Get Married For Heart Health

Being married, it turns out, can be good for your heart health.

A new study that appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior this month finds that married adults who undergo heart surgery are three times as likely as single patients to survive the three months following the procedure.

“That’s a dramatic difference in survival rates for single people, during the most critical post-operative recovery period,” says Ellen Idler, a sociologist at Emory University and lead author of the study. “We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman.”

Though the most striking difference in outcomes between married and unmarried patients occurred during the first three months, the study demonstrated a strong protective effect of marriage that continues for up to five years following coronary artery bypass surgery. The chance of death is nearly twice as great for unmarried as it is for married patients about to undergo the surgery.

The study followed more than 500 patients undergoing either emergency or elective coronary bypass surgery. All subjects were interviewed prior to surgery. Data on survival status of the patients were obtained from the National Death Index.

“The married patients had a more positive outlook going into the surgery, compared with the single patients,” Idler says. “When asked whether they would be able to manage the pain and discomfort, or their worries about the surgery, those who had spouses were more likely to say, yes.”

The patients who survived more than three months were about 70 percent more likely to die during the next five years if they were single.

The researchers say that even though marriage appears to be strong medicine for healing hearts, it is in short supply. The Pew Research Center indicates only about half of adults in the United States are married, the lowest number ever.

Parents Frustrated With Government School Failure Want Control

Frustrated with the failed bureaucracy that has left one local school operating less-than-satisfactorily, parents in the small desert town of Adelanto, Calif., have decided to take over the school and fix its problems themselves.

Through a 2010 California law, the parents are working up a petition that will allow them to do such things as fire the school’s principal, close the school and reopen it as an independent charter.

“We just decided we needed to do something for our children,” Doreen Diaz, a parent organizing the trigger effort told The Washington Post. “If we don’t stand up and speak for them, their future is lost.”

According to the newspaper, Diaz’s daughter attends Desert Trails Elementary where last year two-thirds of students failed the State reading exams, half were not proficient in math and 80 percent failed the science exam. The school has reportedly for the past six years been ranked among the bottom 10 percent of schools in the State.

If the parents are successful, they are seeking to get preschool classes, a longer school day, a computer lab, every teacher to have a master’s degree, a full-time librarian and clean, working restrooms, among other things at the school. The district school superintendent says the demands are impossible to meet because of financial constraints.

Parents in other school districts throughout the Nation have taken similar steps. The Florida Legislature is voting on a parent trigger this week, and at least a dozen other States are weighing similar measures this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Federal Government Denies Tombstone Residents Water

Federal government bureaucracy is protecting wildlife near Tombstone, Ariz., at the expense of the health of town residents. As a result of the policy, Tombstone residents are being forced to bathe and drink water from ground wells — one of which contains arsenic.

Last summer a massive fire dubbed the Monument Fire that tore across Arizona damaged several pipelines that provided water to the town’s 1,500 residents and nearly 400,000 annual visitors. The Federal government has told town officials that they may not repair the waterlines because they are located in a wilderness area that would be damaged by mechanized equipment brought in for the job.

George Barnes, Tombstone’s city clerk and manager told The Daily Caller, “We began working with the Forest Service but then we realized and found what an incredible boondoggle that could be, even though we are very confident we have a special status because our rights there pre-existed the Forest Service and even the BLM [Bureau of Land Management]. We were there long before anything and all we are asking is to fix our stuff.”

After the fire Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declared the town under a state of emergency due to the water situation and issued $50,000 for the repair of the water lines because 50 to 80 percent of Tombstone’s water supply was provided via the pipelines. Town officials now say residents in the area only have a two-day water reserve at any given time and there is not enough available water to even combat structure fires.

The town and the Goldwater Institute — its Phoenix-based legal counsel — are waiting for a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Frank Zapata, who will rule on whether to compel the Forest Service to allow Tombstone to get up into the Huachuca Mountains and repair its water infrastructure.

“The Tombstone case is the ultimate showdown between state sovereignty and federal overreach,” Nick Dranias, a member of the Goldwater legal team told The Daily Caller. “The reason why I say that is the case involves the federal government, through the Forest Service, threatening the very existence of the historic city of Tombstone and threatening the literal health and safety of its residents and tourists.”

Poll: Americans Say Don’t Strike Iran Or Meddle In Syria

A new poll for The Hill shows that more than half of likely voters agree with Ron Paul in regard to staying out of other countries’ business.

According to the poll, 57 percent of respondents believe the Administration of Barack Obama should “leave the situation alone” in Syria. Only 25 percent think the United States should “get more involved” in helping rebels in their fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

When asked about the Presidential administration’s foreign relations with Israel, respondents were split in their opinions; 32 percent said Obama should be more supportive of the country, 25 percent say President is too supportive and the rest believe the U.S.-Israel relationship is “about right.”

The poll also found that 52 percent of respondents would be very (28 percent) or somewhat (24 percent) supportive of an Israeli strike on Iran, while 41 percent were very (19 percent) or somewhat (22 percent) opposed. Only 21 percent of respondents were very supportive of a U.S. strike on Iran, 20 percent were somewhat supportive.

Terror Lawyer Gets Top Position At Justice Department

The new lawyer appointed to oversee Justice Department policy for detainees at Guantanamo Bay was previously a defense attorney for a fighter who admitted to fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to the Daily Mail, Tony West, who was appointed as acting associate attorney general, the agency’s number three spot, represented American Taliban member John Walker Lindh.

Lindh was charged with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and aiding al-Qaida and the Taliban. West was the public spokesman for the 20-year-old American Taliban fighter throughout his trial. Lindh pleaded guilty to carrying explosives for the Taliban and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Critics say the appointment of a lawyer who once defended terror suspects to a position overseeing terror detainees and a variety of other Justice tasks is symbolic of the United States’ increasingly radicalized Justice Department.

J. Christian Adams, Obama Justice Department Black Panther case whistleblower and author of Injustice said on Fox and Friends over the weekend, “The most dangerous thing is that West is overseeing Gitmo policy. It’s not that he’s just some guy at the Justice Department licking envelopes.”

NASA Watching Asteroid To Pass By Earth

NASA scientists are keeping an eye on a large asteroid that they believe could possibly smash into earth in February 2013.

Data shows the 60-meter asteroid (2012 DA14), which was spotted by Spanish stargazers last February, will pass by Earth in 11 months. While the asteroid’s exact trajectory is unknown, the scientists believe that it will pass very close to the planet. There is a possibility that it could collide with earth, but further calculation is required to estimate the potential threat and work out how to avert possible disaster.

According to RT, NASA expert Dr. David Dunham told students at Moscow’s University of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM):

“The Earth’s gravitational field will alter the asteroid’s path significantly. Further scrupulous calculation is required to estimate the threat of collision. The asteroid may break into dozens of small pieces, or several large lumps may split from it and burn up in the atmosphere. The type of the asteroid and its mineral structure can be determined by spectral analysis. This will help predict its behavior in the atmosphere and what should be done to prevent the potential threat.”

Scientists say that the energy released in the event of a collision would equate to the destructive power of a thermo-nuclear bomb.

Libyan Rebels Torture Black Africans In Video

Rebels in Libya, liberated with “non-war” help from the Administration of Barack Obama last year, are seen allegedly torturing a group of black Africans in a video discovered online.

The video portrays the detainment and torture of a group of black Africans at the hands of Libyan rebels. The victims are allegedly held in a zoo cage with their hands bound as their tormentors shout at them.

“Eat the flag, you dog. Patience you dog, patience. God is great,” screams a voice off-camera in the video according to RT.

According to the Daily Mail, the men in the cage are presumably captured mercenaries suspected of fighting for the toppled government of Moammar Gadhafi last year. While the news source says it is impossible to verify whether the video is authentic, it emerged as the United Nations last week said that the Libyan revolutionary brigades still hold captive and may torture three-quarters of detainees from the country’s civil war.

According to RT, Before the Libyan uprising, the country hosted about 1 million black African workers, who were employed in domestic work, construction, trash collection and other low-wage jobs. Some human rights groups suspect Libyan rebels of ethnic cleansing of the black population of the country.

Harvard: Free Federal Dollars Hurt State Economies

Often when a member of a State’s Congressional delegation holds a powerful committee seat in Washington, the lawmaker can count himself safe from voter wrath come election season. After all, what voter wants to lose a powerful earmark-happy legislative ally in the Nation’s capitol? A new study by Harvard Business School challenges this way of thinking.

The Harvard researchers found that people who favor laissez-faire economic policies are likely correct in believing that when government money is pumped into a region, private enterprise suffers.

In a study published in the Journal of Political Economy authors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval and Christopher Malloy contend that when a Senator gains more earmarking power as a chairman, publicly traded firms in his home State scale back employment growth by 3 to 15 percent. On average a State experiences a $48 million per year drop in capital expenditures and a $44 million per year drop in research and development spending by publicly traded companies. Some firms that are direct beneficiaries of government money do grow, but the researchers say that Federal funds mostly hurt private enterprise.

The study tracks only money that came with no strings attached, negating the popular argument that stimulus funds have to be paid for with higher taxes, thus hurting private sector business revenues.

“These findings argue that tax and interest rate channels, while obviously important, may not account for all or even most of the costs imposed by government spending,” the researchers write. “Even in a setting in which government spending does not need to be financed with additional taxes or borrowing, its distortionary consequences may be nontrivial.”

The authors offer an explanation of why “free money” from the Federal government actually hurts State economies and use the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority which drove private companies out of the electrical business across the South in the 1930s.

“Some of the [government] dollars directly supplant private-sector activity—they literally undertake projects the private sector was planning to do on its own,” says Coval. “The Tennessee Valley Authority of 1933 is perhaps the most famous example of this.”

The authors also say that the government money also raises the cost of doing business for private sector business because of inflation.

Despite the findings, when Congressional elections roll around, Americans will undoubtedly be bombarded with promises to “take care of the State with Federal funds, because big government will spend the money anyway.”

“The jobs created from federal transfers are generally much easier to identify and quantify than those lost—indeed Senators often tout the number of jobs that their earmarks have been able to create in their home states,” the authors speculate. “Identifying and measuring those that have been lost is not as easy. When a firm shuts down because labor costs have become prohibitive, it can never be cleanly tied to the wage pressure produced by federal transfers.”

Romney, Obama Battle Over Who’s The Average Joe

Seizing the 99 percent zeitgeist, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are increasingly trying to appeal to blue collar Americans as an alternative to the perceived Gordon Gekko persona of GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney.

According to The Hill, Obama has used recent speeches to peddle himself as a regular guy talking about such things as having trouble paying off his student loans and his care for families with tight budgets.

“I got my start standing with working folks who’d lost their jobs, folks who had lost their hope because the steel plants had closed down,” Obama said during a speech Tuesday. “I didn’t like the idea that they didn’t have anybody fighting for them. The same reason I got into this business is the same reason I’m here today.”

Republicans say that it is unlikely that anyone believes Obama is a regular guy, considering he spends a great deal of time rubbing elbows with Hollywood elite and hosting campaign dinners where plates are sold for thousands of dollars.

Media, in recent months, have attacked Romney for comments (sometimes taken out of context) about his wealth, including his comment about his wife’s two Cadillacs, assertion that he “likes being able to fire people,” saying he “isn’t concerned about the very poor” and his infamous $10,000 debate bet with Rick Perry. The candidate, in an attempt to portray himself as a NASCAR fan, asserted this week that he has several friends who own NASCAR teams.

Financial filing reports show that both Romney and Obama are favored by wealthy campaign contributors far more than any of the other 2012 Presidential contenders. A separate report by The Hill shows that Romney and Obama both receive hefty contributions from wealthy backers who also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying to alter Federal legislation.

A poll conducted by CNN and ORC earlier this month shows that most Americans have a clear belief about which candidate most favors the middle class in the United States: 52 percent said Ron Paul, 28 percent said Romney and 40 percent said Obama.

Massive Solar Storm Could Kill Grid By 2020

The number of American preppers appears to have grown in recent years. With shows such as “Doomsday Preppers” on major television networks, the prepper lifestyle has become a bit more mainstream. If one space physicist is correct, now may be a better time than ever.

According to research published by Pete Riley, senior scientist at Predictive Science in San Diego, Calif., in Space Weather, there is about a one in eight chance that the Earth will be hit by a massive solar megastorm this decade. The event would likely fry electrical components and cause trillions of dollars in damage.

Solar flares are caused because the sun goes through an 11-year cycle of increased and decreased activity. During solar maximum, sunspots and enormous magnetic whirlwinds erupt from its surface. Sometimes, the flares burst outward from the sun, spewing a mass of charged particles out into space.

The biggest solar event ever to affect Earth, the Carrington Event, occurred in 1859. Astronomer Richard Carrington watched an enormous solar flare erupt from the sun’s surface, emitting a particle stream at the Earth traveling more than 4 million miles per hour. When the energy reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the particles generated the intense ghostly ribbons of light known as auroras.

A 2008 report conducted by the National Research Council concluded that in today’s electronic world a similar event could spark: “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking, and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”

Coulter: Santorum Clueless On The Constitution

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter penned an article earlier this week assailing Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum over his disdain for State’s rights.

Coulter, in her piece, points out that many of the issues Santorum braces his campaign with are ones that would be better suited for someone running for a gubernatorial position to take on, “family oriented matters about which the federal government can, and should, do very little.”

Coulter writes:

States could outlaw purple hats or Gummi bears under our Constitution!

State constitutions, laws, judicial rulings or the people themselves, voting democratically, tend to prevent such silly state bans from arising. But the Constitution written by James Madison, et al, does not prevent a state’s elected representatives from enacting them.

The Constitution mostly places limits on what the federal government can do. Only in a few instances does it restrict what states can do.

A state cannot, for example, infringe on the people’s right to bear arms or to engage in the free exercise of religion. A state can’t send a senator to the U.S. Congress if he is under 30 years old. But with rare exceptions, the Constitution leaves states free to govern themselves as they see fit.

In New York City, they can have live sex clubs and abortion on demand, but no salt or smoking sections. In Tennessee, they can ban abortion, but have salt, creches and 80 mph highways. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

And yet when Santorum tried to explain why states could ban contraception to Bill O’Reilly back in January, not once did he use the words “Constitution,” “constitutionally,” “federalism,” their synonyms or derivatives. Lawyers who are well familiar with the Constitution had no idea what Santorum was talking about.

The columnist then deducts that Santorum has little to no understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

Coulter’s piece backs up what GOP candidate Ron Paul has been saying about Santorum throughout the campaign: He is a fake, big government “conservative” using hot-button social issues that the Federal government has no business addressing to bolster support from social conservatives and the religious right.

Navy Testing Electromagnetic Railgun

The Navy has announced that it is getting close to developing an electromagnetic gun that can fire rounds at targets more than 100 miles away.

Called an electromagnetic railgun, the weapon consists of parallel rails and uses a magnetic field and electric current to generate energy to fire rounds accurate at up to 115 miles. The weapon will be able to hurl its 40-pound projectile at a speed of 5,600 mph at a rate of 10 guided projectiles per second.

The 5-inch guns currently used on Navy on destroyers typically have a range of about 15 miles.

According to Navy researchers, the weapon’s high-velocity and range would allow ships to provide support for Marines as well as self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles and could target enemy ships.

The video below shows a Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun prototype launcher that was recently installed at a test facility in Dahlgren, Va. The test shots begin a month-long series of full-energy tests to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers.

Congress: Your First Amendment Rights Annoy Us

Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The 1st Amendment has been under attack by the American political elite for some time, and a bill voted on in the House on Monday sets the next portion of the Amendment in line for the chopping block.

The House voted this week 388-3 to pass H.R. 347 a bill called the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. The bill was slightly amended and voice-voted by the Senate earlier in the month; House passage of the Senate version sends it to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature into law.

Congress makes it illegal in the bill to trespass on the grounds of the White House. The wording in the bill, however, goes on to allow the government to enforce trespassing laws against more than tourists and protesters near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A portion of the bill explains who it criminalizes:

`(a) Whoever—`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; `(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions; `(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or `(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds.

The bill also explains what are considered restricted places for peaceful protesters:

`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area–`(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; `(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and `(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service’ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.

Basically, anyplace where Secret Service agents are present or any building where government business is being conducted is made off limits to “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” by language in the bill. Both GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are currently protected by Secret Service agents, and Newt Gingrich has asked for protection. Ron Paul is the only candidate who has said that he will likely not opt for Secret Service protection during the campaign.

According to the Secret Service website, the agency is authorized to protect:

  • The President, the Vice President, (or other individuals next in order of succession to the Office of the President), the President-elect and Vice President-elect.
  • The immediate families of the above individuals.
  • Former Presidents and their spouses, except when the spouse remarries.
  • Children of former Presidents until age 16.
  • Visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States, and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad.
  • Major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, and their spouses within 120 days of a general Presidential election.
  • Other individuals as designated per Executive Order of the President.
  • National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Because foreign dignitaries are often protected by the Secret Service, the Federal government could consider demonstrations against any foreign president on American soil a violation of Federal law, as long as it could be considered disruptive.

Secret Service’s ability to be present at any “National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security” is also particularly alarming for free-speech advocates, as it could mean no peaceable assembly just about anywhere Janet Napolitano sees fit. According to RT, about three dozen events in all have been considered National Special Security Events since the term was created by President Bill Clinton. Among the events on the DHS-sanctioned NSSE list were Super Bowl XXXVI, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, State of the Union addresses and the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

The only “no” votes on the bill were from Representatives Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

Amash commented about the bill on his Facebook page saying, “Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights.”

Nanny State To Mandate Rear-View Cameras In All Vehicles

The National Highway Safety Institute has set in place a law that will require that all vehicles come equipped with rear-view cameras, a measure that — if 100 percent effective — will prevent 228 American deaths each year at a cost of about $12 million each to American auto buyers.

According to The New York Times, in a preliminary version of the measure released for public comment, regulators predicted that adding the cameras and viewing screens will cost the auto industry as much as $2.7 billion a year, or $160 to $200 a vehicle. Some of the cost is expected to be passed on to consumers through higher prices.

Government statistics say that 228 people — 44 percent of whom are younger than 5 — die each year after being backed over by passenger vehicles. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.

Critics of the measure say that efforts to encourage Americans to pay more attention would be a much more effective way of avoiding tragedies without putting in place yet another auto-industry mandate to reduce the competitiveness of American autos.

Reason reports: “…Legislators put minimum effort into finding the most cost-efficient solution to this problem and failed to consider that car design isn’t really their job in the first place. Clearly, when considering the fact that most backover accidents involve the parent or relative of a child, the right course of action would be legislation that prohibits parents and relatives of children from driving in the first place.”

If You Are Using The Internet, You Are A Criminal

Remember the controversy over the past couple of months surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) that was seemingly quelled by the protest of thousands of Internet users and the subsequent blackout of several major websites? Though the tweets, posts and online news stories regarding Internet freedom have waned greatly, the threat to freedom and any level of online privacy persists.

Perhaps it is a product of our always-on news cycle or our constant bombardment with entertainment distractions, but Americans as a whole have a very short attention span when it comes to fighting against threats to our liberty. When lawmakers such as Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — author of SOPA — draft legislation that deliberately takes away Americans’ freedom and privacy, they do so with a plan.

Smith and his legislative cohorts knew very well that SOPA and PIPA, two bills that screamed censorship and the antithesis of American values, would make American Internet users and free-speech advocates uneasy; that’s why the Texas legislator drafted a backup bill. The bill’s alphabet-soup acronym is PCFIPA (H.R. 1981), which stands for something that all Americans would likely support “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers.” By amending existing laws that give U.S. Marshals the power to issue subpoenas and pursue fugitives, the bill will give Federal authorities access to your every move when using the Internet or Internet-based device. That’s every email, click, text message, password, online financial transaction, etc.

Internet service providers (ISPs) already keep track of some information, but Smith’s bill requires the ISP to retain every move of every individual using the Internet for 18 months, according to IT World. This means that the Feds would have an ever-evolving pool of data pertaining to every Internet-using American to bait with the thousands of Federal laws and regulations on the books and fish until they find some semblance of criminal activity.

Smith — like any good bureaucrat — is using child pornography as a straw man to impose tyranny. By assuming that every American is a child pornographer, the bill compiles a list of every online action and makes every person guilty until proven innocent.

IT World says of the bill: “Since it is empowering U.S. Marshals to investigate people who have not yet been convicted, under PCFIPA, the only thing required to get a valid subpoena to examine all the online activity of 99.762 percent of the U.S. population, is an investigating officer willing to say the subpoena has something to do with investigation of online child porn.”

“The bill is mislabeled,” Representative John Conyers (D-MI) told CNET. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

SOPA, PIPA and PCFIPA are all pretty nasty attempts by the U.S. government to unleash its crushing regulatory power on the Internet, but there is another threat to internet freedom and privacy. Critics of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) say the agreement has all of the markers of an evil plot in a movie based on a group of world leaders and corporate interests bent on eliminating communication among their proles to control all production, communication and information. ACTA is supposed to be an international agreement that protects copyright holders against piracy by establishing an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet. The law would use an international organization — such as the World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization or the United Nations — to carry out its task.

ACTA has not been widely discussed in U.S. media, likely because negotiations regarding the measure were held in secret. It was signed quietly by the United States in October 2011 without the approval of Congress, the Supreme Court or the American public. Tokyo, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea also signed the treaty, while the European Union, Mexico and Switzerland plan to do so in the near future, according to International Business Times. When the measure is finalized, ACTA can be used to crack down on Internet activity worldwide by a coordinated authority that rests outside of any country.

Governments aren’t the only ones who want access to everything you do online. With the advent of a new Google privacy policy on March 1, information from almost all of your Google services — including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search — will be compiled and analyzed so that the company can learn more about you. Google collects and can integrate just about anything you’ve ever told the company: calendar appointments, location data, search preferences, contacts, personal habits based on Gmail chatter, device information and search queries among other things. There is no way to opt out of the company’s tracking aside from not using any of its products.

If you’re concerned about Internet freedom and privacy, don’t worry, President Barack Obama has your back — much like he did when it came to the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, the Administration issued a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” and said that individuals should be allowed to opt out of corporate Internet tracking. No word yet on whether the White House will call for the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, CIA, U.S. Marshals or international spy agencies to allow Internet users to opt out of tracking by Big Brother anytime soon. Our guess is likely not.

GAO: Duplication Of Programs Costing Taxpayers Billions

A 428-page study conducted by the Government Accountability Office found something infuriating, but likely not surprising to many Americans: overlapping government programs are costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually.

The study noted that in areas ranging from food safety to background checks to breast cancer research, the Federal government has dozens of repeated agency responsibilities, likely costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year.

The Washington Post points out a few of the duplicate government programs in a recent article:

Fifty-three separate programs run by four federal agencies provide economic development assistance to entrepreneurs and several of the programs provide the same type of assistance. There are 17 programs providing “technical assistance” to entrepreneurs: Two at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, six run by the Small Business Administration, five run by the Agriculture Department and four out of the Commerce Department.

The lack of a coordinate reporting system makes it difficult for the National Institutes of Health, Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs to track health research funded by other federal agencies, GAO said, meaning agencies may issue duplicative grants to different research projects on the same topic.

Federal agencies spent at least $79 billion on at least 7,200 investments in information technology last fiscal year. The Pentagon and Energy Department had the most.

The government spent at least $1 billion last year to conduct more than 2 million background checks of federal job applicants, the report said. Costs have grown in recent years in part because at least seven agencies are spending tens of millions of dollars on separate databases to track personnel records.

The GAO also included a list of cost-cutting recommendations for the Federal government.

Eat Broccoli To Ward Off Cancer

Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered yet another reason why broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are so good for you: They contain a compound called sulforaphane that provides not just one, but two ways to prevent cancer through the complex mechanism of epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of genetic code and the way that diet, toxins and other forces can change which genes get activated. This can play a powerful role in everything from cancer to heart disease and other health issues.

Sulforaphane was previously identified as one of the most critical compounds that provide much of the health benefits in cruciferous vegetables, and scientists also knew that a mechanism involved was histone deacetylases, or HDACs. This family of enzymes can interfere with the normal function of genes that suppress tumors.

“It appears that DNA methylation and HDAC inhibition, both of which can be influenced by sulforaphane, work in concert with each other to maintain proper cell function,” said Emily Ho, an associate professor in the Linus Pauling Institute and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “They sort of work as partners and talk to each other.”

The one-two punch, according to the doctor, is important to cell function and the control of cell division.

“Cancer is very complex and it’s usually not just one thing that has gone wrong,” Ho said. “It’s increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it, the more benefits it appears to have.”

Sulforaphane is particularly abundant in broccoli, but also found in other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and kale. Both laboratory and clinical studies have shown that higher intake of cruciferous vegetables can aid in cancer prevention.

Wyoming State Government Preppers

State legislators in Wyoming, like American preppers, have decided to prepare for economic and political collapse of the United States because of the Nation’s soaring national debt and Americans’ growing dissatisfaction with the Federal government.

A House bill recently passed in the State (HB 85) calls for the creation of a State-run continuity task force to study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes including disruptions in food and energy supplies and a complete breakdown of the Federal government. The task force will consider the feasibility of the State issuing its own currency, creating a standing army, implementing a State military draft and acquiring strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

According to Wyoming’s Star-Tribune, the measure has gained healthy support from State legislators.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” State Representative Lorraine Quarberg (R-Thermopolis) told the paper. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”

The bill’s sponsor, State Representative David Miller (R-Riverton), said that he does not expect the U.S. government to collapse anytime soon, but that it is important for his State to hedge against problems at the Federal level.

Paul Campaign: There Is No Paul/Romney Coordination

Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign has responded to media speculation that Paul has built an alliance with Mitt Romney and that his son, Senator Rand Paul, may be under consideration for a Romney Vice Presidential pick. The answers are no and no.

The campaign recently published a statement on its website explaining why Paul has focused attacks heavily on Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, but has had little to say about Romney:

If Republican voters are already supporting Romney then they’ve already made peace with his big government, anti-conservative record. Newt Gingrich wanted to be the anti-Romney, until conservatives could no longer ignore that Newt’s big government record wasn’t much different from Mitt’s. Santorum now wants to be the anti-Romney. The problem is Santorum is every bit the big government politician Romney is. Mr. “politics is a team sport” Santorum was literally a water carrier for the GOP establishment throughout the last decade and then some.

Speaking on MSNBC, Paul campaign advisor Doug Wead explained that Paul and Romney are polar opposites when it comes to voting records and proposals.

“There is no alliance. I mean, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are exact opposites—maybe that’s why they like each other so much,” he said.

In another statement, the campaign eliminated any speculation that Paul’s son was supporting or would consider any position in a Romney White House.

“I think the story kind of got misrepresented, because you know when I was asked, every time I’m asked these kind of questions, these are hypothetical questions, I always say you know what? I still have my first choice in the race and that’s Ron Paul. My first choice would be a Ron Paul presidency and my first choice for a position would be an unofficial adviser to a Ron Paul presidency,” said the Senator.

African Americans For Obama

As a part of his re-election strategy, President Barack Obama is working to entwine race and religion into his 2012 campaign for the Presidency.

Earlier this month via a video message, Obama announced the 2012 launch of African Americans for Obama, saying he didn’t believe there is a better time than Black History Month to kick off the initiative.

“Every day, I think of the generations of African American men and women who overcame slavery and oppression, risked their own safety to cast a ballot, even gave up their lives to help build a country that lived up to its founding principles, “ said Obama in his call-to-action video.

Visitors to the President’s re-election website can opt to volunteer for the campaign by “organizing in barber shops and beauty salons,” “organizing black businesses,” “organizing civic organizations,” “organizing congregations” or “organizing at historically black colleges and universities.”

The initiative has led some people to ponder what might happen if one of the white candidates organized a similarly racially exclusive campaign initiative. Paul Joseph Watson writes in a recent Prison Planet article:

Imagine if Ron Paul announced a national campaign called ‘Whites for Ron Paul’ – he’d be vilified as a racist. And yet Barack Obama has done the equivalent of precisely that with his launch of ‘African Americans for Obama’…

Again, imagine what the reaction would be any of the Republican candidates launched a ‘Whites for Romney’, ‘Whites for Santorum’ or ‘Whites for Gingrich’ campaign. There would be non-stop uproar. But Obama does the equivalent and gets a free pass.

A recent report by NPR says that Obama is focusing more heavily on black voters this election season amid concerns that black voter turnout will be less in 2012 than it was in 2008, though the President still carries favorability in the 90 percent range among blacks.

Video Games Depict Religion As Problematic

It has long been noted that video games often contain graphic content including violence, gore, drug use and sexuality, but a new study points out another trend: the vilification of organized religion.

Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, examined five recent video games with religious-themed storylines — “Mass Effect 2,” “Final Fantasy 13,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” and “Elder Scrolls: Oblivion” — and found that each associated religion with violence.

“In most of these games there was a heavy emphasis on a ‘Knights Templar’ and crusader motifs,” Perreault said. “Not only was the violent side of religion emphasized, but in each of these games religion created a problem that the main character must overcome, whether it is a direct confrontation with religious zealots or being haunted by religious guilt.”

The researcher said that he did not believe the game developers are intentionally vilifying religion.

“It doesn’t appear that game developers are trying to purposefully bash organized religion in these games,” Perreault said. “I believe they are only using religion to create stimulating plot points in their story lines. If you look at video games across the board, most of them involve violence in some fashion because violence is conflict and conflict is exciting. Religion appears to get tied in with violence because that makes for a compelling narrative.”

Perreault presented his findings at the Center for Media Religion and Culture Conference on Digital Religion.

Study: Americans Always Think Their Candidate Is Most Popular

A new study from Northwestern University finds that because of a phenomenon called the false consensus effect, most voters believe that their preferred candidate will win in an election despite what polls say.

Using data from the American Life Panel researchers studied survey responses and results from the 2008 U.S. Presidential election and 2010 senatorial and gubernatorial State elections. Regardless of race, gender or level of schooling, voters believed that their chosen candidate was the most popular — no matter what results from polls said.

For example, someone who strongly supported a Democrat candidate over a Republican would have given a 20 to 30 percent higher chance, on average, that the Democrat would win the election than would someone who strongly supports the Republican.

“People thought their preferred candidate had a higher chance of winning, in every election, no matter in which state they live, no matter who was running, no matter which political party,” said Charles F. Manski, co-author of the paper. “This is one of the strongest empirical regularities I’ve ever seen.”

Pennsylvania Judge Uses Court To Push Sharia, Defend Muslim Attacker Of Atheist

A Muslim judge, an atheist and another Muslim walk into a courtroom — and, nope, this isn’t the beginning of a bad joke.

A judge in Pennsylvania dismissed assault charges against a Muslim who allegedly choked an atheist during a Halloween parade because the man offended Islam. American Atheists’ Pennsylvania State Director Ernest Perce V was wearing a “zombie Muhammad” costume and claiming to be the Prophet Muhammad risen from the dead at a Halloween parade on Oct. 11 in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Also at the parade was a zombie version of the Catholic Pope.

As the atheists marched down the street, an enraged Muslim named Talaag Elbayomy stormed out of the crowd and latched on to a sign hanging from Perce’s neck that read “Only Muhammad can Rape America,” pulling until the strings choked the man.

Police officer Bryan Curtis, upon witnessing the assault, intervened and charged Elbayomy — who said he believed it was illegal to mock Muhammad — with harassment.

Curtis told Pennsylvania’s WHTM-TV, “Mr. Perce has the right to do what he did that evening, and the defendant in this case was wrong in what he did in confronting him.” Adding, “I believe that I brought a case that showed proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the case was dismissed, and I was disappointed.”

District Judge Mark Martin, however, didn’t agree and instead accused Perce of “using the First Amendment” to madden Muslims.

According to WND, while brandishing a Quran, Judge Martin delivered a scathing attack against Perce in support of Muslims. An excerpt follows:

Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in predominantly Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Quran here, and I would challenge you, Sir, to show me where it says in the Quran that Muhammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus…

In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.

Here in our society, we have a Constitution that gives us many rights, specifically First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers intended. I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.

I don’t think you’re aware, Sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – I understand you’re an atheist – but see Islam is not just a religion. It’s their culture, their culture, their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day toward Mecca. To be a good Muslim before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, unless you’re otherwise told you cannot because you’re too ill, too elderly, whatever, but you must make the attempt. Their greeting is ‘Salam alaikum, wa-laikum as-Salam,’ uh, ‘May God be with you.’

Whenever it is very common, their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, Allah willing, this will happen. It’s, they’re so immersed in it. And what you’ve done is, you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m a Muslim. I find it offensive. I find what’s on the other side of this [sign] very offensive. But you have that right, but you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights. …

I’ve spent about seven years living in other countries. When we go to other countries, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to us as ‘ugly Americans.’ This is why we hear it referred to as ‘ugly Americans,’ because we’re so concerned about our own rights, we don’t care about other people’s rights. As long as we get our say, but we don’t care about the other people’s say.

After delivering his lesson in Sharia Law, Martin dismissed the charges against Elbayomy despite video evidence of the attack and Curtis’ testimony on Perce’s behalf.

Here is a video of the events that transpired during the parade.

Perce, angered by Martin’s dismissal of the charge and the lengths he went to belittle the plaintiff, released the following the following recording of the judge’s ruling. Perce claims he had permission to release the audio, but Martin is now threatening to hold him in contempt of court, according to the Scranton Atheism Examiner.