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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Missouri Senate Calls on Attorney General Chris Koster to Join Multi-State Legal Challenge to Obamacare

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Missouri Senate moves to legally dispute federal health care law

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 Tuesday, January 18, 2011
BY REBECCA BERG www.STLtoday.com Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just one week after the Missouri House issued a stern rebuke of the federal health care reform law, the state Senate took its first step toward doing the same.
By a vote of 5-2, the Senate Rules Committee moved forward with a resolution today calling upon Attorney General Chris Koster to join a multi-state legal challenge to health care reform. The action cleared the resolution to come before the full Senate for a final vote.
If passed, the resolution would be nonbinding.
In her testimony to the committee the resolution's sponsor, Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, said that the attorney general's participation in the lawsuit would send an important message to the federal government.
"The citizens of this state want to make their own health care decisions," she said. "They have spoken overwhelmingly."
But the resolution was met with resistance by dozens of members of the public, who attended the meeting to oppose the resolution.
Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, echoed their discontent with the measure. She took special exception to Cunningham's assertion that it would not cost the state any money to sign on to the lawsuit.
"I'm going to have to do some of my own checking, because I find it absolutely unfathomable that Missouri could get involved in a federal lawsuit and it wouldn't cost us a penny," Justus said. "That just doesn't make any sense."
The Senate committee vote coincided with the start of debate by members of Congress today on a Republican-led initiative to repeal health care reform. The federal measure could come to a vote as early as tomorrow, the Associated Press reported.
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Japanese Scientists Hope to Clone, Resurrect Extinct Mammoth

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Researchers aim to resurrect mammoth in five years

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January 18th, 2011

Instead of Jurassic Park, try Pleistocene Park.
A team of scientists from Japan, Russia and the United States hopes to clone a mammoth, a symbol of Earth’s ice age that ended 12,000 years ago, according to a report in Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun. The researchers say they hope to produce a baby mammoth within six years.
The scientists say they will extract DNA from a mammoth carcass that has been preserved in a Russian laboratory and insert it into the egg cells of an African elephant in hopes of producing a mammoth embryo.
The team is being led by Akira Iritani, a professor emeritus at Kyoto University in Japan. He has built upon research from Teruhiko Wakayama of Kobe's Riken Center for Developmental Biology, who successfully cloned a mouse from cells that had been frozen for 16 years, to devise a technique to extract egg nuclei without damaging them, according to the Yomiuri report.
The U.S. researchers are in vitro fertilization experts. They, along with Kinki University professor Minoru Miyashita, will be responsible for implanting the mammoth embryo into an African elephant, the report said.
"If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public," Iritani told Yomiuri. "After the mammoth is born, we'll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors."
. Click Here to Read More.

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U.S. Homebuilders Remain Discouraged On Housing Market Outlook

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Builders Still Down On Housing Market Outlook

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January 18, 2011by  
The Associated Press

U.S. homebuilders remain discouraged over the prospects for improved home sales in the months ahead, unconvinced as yet that the economy will spur the kind of job growth needed to coax more buyers into the market.
The National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday that its monthly reading of builders' sentiment was unchanged in January at 16, where it's been since November.
While it remains the highest reading since June, any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the market. The index hasn't been above that level since April 2006.
"At this point, housing remains on the sidelines of a weak economic recovery as consumers and builders wait for clear and consistent indications that jobs and economic output are reviving," said David Crowe, the trade association's chief economist.
Many smaller, private builders also continue to have a tough time getting construction loans and other financing, which could significantly slow the onset of a housing recovery, Crowe noted.
High unemployment, tighter bank lending standards and uncertainty about home prices have kept many people from buying homes, despite low mortgage rates and home prices that have fallen by more than half in some markets since the peak of the housing boom.
Builders also face competition from sharply discounted foreclosed homes.
The job market and unemployment rate need to improve before the housing can fully recover.
The latest builder sentiment report reflects a survey of 420 residential developers nationwide.
The reading for current sales conditions was unchanged at 16, while the index for sales expectations over the next six months stayed put at 25. The index measuring foot traffic from prospective buyers rose one point to 12.
New home sales have been hovering near historic lows since spiking briefly last spring thanks to a temporary federal tax credit for homebuyers. Between May and November, monthly sales of new homes in the U.S. declined or were flat four times. Even in the months when sales rose, the gains came off near-historic lows.
Many homebuilders remain unconvinced that a recovery is brewing this year.
Weak sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, which normally helps power economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the builders' trade group.
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Student Fun Pays $14K Tuition In $1 Bills, University of Colorado in Boulder VIDEO


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Heavy Price: CU Student Pays $14K Tuition In $1 Bills

Wad Of Cash Weighed 33 Pounds

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January 17, 2011
Alan Gathright, 7NEWS Content Producer


Nic Ramos wanted to send an eye-grabbing message about the rising cost of tuition at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
So, the 20-year-old economics major paid his $14,300 tuition entirely in $1 bills."It's over $14,000 in ones, " the student told 7NEWS Sunday night.Ramos packed the 33 pounds of cash into a big duffle and was ready when the CU business office opened Friday morning.
"I walked in there and put it on the counter and said: 'I'm here to pay my tuition,'" Ramos recounted.The teller looked in the bag and said, "0h my gosh!" said Ramos. "And then all the other tellers came over and they couldn't believe it."Amassing that much cash in the credit-card age was no easy task.Ramos said he spent a couple days trooping from bank to bank withdrawing cash. Often banks could only provide $100 or $20 bills, so he had to go to still more banks for change."We have got every sort of reaction," he said, ranging from "That's the coolest thing I've ever heard" to "You're crazy."
. Click Here to Read More.

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Dick Cheney Predicts Obama One-Term President VIDEO INTERVIEW

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Cheney: Obama will be a one-term president

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Jan 18, 2011
By David Jackson, USA TODAY

Former vice president Dick Cheney, back in the public eye after a major heart operation, predicts that President Obama will be a one-term president because of health care and other big government programs.
In an interview airing this morning on NBC's Today show, Cheney cited Obama's "overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit, and giving more and more authority and power to the government over the private sector."
As for health care, Cheney said Obama has "enacted a program that a great many people are very worried about. And that there's a lot of support out there for the effort to repeal that health care package."
. Click Here to Read More.



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Jimmy Buffett to Preform May 3 St Louis Missouri - Margaritaville MUSIC VIDEO

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Jan 18, 2011

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band is performing at 8 p.m. May 3 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. There is an eight-ticket limit per customer.

The stop is part of Buffett's "Welcome to Fin Land" tour.

"Encores" is Buffett's newest release.
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Missouri Cuts High-Risk health Insurance Pool Rates 25 Percent

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Missouri cuts high-risk health insurance pool rates

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BY BLYTHE BERNHARD www.STLtoday.com  
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

After a lower-than-expected turnout for Missouri's new high-risk health insurance pool, the state has dropped the rates by 25 percent.
The insurance pool created by the federal health care overhaul was funded for 1,000 applicants its first year, and about 250 people have signed up since July.
Each state received funds last year to create a high-risk insurance pool for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions who were unable to afford or obtain coverage on their own. It's estimated that 10 to 15 percent of Americans do not receive health insurance through their employers, Medicare or Medicaid. People who are self-employed, work for small companies or are otherwise uninsured have reported problems with qualifying for private health insurance because of their medical histories.
The pools are intended to fill the gap until 2014, when insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny or overcharge people for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
There are now three available plans with comprehensive coverage and varying deductibles. The new rates, from $178 to $780 a month depending on age and deductible, take effect Feb. 1.
Click Here to Read More.

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Food, Fuel, Metal, Price Jump for Stuff From the Ground in 2011

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Despite fears of deflation, prices spiking for food, metals, fuels

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DAVID NICKLAUS www.STLtoday.com  
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If you can eat it, bend it or pour it in your car's tank, it's getting more expensive.
Now appears to be a good time to own an oil well or a cornfield or a copper mine. Things that come out of the ground seem valuable at the moment, and that's a lot better for producers than it is for consumers.

Prices of the world's most important commodities, from corn to copper to crude oil, have soared to levels last seen in the summer of 2008, before the global financial crisis hit.

That period, in hindsight, looks like a massive speculative bubble. So, do today's markets make any more sense?

Perhaps. Supplies of food crops like corn and soybeans are tight after a year of bad weather around the world. China's fast-growing economy continues to need more metal to build houses and skyscrapers and more oil to run cars and factories.

So at least there's a plausible story to explain corn at $6.50 a bushel, up from $3.50 a year ago, and oil at $91 a barrel, up from $34 in early 2009.

But big questions remain: Will higher commodity prices derail an economic recovery that's just starting to gain traction in the U.S.? And are they sending a troublesome inflation signal even as the Federal Reserve continues to fight the opposite malady, deflation?
. Click Here to Read More.

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35,000 U.S. Soldiers Bonus 'Stop Loss' is Unpaid, Army Claims Cannot Locate

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'Stop loss' bonuses go unpaid to 35,000 soldiers


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By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY

The Army is struggling to find about 35,000 soldiers, most of them veterans now, who are owed bonuses because they were forced to remain in the military beyond their normal enlistment.
The government authorized the "special pay" in 2009 following criticism from some troops and Congress who said the "stop loss" policy that extended enlistments amounted to a "back door draft." Most of the troops fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans groups have faulted the Pentagon for not being able to locate the troops.
"In this economy, I haven't met a single stop-loss veteran who can't use this money for their family or school," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
The Army has paid $245 million in bonuses for 84,000 soldiers since the law passed, said Army Maj. Roy Whitley, who is managing Army efforts to provide the special pay.
The Army has yet to pay up to $160 million to 57,000 current or former soldiers, or to families of those who have died or were killed while on stop-loss. That includes 22,000 requests that are currently under review and about 35,000 people the Army cannot yet locate.
The Army used stop-loss extensively to maintain troop levels as fighting in Iraq ramped up. Other services also used the program, but less frequently.
There are about 15,000 unpaid cases among other services, the Pentagon says. The military has ended the practice of stop-loss.
Congress passed a law in 2009 to compensate the troops with retroactive bonuses of $500 for every month served beyond enlistment. The average payout is about $3,800.
The Pentagon is barred from using the Internal Revenue Service or other government data to track the troops, IRS spokesman Eric Smith said.
Many service members are young people who may be in college or have moved from the address that the military has for them.
The law requires service members to apply for the special pay. Congress has extended a deadline for people to apply for bonuses to March 4. The Pentagon urges anyone owed money to get more information at www.defense.gov/stoploss.


Click Here to Read More.

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Facebook Apps Allowing Access to User Numbers, Addresses 'new level of danger' for Facebook members

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Facebook Apps Allowing Access to Numbers, Addresses


By: Chloe Albanesius
01.17.2011www.pcmag.com

Facebook recently announced that it is making user phone numbers and addresses available to developers, a move that a security expert said "could herald a new level of danger" for Facebook members.

Facebook isn't just releasing this information into the wild; it's adding it to the company's "User Graph object," or the permissions required to install an app.

"Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions," Facebook wrote in a blog post. "These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs."

Facebook said the permissions only provide access to a user's address and mobile phone number, not their friend's addresses or mobile phone numbers.

Before installation, Facebook apps currently display a permissions-based menu that informs users what type of information the app is accessing. Going forward, users will be informed when the app accesses their phone numbers or addresses.


Sophos's Graham Cluley, however, said that even though the information will only be accessible when a user gives permission, "there are just too many attacks happening on a daily basis which trick users into doing precisely this."

"Facebook is already plagued by rogue applications that post spam links to users' walls, and point users to survey scams that earn them commission - and even sometimes trick users into handing over their cellphone numbers to sign them up for a premium rate service," Cluley wrote in a blog post.

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