Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guns cost more lives than they save

Law enforcement personnel work on the crime scene where U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot.Some years ago, I reported on a self-defense/gun-safety class mainly for women at Rice University.
There had been several forcible rapes on the Houston campus. Students had armed themselves.
The instructor was an Army ROTC officer. A Vietnam combat veteran, he found the prospect of undergraduates packing heat unsettling, but reasoned that if they were arming themselves anyway, some training was better than none.

Unlike many entrepreneurs teaching "concealed carry" classes from sea to shining sea, he urged students to leave their guns at home. He stressed that he couldn't turn them into infantry soldiers with a few sessions in a gym basement. Even most armed assailants, he explained, aren't hell bent upon murder. They use weapons to control their victims.

Anybody pulling a gun must shoot to kill without hesitation. The soldier reasoned that most Rice students simply weren't prepared to do that. Hence the likeliest outcome was that criminals would end up murdering them with their own guns. Heightened awareness, avoiding lonely places at night, and pepper spray or mace would afford more safety than the illusion of power conveyed by a 9mm semi-automatic.

Our instructor further advised that shotguns are the weapon of choice for home defense. Unlike a heavy-caliber handgun, a shotgun will put an intruder out of business without a bullet passing through a wall and killing a sleeping child. He emphasized that anybody suspecting a nighttime home invasion should first perform a thorough bed check -- a procedure that saved me from potential catastrophe one night after my teenage son and a friend sneaked out to howl at the moon under a maiden's window at 2 a.m., leaving an open back door and a half-dozen beagles running through the house.

Creeping back home, the lads overheard me shucking shells from my 20 gauge pump, an unmistakably chilling sound. Fearing that burglars had taken us hostage, they were subsequently apprehended in headlong flight up the street. They'd been running for help, they explained.

Would I have shot an unknown intruder? I believe so. I'm also glad I've never had to face the choice. Killing a human being, almost regardless of provocation, is nothing like hunting game. Never mind legal peril. Contrary to action/adventure films, psychological fallout can be severe.

Anyway, we students next proceeded to the firing range for lessons in loading, unloading and blasting paper targets. "If you can point your finger," I wrote, "you can learn to kill" -- an observation that annoyed almost as many gun fanciers as this column will. Maybe I should have said that I was already fairly good with a shotgun, and had spent half my life aiming balls at things.

Anyway, here's the thing: In the wake of the Tucson tragedy, handgun advocates argue that a well-armed private citizen could have saved lives by putting a decisive end to alleged gunman Jared Loughner's mad act. Never mind that Arizona has the most permissive gun laws in the country. Indeed, the killer had broken no laws until he shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at point-blank range.

Ah, but there was an armed bystander. His name was Joe Zamudio, and he bravely helped subdue the gunman without firing a shot. But he's also admitted how close he came to shooting the heroic retired Army colonel who'd wrested the pistol from Loughner's hands when he paused to reload.

Thanks to the killer's 30-round ammo clip, he'd gotten off 31 shots in 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds! Everything was chaos and terror.

In Hollywood films, shootouts are carefully choreographed. Villains can't shoot; heroes rarely miss. Nobody panics. Melodramatic violence metes out justice and redeems the world.

In reality, as Americans seem fated to experience again and again without learning anything, a gunman walks into a Detroit police station and shoots four cops before himself being killed.

Two cops serving a warrant in St. Petersburg, Fla., are killed and a U.S. marshal wounded by a suspect who escapes.

Two sheriff's deputies are shot at a Walmart near Seattle before a third officer kills their assailant, whose motives remain unknown.

A policeman in Waldport, Ore., is shot by an unknown assailant during a routine traffic stop. He remains in critical condition.

At another routine stop, an Indianapolis cop is shot four times, twice in the face. He's in critical condition too.

All of these events occurred within 24 hours between Jan. 23 and 24.

It's worth emphasizing that the 11 victims were trained, experienced law enforcement officers. But their assailants, who'd found semi-automatic weapons easier to acquire than whiskey, gave them no chance.

Meanwhile, NRA fundamentalists pretend that America will be a freer, safer place if more poorly trained, inexperienced, unfit, would-be Bruce Willis heroes were waddling around shopping malls carrying pistols.

There's a word for people who cling to absurd beliefs against massive evidence. They're called cultists, and they're currently in charge.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons

Study of Cell 'Clocks' Looks at What Makes Us Tick

NEW YORK (AP) — What makes us tick? Anybody who's ever suffered jet lag knows all about the body's internal clock, which is driven by a cluster of brain cells.

But even the cells throughout our body have their own 24-hour clocks to coordinate activities at the cellular level. Now new research suggests that these internal timepieces may be more complicated than scientists thought.

For years, scientists have said this clock is basically the activity of certain genes. But in a new study, scientists looked at human cells that don't even have genes. And in these red blood cells, they found an enzyme flip-flopping between two forms on a regular 24-hour cycle.

Is that a clock? Or is it just responding to some clock? Nobody knows yet, says Akhilesh Reddy of Cambridge University. But it seems to be connected in some way to the genetic mechanism found in other cells, he said. Reddy co-authored two studies on the subject in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Joseph Bass of Northwestern University, who co-wrote a Nature commentary on the work, said in an interview that the new findings don't overturn the standard notion of a gene-based clock. Still, he said, "our understanding of the clock is expanding with this work and other work."


Missing Pedigreed Cat Turns Up - Neutered

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A valuable pedigreed cat that went missing from its New Zealand home turned up two days later a little different — it had been surgically castrated.

Owner Michelle Curtis said she was furious when Buddy, her prized Siamese-Bengal cross, came home "fixed."

"I couldn't believe someone took my cat and got him fixed. I don't know why they would do that," Curtis told Bay of Plenty Times newspaper in an article Thursday. "It really was quite bizarre. I mean, who just takes someone's cat and gets them neutered?"

Curtis said she had owned Buddy for almost two years and was considering using him as a stud cat.

"What am I supposed to do now? I can't exactly get someone to sew them back on," she told the newspaper.


House Votes to End Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday afternoon to end public financing of presidential campaigns and conventions. The vote was 239 to 160.

"Congress must prioritize the way that taxpayer dollars are spent," Laena Fallon, a spokesperson for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said. "The reality is that political campaigns operate entirely differently today than they did in the 1970's.
Technological advancements have fundamentally altered modern elections so that all candidates have the opportunity to communicate to broad audiences and secure the resources needed to run a successful campaign, a fact that was proven by President Obama and his team."

Like the health care repeal bill passed through the House last week, the bill has little chance of making it through the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The public financing system was first created following the Watergate scandal more than three decades ago, CBS Radio Capitol Hill correspondent Bob Fuss reports, with the aim of reducing the influence corporations and wealthy individuals have in politics. Democrats argue that eliminating the system would increase the influence of special interests and make it nearly impossible for a lesser-known candidate to get elected.

Under the public financing system, which is funded through an optional $3 donation into the system from taxpayers, candidates who qualify can get matching funds in a primary as well as funding for a general election if they become their party's nominee.

The White House "strongly" opposed the bill in a statement Monday, arguing that the public financing system should "be fixed rather than dismantled."

The effect of eliminating the system "would be to expand the power of corporations and special interests in the Nation's elections; to force many candidates into an endless cycle of fundraising at the expense of engagement with voters on the issues; and to place a premium on access to large donor or special interest support, narrowing the field of otherwise worthy candidates," the White House said.

In the 2008 presidential cycle, Mr. Obama turned down public financing because he concluded that he could raise more money on his own. He was the first major-party general election candidate not to use the system since it began in 1976. (GOP nominee John McCain did take the funds, and spent more than $84 million in taxpayer dollars in his general election campaign.) Republicans pointed to the president's example to argue the system has outlived its usefulness.

Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, who sponsored the bill, said the system amounts to "the very definition of frivolous Washington spending," according to the Associated Press. The Congressional Budget Office said ending the program would save the government $617 million over 10 years. (The budget deficit for 2011 is projected to hit $1.5 trillion.)

Liberals already upset over the effects of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed for more corporate spending on elections, are livid about what they see as an attempt to further increase corporate influence on the political system.

"This stunt isn't about cutting costs--it's about giving special interests more power in Washington, D.C.," David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund, said in a statement before the vote. "Instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, the Republican leadership wants to move away from elections of, by, and for the people, and towards elections bought and paid for by corporate donors."

Criminal Minds 1-26/2011 CBS TV

The Thirteenth Step: The team pursues two young lovers on a killing spree

I have watched Criminal Minds for sometime but I think this episode which
looked like a rip off of the movie “Natural Born Killers’ was over the line.

It glamorizes killers,guns and borderline pornographic.

Who knows what sick mind maybe pushed over the edge.
Remember Tucson Arizona!

This just to sell consumer crap!

Where is the corporate responsibility?
Anything for a buck!

CBS you should be ashamed.

Ohio Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District

Judge Sentenced Mother Convicted of Falsifying Residency Records to 10 Days in Jail
Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district.

"It's overwhelming. I'm exhausted," she said. "I did this for them, so there it is. I did this for them."

Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.

But it wasn't her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district's boundaries.

The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.

Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.

"When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else," Williams-Bolar said.

While her children are no longer attending schools in the Copley-Fairlawn District, school officials said she was cheating because her daughters received a quality education without paying taxes to fund it.

"Those dollars need to stay home with our students," school district officials said.

The district hired a private investigator, who shot video showing Williams-Bolar driving her children into the district.

The school officials asked her to pay $30,000 in back tuition.

Williams-Bolar refused and was indicted and convicted of falsifying her residency records.

She was sentenced last week to 10 days in county jail and put on three years of probation.

She will also be required to perform community service, the Beacon Journal reported.

Williams-Bolar said she was being singled out.

"I don't think they wanted money ? ," Williams-Bolar said. "They wanted me to be an example."

Presiding Judge Patricia Cosgrove acknowledged as much.

"I felt that some punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school districts," Cosgrove said.

State of the Union: Fact-checking Obama's speech

President Obama focused about 80% of his State of the Union Address on the economy, offering proposals designed to create jobs, make the United States more competitive with other developed nations and reduce future budget deficits. Those goals can conflict, however.
Here's a look behind the rhetoric:

"Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact."

•Reality check: This is the central thesis of Obama's speech — that the United States needs to invest in clean energy technology, a crumbling physical infrastructure and education in order to compete better with developing nations such as China and India.

The president says any investments should not increase the deficit, but he didn't say how to do that, other than by eliminating billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., has mentioned using money left over from the $814 billion stimulus law passed in 2009. Ed DeSeve, the White House point man on stimulus implementation, said in October that only $110 billion remained unspent, including $45 billion in tax cuts.

And the Highway Trust Fund — which also helps pay for mass transit — can't pay for current transportation needs without raising the gas tax, now 18.4 cents-a-gallon, the Congressional Budget Office says. At the current rate of spending and gas tax collections, CBO analyst Chad Shirley wrote last week, the highway account "would be unable to meet its obligations sometime during fiscal year 2012."

"Big-government advocates have a history of calling nearly all government spending 'investment,' because it sounds better," says Brian Riedl of the conservative Heritage Foundation. "It's very dangerous to claim these investments will pay for themselves."


"Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable."

•Reality check: Obama revised last year's proposal to freeze domestic spending, excluding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, defense, homeland security and veterans programs. Now he wants five years, not three. But by exempting so much, the freeze would apply to only about $500 billion of a $3.8 trillion budget — "a fairly narrow part," White House economic adviser Gene Sperling admits.

The White House claims the freeze would save $400 billion over 10 years. It says the part of the budget to be frozen, measured as a share of the nation's economy, is lower than it's been in a half-century.

Republicans want to cut spending much more. House GOP leaders, led by Speaker John Boehner, want to cut $100 billion this year and about $1.5 trillion over 10 years by reverting to 2008 spending levels. Conservative Republicans led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio want to go further, saving $2.5 trillion over 10 years by reverting to 2006 spending levels.

"Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. … Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change."

•Reality check: By focusing only on corporate taxes, the president is putting off a more sweeping overhaul of the tax code called for by his bipartisan fiscal commission and other panels.

He would eliminate or reduce many of the tax breaks inserted into the tax code for specific industries and use the money to lower the 35% corporate tax rate, which is the highest among 31 developed countries ranked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Lower rates might be good for most corporations — but fewer than 6 million businesses, or 18% of the nation's total, file as corporations. More than 23 million, or 72%, are sole proprietorships, while 3 million more, or nearly 10%, are partnerships. "I am certain that they do not want to be left out of tax reform," says R. Bruce Josten, an executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


"Most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won't."

•Reality check: Beyond his proposed domestic spending freeze, which comes with lots of exclusions, Obama didn't take the lead on broader deficit reduction. He spoke about the need to protect Social Security for future generations and to get further savings in health care beyond those envisioned in the overhaul signed last year, but there were no specifics.

Budget watchdogs had hoped Obama would embrace specific proposals from the bipartisan commission that last month voted 11-7 for major spending cuts, tax increases and changes to Social Security and Medicare. The federal budget deficit stands at $1.3 trillion, and the accumulated national debt is $14.1 trillion.

"A spending freeze is a step in the right direction, but it is only one element of the long-term fiscal plan we need," says Pete Peterson, chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group. "We cannot become more of an investment economy if we don't have future resources to invest."


"To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 — because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up."

•Reality check: Obama called for doubling U.S. exports in five years during last year's State of the Union address. He's on track so far: U.S. exports in the first 11 months of 2010 were up 17%, according to numbers released this month by the U.S. International Trade Administration.

The White House claims that recent export deals with China will "support" 235,000 jobs. It says the pending free trade agreement with South Korea will support another 70,000, and that business deals inked with India last fall will create 50,000.

Those figures are based on a Commerce Department formula that translates export dollars into jobs, according to John Murphy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who says the figures are conservative. The AFL-CIO says the figures for South Korea are inflated.


"Because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

•Reality check: Obama's stance on earmarks has evolved since he was first elected to the Senate. Obama has called for increased disclosure of earmarks, which he claimed as a senator, but the veto threat is his toughest stance yet.

"To me, it's the smart political play," says Steve Ellis of the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. With House Republicans already pledging an earmark moratorium, Obama's stance puts additional pressure on the Senate not to load up spending bills with pet projects.

Two points, one fiscal, one political: Earmarks represent only about $16 billion, or less than 0.5% of the $3.8 trillion budget, so eliminating them won't accomplish much. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday called wiping out earmarks "a lot of pretty talk, but it is only giving the president more power. He's got enough power already."


Sexy News Anchors Distract Male Viewers

New research finds when a female news anchor’s sexual attractiveness is played up, male viewers retain less information.

To capture male viewers, news networks have hired attractive female anchors. While it may boost ratings, studies show male viewers get distracted and remember less from the newscast.

Scholars, critics and viewers have noted that some TV newscasts can be momentarily mistaken for Victoria’s Secret specials. In an apparent attempt to capture channel-surfing male viewers, stations have hired attractive female anchors, often outfitting them in attire that emphasizes their sexuality.

This strategy may boost the ratings, but in terms of the programs’ purported purpose — informing the public — recent research suggests it has a definite down side. Males may be drawn to those alluring anchors, but they may not remember what they were talking about.

Two Indiana University scholars report that, for male viewers, “emphasis on the sexual attractiveness of female news anchors distracts from memory formation for news content.” They found that “men’s cognitive mechanisms favored visual over verbal processing,” which is a delicate way of saying their focus — and subsequent memory — are more on the broadcaster’s appearance than on the material she was delivering.

Writing in the journal Communication Research, researchers Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson describe the clever experiment that led them to this conclusion. They created two versions of their own short newscast, both of which featured the same 24-year-old female anchor.

For the first version, the broadcast journalist “was dressed in a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio,” they write. “She also wore bright red lipstick and a necklace.” For the alternate version, she was dressed in “a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt,” and wore no lipstick or necklace.

“The anchorwoman was framed in a medium-long shot to reveal her upper body, including her upper thighs, waist and hips,” the researchers note. “The news stories were about local matters, including United Way fundraising, interest rate changes for federal loan programs” and the like.

The just under 400 participants were randomly assigned to watch one version or the other. All then filled out questionnaires summarizing their impressions of the reporter. They were also asked four multiple-choice questions about her physical appearance, and 10 multiple-choice questions about the content of the five stories she presented.

The researchers found the men recalled “significantly more information watching the unsexualized anchor deliver news than her sexualized version.” For women, the opposite was true, but the effect was far less pronounced.

Looking at the data a different way, when the anchor had a desexualized appearance, men retained more of the information she presented than women. But when she was dolled up, the men’s retention level dropped to the point where the two genders retained the same amount of content.

The study provides evidence for a basic theory of evolutionary psychology: When it comes to processing information, visual tends to trump verbal.

It also confirms something women have long suspected: A sexually charged image can flood the male brain, stimulating its visual processing component “to levels that demand close to full cognitive capacity.”

This problem did not turn up in women in this study — but then again, they weren’t responding to newscasts featuring muscular male models. While the results of that scenario are speculative, this paper offers one more reason why Fox News viewers are so ill-informed on so many issues. I mean, have you seen those photos of Megyn Kelly?

F.D.A and Dairy Industry Spar Over Testing of Milk

Each year, federal inspectors find illegal levels of antibiotics in hundreds of older dairy cows bound for the slaughterhouse. Concerned that those antibiotics might also be contaminating the milk Americans drink, the Food and Drug Administration intended to begin tests this month on the milk from farms that had repeatedly sold cows tainted by drug residue.

But the testing plan met with fierce protest from the dairy industry, which said that it could force farmers to needlessly dump millions of gallons of milk while they waited for test results.
Industry officials and state regulators said the testing program was poorly conceived and could lead to costly recalls that could be avoided with a better plan for testing.

In response, the F.D.A. postponed the testing, and now the two sides are sparring over how much danger the antibiotics pose and the best way to ensure that the drugs do not end up in the milk supply.

“What has been served up, up to this point, by Food and Drug has been potentially very damaging to innocent dairy farmers,” said John J. Wilson, a senior vice president for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative. He said that that the nation’s milk was safe and that there was little reason to think that the slaughterhouse findings would be replicated in tests of the milk supply.

But food safety advocates said that the F.D.A.’s preliminary findings raised issues about the possible overuse of antibiotics in livestock, which many fear could undermine the effectiveness of drugs to combat human illnesses.

“Consumers certainly don’t want to be taking small amounts of drugs every time they drink milk,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “They want products that are appropriately managed to ensure those drug residues aren’t there, and the dairy farmer is the one who can control that.”

The F.D.A. said that it would confer with the industry before deciding how to proceed. “The agency remains committed to gathering the information necessary to address its concern with respect to this important potential public health issue,” it said in a statement.

The concerns of federal regulators stem from tests done by the Department of Agriculture on dairy cows sent to be slaughtered at meat plants. For years, those tests have found a small but persistent number of animals with drug residues, mostly antibiotics, that violate legal limits.

The tests found 788 dairy cows with residue violations in 2008, the most recent year for which data was available. That was a tiny fraction of the 2.6 million dairy cows slaughtered that year, but regulators say the violations are warning signs because the problem persists from year to year and some of the drugs detected are not approved for use in dairy cows.

The question for the F.D.A. is whether cows that are producing milk also have improper levels of such drugs in their bodies and whether traces of those drugs are getting into the milk.

Regulators and veterinarians say that high levels of drugs can persist in an animal’s system because of misuse of medicines on the farm.

That can include exceeding the prescribed dose or injecting a drug into muscle instead of a vein. Problems can also occur if farmers do not follow rules that require them to wait for a specified number of days after administering medication before sending an animal to slaughter or putting it into milk production.

“F.D.A. is concerned that the same poor management practices which led to the meat residues may also result in drug residues in milk,” the agency said in a document explaining its plan to the industry. In the same document, the F.D.A. said it believed that the nation’s milk supply was safe.

Today, every truckload of milk is tested for four to six antibiotics that are commonly used on dairy farms. The list includes drugs like penicillin and ampicillin, which are also prescribed for people. Each year, only a small number of truckloads are found to be “hot milk,” containing trace amounts of antibiotics. In those cases, the milk is destroyed.

But dairy farmers use many more drugs that are not regularly tested for in milk. Regulators are concerned because some of those other drugs have been showing up in the slaughterhouse testing.

Federal officials have discussed expanded testing for years. But industry executives said that it was not until last month that the F.D.A. told them it was finally going to begin.

The agency said that it planned to test milk from about 900 dairy farms that had repeatedly been caught sending cows to slaughter with illegal levels of drugs in their systems.

It said it would test for about two dozen antibiotics beyond the six that are typically tested for. The testing would also look for a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug popular on dairy farms, called flunixin, which often shows up in the slaughterhouse testing.

The problem, from the industry’s point of view, is the lengthy time it takes for test results.

The tests currently done for antibiotics in milk take just minutes to complete. But the new tests could take a week or more to determine if the drugs were present in the milk.

Milk moves quickly onto store shelves or to factories where it is made into cheese or other products. The industry worried that, under the F.D.A. plan, by the time a load of milk was found to be contaminated, it could already be in consumers’ refrigerators, and that could lead to recalls.

One Northeast cooperative, Agri-Mark, sent a letter to its members last month instructing them to dump milk if it had been tested by the F.D.A. “Agri-Mark must ensure that all of our milk sales, cheese, butter and other products are in no danger of recall,” the letter said.

Other industry executives said that processing plants would refuse to take any milk from a farm that had been tested until the results showed it was drug-free, meaning farmers could end up dumping milk for a week or more while waiting.

The F.D.A. plan was also criticized by state officials that regulate the dairy industry.

In a sharply worded Dec. 29 letter, the top agriculture officials of 10 Northeastern states, including New York and Pennsylvania, which are both leading dairy producers, told the F.D.A. that its plan was badly flawed. Among other problems, the letter said, forcing farmers to dump large quantities of milk could create environmental problems.

The F.D.A. said it would consider the regulators’ comments as it reviewed its testing plan.

Poll: High Marks for Obama's State of the Union Speech

An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers.

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president's address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

Last year, 83 percent of viewers approved of Mr. Obama's State of the Union remarks.

This year, 82 percent of those who watched the speech said they approve of the president's plans for the economy, up from 53 percent who approved before the speech. Eighty percent said they approved of Mr. Obama's plans for the deficit -- in contrast to 45 percent before the speech.
Eighty-three percent approved of Mr. Obama's proposals regarding Afghanistan, which received only a 57 percent approval rating beforehand.

The sight of Democrats and Republicans sitting side by side gave speech watchers more confidence about the possibility of bipartisan cooperation: 62 percent said they expect more bipartisanship now than in years past.

In his speech, Mr. Obama outlined ways to limit federal spending and reign in the deficit. Of those watching, fifty-six percent said they think the president's economic plans could reduce government spending; 43 percent were not persuaded.

The president had more success convincing viewers that his economic proposals would lead to job growth and increased success on the international playing field:
75 percent of viewers said they thought the president's plans would make America more competitive in the world economy, and
75 percent also said they thought the plans outlined in his speech would create jobs. That's up from 55 percent before the speech.

Mr. Obama also defended health care reform in the speech -- and approval of the law saw a slight boost among speech watchers. Sixty-five percent said they approved of the health care law after the address, a nine-point boost from pre-speech numbers.

Americans who watched the speech were generally more Democratic than the nation as a whole. Forty-four percent of viewers polled were Democrats and 25 percent were Republicans. (Historically speaking, that is not an unusual statistic: a president's supporters are more likely than his opponents to watch State of the Union addresses.)

Tuesday night was Mr. Obama's second State of the Union address as president. In his remarks, Mr. Obama focused on creating jobs and economic growth, national unity, and spurring American innovation through research and education.