Healthy Eating May Improve Brain Function

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to maintain a more healthful diet, it could have a long-term, positive impact on not only your physical health but your mental health, too.

New research suggests that elderly people with higher levels of several vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids in their blood perform better on mental-acuity tests and experience less of the brain shrinkage commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Those with “junk food” diets displayed opposite results.

A first-of-its-kind study published in Neurology focused on blood nutrient levels, unlike previous studies that based findings on questionnaires about subjects’ diets and relied on flawed memories of what they had eaten.

Researchers found that people who had the highest levels of vitamins B, C, D, E and the healthy oils commonly found in fish in their blood were mentally sharper than those with lower levels of the vitamins and oils.

“The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers,” said Maret Traber, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and co-author on the study. “I’m a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better.”

Findings in the study also suggest:

The most favorable cognitive outcomes and brain size measurements were associated with two dietary patterns: high levels of marine fatty acids and high levels of vitamins B, C, D and E.

Consistently worse cognitive performance was associated with a higher intake of the type of trans-fats found in baked and fried foods, margarine, fast food and other less-healthy dietary choices.

Cognitive changes related to different diets may be due both to impacts on brain size and cardiovascular function.

Ron Paul Forecasts Military Conflict With Iran

Ron Paul said speaking at an Iowa event last week that Iran would be justified in responding to U.S. sanctions by blocking the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

“I think we’re looking for trouble because we put these horrendous sanctions on Iran,” Paul told an audience at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa, according to Los Angeles Times.

Paul contends that the actions currently being taken by the United States against Iran are setting the stage for yet another Mideast conflict. If he were President, Paul said, he would not respond to Iran’s threat of closing the strait with military action, but would report to Congress who could declare war if they wished.

The Republican candidate said a blockade on the strait would be the most likely response to tighter sanctions because Iran has “no weapons of mass destruction” and shutting down the strait is “the most” it could do.

Iran’s top naval commander, Habibollah Sayyari, told the country’s state television last Wednesday that closing the Strait of Hormuz would be “easier than drinking a glass of water” for Iranian armed forces, but some U.S. analysts disagree.

According to CNBC, researchers familiar with the strait say that Iran’s navy does not have the size or resources to carry out a sustained blockade, but could cause problems with mines and missiles. The Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet is nearby and keeping a close eye on Iran’s activities and said last week that any disruption in the area “would not be tolerated.” Mine-laying or missile activity will likely generate a U.S. response.

DHS Tracks Facebook, Twitter Users

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is suing the Department of Homeland Security for a new program that tracks individuals’ social media activity if they are deemed a threat by using certain keywords in posts.

The organization claims “legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear” and asked a Federal court last week to compel the department to turn over documents on the initiative.

DHS makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for “sensitive” words and tracking the people who use them. The words on the DHS list range from things that might suggest the mention of bioweapons to more obscure words like “drill,” “strain” and “illegal immigrant,” according to The Daily Mail.

The latest controversy involving the Federal government’s attempts to meddle with the Internet comes as the debate continues over the House Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate Protect IP Act — both of which would impose China-like Internet regulations in the United States.

CNN Haters, Bachmann Accusations Do Not Deter Paul

Despite the fact that the mainstream media have pulled no punches against Republican Presidential primary hopeful Ron Paul, his campaign is continuing to gain steam as the Iowa caucus, the first in the Nation, approaches.

Two polls released on Wednesday show Paul in a dead heat with fellow GOP contender Mitt Romney; however, the polls conflict one another, each reporting opposite leaders by similar margins.

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows Paul leading the pack among likely voters in Iowa, with 24 percent saying they would vote for him over Romney’s 20 percent. PPP accredits Paul’s popularity to his ability to unite non-traditional Republicans, independents and some Democratic converts. Romney still takes the most favor among mainstream Republicans.

“If Ron Paul really manages to change the electorate by turning out large numbers of young people and independents, he should win Iowa,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “If it’s a more traditional turnout with an older electorate, Romney will probably win. And given his personal popularity it’s worth keeping an eye on [Rick] Santorum in the final week.”

CNN and Time conducted a separate poll that shows Romney leading with 25 percent to Paul’s 22 percent heading in to the caucus. It has been pointed out that the CNN-Time poll — unlike the PPP poll — surveyed only a list of declared Republicans that was provided by the Iowa Secretary of State.

Many people have in the past week questioned if CNN is running a campaign against Paul after the news network repeatedly aired a heavily cut video that makes it appear as if Paul walked out on an interview with reporter Gloria Borger after she asked him the same question several times about controversial newsletters published under his name.  The full video of the interview reveals CNN’s sleight-of-hand reporting tactic and portrays the interview in a different light.

Despite the CNN-driven controversy, Paul is continuing to pick up key supporters, some even from the campaigns of fellow candidates. Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, Senator Kent Sorenson, jumped ship on Wednesday to offer his support to Paul’s campaign in a decision that ignited headlines throughout the media.

Sorenson released a statement saying that he had a difficult time choosing which of the two candidates to support from the beginning but, given Paul’s surge in the polls and real chance at the Presidency, he felt joining the campaign was in the best interest of the country.

A portion of Sorenson’s statement reads:

Ron Paul is the only candidate to predict the current mess we find ourselves in economically, and he’s the only candidate to offer a true plan to cut spending and balance our budget.

He’s also consistently spoken out against government spending, assaults on individual liberties, and unnecessary trillion-dollar military adventurism for over 30 years. Polls show he is the Republican candidate that can take on and defeat President Obama in November 2012.

Bachmann denied that Sorenson’s decision was made for love of country but contended in a Wednesday announcement that it was for love of money, saying, “Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign. Kent campaigned with us earlier this afternoon and went immediately afterward to a Ron Paul event and announced he is changing teams. Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I,’ then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions.”

Despite the accusation from Bachmann, Iowa political director for her own campaign, Wes Enos, denies that money could have been a motivator for Sorenson’s decision. His comments appeared later on Paul’s campaign website.

“I won’t say much about the situation or the conflicting statements beyond this; I can say unequivocally that Kent Sorenson’s decision was in no way financially motivated,” said Enos.

Sorenson’s decision to endorse Paul comes just after one of the Texas Congressman’s former aides, Eric Dondero, attempted to do damage to the campaign by saying Paul is “unsettled by being around gays personally” and is “out of touch” with black and Hispanic voters in an editorial on RightWingNews.com. The Paul campaign described Dondero as “a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday that despite the flurry of accusations and controversy media and other candidates are drumming up around Paul, droves of college students are currently arriving in Iowa to assist with the ground campaign in the State. The young supporters, whom Paul has embraced in the past as “having a better grasp of the meaning of liberty than many lawmakers in Washington,” are expected to be vital to the success of the Paul campaign.

 

Eric Holder: Too Many Guns Have Fallen Into Wrong Hands

Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Department of Justice orchestrated the Fast and Furious gunwalking scheme to supply Mexican drug cartels with illegal firearms, released a statement on Wednesday decrying the fact that too many people who are not legally permitted to own guns have access to them.

The AG’s remarks followed the release of a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund that showed a 13 percent increase in the number of Federal, State and local officers who died in the line of duty, from 153 in 2010 to 173 in 2011.

“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day — and the fact that too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them,” said Holder. “Departments across the country have mourned the loss of too many dedicated colleagues and friends, but my colleagues and I at the Justice Department are determined to turn back this rising tide. I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power — and use every tool at our disposal — to keep our police officers safe.”

Guns provided via Fast and Furious are known to have been used in the killings of at least one law enforcement officer in 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and another in 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata.

Holder’s statement came with the announcement of a number of new officer-protection initiatives to be headed by the Justice Department.

 

Scientist Think Sick Seals May Be Radioactive

Scientists are investigating whether seals in Alaska that have recently fallen ill are being sickened by radiation from the destroyed Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant.

Several seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on fur, according to Reuters.

Scientists initially thought a virus was behind the animal’s illness but have not yet been able to identify one, so they expect radiation may be involved.

“We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity,” said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in U.S. Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that crippled the Fukushima plant, according to the article.

White House Announces Weapons Sale To Saudi Arabia

The White House has forged an agreement with Saudi Arabia to sell the kingdom $29.4 billion worth of equipment for the Royal Saudi Air Force.

The agreement includes production of 84 new Boeing F-15SA aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft as well as munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics, according to a White House press release. Officials with the Administration of Barack Obama say the move will help to bolster the U.S. economy by engaging 600 American suppliers in 44 States, providing $3.5 billion in annual economic impact.

The agreement is part of a larger $60 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia that was passed by Congress last year. The White House decision to move forward with this portion comes as tensions mount between the United States and Iran in the Persian Gulf and the final troops are pulled from Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is a longtime enemy of Iran, and the tattered relationship between the two countries may be exploited by the White House as the U.S. and Iran continue to quarrel over nuclear energy and trade sanctions. The Saudi weapons-sale announcement comes just a week after Iranian officials threatened to close the vital Straits of Hormuz in response to indications that the United States plans to impose new sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Obama Is The Drone President

The Administration of President Barack Obama is responsible for an emerging global apparatus for drone killing, says one report from The Washington Post.

The apparatus is made up of dozens of secret facilities, including two hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force­ ­cockpits in the Southwest and bases in at least six countries on two continents, according to the article. Obama is quickly becoming known as the Commander in Chief more involving tactics to carry out the secret killings of adversaries than any U.S. President in history, and drones have played a vital role.

The growing drone program has blurred the lines between the CIA and the military, and the White House has taken great pains to avoid divulging much information about the programs structure, according to the article.

According to the article, when Obama took office in 2009, the Nation’s secret drone war was confined only to Pakistan, where 44 strikes over five years had left about 400 people dead. Since then, the number of strikes has soared to nearly 240; and the number of those killed, according to conservative estimates, has more than quadrupled.

Iran Threatens To Lock Down Oil Supply Amid Talk Of Sanctions

Iranian leaders said Tuesday that if the United States imposes sanctions being set up against their country, it will cut off all oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital supply route through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supply is shipped.

According to The New York Times, the declaration was made by Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, as President Barrack Obama prepares to sign legislation that could substantially reduce Iran’s oil revenue to keep the country from pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

The Obama Administration has been working in recent months to put in place a plan to cut off Iran from global energy markets without risking higher fuel prices. The Iranian economy is already weak, and oil exports account for much of the country’s revenues so Iranian officials are worried about the sanctions.

“If they impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz,” Rahimi said, according to Iran’s official news agency.

The White House said that the disruption would not be tolerated there is talk that the Obama Administration is working on a plan to keep the supply route open in the event of crisis. Some officials speculate that the latest sanctions are setting the stage for violent confrontation between the United States and Iran.

 

Occupy The Iowa Caucus

Protesters aligned with the OWS movement have said that they plan to occupy the Iowa caucus.

“The 99 percent have woken up and we’re not going to take it anymore,” said Occupy activist Stephen Toothman, of Des Moines, according to The Daily Caller.

The OWS group is reportedly working to decide which candidates they will target as the GOP hopefuls make their way across the State in a campaign dash. According to the article, hundreds of Occupy activists from as many as 10 States are expected to participate in a “People’s Caucus” near the Capitol to plot activities between now and the Jan. 3 caucuses.

A statement on the Occupy Des Moines website says, “We are excited to announce the First in the Nation Caucus Occupation. This winter, presidential campaign headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa and political events throughout the state will be occupied. Occupy Des Moines will not interfere with or disrupt caucus voting on Jan 3. We are not targeting voters.”

The activists say their tactics will include interrupting candidates at events and camping out at their Iowa campaign offices. Many people fear the OWS group will tarnish Iowa’s reputation for civil political discourse ahead of the caucus.