Russians Are Happier Than Ever, Survey Says

MOSCOW, May 1 (UPI) — Even though their country is preparing for military conflict and its economy is in recession, Russians, a survey released Thursday said, are the happiest they have been in 25 years.

In its annual “Happiness Index,” the VTsIOM public opinion research center said 78 percent of Russians declared themselves content with their lives, a one percent increase over last year’s statistics. Those in the 18 to 25 age group were the happiest, with 92 percent of respondents saying they were happy.

One in three respondents noted happiness, for them, was linked to family life, their children and grandchildren, and an interesting work life. The number of those simply thankful to be alive has doubled, the survey said.

Those unhappy complained of bad health and a low standard of living.

The survey was conducted among 1,600 respondents across 45 Russian regions.

Poll: Residents Of Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland Most Eager To Move To Another State

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) — Residents of Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland most want to move elsewhere, a Gallup poll says.

On the other side, those living in Montana, Hawaii and Maine tend to want to stay put with only 23 percent saying they would like to move to another State. In Illinois, exactly 50 percent would like a change of State.

Overall, about one-third of those in the United States would like to move to a different State. In Nevada, where 43 percent of the residents would like to move, one in five says they are actually planning to do so in the next year, the highest of any State.

The findings are based on the same data as a Gallup report earlier this week on residents’ attitudes towards their States. They tend to track the same way — with some interesting exceptions.

Alaska tied with Montana in its percentage of satisfied residents, but Alaskans are about average in their desire to move. Maine was not in the top 10 in happy residents, but it ties with Montana and Hawaii in desire to move elsewhere and only 8 percent in the State plan to do so in the next 12 months.

Gallup found that only 24 percent in New Hampshire, Oregon and Texas want to move, followed by 25 percent in Colorado and Minnesota, 26 percent in South Dakota and 27 percent in Wyoming. In Connecticut, 49 percent want to move, 47 percent in Maryland, 43 percent in Nevada, 42 percent in Rhode Island, 41 percent in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, 40 percent in Louisiana and 39 percent in Mississippi.

In the top 10 States for people planning to move soon, almost one-third, 31 percent, said it was for work or business reasons. The other top reasons for relocating were joining family and friends, getting better weather or an improved location and enjoying a better quality of life.

Gallup surveyed at least 600 people in every state in the second half of 2013. The margin of error is 5 percentage points for each State sample.

U.N. Calls For Free Media Worldwide

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 (UPI) — Ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the United Nations Thursday urged governments worldwide to defend free media as a fundamental right.

“Freedom of expression, independent media and universal access to knowledge will fortify our efforts to achieve lasting results,” U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a meeting at U.N. headquarters on “Media Freedom for a Better Future.”

He mentioned that, in the line of duty, 70 journalists were killed in 2013, many caught in the crossfire of armed hostilities, and 14 have been killed thus far in 2014. Over 1,000 journalists have been killed, and more imprisoned or forced into exile, since 1992.

“These are alarming statistics. Behind each statistic stands a man or woman simply going about their lawful business,” he added.

General: We Never Thought Benghazi Was Because Of A Video

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) — Military and intelligence officials in Africa during the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya said they quickly ruled out that the attack had been sparked by a controversial YouTube video, a general who was in Africa at the time of the attack said Thursday.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, testifying before the House Oversight Committee’s fourth hearing on the attack, said he and others at U.S. Armed Forces headquarters in Africa quickly came to the conclusion the attack was unrelated to the video, which had sparked a protest in Cairo earlier that day.

“As the attack was ongoing, it was unclear whether it was an attempted kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above,” Lovell said.

New documents released by court order Wednesday provided an opening for renewed criticism of the White House from Republicans, who repeatedly asked whether the State Department had shirked its responsibility to protect Americans abroad.

“The military could have made a response,” said Representative John Mica (R-Fla.), “See, I believe we had the capability” to save at least the two Navy SEALs who died several hours after the beginning of the attack.

But Lovell said he agreed with the conclusion of Armed Services Committee Chair Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who said last month he believed “that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn’t have done more than we did.”

And yet, Lovell said, he felt the military could still have tried.

“We should have continued to move forward with whatever forces we had to move forward with,” he testified.

Lovell’s testimony comes in direct contradiction to that of then-Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell, who last month testified his analysts considered for several days the possibility of the attack having been brought on by extremists who took advantage of a protest over the video.

Thursday’s hearing comes just hours after the release of 41 documents of State Department communications, declassified by court order Wednesday. Included among them was an email from then-White House aide Ben Rhodes, now a deputy national security advisor, outlining a communication strategy for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s television appearances for the Sunday after the attack.

The goals, Rhodes wrote, were “to convey that the United States is doing everything we can do to protect our people and facilities abroad; to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not in a broader failure of policy; to show that we will be resolute in brining people who harm Americans to Justice, and stand steadfast through these protests; to reenforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Republicans pounced on the documents, calling them proof that the White House “orchestrated an effort to deflect attention away from their failed Libya policy and the resurgence of al Qaeda another other terrorists.”

“The emails provide additional evidence that senior officials knew the attack on our mission in Benghazi was a complex attack and not a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement Wednesday.

But the White House denied the emails were the smoking gun Republicans have been looking for, saying that Rhodes’ email was actually addressing the larger situation of unrest, including the protests in Cairo and fears others might break out.

“In the e-mail, Ben Rhodes makes clear that our primary goals included making sure our people in the field were protected and bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “The content reflects what the administration was saying at the time and what we understood to be the facts at the time.”

West Virginia Man Arrested Three Times In One Day

VIENNA, W.Va., April 30 (UPI) — A West Virginia man had quite a day Tuesday, somehow managing to get arrested three separate times on three different charges, according to Vienna Police Chief George Young.

Gregory Allen Horner was arrested the first time while police were responding to a call about someone — who turned out to be Horner — using a fake prescription for Xanax at a Rite Aid pharmacy on Monday. While police were at the pharmacy investigating on Tuesday morning, Horner walked in with another fake prescription.

After being arrested for forging a prescription, Horner posted bond and was released.

A few hours later, police went to Horner’s home for a domestic dispute and arrested him for domestic battery after his wife got a protective order, the NewsCenter reported.

Horner posted bond, returned to the home on Tuesday evening, and was arrested again for violating the protective order.

After his third arrest in seven hours, Horner was arraigned and immediately sentenced to a mandatory 10 days in jail.
Evan Bleier

Donald Sterling Also Receives Lifetime Ban From Nevada’s Bunny Ranch Brothel

CARSON CITY, Nev., April 30 (UPI) — Donald Sterling can’t watch his players on the court in California — and now he can’t play in Nevada.

A day after he was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling also got the boot from the infamous Bunny Ranch brothel outside Carson City, Nevada.

The owner of the legal brothel, Dennis Hof, also announced that Sterling is banned from entering any of his six other brothels in the state.

“A lot of NBA players come here to party,” Hof told the Huffington Post. “Out of respect to them, we have banned Sterling from coming here.”

Hof issued the ban on behalf of his employees as well.

“At any given time, 20 to 23 percent of the prostitutes here are African-American,” Hof said. “And they’re smoking hot. Some of them were crying this morning so we’re doing this for them as well. We don’t need racists or bigots at the Bunny Ranch.”

The owner would neither confirm nor deny whether Sterling had ever visited in the past.

“I can tell you this: Johnny Buss, one of the owners of the Los Angeles Lakers, and I have had a dual birthday party at the Bunny Ranch for the last 18 years, so a lot of NBA people have been here,” Hof said.

The “Duck Dynasty guys” and Michael Vick have also been banned from the Bunny Ranch and its subsidiaries.
Evan Bleier

Florida Senator Introduces ‘zombie Apocalypse’ Amendment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 30 (UPI) — A Florida senator introduced an amendment to state Senate Bill 296 on Tuesday that would change the title from “An act related to carrying a concealed weapon or firearm” to “An act relating to the zombie apocalypse.”

The bill, which would eliminate criminal prosecution for carrying concealed firearms during a mandatory evacuation, was first introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes last fall.

Despite the seemingly humorous nature of the name change, Sen. Dwight Bullard wasn’t joking when he filed for the name change.

“For me, as laughable as the amendment might seem, it’s equally laughable that people who haven’t gone through the proper training, the background check, the license to carry — we’re saying because of a hurricane or flooding or sinkhole, these individuals have gone from gun owners to concealed carry permit holders,” Bullard told the Huffington Post.

“I’d argue a crisis is probably the last instance in which you want someone who is not a concealed permit holder to carry a weapon.”

When he introduced the bill, Brandes said that emergency evacuees would “have enough to worry about without having to cross-check themselves to be certain they’re in technical compliance with concealed weapon transport laws.”
Evan Bleier

89-year-old WWII Veteran Leo Sharp Hoping To Avoid Jail For Huge Cocaine Haul

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind., April 30 (UPI) — An 89-year-old World War II veteran will be sentenced on his 90th birthday in Detroit federal court after allegedly transporting more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine across the country.

Leo Sharp of Michigan City, Ind., was caught with more than 200 pounds of cocaine on Interstate 94 in 2011, and prosecutors determined that it was not his first time transporting the drug across the U.S. while serving as a mule for an Arizona drug ring.

Sharp, who pleaded guilty last fall, is set to be sentenced on May 7.

The veteran’s attorney, Darryl Goldberg, is hopeful that his client will be sentenced to home confinement because of his age and health.

“He is a colorful, self-made, charitable man who has worked hard throughout this entire admirable, extraordinary, and long life,” Goldberg wrote in a court memo. “Mr. Sharp made a monumental mistake at a moment of perceived financial weakness, and was exploited and threatened, but his conduct in this case was truly an aberration from a law-abiding life.”

Goldberg also noted that Sharp was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.

Prosecutors are believed to be seeking a five-year sentence.
Evan Bleier

Cornell Study Finds Children Who Eat Chicken On The Bone Are More Aggressive

ITHACA, N.Y., April 30 (UPI) — Researchers at Cornell University conducted a study about biting versus chewing habits in children and found that kids who eat chicken on the bone are more likely to disobey adults and be aggressive.

The study, which was published in Eating Behaviors, found that children were “twice as likely to disobey adults and twice as aggressive toward other kids” when eating food they had to hold and bite.

Researches found that children were more docile when eating cut-up pieces of food, results which would seem to indicate that there is a connection between having to use teeth to eat and aggressive behavior.

Not everyone agrees with the study’s findings.

“I think people have been eating chicken wings, chicken drumsticks for a millennia and I don’t think it’s made them any more aggressive than they otherwise would have been,” clinical psychologist Dr. Brian Russell told Fox News.

The children that the researchers studied were between the ages of 6 and 10.
Evan Bleier

Scientists Grow Functional Human Cartilage In Lab

NEW YORK, April 30 (UPI) — For the first time, scientists have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in a lab setting, using stem cells derived from human fat tissue.

Scientists have previously been able to create cartilage out of animal cells, but attempts to cultivate cartilage from human stem cells has, until now, resulted in a weak, substandard product.

To produce cartilage able to substitute for the real thing — strong and durable — Sarindr Bhumiratana, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, developed a new approach: subjecting the stem cells to a “condensation stage,” mimicking how a human skeleton develops in the womb.

As head researcher Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Bhumiratana’s advisor, explained: “Our whole approach to tissue engineering is biomimetic in nature, which means that our engineering designs are defined by biological principles.”

In other words, engineers at Columbia’s lab are continually try to recreate the biological environment and conditions that naturally enable tissue formation.

It’s a general approach, Vunjak-Novakovic admits, that has been used successfully before, to replicate bone and heart tissue. “Still, we were really surprised to see that our cartilage, grown by mimicking some aspects of biological development, was as strong as ‘normal’ human cartilage.”

Though the researchers’ new study — which was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — suggests the cartilage produced is fully functional, they still need to test its durability once implanted in a human body.

“This is a very exciting time for tissue engineers,” says Vunjak-Novakovic. “Stem cells are transforming the future of medicine, offering ways to overcome some of the human body’s fundamental limitations.
Brooks Hays