years, recorded in a previous study. Then they randomly assigned them to receive a placebo or supplements containing vitamins C, E and beta carotene or minerals zinc and copper, or a combination of both, while on a diet high in omega-3.

They found that for those in the advanced stages of the disease, the antioxidant supplements did not interfere with the protective effects of DHA and EPA against progression of the disease.

Dr Chung-Jung Chiu, an assistant professor at TUSM, says the study also revealed the supplements and omega-3 work together with low-glycemic index diets against progression to advanced AMD.

AMD occurs when blood vessels in the center of the retina break down. The National Health Institutes estimates it is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older and affects some 10 percent of people between the ages of 66 to 74.


NIA warns against inflation implications of healthcare reform

NIA warns against inflation implications of healthcare reformOpponents of the public option in President Obama’s proposed healthcare plan often charge it will worsen the already large federal budget deficit, but the National Inflation Association (NIA) has gone a step further by suggesting it will lead the U.S. dollar to collapse.

To give an example of how government-run programs contribute to inflation, it says Medicare costs have increased from $3 billion in 1966 to an estimated $408 billion in 2009, which translates into an annual growth rate of 12 percent.

"Obama’s plan of socialized healthcare will wipe out the private sector and create less competition," the organization charges.

"[C]osts will go up for all Americans in the form of much higher inflation, and the quality of health care will go down," it adds.

NIA advocates a free-market program whereby people should be free to purchase an insurance plan of their choice, which would be cheaper as a result of fierce competition. It also says insurance should only cover accidents and major emergencies while doctor’s visits for minor problems should be paid out of pocket.

This, NIA believes, would reduce abuse within the system, shorten waiting times and encourage doctors to charge less. Instead, they are encouraged to charge the most now because they are paid by a handful of corporations.

This fall, Congress is expected to debate a healthcare reform proposal intended to ensure universal access, while lowering costs and improving efficiency. Most congressional Democrats and President Obama want to achieve this by including a public option that would compete with private insurers.

However, this approach has come under fire from congressional Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats who allege it will be financially unsustainable and drive private insurers out of business.


During hurricane season rip tide survival tips may come handy

During hurricane season rip tide survival tips may come handyAs Hurricane Bill continues to barrel up the Atlantic near the East Coast of the U.S., those heading to the beach this weekend may want to keep a few suggestions in mind on how to stay safe.

Weather experts are saying that although a direct hit in the U.S. is unlikely, the hurricane may still cause dangerous waves and rip tides along the shore.

The American Red Cross warns rip tides can come suddenly and be deadly. That is why it is always wise to swim only in designated areas where a lifeguard is present. It is also a good idea to check beach conditions before entering the water, either through inquiring with the lifeguard, reading any warning signs that may be posted or checking local weather news.

If a person becomes caught in a rip current, the Red Cross says it is important to swim parallel to shore until free of the current. Trying to swim against it while still carried by the tide can result in exhaustion and can lead to drowning.

Only when the current turns is it a good time to free oneself and swim back toward shore.

If the swimmer feels they won’t make it in to the shore, they should draw attention to themselves by waving and calling for help.

If witnessing someone caught in a rip tide, the organization suggests getting help from a lifeguard, calling 911 and, if possible, throwing something that floats – it can be a cooler or an inflatable toy -and yelling instructions on how to get out of the tide.

Are conservatives falling out of love with Sarah Palin?

Are conservatives falling out of love with Sarah Palin?Public opinion polls have suggested Sarah Palin’s popularity appears to be declining.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a total of 39 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the former Alaska governor and John McCain’s vice presidential running mate from 2008.

That represents a seven-point decline from the May poll figures.

Meanwhile, the number of those who view her negatively has risen to 48 percent, from 43 percent in May.

Palin has become a vocal critic of the administration’s healthcare reform proposals. She ignited controversy by suggesting Obama’s plans included setting up "death panels" which would allegedly decide who qualified for health coverage and who did not, something she said would mean her son Trig who has Down syndrome would be denied care.

These allegations have been widely denied by Democrats.

Palin surprised many by resigning last month as Alaska’s governor, a year and a half before the end of her first term in office. She cited personal reasons, including what she saw as the media’s attack on her family, for the decision. Since then rumors have been circulating that she is preparing to relaunch her political career on the national stage.

However, "a 39 percent favorable rating makes it that much tougher for Palin to become president should she decide to run in 2012," says CNN polling director Keating Holland, quoted by the news provider’s website.

Glutamate may be responsible for higher rates of depression, Ayurveda can help

Glutamate may be responsible for higher rates of depression, Ayurveda can helpAccording to a new study, high levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain produced from glucose, may be responsible for the high rate of depression among diabetics.

Scientists believe depression affects as many as 25 percent of diabetes sufferers – who have poorer glucose control resulting in an abnormal glucose level – further contributing to a lower quality of life.

A team including researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center has now showed that increased levels of glutamate in the prefrontal area of the brains of people with type 1 diabetes were associated with depressive symptoms.

Dr. Alan Jacobson, chief of psychiatry at the center, says, "The importance of [these findings] lies in the linkage of a neurotransmitter that, in high levels, can cause damage to neurons, the degree of diabetic hyperglycemia and alterations in cognitive function and depression levels previously found in diabetes."

Those who suffer from excessive worry, sadness and anxiety have a range of natural health resources to choose from.

One of them is Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest systems of traditional healing. According to Holistic.com, it offers treatments for a range of depressive symptoms – which it categorizes as Vata-, Pitta-, and Kapha-type depression – by focusing on the mind-body constitution of the person.

New York dealers complain government not paying for ‘clunkers’

New York dealers complain government not paying for 'clunkers'What some consider as a wasteful government spending program is getting even more criticism, this time from New York auto dealers who are considering pulling out of Cash for Clunkers.

According to the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA), an organization which represents 450 local franchised new car dealerships, many of its members may terminate their participation in the program because the government is not approving transactions and reimbursing dealers in a timely manner.

GNYADA president Mark Schienberg says some dealers have offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates, but only a small percentage has been reimbursed leaving them cash-strapped.

"Even in the best of times, carrying this much debt would cause problems, but in today’s credit-strained economy, it’s simply too much for the dealers to handle," Schienberg complained.

Cash for Clunkers, which offers rebates of up to $4,500 to encourage drivers to trade in older, gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient ones, was introduced by Congress last month.

However, it has come under fire from fiscal conservatives for what they see as another example of wasteful spending which only worsens the budget deficit while providing only a temporary solution to the car industry problems of declining sales.