Thursday, December 09, 2010

Imagine each bite, and maybe you'll eat less

Thinking about food in great detail may trigger habituation – a decreasing response to a stimulus – researchers find.

A fleeting thought about a handful of M&Ms might be enough to derail your diet. But imagining yourself eating the candy-covered chocolates in painstaking detail could make you want them less.

Obsessing about a particular food in a particular way appeared to dampen its appeal in an unusual study that demonstrates that merely thinking about a food — without actually seeing, touching, smelling or tasting it — can help sate hunger through a process called habituation.

In an experiment described in Friday's edition of the journal Science, researchers asked volunteers to devote about a minute and a half to methodically imagining chewing and swallowing 30 M&Ms, one after another. Then, when presented with a bowl of M&Ms, those volunteers ate about half as many candies as volunteers who imagined eating only three M&Ms, or none at all.

The finding challenges the conventional wisdom that thinking about a food makes you eat more of it, said study leader Carey Morewedge, a professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

"Thought suppression tends to sensitize people to craving," he said. "A better way to deal with cravings might be to imagine indulging them."

Morewedge said he believes imaginary eating works because it triggers habituation, the psychological phenomenon that explains why we are able to get used to things that initially seem annoying — the roar of an airplane engine, for instance, or dim light in a restaurant. It occurs when extended exposure to a stimulus decreases an organism's response to it, and many experts think it helps regulate eating.

Until now it was believed that direct sensory input was necessary for habituation to kick in. But if it can be triggered through thought alone, there could be many ramifications for dieters.

For starters, "avoid buffets," said Frances McSweeney, a professor of psychology at Washington State University who studies habituation and eating but wasn't involved in the study. "If you want to eat less, don't have a variety of foods available" because that makes it harder to habituate to any one of them.

The finding also suggests that people should also eat in a quiet place — not in front of the TV or at a sidewalk cafe — because outside stimuli can also disrupt habituation, she said.

"This helps to give us more insight into how we might be able to use the mind to manage our appetites," said Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and lecturer at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Morewedge and his team conducted five experiments. In the first, subjects were instructed to imagine performing 33 repetitive actions — either inserting quarters into a laundry machine or eating M&Ms, which involve similar motions.

Using computer images of quarters and M&Ms to guide them through the exercise, one group visualized inserting quarters 33 times. Another group imagined inserting quarters 30 times and eating M&Ms three times. A third group imagined inserting quarters three times and eating M&Ms 30 times.

Then all participants were offered a bowl of M&Ms and invited to eat as many as they wanted. Those who spent the most time imagining eating M&Ms ate 47% less, on average, than subjects who imagined eating three M&Ms, and 46% less, on average, than those who didn't imagine eating any M&Ms.

Subsequent experiments tested whether imagining moving M&Ms had the same effect as imagining eating them (it didn't) and whether imagining eating M&Ms might suppress consumption of a different food, cheddar cheese cubes (again, it didn't — though imagining eating cheese did).

Throughout the experiment, Morewedge said, the team directed test subjects to keep their minds focused on the repetitive aspects of eating. Without such instruction, he said, habituation would be unlikely. "When you just tell people to imagine a steak," he said, "a flood of stimuli come through."

Of course, the rigors of this type of exercise might make it difficult for everyday dieters.

"It is a very tedious thing to put into practice," Johnson said, especially because habituation is food-specific. "How do we apply the practice to overeating in general?"

Would a Dem really challenge Obama? ( I dislike extreme CONs & LIBs! Neither lives in the real world of real problems which require COMPLEX solutions and thought.

Some angry liberals may want to see President Barack Obama face a primary from his left in 2012, but they have no answer to a basic question: Who?

Two of the Democratic Party's most well-known progressives — Howard Dean and Russ Feingold — have both indicated that they won't take on Obama, and there are few others who have the stature and willingness to mount a credible campaign against the president. Top leaders of the institutional left say they don't want a 2012 intra-party civil war. And as disillusioned as some in Obama's base may be in the wake of his tax deal- making with Republicans — and the frustration does seem to be at a high watermark — an array of Democrats said it is unlikely the president would face a challenge from within his own party.

"At moments of frustration or in an attempt to leverage a policy agenda, it is becoming a regular attention grabber to raise the specter of a primary challenge," said former Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern. "In the case of President Obama, it deserves to be idle chatter." (See: For White House, upside in fight with Hill Democrats)

Stern, now a fellow at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, added that, "[Obama's] record, the lack of any viable alternative, and those who appropriately desire a more inclusive process make a primary challenge a bad idea."

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, a powerful figure in Democratic politics, also dismissed a prospect that has gained some traction in recent days on cable talkfests and in the blogosphere.

"Look, we don't agree on everything, but President Obama has produced for working Americans," McEntee said. "Health care, banking reform, making college more affordable, keeping us out of another Great Depression, protecting vital public services — those are no small achievements. The only people I hear talking about a primary challenge are the Wall Street shills on Fox News."

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who has been an outspoken critic of the White House on health care and more recently the tax debate, was even more to the point (See: Liberal Dems to Obama: Fight harder).

"No primary," Weiner wrote in an e-mail.

Jim Dean, Howard Dean's brother and the head of the liberal Democracy for America, said a primary "would be a stretch."

"The reality is I don't see people stepping up to the plate," Dean said. "It would be a very, very tough slog for anybody" (See: In 2012, could Dean beat Obama?).

That's in large part because Obama enjoys overwhelming and unwavering support among African-Americans, a pillar of the Democratic coalition.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month found that 90 percent of blacks approved of Obama's performance while just 6 percent said they disapproved.

"You just start out with the fact of the matter that in a Democratic primary the African-American vote is enormous, and so unless you could somehow split that one group away from him — which I doubt anybody can do — you can't possibly even put a dent in his candidacy," said longtime Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, Dean's top strategist in 2004 and a leader in the insurgent wing of the party.

But it's not just African-Americans. As NBC's Domenico Montanaro noted, the same survey showed that the president also continues to enjoy solid approval numbers among Hispanics, young voters, those with post-graduate degrees and self-described liberals (See: Anger of House Democrats boils over).

Among liberal activists, though, there is very real fury at Obama following what they see as his caving to the right and agreeing to extend the income tax rates put in place by President George W. Bush. It may not be scientific, but the online poll on the popular netroots website Crooks and Liars offers an indication of the anger. Seventy-three percent — more than 7,000 people — said there should be a primary challenge against the president.

"Two weeks ago, I would've said no way Barack Obama would face a primary, but now I'm not so sure," said Darcy Burner, president of the Progressive Congressional Act Fund and former congressional candidate from Seattle.

The sense among these progressives is that Obama isn't willing to fight for basic Democratic priorities (See: President Obama takes on deal’s Democratic critics).

"This is not the guy you want negotiating for you right now when you're buying a house," Jim Dean cracked.

But even the president's most robust critics don't know who exactly could take him on.

"The chances of Obama getting a primary challenge just went up exponentially after his tax-cut deal," said Ed Fallon, a liberal activist and former member of the Iowa House who now hosts a radio show in Des Moines. But pressed on who could mount such a campaign and be competitive in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, Fallon replied: "I don't know — that's a really good question" (See: Barack Obama's tax plan could squeak by with GOP help).

The lack of options has prompted some liberals to reach far into their imaginations for possible candidates.

In a Washington Post op-ed last weekend, for example, Tikkun editor Michael Lerner offered such names as 81-year-old Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), just-defeated first-term Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) along with LBJ-aide-turned-PBS-commentator Bill Moyers and actress Susan Sarandon.

There doesn't appear to be a serious candidate on the horizon of the sort who could attract even modest support — let alone the sort of backing necessary to throw a scare into Obama (See: A primary challenge to Obama in The Arena).

Consider the sitting presidents who have faced serious primaries in recent history. President Gerald Ford was challenged in 1976 by Ronald Reagan, a former two-term governor of the country's largest state who was the leader of a new conservative movement. Four years later, President Jimmy Carter fended off Ted Kennedy, a veteran senator and household name who hailed from the first family of Democratic politics. And while he wasn't in Reagan or Kennedy territory, Pat Buchanan was a well-known TV commentator and decades-long figure in GOP politics when he challenged President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Further, it's not yet clear that Obama would have the glaring vulnerabilities of this trio of presidents who were primaried.

As one longtime labor strategist put it of Obama: "He ain't Carter, and there ain't no Kennedy" (See: Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama: Be independent).

"You can't beat something with nothing," continued this labor veteran, who is still working in the movement and didn't want to be named. "And in the case of Obama, you better have a whole lot of something."

What worries some progressives, though, is the impact even a symbolic primary would have on Obama's prospects in the general election. Spending time and money defending his left flank instead of restoring his standing with independents would put the president in a very difficult position.

"It would have to be a complete suicide mission protest candidacy — and the likeliest outcome is that you would elect a Republican president," Trippi said. "Nothing good would come of it."

Robert Borosage, who heads the progressive Campaign for America's Future, said he couldn't imagine a primary challenge against Obama that would beat him.

"But you could imagine a challenge that would be destructive," he said.

But while indicating that he was opposed to the idea of a primary against Obama, Borosage said the president ought not to ignore the chatter.

"I would hope the White House takes the talk not as empty bravado but makes clear where they're prepared to fight. They can't establish credibility by stiff-arming the base."

In New Hampshire, which has rewarded political insurgents over the years in its presidential primary, former Democratic chairwoman Kathy Sullivan acknowledged that she has heard the "grumbling" about Obama among activists.

But she said she was skeptical the president would face a challenge from the left.

"Who?" she asked. "I don't hear an answer to that question."

© 2010 Capitol News Company

Fair & UNbalanced - The F Word Network just keeps on distorting for cash.

Leaked Fox News Memo Reveals News Division Told To Echo GOP Talking Point

This is going to add some fairly serious grist to the mill for the people that think Fox News is essentially the political arm of the GOP.

During the height of the health care debate a Fox News vice president Bill Sammon sent a memo to staff asking them to refer to the 'public option' as the 'government option.' Media Matters, in a welcome departure from the usual nitpicking, obtained the email which directed the new division to:

Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible.”

This memo came shortly after Republican pollster Frank Luntz advised Sean Hannity thusly:

“If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” he explained. “If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.”

This edict was backed up by Michael Clemente, Fox’s senior vice president for news, who responded to Sammon's email: “#3 on your list is the preferred way to say it, write it, use it.” He was referring to the longer version: “The public option, which is the government-run plan.”

Howie Kurtz spoke with Sammon who defended the directive:

Sammon said in an interview that the term "public option" “is a vague, bland, undescriptive phrase,” and that after all, “who would be against a public park?” The phrase "government-run plan," he said, is “a more neutral term,” and was used just last week by a New York Times columnist.

“I have no idea what the Republicans were pushing or not. It’s simply an accurate, fair, objective term.”

Other news organizations periodically described the plan as government-run or used the terms interchangeably, but not as part of any edict. While news executives routinely offer guidance about proper wording in news stories, the semantics in this case were clearly favored by the Republicans.

According to Kurtz, Sammon has been a cause for concern for some at the network and he notes predeccesor Brit Hume "generally stressed balance in news coverage and would not likely have issued such a directive."

If the recent trend of leaking documents is any measure this may just be the beginning.

Is Netflix the 'Antichrist'?

On the same day Netflix announced a deal to stream television episodes from ABC, TV executives gathered in New York to bemoan the advantages of their entertainment competition.

"I know certain CEOs think of Netflix as the antichrist, and others embrace it as the second coming," said Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS.

Shares of Netflix stock have tripled this year as more and more viewers are paying for its service to stream TV and movies across the Web. But Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes said that the fees the company is paying aren't high enough to afford premium content from providers.
At the moment, Bewkes said, Netflix is paying $50,000 to $100,000 to purchase rights to stream current television shows, while traditional channels shell out "millions of dollars" per episode.

Financial Times

The Internet should be free but wackos like the WikiLeaks are fortelling of GOVERNMENT which no one wants!Their leader had unsafe sex LETS MAN UP!

WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive

Over the past several days, the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks has been hit with a series of blows that have seemed to threaten its survival. Its primary Web address was deactivated, its PayPal account was frozen, and its Internet server gave it the boot.

The result: WikiLeaks is now stronger than ever, at least as measured by its ability to publish online.

Blocked from using one Internet host, WikiLeaks simply jumped to another. Meanwhile, the number of "mirror" Web sites - effectively clones of WikiLeaks' main contents pages - grew from a few dozen last week to 200 by Sunday. By early Wednesday, the number of such sites surpassed 1,000.

At the same time, WikiLeaks' supporters have apparently gone on the offensive, staging retaliatory attacks against Internet companies that have cut ties to the group amid fears they could be associated with it. On Wednesday, hackers briefly shut down access to the Web sites for MasterCard and Visa, both of which had announced they had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks' long-term survival depends on a number of unknowns, including the fate of its principal founder, Julian Assange, who is being held in Britain while awaiting possible extradition to Sweden related to sexual-assault allegations. But the Web site's resilience in the face of repeated setbacks has underscored a lesson already absorbed by more repressive governments that have tried to control the Internet: It is nearly impossible to do.

Experts, including some of the modern online world's chief architects, say the very design of the Web makes it difficult for WikiLeaks' opponents to shut it down for more than a few hours.

"The Internet is an extremely open system with very low barriers to access and use," said Vint Cerf, Google's vice president and the co-author of the TCP/IP system, the basic language of computer-to-computer communication over the Internet. "The ease of moving digital information around makes it very difficult to suppress once it is accessible."

Thus, despite the global uproar over the release of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, Assange's Web site remained defiantly intact Wednesday. Over the past week it has continued to publish a steady stream of leaked State Department documents with little visible evidence of injury from repeated, anonymous cyber-attacks or the multiple attempts to cut off its access to funding and Web resources.

By contrast, companies that have pulled the plug on WikiLeaks have suffered publicly, with cyber-attacks rendering their Web sites inaccessible or slow for hours at a time.

While a group of "hacktivists" targeted MasterCard and Visa - part of "Operation Payback," they called it - anonymous assailants have also in recent days attacked PayPal, which severed relations with WikiLeaks citing violations of its terms of service.

Web sites for Swedish prosecutors and a Swedish lawyer have also been hit, as has the banking arm of the Swiss postal service, which said it had frozen Assange's account, and even the Web site of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

WikiLeaks' seeming invulnerability is seen by experts as a demonstration of the power of new Web-based media to take on not only governments but also the traditional news media.

The group prides itself as an organization without a country - it has supporters worldwide but no central headquarters that would make it vulnerable to legal and political pressure. The organization's Internet infrastructure is spread over several continents, making it harder for outsiders to knock the site offline.

For those reasons, experts say, WikiLeaks remained relatively unscathed last week when the site's main domain name - - was deactivated by its New Hampshire-based domain-name manager. Within days, WikiLeaks had signed up with more than a dozen other firms scattered across Europe, Canada and Asia.

WikiLeaks also simultaneously posted an appeal to its supporters, asking them to voluntarily host "mirror" sites. Hundreds of individual Web servers signed up, from countries around the world.

Similarly, WikiLeaks found new avenues for processing donations after PayPal and MasterCard announced they would no longer service payments for the group. The effect on the organization's financial health is not yet clear.

Inevitably, efforts to restrict sites such as WikiLeaks through financial and regulatory pressures will fall short, for the same reasons that government regulators have been unable to shut down purveyors of Internet spam, or various Web-based criminal enterprises, said Paul Vixie, president of Internet Systems Consortium, a nonprofit Internet infrastructure company in Redwood City, Calif.

"Something that's illegal in some countries but not others is very hard to keep off the Net, even though there's been some success in keeping it out of the countries where it's illegal," Vixie said. "If WikiLeaks is willing to spend as much money as e-criminals . . . they could probably remain online indefinitely."

The pressure on WikiLeaks is not insignificant. Amazon, the online retailer, canceled its Web hosting services with WikiLeaks after receiving a call of concern from the staff of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.). At a technical conference Wednesday in Paris, a PayPal executive said the company's decision to freeze WikiLeaks' account was based in part on the State Department's declaration that the group had acted illegally in publishing classified documents.

The isolation of WikiLeaks has prompted cries of censorship and government interference.

"I can use my credit card to send money to the Ku Klux Klan, to antiabortion fanatics, or to anti-homosexual bigots, but I can't use it to send money to WikiLeaks," said Jeff Jarvis, a new-media critic and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. "The New York Times published the same documents. Should we tell Visa and MasterCard to stop payments to the Times?"

It is ironic, Jarvis said, that the U.S. protests against Assange's campaign of leaks come weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Chinese efforts to restrict freedom of the Internet. While Western governments are used to seeing secrets leaked through traditional media, they are struggling to adjust to a new era in which raw data can be easily and rapidly disseminated around the world.

"There is an information war, and it's about control," he said. "The choice is to either live in a transparent world or shut down the Internet."

Joby Warrick and Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post

Nader saved millions of lives with his expose on unsafe cars. BUT NOW IT's TIME TO GO AWAY Ralphie! YOU ALREADY COST GORE THE PRESIDENCY and gave USA GWB. You should be ashamed!

Ralph Nader: Obama is a "Con Man"

Ralph Nader, liberal activist and two-time third-party presidential candidate, lambasted President Obama in a Wednesday interview, and called for a liberal alternative to challenge in him in the 2012 presidential campaign.

"He has no fixed principles," Nader said, of Mr. Obama. "He's opportunistic -- he goes for expedience, like Clinton. Some call him temperamentally conflict-averse. If you want to be harsher, you say he has no principles and he's opportunistic."

"He's a con man," Nader continued. "I have no use for him."

Nader urged a progressive candidate to challenge Mr. Obama for the presidency in 2012, and said that while he wasn't altogether disallowing the possibility of running himself, it was time for a new progressive leader to step forward.

"Obama's position has been that the liberal, progressive wing has nowhere to go, therefore they can't turn their back on the administration. But a challenge will hold his feet to the fire and signal that we do have somewhere to go," Nader said.

"I'm not foreclosing the possibility [of running]... There are just other things to do," he continued. "And it's time for someone else to continue. I've done it so many times. When I go around the country, I'm telling people they need to find somebody."

In a Tuesday letter to Mr. Obama, Nader expressed his discontent with the president's decision to compromise with Republicans on tax cuts for America's highest earners - an issue that has inspired a firestorm of criticism from many liberals.

"It has become a widely-noticed habit of yours [Obama's] to concede or to adopt both the Republican terms of policymaking and Republican policies and programs," Nader wrote. "For many of your 2008 voters, this [deal] will indeed be the last straw for any active support they might have considered providing you ... [and] will signal even greater capitulations to the Republicans during the next two years," the letter continued.

The 76-year-old Green Party leader - who has long been an advocate of issues including consumer protection, environmentalism, and humanitarianism - called the tax cut deal "the last straw."

"There will be a primary," he said. "Just a question of how prominent a person [challenges the president]."

WILL THE WEIRDOS NEVER STOP - These folks are giving Christ a bad name!

Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Elizabeth Edwards Funeral

Protesters from Rev. Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church demonstrate during funeral services for Dr. George Tiller Saturday, June 6, 2009, at College Hill United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan.
Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based church with a history of holding controversial and politically inflammatory protests, announced on Thursday that its members plan to protest Elizabeth Edwards' funeral in Raleigh, N.C. this weekend.

The anti-gay fundamentalist group, which is led by Rev. Fred Phelps, is most known for its protests at the funerals of military servicemen - though it has also picketed such events as theater productions and high school graduations.

In a statement released on the church's website -- the URL of which,, gives a pretty good sense of the group -- Westboro accused Edwards of "spewing blasphemy" and mounting a "smash-mouthed assault on His deity."

"Elizabeth Edwards & her faithless husband, John, lightly esteemed what they had. They coveted things that were not theirs - and presumptuously thought they could control God," the statement reads in part.

Edwards, an advocate of gay rights and same-sex marriage, died on Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer.

According to the Washington Post, the Edenton Street United Methodist Church - which is hosting the services - said it was aware of the church's plan to protest but had not yet decided how to respond.

Obama Weighs Tax Overhaul in Bid to Address Debt NY TIMES JACKIE CALMES

WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering whether to push early next year for an overhaul of the income tax code to lower rates and raise revenues in what would be his first major effort to begin addressing the long-term growth of the national debt.

While administration officials cautioned on Thursday that no decisions have been made and that any debate in Congress could take years, Mr. Obama has directed his economic team and Treasury Department analysts to review options for closing loopholes and simplifying income taxes for corporations and individuals, though the study of the corporate tax system is farther along, officials said.

The objective is to rid the code of its complex buildup of deductions, credits and exemptions, thereby broadening the base of taxes collected and allowing for lower rates — much like a bipartisan majority on Mr. Obama’s debt-reduction commission recommended last week in its final blueprint for reducing the debt through 2020.

Doing so would offer not only an opportunity to begin confronting the growth in the national debt but also a way to address warnings by American business that corporate tax rates and the costs of complying with the tax code are cutting into their global competitiveness.

Mr. Obama signaled his inclination in off-the-cuff remarks on Wednesday as he was defending the tax cuts deal negotiated with Congressional Republicans this week. “We’ve got to have tax reform,” he said.

Economic and political advisers say the process is in its early stages, and Mr. Obama ultimately could decide against such action, given the pitfalls, both political and substantive. In the past, any effort to alter the tax code has provoked powerful opposition among interest groups, and the picking of winners and losers.

Yet proponents within the administration and among some outside advisers say that Mr. Obama, by putting tax reform atop the national agenda, could seize an opportunity to take the offensive in dealing with the newly empowered Republicans in Congress, repair his strained relations with business and embrace a potentially powerful theme heading into his re-election campaign.

Democrats have long struggled to define battles over taxes on their terms. The revolt by many members of the president’s party in Congress over his deal with Republicans, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the rest of his term and create his own tax cuts for lower-income people and for businesses, has underscored anew the deep ideological divisions in Washington on the subject. Should that deal be enacted, it could add to pressure for simplifying the tax system because its mix of breaks for taxpayers of all incomes would further complicate the tax code, at least for the next year or two.

Administration officials and lawmakers in both parties also took note last week of the bipartisan show of support within the fiscal commission for changes of the type being considered by Mr. Obama. That suggested a potential break in the long-solid Republican wall of opposition to anything that smacked of a tax increase.

Rather than increase individual and corporate tax rates to raise more revenues, a majority of the panel proposed eliminating or reducing many of the popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals that cost $1 trillion annually and using the additional revenues to lower rates and reduce deficits. The majority included five Republicans, among them two of the Senate’s most conservative members, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Michael D. Crapo of Idaho.

According to commission officials, the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, expressed interest in the panel’s approach. With tax breaks ended or restricted in return for lower rates, businesses and individual taxpayers would know that for each credit or deduction they wanted put back into the code, their marginal tax rates would go up by an amount sufficient to make up the revenues that would be lost.

Some Democrats argue that the White House should take the lead, before Republicans do. Even as administration officials deliberate over their course, a growing number of conservative economists and strategists are urging Congressional Republicans to quit fighting the decade-old fight over the Bush tax rates and take up the reform mantle.

“Declare Bush tax cuts, like the Bush administration itself, over,” Kevin A. Hassett, the director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization, wrote recently in a Bloomberg News column.

“The fact is,” he added, “if we extend the Bush tax cuts, it locks in the status quo. Earth to Washington: The status quo stinks. With the economy still limping forward, much more significant fiscal-policy medicine is in order.”

Mr. Obama, in his brief remarks on Wednesday during a meeting with the president of Poland, suggested that Republicans would still be defending the Bush tax rates for the next two years while he is looking forward to a new, better code.

“We’re going to have a big debate about taxes and we’re going to have a big debate about the budget and we’re going to have a big debate about deficits,” he said. “And Republicans are going to have to explain to the American people over the next two years how making those tax cuts for the high end permanent squares with their stated desire to start reducing deficits and debt.”

“I’ll have the opportunity,” he added, “to make the case that we’ve got to have tax reform, that we’ve got to simplify the system, that we do have to cut spending where it makes sense. But we’re also going to have to make sure that we’ve got a tax code that is fair and that looks after the interest of middle-class Americans and continues to grow the economy.”

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of the previous overhaul of the income tax code that lowered rates and wiped away many tax breaks in return. As administration officials point out — by way of lowering expectations for action soon — the process leading to the 1986 act was begun nearly three years earlier, when President Ronald Reagan called for a fairer, simpler code in his 1984 State of the Union address. And the legislation several times seemed dead.

The earlier effort also involved a president of one party facing a Congress partly controlled by the opposition party.

While the overhaul of a quarter-century ago raised taxes for many corporations, the legislation was designed to be “deficit neutral” — it neither increased nor reduced the government’s tax collection over all. But people in both parties agree that the next tax-overhaul effort would almost certainly have to raise revenues to address the nation’s growing fiscal problems.

“I think it is important to understand that that is not a process that will happen overnight,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Thursday. “That will take — as it did I think in the last major tax code revision in the mid ‘80s — that will take some time.” But, he added, Mr. Obama and his economic team “certainly believe that it’s good to start that long process.”

DON'T KNOW THIS TYPE OF MURDER DOESN'T WORK UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE CAUGHT! Just image how dumb these people(?) really are!!

BREAKING NEWS: Arrest Reports Detail Murder of Nellis Airman

LAS VEGAS -- The arrest reports for three people arrested in the murder of a Nellis Air Force Base airman paint a picture of greed and deceit.

Nathan Paet was gunned down in his garage on Dec.1 as he was getting ready to leave for work. The arrest reports say that his wife, Michelle Paet, stood to receive $650,000 in life insurance upon the death of her husband.

Although Michelle Paet has not been arrested, she has been implicated in the murder. Police have arrested 31-year-old Michael Rudolph Rodriguez, 33-year-old Corry A. Hawkins and 23-year-old Jessica Austin. All are facing murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges.

Michelle Paet told police she flirted Michael Rodriguez at her work and was romantically involved with him. In the arrest reports, it states that Michelle Paet told police in an interview that she did plan to kill her husband and develop a relationship with Rodriguez.

In his arrest report, Rodriguez told police he had an alibi stating he was with another woman at the time of the murder.

That woman, who is not named in the arrest report, told police that there was an on-going plan to kill Nathan Paet by Rodriguez, Hawkins and Austin. She also told police that Nathan Paet's wife was involved.

In the report, the woman said she was supposed to get a cut of the money after the murder. She claims Rodriguez told her he shot Paet and then asked her to be his alibi.

"one cigarette can cause a heart attack" WHY WE DON'T STOP SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES IS BEYOND IMAGINATION!!

Just one cigarette can harm DNA, Surgeon General says

In someone with an underlying heart disease, just "one cigarette can cause a heart attack," says Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.


1 in 5 deaths attributed to tobacco annually.

443,000 Americans killed by tobacco per year.

$193 billion annual cost in health care and lost productivity in the U.S. due to cigarette smoking.

4,100: approximate number of teens who smoke their first cigarette each day.

85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Even brief exposure to tobacco smoke causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's new report on tobacco, the first such report in four years.

While the report, out today, focuses on the medical effects of smoke on the body, it also sheds light on why cigarettes are so addictive: They are designed to deliver nicotine more quickly and more efficiently than cigarettes did decades ago.

Every exposure to tobacco, from occasional smoking or secondhand smoke, can damage DNA in ways that lead to cancer.

"Tobacco smoke damages almost every organ in your body," says Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. In someone with underlying heart disease, she says, "One cigarette can cause a heart attack."

About 40 million Americans smoke — 20% of adults and older teens. Tobacco kills more than 443,000 a year, says the 700-page report, written with contributions from 64 experts.

Cigarette smoking costs the country more than $193 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.

Recent changes in the design and ingredients in cigarettes have made them more likely to hook first-time users and keep older smokers coming back, Benjamin says. Changes include:

•Ammonia added to tobacco, which converts nicotine into a form that gets to the brain faster.

•Filter holes that allow people to inhale smoke more deeply into the lungs.

•Sugar and "moisture enhancers" to reduce the burning sensation of smoking, making it more pleasant, especially for new cigarette users.

"This is the first report that demonstrates that the industry has consciously redesigned tobacco products in ways that make them even more attractive to young people," says Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, parent company of Philip Morris USA, declined to comment until he had time to study the report.

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY

Ronni Chasen Killing - Fatally Shot Hollywood Publicist in Robbery Gone Wrong

Ronni Chasen Killing: Harold Smith's Suicide Gun Matched to Publicist's Death
Police Say Bicyclist Harold Smith Fatally Shot Hollywood Publicist in Robbery Gone Wrong

Beverly Hills Police believe they have a solid theory behind who murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, putting an end to Hollywood's latest who-done-it mystery.
The gun used to kill Chasen most likely is the same one used by person of interest, Harold Martin Smith to kill himself last week, according to preliminary police ballistics tests.

"Preliminarily, we believe Mr. Smith acted alone. We don't believe it was a professional hit," Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden said.

Despite coverage that has speculated Chasen was killed as part of an elaborate plot, police now believe Smith, 43, an ex-convict, simply rode a bicycle alongside Chasen's Mercedes Benz and opened fire as she waited to make a left turn off Sunset Boulevard.

"We believe it was a random act, and we believe Mrs. Chasen was going to be the victim of a robbery," Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Mike Publicker said.

Chasen, 64, represented A-list movie stars and promoted some of Hollywood's top films. She was on her way home from the premiere of "Burlesque" on the night of Nov. 16 when she was killed.

Andrew Blankstein, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, said that the Beverly Hills Police Department remains cautious despite what seems to be a break in the case.

"They're not saying that this is a closed case, and one of things that they're going to be looking … for is additional forensic material at the scene, as well as, one of the things that we've heard is that they were examining videotaped surveillance from the neighborhood. So does that surveillance show Mr. Smith either around the crime scene or on his way to the crime scene on his bicycle," Blankstein said.

Skeptics who have followed the case closely might find it hard to believe that one man on a bicycle could carry out this killing.

"There's been a lot of rumor built on rumor in this case and certainly with the speculation about theories of motive that's one of the aspects of this case which kind of definitely muddied the waters," Blankstein said. "In this kind of vacuum of information, people have come up with every kind of theory. I mean it's worthy of any kind of Hollywood plot line that you can come up with."

It turned out not be an elaborate, movielike plot, but information from a tipster to the TV show "America's Most Wanted" helped crack the case. Police sought to question Smith at his home in Hollywood's Harvey Apartments Dec. 1, after receiving an anonymous tip from "America's Most Wanted." Before they could talk to Smith, he shot himself to death.

"The tipster, at this point, wants to remain anonymous," Publicker said, "and we're going to respect that, as will "America's Most Wanted."

There was a reward of more than $100,000 for tips, and police say there is a possibility the person who called in the tip will get the reward.

The suspect, Smith, boasted about committing the murder, claimed he had $10,000 coming to him for the crime and said he would not be willing to return to jail, his neighbors told ABC News.

Smith had a long criminal record.

In the aftermath of his suicide, residents said they doubted Smith when he took credit for Chasen's murder. They noted that he was tall but of slight, unimposing build, and that he was seen regularly riding through the neighborhood on a bicycle, wearing gray gardening gloves and sometimes behaving strangely.

One neighbor of Smith's still doubts his involvement in the crime.

"It doesn't quite add up, that this would be somebody that would be able to do this by himself," Sammy Samorano said.

Beverly Hills police said Los Angeles investigators removed a bicycle from the scene of Smith's suicide and would be delivering it to the police for analysis.

Beverly Hills police repeatedly emphasized that the ballistics matching the guns were preliminary and that the investigation continues.

I don't even know how to understand this distructive behavior? WHY would any sane person do this?

Nutmeg Treated as Drug for Hallucinogenic High
Poison Centers See Upswing of Nutmeg Hallucinogenic High

A sprinkle of nutmeg in eggnog or a pinch in apple pie can add the perfect punch to a holiday dessert. But winter's favorite spice has also made headlines as an unconventional way of getting high -- it's called a nutmeg high.
Nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses. The buzz can last one to two days and can be hallucinogenic, much like LSD.

According to reports this week from the ABC affiliate WPLG in Miami, the Florida Poison Information Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital has recently seen a small spike in phone calls reporting people who snorted, smoked or ate the spice.

"It's the flavor of the month," said Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, medical director at the center. "But most people only try it once because they have such nasty side effects. The rewards are not worth the risks."

About 30 minutes to an hour after taking large doses of nutmeg, people usually have severe gastrointestinal reactions, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But that's just the beginning. Hours into the high, people can suffer from heart and nerve problems as well.

"This is where people have to be really alert," said Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center in Atlanta. "A person who has an unrecognized heart ailment could have problems that could lead to irregular rhythms. One plus one can add up to nine really quickly."

Visual, auditory or sensory hallucinations do not set in until hours after ingesting the spice, so there is also the worry that someone could overdose, thinking they haven't taken enough to feel anything.

Dr. Marcel Casavant, medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said that it is fairly common for teenagers to experiment with household products to get high. And the results can be devastating.

Hackers Attack Those Seen as WikiLeaks Enemies

LONDON — In a campaign that had some declaring the start of a “cyberwar,” hundreds of Internet activists mounted retaliatory attacks on Wednesday on the Web sites of multinational companies and other organizations they deemed hostile to the WikiLeaks antisecrecy organization and its jailed founder, Julian Assange.

Within 12 hours of a British judge’s decision on Tuesday to deny Mr. Assange bail in a Swedish extradition case, attacks on the Web sites of WikiLeaks’s “enemies,” as defined by the organization’s impassioned supporters around the world, caused several corporate Web sites to become inaccessible or slow down markedly.

Targets of the attacks, in which activists overwhelmed the sites with traffic, included the Web site of MasterCard, which had stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks;, which revoked the use of its computer servers; and PayPal, which stopped accepting donations for Mr. Assange’s group. was also affected by the attacks, as were the Web sites of the Swedish prosecutor’s office and the lawyer representing the two women whose allegations of sexual misconduct are the basis of Sweden’s extradition bid.

The Internet assaults underlined the growing reach of self-described “cyberanarchists,” antigovernment and anticorporate activists who have made an icon of Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian.

The speed and range of the attacks also appeared to show the resilience of the backing among computer activists for Mr. Assange, who has appeared increasingly isolated in recent months amid the furor stoked by WikiLeaks’s Web site posting of hundreds of thousands of secret Pentagon documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Assange has come under renewed attack in the past two weeks for posting the first tranche of a trove of 250,000 secret State Department cables that have exposed American diplomats’ frank assessments of relations with many countries, forcing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to express regret to world leaders and raising fears that they and other sources would become more reticent.

The New York Times and four other news organizations last week began publishing articles based on the archive of cables made available to them.

In recent months, some of Mr. Assange’s closest associates in WikiLeaks abandoned him, calling him autocratic and capricious and accusing him of reneging on WikiLeaks’s original pledge of impartiality to launch a concerted attack on the United States. He has been simultaneously fighting a remote battle with the Swedish prosecutors, who have sought his extradition for questioning on accusations of “rape, sexual molestation and forceful coercion” made by the Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the cases.

American officials have repeatedly said that they are reviewing possible criminal charges against Mr. Assange, a step that could lead to a bid to extradite him to the United States and confront him with having to fight for his freedom on two fronts.

The cyberattacks in Mr. Assange’s defense appear to have been coordinated by Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of activist computer hackers who have singled out other groups before, including the Church of Scientology. Last weekend, members of Anonymous vowed in two online manifestos to take revenge on any organization that lined up against WikiLeaks.

Anonymous claimed responsibility for the MasterCard attack in Web messages and, according to one activist associated with the group, conducted waves of attacks on other companies during the day. The group said the actions were part of an effort called Operation Payback, which began as a way of punishing companies that attempted to stop Internet file-sharing and movie downloads.

The activist, Gregg Housh, who disavows a personal role in any illegal online activity, said that 1,500 supporters had been in online forums and chat rooms organizing the mass “denial of service” attacks. His account was confirmed by Jose Nazario, a senior security researcher at Arbor Networks, a Chelmsford, Mass., firm that tracks malicious activity on computer networks.

Most of the corporations whose sites were targeted did not explain why they severed ties with WikiLeaks. But PayPal issued statements saying its decision was based on “a violation” of its policy on promoting illegal activities.

Almost all the corporate Web sites that were attacked appeared to be operating normally later on Wednesday, suggesting that any economic impact was limited. But the sense of an Internet war was reinforced when Netcraft, a British Internet monitoring firm, reported that the Web site being used by the hackers to distribute denial-of-service software had been suspended by a Dutch hosting firm, Leaseweb.

A sense of the belligerent mood among activists was given when one contributor to a forum the group uses,, wrote of the attacks: “The war is on. And everyone ought to spend some time thinking about it, discussing it with others, preparing yourselves so you know how to act if something compels you to make a decision. Be very careful not to err on the side of inaction.”

Mr. Housh acknowledged that there had been online talk among the hackers of a possible Internet campaign against the two women who have been Mr. Assange’s accusers in the Swedish case, but he said that “a lot of people don’t want to be involved.”

A Web search showed new blog posts in recent days in which the two women, identified by the Swedish prosecutors only as Ms. A. and Ms. W., were named, but it was not clear whether there was any link to Anonymous. The women have said that consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange became nonconsensual when condoms were no longer in use.

The cyberattacks on corporations Wednesday were seen by many supporters as a counterstrike against the United States. Mr. Assange’s online supporters have widely condemned the Obama administration as the unseen hand coordinating efforts to choke off WikiLeaks by denying it financing and suppressing its network of computer servers.

Mr. Housh described Mr. Assange in an interview as “a political prisoner,” a common view among WikiLeaks supporters who have joined Mr. Assange in condemning the sexual abuse accusations as part of an American-inspired “smear campaign.”

Another activist used the analogy of the civil rights struggle for the cyberattacks.

“Are they disrupting business?” a contributor using the name Moryath wrote in a comment on the technology Web site. “Perhaps, but no worse than the lunch counter sit-ins did.”