Oregon Man Demands Marijuana And Mountain Dew During Eight-Hour Police Standoff

CLATSKANIE, Ore., April 28 (UPI) — An Oregon man and his girlfriend were arrested Saturday after an eight-hour standoff with police that involved marijuana, Mountain Dew and the male anatomy.

James Marco Bryan and girlfriend Carrie Hurley refused to surrender to police when the authorities attempted to bring Bryan in on outstanding warrants for reckless driving and absconding.

The 44-year-olds were so uncooperative that the Oregon State Police SWAT team was called in.

“He was kicking out windows, yelling and screaming, standing in the window making gestures with his penis and showing his buttocks in the nude,” Clatskanie Police Chief Marvin Hoover told the Oregonian. “At one point, he was wanting a pack of cigarettes, a Mountain Dew, some marijuana.”

The house that Bryan and Hurley were holed up in also had signs outside that contained “some graffiti-style writings like supremacist-type group stuff.”

During the standoff, the couple called local TV station KATU to complain about the Clatskanie police.

“Why would the Clatskanie cops keep on cruising by?” Bryan said by phone. “Because they want to take me out. Because I am going to … take this whole county down, that is why. I got the paperwork to the [expletive] SWAT team who’s out here in front of me. They read it. They don’t care.”

“They want me to come out so they can come in and shoot him or they can shoot me if I come out,” said Hurley. “They’re corrupt and we’ve got ’em by the [expletive] and they [expletive] don’t even know what’s going on.”

After authorities eventually used tear gas to subdue the suspects, Hurley was charged with hindering prosecution and Bryan was charged with resisting arrest, indecent exposure and first-degree criminal mischief.
Evan Bleier

Plane Crashes Into Man On Lawn Mower During Landing At North Carolina Airport

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C., April 28 (UPI) — An elderly North Carolina man lost his hand after he was struck by a plane while riding a lawn mower at Taylorsville Airport in Alexander County.

The pilot of the plane, 84-year-old Edward Eugene Sisson, didn’t see 74-year-old John Rufty on his lawn mower until just before impact. Rufty’s left hand was severed by the propeller of the plane during the collision.

State Highway Patrol Sergeant Brian Owenby told the New York Daily News that Sisson was touching down on the airport’s grass landing strip on his way to visit family in the area.

No one was on hand to warn Rufty about the plane because the airport doesn’t have a traffic controller.

“(Rufty) wouldn’t have been able to hear or see the plane coming,” Owenby said. “And the pilot was unable to see the driver until just before impact.”

The National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident but no charges are pending at this time.

Sisson was not injured during the accident.
Evan Bleier

N.C. Teen Accused Of Poisoning Grandmother’s Collard Greens After Cellphone Dispute

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., April 28 (UPI) — A North Carolina teen has been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder after she allegedly poisoned a pot of her grandmother’s collard greens while the 51-year-old woman was attending Easter services.

Tyt’ana Lisa-Nicole Johnson is accused of pouring insecticide and termiticide into the greens because she was upset that her grandmother, Gaylon Moody, took away her cellphone. Moody and a friend, Clifton Evans, had to be taken to the hospital after eating the greens.

“She was on punishment. I had taken her cellphone from her. She got mad because I took her cellphone from her, and she poisoned my food,” Moody told the Fayetteville Observer. “I’ll tell you one thing: It ain’t good to feel.”

According to arrest warrants, Johnson admitted to poisoning the collard greens. She also apologized to Evans for making him ill.

“I asked her about it. She said she didn’t mean for me to get sick,” Evans said. “Actually, it was all aimed at her grandmother. I didn’t really believe this thing could happen. You hear about this kind of stuff on television, but you don’t think it could happen to you.”

Moody hasn’t spoken to her granddaughter since the incident. “I was like, ‘Wow,'” Moody said. “Can she really do something like this over a cellphone?”
Evan Bleier

AOL Looks Into Data Breach, Says User Data Compromised

NEW YORK, April 28 (UPI) — AOL has asked millions of users to change their passwords and security questions after confirming a cyber attack affecting a small portion of its users.

AOL released a statement Monday that said the breach “involved unauthorized access to AOL’s network and systems,” giving the hackers access to mail addresses, postal addresses, address book contact information, encrypted passwords, and encrypted answers.

The company said roughly 2 percent of its users were affected, and that it wasn’t sure if its password encryption was broken or whether the company lost any financial data, including debit and credit cards. But as a precautionary measure users were asked to change their passwords immediately.

“We nevertheless strongly encourage our users and employees to reset their passwords used for any AOL service and, when doing so, also to change their security question and answer,” AOL said.

“We believe that spammers have used this contact information to send spoofed emails that appeared to come from roughly 2 percent of our email accounts,” the statement read.

The attack was detected after a flurry of complaints regarding spoof and spam emails coming form AOL users. According to AOL, “spoofing is when a spammer sends out emails using your email address in the From: field. The idea is to make it seem like the message is from you – in order to trick people into opening it.”

AOL said its working with law enforcement to investigate the breach and has also contacted the SEC as protocol. The company has yet to detect the exact time and nature of the attack.
Ananth Baliga

BAE To Continue Servicing Cruisers, Destroyers At Pearl Harbor

ARLINGTON, Va., April 28 (UPI) — U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers, homeported or visiting Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, are to receive maintenance, repair and modernization services from BAE Systems.

The work will be performed under a multi-ship, multi-option contract from the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command that continues services performed by BAE Systems at Pearl Harbor for the past seven years.

“Our sustained, outstanding performance on the first MSMO award paved the way for this follow-on contract,” said Bill Clifford, president of Ship Repair at BAE Systems. “The Navy clearly recognizes our achievements and success in maintaining and modernizing these ships to ensure the readiness of the fleet. This award speaks volumes about the dedication and commitment of our highly skilled workforce, as well as our island suppliers and small businesses.”

A total of nine ships are covered under the five-year award: the USS Chafee, USS John Paul Jones, USS Chung-Hoon, USS Hopper, USS Michael Murphy, USS O’Kane, USS Halsey, USS Milius, and USS Preble.

The value of the contract was not disclosed.

BAE Systems holds similar contracts for ships in Norfolk, Va., Mayport, Fla., and San Diego, Calif.
Richard Tomkins

Pfizer Confirms $100 Billion Bid For AstraZeneca

LONDON, April 28 (UPI) — Pfizer has contacted AstraZeneca to buy the company in a multibillion dollar deal, the second such attempt after the latter rejected a roughly $100 billion offer in January.

News of the offer saw AstraZeneca stocks rise sharply, at the same time Pfizer’s share were up 2.7 percent around 12:30 p.m. Pfizer said it had made an initial approach in January but AstraZeneca rejected the offer saying it “significantly undervalued” the company.

Pfizer said the deal was “a highly compelling opportunity” for AstraZeneca’s shareholders. The cash and shares deal represented a 30 percent premium on AstraZeneca’s stock price in early January.

AstraZeneca said it was confident in its strategy and said it would continue to create value for its shareholders.

“The Board remains confident in the ongoing execution of AstraZeneca’s strategy as an independent company,” it added.

Pfizer, in the meantime, said that post-merger it plans to establish a new holding company in the U.K. with management both in the U.S. and U.K. The company headquarters would continue to be New York and shares would be listed on the NYSE.

AstraZeneca manufactures drugs in 16 countries focusing on treatments for diabetes, cancer and asthma as well as antibiotics.

“We have great respect for AstraZeneca and its proud heritage,” said Pfizer chairman and chief executive Ian Read.

“The strategic, business and financial rationale for a transaction is compelling,” he added.
Ananth Baliga

Math Error Halts Bank Of America’s Stock Buy Back And Dividend Increase

WILMINGTON, Del., April 28 (UPI) — Bank of America has had to halt its proposed stock buy back and dividend increase because of a math error in its stress test submission to the Federal Reserve.

The bank will have to hold off its proposed plans after it discovered an error in the way it calculated its capital levels. It will now have to resubmit its stress test numbers within 30 days before going ahead with any other proposed actions.

“Bank of America is by far not the first big bank to make a mistake in its CCAR submission,” David Hilder, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton in New York, told Bloomberg.

The Fed had approved on March 26 Bank of America’s request to increase its dividend from a penny a common share to five cents and to buy back $4 billion in shares. But with the errors in its reporting, the bank would have to lower its request.

The error means the bank has less high-quality capital than it previously reported, although it still has enough to meet regulatory requirements. Bank of America said the error had no impact on its recently announced earnings.

Bank of America noticed the error last week while preparing its Q10 quarterly regulatory filing and immediately notified the Fed. The error had reportedly gone undetected since Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2009, a person close to the matter told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity.

This mistake is another setback for the bank and CEO Brian T. Moynihan, who have been dealing with regulatory issues stemming from the acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and mortgage-lender Countrywide Financial Corp. during the financial crisis.
Ananth Baliga

Microsoft Reveals New Zero-day Vulnerability Affecting Internet Explorer

REDMOND, Wash., April 28 (UPI) — Microsoft confirmed Saturday that a new security vulnerability was affecting all versions of Internet Explorer by allowing “limited, targeted attacks.”

Microsoft said it was investigating the security glitch, which allowed for remote code execution, and affected all versions of Internet Explorer — IE 6 through 11. Currently versions 9, 10 and 11 are being attacked, according to FishEye, the research firm that alerted Microsoft to the vulnerability Friday.

The attacks are taking advantage of “use after free” vulnerability — a little known vulnerability that allows data corruption after memory has been released.The vulnerability also bypasses both Windows DEP (data execution prevention) and ASLR (address space layout randomization) protections, according to FireEye.

“The APT [advanced persistent threat] group responsible for this exploit has been the first group to have access to a select number of browser-based 0-day exploits (e.g. IE, Firefox, and Flash) in the past,” FireEye said. “They are extremely proficient at lateral movement and are difficult to track, as they typically do not reuse command and control infrastructure.”

Windows server versions that run on Internet Explorer in the default Enhanced Security Configuration are not vulnerable unless an affected site is placed in the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone.

Microsoft said it was investigating the vulnerability and would issue an security update to address the problem.
Ananth Baliga

John Boehner Mocks GOP Colleagues On Immigration Reform

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (UPI) — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, mocked his Republican colleagues on immigration reform at an event on Thursday in his home district.

He was speaking on the prospects of Congress passing immigration reform and said he didn’t believe that it had a good chance at making it through the House. He said he believed that immigration reform should come to the floor this year but summed up his fellow Republicans response in one animated sentence.

“Oohh don’t make me do this! Oh this is too hard!” he cried as he impersonates the GOP quivering.

Although the Senate passed an immigration reform bill in June, the House has not brought a bill on the matter to a vote. Republicans say they prefer a piecemeal approach but no movement has been made on that either. Boehner’s frustration with the inaction of his party is apparent in this video.

Beezin Trend, Putting Lip Balm On Eyelids For Natural High, Goes Viral

OKLAHOMA CITY (UPI) — According to YouTube, Twitter and a few online news sites, “beezin” — the act of rubbing peppermint lip balm on one’s eyelids — is trending.

Kids are apparently into beezin for the natural high it provides — at least according to local Oklahoma City news station WKRC, which reported that users describe the “experience of being drunk or high.” Others claim Beezin helps them stay alert.

“It’s the peppermint oil that’s causing the burning sensation and I suppose some people think that is kind of funny,” Dr. Brett Cauthen, from the local Today Clinic, told WKRC. Dr. Cauthen said young people might assume because Burt’s Bees products are supposedly “all natural,” that Beezin is safe. “Our big message is natural does not equate with safety,” added Dr. Cauthen.

James Hamblin, senior editor at The Atlantic, isn’t buying the hype. He said the phenomenon is more “trend-rumor” than actual trend — one “which seems to have actually had, at best, a fleeting moment of popularity in 2012.”

But Cooper Lund, a 25-year-old from Washington D.C., told Gothamist that beezin has been around for at least a decade. Lund said he smeared Burt’s Bees over his eyes for the first time in 2005.

“We were feeling particularly squirrely one night in high school and I got dared to do it,” Lund said. “It was the same concept as smoking banana peels, for kids who didn’t have access to drugs to pretend that they were hardcore. It was like getting VIcks VapoRub in your eye. It isn’t unpleasant.”

Entire State Of California In Drought, First Time In 15 Years

SACRAMENTO (UPI) — The entire State of California is suffering drought conditions, and in more than three-quarters of the State the drought is characterized as “extreme” or “exceptional” — as designated by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

It’s the first time in 15 years that every portion of the State simultaneously suffered some level of drought.

“This is a really serious situation here in California and people need to be cognizant of that and start conserving water as much as they can,” Jayme Laber, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, told the Los Angeles Times.

Laber is one of several weather and climate scientists who contribute to NDMC’s Drought Monitor weekly update. NDMC was established by the the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995.

Conditions are likely to only get worse, as the spring rainy season is coming to a close without having offered much relief. Reports indicate California’s snowpack is already half gone, the 50 percent that melted having done little to put a dent in drought conditions.

According to NDMC’s latest drought update, Montague, a small city in north central California, “risks running out of drinking water by the end of summer and has requested that all outside watering be curtailed until further notice.”

Drinking More Coffee Linked To Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk

BOSTON (UPI) — People who drank at least one more cup of coffee per day over a four-year period had more than a 10 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Lead author Shilpa Bhupathiraju, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the research team analyzed caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption, as well as caffeinated tea consumption, of more than 48,000 women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study from 1986 to 2006.

In addition, the researchers analyzed similar data on 47,510 women in Nurses’ Health Study II from 1991 to 2007, and 27,759 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 2006. During the course of the studies there were 7,269 cases of type 2 diabetes.

The study, published online in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, found those who increased the amount of caffeinated coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had a 11 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes in how much coffee they drunk.

The study also found people who decreased how much coffee they drank by more than an a 8-ounce cup per day increased their type 2 diabetes risk by 17 percent.

However, decaffeinated coffee consumption changes and caffeinated tea consumption changes were not linked to changes in type 2 diabetes risk.

“Our findings confirm those of previous studies that showed that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk,” Bhupathiraju said in a statement. “Most importantly, they provide new evidence that changes in coffee consumption habit can affect type 2 diabetes risk in a relatively short period of time.”

Nearly Half Of Homeless Men Have Suffered A Traumatic Brain Injury

TORONTO (UPI) — Some 45 percent of homeless men in a recent survey in Toronto had suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in their life — 70 percent of those injuries occurred during adolescence and 87 percent happened before the men became homeless.

The study is based on information collected from 111 homeless men aged 27 to 81 years old. The men were recruited from a downtown Toronto shelter and interviewed by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic, who led the study, said the survey results are important for those who work with homeless populations, as brain injuries are strongly linked with mental health issues, substance abuse, seizures and other complications. Dr. Topolovec-Vranic also said the fact that so many homeless men suffered their injury before taking to the streets, suggests physicians need to keep a closer watch on those who suffer a TBI, as they could be at greater risk of dereliction.

The study — which was published this week in the journal CMAJ Open — follows similar findings by Dr. Stephen Hwang of the hospital’s Centre for Research on Inner City Health. Dr. Hwang’s larger study looked at more than 1,100 Canadians who were homeless or vulnerably housed in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottowa. He found roughly 61 percent have suffered a TBI, seven times the TBI rate suffered by the general population.

Dr. Hwang’s study also found that homeless men and women who had suffered a TBI were more likely to be arrested or incarcerated. Homeless TBI sufferers were also found to have a better chance of becoming a victim of physical assault.

7.5 Percent Of Schoolchildren Take Prescription Psych Meds

WASHINGTON (UPI) — According to a new health study, some 7.5 percent of children ages 6 to 17 are being prescribed psych medications for emotional or behavioral problems.

The study is based on information collected as a part of the National Health Interview Survey, designed and carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Informed by interviews conducted in 2011 and 2012 with the parents of more than 17,000 children, the new look at America’s medicated youth indicates the drugs are apparently working.

“We can’t advise parents on what they should do, but I think it’s positive that over half of parents reported that medications helped ‘a lot,'” said report author LaJeana Howie, a statistical research scientist at NCHS.

Although the study was not able ascertain info on specific diagnoses, it’s estimated that a large majority of these prescriptions are meant to treat ADHD symptoms. The study may lend credence to critics who say America’s children are overdiagnosed with ADHD — and subsequently overprescribed and overmedicated.

While the American Psychiatric Association suggests that just 5 percent of U.S. kids have ADHD, CDC studies shown that more than 11 percent of American schoolchildren are now diagnosed with the behavioral condition.

“Over the past two decades, the use of medication to treat mental health problems has increased substantially among all school-aged children and in most subgroups of children,” report authors explained.

The study also found that children from poorer families were more likely to be medicated than more well-to-do children, and that boys are more frequently prescribed psych meds than girls.


Archaeologists Open Coffin Of Swedish King Murdered In 1160

UPPSALA, Sweden (UPI) — Archaeologists have pried open the coffin of a Swedish king, believed to have been murdered in 1160. Inside, they found the remains of King Erik IX alongside a gilded copper crown outfitted with semi-precious stones.

Also recovered was a small bag containing the king’s collarbone, which appears to have suffered a strike from a sword blade. After his apparent murder, King Erik was made a saint.

“Legend has it the bone damage was a fatal blow from when he was killed on ascension in 1160,” Uppsala Cathedral Chaplain Lars Astrand told Swedish news outfit The Local. “Others think he was taken captive and beheaded a week later. Either way, the sword hit his collarbone, and the marking is quite visible.”

Scientists from Uppsala University will test the bones using DNA analysis and X-ray imaging to learn more about the king’s health and his ancestry. Scientists also hope to get a better sense of King Erik’s dietary habits, which will help confirm where he lived — which in turn, may settle once and for all whether the king hailed from Uppsala or from Sweden’s west coast.

“This was a very special occasion, especially considering the importance of Saint Erik religiously in Sweden,” Astrand added.

University Of South Florida Bans Graduates From Taking Selfies During Commencement

TAMPA, Fla. (UPI) — New graduates of the University of South Florida may have aspirations of becoming President or Vice President someday, but they probably shouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Barack Obama or Joe Biden — at least when it comes to selfies.

USF’s Division of Student Affairs warned graduates that taking selfies onstage with President Judy Genshaft or other dignitaries during commencement was prohibited and that it could result in the “withholding of your degree.”

“We want students to think about the dignity of the ceremony,” USF assistant vice president Michael Freeman told The Tampa Tribune. “It’s supposed to be exciting, but it’s a serious academic ceremony.”

“We respectfully request that you refrain from inappropriate behaviors when you are on stage approaching President Judy Genshaft and other dignitaries, including: stepping, marching, strolling and selfies,” according to a statement from student affairs. “A simple handshake is preferred.”

When commencement ceremonies begin on May 2, the university will award 6,431 degrees.

“I feel bad for the person behind the person taking the selfies because now they have to wait for their moment,” said USF student body president Will Warmke. “I would love to have a selfie with president Genshaft, but there’s a time and place for taking photos with the president that wouldn’t hinder the graduation process with other students.”

Colorado 4th-Graders Busted Selling Marijuana From Grandparents’ Stash

GREELEY, Colo. (UPI) — Four Colorado fourth graders are facing discipline after they were caught with marijuana they had taken from their grandparents’ stashes.

The two separate, but related, incidents happened earlier this week at Monfort Elementary School in Greeley and involved three 10-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl.

“Over the past two days, we have had two separate incidents of students bringing marijuana into our school, both in the form of loose-leaf marijuana and an edible form of the drug,” Principal Jennifer Sheldon wrote in a letter to parents.

“We urge all parents, grandparents and anyone who cares for children to treat marijuana as you would prescription drugs, alcohol or even firearms. This drug is potentially lethal to children, and should always be kept under lock and key, away from young people.”

The four students have not been charged, but they have been suspended. None of the parents or grandparents will face charges either.

“The word of warning is this stuff is dangerous and we wish they would secure it much like they would secure it much like they would a firearm or something that could get in the hands of kids,” John Gates, the director of school safety for Greeley School District 6, told KUSA.

Survey: U.S. Centenarians Don’t Feel A Day Older Than 83

MINNETONKA, Minn. (UPI) — On average, U.S. centenarians say they feel age 83, none said they felt sad or burdened, 3 percent said they felt lonely, but most want to invite Barack Obama, Betty White or Hillary Clinton to a dinner party.

A UnitedHealthcare telephone survey of 104 U.S. centenarians found 36 percent of the centenarians said they felt blessed to live to 100, 31 percent said they felt happy and 12 percent said they were surprised. More than half said they lived independently, without the support of a caregiver to assist in daily activities.

More than 302 baby boomers age 65 were also surveyed and on average, said they felt 10 years younger.

Nine of 10 centenarians said the key to healthy aging were staying close to friends and family, 88 percent said maintaining a sense of independence and 86 percent said eating right was key to living a long life.

The 2010 Census found there are around 53,000 people age 100 or older in the United States, and that over 8 out of 10 centenarians are women.

Nearly 3 in 10 baby boomers said they expected to live to 100. Eighty-seven percent of baby boomers said they wanted to age gracefully by maintaining independence, 87 percent said they wanted to laugh a lot and 84 percent said they wanted to stay close to family and friends.

Both centenarians and baby boomers stay active. Fifty-six percent of centenarians and 74 percent of baby boomers said they walked or hiked at least once per week. Approximately one-third of centenarians and baby boomers said they did strength-training exercises every week, while 23 percent of centenarians and 39 percent of baby boomers did indoor cardio exercise.

When asked what famous person they would invite to a dinner party, 7 of 10 centenarians said President Barack Obama, unseating Betty White — the favorite for the past four annual surveys — who came in second followed by Hillary Clinton.

Baby boomers wanted Betty White as their dinner guest followed by Tom Hanks and Pope Francis.

Penn Schoen Berland interviewed the centenarians and the baby boomers Feb. 6 to 24. The margin of error for the centenarians was 9.8 percentage points and 5.66 percentage points for the baby boomers.

3,000 Types Of Bacteria Found On U.S. $1 Bills

NEW YORK (UPI) — Researchers at the New York University’s Dirty Money Project analyzed DNA on $1 bills and found some 3,000 types of bacteria — many times more than studies using a microscope found.

Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology told The Wall Street Journal: “It was quite amazing to us. We actually found that microbes grow on money.”

Carlton and colleagues used high-speed gene sequencing and computerized database analysis from 80 $1 bills to identify lifeforms via their DNA.

The unpublished findings said 1.2 billion DNA segments were found — half human. The researchers found bacteria, viruses, fungi and pathogens on the money. Specifically, the study found Staphylococcus aureus, a common cause of skin infections, respiratory disease and food poisoning; E.coli, a bacterium found in the intestine that can cause serious food poisoning; the bacterium that causes diphtheria and the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers on the $1 bills.

Vermont First State To Pass GMO Labeling Bill

MONTPELIER, Vt. (UPI) — Vermont will be the first State in the U.S. to require the labeling of genetically modified foods.

“Every Vermonter has a right to know what is in their food,” said Shap Smith, speaker of the Vermont House. “Genetically engineered foods potentially pose risks to human health and the environment. I am proud to be the first state in the nation to recognize that people deserve to know whether the food they consume is genetically modified or engineered.”

Just minutes after the House voted to approve the measure 114-30, Governor Peter Shumlin announced he would sign the bill into law.

“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food,” Shumlin said in a statement. “Vermont has led the local food movement that is better connecting people nationwide with the food they eat.”

The bill, set to take effect July 1, 2016, would also make it illegal to label foods containing GMOs as “all natural” or “natural.”

The law underscores growing tension between major U.S. Agri-firms like Monsanto willing to spend big dollars to lobby for their interests and an American public that increasingly polls as being overwhelmingly in favor of legislation to require labeling.

Twenty-nine other States have proposed bills requiring GMO labeling this year, and two States have already passed bills requiring labeling, but those measures take effect only when neighboring States also approve the requirements because regional regulations help to keep the costs of administrating a law of this nature down.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association opposes the bill, claiming: “It sets the nation on a costly and misguided path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that will do nothing to advance the safety of consumers.”

The European Union has already restricted the sale of GMO foods. In fact, according to The Nation, as of late last year, 26 countries worldwide have already adopted full or partial bans of GMOs.

Could Vermont’s landmark legislation be indicative that the U.S. is heading in the same direction?

Senator David Zuckerman (D-Chittenden), who has been advocating for GMO labeling for much of his 14 years in the State Legislature thinks so.

“Vermont has now put a stake in the sand around food transparency, and it may well help create that across the country, much as we did with marriage equality and other historic measures,” Zuckerman said.

Michelle Obama Cancels Kansas Graduation Speech

WASHINGTON (UPI) — First lady Michelle Obama has canceled plans to speak at a high school graduation in Topeka, Kan., after students and parents complained security concerns would limit the seating for friends and family to attend the ceremony they said should focus on the students.

Obama will instead speak at a “Senior Recognition Day” for the district, Topeka Unified School District 501, on May 16, the day before graduation.

A petition on Change.org, which had nearly 2,800 signatures at the time of the White House’s decision, said students had been thrilled their district had been able to get the first lady for commencement, but that the logistics would make the day a nightmare.

Students would have been limited to no more than six tickets for guests to attend the graduation ceremony, held at the Kansas Expocenter. A spokesman for USD 501 said an estimated 7,800 seats would have been available for the graduates of the five high schools and their guests and the combined ceremony.

The petition estimated that, between the combined ceremony and additional security measures, commencement day could stretch to eight hours.

A statement from the first lady’s office said they had been “eager to find a solution that enabled all of the students and families to celebrate the special day.”

Obama’s speech will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that desegregated public schools.

National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Gets Underway After Year Of Political Victories

INDIANAPOLIS (UPI) — The National Rifle Association began its annual convention Thursday in Indianapolis after a year that saw many States relax gun laws.

The organization claims 5 million members and says its strength comes from their enthusiasm. But the NRA also raises a lot of money and some events in Indianapolis are limited to members of the “Ring of Freedom,” which requires a donation of at least $1,000 for the lowest level, the Thomas Paine Society, and at least $1 million for the “Golden Ring of Freedom,” although the money includes a tailored gold jacket.

“Everyone thinks our strength comes from money. It doesn’t,” spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told the Indianapolis Star, as the organization prepares to launch its annual convention in Indianapolis. “Our strength is truly in our membership. We have a savvy and loyal voting bloc, and they show up election after election after election.”

The massacres at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012 and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., five months later appeared to create more momentum for gun regulation, especially background checks on buyers. But the NRA, which argues that more gun ownership increases public safety, appears to have prevailed.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill Wednesday that allows gun owners to bring their weapons to churches, schools and bars, among other places. Last year, two Colorado State legislators who had voted for stronger State gun laws lost their seats in recall elections.

The Pew Research Center, in a fact sheet released Thursday, said polls show that supporters of gun rights are far more likely than opponents to donate money to organizations that support their cause, to talk to public officials about the issue and to make statements on social media. Overall, 45 percent of gun rights supporters had done at least one of the three compared to 26 percent of opponents.

The level of gun ownership in the United States has actually declined in recent years, mostly because fewer people hunt. A Pew survey last year found that 37 percent of respondents said there is a gun in their household and 24 percent said they own at least one.

In 2013, 48 percent of those who owned guns said they did so for protection and 32 percent for hunting. In 1999, 49 percent of the respondents told an ABC/Washington Post poll they owned a gun for hunting and 26 percent for protection.

Presidential Hopefuls, For 2016 And Beyond, On Time’s ‘100’

WASHINGTON (UPI) — TIME’s annual list of influential people is awash in Presidential ambition — past, present and future.

Joining nine-time honoree President Barack Obama and eight-time honoree Hillary Clinton are several rising stars who may end up on Presidential ballots in the coming years.

Senator Rand Paul and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, two Republicans whose names are regularly in the mix for 2016 talk, both made the list.

“The real secret to Rand’s rapid rise from a Bowling Green operating room to the center of American politics is his authenticity,” writes Paul’s colleague from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s a trait that’s obvious to anyone who has seen him come out of a D.C. television studio in Ray-Bans and shorts, or hold the Senate floor for half a day to get answers from an imperious White House.”

Meanwhile Walker, who enraged Democrats in his blue State by taking on unions shortly after his 2010 election, managed to survive a special election recall effort two years later.

“One of the most difficult challenges is standing up for what you believe in when faced with relentless public attacks,” wrote New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who surely knows something of how Walker feels. “Scott Walker faced that test and passed it with flying colors.”

And though New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand may not be looking to leave the Senate just yet, there are those who see the Oval Office in her future.

“She can go as far as she likes,” wrote former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, a Republican for whom Gillibrand worked as an intern. “If Kirsten Gillibrand wants to be a rock star, she’ll be a rock star. But she’d make a great President.”

Notably absent, however, are a number of politicians who have made no secret of their Presidential ambitions. Christie, considered the GOP’s best chance at 2016 until last fall’s “Bridgegate” derailed his campaign before it got started, only appears to author Walker’s entry.

Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida — both of whom have looked like they could make a run for the White House by repairing the GOP’s fractured relationship with Latinos — have somewhat faded from the spotlight, and neither earned a place on the list. Nor did former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who said just this week that he was “thinking about running for president.”

While a potential Clinton campaign has overshadowed nearly any other Democratic hopeful, none of those whose names are on the “just in case Hillary doesn’t run” list were tapped by TIME. Neither Vice President Joe Biden, who has been open about his desire to succeed his boss in the West Wing, nor Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, beloved by progressives but unwavering in her position that she won’t run in this election, were named.

Only Secretary of State John Kerry, who unsuccessfully ran against President George W. Bush in 2004, made the list, and he is unlikely to try again.