Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A school in Texas will force students who don't follow the rules to wear prison-like jumpsuits in a controversial move this coming school year.
Gonzales High School has new navy blue jumpsuits that students will wear if they break the dress code.
Violators will be forced to wear the jumpsuit for the day, the report said.
Some parents said the jumpsuits will make students feel like prisoners but the district said it's just a way to keep the children dressed appropriately for school.
A school board official said it's "worth a try" because it's a way to keep the district's conservative values intact.
Some students said the plan may backfire on the school.
"I talked to some of my friends about it and they said they are not going to obey the dress code just so they can wear the jumpsuit," high school student Jordan Meredith.
Before the jumpsuits students who didn't follow the code had to sit in the office and wait for their parents to bring them clothes or face in-school suspension.
Warning of an approaching economic calamity, Gov. Paterson yesterday called an emergency session of the state Legislature - and raised the specter that New York may have to sell off roads, bridges and tunnels to close a massive budget deficit.
In a rare televised address, the Democratic governor cited "private-public partnerships" involving the sale of state assets - widely condemned by critics as fiscal gimmickry - as one way to stem a tide of red ink brought on by the sagging economy and woes on Wall Street.
Internet addiction -- an online-related compulsive behavior that interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and work -- is a psychological and behavioral problem that is spreading around the world, experts say.
Kimberly Young, clinical director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and author of the book “Caught in the Net,” said that about 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans --15 to 30 million people -- may suffer from Internet addiction. And the problem may be even greater elsewhere. Young said 18 to 30 percent of the populations of China, Korea and Taiwan, where the Internet is even more popular than in the U.S., may be addicted.
"I’ve seen a lot of growth in the field of Internet addiction,” said Young. “More research and studies (are) trying to understand it better. … It’s a global problem.”
Monday, July 28, 2008
The coldest summer ever? You might be looking at it, weather folks say.
Right now the so-called summer of '08 is on pace to produce the fewest days ever recorded in which the temperature in Anchorage managed to reach 65 degrees. That unhappy record was set in 1970, when we only made it to the 65-degree mark, which many Alaskans consider a nice temperature, 16 days out of 365.
This year, however -- with the summer more than half over -- there have been only seven 65-degree days so far. And that's with just a month of potential "balmy" days remaining and the forecast looking gloomy.
National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Albanese, a storm warning coordinator for Alaska, says the outlook is for Anchorage to remain cool and cloudy through the rest of July.
And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades.
Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as 'little people who look strange to us.'
He said supposedly real-life ET's were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.
Chillingly, he claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would be been gone by now".
I wish they come get me...................I want off this backwards world!
A Brooklyn man found himself locked up in a loony bin for four days after he smashed down walls in three apartments trying to rescue a fugitive feline.
The bizarre tale began when a mischievous kitty named Rumi decided to explore a hole in the wall of a condo undergoing renovation in Carroll Gardens. Unfortunately for Rumi, the hole opened on a 30-foot shaft and he fell to the bottom.
The contractor, Chris Muth, had been watching Rumi for a friend and panicked when he went missing. He couldn't reach the cat from that apartment - even after enlarging the hole. So the super, Doug Steiner, got him permission to make a small hole in the wall of another unit. But, Steiner said, "He opened up all the walls. I said, 'What the hell are you doing? The owner's going to flip out.' "
Muth couldn't catch Rumi from that hole either, so he broke into a third apartment, and again started smashing walls. Steiner had as much success coaxing Muth out as Muth did with Rumi. So the super called cops - who shipped Muth to a local psych ward. Rumi remained in the catacombs of the condo - a former church. And the shrinks decided Muth was suffering from bats in his belfry.
The hospital records say he had a "bizarre delusion [he] was trying to save a cat of his friend," The Brooklyn Paper reported. But it all ended happily. Muth finally convinced the doctors that he wasn't a wacko. And Rumi, tired of his 15 days in solitary, let himself be caught by professional cat rescuers using a fishing-pole-like device.
"After 60 hours stuck down there, I thought the cat was going to die," Muth told The Brooklyn Paper. "Otherwise I wouldn't have panicked like I did. I can fix holes, but I can't bring a cat back to life."
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and the city of Memphis have filed a lawsuit to learn who operates a blog harshly critical of Godwin and his department.
The lawsuit asks AOL to produce all information related to the identity of an e-mail address linked to MPD Enforcer 2.0, a blog popular with police officers that has been extremely critical of police leadership at 201 Poplar.
"In what could be a landmark case of privacy and the 1st Amendment," the anonymous bloggers write on the site, "Godwin has illegally used his position and the City of Memphis as a ram to ruin the Constitution of the United States.
"Some members of the Enforcer 2.0 have contacted their attorneys and we are in the process of filing a lawsuit against Larry and the City of Memphis. What's wrong Larry? The truth hurt?"
It wasn't clear if the lawsuit is aimed at shutting down the site or if it's part of an effort to stop leaks that might affect investigations.
Many of the documents in the case, filed in Chancery Court on July 10, have been sealed by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong. Police officials would not discuss the action, citing pending litigation.
Whatever the reason, Internet and free-speech advocates said they had serious problems with the city's actions.
"You can complain about the government, and you should be able to do that without fear of retaliation or threatening actions on the part of the people in these positions," said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based watchdog group. "I guess they've kind of annoyed them at some level, but you really don't want to see law enforcement or government resources spent in this way."
AOL has been ordered to turn over similar records in the past.
In 2001, Japanese company Nam Tai filed a complaint in California state court against unknown Web posters claiming they committed libel and violated the state's unfair business practices statute.
Nam Tai was able to obtain the e-mail address of one of the posters and then obtained a subpoena from a Virginia state court to AOL seeking the name behind the e-mail address.
AOL filed a motion to have the order quashed, but lost that bid in trial court and the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee said they will be watching the case closely and that anonymous speech is essential to the free flow of ideas in a democracy.
"We are quite interested in preserving the anonymity of the bloggers," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. "Anonymous speech has long been protected speech under the First Amendment."
The bloggers, who operate under the name of Dirk Diggler -- the name of the porn star in "Boogie Nights" -- say their site provides an important service to officers and citizens.
"This is another attempt at disrupting an outlet for officers to gather and complain about the administration," they said on the site.
"Further, this allows us unrestricted communication with the citizens of Memphis. The citizens should be made aware of the scandals that rock the administration and shudder the rocky foundation in which they operate today."
The bloggers also said city attorneys earlier this year wrote a threatening letter on city letterhead to a company that produced T-shirts for the bloggers.
The banks, owned by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based First National Bank Holding Co., were scheduled to reopen on Monday as Mutual of Omaha Bank branches, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.
The FDIC said the takeover of the failed banks was the least costly resolution and all depositors - including those with funds in excess of FDIC insurance limits - will switch to Mutual of Omaha with "the full amount of their deposits."
The FDIC also said accountholders can access their funds during the weekend by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards.
As of June 30, the closed banks had total assets of $3.6 billion. That's down from $4.1 billion six months earlier. Most of the assets are in 1st National while First Heritage accounts for $254 million.
Calls to 1st National were referred by a receptionist to Joe Martony, an executive vice president in Scottsdale, Ariz. Martony didn't return repeated calls to his office.
In Nevada, 1st National has 10 branches and employs about 350 people. Five of its branches are in Las Vegas, three are in the Reno-Sparks area, one is in Carson City and one is in Laughlin. Notices of the closure were being posted late Friday.
Fifteen 1st National branches are in Arizona, while Newport Beach-based First Heritage has three branches in Southern California.
Bill Uffelman of the Nevada Bankers Association said Friday the FDIC action "is a reflection of the times for the banks. It's a poor economy."
Uffelman cautioned against the sort of consumer concern that prompted many customers of IndyMac Bank branches to wait for hours in line to withdraw funds across Southern California last week after that bank was seized by federal regulators. All FDIC-insured bank deposits are guaranteed by the FDIC up to $100,000, he noted.
Gov. Jim Gibbons said the bank takeover will be closely monitored in Nevada "to ensure there's minimal disruption to business and that employees' jobs are protected as much as possible."
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano spokeswoman Shilo Mitchell said in a statement that the FDIC's takeover of 1st National is not indicative of the overall banking climate in Arizona.
"It's very important that Arizonans know that their deposits are secure," said Felecia Rotellini, superintendent of Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. "They are well-managed and the 1st National Bank of Arizona issues should not cause any panic in Arizona."
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Attention Deficit Disorder is ultimately a descriptive label that focuses on a narrow set of negative traits. Over the last few years, a growing number of experts,as well as parents who discover they would have been labeled ADD if they were a child in the 1990's, have identified a string of positive qualities associated with the label. When the positive traits are focused on, an image of an alternative of type of learner, thinker and doer emerges.
To combat the negative ADD label, several people have come up with alternative models like "Hunter" and "Explorer," which are described below.
- Spatial/Visual Thinker (or "Right-Brained")
The Hunter concept was created and popularized by Thom Hartmann in the 1993 book "ADD - A Different Perception" and the follow-up book "Beyond ADD." In his book, Hartmann theorized that ADDers were essentially left over hunters in a farmer's world. 10,000 years ago, most people would have had Hunter traits. These traits, such as constantly scanning the environment (for prey), the ability fall into a dream-like state for long periods (during down periods) combined with the ability to become suddenly hyperfocused and thrive on danger and excitement (the hunt), helped these people survive. There was no need to remain focused on boring tasks. Until the agricultural revolution, that is, during which the farmer types outcompeted the hunter types, to the near extinction of the Hunters. Agricultural populations wiped out Hunter populations. Farmers needed to plan ahead and to tend their fields with care. They needed a different sort of temperament; more of a worker-bee personality. Hunters would forget to weed, forget to plant. Hartmann cited evidence that hunter-gatherer populations left on the planet appear to have a very high rate of ADD traits while populations which have been long agriculturilized, like China, have low levels of ADD traits. Hartmann's book was very radical for its time, but was well received by many ADDers as well as some experts in the field of ADD.
In the 1990's, the Hunter isn't looking for an actual Caribou to slay. Instead, he or she is hunting in a metaphorical sense. Hunting for excitement. Hunting for the prize: the cure for cancer or the truth in the theory of global warming. Hunting for the mental or physical stimulation to mimic the hunt of our ancestors. Entrepreneurs are a good example. Schools are designed by and for Farmers, and Hunters have a very difficult time since they are genetically designed to Hunt.
The Explorer concept is my creation. In this model, a minority of our population has "exploration" genes because it makes our population more fit. Social species require a variety of temperaments within a population, for example, not everyone can have the traits of a leader, nor a follower, because our social structure would fall apart. These are not obsolete relic genes, but continue to be selected for in the modern world, although they may have been far more prevalent in the past, as Hartmann suggests. A parallel in the animal world is the honey bee, where 95% of the population are Worker Bees and 5% are Streaker Bees. The Streaker Bees normally don't do much of anything, but become essential when it's time to find a new nesting site. Both "temperaments" need each other, and both are normal but very different from each other. Diversity is key to the survival of a population.
Explorers are constantly seeking to find something new in either a physical or cerebral sense. Columbus was an Explorer; he was looking for new travel routes. Einstein was exploring physics and looking for answers to unsolvable questions. Edison explored the world of inventions, and Mozart explored new ideas in music. None were satisfied to accept what they were taught; each forged ahead with their own ideas because they were compulsively driven to explore. The drive for independence, enthusiasm, imagination, originality and the need to discover something new goes hand-in-hand with creativity and ADD.
Spatial/Visual Thinkers (or "Right-Brained")
Many ADDers, in turns out, are visual thinkers, as were some of the most important scientists and artists of history. Along with visual thinking are other traits associated with right-brain thinking such as intuitive and holistic thinking styles (bad with details); good puzzles solving abilities; strong visual memories but poor verbal memories; poor handwriting or being generally uncoordinated; relative difficulties with reading, listening or writing (compared with spatial skills); problems with sequential thinking; disorganization; and being highly creative. In extreme cases visual thinkers may be very dyslexic, can't tell left from right, and may have incredible spatial abilities. As children, visual thinkers may have difficulties in school, although smart, moderately visual people may do fine. The book "Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child" is written by a teacher of ADD children who has found methods to help the visual thinker. I took a test in the book and came out a "moderate" visual thinker. The methods and observations described by the author made sense to me (and explains why my reading comprehension is better when I read faster).
In his book "In The Mind's Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People With Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images and the Ironies of Creativity", Thomas G. West argues that visual thinking is much better at picking up patterns and concepts out of apparent chaos and is in some ways superior to verbal thinking. He profiles people like Einstein, Edison, Faraday and Yeats who had vivid visual modes of thought. This is a great book for anyone who is a visual thinker.
Gifted & Talented
Many people diagnosed as ADD are "gifted." The definition of giftedness is somewhat arbitrary, and there are probably many kids out there who are not quite gifted but still smarter than most of their peers. "Bright" kids may display the same behavioral traits as gifted kids, which are strikingly similar to ADD traits (see below).
Traits of Gifted/Creative Kids (From the National Foundation for the Gifted and Creative)
- A. High sensitivity
- B. Excessive amounts of energy.
- C. Bores easily and may appear to have a short attention span.
- D. Requires emotionally stable and secure adults around him/her.
- E. Will resist authority if it not democratically oriented.
- F. Have preferred ways of learning; particularly in reading and mathematics.
- G. May become easily frustrated because of his/her big ideas and not having the resources or people to assist him/her in carrying these tasks to fruition.
- H. Learns from an exploratory level and resists rote memory and just being a listener.
- I. Cannot sit still unless absorbed in something of his/her own interest.
- J. Very compassionate and has many fears such as death and loss of loved ones.
- K. If they experience failure early, may give up and develop permanent learning blocks.
There are various definitions of giftedness out there, but in general a person is considered gifted by meeting one of the following characteristics:
- An IQ of 130 or over.
- Aptitude or achievement in a particular subject, such as math (generally being in the 97th percentile).
- Creative and productive thinking. ADDers are more likely to be gifted in this area than others. Characteristics include openness to experience, setting personal standards for evaluation, ability to play with ideas, willingness to take risks, preference for complexity, tolerance for ambiguity, positive self-image, and the ability to become submerged in a task. Students may be identified through tests like the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking or through demonstrated creative performance.
- Leadership ability.
- Visual and performing arts. ADDers may be over-represented in this category.
- Psychomotor ability (seldom used).
The link between ADD traits and IQ might be explained by the presence of Over-Excitabilities (OEs). Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration suggested that people with OEs have a higher level of potential development than others. Later research verified that OEs are related to intelligence. Over-excitabilities include physical, imaginational, and cognitive excitabilities, all of which would lead someone down the path to an ADD diagnosis.
Many proponents of the Gifted will say that a child with an IQ of 130 is not ADD, rather, they are Gifted. However, the DSM IV diagnostic criteria for ADD do not exclude people who meet the criteria due to giftedness, and gifted ADDers can experience the same problems as non-gifted ADDers. For example, they are often underachievers and have social difficulties.
Creativity (a subcategory of Gifted) has been studied for some time now. Researchers have tried to define the traits of people who are creatively gifted for years. The list of creative traits is amazingly similar to the traits of ADD, and to some extent, Giftedness. At the same time, ADD experts began to see that people diagnosed with ADD often were very creative. Eventually, the two lines of research were compared and Dr. Bonnie Cramond wrote a paper called "The Coincidence of ADHD and Creativity." People who score high in tests of creativity also show more hyperactivity than other children. And children diagnosed with ADHD score higher on tests of creativity. There is obviously a very large overlap between what we call ADD and creativity.
"Creative" or "Creatively Gifted" are labels applied to people who exhibit a high levels of creativity, either through obvious talent (e.g. painting) or by testing. The Torrance Test is often used for testing creativity. Creative people often have high IQs, but not all test in the Gifted range. Interestingly, above IQs of 125, there is no correlation between IQ and creativity when such tests are given. In the book "Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy," the author Robert Jourdain is surprised that famous classical musicians had IQs less than one might think. While famous geniuses like Goethe and John Stuart Mill had estimated IQs of about 200, historic musicians were estimated to have IQs in a relatively lower range. Mozart was the highest at 155, Mendelssohn was 150, Handel 145, Beethoven 135, Bach 125, Haydn 120 and Gluck 110. Note that under this study, Bach, Haydn and Gluck would not have even been considered "Gifted." They were, however, quite obviously creative. Moreover, research on thousands of musicians has shown that IQ is almost irrelevant to musical ability beyond a certain base level.
The ramification is that a child may possess unrealized creative talents which are not picked up by IQ tests. Only tests of creativity might pick up an instinct for creative thinking, and even these tests can fail to pick up a potential Bach or Haydn. Creativity is used in many endeavors, not just art.
The National Foundation for the Gifted and Creative have championed Creative kids for years. The founder, Marie Friedel, says she doesn't believe in ADD. "I absolutely do not accept it... You see, gifted children haven't been taken care of, and the creatively gifted have been neglected even more. And they may not exhibit a high IQ. The Torrance Tests are the ones you have to use, because those discover the child's learning preference."
The Foundation lists several creative traits which present problems for the Gifted/Creative child. I personally identified more with this list than ADD lists.
- Theoretical and abstract (Ignores stressed data in assignments. Hands in sloppy work.)
- Independent, Inventive, Non-Conforming (Resists teacher chosen assignments)
- Sensitive (Withdraws because of strong goal orientation, peer group criticism and rejection)
- Alert, Eager (Resents periods of classroom inactivity)
- Intuitive (Sees conclusions without displaying knowledge of sequential concepts)
- Daydreaming (Inattentive to teacher's or classmate's comments and class discussions)
- Aesthetically oriented (Resists participation of active team sports)
When Shreveport Police Officer Ron DeBello rescued the puppy from under a house on Henderson Avenue, he immediately fell in love with it.
So did his wife and kids after he showed them pictures of it. The little beagle-mix, believed to be just a few weeks old was taken to Caddo Animal Services to be checked out. DeBello made arrangements to adopt it if nobody claimed it in a week. No one did, so DeBello went to pick up the puppy, but it was no where to be found.
DeBello says by the time they did find the puppy, it was too late, the animal was in a freezer. It had been euthanized by mistake.
Director Matt Pepper says as unfortunate as it sounds, the puppy somehow got lost in the system. Pepper says it's one of many regrettable issues he's addressed since he's taken over. He says he's already implemented new practices that will hopefully keep this from happening again.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
New York, NY: Cocaine dependent patients are more likely to complete drug treatment if they use cannabis intermittently, according to clinical trial data to be published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
Investigators at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University assessed the effects of marijuana smoking on treatment retention in a clinical trial of 90 subjects enrolled in a 14-week outpatient program for cocaine dependence and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Researchers reported that those volunteers who used moderate amounts of cannabis during treatment were more likely to complete the program than were abstainers and/or subjects who used pot chronically.
"At week 14, retention rates were 24 percent among abstainers, 57 percent among intermittent/moderate users, and 39 percent among heavy/consistent users," investigators found. They noted that similar results also have been reported among subjects seeking treatment for opiate dependence.
Cannabis use also was associated with higher rates of abstinence among cocaine users. Among those subjects in the study who reported using pot intermittently, 39 percent achieved two or more weeks of abstinence from cocaine, compared to only 26 percent of subjects who reported not using cannabis during treatment.
The study is the first to assess the use of cannabis on treatment outcomes in patients diagnosed with cocaine dependence, investigators said.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Concurrent cannabis use during treatment for comorbid ADHD and cocaine dependence: Effects on outcome," will appear in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
Russia would cross "a red line for the United States of America" if it were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba, a top US air force officer warned on Tuesday.
"If they did I think we should stand strong and indicate that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America," said General Norton Schwartz, nominated to be the air force's chief of staff.
He was referring to a Russian news report that said the military is thinking of flying long-range bombers to Cuba on a regular basis.
It was unclear from the report whether that would involve permanent basing of nuclear bombers in Cuba, or just use of the island as a refueling stop.
In his confirmation hearing to become the air force's chief of staff, Schwartz was asked what he would recommend if Russia were to base nuclear capable bombers in Cuba.
"I would certainly offer the best military advice that we engage the Russians not to pursue that approach," he said.
The newspaper Iszvestia on Monday cited an unnamed senior Russian air force official in Moscow as saying that Russia may start regular flights by long-range bombers to Cuba in response to US plans to install a missile defense system in eastern Europe.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the Russian report because there had been no "official response from the Russian government."
Conducting long-range bomber patrol to Cuba would signal a reawakening of military cooperation by former Cold War allies Moscow and Havana, and recall the 1962 missile crisis that brought Washington and Moscow to the brink of war.
Over the past year, Russia already has revived long-range strategic bomber patrols in the Pacific and north Atlantic.
The Russian moves come amid rising tensions over the US missile defense plans, and warnings by Moscow that it will be forced them to counter them militarily.
Until now, US officials have shrugged off the stepped up Russian military activity, while insisting that a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors it plans to install in Poland pose no threat to Russia.
White House press secretary Dana Perino recalled assurances US President George W. Bush offered Russian President Dmitry Medvedev two weeks ago at a G8 summit.
"The president repeated that our missile defense system should not be seen as a threat to Russia, we want to actually work with the Russians to design a system that Russia, and Europe and the United States could work on together as equal partners and we'll continue to do that," she said.
"We seek strategic cooperation with the Russians. We want to work with them on preventing missiles from rogue nations like Iran from threatening our friends and allies," said Perino.
But Medvedev has warned that the missile defense project worsens regional security and will force Moscow to consider counter-measures.
The Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions says 162 banks and thrifts are headquartered in Louisiana.
It says that 97 percent of them are in the two top categories of a national bank-rating system based on for capital adequacy, management quality, earnings, liquidity and sensitivity to market risk.
Some of the larger banks operating in Louisiana, such as Capital One and JPMorgan Chase, are based out of state. But Sid Seymour, chief examiner of the Office of Financial Institutions, says most of those banks appear to be doing well.
Even excluding one-time items, the results substantially missed Wall Street estimates.
"These bottom-line results are disappointing and unacceptable," Chairman Lanty Smith said in a statement. "While to some degree they reflect industry headwinds and weaker macroeconomic conditions, they also reflect performance for which we at Wachovia accept responsibility."
Wachovia said it lost the equivalent of $4.20 per share in the April-June period. In the same timeframe last year, the bank earned $2.34 billion, or $1.22 per share.
Excluding $6.1 billion in write-downs to the value of its intangible assets and merger-related and restructuring charges of $128 million, Wachovia lost $2.67 billion, or $1.27 per share. Second quarter results include the bank's October acquisition of A.G. Edwards Inc.
Analysts on average expected a loss of 78 cents per share on revenue of almost $8.4 billion.
Earlier this month, Wachovia had projected a $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion quarterly loss, equal to $1.23 to $1.33 per share, excluding goodwill items.
The Charlotte-based bank cut its quarterly dividend to 5 cents per share from 37.5 cents, which will conserve approximately $700 million of capital per quarter. In April, Wachovia slashed its dividend 41 percent.
As part of a plan to cut 2009 expenses by $1.5 billion, the bank said it would lay off 6,350 workers and eliminate 4,400 open positions and contractors.
During the quarter, the Wachovia boosted its provision for loan losses to $5.57 billion from $179 million a year ago, and added $4.2 billion to its reserves for bad loans.
Wachovia has been suffering from its 2006 acquisition of Golden West Financial Corp. The bank paid roughly $25 billion for the California mortgage lender known for exotic loans.
The so-called "Pick-a-Payment" loans, which Wachovia inherited from Golden West, have proved a headache for the bank and a lightning rod for shareholders, defaulting at higher rates than other mortgages.
Wachovia recently discontinued offering the "Pick-A-Payment" loan option, which allows customers to pay a less-than-full interest payment on all new home loans. The bank also had hired The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to conduct an analysis of its loan portfolio and advise it on strategic alternatives.
Late Monday, Wachovia announced plans to leave the wholesale mortgage lending business. And beginning Friday, the company will no longer offer mortgages through brokers, joining other lenders making similar moves to exit the troubled sector.
Big banks, such as Bank of America Corp. and National City Corp., have stopped making loans through brokers entirely, relying instead on their loan officers. National City said it was forced to do so by a continuing downturn in loan demand, while Bank of America said it saw better "long-term opportunity" in working through its own loan officers.
Wachovia spokesman Don Vecchiarello said in a statement that the company "recognized some opportunities to re-position our business" given the current market conditions.
Earlier this month, Wachovia named former Treasury Undersecretary and Goldman Sachs executive Robert Steel as chief executive, replacing the ousted Ken Thompson. Within a week of being on the job, the bank's shares tumbled to a new 17-year low.
The Hollywood actor was being questioned by police at a central London police station, sources said.
Bale, 34, is alleged to have lashed out at his mother Jenny, 61, and sister Sharon, 40, in his suite at Park Lane's Dorchester Hotel on Sunday.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: 'A 34-year-old man attended a central London police station this morning by appointment.
'He was arrested in connection with an allegation of assault. He currently remains in custody.'
The Source of all truth, Absolute Truth, is what we are constantly trying to understand, find out, and become. This search will go on for eternity. Another way to say this is that our soul is trying to become God - who in turn is always becoming something grander.
The truth is something that is self-evident and is based upon the feeling we have about any given thing. It's also been referred to as natural law or universal law.
God will not punish us if we break these laws or truths. They are simply there for us as guidance. We decide how to react to them through our own free will choices.
Unlike the endless cycles and constant changes of the physical universe in which we live, Universal Truths are unchangeable, everywhere, and always available to those who seek it. Most importantly, it is never forced upon us. It must always be a free will choice.
The soul has searched for the truth, its Source, throughout the ages, even though it threatens and destroys our false beliefs at times.
Truth and the Universal Laws
What are some of the spiritual truths that can be found all over the universe? I am going to briefly describe some of the big ones.
This is not the entire list by any means. Nor is it my list. They come from the many mystical teachings I’ve exposed myself to over the years.
This list does not belong to any exclusive group or religion. They are free for the asking. No one owns them. There is no fee or donation required. The real God made it that way.
As with any truth or teaching, each should first be brought to the heart to see if it "feels" right and then used according to your own wishes.
Love is all there is.
God loves us unconditionally.
It is impossible to be separated from God forever.
The universe is a world of opposites.
There are only two emotions in the universe, love and fear.
Everything in the universe is energy.
Emotional energy is the great attractor.
We create our own reality.
There are no accidents in God's universe.
What we put out comes back to us.
The truth will always be found in your heart.
We are all one with God.
The struggling automaker, reacting to what it sees as a rapid and permanent shift in consumer tastes brought on by high gas prices, plans to unveil its new direction on Thursday, when it will report quarterly earnings.
Among the changes, Ford is expected to announce that it will convert three of its North American assembly plants from trucks to cars, according to people familiar with the plans.
And as part of the huge bet it is placing on the future direction of the troubled American auto industry, Ford will realign factories to manufacture more fuel-efficient engines and produce six of its next European car models for the United States market.
The company will also end speculation about its Mercury division by making the brand an integral part of its new small-car strategy, according to these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be quoted by name because of the timing of the official announcement on Thursday.
The sweeping changes are the result of months of strategic discussions by Ford executives, and represent a dramatic response to the woes afflicting Detroit's automakers.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Profit from continuing operations declined to $655 million, or 56 cents a share, from $1.04 billion, or 86 cents a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. The average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 82 cents. American Express said it added $600 million before taxes to reserves for U.S. loan losses.
``By almost any measure, the U.S. economy and business environment are much weaker than the assumptions'' the company had in January, Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault said today in a conference call. ``Unemployment rates took the largest jump in over twenty years. Home prices declined at the fastest rate in decades and consumer confidence is at one of its all-time low points.''
The U.S. economic slowdown worsened in June, affecting even American Express's wealthier cardholders with high credit scores, Chenault, 57, said in the call. Late and uncollectible loans were higher than expectations in the quarter and will rise as the year progresses, Chenault said. The U.S. lost 62,000 jobs in June, the sixth straight period of shrinking payrolls.
American Express fell $4.55 to $36.40 in trading after the close of regular U.S. markets at 5:58 p.m. The company's results sparked a 0.9 percent decline in Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures contracts expiring in September.
``They're like any other consumer lender right now, caught behind the 8-ball,'' Craig Maurer, analyst at New York-based Calyon Securities who rates the company ``buy,'' said in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``I don't think the environment's going to be helpful to the company over the next nine to 12 months.''
American Express is ``no longer tracking'' to a prior forecast for 4 percent to 6 percent earnings per share growth for this year, he said. The company won't meet longer-term targets until the U.S. economy improves, Chenault said.
Profit in the company's U.S. card business dropped 96 percent to $21 million from $580 million a year earlier as provisions for losses more than doubled to $1.5 billion from $640 million. Uncollectible debt in the unit rose to 5.3 percent of loans from 2.9 percent a year earlier.
``We are seeing very affluent people who have had historically very, very strong spending history with us cutting back,'' Chenault said.
Discontinued operations related to American Express Bank Ltd., which the lender sold last year, resulted in a loss of $2 million, compared with income of $17 million a year ago.
American Express, Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services shares have dropped by more than a third in the past year as consumers have a harder time repaying debt of all kinds.
Moody's Investors Service has a negative outlook on credit- card lenders and said defaults ``will most certainly'' rise this year. Stressed consumers are tapping plastic as access to home- equity loans falls off, New York-based Moody's said in a February report.
American Express's net income declined to $653 million, or 56 cents a share, from $1.06 billion, or 88 cents a year earlier, the New York-based company said.
Consumer prices surged 1.1 percent in June on higher food and fuel prices, more than analysts had expected, the Labor Department said this month. The cost of living rose 5 percent in the year leading to June, the biggest increase since 1991.
Delinquent credit-card accounts rose more than a full percentage point from a year earlier to 3.99 percent in May, according to Bloomberg data.
Rising defaults hurt second-quarter profit at Capital One, where earnings fell 40 percent to $452.9 million. The McLean, Virginia-based company said it expected as much as $7 billion in soured loans in the next year. Discover, based in Riverwoods, Illinois, said last month that profit from continuing operations in the quarter ended May 31 fell 19 percent to $202 million.
Some of American Express's rising loan losses will be cushioned by about $4 billion in settlement payments from Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. American Express said last month it settled an antitrust suit against MasterCard for $1.8 billion. Visa and bank partners settled in November for $2.25 billion.
American Express was ranked first by the total value of purchases and cash advances to U.S. cardholders in the first half of 2007, according to the Carpinteria, California-based Nilson Report, a trade publication. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. are ranked second- and third-largest.
Billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns the largest American Express stake with 151.6 million shares, 13 percent of outstanding stock at year-end, according to Bloomberg data.
The storm was expected to bring high winds and dump 10 to 20 inches of rain in coastal areas near the U.S.-Mexican border. Emergency officials feared major flooding problems and urged coastal residents to prepare.
Shell Oil said it was evacuating workers from oil rigs in the western Gulf Of Mexico, and the federal government was trying to decide whether they could begin construction on a new border fence, which was to be combined with levee improvements along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane watch from Brownsville north to Port O'Connor.
People ask why this happens. I can show you why just from one line from this story about what had happened.
"For reasons unknown, she starting honking incessantly at the driver of the car in front of her in the pickup line. "She is a cop and felt because she has power that she should not have to wait. She does not have to use patience like other citizens. As they feel, they can do what they want. They are the law and answer to no one.
I think it is disgusting. The police no longer protect and serve. If anything they abuse their power. As in the words of NWA, "Fuck the Police!".
Officer Accused of Threats Suspended
Police Superintendent Warren Riley on Thursday suspended officer Ashley Terry, who allegedly brandished a gun and screamed expletives at a woman in front of dozens of children Tuesday at the Treme Community Center.
NOPD internal affairs investigators flocked to the Treme Center to interview witnesses Thursday morning, responding to a news report publishing witness accounts. The investigation found cause to believe that Terry "may have pulled her weapon" without cause, said Riley, who suspended the officer without pay.
Riley indicated that the conduct of officers who responded to a 911 call about the incident would also come under scrutiny.
"If the officer or officers who responded failed to write a report or take appropriate action, we will take action," Riley said.
Witnesses said the responding officer, whom Police Department spokesman Bob Young described Thursday as a "ranking 1st District officer," did little more than speak privately with Terry -- and then joke loudly about how she should've shot a man who challenged her during the incident.
Witnesses said the man only tried to defuse the dangerous situation, asking her to put the gun away because children were present. The ranking officer and one or two others who responded to the same call then filed the 911 complaint as "unfounded," Young said.
Terry, who has served on the police force 15 months, came to the center Tuesday afternoon to pick up a 7-year-old nephew from the Tamborine and Fan summer camp. For reasons unknown, she starting honking incessantly at the driver of the car in front of her in the pickup line.
When that driver responded, annoyed, the officer then screamed at the woman, "B----, you don't know who you're f---ing with," among other coarse threats, witnesses said. At some point she identified herself as a 7th District police officer, and flaunted her gun in full view of many witnesses, including children, witnesses reported.
Public health officials in Massachusetts are investigating whether a patient in a Cape Cod hospital has the human form of mad cow disease.
Dr. Alfred DeMaria, the state's director of communicable disease control, confirmed Sunday to The Associated Press that tests are being done to see if the patient has Creutzfeldt-Jakob (KROYTS'-felt JAY'-kuhb) disease, and whether it's the variant attributed to mad cow.
There have only been three cases of the human form of mad cow disease reported in the United States in the last several years, and officials say it's extremely unlikely the patient in Cape Cod Hospital has the disease.
Mad cow disease -- medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE -- causes spongy holes in the brain.
Eating meat products contaminated with mad cow disease is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal human malady.
DeMaria says it will take a few more days before the test results are available. He said there are about a half-dozen cases reported every year in Massachusetts and about 300 nationwide.
A spokesman for Cape Cod Hospital confirmed the facility had notified public health officials Thursday of a patient with test results that require reporting. He said hospital officials had been told there was no cause for concern and that the illness was not contagious.
The International Monetary Fund has abdicated into schizophrenia. It has upgraded its 2008 world forecast from 3.7pc to 4.1pc growth, whilst warning of a "chance of a global recession". Plainly, the IMF cannot or will not offer any useful insights.
Its "mean-reversion" model misses the entire point of this crisis, which is that central banks have pushed debt to fatal levels by holding interest too low for a generation, and now the chickens have come home to roost. True "mean-reversion" would imply debt deflation on such a scale that would, if abrupt, threaten democracy.
The risk is that these same central banks will commit a fresh error, this time overreacting to the oil spike. The European Central Bank has raised rates, warning of a 1970s wage-price spiral. Fixated on the rear-view mirror, it is not looking through the windscreen.
The eurozone is falling into recession before the US itself. Its level of credit stress is worse, if measured by Euribor or the iTraxx bond indexes. Core inflation has fallen over the last year from 1.9pc to 1.8pc.
The US may soon tip into a second leg of this crisis as the fiscal package runs out and Americans lose jobs in earnest. US bank credit has contracted for three months. Real US wages fell at almost 10pc (annualised) over May and June. This is a ferocious squeeze for an economy already in the grip of the property and debt crunch.
No doubt the rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - $5.3 trillion pillars of America's mortgage market - stinks of moral hazard. The Treasury is to buy shares: the Fed has opened its window yet wider. Risks have been socialised. Any rewards will go to capitalists.
Alas, no Scandinavian discipline for Wall Street. When Norway's banks fell below critical capital levels in the early 1990s, the Storting authorised seizure. Shareholders were stiffed.
But Nordic purism in the vast universe of US credit would court fate. The Californian lender IndyMac was indeed seized after depositors panicked on the streets of Encino. The police had to restore order. This was America's Northern Rock moment.
IndyMac will deplete a tenth of the $53bn reserve of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC has some 90 "troubled" lenders on watch. IndyMac was not one of them.
The awful reality is that Washington has its back to the wall. Fed chief Ben Bernanke thought the US could always get out of trouble by monetary stimulus "à l'outrance", and letting the dollar slide. He has learned that the world is a more complicated place.
Oil has queered the pitch. So has America's fatal reliance on foreign debt. The Fannie/Freddie rescue, incidentally, has just lifted the US national debt from German 'AAA' levels to Italian 'AA-' levels.
China, Russia, petro-powers and other foreign states own $985bn of US agency debt, besides holdings of US Treasuries. Purchases of Fannie/Freddie debt covered a third of the US current account deficit of $700bn over the last year. Alex Patelis from Merrill Lynch says America faces the risk of a "financing crisis" within months. Foreigners have a veto over US policy.
Japan did not have this problem during its Lost Decade. As the world's supplier of credit, it could let the yen slide. It also had a savings rate of 15pc. Albert Edwards from Société Générale says this has fallen to 3pc today. It has cushioned the slump. Americans are under water before they start.
My view is that a dollar crash will be averted as it becomes clearer that contagion has spread worldwide. But we are now at the point of maximum danger. Britain, Japan, and the Antipodes are stalling. Denmark is in recession. Germany contracted in the second quarter. May industrial output fell 6pc in Holland and 5.5pc in Sweden.
The coalitions in Belgium and Austria have just collapsed. Germany's left-right team is fraying. One German banker told me that the doctrines of "left Nazism" (Otto Strasser's group, purged by Hitler) had captured the rising Die Linke party. The Social Democrats are picking up its themes to protect their flank.
This is the healthy part of Europe. Further south, we are not far away from civic protest. BNP Paribas has just issued a hurricane alert for Spain.
Finance minister Pedro Solbes said Spain is facing the "most complex" economic crisis in its history. Actually, it is very simple. The country was lulled into a trap by giveaway interest rates of 2pc under EMU, leading to a current account deficit of 10pc of GDP.
A manic property bubble was funded by foreigners buying covered bonds and securities. This market has dried up. Monetary policy is now being tightened into the crunch by the ECB, hence the bankruptcy last week of Martinsa-Fadesa (€5.1bn). With Franco-era labour markets (70pc of wages are inflation-linked), the adjustment will occur through closure of the job marts.
China, India, East Europe and emerging Asia have all stolen growth from the future by condoning credit excess. To varying degrees, they are now being forced to pay back their own "inter-temporal overdrafts".
If we are lucky, America will start to stabilise before Asia goes down. Should our leaders mismanage affairs, almost every part of the global system will go down together. Then we are in trouble.
Eugene Williams is the mayor of Lynwood. He says young men walk around town half-dressed, keeping major retailers and economic development away. He calls the new law a hot topic.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the ordinance targets young men of color.
Young adults in the village, like 21-year-old Joe Klomes, say the new law infringes on their personal style. He says leaders should instead spend money on making the area look nicer.
It was the weakness of the west even though it was the west who defeated Germany and Japan? It was because of America, the war came to an end, and it was our fault the Jews lost 1/2 of it's people?
As an American, I am offended. The Allies lost close to 61 Million people of many different races and from many different countries. Everyone suffered.....
Should America let Isreal nuke it's enemies and start a worldwide nuclear holocaust?
How do we end up with such arrogant morons in most public seats?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
"The Dark Knight" took in a record $155.34 million in its first weekend, topping the previous best of $151.1 million for "Spider-Man 3" in May 2007 and pacing Hollywood to its biggest weekend ever, according to studio estimates Sunday.
"We knew it would be big, but we never expected to dominate the marketplace like we did," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released "The Dark Knight." The movie should shoot past the $200 million mark by the end of the week, he said.
Hollywood set an overall revenue record of $253 million for a three-day weekend, beating the $218.4 million haul over the weekend of July 7, 2006, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Two, I have black friends and they do not get mad when I use the word as pop culture does on MTV and BET. If you never wanted white people to use the word, then why would you use it in all your music and entertainment? Grow up, it is just fuckin' a word for Gods sake. If I say it, it is not as an insult. I am using it exactly how it is used in pop culture.
Three, black people need to stop being hypocrites. You cannot tell someone something is wrong then do it yourself. Jesse Jackson who wanted people to stop using the word gets caught on camera using the word about another black man. So who's the real racists here? Grow up!
People need to thank God we live in a society where we all have the ability to say what we want.
If this is not a serious sign that our infrastructure is failing...
Everything America has stood against in WWII, we have become. We as Americans should be ashamed.
Although Google's management maintains the company will thrive even if the economy weakens further, the results released Thursday caused Google shares to plunge more than 7 percent.
Investors were largely reacting to indications that Google is fretting about the economic climate for the first time since it went public nearly four years ago.
The red flags included a dramatic slowdown in the company's hiring pace and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's description of the economy as "challenging." Google's chief economist, Hal Varian, even participated in the company's conference call for the first time to discuss business conditions.
"That was a tipoff," said Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Derek Brown. "Economic sluggishness has entered the discussion at Google, more so than we have ever heard."
The decision is another major setback in scientific efforts to develop an HIV vaccine, which health officials contend would be their best weapon to control the AIDS pandemic. A number of other vaccines are in various stages of testing among people in many countries.
But after more than a quarter of a century of trying make an effective HIV vaccine, scientists say that the prospect of marketing the first such prevention is years off, if one is ever developed.
After a meeting sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases last March, many AIDS experts said that researchers must go back to the drawing boards before they could develop an effective HIV vaccine.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The two brief sequences show the Moon passing in front of the Earth as it orbits.
"Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, who leads the project using NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft.
"Our video shows some specific features that are important for observations of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars," added Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
"A 'sun glint' can be seen in the movie, caused by light reflected from Earth's oceans, and similar glints to be observed from extrasolar planets could indicate alien oceans," Deming added.
"Also, we used infrared light instead of the normal red light to make the color composite images, and that makes the land masses much more visible."
The video and other images are available at www.nasa.gov
"To image Earth in a similar fashion, an alien civilization would need technology far beyond what Earthlings can even dream of building," added Sara Seager, a planetary theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
For Americans, however, the ICC indictment should offer a moment of sombre reflection not merely for our relative inaction with regard to years of mass murder in Sudan.
It is equally disturbing that much of the al-Bashir indictment could just as easily be applied to George Bush, the US president.
Here is part of what the indictment says:
"Bashir was directly responsible [for the activities of the militias]. He is the president. He is the commander-in-chief. Those are not just formal words. He used the whole state apparatus. He used the army; he enrolled the militia/Janjaweed. They all report to him. They all obey him. His control is absolute."
In such context, Bush is also directly responsible for the horrific disaster in Iraq.
Bush's imperial presidency, with its "Unitary Executive" and arrogation of the right to declare war from the constitutionally-appointed Congress, has similarly "used the whole state apparatus" to wage the Iraq war. He "enrolled" our soldiers and his military commanders who "all report to him".
For Bush, like al-Bashir, "they all obey him. His control is absolute".
Although Louisiana does not figure to be a battleground state in the presidential election, its closely contested Senate race will be in the crosshairs of both parties and of various outside political groups that will weigh in with their own media ads this fall.
That U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of New Orleans is considered to be the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent and the Republicans' best - some say only - target to turn a Senate seat shows how dire prospects are for the GOP this year.
While polls and her electoral history suggest that Landrieu is beatable, she shows more strength than one normally attributes to the vulnerable. In a recent Southern Media poll, 61 percent of respondents had a "favorable impression" of Landrieu, and she led state Treasurer John Kennedy, 46 percent to 40 percent, in a trial heat. (The other Republican candidate, unknown Jacques Boudreaux, will be barely a speed bump for the party-endorsed Kennedy in the Sept. 6 closed primary.)
Yet Kennedy's favorable rating matches Landrieu's, while his unfavorable rating is only 10 percent to her 34 percent. Fewer voters know him compared to the senator, so he has room to grow.
Geographically, the state is cleanly split between the two in the poll. Landrieu dominates in the New Orleans metro area and leads comfortably in Baton Rouge metro and the bayou and river regions. Kennedy is clearly ahead in North Louisiana and Acadiana-Southwest.
In other numbers that count, the senator holds a 2-1 lead over the challenger in their campaign bank accounts.
Still, the key numbers of the survey are that four months before the election, both candidates are in the 40s. That puts the incumbent in a danger zone and the challenger within striking distance.
As has been pointed out, the two are pursuing campaign themes the opposite of their national counterparts. Kennedy trumpets Barack Obama's message of fundamental change, while Landrieu, like John McCain, stresses her experience and effectiveness.
The irony of the change candidate is not lost of those who remember Kennedy in his 2004 Senate campaign as a populist Democrat, who criticized eventual winner David Vitter as a lackey of the Bush administration.
Yet, the challenger has a strong political partner where it matters most, at the top of the November ballot.
With polls spotting McCain a double-digit lead in Louisiana, Kennedy is wisely trying to nationalize the Senate election. He has criticized Landrieu's endorsement of Obama, whom he says embodies the liberalism of old Europe (although that's not the continent many white voters have in mind regarding the Democrat).
The genes were isolated by comparing the genetic profiles of people in their first year of HIV infection with those who managed to resist infection despite repeated exposure to the virus.
The "good" versions of the two genes were present in 12.2 percent of those who resisted infection compared with only 2.7 of patients in primary HIV infection.
Researchers are not yet sure how this protection works.
One of the genes codes for a receptor on the surface of the immune system's natural killer cells which destroy infected cells in the body.
The other codes for a protein which binds the first gene and dampens the natural killer cell activity.
The most likely explanation is that HIV prevents the protein that dampens the killer cell activity from being expressed, allowing the killer cells to destroy cells infected with HIV.
Since this can happen very soon after the initial infection, people carrying those genes may be able to more efficiently destroy infected cells and lower their chances of developing AIDS.
"More research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind the protection we have observed, but these findings have revealed a promising avenue," said co-author Nicole Bernard of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.
"In the future, our findings could be used to somehow 'boost' the innate immune system and thus fight the virus as soon as it enters the body."
The study was published Wednesday in the journal AIDS.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Pitt researchers tracked 214 boys beginning at ages 10-12, all of whom eventually used either legal or illegal drugs. When the boys reached age 22, they were categorized into three groups: those who used only alcohol or tobacco, those who started with alcohol and tobacco and then used marijuana (gateway sequence) and those who used marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco (reverse sequence).
Nearly a quarter of the study population who used both legal and illegal drugs at some point – 28 boys – exhibited the reverse pattern of using marijuana prior to alcohol or tobacco, and those individuals were no more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who followed the traditional succession of alcohol and tobacco before illegal drugs, according to the study, which appears in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
“The gateway progression may be the most common pattern, but it’s certainly not the only order of drug use,” said Ralph E. Tarter, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and lead author of the study. “In fact, the reverse pattern is just as accurate for predicting who might be at risk for developing a drug dependence disorder.”
In addition to determining whether the gateway hypothesis was a better predictor of substance abuse than competing theories, the investigators sought to identify characteristics that distinguished users in the gateway sequence from those who took the reverse path. Out of the 35 variables they examined, only three emerged to be differentiating factors: Reverse pattern users were more likely to have lived in poor physical neighborhood environments, had more exposure to drugs in their neighborhoods and had less parental involvement as young children. Most importantly, a general inclination for deviance from sanctioned behaviors, which can become evident early in childhood, was strongly associated with all illicit drug use, whether it came in the gateway sequence, or the reverse.
While the gateway theory posits that each type of drug is associated with certain specific risk factors that cause the use of subsequent drugs, such as cigarettes or alcohol leading to marijuana, this study’s findings indicate that environmental aspects have stronger influence on which type of substance is used. That is, if it’s easier for a teen to get his hands on marijuana than beer, then he’ll be more likely to smoke pot. This evidence supports what’s known as the common liability model, an emerging theory that states the likelihood that someone will transition to the use of illegal drugs is determined not by the preceding use of a particular drug but instead by the user’s individual tendencies and environmental circumstances.
“The emphasis on the drugs themselves, rather than other, more important factors that shape a person’s behavior, has been detrimental to drug policy and prevention programs,” Dr. Tarter said. “To become more effective in our efforts to fight drug abuse, we should devote more attention to interventions that address these issues, particularly to parenting skills that shape the child’s behavior as well as peer and neighborhood environments.”
Indeed, according to the study, interventions focusing on behavior modification may be more effective prevention tactics than current anti-drug initiatives. For example, providing guidance to parents – particularly those in high-risk neighborhoods – on how to boost their caregiving skills and foster bonding with their children, could have a measurable effect on a child’s likelihood to smoke marijuana. Also, early identification of children who exhibit antisocial tendencies could allow for interventions before drug use even begins.
Although this research has significant implications for drug abuse prevention approaches, Dr. Tarter notes that the study has some limitations. First, as only male behaviors were studied, further investigation should explore if the results apply to women as well. Also, the examination of behaviors in phases beyond alcohol and marijuana consumption in the gateway series will be necessary.
From University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
The dead zone, which recurs each year off the Texas and Louisiana coasts, could stretch to more than 8,800 square miles this year -- about the size of New Jersey -- compared with 6,662 square miles in 2006 and nearly double the annual average since 1990 of 4,800 square miles.
For fishermen who look to the Gulf of Mexico for crabs, shrimp, crawfish and other seafood, the growing dead zone means they must venture farther out into the gulf's waters to find their catch.
The record dead zone is due to soaring use of ethanol in U.S. motor gasoline supplies and by massive flooding in the Midwest earlier this year, scientists said.
It's a fantasy, an escape for some attempting to close off the outside world. However, for the women inside who are barely clothed and strapped into high heels, exotic dancing can be a way to survive. "All of my bills were getting to be too much, especially when gas started going up," says one woman, who'll be referred to as Amber throughout the report to protect her identity.
With the average price of gasoline in these parts at an all-time high of $4.00 per gallon, and food costs rising, some women are entering the world of adult entertainment. This world of quick cash is nothing new to Amber. She stripped for three years in local clubs, but took a break after finding out she was pregnant. She then got back into the profession shortly after gas prices started rising and feeding her child got difficult. "Honestly, there are some days where I just don't eat because I can't afford to go buy food. Especially when it comes to diapers or milk, oh my God."
Amber says she's heard stories of men attempting to rape dancers in the VIP room of some clubs and women being drugged. She admits that climbing the stripper poles can be rough, but in these trying times, some women feel that for them, exotic dancing is the way to go. "It's harder. Someone looking up to you. But you know you're doing it for a better cause."
Amber says she is currently in school. She says she knows quite a few women who have recently turned to exotic dancing in order to either pay their bills, get through school, or take care of their children.
It is just another way to control people. Especially women. How dare a woman want to make a decision about her body! For God sake, we could never have that!
And these poor Johns. All they want is a little action because they can't find a willing friend. So we penalize guys for not having more girlfriends who are sluts?
If you are a Governor or Senator or even a Prosecutor in a major city, you can be involved with prostitution ring and never see a day in jail. They say that is between that person and his wife and it is a private matter. But if you just a regular Joe who can't pay 4 grand for one night with a prostitute like Spitzer, then you end up in jail.
Here is your tax dollars at work....arresting old people for prostitution, arresting homeless people for not having a home and what ever new crimes they can come up with to just keep people down.
BRADENTON - A 94-year-old man whose arrest in a prostitution sting here caused an international buzz will not be prosecuted. A judge ruled Tuesday that Frank Milio was a victim of entrapment.
Milio, who has dementia, was unable to get into a care facility while his case was pending.
The undercover Manatee County Sheriff's Office detective on the street corner that afternoon in November took 30 steps to go chat with Milio, who authorities say had honked his car horn at the woman to get her attention.
Milio, who turned 94 this month, stopped his car in a parking lot about 60 feet away from the woman, who was standing in an area where authorities regularly set up stings to nab johns. Milio did not flash his lights or say anything to lure the woman over. The woman opened his passenger side door and leaned inside. "Do you want to party tonight?" the woman asked Milio, who replied that he wanted to think about it for another 15 to 20 minutes. The officer asked about money. She asked whether Milio wanted sex. Milio replied: "Huh?" Milio eventually offered to pay for oral sex.
Manatee County Judge George K. Brown Jr. weighed in Tuesday, tossing the misdemeanor case, in a six-page order that questions the extent to which the detective controlled the nature and direction of the sexual conversation.
"This particular 93-year-old man was encouraged and/or enticed to proceed with the police officer's direction of conversation," Brown wrote.
The judge's order, however, says the sequence of actions and conversation by the undercover officer "carried with it a substantial risk" that Milio would commit a crime.
After Milio's arrest, prosecutors declined to file a charge against another elderly Bradenton man accused in a solicitation sting in Bradenton -- his second charge in 20 years.
That 93-year-old man promised to return several hours later with $30 to seal the deal. A prosecutor said the state was unable to prove the man intended to return.
The pending charge against Milio blocked him from getting into an assisted living facility, Grieco said. That now may change.
When I heard of these Stimulus Checks, I was excited. I could use 300 extra dollars. I qualified and filed my 2007 taxes. Soon there after I received a letter from the federal government telling me I will be getting a check.
Well imagine my surprise after I waited and waited with no stimulus check arriving. I have heard others have gotten theirs.
So I did some research and found a page on the IRS site that tells you where your check is. Seems that I have been screwed because I tried to help my mother out this year on her taxes.
I did not work in 2007. I only made music. This was my income. So this year I let my mother claim me as a dependent to help her out financially. I was not getting anything back this year like most years.
Well this disqualified me from the stimulus rebate check!
If this is meant to help the economy and you are not sending it to the poorest people in the country who actually need it, then who is this money helping?
I think it is pure bullshit what I see any more from this Government and this has topped the cake. I had plans for that money to buy more product (CD's) to sell of my music. So they basically stopped me from building my business up more during a time when every one has tight funds. Exactly opposite of what those checks were meant to do. I wonder how many other Americans are being screwed. Then I wonder how many who didn't need it, received it. Sickening......
Fuck the Federal Government............
But once in the water, trying to swim a few lengths was suddenly out of the question.
In fact, there was treading room only when thousands of swimmers crowded into a pool in Penglai in Sichuan, western China.
Families are gradually returning to the area after May's devastating earthquake-In one of the world's most populous countries, the fact there was no elbow room in the pool was not going to stop the fun.
But despite their collection of colourful rubber rings, the swimmers couldn't float about for too long.
The resort has become popular with China's rising middle class who take day-trips to the scenic spot.
Government officials say the increase in tourists is due to it now being safe to return to the Sichuan area after the devastating earthquake in May.
Official figures say around 70,000 people died in the natural disaster, which left 4.8 million people homeless. It is the biggest natural disaster to hit China since 1976.