Obama hearts the Second Amendment

The Obama camp, including the media, wasted no time trying to burnish President Obama’s Second Amendment credentials after Mitt Romney told a crowd at the National Rifle Association that the president was not protecting gun owners’ rights.

“We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners,” Romney said at the St. Louis convention. “President Obama has not. I will.”

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president’s record “makes clear the he supports and respects the Second Amendment, and we’ll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters.”

The Associated Press jumped to Obama’s defense with a story that countered Romney’s words with statements such as “the topic has rarely arisen during (Obama’s) time in office.”

It’s the sort of reportorial assertion that masquerades as balance but is more likely to appear in a story about a GOP member slamming the president than vice versa.

Romney does have a changeable record on gun rights, having said in 1994, “I don’t line up with the NRA,” then becoming an NRA member a decade later. But at least his history moves in the right direction.

Obama’s camp seems to be promoting the thesis that because the president hasn’t pushed for outrageous limits on guns that he therefore is some sort of Second Amendment champion. The more likely truth is that he knows congressional resistance from Republicans is strong.

As is often the case with Obama, to discern his real position on gun issues, it’s useful to look at the people around him. Since taking office, the president has appointed a number of anti-gun zealots to high office, such as Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Then there’s the Big Daddy of the anti-gun crowd, Eric Holder, who once talked about having to “brainwash” the public into being against guns, yet administered the Fast and Furious operation that put powerful U.S.-made weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.Romney also brought up a good point at the NRA conference, raising the question of President Obama’s recent open-mic comments to the Russian President Medvedev.

“In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” Romney said. “As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after a re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, ‘flexibility’ to do what he wants. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.”

It’s not a minor point, especially with Obama’s recent executive order allowing him to declare martial law in peacetime without approval of Congress.

Attribution: Tad Cronn

Random Act of Journalism

If you’ve never encountered such a thing, behold an actual journalist. I don’t know where Larry is now? Maybe he’s unemployed, shamed and outcast by his peers. His peers. You know, the real journalists that might ask the president what type of tree he would be, or “Mr. President, could you explain what makes you so wonderful?” Maybe Larry is still employed…for now, but he should soon be looking out for the black helicopters to swoop down & carry him away to be reeducated.

It’s sad that this, not much more than a minute clip, is so unique. I guess we’ll take it where we can get it.

Above Average

A four-year-old girl has been accepted into Mensa with an IQ almost as high as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.

Brainy Heidi Hankins – who hasn’t even started school yet – sat an IQ test after staff at her nursery said she was so intelligent they were struggling to find activities to challenge her.

The exceptional youngster wowed examiners with an impressive score of 159. The average score for an adult is 100 and for ‘gifted’ individuals is 130.

She beats TV mathematician Carol Vorderman (score 154), also a member of Mensa and is only slightly behind Big Bang scientist Stephen Hawking and legendary physicist Albert Einstein both with IQs of160.

At two-years-old Heidi could already count to 40, add and subtract, Read after teaching herself using the family computer recite the poem The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear.

Heidi draw figures and write in sentences – was reading books for seven year olds when she was just two.

The test she took, is specifically designed fro children her age and contains a mixture of problem-solving puzzles and word games.

Heidi’s father, Matthew, from Winchester, Hants, England hopes she can now skip a school year to ensure she is adequately challenged.

The University of Southampton public health lecturer, 46, added: ‘We always thought Heidi was bright because she was reading early.

‘I was curious about her IQ and the results were off the scale. I got her the complete set of the Oxford Reading Tree books when she was two and she read through the whole set of 30 in about an hour.

‘It’s what you would expect a seven-year-old to do.

Attribution: Mail Online

Love Him or Hate him, He’s Right

Two Cheers For Glenn Beck, With Some Reservations

By Jerry Bowyer

Glenn Beck’s analyses of the history of authoritarian movements has many people concerned, and justifiably so. Most recently Beck has been laying out the ways in which the progressive movement in the U.S. has been following a three phase strategy to undermine the free-market constitutional order traditional to America.

He has also uncovered ways in which progressive propaganda on behalf of President Obama taps surreptitiously into language of earlier extremist thought, most notably Stuart Chase’s book,” The Road We Are Traveling,” and his invocation of Political System X. Chase was a Fabian socialist who was influential in the left wing of the New Deal, and may have coined the phrase ‘New Deal’.

Beck argues that phase 1 of the program, which focused largely on the institutionalization of the socialist movement and the de-legitimatization of traditional free institutions, has been completed over roughly the past 100 years. Phase 2 of the agenda, largely a matter of creating an escalating series of crises, Beck argues can happen ‘at lightning speed’. Phase 3 refers to a time in which the people, tired of chaos and crisis, permit the Left to grab power and perhaps even to liquidate inconvenient groups of people.

There is a lot to appreciate in Beck’s work, and I do not share the tendency among some in the conservative institutional elite to deride him. When someone like a Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal describes Beck as ‘insane’, she may well be responding more to the social pressures of the Manhattan cocktail party circuit than to anything Beck has actually said. Frankly, I’m tired of conservatives, such as David Frum and others, who have made a career out of appearing in liberal media venues to ritually denounce Beck or Palin or whoever is the liberal hate icon of the month, as beyond the pale.

In fact, I share Beck’s association of Obama with the Fabian socialist movement, and did so very early, perhaps earlier even than Beck did.

Personally, I like Glenn Beck. I appeared as a guest on his TV show when he was on CNN. He did something which TV broadcasters almost never do: he talked to me (through my ear piece) during the break. He told me “You are my absolutely favorite economic commentator,” no doubt in keeping with the well-known Beck hyperbole. I told him that he was something which I’ve found to quite rare in broadcast TV, an actual vulnerable human being.

So, mutual admiration aside, do I agree completely with Beck? No, I do not. I’ve found myself talking with investors often over the last couple of years who need to be coaxed down off the ledge of despair over alleged imminent depressions, hyperinflations, and dollar collapses. I’ve seen analysts on his former Fox show running elaborate scenarios about horrible economic events to unfold in matters of months, if not days or weeks. I am increasingly running into investors, often Beck watchers, who have thrown aside the ancient wisdom of asset diversification in order to jump with both feet into precious metals.

What I think Beck is missing is a sense of depth perception. He sees a danger ahead, but, can’t seem to focus his eyes in order to see how far ahead it is. Taking what he no doubt believes is the safest approach, and one that accords with the emotional intensity of broadcasting, he pronounces the danger to be imminent. Beck’s shows are anxiety-inducing; they’re meant to be. In fact, a colleague of mine was advised by his psychiatrist to stop watching the shows because they were triggering unhealthy anxiety episodes in him. The psychiatrist is an evangelical Christian who is not by nature inclined to be unsympathetic to Beck’s worldview.

I am not the only one who notices Beck’s lack of depth perception and tendency to telescope disastrous events…

“The one thing I always get wrong is timing. I told you three years ago that they were going to print money, that inflation was coming, that trouble was coming, three years ago. Before Bear Stearns collapsed. And I said the stock market was going to crash. I didn’t know when. I used to tell you when things were happening, but I noticed, I see everything as a flat wall. Everything I see in the future is just right here, right now. And it used to give me real high anxiety. ”

So, let’s leave aside for the moment the timing issues, which we as investors must pay close attention to, and take up the issues about the direction of our country, which we as citizens must also pay close attention to.

Beck is right and his critics are wrong about a number of things:

The progressive movement is totalitarian at its core. Whenever it has been allowed free reign, it has become highly repressive, and in some cases, genocidal.

Large swaths of the liberal coalition are, in fact, progressives, especially those in the emotion-forming industries such as film, TV and music.

It can happen here. No nation is immune from the totalitarian impulse and countries which had once been the high water marks of western civilization such as Italy, Greece, Turkey and Germany have all succumbed to totalitarian impulses at one time or another.

American economic hegemony is not inevitable. Every other great nation which has adopted a fiat currency has seen that currency eventually collapse. Every other nation whose currency enjoyed the exorbitant privilege of reserve currency status, has lost that privilege.

Most nations which have reached our level of public indebtedness, eventually suffered severe economic crises.

But, when and how, and most urgently, how quickly do events like this happen to nations such as the U.S.? Yes, Rome fell, and so did Byzantium, Spain, and the British Empires. But how long did it take to fall? How many reprieves did those nations get? How fragile are nations like the United States in terms of culture and political institutions compared the great nations which collapsed in ruin? Only time will tell.

Attribution: Forbes Online

Nice Doggie

‘Giant’ George the world’s largest dog is used to enormous amounts of attention and is all set for more with the release of his new book.

Written by his owner, Dave Nasser, ‘Giant George: Life with the World’s Biggest Dog’ charts the gigantic allowances that the 230 pound Great Dane needs daily to get by.

Standing almost four-foot-tall at the shoulder and seven-foot three-inches on his hind legs, George consumes 180 pounds of food a month and sleeps on a queen sized mattress.

Measured by a Guinness World Record official in 2010, it was declared that not only is George currently the planet’s largest dog but is also the tallest dog ever recorded.

Spending his days at home in Tuscon, Arizona sleeping, barking at the UPS deliveryman and eating his favorite chicken and rice dinners, George is pretty blasé about his global celebrity.

Weighing almost 100 pounds more than a typical Great Dane, he has recently lost slightly over 14 lbs. on doctors orders readying for the latest round of publicity to promote the book.

For six-year-old George, life with Dave Nasser and his wife Christie began as a seven-week-old puppy born into a litter of 13 over 1,000 miles away from Arizona in Oregon.

‘Twelve were entangled with one another, but our eyes were drawn to one pup standing apart from the rest. He was clearly the runt, endearing him to Christie immediately,’ said Dave about his massive dog.

‘As soon as George settled into our home, we discovered our plans to be fair but firm parents were wishful thinking.

‘All the things that make Great Danes wonderful pets — their lack of aggression and their attachment to humans — make them more emotionally sensitive than other dogs.

‘They need to be with their ‘pack’ at all times and at night the cute pup with intensely blue eyes turned into a caterwauling banshee whenever we tried to leave him alone in the kitchen.’

Devouring the same meal – chicken, rice, dog food and yogurt – everyday, George’s diet although impressively large is relatively boring because of Great Danes’ sensitive stomachs.

‘At five months he still acted like a puppy, chasing his tail and playing games of fetch and tug-of-war with his favorite rope, but he was already the size of a fully-grown Labrador,’ explained Dave.

It was about this time that Dave and his wife realized that they may have a record breaker on their hands.

‘His size did not go unnoticed in the outside world. Our local park had a section for puppies but we were bullied out of it by other owners, who were scared George would hurt their pups,’ said Dave.

‘Eventually he outgrew the single mattress we placed there for him and preferred instead the comfort of our king-sized bed — sprawling between us like some over-indulged prince while we spent half the night clinging onto the edges

‘In the summer of 2006, we solved this problem by buying him his own queen-sized mattress, which he still sleeps on today at the bottom of our bed.’

Hitting 252 pounds by the time he was two years old, a friend suggested that contacting Guinness might be worth a go.

‘Christie had applied to the Guinness World Records people on George’s behalf,’ explained Dave.

‘That February, one of their adjudicators came to watch George being measured in the presence of a vet. He was officially declared not just the world’s tallest living dog (43 inches from paw to shoulder) but the tallest dog ever.’

Setting off a chain of publicity, George eventually appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

‘Oprah’s staff learned about Giant George thorough FaceBook and YouTube and were were insistant on having him as a feature on this show; regardless of the Guinness World Record,’ said Dave.

‘As fate would have it, the timing with Guinness World Records and the Oprah Show came together flawlessly.

‘When we arrived in Chicago, we were shocked by the number of people who were waiting for us in the arrival area at the airport.

‘With flashing cameras and video rolling, more than one-hundred people saw Giant George strike a pose as though he was on a red carpet. Needless to say, they ate it up.

‘Everyone on Oprah’s staff was so nice, warm and friendly. What a great group of people that work for the Oprah show!’

‘Finally, it was time for Giant George to go out on stage and have Oprah announce his Guinness World Records for Tallest Dog Ever and Tallest Living Dog.

‘Without question, this was one of the most memorable moments for all of us. Oprah was super friendly and the segment was trouble free.’

However, even though George is arguably the most famous canine celebrity in the world, life isn’t neccesarily straight forward for him.

His heart according to his owner Dave was broken by a Labrador named Bella and since then, the neutered George has remained resolutely single.

But that isn’t to say there aren’t exciting moments each day at home in Tuscon, where Dave renovates and sells property and Christie works in medical equipment sales.

The giant Great Dane amuses himself by chasing the local UPS driver who regulalry delivers packages.

And even though he is a gentle giant, George still possesses a low, rumbling bark that can be intimidating to parcel delivery men.

Even though Dave hears the odd light hearted jibe about ‘having a saddle for that thing’, George seemingly takes all the attention in his stride.

‘Our cherished pet may have become a global celebrity — but really, he’s just one of the family,’ explained Dave.

Attribution: Mail Online

Women get Paid…Less

Remember this? In 2009 President Obama signed the ‘Equal pay for Equal Work’, also known as the ‘Lilly Ledbetter’ act. It was a banner day for women all across America. Thanks to our beloved president, finally women would get their due.

The report below claims that women in the private sector fare worse than those in government who, apparently, are already treated as equals. That’s great! At least the White House is leading the charge and practicing what they preach.

Could it be that Obama talks a good game but doesn’t back it up?

According to an article by Meghan Keneally, that is evidently the case:

All of President Barack Obama’s employees may not be treated equally in the White House, as recently released financial records show that female employees earn significantly less than their male counterparts.

Using the 2011 annual report of White House staff salaries that was submitted to Congress, an $11,000 difference is clear between the median female employee salary and the median male employee salary.

This news comes on top of continued criticism- of both President Obama and prior presidents- that women are underrepresented in the White House.

Of the administration’s 20 top earners, who each took home a tidy $172,200 for their work in 2011, only six of those were women.

The most oft-singled-out leading lady in the President’s testosterone-fueled inner circle is Valerie Jarrett who is one of his closest advisors.

That said, she has been with the President since his days in Chicago and is seen as one of his close personal friends as well as a trusted advisor.

The gender differential has been noticed outside of the White walls, and Dee Dee Myers- the first female press secretary who worked under the Clinton administration- feels it is not doing Mr Obama’s team any favors.

‘Women are Obama’s base, and they don’t seem to have enough people who look like the base inside of their own inner circle,’ Dee Dee Myers told The New York Times.

The hefty salaries, like Ms Jarrett’s, were not the norm, however, as the median salary for women in the White House is $60,000 which is 18 per cent less than their male peers whose median salary was $71,000.

This is not the first time that a pay disparity has been present in Mr Obama’s White House, as it started as soon as his time in office did.

In 2009, women made 89 cents for every dollar that men made in ‘the People’s House’.
On average, that came out to $9,390 less.

While that looks like last year’s calculations would mean a more drastic increase, those figures were compiled on the median salaries and not the mean so the two numbers are not exactly compatible, but they do show that there has not been a marked improvement in the situation.

Though the White House is not setting a great example, it is doing better than most: a recent national survey claims that women still make 23 cents less than men for every dollar earned.

That may present more of a problem, as the President’s platform clearly values equal pay, as Mr Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act only nine days into his term.

The current administration’s gender differential is certainly not the first, as former President Bill Clinton only had four women among his 17 top paid employees.

The downward trend continued with President George W. Bush, who only had 35 women among his top 122 workers.

Unlike in previous years, Mr Obama may be held to a greater degree of accountability on the issue now as both parties paint the other as waging a war against women.

Battleship Island

Deserted, decaying and crumbling into the sea. Visitors to this abandoned settlement could be forgiven for thinking they had entered a long-forgotten war zone.

However, this is Gunkanjima – Japan’s rotting metropolis. And it has been described as the most desolate place on Earth.

Gunkanjima is a deserted island of concrete that is slowly crumbling away on Japan’s west coast.

Meaning ‘Battleship Island’ in English, Gunkanjima’s real name is Hashima and it is one of 505 uninhabited islands in the Nagasaki Prefecture (territory), about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) from Nagasaki itself. It earned its nickname due to its resemblance to the military warship.

Despite being off-limits to travellers, the island has become an irresistible magnet for urban explorers who go to extraordinary lengths to investigate and photograph the island’s abandoned buildings.

Gunkanjima was once just a small reef but, following the discovery of coal in 1810, was turned into mining facility during the industrialisation of Japan. It gave rise to its own population of workers and inhabitants who were all densely-packed into a self-contained metropolis.

The 15-acre island was populated between 1887 and 1974, reaching its peak in 1959 with 5,259 inhabitants. However, as petroleum replaced coal during the 1960s, Japan’s mines were hit by closures which eventually reached Gunkanjima.

Within a matter of days of the mines closing in 1974, the workers and their families deserted the island, leaving their possessions, which still lay where they were left.

After 35 years of closure, the landing ban was lifted on Gunkanjima in 2009, meaning it was no longer illegal for boats to dock at the island. However, it still remains illegal to venture inside the city’s walls, meaning urban explorers must go to great lengths to covertly trespass the island.

Attribution: Japan Guide, Daily Mail

Robo Surgeon

Doctors in the future might tell patients, ‘I’m afraid this is going to require surgery’ – then hand a pill that will do the surgery from inside the body.

A breakthrough at Stanford has created a Fantastic Voyage-style vehicle that can ‘swim’ through a patient’s veins, powered wirelessly by electromagnetic waves from doctors from outside.

Previous prototypes have been hampered by large batteries – but the new machine is around the size of a grain of rice.

The device could deliver drugs, perform surgery, or just take on ‘reconnaissance missions’ which would otherwise require invasive endoscope treatments.

The current prototype chip is only three millimeters wide and four millimeters long.

This week, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, Professor Ada Poon demonstrated a tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through blood.

‘Such devices could revolutionize medical technology,’ said Poon. ‘Applications include everything from diagnostics to minimally invasive surgeries.’

Poon’s most recent creation, could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or remove plaque from sclerotic arteries.

The idea of implantable medical devices is not new, but most of today’s implements are challenged by the size of their batteries, which are large and heavy and must be replaced periodically. Fully half the volume of most of these devices is consumed by battery.

‘While we have gotten very good at shrinking electronic and mechanical components of implants, energy storage has lagged in the move to miniaturize,’ said co-author Teresa Meng, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. ‘This hinders us in where we can place implants within the body and also creates the risk of corrosion or broken wires, not to mention replacing aging batteries.’

Poon’s devices are different. They consist of a radio transmitter outside the body sending signals inside the body to an independent device that picks up the signal with an antenna of coiled wire.

The transmitter and the antennae are magnetically coupled such that any change in current flow in the transmitter produces a voltage in the other wire – or, more accurately, it induces a voltage.

The power is transferred wirelessly. It can be used to run electronics on the device and propel it through the bloodstream.

Attribution: By Rob Waugh