Saturday, April 13, 2013

Terry McAuliffe's Solyndra

Wall Street Journal ^ | April 13, 2013 | KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

Turn over any green-energy rock, and wiggling underneath will be the usual creepy mix of political favoritism and taxpayer-funded handouts. Add to this the Clintons, Mississippi and a murky visa program, and you've got a particularly ripe political embarrassment for Terry McAuliffe.
Everyone remember The Macker? Best Friend of Bill. Chairman of Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign. Famed money-tree shaker. Former Democratic Party chief. Failed 2009 contender for the Virginia governorship but now back as the party's nominee for that position in this fall's election. Oh—and in Mr. McAuliffe's words—"a Virginia businessman" intent on "creating jobs."
Or at least that was the image Mr. McAuliffe sought to portray in 2009, when he became chairman of a car company called GreenTech Automotive, with plans to produce golf-cart sized electric vehicles. The former DNC chief is no stranger to moneymaking, having once used a friendly union pension fund to spin a $100 investment in a Florida land deal into $2.45 million. GreenTech, however, was designed to shed the moneyman image and to reposition Mr. McAuliffe as a (clean) job creator the way Mark Warner and Bob McDonnell used their pro-business credentials to win office in Virginia.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...

New York town removes flag as ‘offensive’ Tea Party symbol (Gadsen "Don't Tread on Me" flag)

The Washington Examiner ^ | April 12, 2013 | Michal Conger

A veterans organization in a New York town is fighting for its right to fly a patriotic flag after the city council refused to let the group display the flag, calling it a symbol of the Tea Party with right-wing connotations.
The United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association replaced a tattered American flag at the New Rochelle Armory, flying the Gadsden flag underneath it. The bright yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flag has been used by the Navy and Marine Corps since 1775.
When a city council member complained to the city manager that he found the flag offensive, the city manager initially decided to let the flag fly anyway. But the city council overruled him, and the flag was taken down. On Wednesday, the council voted 5 to 2 to keep the veterans from putting the flag back up.
The council objected to the flag because they said Peter Parente, the president of the veterans group, is a member of the Tea Party and the group wants to use the flag to make a political point....
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonexaminer.com ...

As Jerry Brown Touts California In China, Its Citizens Pack Their Bags

Forbes ^ | 04/12/2013 | David Davenport, Contributor

While Governor Jerry Brown is in China touting the state’s rebound and recovery, many Californians are busy packing their bags for a move to Texas, Nevada or Arizona. Why? Because it appears that the once-Golden State may finally be overpriced, underperforming and ungovernable.
Is it possible that one state has managed to top every 50-state category on the following shameful list?
Highest taxes (gasoline, sales and top bracket of income taxes)
Lowest bond rating
Highest poverty rate (at 23.5%, the home of 1/3 of those in poverty in U.S.)
Highest unemployment rate (tied with Mississippi and Nevada at 9.6%)
Highest energy costs
Worst state to do business (as judged by Chief Executive magazine 8 years running)
Most cities going bankrupt
Prison system so poorly run it has been taken over by a federal judge
And California has managed to do this during its rebound, its good years, according to Jerry Brown who, if not Governor Moonbeam in his second coming as the state’s leader, is clearly not in touch with life on Planet California.
Although there is argument about this, there shouldn’t be: people are leaving the state. The data shows that there has been a net out-migration from California to other states since 1990, balanced for awhile by immigration from other countries.
But by 2005 that had eroded, too, with birth rates in the state also dropping at an incredible rate. Over the past two decades, a net 3.4 million people have left the state. And this is before the 2013 increase in income tax rates which prompted even liberal TV talker Bill Maher to complain that “it’s outrageous what we (millionaires) are paying” in taxes, “over 50%,” warning “liberals, you could actually lose me.”
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...

Obamacare Unworkable, GOP Blamed

Semi-News/Semi-Satire ^ | 12 Apr 2013 | John Semmens

The unforeseen difficulties of implementing the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) have key proponents scrambling for answers.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), one of the leading writers of the Obamacare legislation, now calls the program “complex beyond comprehension. We had hoped that somehow, someone would've come up with sensible procedures for how the thing is supposed to work, but no such luck. The system's as opaque as the day we passed it. Our high hopes are crashing down around us.”
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius blames Republicans for the mess. “Instead of rolling up their sleeves and helping us figure out how to implement this they're just standing aside and letting us flounder,” she complained. “In a way they could be considered traitors to the common good.”
A few of the steps Republicans could be taking according to Sebelius include “appropriating additional funding to cover the unexpectedly higher costs of the program. While it had been our hope that comprehensive health care coverage would lead to lower costs, this sadly, has not turned out to be the case. “
Especially rankling to the Secretary has been the widespread refusal of states to establish the insurance exchanges called for in the law. “The law gives states the option to set up their own exchanges,” Sebelius pointed out. “Unfortunately, the majority of states controlled by the GOP have declined to take up this option. It's like they're saying 'you made your bed, now lie in it.' I say, we've already done our part. We came up with the idea. Now it's their turn to do their share to make it happen.”

Bills to Require the Registration of Gold & Silver : Gold & Silver Confiscation Next?

Pakalert Press ^ | April 9, 2013 | Eddie Levin

The slippery slope to confiscation has begun.

Gold and silver buyers could soon have to register with the state of Illinois.
It’s certainly not strange for socialist insanity to come from Illinois. After all, the State provides us with (unpleasant) entertainment in the form of a police superintendent who threatens to shoot legal gun owners while his city leads the nation in homicides. Now comes this from the State with the most restrictive gun laws in the Nation probably the most criminals: a bill to require registration for sellers and buyers of gold.
Rick Santelli provides an update on legislation that requires every gold and silver transaction to be registered with the State. Here are the basics. The bill, officially called SB-3341, was introduced in 2012, immediately passed the Illinois Senate and is now awaiting action by the House.
This ordinance is similar to a bill passed in Houston back in February of 2013. Those selling precious metals in Houston are now considered criminals until they prove otherwise. Gold-buying businesses required to photograph and fingerprint those bringing in gold to sell, photograph the items being sold and maintain an online database of the transactions. Those selling precious metals in Houston are now considered criminals until they prove otherwise.
Councilwoman Helena Brown — the only councilor to vote against the ordinance — rightfully called it “safety theater” that would burden businesses and invade jewelry sellers’ privacy. “Why even ask the legal, law-abiding people to submit to this? It’s not going to prevent crime and it’s not going to solve any crimes”. “It’s ludicrous. We’ve gone way beyond what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this nation.” Brown said
A Bill to Register Buyers of Gold and Silver Coins
Creates the Precious Metal Purchasing Act. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall obtain a proof of ownership, create a record of the sale, and verify the identity of the seller. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall not pay for the precious metal in cash and shall record the method of payment. Requires the purchaser to keep a record of the sale for one year or, if the purchase amount is over $500, for 5 years. Provides that a person who violates the Act is guilty of a petty offense and subject to a fine not exceeding $500. Provides that the Attorney General may inspect records, investigate an alleged violation, and take action to collect civil penalties.

Docs Told They Must Drive Health System Change (focus on "cost value" first, not the patient)

Medpage Today ^ | April 11, 2013 | David Pittman

Doctors are the only people who can drive the change in healthcare delivery that's needed to save the country from a financial crisis, a health policy expert said here.
Emanuel highlighted six elements that must underline payment and delivery reform efforts:
-- Focus on cost value
-- Focus on the patient
-- Standardize processes
....
"We need a big infrastructure to be able to deliver high-quality care going forward," Emanuel said.
(Excerpt) Read more at medpagetoday.com ...

Illegals mock ICE agents after being caught: 'Obama gonna let me go'

American Thinker ^ | 04/13/2013 | Rick Moran

Nice that our president is getting a reputation as the friend of lawbreakers and immigration scofflaws.
WOAI Radio:
The debate in Washington on immigration reform has had no political impact, but the debate is having a major impact on south Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Officials say the number of people entering the U.S. illegally is way up and, tragically, the number of undocumented immigrants who have been found dead in the unforgiving Texas Brush Country is way up, and is on path this year to beat last year's record for the number of people found dead in the ranch country.
Linda Vickers, who owns a ranch in Brooks County, which is Ground Zero for the immigration debate, pins the blame directly on talk of 'amnesty' and a 'path to citizenship' for people who entered the U.S. illegally. She recalls one man being arrested on her ranch not long ago.
"The Border Patrol agent was loading one man up, and he told the officer in Spanish, 'Obama's gonna let me go'." Border Patrol agents report that immigrants are crossing the border, and in some cases surrendering while asking, "Where do I go for my amnesty?"
"When you have amnesty waving in the wind, you're going to get an increase," Vickers says. "And when you get an increase, especially with this heat, you're going to get an increase in deaths."
She says the current increase in illegal immigrant entries began last summer, at almost exactly the same time as President Obama unilaterally announced plans to no longer deport young people who came to the U.S. as children with their illegal immigrant parents.
"Washington is directly responsible for these deaths," she said.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

What Bias? Liberals Not Too Upset Over Obama’s Trampling Of Our Constitutional Rights!

Flopping Aces ^ | 04-12-13 | Curt

constitution-fire
Five years after Obama was elected you still hear the left wail and cry over George W. Bush's "trampling" of American's rights.

Interesting isn't it? One could argue that immediately after the worst attack on American soil the surveillance of anyone, including Americans, OUTSIDE of our borders was the prudent option to fight the enemy. In fact The Patriot Act had a sunset date so that Americans could debate in the future whether it was needed anymore.
Now we have a President who says its perfectly legal to assassinate Americans on American soil with drones. Bu..bu..but, supporters sputter, it will only be an American terrorist. What can go wrong?

...Micah Zenko of Foreign Policy notes the many ways the Obama Administration has misled Congress about its targeted-killing program, and calls for a comprehensive official history so that we're no longer at the mercy of dishonest national-security officials. If you haven't heard, they've been talking as if American drone strikes are mostly killing members of al-Qaeda who pose an imminent threat to the United States. In fact, a minority of the people they've killed belong to al-Qaeda far fewer than that pose an imminent threat to America, and many victims of U.S. drone strikes are killed without the CIA knowing their identity. What grabbed me about Zenko's piece is when he puts the drone war in perspective: "For all of the historical accounts and professed concerns over the CIA's detention and extraordinary rendition program, which involved '136 known victims,' it is time for an accounting of the CIA's drone strikes, which have killed between 3,000 and 4,000 people in Pakistan and Yemen," he writes.
Let that sink in.
If you objected to CIA detention and rendition in the Bush era, as I did, know that you'd have to double or triple its victims to equal the number of innocents estimated to have been killed in U.S. drone strikes. Compare known victims of CIA rendition to the total number of non-al-Qaeda killed in drone strikes and the difference is significantly bigger. And don't forget the noncombatants affected by the presence of drones. Just as in the Bush Administration, the full magnitude of Obama-era transgressions are sinking in slowly, and won't penetrate the consciousness of most Americans until the end of his second term, if it even happens that rapidly.
I for one support the drone program overseas. But recall the wails and cries from the left, the endless front page news stories, the endless amount of talking heads on news programs that were SO appalled over the rendition program that actually tried to get intelligence from those associated with the enemy. Now that their man is in office, no longer trying to get intelligence instead just killing them, everything is a-ok. Of course some innocent civilians get killed but that's ok nowadays also.
No cries...no wails. No front page news stories. No newscasters appalled.
How about the fact that we have a Democrat controlled government that is pursuing a federal database of everyone's health records.

The [Toomey-Manchin] proposal will allow a doctor to add a patient to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without ever telling the patient he or she has been added. ...There would be no due process requirement. Not all doctors will be able to do it with the same ease, but many will. Knowing a doctor could add him to a federal database as mentally ill without his knowledge could potentially dissuade a patient from going to the doctor in the first place to get help.
Worse, if the doctor does so and makes a mistake, the patient would have to actively work through the system to get himself removed — guilty before being proven innocent. In some states, should a doctor flag you as having mental illness without your knowledge, you may very well see the state come collect your previously purchased guns.
Activist mental health providers will probably be overly aggressive in adding people to the list. Give it five years in liberal areas and people who believe in the physical resurrection of Christ will probably get automatic entry onto the list.
But wait! The left says the bill, released last night, with amendments like Feinstein's "assault weapons" ban already being attached to it, won't create any federal database.
Yeah:

First, the legislation says that nothing in the legislation shall be construed to allow establishment of a federal firearms registry. In addition, it says that the Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize records of firearms acquisition and disposition maintained by licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers, and by buyers and sellers at gun shows (and makes it a crime for him to do so). But then, the STM bill takes those protections away by using the all-powerful word “notwithstanding”—”notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Attorney General may implement this subsection with regulations.”
(excerpt) Read more at floppingaces.net...

Obama Paves Way to Arm Muslim Brotherhood-linked Regime in Somalia

The New American ^ | 12 April 2013 | Alex Newman



President Obama decided this week that the Muslim Brotherhood-linked regime ruling parts of Somalia out of the capital city Mogadishu is eligible to receive U.S. military aid and weapons.

Obama Paves Way to Arm Muslim Brotherhood-linked Regime in Somalia

The New American
12 April 2013

President Obama decided this week that the Muslim Brotherhood-linked regime ruling parts of Somalia out of the capital city Mogadishu is eligible to receive U.S. military aid and weapons, sending a memo to Secretary of State John Kerry announcing the new finding and laying the ground work for even more foreign entanglements in Africa. While the decision does not mean American taxpayers will begin sending arms immediately, Obama claimed his administration could legitimately provide military assistance to United Nations-backed Somali authorities under existing U.S. export and foreign aid statutes.

"I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to the Federal Republic of Somalia will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace," states the memo, which was issued on Monday and purports to allow Kerry to arm and train Somali forces. It was not immediately clear what section or language in the Constitution the president believes would authorize arming the leftist Somali regime or any other foreign governments.

However, as Obama has made clear throughout his administration — in both foreign and domestic policy — the Supreme Law of the Land appears to be of little concern. Like previous presidents, the current White House occupant has been lawlessly arming and training various regimes and militant groups around the world despite the lack of any constitutional authority to do so. The results have been disastrous.

According to news reports about the executive branch “determination,” Obama claims that it is somehow in the national security interest of the United States for the U.S. government to be able to provide more military assistance to the Somali regime. Arming, training, and funding authorities in Mogadishu could also help to promote “peace” and “stability” in East Africa — a troubled region with a long history of tyranny, war, famine, and more. The move would contribute to “world peace” as well, the president claimed without elaborating.

"It does not constitute a decision to provide particular assistance or to change the nature or our assistance for Somalia's security sector," White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden was quoted as saying in media reports, adding that the move allows Kerry to “consider” providing weapons. "The United States is committed to being a long-term partner in assisting the defense forces in Somalia to become professional military forces."

An international “arms embargo” on Somalia was partially suspended last month by the UN Security Council, paving the way for foreign governments to start sending more weapons to the African Union-backed regime in Mogadishu. The Obama administration, meanwhile, formally recognized the Muslim Brotherhood-linked regime of Somali “President” Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in January — the first time a U.S. administration has officially recognized a Somali “government” since 1991.

While most media reports have painted the recent memo purporting to authorize arms to Somali authorities as a startling new development, the AFP news service highlighted the fact that American taxpayers have been forced to provide more than $130 million in so-called “security sector assistance” to Somalia since 2007. That aid was supposed to help the central regime build structures to provide “security.” In other words, the money was meant to help the favored faction solidify its grip on power.

Despite increasing international acceptance, large swaths of the Somali population view the government in Mogadishu — headed by a “social democrat” with extensive links to the radical Muslim Brotherhood — as illegitimate. Among the most powerful forces opposing the central government is another radical Islamist faction known as al Shabab, allegedly a “loose affiliate” of al-Qaeda that reportedly benefited from the extensive arms stockpile supplied to al-Qaeda-linked rebels during the Libyan “revolution.”

"We will only recognize a process run by Somalis and not manipulated by Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and the West," al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told the AFP news agency after the dubious election that brought Hassan Mohamud to power last year. "Hassan is operating under a constitution drafted by the enemies of Somalia, who have a nefarious geopolitical agenda, especially neighboring countries."

The central government is clinging to power with strong backing from a UN-backed and U.S.-funded international military force composed primarily of troops from the so-called “African Union.” With help from foreign soldiers, the “transitional” central government succeeded in ousting most al-Shabab militants from Mogadishu over a year ago. However, despite losing some towns in recent months, the radical Islamist group still controls huge areas within Somali borders.

The international AU-UN military presence in Somalia is also receiving funding and training from the U.S. government. However, as The New American reported years ago, the global mission has been wreaking havoc in Somalia and beyond, with numerous reports of civilian massacres, rape, and wanton human rights abuses perpetrated by foreign troops.

“The United Nations forces in Mogadishu are indiscriminately shelling civilian populated areas and markets,” reported Ali Osman in 2010 for Mareeg.com, a Somalia-based news outlet. “In the last three months alone the United Nations forces in Mogadishu have killed more than 160 civilians and have injured more than 400.” According to Osman, the figure was a conservative estimate since many victims were never even taken to the hospital or reported. Other analysts documented similar findings.

In the United States, outrage about Obama’s recent decision is growing as well. “This administration is intent on incrementally disarming Americans while at the same time funneling arms that regularly find their way into the hands of terrorists and insurgents eager to kill Americans overseas," former police training officer Kelly Laughlin was quoted as saying by the Law Enforcement Examiner. "There are reports that strongly suggest the arms given to Libyan rebels in their fight against a dictator are now being found in the hands of rebels in Syria, many of whom are members of Islamic terrorist organizations."

Since Obama took office, the U.S. government has taken a much more active military role on the African continent. Indeed, as The New American reported in December, Obama is plotting to put American troops in as many as 35 African countries, not to mention the president’s mass-murdering drone program that has been killing civilians from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia under the guise of targeting suspected “militants.”

Among the most significant recent interventions in Africa was Obama’s unconstitutional decision to wage war on Libya without even asking Congress, with the administration citing UN resolutions as the supposed “authority” for a brutal “regime change” operation that ultimately left the nation in ruins. During the war, the president offered overt military assistance to Islamist rebels, many of whom were openly affiliated with al-Qaeda. Libya today is in total disarray as various militias battle each other for power. The U.S. ambassador was also killed in a scandal that has since become known as “Benghazigate.”

More recently, again without asking Congress, the Obama administration decided to join the UN-backed war effort in Mali. Among other measures, the U.S. government is helping the Socialist French government, the African Union, and the illegitimate Malian regime — installed after a military coup led by a U.S.-trained officer removed the elected government in Bamako — to defeat a separatist movement seeking independence in the north. According to human rights groups, UN-backed forces have been responsible for mass atrocities and slaughtering civilians in Mali as well.

Another country where Obama and his UN allies intervened in recent years was the Ivory Coast, where international forces helped oust the Christian president and replace him with an Islamic central banker. Like in other international interventions, UN-backed troops and a coalition of Muslim militias were accused of slaughtering innocent Christians and civilians to install the new regime. The new authorities have since started shutting down critical newspapers and rounding up dissidents.

Whether the recent decision by Obama to permit more U.S. military assistance to Somali authorities will result in deeper foreign entanglements remains to be seen. If history is any guide, however, it almost certainly will. What sort of “blowback” might result is also not yet clear. Critics, though, argue that it is time for the bankrupt U.S. government to obey the Constitution and avoid further foreign policy fiascos before the deadly consequences explode onto the scene.


Related articles:

U.S. Troops to be in up to 35 African Countries

Obama to Help UN Invade Mali

U.S. Drones Spotted Over Somalia; Pres. Obama Issues Executive Order

Shh! There’s a Secret CIA Prison in Somalia

UN-Backed Troops Wreak Havoc in Africa

Pentagon Plans New North African Drone Base

In Mali, Forces Backed by UN, France, and Obama Slaughter Civilians

Obama-backed Egypt Forging “One Nation” With Sudan Terror Regime

Installed by UN and Obama, Ivory Coast Regime Attacks Press and Opposition

UN Report: NATO’s Libya War Armed al-Qaeda

U.S.-funded Jihadist “Holy War” in Syria Seeks Sharia Dictatorship

Libya: Now What?

UN-backed Forces Slaughter Christians in Ivory Coast

Obama-backed Syrian Rebels “Ethnic Cleansing” Christians

Christian Massacres: A Result of U.S. Foreign Policy

Mayo Clinic: Cardiopoietic 'Smart' Stem Cells Show Promise in Heart Failure Patients

Mayo Clinic ^ | April 10, 2013 | NA

First-in-humans study introduces next generation cell therapy
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Translating a Mayo Clinic stem-cell discovery, an international team has demonstrated that therapy with cardiopoietic (cardiogenically-instructed) or "smart" stem cells can improve heart health for people suffering from heart failure. This is the first application in patients of lineage-guided stem cells for targeted regeneration of a failing organ, paving the way to development of next generation regenerative medicine solutions. Results of the clinical trial appear online of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

VIDEO ALERT: Audio and video resources are available on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

The multi-center, randomized Cardiopoietic stem cell therapy in heart failure (C-CURE) trial involved heart failure patients from Belgium, Switzerland and Serbia. Patients in the control group received standard care for heart failure in accordance with established guidelines. Patients in the cell therapy arm received, in addition to standard care, cardiopoietic stem cells — a first-in-class biotherapeutic. In this process, bone marrow was harvested from the top of the patient's hip, and isolated stem cells were treated with a protein cocktail to replicate natural cues of heart development. Derived cardiopoietic stem cells were then injected into the patient's heart.

"The cells underwent an innovative treatment to optimize their repair capacity," says Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., study senior author and director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine. "This study helps us move beyond the science fiction notion of stem cell research, providing clinical evidence for a new approach in cardiovascular regenerative medicine."

Every patient in the stem cell treatment group improved. Heart pumping function improved in each patient within six months following cardiopoietic stem cell treatment. In addition, patients experienced improved fitness and were able to walk longer distances than before stem cell therapy. "The benefit to patients who received cardiopoietic stem cell therapy was significant," Dr. Terzic says.

In an accompanying editorial, Charles Murry, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle, say, "Six months after treatment, the cell therapy group had a 7 percent absolute improvement in EF (ejection fraction) over baseline, versus a non-significant change in the control group. This improvement in EF is dramatic, particularly given the duration between the ischemic injury and cell therapy. It compares favorably with our most potent therapies in heart failure."

The science supporting this trial is a product of a decade-long journey in decoding principles of stem cell-based heart repair. "Discovery of rare stem cells that could inherently promote heart regeneration provided a critical clue. In following this natural blueprint, we further developed the know-how needed to convert patient-derived stem cells into cells that can reliably repair a failing heart," says Dr. Terzic, underscoring the team effort in this endeavor.

Initial discovery led to the identification of hundreds of proteins involved in cardiogenesis, or the heart development process. The research team then identified which proteins are necessary in helping a stem cell become a reparative cell type, leading to development of a protein cocktail-based procedure that orients stem cells for heart repair. Such upgraded stem cells are called cardiopoietic or heart creative.

Mayo Clinic partnered with Cardio3 Biosciences, a bioscience company in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, for advanced product development, manufacturing scale-up, and clinical trial execution.

Mayo Clinic and Dr. Terzic have a financial interest related to technology in this research program.

Dr. Terzic is the Marriott Family Professor of Cardiovascular Research.

Washington Post admits: Stopping Criminals not Goal of Gun Bill

Gun Watch ^ | 13 April, 2013 | Dean Weingarten

>An interesting admission in the Washington Post:
Moments after clearing the first procedural hurdle, Democrats and gun control groups began readying themselves for a potentially more difficult fight: Weeks of Senate debate defending their carefully crafted legislation against possible amendments — particularly a plan to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons from one state to another — that would kill the bill’s underlying goal.
If the underlying goal of the "universal background check" bill is not to "keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentaly ill", both of which are prevented from obtaining concealed carry permits, one must ask what the underlying goal is.

Could the underlying goal be an attack against the gun culture, to obtain registration, then gradual reduction of the number of people allowed to have guns, and eventually gun confiscation?
If not, why not allow univeral reciprocity for those who have shown themselves to be at least as responsible as police officers?

Link to Washington Post article here:
©2013 by Dean Weingarten Permission to share granted as long as this notice is included.

America's Fattest Cities

Wall Street 24X7 ^ | 04/12/2013


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Source: Thinkstock

Obesity may be the most closely followed health care issue in the United States. The rate of obesity has increased dramatically in the past two decades, growing from 13% in 1960 to 34% nationally. As a result, costs associated with treating obesity have exploded. Obesity was estimated to cost $190 billion annually in additional medical expenses, or more than 20% of health care spending, and double earlier figures, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Health Economics.In general, obesity rates remain high in several areas of the country, including much of southern Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia, and the shrinking cities of the industrial Rust Belt. Based on data published in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 metropolitan areas with the highest obesity rates. For the second year in a row, McAllen, Texas, had the highest obesity rate and Boulder, Colo. had the lowest.
Click here to see America’s fattest cities
Poverty and educational attainment are among the greatest predictors and have a direct bearing on the incidence of obesity. Of the 11 cities, eight have a higher poverty rate than the national rate of 15.9%. In McAllen, Texas, the city with the highest obesity rate, 37.7% of adults lived below the poverty line. All 11 cities also have lower percentages of adults with bachelor’s degrees than the nationwide rate. By contrast, all the cities with the lowest rates of obesity had better educational attainment than the national average rate, and nine also had poverty rates below the national rate.
According to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index research director Dan Witters, low educational attainment and high poverty rates can encourage poor decisions that make obesity more likely. “As education is lower, health literacy is lower,” Witters explained, meaning that America’s poor are frequently uninformed about healthy behavior.
He also noted that people also are less likely to make healthy choices, like maintaining a good diet and regular exercise, if they cannot afford them. Witters describes low health literacy and low income as an “unholy duo, where people are making easy, inexpensive, and high-calorie choices for their food.”
As might be expected, people in the cities with the highest obesity rates are much less likely to exercise regularly. In nine of the metro areas with the highest obesity rates, a smaller proportion of of residents reported exercising at least 30 minutes per day, three days per week, than the national rate. To make matters worse, people in these cities are much more likely to smoke. More than 25% of residents in five of the 11 cities reported smoking, compared to the 19.2% nationwide.
The cities with the highest obesity rates also tended to eat poorly. A majority had a smaller proportion of residents that reported eating healthy all day, compared to the national rate of 66.5%. Part of this has to do with the availability of healthy food. According to the USDA data on food access, it is extremely difficult to buy affordable healthy food in large parts of these metro areas.
These poor diets and exercise predictably have led to disastrous health consequences. The majority of the cities struggling with obesity have higher than average rates of heart attacks and residents suffering from hypertension. All 11 had above-average rates of diabetes, and six were in the top 10% among all metro areas. Residents of these cities also were much more likely to experience pain, joint and knee pain in particular.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest percentages of residents that reported in 2012 having a body mass index of 30 or higher, as measured in the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index. We also reviewed a wide range of data collected as part of the well-being index for the 189 metro areas measured. These include health outcomes such as diabetes and hypertension rates, exercise and healthy eating, and smoking. We also considered poverty rates, income and educational attainment from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011, the most recent available data. We also looked at census tracts in these areas identified by the USDA as low income and low access areas for food, where residents have low income and live 1 mile (in urban areas) or 10 miles (in rural areas) from a grocery store or supermarket.
These are America’s fattest cities.
11. Erie, Penn.
> Pct. obese: 32.5% (tied for 10th highest)
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 28.5% (93rd highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 45.2% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (181st lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 24.2% (164th lowest)
One of the big problems for Erie that contributes to its high obesity rate is a lack of exercise. Just 45.2% of Erie residents claimed that they exercised at least 30 minutes a day for at least three days during the past week, lower than all but two metro areas surveyed by Gallup-Healthways. While as many as 93.6% of residents said it was easy to get fruits and vegetables — among the top third of all metro areas — only 90.1% said it was easy to find a safe place to exercise — among the bottom third of all metro areas.
10. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
> Obesity rate: 32.5% (tied for 10th highest)
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 33.3% (29th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.2% (79th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 17.6% (135th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 15.7% (27th lowest)
Not only were Beaumont metro area residents among the most obese in 2012, but they also ranked as some of the most physically unhealthy Americans in the nation. Only 73.5% of those surveyed noted they had no health problems that kept them from age-appropriate activities, among the worst rates in the nation. Similarly, more than 15% had diabetes — also among the worst rates. Beaumont area residents also do not tend to practice healthy behaviors. Just 56.6% of respondents told Gallup they ate healthy all day, the second-worst rate in the nation. Additionally, there are large parts of both Beaumont and Port Arthur where residents live far from any source of healthy and affordable food, such as grocery stores.
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9. Reading, Penn.
> Obesity rate: 32.8%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 31.2% (52nd highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 46.4% (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.7% (85th lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 23.0% (145th lowest)
In 2012, Reading had one of the highest obesity rates in the nation for the third year in a row. As many as 6% of residents surveyed stated they had experienced a heart attack, the 10th highest percentage for any metro area in the United States. Residents also were more likely than the majority of Americans to have high blood pressure and cholesterol. When it comes to healthy behavior, just 46.4% of residents exercised at least three times per week for 30 minutes, among the worst rates in the nation. However, residents were more likely than most people surveyed to report easy access to affordable fruits and vegetables.
8. Charleston, W.Va.
> Obesity rate: 32.9%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 41.1% (2nd highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.0% (25th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (118th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 21.8% (124th lowest)
Charleston’s high obesity rate has led to significant health problems among the area’s residents. More than 41% reported high blood pressure, more than all but one metro area. In addition, 6.3% of the adult population had experienced a heart attack, the fifth-highest percentage of all metro areas, while 37.1% of the population had recurring pain in their knee or leg, more than all but two metro areas. More than 32% of the population smoked as of 2012, more than all other metro areas. Just 84.8% of the population reported that was easy to find affordable fruits and vegetables, the third-lowest percentage of all metro areas. Meanwhile, less than 82% of respondents said it was easy to find a safe place to exercise, the lowest rate in the country.
7. Toledo, Ohio
> Obesity rate: 33.0%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 29.1% (85th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 55.0% (59th highest)
> Poverty rate: 20.2% (66th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 23.5% (154th lowest)
Toledo residents were more likely than most Americans to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, or to have suffered a heart attack. Among the problems facing Toledo, 10.4% of residents stated they lacked access to a safe place to exercise, versus 8% nationally. Residents also were more likely than most Americans to smoke, with 23.5% of people surveyed in the area reporting they smoked, versus 19.2% nationwide. Toledo had a 20.2% poverty rate in 2011, well above the national rate of 15.9%.
6. Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C.
> Obesity rate: 33.1%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 40.9% (3rd highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 55.8% (46th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.9% (98th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 24.4% (169th lowest)
Nearly 41% of the adult residents in the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area reported having high blood pressure, the third-highest percentage of all metro areas in the nation. Moreover, 17.5% of the adult population has been told they have diabetes, more than all but one metro area. Lack of medical care could be exacerbating the obesity problem. As many as 21.7% of the population did not have health insurance in 2011, the second worst rate in the country and almost triple the national average. Access to affordable, healthy food is inadequate in the areas in and around both Myrtle Beach and Conway.
5. Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md.-W.Va
> Obesity rate: 33.4%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 33.8% (26th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.7% (30th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (84th lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 19.2% (81st lowest)
Hagerstown residents rated poorly for practicing healthy behaviors. Less than 61% of those surveyed ate healthy all day, and less than half exercised regularly — both worse than the majority of metro areas. However, respondents were nearly as likely to report access to affordable, healthy food as most Americans, and were more likely to report they had access to a safe place to exercise. As of 2011, just 19.2% of adult residents were college graduates, versus 28.5% nationally. Hagerstown was among the top 20% nationwide for diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks and high cholesterol rates.
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4. Mobile, Ala.
> Obesity rate: 33.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 35.6% (12th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.6% (86th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (84th highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 20.2% (102nd lowest)
The Mobile metropolitan areas is poorer than most, which may contribute to its high obesity. The poverty rate in 2011 of 19.4%, while far from the highest, was well above the 15.9% across the country. Meanwhile, the median household income of $42,372 was more than $8,000 less than the national median. Worse, only 71.4% of the population said they had all the money they needed to buy food at all times in the past 12 months, less than all but two other metropolitan areas. Approximately 35.6% of the population were told they had high blood pressure, while 14.1% of the population were diagnosed with diabetes, both among the highest percentages of all metro areas surveyed.
3. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.
> Obesity rate: 34.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 37.3% (5th highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.7% (87th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (118th lowest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 27.9% (132nd highest)
Just 58.9% of Little Rock area residents claimed they ate healthy all day, one of the lowest rates in the United States. The lack of healthy eating may partially be attributable to the fact that large parts of Little Rock do not have nearby access to healthy, affordable food. Like many metro areas, the high obesity rate likely has contributed to the area residents’ poor overall health. More than 37% of the adult population has been told they have high blood pressure, the fifth-highest percentage of all metro areas. More than 28% of the adult population had recurring pain in the knee or leg, among the highest of all metro areas surveyed.
2. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va., Ky.
> Obesity rate: 37.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 43.3% (the highest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 46.5% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.9% (72nd highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 18.8% (74th lowest)
Only 67% of those surveyed in the Huntington area stated they had no health problems preventing them from participating in normal activities, tied for the worst percentage in the nation with Charleston, W.Va. Just 77% of residents stated they had enough energy to do what they wanted in the past day, also the lowest percentage in the nation. Additionally, more than 43% of residents had high blood pressure, while 8.9% of those surveyed had experienced a heart attack, in both cases the highest rates in the nation. Just 87.5% of residents claimed they had access to a safe place to exercise, one of the lowest rates in the country.
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1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
> Obesity rate: 38.5%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 26.6% (57th lowest)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.2% (79th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 37.7% (the highest)
> Pct. with at least bachelors degree: 16.0% (30th lowest)
McAllen was the fattest metropolitan area in the country in 2012, with 38.5% of the adult population considered obese. The high obesity rate has likely contributed to area residents’ poor health. More than 21% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes, more than any other metro area in the United States. Poverty may play a large role in the community’s health problems as well. The metro region had the highest poverty rate in the country, with 37.7% of the population living below the poverty line in 2011. More than 17% of the population also lacked health coverage that year, among the highest of all U.S. metro areas. The vast majority of the McAllen metro area is located in a food desert, indicating a severe lack of access to healthy foods for residents.