Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 (Secular) Reasons Not to Live Together Before Marriage |Blogs ...

One interesting aspect of undergoing a dramatic conversion as an adult is that it's given me the opportunity to be deeply immersed in two rather different cultures. Up until my mid-20s, I was very much a part of post-Christian secular culture. Then my husband and I changed our religious beliefs, and though we're still in touch with many of our old friends, we've increasingly found ourselves in social circles where most people are religious.

In general, there are plenty of similarities between our old and new groups of friends. Both consist of smart, nice folks who are curious about the world and strive to be good people. They have the same types of jobs, like a lot of the same sports teams, and do many of the same things for fun. But one huge difference between these two cultures is the way they approach marriage and relationships.

In secular circles, it was commonplace for couples to move in together as soon as their relationships got serious, often not getting married until years later. There wasn't even a stigma about it. Living together (the thinking went) had the advantage of saving money on rent, and gave couples a much-needed opportunity to see if they could happily live under the same roof before making a bigger commitment. In fact, for many people, it was out of respect for the institution of marriage that they chose to cohabitate. "I never want to get divorced," one friend told me as she moved her belongings into her boyfriend's apartment, "so it's important to me to make sure we can really work together before going through with a wedding."

It was a big change, then, when I found myself surrounded by couples who didn't move in together until they returned from their honeymoons. Young people who weren't yet married either lived with their parents or made significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices to maintain separate residences, and the married couples told humorous stories of adjusting to the first few months in the same house after their weddings. When I got an up-close glimpse into this system, I was amazed by how well it worked. Obviously, I thought it made sense from the moral perspective I'd adopted upon my conversion; but what was most interesting was how much sense it made on a purely practical level as well. Following these age-old customs really did seem to lead people to enjoy their courtships more and to have happier, stronger marriages.

Ever since then, I have strongly recommended to friends who are still in the dating scene that they reject cohabitation, regardless of their religious beliefs. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It makes it too easy to drift into marriage

Practical problems like financial pressures or roommate issues can make moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend seem to be the easiest solution, whether or not you're certain that this is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life. Then, as the months turn into years and you're still under the same roof, you naturally start thinking about marriage -- if nothing else because it seems to be the next logical step. If you've been living together long enough and things are going fine, eventually there's a subtle pressure that makes it seem like having a wedding is something you should do. And when you haven't had the space (literally) to take a step back and objectively consider whether this person is truly the best match for you, the situation is ripe for sliding into marriage by default, rather than getting married as an active, conscious choice that you're genuinely thrilled about.

2. It makes the proposal anti-climactic

Ah, the marriage proposal. From time immemorial it's been romanticized as a huge climax in two people's lives -- and most of the romance comes from the idea that the man and woman are entering into a huge new commitment together. A proposal can still be beautiful and touching if you're already living together, but it'll lack a certain gravitas. If you're already engaging in all the intimacy and sacrifice that comes with making a home together, the moment of the big decision has long passed; in a way, your engagement is already over even before rings get involved.

3. It renders most wedding traditions meaningless

Most wedding traditions become obsolete when we view the institution from the lens of secular culture, but a few of our cherished rituals that couples most look forward to when planning a wedding are particularly hollow and superfluous if you're already living together:

  • The honeymoon can still be a fun getaway for a newly married cohabitating couple, but it lacks the specialness that's there when it's the first time that a couple has spent extended amounts of time together under the same roof.
  • A father walking his daughter down the aisle has long been a sweet symbolic act of a woman going from her parents' house to the house of her own new family, but even its symbolism becomes strained when she's long been building a home with her new spouse.
  • Wedding registries were always a way that two people coming from their parents' homes could get a jumpstart on furnishing their new digs; if you're already set up in a fully functioning household, there's no need for those kinds of gifts.
  • And though I can't say I'd be sad to see this one go, there's no point in hosting bachelor/bachelorette parties when the engaged couple's last nights living on their own happened a long time beforehand.

4. It sends the message that marriage isn't important to you

I know that most people don't intend to send this message when they move in with their significant others; as I said above, many people I know chose to live together first out of a desire to avoid divorce. However, the message that you and your boyfriend or girlfriend send to one another when you set up house before a wedding is that marriage isn't that important as to be worth waiting for. When you cohabitate, you're implicitly saying that your future marriage isn't valuable enough to be worth tough sacrifices -- and that sets a dangerous precedent for when you do take the next step in your relationship.?Combine that with point #1 about drifting toward engagement by default, and it puts a crack in the foundation of your relationship that could take years to fix, if it doesn't spread and get worse over time.

5. It limits your options

Most of the religious couples I know adhered to the idea that they'd never date someone whom they weren't interested in marrying, at least not for long. A friend once mentioned that she had a very nice boyfriend in college whose company she enjoyed, but when it became clear that they weren't meant to be together for life, they mutually and immediately broke it off. When I first encountered that idea it seemed unnecessarily strict, but now it makes a lot of sense. Marriage is the most life-changing commitment you'll ever make, and so it makes sense to order your entire dating life toward that goal. When you're paired up with someone who is not ideal for you, you are missing opportunities to meet the person who is the man or woman of your dreams -- and living together makes it hard to extricate yourself from lukewarm relationships, much more so than if you'd maintained separate residences. Sure enough, just a few days after my friend and her nice college beau parted ways, she met the man who is now her husband of fifteen years, and they have one of the strongest, most joyful marriages I've ever seen.

Especially in this day and age where we're all maxed out both mentally and financially, I can see how it would seem to simplify things for couples to just move in together. But now that I've seen so many examples of it being done both ways, I'm convinced that the sacrifices are well worth it when you wait to set up a home until after the wedding.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

128GB iPad 4 with Retina Display goes on sale on February 5

Instead of having the customary product announcement event in January, Apple announced a new iPad through a press release.

iPad 4 128GB 2013 February release date

iPad 4 with double the storage is available soon! Yesterday January 29, Apple announced the 128GB iPad 4 with Retina Display will be available February 5, next Tuesday:

?The new 128GB versions of the fourth generation iPad will be available starting Tuesday, February 5, in black or white, for a suggested retail price of $799 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi model and $929 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model.?

It?s funny that as companies such as Microsoft and BlackBerry started to copy Apple?s end of January product announcement, Apple moved away from it.

Wait, Apple made an iPad 4, and updated it? Due to the vague naming of iPad 3 and iPad 4, many people missed it.

  • iPad 3 with Retina Display, officially called ?The new iPad?, was released in March 2012
  • iPad 4 with Retina Display and faster Apple A6X processor, officially called ?iPad with Retina Display?, was announced at the iPad mini event and released in November 2012

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Sony Xperia Tablet Z: m?s angosta, m?s liviana, igual de potente

  • Huawei Ascend Mate

    Uno que podr?a darle pelea al Galaxy Note: La compa??a Huawei present? el <a href="">Ascend Mate</a>, un aparato Android que tiene ahora el t?tulo del tel?fono inteligente con la pantalla m?s grande que existe. Con 6.1 pulgadas diagonalmente, el Ascend Mate le gana a la pantalla de 5.5 pulgadas del <em>phablet</em> de Samsung Galaxy y mucho m?s a la del iPhone, de 4.0 pulgadas.

  • HAPIfork

    Comer muy r?pido puede hacer que al final termines consumiendo m?s de lo que tu cuerpo necesita. Para controlarlo, han desarrollado un tenedor inteligente. El <a href="">HAPIfork</a> cuenta con sensores que monitorean cada uno de tus bocados. El tenedor suena y se enciende cuando comes muy r?pido. Se espera que este tenedor se venda por <a href="">$99</a>.

  • Televisores Ultra HD

    Marcas como Samsung, Sony, Sharp, LG mostraron <a href="">televisores en ultra alta definici?n</a> (Ultra HD), con gran cantidad pixeles? s?, muchos m?s que los 1080 que tiene tu televisor en casa. Es la mejor imagen que hayas podido ver, pero tambi?n, la m?s costosa.

  • NVIDIA Shield

    Esta consola de juegos parecer? un control de Xbox con una peque?a pantalla, pero, es mucho m?s. En el Shield, se puede jugar cualquier juego Android o bajar cualquier juego de tu computadora a esta pantalla. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • ZBoard

    En esta patineta el?ctrica, te puedes mover hacia adelante para acelerarla, o hacia atr?s para retroceder. Una fant?stica idea que tambi?n evitar? que se gaste la suela de tu zapato. Disponible por <a href="">$650</a>. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Charge Card

    Un cargador port?til para iPhone, del tama?o de una tarjeta de cr?dito. Un parte se conecta al tel?fono, y luego una extensi?n de goma se convierte en un cargador USB, que se conecta a la computadora. Ya puedes deshacerte de tu cable y llevar este cargador en tu monedero. Precio: <a href="">$25</a>. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Dish Hopper con Slingbox

    El Dish Hopper ya de por s? resolv?a: Un DVR casero que permit?a ver programas grabados en cualquier TV de la casa, sin limitarse a aquel desde donde se grab?. Ahora Dish sum? la funcionalidad Slingbox, con la cual se pueden ver las grabaciones en cualquier PC, tablet o tel?fono inteligente. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Tablet IdeaCentreHorizon de 29 pulgadas

    Este tablet multiusos de Lenovo va m?s dirigido a los amantes del juego y el entretenimiento. Al ordenarla, viene con accesorios de <em>hockey</em> de mesa, un set de dados, y un trompo, para integrarlos con juegos que vienen ya cargados en la m?quina. Disponible desde verano 2013 por <a href="">$1699</a>. M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Instabeat

    Un sensor impermeable que se coloca a los <em>goggles</em> y ?ste lleva la cuenta de tu respiraci?n, ritmo cardiaco, vueltas, y m?s. Tambi?n cuenta con una luz que brilla en color rojo, azul o verde en la periferia del nadador, seg?n su ritmo cardiaco. Disponible por <a href="">$149</a>.

  • Displair

    Proyecta cualquier monitor en una pantalla de vapor que se puede controlar con los dedos, como se har?a con cualquier otro artefacto de pantalla t?ctil. No es que tenga buen uso, pero debe ser divertido jugar algo como Fruit Ninja en una pantalla de neblina. Costar? $10,000 cuando est? disponible. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Gecko Cap

    Creado por un pediatra de MIT, el Gecko Cap es un sensor de goma que se coloca sobre el inhalador de tu ni?o. Cuando ?ste necesita usar en inhalador, una luz en la tapa comienza a prenderse y no se detiene hasta que el inhalador se haya usado. Tambi?n se sincroniza con una aplicaci?n de tel?fono inteligente, para que los padres puedan ver a distancia cu?ndo el ni?o ha usado el inhalador. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • TV curvo de Samsung y LG

    Tanto Samsung como LG corrieron para develar los primeros televisores con pantallas de cristal con curva. A?n no sabemos cu?ndo estar?n disponibles, ni por cu?nto. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Refrigerador con WiFi de Samsung

    Esta nevera se conecta al WiFi de tu hogar. Samsung tambi?n a?adi? la aplicaci?n Evernote a la pantalla LCD que est? sobre el dispensador de hielo para que puedas anotar la lista de comestibles que necesitas y revisarlo en tu tel?fono cuando est?s en el supermercado. Viene tambi?n con Twitter, <em>app</em> de recetas, radio Pandora, e informaci?n noticiosa y del clima. Precio: $4,000. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Eton Rukus Solar

    Bocinas solares con Bluetooth, para sentir que es verano todo el a?o. Disponible por <a href="">$149</a>. M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • YotaPhone

    El <a href="">YotaPhone</a> es un tel?fono con pantalla LCD frontal con sistema Android; en la parte trasera una pantalla <em>e-ink</em>, de las que tienen los Amazon Kindles. La pantalla <em>e-ink</em>, aunque muestra una imagen no tan n?tida o receptiva que una LCD, usa mucho menos bater?a, por lo que si andas con poca pila pero necesitas ver un mapa, revisar tu buz?n de voz, o textear, puedes voltear el tel?fono y usar el lado del <em>e-link</em>. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu? </a>

  • Flower Power

    Para asegurarte de que nunca m?s dejar?s morir a tus plantas. El <a href="">Flower Power</a> es un sensor que colocas en la tierra de tus tiestos y tranfiere a una <em>app</em> en tu tel?fono datos relevantes como la cantidad de fertilizante, niveles pH, luz solar, humedad y temperatura.

  • Trakdot

    El Trakdot es un peque?o rastreador a bater?as con se?al de celular que colocas en tu maleta, para que, si ?sta se pierde, puedas localizarla por medio de una aplicaci?n en tu tel?fono. Precio: $50, m?s $9 de activaci?n y servicio anual de $13. - M?s informaci?n <a href="">aqu?</a>

  • Source:

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    Three mystery Samsung Galaxy Tab profiles spotted: GT-P8200 model houses 2,560 x 1,60

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    Ashton Kutcher Was Hospitalized After Trying Steve Jobs? Fruitarian Diet

    jobsashtonMethod actors are known to go to extreme lengths to understand the character they're portraying. Natalie Portman dropped a whopping 20 lbs off of her already rockin' body to play a ballerina in Black Swan. Ashton Kutcher's preparation for playing Steve Jobs in the biopic jOBS was so extreme it left him in the hospital. According to USA Today, he spent two days in the hospital after trying to stick to Steve Jobs' frutarian diet, which consists of eating fruits, nuts and seeds.


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    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    Preliminary FEMA flood maps add 35,000 NYC buildings

    Michael Heiman / Getty Images file

    The corner of 34th Street and 1st Street in Manhattan floods during rains from Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012 in New York City.

    By Miranda Leitsinger, Staff Writer, NBC News

    Some 35,000 buildings and homes have been added to flood zones in parts of New York City, according to preliminary maps released Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More of these maps will be released in late February for Manhattan and other parts of city where the data is still being analyzed.?

    The numbers emerged after the release earlier in the day of FEMA?s advisory flood maps for parts of the city, increasing the areas falling into 100-year flood zones or areas with the potential for destructive high speed waves along coastlines, said agency spokesman Dan Watson. More maps will be released for other parts of the city, including Manhattan, in late February, he said.?

    The official maps will be released in the summer, but the preliminary ones for hard-hit areas like Staten Island and Queens are intended to give those who are rebuilding a head start. Sandy struck Oct. 29, leaving about 20,000 residential buildings in the city with some damage or disruption to their utilities.

    ?It can inform building back stronger and smarter with the recovery,? Watson said. ?And honestly it will also help save lives and property in the future ? because we?ve seen areas where folks have elevated or used other forms of mitigation and ? they got wet but there wasn?t as much damage as a result of it.??

    The maps reflect base flood elevations and will likely increase insurance rates for those who are newly included in the flood-prone zones. Those who are now in the ?A Zones? -- or 100-year flood zones, where a flooding event has a one percent probability of occurring in any given year -- and who have a federally-backed mortgage will now be required to get flood insurance, Watson said.

    Some property owners may also have to elevate their buildings or homes, likely setting ground floors ground floors 3 to 6 feet higher than zoning rules previously required, according to The Associated Press. The maps have to be adopted by communities, which can appeal parts of them, Watson said.

    Congress has already passed $9.7 billion in additional borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program to help pay Sandy claims from homeowners in New York and New Jersey.?The Senate on Monday night approved a $50.5 billion emergency spending bill to aid people in New York and New Jersey who are trying to rebuild their homes and businesses.

    Hard-hit communities were just beginning to figure out what these initial maps mean for them. In Breezy Point, a private cooperative in the city?s southern Queens Borough heavily damaged by the storm, leaders said they needed to study the maps before offering guidance: ?Keep in mind that the DOB (Department of Buildings) and City still need to make decisions regarding building criteria and if it will change.?


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    Quotes from the Screen Actors Guild Awards

    LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Quotes from the 19th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.


    "I'm just so thrilled I have dental." ? Best supporting actress winner Anne Hathaway after accepting her Screen Actors Guild award for her role in "Les Miserables."


    "Just tape the 'Big Bang Theory' for once, for crying out loud." ? Best supporting comedy actress winner Tina Fey, whose show "30 Rock" is ending its run this week and is going up against a show more popular in the ratings.


    "Oh my God. It's ridiculous." ? Alec Baldwin on his seventh consecutive Screen Actors Guild win for best male actor in a comedy series for "30 Rock."


    "Aren't we lucky that we found a line of work that doesn't require growing up?" ? Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award recipient Dick Van Dyke, who received a lengthy standing ovation from his fellow actors.


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    VinePeek And VineRoulette Let Us Become Real-time Video Voyeurs

    Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 10.51.59 AMTwitter's new video-sharing service, Vine, launched a few days ago, which we've covered extensively. My main complaint after a couple days worth of use is that I simply can't find enough vines to enjoy. But a "Friday project" out of product incubator PXi Ventures could change all that, as they've launched a service called VinePeek.


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    Monday, January 28, 2013

    01.28.13 ? Is FFLGuard part of your Risk Management portfolio ...

    Village Pawn & Gun Shop: We are so grateful to FFLGuard for helping us to reach a reasonable settlement agreement with ATF in lieu of revocation. We came in "hot" and?FFLGuard was very helpful in guiding us as to our options, as well as in hammering out a reasonable deal with ATF. We highly recommend that other FFLs join?FFLGuard before they become a "hot" case. We cant wait to work with?FFLGuard from this point forward so that we are in compliance well beyond that of ATF requirements. Thank you Chris Chiafullo, Scott Braum, and James Zammillo for handing this matter with the expertise that we needed! Jennifer Baggett from Village Pawn & Gun Shop in Wadesboro, NC Ph: 704-694-6266

    North Georgia Traders: Equipped with a vast legal knowledge and a no nonsense approach, Chris Chiafullo and his FFLGuard team have been an irreplaceable asset in our legal battle against the ATF. They offer a professional service with a personal touch. If you?re looking for results as an FFL dealing with ATF, look no farther than FFLGuard. Erica Turner from North Georgia Traders in Cleveland, GA (706) 878-7998)

    Open Range Sports: I've been with FFLGuard for years.? They are the best advocate I could find, to protect MY business and MY FFL, at an affordable rate.? I was curious when a firearms manufacturer's trade association announced it was offering a 'visitation for fee' service to examine retail FFL's compliance with ATF policy.? Unfortunately, a manufacturer's trade association does not represent nor speak solely for retail FFL's, no matter how they attempt to spin it. They have competing and conflicting interests with questionable influence from manufacturers.? FFLGuard has no conflicting interests.? They are pure, unadulterated advocates for a retail FFL like mine, with the both the power and knowledge to protect me and my business." Barry Laws, Owner of Open Range Sports Crestwood, KY (502) 243-8282

    Far West Gun & Supply: [During our last ATF inspection, we] actually got a totally clean bill of health - no violations at all. [ATF] found a couple of small items that we were able to correct on the spot and everybody was happy. [Our FFLGuard Professional, Jimmy Skinner, and I] had several long nights getting things in order, and thanks to Jimmy's guidance, we were able to pull it off! YIPPIEE YAHOO! ...I want to give my personal thanks to Mr. Skinner for all his very professional help. Without his guidance I don't think we would have fared as well as we did. Of course, when the inspectors see the FFLGuard decal right under the open sign, I believe that really does change their attitude as they walk in the door. One of the inspectors asked me: "Just what does FFLGuard do for you?" I told them that it gives me a degree of confidence that I would not have if I was alone. Just knowing that you guys are watching my back is very comforting. Thank you for being there!! Jerry Payne, Owner of Far West Gun & Supply, Santa Barbara, CA (805) 569-2922

    Red?s Trading Post: Our gun shop, Red?s Trading Post, was in business for 105 years before we got into hot water with ATF.? Without FFLGuard, I don?t think our situation would have ever been adequately resolved and I surely would have lost my FFL. There are two options when it comes to dealing with an FFL revocation: "The Big Fight" or FFLGuard.? We originally chose "The Big Fight" because FFLGuard was not available at the time, so I have seen both options first hand and whole-heartedly recommend FFLGuard. To those who think they can take on the ATF with "The Big Fight," I ask: Do you have at least 3 1/2 years to devote to this fight? (Ours lasted that long.) Do you have over $200,000 to fight this? (We paid just that much BEFORE we got to court.) Do you have almost no clerical errors whatsoever? (Many dealers think that their errors are ?minor? and that the Judge will be on their side, which couldn?t be farther from the truth.) IF you do prevail in court, what is to prevent you from not going through this again? My goal is to make sure that no one goes through what we have been through, which is why I am adamant about others participating in FFLGuard.? Because of the lawyers at FFLGuard, we?ll be in business at least another 105 years and beyond. Ryan Horsley, Owner of Red?s Trading Post Twin Falls, ID (208) 733-3546

    Jerry's Outdoor Sports: Before I started to participate in FFLGuard, I was in business for over 25 years.? I had been inspected a few times, but I had never had any major problems with ATF or otherwise.? In fact, I thought we had a fairly decent relationship with ATF, and since I was a ?good guy? who always tried to cooperate with them whenever I could, I figured that I had nothing to worry about.? Boy, was I wrong.? On one visit a few years ago, ATF went through EVERYTHING, including things that had already been inspected in the past.? I got violated for old items, new items, items that had been reviewed and not violated before, and on and on.? I couldn't believe it.? By the end of the inspection, I felt like a criminal in my own store.? I even got written up for selling two Glocks to the local Sheriff's Department on letterhead and with a purchase order!? ATF argued it was a straw purchase since I sold the guns to the quartermaster even though I knew the guns were for the department and not her! When ATF decided to come down on me, I was devastated.? I only wish I had hired FFLGuard before then so my whole livelihood wouldn't have been at risk.? At every step of the process, ATF tried to steamroll me, and frankly, they did a pretty good job.? If it would have been up to me to defend myself, I would have been out of business and bankrupt.? Counsel at FFLGuard, however, stood with me every step of the way and defended me both as a FFL and as a person.? When ATF pushed, FFLGuard pushed back, but it was about more than just fighting.? What I really wanted was a peaceful solution that would allow me to work with ATF going forward, stay in business, and most importantly, be a model of compliance so I will never have to worry about these types of problems again.? FFLGuard accomplished all of that and more, and I will forever be grateful to them for that. Jerry Stehman, Owner of Jerry's Outdoor Sports Grand Junction, CO (970) 245-1502

    Belleville Indoor Shooting Range: FFLGuard has provided our store with top-notch legal services.?? They?ve represented us in the courtroom and in our dealings with ATF and we can say first-hand they are trustworthy and talented.? We?ve achieved peace of mind of through our implementation of FFLGuard?s Law Plus Guidelines at our store and are catching potential violations that might have gone unnoticed before.? Because of our success with internal controls, we have opted to open another store which has been a success!? We are proud to participate in FFLGuard and highly recommend it. Steven King, Owner of Belleville Indoor Shooting Range Belleville, IL (618) 234-9690

    El Cajon Gun Exchange: FFLGuard created an easy, understandable system that informs and educates management and provides the very necessary foundation for proper store policy. In a nutshell, when a dealer fully embraces FFLGuard, they very quickly become a difficult target for an aggressive ATF inspector.? FFLGuard provides legal representation, good advice, and easy access to both of those things.? FFLGuard does exactly what the name says it does.? I would sooner get caught with my fly down in public than to take the FFLGuard sticker off the door. Ron Godwin, Manager & VP of El Cajon Gun Exchange El Cajon, CA (619) 579-5152

    Shadow Valley Arms Co.: Our experience has been excellent concerning the FFLGuard program. We have grown to 4 locations, and we were almost overwhelmed with the basics of our business. We felt that ATF requirements were not getting the proper attention they deserved. We were able to implement FFLGuard?s Law Plus Guidelines to organize our systems, and after about a 6-8 week implementation and training period, we felt like we were finally on top of things.? We have since been through 4 ATF compliance inspections, and our violations are down significantly. A giant relief? as only a gun shop owner can know and understand. I highly recommend FFLGuard, as their responsiveness and insight is second to none. David Vogel, CEO of Shadow Valley Arms Co. Ogden, UT (801) 510-5972

    Top Gun: FFLGuard has been an invaluable resource for helping us correct the issues we had and avoiding others in the future.? While we had always done our best to operate in compliance with the regulations, it is often hard to find answers and to sort out all of the conflicting information that is out there. Thus, we knew we had issues to get straightened out, but we were unsure how to go about doing it.? FFLGuard accomplished this goal for us.? At our most recent inspection by ATF, they commented how they could tell almost to the day when we started implementing the FFLGuard "Law Plus" Guidelines, and we would have had many violations had we not done so.? Not surprisingly, the inspection went great, ATF praised our efforts, and we owe much of our success in this regard to FFLGuard and its responsive and knowledgeable lawyers. Julie Thompson, Owner of Top Gun Houston, TX (713) 779-4867

    Mega Sports: I find being an FFLGuard client to be a huge benefit to my business. The FFLGuard "E-Blasts" alone are worth their weight in gold, as they constantly clarify and reinforce the need to stay on top of all important nuances of BATF regulations. I feel that having an experienced team of dedicated lawyers from FFLGuard behind me -- a team that's always there when I need them -- only helps protect my business. Mark Daniels, Owner of Mega Sports Plainfield, IL (815) 577-2100

    Dunkelberger?s Sports Outfitter: We have been in business for 37 years, and always felt that we did things the ?right? way.? To our surprise, we got caught in the middle of Mayor Bloomberg?s controversial effort to prosecute out-of-state gun dealers.? After a costly exercise to defend our good name in that matter, I realized that FFLGuard could seriously help my operation remain current, compliant, and ?off the radar? of those looking to put me out of business. Since I have brought in FFLGuard to assist us, we have implemented their ?Law Plus? Guidelines, had them in to train our staff, and relied on them for counsel.? Although I wish I knew of them before my Bloomberg experience, I am certainly happy to have them in my corner now and in the future.? Anyone who even sells 100 guns or more each year ought to give serious consideration to bringing these guys on board.? I?m glad we did. Jere Dunkelberger, Owner of Dunkelberger?s Sports Outfitter Stroudsburg, PA (570) 421-7950

    Second Amendment Sports : FFLGuard helped us look at our record-keeping from a different perspective.? We always wanted to be compliant, but now we truly focus on perfection.? It is a different paradigm, yet appropriate for what we do.? Without our FFL, we would be out of business, no question!? And we do not see the ATF relaxing their standards, so through FFLGuard we?ve adjusted ours to be beyond their expectations. Matt Janes, Owner of Second Amendment Sports Tucson, AZ (520) 325-3346 Bakersfield, CA (661) 323-4512

    Guns ?N Gear: My husband may be ?the gun guy? who knows the ins and outs of our operation, but with FFLGuard there to help us, it certainly helps me sleep at night. Patrice Gapen, Co-Owner of Guns ?N Gear Cheyenne, WY (307) 632-4867

    Whittaker?s Guns: We were skeptical in hiring attorneys who were not only from out-of-town but from out-of-state.? As it turns out, it was the best thing we ever did.? The FFLGuard lawyers are ?wired in? with the right people everywhere, so just knowing them made our lives much, much easier.? Granted, their tips and pointers and accessibility put our minds at ease, but the old saying ?it?s not what you know, it?s who you know? couldn?t be more true than with the boys at FFLGuard. Darrel Whittaker, Owner of Whittaker?s Guns Owensboro, KY (270) 229-0140

    Kimble?s Gun & Repair: For a small business, FFLGuard is an excellent way to retain legal counsel who are experts in the firearms field.? As a small business owner, I could not afford to pay the full hourly rate of a local lawyer, let alone the hourly rate of an expert in this field.? By becoming an FFLGuard client, my annual fee is pooled with the other members so that together we can afford legal representation and have the peace of mind knowing that our lawyers know the rules and regulations that apply to us Federal Firearms Licensees.? This puts me on equal footing with BATF, and not at their mercy. Perry Kimble, Owner of Kimble?s Gun & Repair Linton, ND (701) 254-5502

    Hulmes Sporting Goods: I have had bad experiences with some ATF inspectors who were very intimidating. In the past, I have worried daily about ATF inspections which has actually haunted me! However, with FFLGuard?s help and reassurance, I feel better and more comfortable about dealing with ATF. I'm not going to say that I am totally at ease, but I feel so much better knowing when inspection day comes I will have FFLGuard in my corner. People may say that this sounds crazy but it sure is not: FFLGuard has given me peace of mind. Kim Veglio, Co-Owner of Hulmes Sporting Goods Paris, TN (731) 642-0561 or (731) 642-6400

    Mark?s Outdoors: After 29 years in the retail gun business, and being the top retailer in the U.S.A. for many of the top seller gun brands, the single most important decision I have made over that time was to hire FFLGuard to watch my back.? At one time, our store was used as a ?model store? for ATF training since we were told that we ?did such a good job that new [ATF] agents were brought to us for basic training? and we were also used in the NSSF?s ?Don?t Lie for the Other Guy? video, AND used on local television as a model of what a gun store should be. Then D-day came, when my ?model? status apparently meant nothing. ATF traced the buying habits of one of our customers, and everything spun out of control for us.? They said our paperwork was incorrect going back 29 years!? Literally years and years of my blood and sweat were on the line, as they were ready, willing and able to pull my license, ?model store? or not.? Have you ever gone back 29 years to clean up paperwork?? We did.? The team at FFLGuard is the real deal! They talk with the folks at ATF religiously, and as a result, we now get the correct answer every time. I pride myself on a quality job we now do based on the standard that FFLGuard helped me establish.? Now our daily sales and record keeping is easy and done right.? You will be surprised just what this FFLGuard crew can do for you.? For the first time in 29 years I can?t wait for the next ATF audit, because they won?t be in my store long.? I?m ready everyday.? I guarantee you will be happy with FFLGuard. Mark Whitlock, owner Mark?s Outdoors Birmingham, AL (205) 822-2010

    David Codrea: "If you have an FFL?or have a friend who does?you owe it to yourself or them to find out more about FFLGuard. And no, I have no interest in FFLGuard other than a respect for the work of founder Chris Chiafullo and what he and his colleagues are trying to do, because I have friends in the business who have gone through hell for running afoul of technicalities.? Coming from an audit compliance background, I understand how vitally important it is to establish appropriate protocols." David Codrea The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance Gun Rights Examiner Guns Magazine "Rights Watch" CUM ULLA SELLA IN PUGNO TABERNA


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    Michigan makes case for No. 1 with 74-60 win

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) ? Possible No. 1 ranking? Yeah, that's nice, Michigan's Trey Burke said Sunday outside the locker room at Illinois' Assembly Hall.

    But after the win that should give the No. 2 Wolverines their first top ranking since the 1992-93 season, the sophomore guard wanted to talk defense and what a team does when one of its big, defensive rocks goes down.

    If you're Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten), you plug in a couple of other big guys. And you win ? in this case 74-60 over the Illini, most of it without 6-foot-8, 250-pound Jordan Morgan. The starting forward limped to the locker room less than two minutes into the game with a sprained right ankle and didn't come back.

    "Coach (John Beilein) calls him the minister of defense," Burke said, crediting the Mitch McGary, John Horford and Max Bielfeldt, the three big men who picked up the slack.

    "I say this every game," Burke added, "but it just starts with defense. I think that started in the first half."

    And that No. 1 ranking, which will likely be Michigan's after Duke's lopsided loss to Miami earlier in the week opened the door when the AP poll comes out Monday, doesn't mean much yet, Beilein was quick to remind.

    "You compete for a Big Ten championship, then you go on you compete for a national championship," he said. "That's the number one you want down the line."

    Illinois (15-6, 2-5) and first-year coach John Groce, whose team has been doomed by cold shooting since mid-December and shot 37.1 percent Sunday, could do little but marvel at the Wolverines.

    "I give Michigan a lot of credit," Groce said. "You make one mistake and they exploit it like that."

    Burke scored 19 to lead Michigan. Nick Stauskas scored 14 points and Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 each.

    Brandon Paul led Illinois with 15 points but had five of the Illini's 15 costly turnovers.

    Beilein said he didn't yet know the severity of Morgan's sprained right ankle but said he couldn't have returned to the game even if baldy needed.

    The Wolverines hardly missed him ? they seemed to have an answer for everything Illinois offered.

    The Illini fought back to within seven points with just over nine minutes to play when a Richardson steal set up Joseph Bertrand for a soft jump shot that floated into the bucket.

    The wave of noise that rose from the crowd trying to will the Illini back into the game didn't last long.

    First, with 8:40 to play, Mitch McGary pulled down the rebound off a miss by Burke and dropped the ball into the bucket.

    Then Burke scooped the ball up off a Paul turnover at the other end and, with a dunk, put the Wolverines back up by 11 at 59-48. With 8:21 to play and shooting just 37.1 percent on the night, Illinois couldn't find a way back.

    Morgan appeared to roll his right ankle as he came down under the Wolverine basket, but Michigan lost little if anything inside without the 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward.

    McGary, Bielfeldt ? a redshirt freshman with strong ties to Illinois ? and Horford picked up most of Morgan's minutes, and his slack.

    McGary, a 6-10, 250-pound forward, hasn't started a game this season but averages 16 minutes a night anyway. Bielfeldt, though, plays less than six minutes a night, and was all nerves in his first minutes on the court. The 6-7, 245-pound forward badly missed his first free throw, at least a foot right of the basket, and the crowd, well aware that the athletic administration building on the Illinois campus bears his big-donor family's name, let him have it.

    So did his teammates, Beilein said.

    "It was not a great initial debut with the air ball. That's one of the first things we made fun of," the coach said. "All his teammates were on him in the locker room."

    But with another chance at the line minutes later, Bielfeldt sank both shots, finishing with four points in six minutes.

    Horford had seven points and five boards in 17 minutes while McGary had six points and eight rebounds.

    "It gave three guys the opportunity to play that (don't) get as much as they like, Beilein said of Morgan's injury. "I'm really impressed with the big guys and how they stepped up there."

    Illinois' big-man combination of Nanna Egwu, Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey wasn't much of a match for them. The Wolverines scored 42 points in the paint.

    Groce said his big men weren't bad, just not as good they'd like to be, especially McLaurin, the 6-8 grad-student transfer he called his team's defensive Kevin Garnett

    "I really have a high regard for Sam's intelligence and ability to execute our defense, and I think we'll look at the film and he wasn't on his Ps and Qs like normal," said Groce, who last faced Michigan as the coach at Ohio, leading the Bobcats to a second-round NCAA Tournament upset last spring.

    Michigan took the lead for good with 15:21 to play in the first half when Burke hit a jump shot to go up 8-7. With a 9-0 run that ended only with a 3-pointer by Paul with 10:52 left in the half, the Wolverines were up 15-10.


    Follow David Mercer on Twitter:


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    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Change Your Life With These Great Self Help Tips!

    This article has been viewed 3 times.

    You should always be focusing on your personal development. Whether it be healthy living or developing better financial habits, self-growth is smart. You should always strive to be a better person, all throughout your life. There?s always some area of your life you can improve, so don?t be complacent. Establishing good habits will make your life more enjoyable and beneficial!

    Do you frequently consume alcohol? Are you a smoker? What activities do you engage in that have negative effects on your body? Your body is sacred, and you have to learn to respect it. If you want to make enhancements to your lifestyle, eliminating bad habits is a big part of this. Look at some of the habits you have and evaluate if there is anything you can change for the better.

    It is important to treat your body well and listen to its signals. Get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. If you feel sick, see your doctor to find out what the problem is so it can be corrected. Listen to what your body has to say. Start to listen to what your body is telling you, and act on what you?re hearing. You?ll become better attuned, and the result will be better overall self improvement. Ignoring those needs may cause your body to ignore you.

    Willpower often plays a major role in increasing the good aspects in your life; your wishes for others may also be what befalls you. Try to only want good things to happen to other people. When you look on the bright side, it is harder for negative emotions and unfortunate events to ruin your mood.

    TIP! Instead of bragging abut your achievements and awards, ask other people about what they have accomplished that they are most proud of. This will enable you to learn about others and to develop a great deal of respect for the people around you.

    Put your core principles into practice. Everyone has basic principles by which they define themselves. Sticking to your core values will help your self esteem, if you?ve got a strong foundation to rely on. This will also help you develop consistency.

    Place value on the best when it comes to self improvement. You should always strive to do your best in all aspects of your life.

    In terms of self improvement, the experience of failure may feel disheartening and decrease self esteem. Remember, that even failure is something you can use to improve yourself. You will now know how to deal with the situation and what your weaknesses are. Looking at it this way, failure is a source of pride, because you?ve unlocked another piece of the puzzle when it comes to your development.

    Exercise can benefit almost anyone, even those who are not trying to shed excess weight. There are a variety of great reasons to exercise. Exercising causes the release of endorphins that make you feel happier and less irritable.

    TIP! Begin your personal development program by focusing on the things that are most important to you. Not only will you find information on being successful, but you will also learn about mistakes that others have already made and be able to avoid them.

    Aim to make each day better than its predecessor. Always work towards making improvements. Try your hardest to achieve something different today than what you achieved yesterday.

    Determine which aspects of your life you truly value, and concentrate solely on those. By concentrating on those things that you cherish and appreciate, you?re less likely to be pessimistic and to brood over adverse situations that are of little consequence.

    Go with a friend to see a movie you enjoy. This gets you out into a social setting, but does not require you to socialize to the point where you are uncomfortable. This will help get you used to being in the same vicinity with lots of different people.

    Seeing a counselor or therapist can be beneficial. They have a great deal of experience in dealing with personal thoughts and are even licensed to do so. Professionals will be able to help you consider all your options and give you more information about available resources. Talking these issues through with someone who is a professional will help you be healthier and happier in the long term.

    TIP! When you find yourself feeling extremely angry, before you say anything, slowly count to the number ten. Breathe deeply and transport yourself to a tranquil place.

    It may become discouraging to begin developing better personal habits and lifestyles, but once you start noticing your life developing towards a better future, you will never want to stop. You can always develop better ways to do things and it?s important to always try hard towards any self improvement goals you have.

    For more information visit Self Improvement.


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    The DD News Blog: Health hazards in caregiving

    An article by Shaun Heasley at Disability Scoop, "Disability Caregiving Can Be Health Hazard, Study Finds", 12/17/12, summarizes a recent study that concludes that "parents of children with developmental disabilities are experiencing health consequences stemming from their caregiving responsibilities?" I could have told you this from personal experience, but it is important that health problems in caregivers are taken seriously and studied scientifically.

    The study by Stephen Gallagher and Jenny Whiteley was published in Research in Developmental Disabilities, November-December 2012. The abstract describes the study:? "?Thirty-five parents of children with developmental disability and thirty controls completed standard measures of perceived stress, child challenging behaviours and social support and wore an ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitor throughout the day, for one day." Most of the children with disabilities had autism or Down's syndrome.?

    I would have guessed that the higher blood pressure was due to added stress and "child challenging behaviours", but the researchers found that the increase was mostly associated with the parents of disabled children having fewer social supports.

    It is amazing to me that this is the first study to compare blood pressure between these two groups of parents.

    The many comments from caregivers left on the Disability Scoop Web site about this article are well worth reading.


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    French urgency, U.S. caution collide in Mali operation

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - France's military intervention in Mali has revived trans-Atlantic tensions over security issues, this time involving a key counterterrorism battlefield, along with dismay from critics who see U.S. President Barack Obama as too reluctant to use military force.

    According to interviews with officials from both sides, the French have privately complained about what they see as paltry and belated American military support for their troop deployment, aimed at stopping the advance of militants allied with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

    The Americans question whether French President Francois Hollande's armed intervention, which is entering its third week, was coupled with a thought-through exit strategy.

    Hollande called Obama on Thursday, January 10, and in a brief conversation about Mali, told the U.S. leader that France was about to mount a major military operation in the north African country.

    Hollande was in a hurry and called Obama to inform, not to consult, according to French and U.S. officials. France's ambassador to Mali had sent an urgent message to Paris, warning that if the strategic city of Mopti fell to armed Islamic militants, there would be nothing to stop them from capturing the capital, Bamako, and controlling the entire country.

    France launched its military operation on January 11.

    "Had we not intervened, the whole region would have become a new 'Sahelistan'," said a senior French official, referring to the Sahel region of Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

    But France's sense of urgency ran headlong into American concerns about whether Paris had a long-term plan for Mali, and about getting the U.S. military deeply involved in a new foreign conflict as Obama begins his second term in office, the officials said.


    The United States has given what U.S. officials say is significant intelligence support to French forces in Mali, and has helped to airlift French troops and equipment into the country.

    France wants more U.S. and European help to move its soldiers and materiel. More urgently, it wants U.S. aerial refueling capability for its planes, French officials said. That would help France conduct airstrikes to relieve pressure on French troops should they encounter trouble in northern Mali, they said.

    A U.S. official said France's refueling request is under active consideration.

    U.S. support has been "minimal" in practice, one U.S. official acknowledged on condition of anonymity. Washington, this official said, gave France a "hard time" when they asked for increased support, and the French will "remember us for that."

    Obama, who took office when the United States was mired in two costly wars, has shown himself to be cautious - too cautious, mostly Republican critics say - about foreign military interventions. He limited the U.S. role in the campaign that helped oust Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and has resisted months of pressure for more muscular support for rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    There are disagreements within the White House and Congress about U.S. support for the Mali mission, said Republican Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

    "This is not new ... We're seeing an ongoing debate about our participation level in Syria. We saw that same level of debate about our participation in Libya, and now we're having that exact same philosophical stalemate and debate on what we do with the French in Mali," Rogers said in an interview.

    Obama and his aides "don't want their hand forced by French action," said Todd Moss, vice president of the Center for Global Development think tank and a former top official in the State Department's Africa bureau.

    "There is very little, if any, political support in the U.S. for military action in a place like Mali," Moss said.

    Obama spoke to Hollande by phone on Friday and "expressed his support for France's leadership of the international community's efforts to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali," the White House said in a statement.

    The White House said Hollande thanked Obama for the "significant support" provided by the United States.


    France has 2,500 soldiers in Mali, which it sent to block a southward advance on the Malian capital by Islamists occupying Mali's north. While French and Malian troops have appeared to make progress in recent days, the Islamists have proven to be better trained and equipped than France anticipated.

    The U.N. Security Council last month authorized deployment of a 3,300-member African military force, known as AFISMA, to Mali. The full force was originally not expected to be ready until at least September. It now appears that the Africans will be contributing many more troops with a sharply accelerated deployment schedule, although there are questions about how well trained and equipped they are.

    Even before Hollande acted, the United States had been reluctant for months about supporting international intervention in Mali, causing French-U.S. frictions at the United Nations.

    Remembering that it took the Americans weeks to decide on their level of support for the aerial mission over Libya in 2011, France decided to act immediately when Islamist forces in Mali began moving south, the French officials said.

    One French official described Obama's policy as almost "isolationist" - very reluctant to intervene, especially without a clear, easily sellable U.S. strategic interest at stake.

    The Obama administration has said it will do whatever it can to ensure France is successful in disrupting the militants' progress.

    Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said, "We continue to share the French goal of denying terrorists a safe haven in the region, and we support the French operation."

    The United States, Vietor noted, is working to accelerate the deployment, training and equipping of the African force.

    Privately, U.S. officials are more skeptical, suggesting that Paris has developed its plans on the fly, and has no clear exit strategy.

    "I don't think it's a secret that the French military effort has evolved and developed over time, and as that's happened we've worked with them to get the clearest-possible picture of not just their short term planning but also how they view this operation looking in three months or three years," an Obama administration official said.

    France has not specified how long its troops will stay in Mali, where they hope to split local Tuareg rebels away from AQIM militants and into talks with the Malian government.

    "The longer we stay, the bigger the risks," the senior French official said.

    (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and David Alexander, Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, David Lewis in Dakar, and Catherine Bremer in Paris; Writing by Warren Strobel; Editing by Doina Chiacu)


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    Secret UK Uranium Components Plant Closed Over Safety Fears

    "that you feel the need to specify that it's the "liberal left""

    You're obviously not aware of the politics of The Guardian are you. Its the liberal left bible.

    "(as opposed to...?),"

    People who can think for themselves and don't blindly follow some out of date right-on ideology.

    "you think the media industry is largely stocked with baby boomers,"

    Get some glasses, you missed the slash.

    "If you're going to go off on one at least make your pejoratives self-consistent."

    If you're going to post an indignant reply at


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    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    Video: More Pain for the Pound?

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    Rumble in the Wall St jungle: Ackman, Icahn duke it out on TV

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two of the most prominent investors in the world, Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman, had Wall Street mesmerized on Friday as years of acrimony exploded into a bruising verbal scrap on live TV.

    Initially CNBC was only talking to Ackman, but then the cable TV station put Icahn on as well and all hell broke loose.

    The argument centered on nutritional supplements company Herbalife Ltd , in which Ackman has had a well-publicized short position that Icahn has slammed.

    Icahn, 76, who has gone from feared corporate raider to activist investor in more than three decades of dealmaking, called Ackman, 46, a "liar" and "the most sanctimonious guy I ever met in my life."

    In a tirade that included expletives, Icahn said he would never invest with Ackman and predicted investors in his Pershing Square hedge fund would lose a lot of money on the Herbalife bet. U.S. news outlets have reported that Icahn has a long position in Herbalife, although he has not confirmed that.

    Ackman, who is usually much more restrained than Icahn when speaking publicly, got in a few verbal shots himself. Icahn "does not have a good reputation" and "is not an honest guy," he said.

    The altercation quickly became the talk of the financial world, both on trading floors and on Twitter.

    "I will never delete today's Ackman vs Icahn CNBC debate from my DVR. Even when DVRs are like Betamaxes, I'll force my grand kids to watch," tweeted Eric Jackson of hedge fund Ironfire Capital LLC.

    Business Insider Deputy Editor Joseph Weisenthal tweeted: "It's never going to get any better than what we just saw."

    The influential blog ZeroHedge called it the "Ultimate Hedge Fund Deathmatch: Icahn And Ackman As The Real Billionaire Husbands Of CNBC Going Wild."

    BusinessInsider held an online poll: "Who Won The Brawl Between Carl Icahn And Bill Ackman?" As of 5 p.m. New York time, 70 percent of the more than 1,800 people who voted declared Ackman the victor.

    Neither Ackman nor Icahn could be reached for comment after the CNBC show.

    Ackman has called Herbalife a "well managed pyramid scheme" that he predicted will collapse. Herbalife has denied the allegation.

    "On CNBC today, Mr. Ackman continued to misrepresent Herbalife," an Herbalife spokeswoman said on Friday.

    "Herbalife is a financially strong and successful company, having created meaningful value for shareholders, significant opportunities for distributors and positively impacted the lives and health of our consumers over our 32-year history."


    The genesis of their feud stems from a nasty contractual dispute involving a real estate company deal 10 years ago, when Ackman was running his former hedge fund, Gotham Partners, which he co-founded in 1993 with former Harvard Business School classmate David Berkowitz.

    After eight years of litigation, a court ruled in Ackman's favor and Icahn was forced to pay Gotham $4.5 million, plus interest.

    Indeed, the discussion on CNBC often had little to do with the merits of Ackman's view of Herbalife. At times, Icahn also feuded with CNBC host Scott Wapner, accusing him of "bullying" him when he was pressed on whether he had gone "long" on Herbalife shares.

    Icahn may have little to lose from the dustup given that he is simply managing his own money these days. Ackman, on the other hand, manages about $11 billion at Pershing Square, including money from many prominent institutional investors.

    Herbalife shares briefly surged over 5 percent when Icahn said during the row that Ackman, by going public with his big short position, would cause the "mother of all short squeezes" in the stock.

    A short squeeze is when short sellers are forced to cover their position, a move that pushes a stock higher.

    Ackman and Icahn's dislike of each other is well known in financial circles. Some of the tension stems from the fact they both specialize in the same game - taking big positions in companies and agitating for management changes.

    Ackman's bet against Herbalife is also being challenged by another big hedge fund player, Third Point manager Daniel Loeb, who has said he holds a big long position on the stock.

    (Reporting By Sam Forgione, edited by Matthew Goldstein, Jennifer Ablan, Martin Howell and Andre Grenon)


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    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Genes provide clues to gender disparity in human hearts

    Jan. 24, 2013 ? Healthy men and women show little difference in their hearts, except for small electrocardiographic disparities. But new genetic differences found by Washington University in St. Louis researchers in hearts with disease could ultimately lead to personalized treatment of various heart ailments.

    Generally, men are more susceptible to developing atrial fibrillation, an irregular, rapid heartbeat that may lead to stroke, while women are more likely to develop long-QT syndrome, a rhythm disorder that can cause rapid heartbeats and sudden cardiac death.

    While prior studies have clearly established differences in the development of heart disease between men and women, very few studies had looked at the molecular mechanisms behind those differences in human hearts.

    Igor Efimov, PhD, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and a former doctoral student, Christina Ambrosi, PhD, analyzed 34 human hearts looking for genetic differences that might explain gender differences in heart disease.

    The team took advantage of the unique opportunity at the university to obtain failing human hearts at the time of transplantation from Barnes-Jewish Hospital and non-failing hearts unsuitable for transplantation from Mid-America Transplant Services, a St. Louis-based organ procurement service.

    The team screened for 89 major genes in electrophysiology, ion channel subunits, calcium handling proteins and transcription factors important in cardiac conduction and in the development of arrhythmia and the left atria and ventricles in human hearts.

    "What was striking in this study is that we expected very large gender differences in expression of genes in the ventricles, but we did not find such differences," says Efimov, also a professor of medicine, of radiology and of cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine. "Unexpectedly, we found huge gender differences in the atria."

    The results showed that women with failing hearts have a weaker system of gene expression than men -- males showed overall higher expression levels of nearly all of the 89 genes than women.

    Women showed particularly lower atrial expression levels of several important genes encoding for potassium channels, including Kv4.3, KChIP2, Kv1.5 and Kir3.1. In fact, the atria of women with heart disease had less than half of the KChIP2 mRNA than atria in men.

    Results of the research were published in PLOS ONE.

    Efimov says while there are still many questions that need to be answered to explain these molecular differences, one factor that could be contributing to the difference is estrogen.

    "When women have the highest levels of estrogen, they are least vulnerable to arrhythmia -- women are protected by estrogen," he says. "But after menopause, women develop atrial fibrillation at the same rate as men. We don't understand this and need to study this in humans."

    Another potential factor is circadian rhythm, Efimov says.

    "Humans are much more likely to die suddenly from heart disease early in the morning, between 5-7 a.m.," he says. "In the cardiac system in mice, it has been shown that there is an oscillation of gene expression, so certain genes expressed at 5 a.m. could be different by threefold at 5 p.m."

    Efimov says the study on human hearts is unique to Washington University, as much cardiac research elsewhere is done mostly in animal models. In the future, the team would like to expand the research into pediatric hearts, taking advantage of Washington University's leading pediatric heart transplant program to learn more about pediatric physiology.

    Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HL114395) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R-01-HL085369).

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    The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. The original article was written by Beth Miller.

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    Shrinking proton: Particle is smaller than thought

    How many protons can dance on the head of a pin? The answer is nowhere near as straightforward as one may think ? and it might offer new insights into one of the most well-tested theories in physics.?

    An international team of scientists recently tried to find out the actual size of a proton, one of the ingredients (along with neutrons and electrons) of the atoms that make up our bodies and the world around us.

    Reporting this week in the journal Science, the researchers found that the particle's radius is 0.84087 femtometers. A femtometer is a billionth of a billionth of a meter, or so small that the wavelength of gamma radiation is 100 times longer. The new measurement is about 4 percentsmaller than the currently accepted radius of 0.8768 femtometers, and that small difference presents a puzzle.

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    If the smaller size is correct, then there's something missing in physicists' understanding of quantum electrodynamics, which governs how light and matter interact.

    Proton error?
    Aldo Antognini, a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and first author of the paper, told Livescience the difference could mean one of three things.

    First, that there is some error in the earlier work, though that isn't likely given how many times various experiments were repeated.

    The second possibility is that some piece of the calculations for the proton's size is missing. "Maybe we don't understand fully proton structure," Antogninisaid.

    The third explanation is that the current theories of quantum electrodynamics are wrong, though chances of that seem slim given that the theory works very well and it has been tested many times. [ Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature ]

    This result isn't the first time a discrepancy has shown up. In 2010, Antognini, working with an international team led by Randolf Pohl of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, found the proton radius seemed to be 0.84185 femtometers.

    How to measure a proton
    To find the size of a proton scientists have used three methods. One is electron scattering: firing negatively charged electrons at positively charged hydrogen nuclei (protons) and measuring how they are deflected. The scattering pattern can then give an idea of how big the region of positive charge is.

    The second method is to measure how much energy it takes to get an electron to move to different orbital regions around a nucleus. Electrons usually stay in regions that are a certain distance from the nucleus. Increase their energy and they become excited, and move to a different region, called an orbital. The electrons then fall back into their unexcited states and emit a photon. By looking closely at how much energy it takes to move an electron from one orbit to a higher-energy one, and the wavelength of the photon emitted when the electron drops back to its lower-energy orbital, it's possible to estimate a proton's size.

    Last, the method used in the latest set of experiments, involves muonic hydrogen, which is a proton with a muon, rather than an electron, orbiting around it. Like electrons, muons are negatively charged, but they are 207 times heavier. That means they fly closer to the proton, and it takes more energy to move them to higher-energy orbitals. The greater energy differences make measuring them easier. Firing a laser at the muonic hydrogen excites the muon, moving it to a different orbital. The muon then falls back to its lower-energy state, emitting an X-ray photon.

    The first two methods, used over decades, had come up with the larger value for the proton's radius. The latter method, which scientists say has a smaller uncertainty, found the smaller one. These calculations, though, are quite complex.

    New proton measure
    Antognini's team, carrying out experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, not only did the muonic hydrogen experiment a second time, they also took steps to ensure a more accurate measurement. The discrepancy remained. "Maybe there is something in [proton] structure only highlighted by muons," Antognini said. [ Weird: Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena ]

    That's why the new value is proving such a mystery. Quantum electrodynamics (QED) is probably right, and it's also not likely that the earlier experiments were that far wrong due to simple errors, experts say.

    "There might be some missing terms in the calculations," said Helen Margolis, a research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory in the U.K., who was not involved in the research. "QED has been tested to incredible levels so far, but the mathematical foundation is not as secure as you might like."

    Chad Orzel, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Union College and author of "How to Teach Physics to Your Dog" (Scribner, 2010), said the results are good for physics generally, because of the questions they raise. "It's really boring when all the measurements and theory agree with each other. This kind of disagreement gives us something to talk about that isn't the Higgs boson."

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