Don’t Smoke & Drive

In yet another example of passing a bill without reading it, a tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill signed last Friday by President Obama will put operators of RYO (roll-your-own) cigarette operations in Las Vegas and nationwide out of business at midnight.

Can someone, anyone, tell me what the hell cigarettes have to do with transportation?

Robert Weissen, with his brothers and other partners, own nine Sin City Cigarette Factory locations in Southern Nevada, including six in Las Vegas, and one in Hawaii. He said when the bill is signed their only choice is to turn off their 20 RYO Filling Station machines and lay off more than 40 employees.

“We’ll stay open for about another week to sell tubes and tobacco just to get through our inventory, but without the use of the RYO machines, we won’t be staying open,” he said.

The machines are used by customers who buy loose tobacco and paper tubes from the shop and then turn out a carton of finished cigarettes in as little as 10 minutes, often varying the blend to suit their taste. Savings are substantial – at $23 per carton, half the cost of a name-brand smoke – in part because loose tobacco is taxed at a lower rate.

“These cigarettes are different because there are benefits in saving money,” said Amy Hinds, a partner who operates the Sin City Cigarette Factory at Craig and Decatur.

“These cigarettes don’t have any of the chemicals in them, and the papers are chemical-free, unlike the cartons people buy from Philip Morris.”

But a few paragraphs added to the transportation bill changed the definition of a cigarette manufacturer to cover thousands of roll-your-own operations nationwide. The move, backed by major tobacco companies, is aimed at boosting tax revenues.

Faced with regulation costs that could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars, RYO machine owners nationwide are shutting down more than 1,000 of the $36,000 machines.

“I feel it’s kind of shady,” Wiessen said. “The man who pushed for this bill is Sen. Max Baucus (D) from Montana, and he received donations from Altria, a parent company of Philip Morris. Interestingly enough, there are also no RYO machines in the state of Montana. It really makes me question the morals and values of our elected speakers.”

Sierra Bawden, a single mom with two kids who started rolling her own smokes at Hind’s shop three months ago, said cost is only one factor.

“It saves me time and money, and in the end I feel better because I don’t get all of the chemicals that the other cigarettes have,” Bawden said. “With the brand-name cigarettes, we pay for the chemicals and the name, and I don’t want any of that, so I don’t even know what I’ll do when the shop closes down.”

In Southern Nevada, there are two basic RYO business models: traditional smoke shops that also sell brand-name cigarettes, hookah and smoking paraphernalia, and RYO lounges that sell only loose tobacco and materials.

“Our stores are like lounges where our customers can buy the pieces for the product then roll them by hand or use the machine to make their cigarettes,” Wiessen said. “It’s a relaxed environment. Rolling a carton of cigarettes by hand can take one person up to three hours.”

Even before the bill was signed, Hinds’ location on Craig Road was already feeling the pinch. They were to close Thursday because suppliers stopped delivering needed materials last week.

Wiessen and others are attempting to mount a petition drive asking for relief from the new regulations and are talking to lawyers now to explore their options.

“As it stands right now, we’ll have no choice but to shut down at midnight on Friday, but we’re not giving up,” Wiessen said. “We have to see what our lawyers tell us and go from there.”

Regardless of how you feel about smoking, you should be outraged. For the government to, by the sweep of a magic pen, put an industry out of business is simply immoral.

Every small business person in America should be very worried. They may come for you next, particularly if you happen to compete with a large corporation, that just happens to have an elected official in their back pocket. 

Attribution: Beth Karuschak, Las Vegas Review-Journal

What’s a Dentist to Do?

A new chemical could make human teeth ‘cavity proof’ – and do away with the need for visits to the dentists forever.

The molecule has been called ‘Keep 32’ – after the 32 teeth in a human mouth.

The chemical was designed by dentists in Chile, and wipes out all the bacteria that cause cavities in just 60 seconds in tests.

The chemical could be added to any current dental care product, turning toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum into ‘super cleansers’ that could get rid of the underlying cause of tooth decay.

The chemical targets ‘streptococcus mutans’, the bacteria that turns the sugar in your mouth into lactic acid which erodes tooth enamel.

By exterminating the bacteria, ‘Keep 32’ prevents the damage to teeth before it happens.

Using a product containing the chemical keeps your teeth ‘cavity proof’ for several hours.

The product has been under test for seven years, and is now going into human trials.

It could be on the market in 14 to 18 months, say researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile.

The chemical could even be added to foods to stop bacteria damaging teeth as you eat.

The researchers hope to licence the patent to chemical giants such as Procter and Gamble.

‘We are currently in talks with five interested in investing in our project or buy our patent,’ say the researchers.

Attribution: Mail Online

Soldiers Unearthed

Danish archaeologists have re-opened a mass grave of scores of slaughtered Iron Age warriors to find new clues about their fate and the bloody practices of Germanic tribes on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Bones of around 200 soldiers have already been found preserved in a peat bog near the village of Alken on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula.

Experts started digging again on Monday, saying they expected to find more bodies dating back 2,000 years.

Aarhus University archaeologist Mads Kahler Holst said: “I guess we will end up with a scale that is much larger than the 200 that we have at present.”

Speaking by phone from the site on damp grazing meadows near Jutland’s large lake of Mossoe, he added: “We have only touched upon a very small part of what we expect to be there … We have not seen anything like this before in Denmark, but it is quite extraordinary even in a European perspective.”

The first bones, belonging to people as young as 13, were discovered in 2009.

Cuts and slashes on the skeletons showed they had died violently, said Holst. But nothing was known for sure about the identity of the killers, or their victims.

“That is one of the big mysteries … We don’t know if it is local or foreign – we would expect it to be local,” Holst said.

“We think it is a sacrifice related to warfare and probably the defeated soldiers were killed and thrown into the lake,” he said.

The remains are from the beginning of the Roman Iron Age, though Roman armies never reached so far north.

“It was the time when the Roman Empire had its greatest expansion to the north,” Holst said. But even that push only got the Romans as far as modern day Germany, a few hundred kilometers to the south of the Danish site.

“This conflict could have been a consequence of the Roman expansion, its effect on the Germanic world,” Holst said.

He said the discovery could shed new light on what happened in those centuries beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

“It will also tell about what level of military organization existed in this northern European area,” he said.

Similar discoveries of sacrificed warriors from a few hundred years earlier have been made at Celtic sites in France, Holst said.

The remains are so well-preserved that experts will be able to analyze their DNA – a rare achievement in remains so old, said Ejvind Hertz, curator of archaeology at Skanderborg Museum.

“Preliminary DNA tests have been carried out at a laboratory on six teeth and two femur bones. There was not much in the femurs but there was in the teeth – teeth are good at preserving DNA,” Hertz said.

The DNA of people who lived at that time would not normally differ from the DNA of today’s Scandinavians. If differences are found, it could point to a foreign army from southern Europe, Hertz said.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Can’t Get In Without It

by: Roger Hedgecock & the Common Constutionalist

Do you recall, a few months ago, when attendees to a Obama event had to show a photo I.D. to get in to the arena?

Well the hypocrisy hits just keep on coming and this one’s worse. These people literally have no shame. How could these events keep going unreported? Silly me, it’s the mainstream media. That’s how.

Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the NAACP Nation Convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. What did media need in order to attend? That’s right, government issued photo identification (and a second form of identification too!), something both Holder and the NAACP stand firmly against when it comes to voting. Holder’s DOJ is currently suing Texas for “discriminatory” voter ID laws.

From the press release:

All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver’s license) as well as valid media credentials. Members of the media must RSVP to receive press credentials at http://action.naacp.org/page/s/registration. For security purposes, media check-in and equipment set up must be completed by 7:45 a.m. CDT for an 8:00 a.m. CDT security sweep.  Once the security sweep is completed, additional media equipment will NOT be permitted to enter and swept equipment will NOT be permitted to exit.

Ironically, NAACP President Ben Jealous railed against voter ID  just before Holder took the stage.

The head of the NAACP on Monday likened the group’s fight against conservative-backed voter ID laws that have been passed in several states to the great civil rights battles of the 1960s.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, the CEO and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said these are “Selma and Montgomery times,” referring to historic Alabama civil rights confrontations. He challenged those attending the NAACP’s annual convention to redouble their efforts to get out the vote in November.

“We must overwhelm the rising tide of voting suppression with the high tide of registration and mobilization and motivation and protection,” he said.

“Simply put, the NAACP will never stand by as any state tries to encode discrimination into law,” Jealous said.

If it weren’t so serious, the absurdity would be funny. It’s like some weird Saturday Night Live skit. The fact that Jealous and especially Holder, can stand before an audience of black people and claim that asking for a photo I.D. to vote is racist yet require not one, but two forms of I.D. to attend this event is just plain arrogant. I guess I should expect no less from the,”Do as I say, not as I do” party. Who did they employ to check the I.D.’s? Maybe the New Black Panthers.

And I’m sure the press dutifully forked over the required “Papers” without even a thought of the irony. But hey, what’s more important, upholding the legal right to vote or attending an NAALCP convention?

Cancer Gets Creamed

WHEN a disease runs skin deep, perhaps all that is needed is moisturizer supercharged with gene-regulation technology.

For skin conditions including melanoma, treatments that are applied directly to the skin are the ideal drug solution: they are easy to use and they affect only the area under which they are applied.

The problem is that our skin is such a successful barrier against toxins that finding substances that penetrate it is a huge challenge, says Amy Paller at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. So until now, clinics have used lasers or ultrasound to help deliver drugs deep into the skin.

Paller and her colleague Chad Mirkin, also at Northwestern, have found a way through the skin barrier. They coated tiny gold spheres with small interfering RNA (siRNA) – tiny pieces of nucleic acid that appear to penetrate the barrier and enter skin cells through an as-yet unspecified pathway. The siRNA is selected to target one of the genes responsible for making cancer cells grow quickly, called epidermal growth factor receptor.

Paller and Mirkin mixed the drug with store-bought moisturizer and applied it to mouse skin. Not only did the nanoparticles penetrate the skin, but they also targeted the intended gene without causing toxicity or other side effects in the surrounding skin.

Attribution: New Scientist

Joke of the Day

Blarney stone…

A group of Americans was touring Ireland. One of the women in the group was a real curmudgeon, constantly complaining. The bus seats are uncomfortable.The food is terrible. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. The accommodations are awful.

The group arrived at the site of the famous Blarney Stone. “Good luck will be followin’ ya all your days if you kiss the Blarney Stone,”he guide said. “Unfortunately, it’s being cleaned today and so no one will be able to kiss it. Perhaps we can come back tomorrow.”

“We can’t be here tomorrow,” the nasty woman shouted. “We have some other boring tour to go on. So I guess we can’t kiss the stupid stone.”

“Well now,” the guide said, “it is said that if you kiss someone who has kissed the stone, you’ll have the same good fortune.”

“And I suppose you’ve kissed the stone,” the woman scoffed.

“No, ma’am,” the frustrated guide said, “but I’ve sat on it.”

How Far We’ve Fallen

by: the Common Constitutiionalist

Last month North Dakotans went to the polls. You know, the state with the lowest unemployment in America; the state that is quite literally Drilling its way to prosperity. That one.

Well, one of the bills that was voted on, was whether to amend the state constitution, abolishing the statewide property tax. Unfortunately, it was soundly defeated.

Why would one even propose such a thing, you ask? How could they possibly do without that revenue, you ask?

What about the teachers, the police and firefighters? Would they not all be laid off? That is what we hear, is it not?

Whenever anyone even suggests cutting the budget or lowering taxes (much less constitutionally negating one), do we not hear the wailing of discontent? Apparently the world as we know it will cease to exist.

Moving on. You see, North Dakota is awash in dirty oil cash. So much, I heard they are rolling it up and using it for kindling to light their fireplaces. Well that’s what I heard!

All right, that’s not exactly true., but they are in as good or better shape than any other state in the Union.

So if they have all this oil revenue coming in, why not abolish the property tax?

Do the citizens of North Dakota really like paying taxes or could it be people are afraid the oil might run out? Or maybe they’re afraid the feds will find a way to come in and shut them down. That’s probably more likely, but the fear mongering of elected officials & public employee unions have been very effective.

Typical Liberal Scare Tactics

The constant drumbeat of needing more funding by the public sector can and does cause voter paralysis.

Well, I know the oil won’t be running out for centuries. I recently published an article explaining how I know. Link here to read it. So that’s not it.

That leaves us with the ever intrusive federal government and the fear mongering of the public sector.

I have no doubt that in the backrooms of the Whitehouse and the EPA, they are developing strategies to kill the North Dakota oil industry.

Just look around. They’ve already banned drilling off virtually every American coast. The BP spill, which turned out not to be the catastrophe they predicted, pretty much cemented that.

The Feds are well on their way to regulating the coal industry out of existence and let’s not forget the full-scale assault on hydraulic fracking for natural gas. At least we still have windmills & algae. Hooray!

Then there’s the sainted public sector, complete with their rent-a-mob thugs that get bussed from state to state threatening & wreaking havoc upon any state that dares attempt to cut their budget or otherwise right their fiscal ship.

To date, there has been only one Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, with the stones to stand up to the onslaught of leftist attacks. In my opinion, he may be the only true public servant in the country. By that I mean, he stood up for what he believed was right without regard for his job. He knew he could have lost it all, yet he persisted. That is the founders view of a public servant. 

I understand the public fear of the federal government, especially this one. If left unchecked, they will find a way to curtail North Dakotas oil production.

What I don’t understand is the overarching fear of the loss of excess tax revenue. The state has proven they don’t need the revenue yet the voters still rejected it by about a 3 to 1 margin. Do they not get that there is no such thing as excess revenue in government? If money is coming in, it will surely be spent, thereby, simply expanding the baseline of the state budget. If, in the future, there is a disruption in oil revenue, what happens? Taxes will then have to be raised even further to accomodate for that shortfall.

By rejecting the amendment, they have potentially made it worse for their state. Instead, they should have accepted the amendment, doing away with the property tax. If, for whatever reason, the oil revenue does evaporate, the state can always go back to the polls and reinstitute the tax.

The moral of this story is a sad one. If a state that can afford to, but won’t cut taxes, what chance do the rest of us have? How far have we fallen. Could we really not survive without government?

Maybe we really have become a cradle to grave Nanny State society.

Seaweed Dentistry

Microbes found on seaweed could provide an unexpected weapon in the fight against tooth decay, scientists have said.

They used an enzyme isolated from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis which they were originally researching for cleaning ships’ hulls.

Newcastle University scientists claim that the enzyme can ‘cut through’ plaque on teeth and clean hard-to-reach areas.

The Newcastle University team will tell the Society for Applied Microbiology Summer Conference that it could have a range of medical applications, including teeth cleaning.

While toothpastes are effective, there are still hard-to-reach areas between teeth where the bacteria in plaque can erode enamel, causing cavities.

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences believes better products offering more effective treatment can be made using the enzyme.

He said: ‘Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors.

‘Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria – but that’s not always effective – which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities. 

‘Work in a test tube has shown that this enzyme can cut through the plaque or layer of bacteria and we want to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture cleaning solution.’

When threatened, bacteria shield themselves in a slimy protective barrier known as a biofilm. 

It is made up of bacteria held together by a web of extracellular DNA which binds the bacteria to each other and to a solid surface – in this case in the plaque around the teeth and gums.

The biofilm protects the bacteria from attack by brushing, chemicals or even antibiotics.

But after studying Bacillus licheniformis, which is found on the surface of seaweed, Newcastle University scientists found that when the bacteria want to move on, they release an enzyme which breaks down the external DNA. That breaks up the biofilm and releases the bacteria from the web.

Professor Burgess, who led the research, said: ‘It’s an amazing phenomenon. The enzyme breaks up and removes the bacteria present in plaque and importantly, it can prevent the build up of plaque too.

‘When I initially began researching how to break down these layers of bacteria, I was interested in how we could keep the hulls of ships clear but we soon realised that the mechanism we had discovered had much wider uses.

‘If we can contain it within a toothpaste we would be creating a product which could prevent tooth decay.

‘This is just one of the uses we are developing for the enzyme as it has huge potential such as in helping keep clean medical implants such as artificial hips and speech valves which also suffer from biofilm infection.’

The team will now look to collaborate with industry to carry out more tests and product development.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

Dogs don’t understand that:

1. It’s not a laugh to practice barking at 3a.m.

2. It’s wrong to back Grandma into a corner and guard her.

3. He shouldn’t jump on your bed when he’s sopping wet.

4. The cats have every right to be in the living room.

5. Barking at guests 10 minutes after they arrive is stupid

6. Getting up does NOT mean we are going for a walk

7. Just because I’m eating, doesn’t mean you can.

8. If you look at me with those big soppy eyes, I’m not going to give in and feed you. NOT NOT NOT. Oh, ok, just this once.

9. No, it’s my food….Oh alright then, just a small piece.