Category Archives: Biking

The Tire Pressure Revolution, by Jan Heine

The Tire Pressure Revolution – By Jan Heine

In recent years, there has been a trend toward wider tires and lower tire pressures. We now hear from many sources that wider tires can roll faster than narrower ones, which contradicts what most of us used to believe. In the past, cyclists thought that higher tire pressures decreased the tires’ rolling resistance.

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What has changed?

At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve been researching tire performance for the last eight years, and the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed. We did not believe it at first, either, so we’ve tested it numerous times. It’s been confirmed time and again, with different methodologies. Below is only one dataset, click here for more data…

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If it all looks confusing, that’s because it’s not as simple as we thought. Rolling resistance does vary slightly with tire pressure, but it’s not linear, and it depends on the surface. On smooth surfaces like the one used in the tests shown above, moderately high tire pressure – say 100-110 psi for a 25 mm tire – actually rolls slower than either a lower pressure (80 psi) or a higher pressure (130 psi). On rough surfaces, higher pressures roll significantly slower.

Tire Pressure Doesn’t Matter for Performance

The variations are much smaller and hard to predict – they depend on the tire as much as on the road surface – so the take-home message is that tire pressure doesn’t matter enough to worry about it. Inflate your tires enough that they don’t collapse when you corner at speed, and you have found the optimum pressure for your tires. It’s that simple.

A detailed explanation of why this happens is beyond the scope of this article, but basically, on a bike, the resistance of tires consists of two types of energy losses. One is from deformation of the tire, and higher pressures reduce that deformation. The second loss occurs from the vibrations of the bike, and those increase with higher pressures. The two effects roughly cancel each other, which is why tire pressure doesn’t have a big effect on rolling resistance. In the past, researchers focused only on the tire deformation and overlooked the losses due to vibrations, hence the belief that higher pressures rolled faster.

New Tire Design

The real revolution brought about by this new research is not how you use your pump, but rather how tires are constructed. It’s not an overstatement that it has revolutionized our understanding of tires.

Again, in the past, we all believed that higher tire pressures made tires roll faster. We also knew that supple casings made tires faster. However, supple casings don’t handle high pressure well, so the only way to combine high pressures and supple casings is to make the tire narrow. For wider tires, you had two choices, and neither was good:

1)  Beef up the casing, which makes the tire less supple and slower.

2)  Lower the pressure, which we thought made the tire slower.

No matter which route you took, the science of the day predicted that your wider tire would be slower. It was a Catch-22, and for the best performance, you stuck with narrow tires, where you could have a supple casing and high pressure at the same time.

You can see where this is heading. If lower pressures don’t make tires slower, then you can create wide tires with supple casings. You run them at lower pressures, and you don’t give up any performance on smooth roads. On rough roads, you actually gain speed, because the tire (and you) bounce less. And on all roads, you are more comfortable. Instead of a Catch-22, you have a win-win-win situation.

It took a while for this research to become accepted, but once the professional cycling teams started testing tires with power meters on the road, they found that the wider tires, run at lower pressures, were as fast, or faster, than the narrower tires they had been running. Add to that the better cornering grip – more rubber on the road, less bouncing that can break traction – and it didn’t take long for the pros to go from 23 to 25 mm tires.

23 to 25 mm may not sound like much – less than 10% wider. But when you look at the air volume – the area of a circle goes up with the square of the radius – you get 18% more air volume. That is significant.

On smooth roads, 25s are about as fast you get – our research indicates that 28s and 32s aren’t slower, but neither are they any faster (that includes air resistance at speeds of about 18 mph). That means that if your bike can handle wider tires, you can get more comfort and better cornering with wider tires, without losing any speed.

On the average backroad, wider tires make your cycling much more enjoyable: the significant additional air volume they allow makes for a more comfortable ride, and they better handle the bumps and related vibrations, in effect smoothing out the ride. Additional good news is that when they are made right, these wider tires aren’t any slower than narrower ones.

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Supple Casings

To get the most benefit out of these lower pressures, you need supple tires. A stiff sidewall takes more energy to flex, so the tire will be slower. It also will vibrate more, so you lose more energy that way, too. You could call it a “lose-lose” situation.

The second most important thing our research found was that tires can make a larger difference in your bike’s performance than any other component. At moderately high speeds of 18-20 mph, a supple tire can make you 8-10% faster than a stiffer, but otherwise similar tire. That is far more than the difference a set of aero wheels makes (1-2%).

Professional racers have known this all along: As much as their equipment has changed over time, they’ve always ridden supple tires. They usually ride hand-made tubulars. There also are very fast-rolling racing clincher tires, but if you rode on rougher backroads and needed wider tires, you were out of luck: Most wide tires were either intended for city bikes and have stiff casings and puncture-proof belts, or they were designed for high pressures, which also requires stiff casings. Either way, these tires were slow and uncomfortable.

When we saw the results of our studies on tire performance, we realized that wide tires could be as fast as narrow ones, while offering more comfort and the ability to tackle rougher surfaces and even gravel.

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We decided to take matters into our own hands to create wide tires that roll as fast as narrow ones. We worked with Panaracer and developed tires that use the same casings as high-end tubulars, but in much wider widths, and as clincher tires. We started Compass Bicycles, a sister company to Bicycle Quarterly, to develop components based on the findings of our research, including Compass tires, which are available in widths between 26 and 42 mm, and in several wheel sizes. RBR’s Coach Fred Matheny has reviewed both our Stampede Pass 700 x 32 Tires and our Barlow Pass Extralight 700 x 38 Tires.

Conclusion

Tire pressure does not significantly affect your bike’s rolling resistance, but the casing construction of your tires does. This means that you can ride lower pressures without going slower, and that wide tires are no slower than narrow ones – as long as they have similar casings. The fastest tires have supple casings that consume less energy when they flex, and transmit fewer vibrations, creating a win-win situation. These tires roll super-fast no matter at what pressure you run them.

Jan Heine is the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, a magazine about the culture, technology and history of cycling. After racing for a decade, he now enjoys randonneuring and cycling off the beaten path. His blog is at www.janheine.wordpress.com.

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What’s Up: January 23, 2012?

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· ‘Strongest evidence yet to there being life on Mars’

· Martian rocks from a crater hit by a meteorite may contain the strongest evidence yet that there is life on Mars.

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Prof John Parnell, 55, has co-written a theory with Dr Joseph Michalski, a planetary geologist at the Natural History Museum that suggests they have discovered the best signs of life in the huge McLaughlin Crater on the surface of Mars.

The document, published today in Nature Geoscience journal, describes how they assessed the crater, created by a meteorite which smashed into the surface of Mars, flinging up rocks from miles below.

The rocks appear to be made up of clays and minerals which have been altered by water – the essential element to support life.

Speaking from his laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, geochemist Prof Parnell said: “We could be so close to discovering if there is, or was, life on Mars.

“We know from studies that a substantial proportion of all life on Earth is also in the subsurface and by studying the McLaughlin Crater we can see similar conditions beneath the surface of Mars thanks to observations on the rocks brought up by the meteorite strike.

“There can be no life on the surface of Mars because it is bathed in radiation and it’s completely frozen. However, life in the sub surface would be protected from that.

“And there is no reason why there isn’t bacteria or other microbes that were or still are living in the small cracks well below the surface of Mars.

“One of the other things we have discussed in our paper is that this bacteria could be living off hydrogen, which is exactly the same as what microbes beneath the surface of the Earth are doing too.

“Unfortunately, we won’t find any evidence of animals as the most complex life you might get in the sub surface would be fungi.

“But fungi aren’t even that far removed from plants and animals, so I think you could say that life on Mars could be complex, but small.”

Prof Parnell reckons that although the next mission to Mars will have a drill to examine possibilities of life beneath the surface of Mars, he says his new study suggests looking around the edges of craters would be easier and more beneficial.

He said: “What we’re really doing is emphasizing that if we are going to explore for life on Mars, we need to go beneath the surface. So we need to find an approach beneath the surface.

“One approach to do that might be to drill and indeed the next European mission to Mars will have a drill on it, but that will only go down about two meters.

“And although drilling two meters on Earth would be a fantastic technological achievement, it’s only really scratching the surface.

“So the alternative is to use what nature has done for us and that’s why we are particularly interested in the McLaughlin Crater that we have investigated in our paper.

“Because when a meteor lands, it excavates a big hole in the ground and throws rocks from the bottom of the hole outside the crater to where we could conceivably go and sample them.”

And while the craters on Mars may uncover secrets about the planet’s possibility of supporting life, Prof Parnell also revealed the results could show us how life on Earth began.

He said: “It’s very easy to draw parallels between what Mars looks like and what the early Earth might have looked like, because the rocks on Earth that we see now have been recycled a lot in ways that they have not been recycled on Mars.

“Mars has not had things like erosion and shifting of mountain ranges to destroy vital evidence from the past.

“So studying meteorite craters of Mars may well actually give us an indication to how life on Earth began.

“Although we all live on the surface of Earth, life did not originate here, but actually in the sub surface.

“It was only when life had taken hold below the surface that it gradually expanded and came up to the surface.

“In fact, there’s so much life below the surface of our planet that we are actually the unusual ones living above it.” Story Continued:

· McConnell vows to block gun control measures

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, bracing for a challenge in the 2014 elections, promised Saturday to try to block President Barack Obama’s gun-violence initiatives in a taped telephone recording sent across Kentucky.

“President Obama and his team are doing everything in their power to restrict your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” McConnell said in the recording. “Their efforts to restrict your rights, invading your personal privacy and overstepping their bounds with executive orders, is just plain wrong.”

Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said the call went out to “several hundred-thousand gun owners and hunters across the state.”

It came the same day that “Guns across America” rallies were held in state capitals across the country, including Frankfort, where participants cradling guns jeered Obama’s plans to clamp down on assault weapons and stiffen background checks.

Obama laid out his gun proposals Wednesday in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six school employees dead.

The proposals came from a work group headed by Vice President Joe Biden and called for a variety of measures, including outlawing the sale of assault-style rifles, prohibiting gun magazines with more than 10 rounds and requiring that everyone who purchases a gun pass a background check.

Some of the measures would require congressional approval, while Obama signed 23 executive orders to put other provisions in place.

“Know that I will be doing everything in my power as Senate Republican leader, fighting tooth and nail, to protect your Second Amendment rights, so that law-abiding citizens such as yourself can properly and adequately protect yourself, your family, and your country,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in the phone call.

At the Commerce Lexington’s Public Policy Luncheon on Friday, McConnell avoided the issue of gun control, focusing instead on the national debt, his role in fiscal-cliff negotiations and his recent trip to Afghanistan, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

He didn’t take questions from reporters after the speech.

Republicans have largely opposed the measures, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, said he would file legislation this week to seeking to nullify Obama’s executive orders because he said they stray into the area of “legislation.”

Paul also advocated for allowing school teachers and principals who have concealed-carry permits to take guns into the classroom to protect students.

Currently, McConnell has no re-election opposition, but some members of the tea party are searching for a quality opponent to challenge McConnell in the GOP primary, while Democrats are trying to recruit a candidate who can challenge Paul in the November 2014 election. Story Continued:

· West faces ‘decades’ of conflict in N Africa – David Cameron has raised the spectre of Britain being sucked into the fight against terrorists in north Africa for “decades” after the Algerian hostage crisis ended with more than 20 dead.

The UK prime minister said on Sunday that the growing threat of Islamist militants in the Sahel region of Africa required “a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months”.

He compared the situation with that in Afghanistan, saying: “What we face is an extremist, Islamist, violent al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, just as we had to deal with in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

British officials said the government’s response to threats in countries such as Algeria and Mali, where the UK is supporting French efforts to expel Islamist rebels, would mainly focus on attempts to strengthen governments and promote dialogue. But they added that British troops could be forced to take direct action against the growing threat of Islamist militants.

Algerian officials warned that the initial casualty figure of 23 hostages and 32 militants was likely to rise while local newspapers quoting unnamed security forces said up to 30 bodies have been found at the sprawling gas complex which was being combed for explosives.

Ten Japanese and five Norwegians were among those unaccounted for at the plant, which is operated by the UK’s BP, Statoil of Norway and Algeria’s Sonatrach.

The first British fatality has been named by the Foreign Office as Paul Thomas Morgan, aged 46. It was unclear which company Mr Morgan had been working for.

Mr Cameron said the UK must “work with others to defeat the terrorists and to close down the ungoverned space where they thrive with all the means that we have”. He said the threat would “require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months, and . . . that is patient, that is painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent”.

He said he would use Britain’s chairmanship of the G8 this year to ensure that the issue is “right at the top of the agenda”.

In line with other western leaders, Mr Cameron refrained from criticising the Algerian authorities who mounted a final military assault on the facility on Saturday two days after their helicopters shelled vehicles in which the attackers had loaded hostages, causing many deaths. He did not repeat the “disappointment” he expressed on Friday over the decision to launch an attack on the hostage takers without his prior knowledge.

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister said: “It’s easy to say that this or that should have been done. The Algerian authorities took a decision and the toll is very high but I am a bit bothered . . . when the impression is given that the Algerians are open to question. They had to deal with terrorists.”

Algerian officials said the army decided to storm the gas facility only when it became clear the militants had killed the remaining seven hostages they held and were planning to blow up the site.

François Hollande, French president, said Algeria’s tactics were “the most adapted response to the crisis” and that there could be no negotiations with terrorists.

An escaped British worker, Alan Wright, told ITV News said he and his colleagues hid in an office when they heard sustained gunfire. They stuck pieces of paper to the windows of the room so the militants could not see inside and after about 24 hours, his Algerian colleagues decided to attempt an escape. Disguising him as a local worker, they cut a hole in the perimeter fence and ran into the desert where they came across members of the Algerian military.

The kidnappers calling themselves “Those Who Sign In Blood’’ – part of an al-Qaeda splinter group led by the veteran jihadist, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, initially claimed the attack was in retaliation for France’s military campaign in Mali.

They reiterated this claim on Sunday, according to the Mauritanian news website Sahara Media. It cited a video, showing Mr Belmokhtar saying: “We in al-Qaeda announce this blessed operation,” adding: “We are ready to negotiate with the west and the Algerian government provided they stop their bombing of Mali’s Muslims.”

Sahara Media did not display the video itself on its site and it was not immediately possible to verify the information. Story Continued:

· First Term: Americans Collecting Disability Increased 1,385,418—Now 1 for Each 13 Full-Time Workers

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During President Barack Obama’s first term, the number of Americans collecting federal disability insurance increased by 1,385,418 to a record 8,827,795.

As a result, there is now one person collecting disability in this county for every 13 people working full-time. Forty-two years ago, in December 1968, there were 51 people working full-time in this country for each person collecting disability.

In January 2009, the month Obama was inaugurated, there were 7,442,377 Americans collecting federal disability insurance, according to the Social Security Administration. By December 2012, the latest month reported, there were 8,827,795 collecting disability, an increase of 1,385,418. With 115,868,000 people working full-time in December, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was 1 person collecting disability for every 13 people working full-time.

In the comparable period of George W. Bush’s first term—January 2001 through December 2004—the number of people taking disability went from 5,052,895 to 6,197,664, an increase: 1,144,769.

In the comparable period of George W. Bush’s second term–January 2005 through December 2008–the number of people taking disability went from 6,219,666 to 7,427,203, an increase of 1,207,537.

Back in January 2001, there was one person collecting disability for every 23 full-time workers; by December 2004 there was one person collecting disability for every 19 full-time workers; and by December 2008, there was one person collecting disability for every 16 full-time workers.

Forty-two years ago, in December 1968, 1,295,428 Americans collected disability and 65,630,000 worked full-time. Thus, at that time, there were about 51 Americans working full-time for each person collecting disability. Story Continued:

· The Long Road Forward: Obama’s Second-Term Challenges

Just because you beat Mitt Romney — and John McCain before him — doesn’t mean you’re a great president or even a particularly good one.

President Barack Obama has proved to be brilliant at digital organizing and winning elections. But his presidency so far has been less than meets the eye.

He has yet to improve the lives and lot of average Americans; to erect the edifices of health care and banking reform; to enact immigration reform or implement strong new environmental rules; to set a consistent course for our role in the world; or to soothe the corrosive tone of public life in Washington.

Still, the public hasn’t abandoned him; he won a convincing victory last November, after all. A new Huffington Post/YouGov poll shows voters modestly hopeful about his chances of being more successful this time around; a combined 64 percent of those polled say they think he will accomplish as much or more in the second term than he did in the first term.

And, given the haplessness of his Republican foes, Obama is in an unusually strong position to deliver on the potential of his second term — but only if he has the will and wherewithal to turn ballot-box victory into real-life results.

That’s the bottom line of an in-depth survey by The Huffington Post of the problems and prospects facing the president as he prepares to place his hand on two Bibles next Monday: the one Abraham Lincoln used in 1861, and the “traveling” one Martin Luther King, Jr., kept at his side.

Today we launch a series of stories giving you results of that survey: 20 reported pieces during the next week, 14 from the U.S. and six from overseas; pairs of expert blog posts published with each domestic story; HuffPost Live video interviews with reporters; and poll data from HuffPost/YouGov.

Drudges on the right see the president as a malignant and unstoppable force out to utterly transform America. But our reporters found something less apocalyptic. Obama actually has been less daring than he could have been, less systematic than he should have been, and more focused on short-term politics than his lofty, man-of-big-ideas image would suggest.

We start with the middle class, in whose name the president has, fitfully, dedicated his presidency. There is no question that the president helped save the global system of trade and credit from collapse — a collapse that would have ruined us all, middle class included. Also, as his aides regularly point out, the promise of more widely available health care, subsidized by taxpayers, can make up for some of the downdraft in job and wages.

But reporters Dave Jamieson and Arthur Delaney found that the American middle class — the cultural and economic mainstay of the country — is under more pressure than ever, and in some ways farther behind than it was when Obama took office in 2009. Our reporters look at the administration’s claims of progress, and its modest targeted plans for a second term, and ask whether he is eager or able to do more.

It’s a central question — if not the central question — of the Obama presidency.

In the days ahead, we will look at other urgent topics: poverty, education reform, foreign affairs, military tactics, bank regulation, the environment, immigration, the black community, drug policy, health care, Obama’s partisan political legacy, his willingness (or lack thereof) to change the tone in Washington and the prospects (or lack thereof) for a grand budget bargain.

We find that Obama has miles to travel on most of these issues. His electoral victories (winning two terms by more than 50 percent of the popular vote each time) place him in the company of presidents like Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Obama is in the winner’s circle, but not yet the “transformational figure” circle.

For most reelected presidents, power fades quickly. That may not be true in Obama’s case. Laws he passed in his first term can be implemented without going back to a nettlesome Congress. The world economy could be poised for a new round of growth. His Republican foes are in retreat and disarray. He can back them into a corner or woo them one-by one, as he did recently on the “fiscal cliff.” He was a novice at Washington and at the give-and-take of politics four years ago. Now he has a feel for the game.

The deeper question is whether he will be shrewd, persistent and tough enough to turn great promise into true greatness. His critics are of course skeptical. The American people are skeptical, too. A HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that only 37 percent of the American people predict that Obama will be a “great or above average” president. Other polls show that voters still think by a wide margin that the country is on the “wrong track.”

But Obama has defied expectations before. And if he can meet the challenges we explore starting today, he will do so again — and honor the memory of Lincoln and King in a fashion far more profound than a hand on a Bible. Story Continued:

· Obama gut-busting lunch menu tops 3,000 calories

The ceremonial lunch President Obama and his former congressional colleagues are eating Monday tops out at 3,000 calories, according to a website that has tallied up the luxurious menu of lobster, bison and apple pie.

HealthyFoodRecipe.net posted the full menu, complete with its calorie count, and said it was “unsatisfactory” to see such an unhealthy spread, given first lady Michelle Obama’s push for healthier eating.

She has come under fire for the high-calorie counts of some of the state dinners she’s hosted at the White House, but other nutritionists have given her a pass, saying indulging on special occasions is perfectly fine. Inaugurations, which come every four years, are about as special as occasions get.

The first course is lobster tails in a New England clam chowder sauce. The second course is bison with a red potato horseradish cake. The dessert is apple pie with sour cream ice cream.

The chef preparing all of this is Shannon Shaffer, who also prepared the 2009 luncheon.

The menu was determined by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugurals Ceremonies, which is chaired by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. Mr. Schumer’s home town of New York already requires all fast-food chains to post calorie counts.

And soon the rest of the country will have to follow suit. Mr. Obama’s health law includes that same requirement.

Some of those restaurants have objected. Pizza chains said they’ll have to post extensive signs with thousands of combinations of ingredients to meet the requirements. Story Continued:

· Panetta: US has to ‘fight back’ against al Qaeda after three Americans killed

The terrorist attack in Algeria that left three Americans and 34 other hostages dead shows that al Qaeda is “committed to creating terror” no matter where its members are located and that America has “got to fight back,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.

“I’m glad we were able to get some rescued, but we did lose three Americans,” Panetta told a small group of reporters Monday as he left the inaugural lunch at the Capitol. “That just tells us al Qaeda is committed to creating terror wherever they are, and we’ve got to fight back.”

He said the militant groups have shown a capacity to rebound even after being pushed out of safe havens.

Panetta’s comments reflected a speech he gave in November in which he said the end is not near in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda.

He noted that U.S. forces had made key gains against the terror group in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, but said it was now seeking new footholds in places like Mali, where the United States has aided a French campaign against Islamist militants.

Panetta described al Qaeda like an adapting cancer.

“We have slowed the primary cancer, but we know that the cancer has also metastasized to other parts of the global body,” he said.

The hostage crisis began Wednesday when an offshoot of al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, stormed a remote natural-gas facility near the Libyan border. The three American hostages killed when Algerian forces intervened were identified Monday by the State Department as Victor Lynn Lovelady, Gordon Lee Rowan and Frederick Buttaccio.

“We extend our deepest condolences to their families and friends,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. “Out of respect for the families’ privacy, we have no further comment. We are also aware of seven U.S. citizens who survived the attack. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further information to provide.

“As the president said, the blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms. We will continue to work closely with the government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of the terrorist attack of last week and how we can work together moving forward to combat such threats in the future.”

Some foreign governments, including Japan and Great Britain, have complained of being kept out of the loop as Algerian forces prepared to raid the compound. The White House so far has refrained from criticizing Algeria, a key counterterrorism ally.

“The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms,” Obama said in a statement Saturday. “We have been in constant contact with Algerian officials and stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack.” Story Continued:

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What’s Up: January 21, 2012?

 

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· Cheesecake Factory pasta on list of caloric “food porn”

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A Cheesecake Factory pasta dish with more than 3,000 calories – or more than a day and a half of the recommended caloric intake for an average adult – is among the headliners on this year’s Xtreme Eating list of the most unhealthy dishes at U.S. chain restaurants.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-focused nonprofit group that promotes healthier eating, compiles an annual list of “food porn” to alert consumers to menu items with eye-popping levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium.

“You’d think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants,” CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said of the industry’s Xtreme Eating winners. The list was released on Wednesday.

CSPI for years has used the “awards” to raise awareness and drum up support for calorie disclosure on restaurant menus – something that larger chains soon will be required to do under the U.S. health reform law.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta, made with a butter and cream sauce and topped with battered, fried shrimp, has 3,120 calories and 89 grams of saturated fat and 1,090 milligrams of sodium, said CSPI, which said it confirmed nutritional data with companies on the list.

Cheesecake Factory said that dish has 3,020 calories, 79 grams of saturated fat and 1,076 milligrams of sodium.

Typical adults are advised to consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.

“It’s like eating three orders of Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico plus an order of tiramisu for dinner,” CSPI said. Some in the food and beverage industries have dubbed the Washington-based group the “food police.”

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and about 10 percent of the nation’s healthcare bill is tied to obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The nation’s food and beverage industries are under increasing pressure from consumer, health and parents’ groups to offer more healthy alternatives.

Restaurant companies say it is their job to give consumers choices. Many, including Cheesecake Factory, have lower-calorie sections on their menus alongside the indulgent offerings.

Cheesecake Factory is known for its ample portions and wide array of cheesecakes – many of which weigh in at around 1,000 calories per slice.

It makes regular showings on the Xtreme Eating list, but since August 2011 has promoted its “SkinnyLicious” menu of entrees with 590 or fewer calories, including salmon rolls and a pear and endive salad.

Jayne Hurley, CSPI’s senior nutritionist and an author of this year’s Xtreme Eating report, said such lower-calorie items should be re-categorized as “normal” rather than “diet.”

“It’s the steady stream of high-calorie foods that sabotage your diet not just for the day, but for the entire week,” Hurley said.

“The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices. Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories,” Donald Evans, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Evans also said Cheesecake Factory diners often share their dishes or take home leftovers.

Other Xtreme Eating winners for 2013 include:

– Johnny Rockets’ Bacon Cheddar Double Hamburger with 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. For comparison, three Quarter Pounders with Cheese from McDonald’s have 1,570 calories.

– Cheesecake Factory’s Crispy Chicken Costoletta with 2,610 calories, 89 grams of saturated fat and 2,720 milligrams of sodium. CSPI said an entire 12-piece bucket of KFC Original Recipe fried chicken has about the same number of calories but less than half the saturated fat. Cheesecake Factory told Reuters that dish has 2,560 calories, 86 grams of saturated fat and 2,767 milligrams of sodium.

– Smoothie King’s Peanut Power Plus Grape Smoothie, which includes peanut butter, banana, sugar and grape juice. A 40-ounce, large size of that drink has 1,460 calories and 22 teaspoons of added sugar plus 29 teaspoons of naturally occurring sugar.

The U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day and that men consume no more than nine.

– Chocolate Zuccotto Cake from Maggiano’s Little Italy. One slice weighs nearly one pound and has 1,820 calories, 62 grams of saturated fat and 26 teaspoons of added sugar – or 15 Hostess Ho Hos, CSPI said. Story Continued:

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· ALGERIA: 32 MILITANTS KILLED, WITH 23 HOSTAGES

In a bloody finale, Algerian special forces stormed a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert on Saturday to end a standoff with Islamist extremists that left at least 23 hostages dead and killed all 32 militants involved, the Algerian government said.

With few details emerging from the remote site in eastern Algeria, it was unclear whether anyone was rescued in the final operation, but the number of hostages killed on Saturday – seven – was how many the militants had said that morning they still had. The government described the toll as provisional and some foreigners remained unaccounted for.

The siege at Ain Amenas transfixed the world after radical Islamists linked to al-Qaida stormed the complex, which contained hundreds of plant workers from all over the world, then held them hostage surrounded by the Algerian military and its attack helicopters for four tense days that were punctuated with gun battles and dramatic tales of escape.

Algeria’s response to the crisis was typical of its history in confronting terrorists, favoring military action over negotiation, which caused an international outcry from countries worried about their citizens. Algerian military forces twice assaulted the two areas where the hostages were being held with minimal apparent mediation – first on Thursday, then on Saturday.

“To avoid a bloody turn of events in response to the extreme danger of the situation, the army’s special forces launched an intervention with efficiency and professionalism to neutralize the terrorist groups that were first trying to flee with the hostages and then blow up the gas facilities,” Algeria’s Interior Ministry said in a statement about the standoff.

Immediately after the assault, French President Francois Hollande gave his backing to Algeria’s tough tactics, saying they were “the most adapted response to the crisis.”

“There could be no negotiations” with terrorists, the French media quoted him as saying in the central French city of Tulle.

Hollande said the hostages were “shamefully murdered” by their captors, and he linked the event to France’s military operation against al-Qaida-backed rebels in neighboring Mali. “If there was any need to justify our action against terrorism, we would have here, again, an additional argument,” he said.

President Barack Obama said in a statement Saturday that the U.S. stood ready to provide whatever assistance was needed in the wake of the attack.

“This attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups in North Africa. In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future,” the statement said.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning the militants’ terrorist attack and said all perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such “reprehensible acts” must be brought to justice.

In the final assault, the remaining band of militants killed the hostages before 11 of them were in turn cut down by the Special Forces, Algeria’s state news agency said. The military launched its Saturday assault to prevent a fire started by the extremists from engulfing the complex and blowing it up, the report added.

A total of 685 Algerian and 107 foreigner workers were freed over the course of the four-day standoff, the ministry statement said, adding that the group of militants that attacked the remote Saharan natural gas complex consisted of 32 men of various nationalities, including three Algerians and explosives experts.

The military also said it confiscated heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, missiles and grenades attached to suicide belts.

Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company running the Ain Amenas site along with BP and Norway’s Statoil, said the entire refinery had been mined with explosives, and that the process of clearing it out is now under way.

Algeria has fought its own Islamist rebellion since the 1990s, elements of which later declared allegiance to al-Qaida and then set up new groups in the poorly patrolled wastes of the Sahara along the borders of Niger, Mali, Algeria and Libya, where they flourished.

The standoff has put the spotlight on these al-Qaida-linked groups that roam these remote areas, threatening vital infrastructure and energy interests. The militants initially said their operation was intended to stop a French attack on Islamist militants in neighboring Mali – though they later said it was two months in the planning, long before the French intervention.

The militants, who came from a Mali-based al-Qaida splinter group run by an Algerian, attacked the plant Wednesday morning. Armed with heavy machine guns and rocket launchers in four-wheel drive vehicles, they fell on a pair of buses taking foreign workers to the airport. The buses’ military escort drove off the attackers in a blaze of gunfire that sent bullets zinging over the heads of crouching workers. A Briton and an Algerian – probably a security guard – were killed.

The militants then turned to the vast gas complex, divided between the workers’ living quarters and the refinery itself, and seized hostages, the Algerian government said. The gas flowing to the site was cut off.

Saturday’s government statement said the militants came across the border from “neighboring countries,” while the militants said they came from Niger, hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the south.

On Thursday, Algerian helicopters kicked off the military’s first assault on the complex by opening fire on a convoy carrying both kidnappers and their hostages to stop them from escaping, resulting in many deaths, according to witnesses.

The accounts of hostages who escaped the standoff showed they faced dangers from both the kidnappers and the military.

Ruben Andrada, 49, a Filipino civil engineer who works as one of the project management staff for the Japanese company JGC Corp., described how he and his colleagues were used as human shields by the kidnappers, which did little to deter the Algerian military.

On Thursday, about 35 hostages guarded by 15 militants were loaded into seven SUVs in a convoy to move them from the housing complex to the refinery, Andrada said. The militants placed “an explosive cord” around their necks and were told it would detonate if they tried to run away, he said.

“When we left the compound, there was shooting all around,” Andrada said, as Algerian helicopters attacked with guns and missiles. “I closed my eyes. We were going around in the desert. To me, I left it all to fate.”

Andrada’s vehicle overturned allowing him and a few others to escape. He sustained cuts and bruises and was grazed by a bullet on his right elbow. He later saw the blasted remains of other vehicles, and the severed leg of one of the gunmen.

The site of the gas plant spreads out over several hectares (acres) and includes a housing complex and the processing site, about a mile (1.6 kilometers) apart, making it especially complicated for the Algerians to secure the site and likely contributed to the lengthy standoff.

“It’s a big and complex site. It’s a huge place with a lot of people there and a lot of hiding places for hostages and terrorists,” said Col. Richard Kemp, a retired commander of British forces who had dealt with hostage rescues in Iraq and Afghanistan. “These are experienced terrorists holding the hostages.”

While the Algerian government has only admitted to 23 hostages dead so far, the militants claimed through the Mauritanian news website ANI that the helicopter attack alone killed 35 hostages.

One American, a Texan – Frederick Buttaccio from the Houston suburb of Katy – is among the dead.

President Barack Obama said in a statement Saturday that the U.S. stood ready to provide whatever assistance was needed in the wake of the attack.

“This attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups in North Africa. In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future,” the statement said.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that a Frenchman killed, Yann Desjeux, was a former member of the French Special Forces and part of the security team. The remaining three French nationals who were at the plant are now free, the Foreign Ministry said.

The British government said Saturday it is trying to determine the fate of six people from Britain who are either dead or unaccounted for.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said, “There is no justification for taking innocent life in this way. Our determination is stronger than ever to work with allies right around the world to root out and defeat this terrorist scourge and those who encourage it.”

The Norwegian government said there were five Norwegians unaccounted for.

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Saturday one Romanian hostage was killed in the course of the siege, while the Malaysian government said two of its citizens were still missing.

The attack by the Masked Brigade, founded by Algerian militant Moktar Belmoktar, had been in the works for two months, a member of the brigade told the ANI news outlet. He said militants targeted Algeria because they expected the country to support the international effort to root out extremists in neighboring Mali and it was carried out by a special commando unit, “Those Who Signed in Blood,” tasked with attacking nations supporting intervention in Mali.

The kidnappers focused on the foreign workers, largely leaving alone the hundreds of Algerian workers who were briefly held hostage before being released or escaping.

Several of them arrived haggard-looking on a late-night flight into Algiers on Friday and described how the militants stormed the living quarters and immediately separated out the foreigners.

Mohamed, a 37-year-old nurse who like the others wouldn’t allow his last name to be used for fear of trouble for himself or his family, said at least five people were shot to death, their bodies still in front of the infirmary when he left Thursday night.

Chabane, an Algerian who worked in food services, said he bolted out the window and was hiding when he heard the militants speaking among themselves with Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian accents. At one point, he said, they caught a Briton.

“They threatened him until he called out in English to his friends, telling them, `Come out, come out. They’re not going to kill you. They’re looking for the Americans,'” Chabane said.

“A few minutes later, they blew him away.” Story Continued:

· LAPD conduct investigation after cop gives cyclist ticket ‘for arguing with me’

An LAPD officer’s conduct is being investigated after a YouTube video of him ticketing a bicyclist who told him he was blocking the bike path went viral. The cyclist’s ticket has since been canceled.

In the 10-minute clip, a cyclist turns on his helmet camera and records the interaction on the Venice Beach bike path, which drew a handful of onlookers who protested that the cyclist had done nothing wrong and that the officer needed to address serious crime in Venice.

The bicyclist, who identifies himself at 34-year-old Chris Jackson of Venice, posted the video after Thanksgiving weekend, when he was ticketed for speeding after telling a motorcycle officer he was blocking the popular bike-only path.

On Friday, Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said that the “ticket had been canceled in the interest of justice.” The department is conducing a personnel investigation into the conduct of the officer involved and would not comment further, Villanueva said.

In the video, Jackson states that he had passed the officer’s motorcycle and complained that the vehicle was blocking traffic. The officer, identified only by his surname, Gracey, pulled him over shortly after, according to the description of the video, which was posted by user AnarchisticGringo.

Several minutes of back-and-forth with Gracey follow, during which Jackson argues with the officer that he hasn’t broken a law by crossing the path’s dotted yellow line, and points out other cyclists riding on the wrong side, and pedestrians illegally walking on the bike path.

He tilts his camera down to show the red-and-white beach cruiser he is riding — a bicycle designed for stability and a slow, easy ride.

The officer finally settles on giving Jackson a ticket under California Vehicle Code 22350, the Basic Speed Law.

“Listen to me, sir. The reason why I’m going to write you for unsafe speed is because you are arguing with me,” Gracey says. “This is a catch-all, 22350. Because you’re riding on the wrong side of the back path, you’re looking at me, and you’re complaining because my emergency vehicle is on the bike path. And that’s unsafe speed. Looking in the wrong direction, traveling in the wrong way, that’s unsafe.”

During the interaction, a small group of onlookers gathers around Gracey and Jackson.

Read more stories on NBCLosAngeles.com

“This isn’t the kind of police work that we need help with here,” states another cyclist who stops to opine. “People are getting robbed. I got robbed about a month ago … We’d love to have you out here protecting us, not harassing us.”

Jackson states that he will contest the ticket.

The code under which it was issued appears to apply vehicles traveling on a highway, so it’s not clear if it applies to bicycles on a Class I bike path such as the beachside one in Venice.

The video was highlighted by the community blog Yo! Venice! on Thursday and reposted and analyzed by the popular bike blog Biking in LA on Friday.

Jackson was due in court Friday, according to the video.

The LAPD’s Villanueva said earlier Friday that he was not yet familiar with the video and had no comment at that time. A phone message left for the LAPD West Traffic Division’s bicycle liaison sergeant was not returned.  Story Continued and to watch the video:

· Change Comes: After 4 Years, Friends See Shifts in the Obamas

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Barack and Michelle Obama have spent more than a thousand days on display before the nation’s eyes, but the personal changes they have undergone can be hard to detect.

The first lady, Michelle Obama, greeted her husband after introducing him at a campaign event in Iowa last year. Those who know the Obamas say they can see a number of small shifts in the president and the first lady since they walked the inaugural parade route four years ago.

Up close, though, those who know the Obamas say they can see an accumulation of small shifts in the president and the first lady since they walked the inaugural parade route four years ago. The man who wanted to change the nature of Washington now warns job candidates that it is hard to get anything done there. Not so long ago, he told others that he did not need a presidential library, a tribute to himself costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Now a former aide, Susan Sher, is quietly eyeing possibilities for him in Chicago.

The first lady who wanted to forge connections with her new city found that even viewing the cherry blossoms required a hat, sunglasses and wheedling the Secret Service. In a demonstration of how difficult it can be for any president or first lady to sustain relationships, Mrs. Obama stopped taking on girls in a mentorship program she founded because of concerns that other teenagers would envy the lucky advisees, according to an aide.

When the president returned from consoling families of teachers and children killed in the Newtown, Conn., massacre — he wept as they handed him photos and told him stories of victim after victim — aides could see in his face the toll of absorbing the nation’s traumas. “This is what I do,” Mr. Obama told them.

“This position has perhaps cost him more on a personal, and even energic, level than most of his predecessors, because he was most entirely an outsider,” observed the playwright Tony Kushner, a supporter who recently dined with Mr. Obama to discuss the film “Lincoln,” for which Mr. Kushner wrote the screenplay.

The Obamas have gained and lost in their four years in the White House, becoming seasoned professionals instead of newcomers, more conventional, with a contracted sense of possibility. They are steady characters, not given to serial self-reinvention. Yet in interviews, current and former White House and campaign aides, donors and friends from Chicago said they could see how the president and the first lady had been affected by their roles.

Describing them, they used phrases like: more confident but more scarred. More isolated. Less hesitant about directing staff members, whether butlers or highest-level advisers. Gratified by re-election, which the Obamas view as sweet vindication, and bloodier-minded when it comes to beating Republicans. And Mr. Obama has learned that his presidency will be shaped by unanticipated events — “locusts,” one former aide called them, for the way they swarm without warning.

Mr. Obama never wanted to be an ordinary politician — there was a time when Mrs. Obama could barely use that noun to describe her husband — and his advisers resist the idea that he has succumbed to standard Washington practice. Some donors and aides give an “if only” laugh at the idea that the couple now follows political ritual more closely: this is a president who still has not had Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton to dinner but holds lunches to discuss moral philosophy with the fellow Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

“He thinks about destiny in human terms,” Mr. Wiesel said in an interview.

Still, others say the Obamas have become more relaxed schmoozers, more at ease with the porous line between the political and social, more willing to reveal themselves. They have recently begun inviting more outsiders into their private living quarters, including Mr. Kushner, Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis at the “Lincoln” dinner. At a dinner in late November to thank top campaign fund-raisers, the first couple was like a bride and groom, bantering and traveling from table to table to accept congratulations and good wishes for the years ahead, making sly jokes that guests would not repeat for publication.

Even Mr. Obama’s speech has changed a bit, close observers say. Though he still disdains Washington, he often sounds less like a disapproving outsider and more like a participant. One former aide was startled to hear Mr. Obama use “impact” as a verb, a particular tendency in the capital. Another longtime adviser said he was struck during the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations when Mr. Obama grew offended that House Speaker John A. Boehner did not return his multiple phone calls. The old Barack Obama would have thought the who-calls-whom protocol was stupid, the adviser said, but “the world that he inhabits now is the world of inside-the-Beltway maneuvering.”  Story Continued:

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What’s Up: January 16, 2012?

· The Hula Hoop Theory of History – by MORRIS BERMAN

Above all, no zeal. – Talleyrand

There is a curious rhythm to human affairs, or perhaps more specifically, to Western history. Some movement or idea comes along, and everyone gets swept up in its wake. This is it, then; this is the Answer we’ve been looking for. All of those previous answers were wrong; now, at long last, we’re on the right track. In the fullness of time, of course, this shiny new idea loses its luster, betrays us, or even results in the death of millions. So apparently, we were deceived. But wait: here’s the true new idea, the one we should have followed all along. This is the Answer we’ve been looking for. Etc..

The American writer, Eric Hoffer, described this syndrome roughly sixty years ago in a book that also generated a lot of zeal (for a short time, anyway), The True Believer. People convert quite easily, observed Hoffer; they switch from one ism to another, from Catholicism to Marxism to whatever is next on the horizon. The belief system runs its course, then another one takes its place. What is significant is the energy involved, not the particular target, which could be anything, really. For what drives this engine is the need for psychological reassurance, for Meaning with a capital M–a comprehensive system of belief that explains everything. There is a feeling, largely unacknowledged, that without this we are lost; that life would have no purpose, and history no meaning; that both (as Shakespeare put it) would amount to little more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I call this the Hula Hoop Theory of History, but one could also label it the Pet Rock Theory, or any other craze that grabs our attention for a week or a century. It has a lot in common with the skeptical thinking of the sixteenth-century philosopher Montaigne, who had a great influence on Eric Hoffer, among others. In his Essays, Montaigne pointed out that the new sciences of Copernicus and Paracelsus claimed that the ancient sciences of Aristotle and Ptolemy were false. But how long, he argued, before some future scientist comes along, and says the same thing about Copernicus and Paracelsus? Do we ever really know the truth once and for all?

One might also call this the Drunken Sailor Theory of History, I suppose. Reflecting on the first flush of the French Revolution, William Wordsworth wrote: “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive.” After Robespierre, the Terror, and the rivers of blood that flowed through the streets of Paris, however, a sober Talleyrand could only comment that what the human race needed, above anything else, was to stay clear of zeal. The path from bliss to barbarism may not be linear, but it does seem to be fairly common, historically speaking.

The latest treatise in the Montaigne-Hoffer school of history is that of the British scholar John Gray, Black Mass. Gray draws liberally on the work of the American historian Carl Becker, whose Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (1932) has never been surpassed as an analysis of modernity. Becker claimed that the notion of redemption that lay at the heart of Christianity was recast by the philosophers of the French Enlightenment in terms of progress, or secular salvation. Enlightenment utopianism, in a word, was the transformation of Christian eschatology into the belief in the perfectibility of man–heaven on earth, as it were. This would be the Second Coming, the defeat of ignorance and evil (= sin) by means of reliable knowledge, science and technology in particular.

In Gray’s view, the modern “secular fundamentalisms”–Jacobinism, Bolshevism, Fascism, and most recently, globalization–followed directly from this transformation. The result has been satanic–a black or inverted mass (i.e., one recited backwards)–in that these pseudo-religions have all caused a world of harm. The one idea common to all of them is that progress and perfectibility are within our grasp, and can be attained through an historical process whereby true knowledge will defeat ignorance (evil). Thus the world, and our psyches, are saved, no less in the modern secular world than they were claimed to be in the medieval Christian one, because history itself is imbued with Meaning.

Sad to say, the first three of these secular religions proved, in the fullness of time, not to be the Answer but rather the God that failed; and globalization (Thomas Friedman and his devotees notwithstanding) is in the process of going the same route, revealing itself to be a “false dawn.” Of course, says Gray, once globalization and neoliberalism are finally exposed for what they are, and take their proper place on the scrap heap of history, it will hardly be the case that we shall abandon notions of progress, utopia, and Meaning in history. Not a chance. We in the West will have to find another hula hoop, another pet rock, because as a Christian civilization we are simply unable to live without the myth of redemption. Hence, he concludes, the “cycle of order and anarchy will never end.” The tragedy is that we “prefer the romance of a meaningless quest to coping with difficulties that can never be finally overcome.” Hence, “the violence of faith looks set to shape the coming century.”

At the present time, it’s not clear what the next hula hoop will be; but I’m not sure it matters all that much. If the Montaigne-Hoffer-Gray school of historical analysis is correct, what is certain is that there will be no derailing the zeal in advance, no stopping the next ideological-religious binge at the second martini, so to speak. The word “some” has very little meaning in the world of secular fundamentalism; for us, it’s all or nothing. “Man cannot make a worm,” wrote Montaigne, “yet he will make gods by the dozen.”

For it is all a kind of shamanism, in a way, an attempt to become whole through magic. We are all broken, after all; that is why the promise of redemption has such a powerful hold on us. “I am he who puts together,” declared one Mazatec shaman, some years ago. It finally comes down to a (misguided) attempt at healing, which is reinforced by tribal practice (commonly known as groupthink). I recall attending a conference on postmodernism in the 1990s and being struck by how similar the lectures were, in form, to those of Communist Party members of the 1930s. The “holy names” were different–one cited de Man and Derrida instead of Marx and Lenin–but the glazed eyes and the mantra-like repetition of politically approved phrases were very much the same. Truth be told, I have observed the same hypnotic behavior at all types of academic conferences, from feminism to computer science. You watch, you listen, and you wonder: When will we finally wake up? And you know the horrible truth: never. In effect, we shall continue to erect statues to Napoleon, but never, or rarely, to Montaigne. This much is clear.

Which brings me to what I consider the bottom line, namely the structure of the brain. The frontal lobes, the large neocortex that governs rational thinking and logical processes, is a relative latecomer on the scene, in evolutionary terms. The limbic system, which is the center of impulse and emotion, has been around much longer. The conflict between the two is perhaps best illustrated by the case of the alcoholic sitting at a bar, staring at a frosty stein of beer in front of him. The neocortex says No; the limbic system says Go. Statistically, most drunks die of alcohol poisoning or cirrhosis of the liver; very few escape from the siren song of the limbic brain. As Goethe once put it, “the world is not logical; it is psycho-logical.” And that is to put it quite mildly, it seems to me.

We will not escape the ravages of climate change; we shall not avoid the economic and ecological disasters that are integral to global capitalism; not be able to avert an oil crisis, an energy crisis, or a food and water crisis that will become extreme when the world population finally arrives at 10 or 11 billion, by mid-century. These things are not going to be resolved by reason, by the neocortex, no matter how many articles are published on these subjects in learned journals or popular magazines. And they certainly can’t be resolved by the limbic brain, whose function is indulgence, not restraint. Hence, it is a fair guess that we shall start doing things differently only when there is no other choice; and even then, we shall undoubtedly cast our efforts in the form of a shiny new and improved hula hoop, the belief system that will finally be the true one, after all of those false starts; the one we should have been following all along. What to call it? Catastrophism, perhaps. You can consider this the founding document. Story Continued:

· Andrea Mitchell On Obama Cabinet: Women In The White House ‘Are Not Happy’

Andrea Mitchell spoke out about President Obama’s cabinet nominations on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” saying that women in the White House “are not happy” about his picks.

Obama has faced pressure over his selections in recent days, with critics blasting what they have described as a lack of diversity in his cabinet. His recent picks for prominent positions were all men, including John Kerry for secretary of state, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, John Brennan for CIA director and Jack Lew for secretary of treasury.

Newark mayor Cory Booker defended the president during “Meet the Press,” comparing the criticism against Obama to “swift boating.” He said that 50% of White House staff are women, and pointed to the fact that the president has more nominations to announce. He also said that a recent photograph showing Obama surrounded by male advisors was “disingenuous,” in light of that information.

Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, hit back against those arguments. She said that the picture was an official White House photo. Despite the statistics, “at the highest level of the White House and in the cabinet, you have men and they are white men,” Mitchell said.

She said that there was a difference between nominating women to prominent positions and lower levels of the cabinet, and that men “were the predominant people” on Obama’s team.

“I’ve got to tell you, I wrote a story about this this week and I did not get one complaint,” Mitchell said. “I talked to several people inside the White House — women — and they said ‘No, we didn’t have any problem about what you wrote about this week.’ The women are not happy.”

The NBC News correspondent did a segment on the issue on her MSNBC show earlier this week. In December, Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name for consideration for secretary of state. At the time, Mitchell reported that women in the administration were “angry with the White House” and the president over the decision. Story Continued:

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· GOP congressman threatens impeachment if Obama uses executive action for gun control

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Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman threatened Monday afternoon that he would file articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama if he institutes gun control measures with an executive order.

Stockman warned that such executive orders would be “unconstitutional” and “infringe on our constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.”

“I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said in a statement.

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At his press conference Monday, Obama floated the possibility of using executive action to enact policies aimed at reducing gun violence.

The freshman congressman, who served one term in Congress in the mid-1990s, further labeled the possibility “an existential threat to this nation” because, he said, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow the people to protect themselves from tyranny.

“Any proposal to abuse executive power and infringe upon gun rights must be repelled with the stiffest legislative force possible,” he added. “Under no circumstances whatsoever may the government take any action that disarms any peaceable person — much less without due process through an executive declaration without a vote of Congress or a ruling of a court.”

He concluded by claiming that an executive order would be not just “not just an attack on the Constitution,” but also an “attack on Americans.”

“If the president is allowed to suspend constitutional rights on his own personal whims, our free republic has effectively ceased to exist,” he said. Story Continued:

· N.Y. Assembly Speaker Silver: ‘We Are Going To Ban Assault Weapons’ – Among Aspects Of Law, Legislature Set To Limit Magazines To 7 Bullets From 10

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The New York State Legislature was poised Monday night to pass the first gun control measure following the Newtown school massacre. This as the vice president was set to unveil federal proposals to end gun violence on Tuesday.

Albany lawmakers have reportedly ironed out the kinks, allowing them to enact new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

“To basically eradicate assault weapons from our streets in New York as quickly as possible is something the people of this state want and it’s an important thing to do. It is an emergency,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Sources told Kramer the deal worked out by the Legislature is wide ranging, but it starts with assault weapons.

“We are going to ban assault weapons. We are going to eliminate all of the loopholes that existed previously,” Silver said.

The new state legislation will:

* Limit ammunition clips to seven. It’s now 10

* Force gun owners to renew their licenses every five years

* Stiffen penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime

* Stiffen penalties for bringing a gun on school property

* New restrictions on the assault weapons already owned by New Yorkers

“They will be basically not permitted to be transferred. They will be grandfathered in but not in terms of a transfer. There will be a registry,” Silver said.

The state agreement came a day before Vice President Joe Biden was set to give his gun control recommendations to the president. With the gun lobby at a fevered pitch, President Barack Obama said there will be some things he can do without congressional approve.

“I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation,” the president said Monday.

One of those steps, also sought by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would have the president order the Justice Department to prosecute criminals who provide false information to buy a gun.

The mayor said that in 2010 there were 76,000 cases referred by the FBI to the Justice Department. Only 44 were prosecuted.

“This is a joke. It’s a sad joke, and it’s a lethal joke,” Bloomberg said.

It’s not clear whether the president will spend his political capital on seeking to re-impose the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The gun lobby has vowed to defeat it in congress. And prominent Republicans, like Sen. John McCain, are opposed. Story Continued:

· Lance Armstrong Apologizes To Livestrong Staff Ahead Of Oprah Interview

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Lance Armstrong apologized to the staff at his Livestrong cancer foundation before heading to an interview with Oprah Winfrey, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion was private.

Stripped last year of his seven Tour de France titles because of doping charges, Armstrong addressed the staff Monday and said, “I’m sorry.” The person said the disgraced cyclist choked up and several employees cried during the session.

The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to the group about using banned drugs. He said he would try to restore the foundation’s reputation, and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity’s mission of helping cancer patients and their families.

After the meeting, Armstrong, his legal team and close advisers gathered at a downtown Austin hotel for the interview.

The cyclist will make a limited confession to Winfrey about his role as the head of a long-running scheme to dominate the Tour with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs, a person with knowledge of the situation has told the AP.

Winfrey and her crew had earlier said they would film the interview, to be broadcast Thursday, at his home but the location apparently changed to a hotel. Local and international news crews staked out positions in front of the cyclist’s Spanish-style villa before dawn, hoping to catch a glimpse of Winfrey or Armstrong.

Armstrong still managed to slip away for a run Monday morning despite the crowds gathering outside his house. He returned home by cutting through a neighbor’s yard and hopping a fence.

During a jog on Sunday, Armstrong talked to the AP for a few minutes saying, “I’m calm, I’m at ease and ready to speak candidly.” He declined to go into specifics.

Armstrong lost all seven Tour titles following a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, “The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

Yet Armstrong looked like just another runner getting in his roadwork when he talked to the AP, wearing a red jersey and black shorts, sunglasses and a white baseball cap pulled down to his eyes. Leaning into a reporter’s car on the shoulder of a busy Austin road, he seemed unfazed by the attention and the news crews that made stops at his home. He cracked a few jokes about all the reporters vying for his attention, then added, “but now I want to finish my run,” and took off down the road.

The interview with Winfrey will be Armstrong’s first public response to the USADA report. Armstrong is not expected to provide a detailed account about his involvement, nor address in depth many of the specific allegations in the more than 1,000-page USADA report.

In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong said: “I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say.”

After a federal investigation of the cyclist was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA stepped in with an investigation of its own. The agency deposed 11 former teammates and accused Armstrong of masterminding a complex and brazen drug program that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of other performance-enhancers.

Once all the information was out and his reputation shattered, Armstrong defiantly tweeted a picture of himself on a couch at home with all seven of the yellow leader’s jerseys on display in frames behind him. But the preponderance of evidence in the USADA report and pending legal challenges on several fronts apparently forced him to change tactics after more a decade of denials.

He still faces legal problems.

Former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, has filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit that accused Armstrong of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service. The Justice Department has yet to decide whether it will join the suit as a plaintiff.

The London-based Sunday Times also is suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit. On Sunday, the newspaper took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune, offering Winfrey suggestions for what questions to ask Armstrong. Dallas-based SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, has threatened to bring yet another lawsuit seeking to recover more than $7.5 million an arbitration panel awarded the cyclist in that dispute.

The lawsuit most likely to be influenced by a confession might be the Sunday Times case. Potential perjury charges stemming from Armstrong’s sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight would not apply because of the statute of limitations. Armstrong was not deposed during the federal investigation that was closed last year.

Many of his sponsors dropped Armstrong after the damning USADA report — at the cost of tens of millions of dollars — and soon after, he left the board of Livestrong, which he founded in 1997. Armstrong is still said to be worth about $100 million.

Livestrong might be one reason Armstrong has decided to come forward with an apology and limited confession. The charity supports cancer patients and still faces an image problem because of its association with Armstrong. He also may be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in the elite triathlon or running events he participated in after his cycling career.

World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation. Story Continued:

· AP SOURCE: ARMSTRONG TELLS OPRAH HE DOPED

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Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey during an interview Monday that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey’s network.

Armstrong was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year following a voluminous U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that portrayed him as a ruthless competitor, willing to go to any lengths to win the prestigious race.

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labeled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the U.S. Postal Service team that Armstrong once led, “The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

After a federal investigation of the cyclist was dropped without charges being brought last year, USADA stepped in with an investigation of its own. The agency deposed 11 former teammates and accused Armstrong of masterminding a complex and brazen drug program that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of other performance-enhancers.

A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the taping. Among them were Armstrong attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment entering and exiting the session.

Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: “Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!” She was scheduled to appear on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to discuss the interview.

In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong said: “I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I’ll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That’s all I can say.”

Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said, “I’m sorry” to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up and several employees cried during the session.

The person also said Armstrong apologized for letting the staff down and putting Livestrong at risk but he did not make a direct confession to using banned drugs. He said he would try to restore the foundation’s reputation, and urged the group to continue fighting for the charity’s mission of helping cancer patients and their families.

Armstrong spoke to a room full of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret for everything the controversy has put them through, the person said. He told them how much the foundation means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like members of his family. None of the people in the room challenged Armstrong over his long denials of doping.

Winfrey and her crew had earlier said they would film Monday’s session at Armstrong’s home. As a result, local and international news crews were encamped near the cyclist’s Spanish-style villa before dawn.

Armstrong still managed to slip away for a run despite the crowds outside his home. He returned by cutting through a neighbor’s yard and hopping a fence. Story Continued:

· Bloomberg urges Obama to defy Congress, implement gun control by executive action

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday told a group of John Hopkins students that President Obama ought to sidestep the wishes of Congress and order swift new executive gun control measures.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that President Obama should implement a series of gun control measures through executive action.

“There are steps that President Obama can take without congressional approval at any time he chooses with just one stroke of the pen,” Bloomberg told the mixed audience of students and scholars, speaking at the “Gun Policy Summit” at John Hopkins University.

Bloomberg’s remarks came hours before President Obama argued in a rare press conference that executive privileges afforded him the power to implement some federal gun control measures without the permission of Congress.

“My understanding is the Vice President is going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence,” President Obama told the White House Press Corps. “Some of them will require legislation, some of them I can accomplish through executive action.”

Since the Newtown Massacre late last year, the White House has eyed legal options for mandating comprehensive gun control as House Republican leadership has signaled reluctance to even allow such legislation to reach the floor.

Bloomberg also recommended to Vice President Biden a four tiered plan for strengthening existing weapons laws.

President Obama should make a recess appointment to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, direct the Department of Justice to prosecute convicted criminals caught providing false information during gun background checks, and order federal agencies to submit data to the national gun background check database, said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg also said Obama should direct his agencies to cease adherence to the “Tiahrt Amendment” a law which prevents local law enforcement agencies from full access to federal gun databases.

John Hopkins University dubbed Monday’s summit “the most extensive summit meeting ever of gun policy researchers.”

The statement added that its intended purpose is to gather “experts on gun policy and violence” to ultimately make policy recommendations aimed at reducing gun violence.

The summit kicked off Monday morning and will conclude late Tuesday afternoon. Story Continued:

· For first time in nearly seven years, Justice Clarence Thomas talks during court arguments

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Justice Clarence Thomas broke nearly seven years of silence during oral arguments on the Supreme Court on Monday.

The last time the famously reserved Thomas spoke up, George W. Bush was president, the iPhone was nothing but an internet rumor, and the U.S. economy seemingly had nowhere to go but up. But just before noon on Monday, Thomas uttered what appeared to be a lawyer joke.

During arguments in the Sixth Amendment case Boyer v. Louisiana, the justices were discussing the qualifications of the plaintiff’s counsel when Justice Antonin Scalia asked the assistant district attorney of Louisiana whether another lawyer was a Yale Law School graduate. He then spoke of a different lawyer in the case who graduated from Harvard Law.

“Son of a gun!,” Scalia, a Harvard Law graduate himself, remarked.

According to the official court transcript, Thomas then cut in.

But because there was so much laughter in the court, the transcriber was only able to note part of Thomas’ remarks:

“JUSTICE THOMAS: Well – he did not – (Laughter.)”

The assistant DA replied: “I would refute that, Justice Thomas.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor followed up with her tongue planted firmly in cheek, requesting the lawyer to “define constitutionally adequate counsel.”

“Is it anybody who’s graduated from Harvard and Yale?” she asked to more laughter.

People present in court understood Justice Thomas’ brief remark to be a joke at the Yale alumni’s expense, according to the New York Times.

Justice Thomas is a graduate of Yale Law and has, in the past, criticized the school for its affirmative action policy. However, he has more recently been supportive of his alma mater, speaking there on at least two separate occasions since 2011.

The last time Justice Thomas asked a question during oral arguments was on Feb. 22, 2006 in Holmes v. South Carolina, a due process case in which the high court unanimously reversed a state supreme court’s decision that refused to let a convicted murderer introduce new evidence that claimed to prove a third party was guilty of a crime.

Justice Thomas had said in the past that he simply did not like oral arguments and that is why he rarely asked questions. Story Continued:

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– However, there are many people in the country that do not agree that the above mentioned items were accomplishments. PdC

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· Joe Biden: White House eying 19 executive actions on guns

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The White House has identified 19 executive actions for President Barack Obama to move unilaterally on gun control, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of House Democrats on Monday, the administration’s first definitive statements about its response to last month’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Later this week, Obama will formally announce his proposals to reduce gun violence, which are expected to include renewal of the assault weapons ban, universal background checks and prohibition of high-capacity magazine clips. But Biden, who has been leading Obama’s task force on the response, spent two hours briefing a small group of sympathetic House Democrats on the road ahead in the latest White House outreach to invested groups.

The focus on executive orders is the result of the White House and other Democrats acknowledging the political difficulty of enacting any new gun legislation, a topic Biden did not address in Monday’s meeting.

The executive actions could include giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct national research on guns, more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun databases among federal and state agencies, members of Congress in the meeting said.

“It was all focusing on enforcing existing law, administering things like improving the background database, things like that that do not involve a change in the law but enforcing and making sure that the present law is administered as well as possible,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.).

The White House declined to comment on the details of what Obama will propose.

But Biden did indicate that the remains of the Obama campaign apparatus may be activated in the effort.

“He said that this has been a real focus on the policy and that the politics of this issue, that a strategy on the politics of the issue hasn’t been undertaken yet,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told POLITICO. “He did remind us that the campaign infrastructure is still accessible.”

Biden did not address two of the more significant issues in the gun debate: the appointment of a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the role violent images in the entertainment industry play in the nation’s gun violence. Story Continued:

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· Obama to unveil broad gun plans Wednesday

President Obama will unveil a sweeping set of gun-control proposals at midday Wednesday, including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on the number of bullets that ammunition clips can hold, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The announcement, which press secretary Jay Carney said is scheduled for about 11:45 a.m. at the White House, is also expected to include a slate of up to 19 executive actions that the Obama administration can take on its own to attempt to limit gun violence.

In four years, how the world changed

The White House has invited key lawmakers as well as gun-control advocates to appear at Wednesday’s policy rollout, according to two officials who have been invited to the event.

Joining Obama and Vice President Biden for the announcement will be children from across the country who wrote Obama letters after last month’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Carney said.

Carney declined to provide details on the administration’s gun proposals, and he acknowledged that there are “limits” to what Obama can achieve through executive action alone.

“I will not get ahead of the president in terms of what his package of proposals will include,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I will simply note that the president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach.”

Regarding executive action, Carney said, “It is a simple fact that there are limits to what can be done within existing law, and Congress has to act on the kinds of measures we’ve already mentioned, because the power to do that is reserved by Congress.”

Obama said at a news conference Monday that he would present his gun proposals later in the week.

The moves signal that Obama intends to push ahead with an ambitious and controversial gun-safety agenda in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which killed 26 people, including 20 small children. The shootings, carried out by a lone gunman who also killed himself, have prompted a wave of demands for stricter gun-control laws at the state and federal levels.

“The issue is: Are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a — in a shockingly rapid fashion?” Obama said at Monday’s news conference. “And surely we can do something about that.”

The emerging set of White House proposals stem from a month-long review led by Biden, who has been meeting with advocates on both sides before making the recommendations that were delivered to Obama this week.

The recommendations — many of which Obama has endorsed — are expected to include a tougher version of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004; a limit on the number of bullets that magazines can hold; background checks for gun shows and other “private sales”; better database tracking for weapons sales; and strengthening measures aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those with severe mental health issues.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that most Americans support tough new measures to counter gun violence, including an assault weapons ban, mandatory background checks and other policies.

But the efforts will face political head winds on Capitol Hill, where the National Rifle Association and many lawmakers from both parties oppose any significant changes to gun laws.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a radio interview this week that an assault weapons ban cannot pass Congress because of opposition from House Republicans.

Obama and his aides have said they are aware of the political challenges but have decided to push ahead with changes that they view as necessary in the wake of Newtown. To put pressure on Congress, the White House is working with its allies on a broad public campaign aimed at shifting public opinion and providing political cover for lawmakers.

Lawmakers who met with Biden on Monday said that the vice president is aware of the steep political obstacles to gun-control measures but that the White House has decided to push ahead.

“I think there’s a commitment to do the big things,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). “I also think that they’re realists, and in addition to doing the big things, they want to make sure that they do as many of the effective things that we can find some level of consensus on.”

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said: “I don’t think this is Joe Biden’s first rodeo. They are well aware of the high bar.”

The administration has also signaled that it intends to move aggressively on gun policy changes that do not require legislative approval. Obama on Monday pointed to federal data “on guns that fall into the hands of criminals and how to track that more effectively.”

“There may be some steps that we can take administratively as opposed to through legislation,” Obama said. Story Continued:

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USADA Snowballing Lance and Team

Lance Armstrong faces sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and has been banned from triathlon competition until the resolution of the investigation. The Washington Post reported June 13 that USADA has sent the seven-time Tour de France champion and others a 15-page letter outlining the allegations that stem from his run with the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery team between 1998 and 2005, as well as his comeback in 2009-2010.

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USADA alleges that Armstrong is among six individuals at the center of the investigation. Others reportedly named in the letter include RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel, Doctors Michele Ferrari, Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral, and trainer Jose Pepi Marti.

This investigation appears to have some motive that is designed to punish those that are accused without actual proof of any transgression. Lance has been tested over 500 times and not once has he been tested positive.

The charges appear to be based on the investigation that was dropped by the federal prosecutor for lack of evidence. It is well known that when USADA charges an athletic they are guilty and cannot buck the system to prove their innocence even when they are innocent. So it is assumed that Lance and his support team will be found guilty of being in the cross-hairs of USADA and will lose all they have gained through the 14-year period USADA is investigating.

USADA alleged it had collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” If that is the case why did USADA not charge Lance when the samples were taken and tested? Yes, the USADA says that they could not investigate while the federal prosecutor was investigating. But there is apparent hope from USADA that Lance would be prosecuted and then they could take all his accomplishments away. Yet they do not have any positive tests to validate their claims until two years after the event was supposedly occurred.

History has shown that the athletes have had to spend millions of dollars to defend themselves only to understand they had not a chance against USADA charges regardless of guilt or innocence.

When you hear that these charges are a vendetta, you can believe that is exactly what is happening. USADA for some strange reason wants to claim they cleaned up a sport that had rampant drug users and prove they are capable of ruining the lives of people that have yet to be tested positive for any banned substances. This is indeed a kangaroo court and we can predict that they will do anything they can to discredit Lance Armstrong and his support staff.

Shame on you USADA. Slap your hands USADA.

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Lance Armstrong Charges Dropped

lance armstrong out climbing everyoneLance Armstrong has been fighting charges from the Los Angeles Federal Prosecutor for the last two years that stemmed from what his distractors claimed was his use of illegal drugs to win seven Tour de France championships. There were people that claimed to have seen him inject drugs into his body. There were people that were trying to assert their claims that he used drugs to enhance his biking performance to win championships that elevated him to the only man in history that has won more than five Tour de France championships.

alberto contadorIn the time since Lance won his last championship, two riders have been disqualified for testing positive for illegal drugs in their body. Alberto Contador was the latest when he was determined to have tested for clenbuterol in 2010 Tour de France and his appeals process started. Now in February of 2012 he was determined to have used the drug illegally and his title was vacated.

floyd_landis_001Floyd Landis was tested for testosterone in 2006 during the Tour de France his title was vacated after his appeal process was completed.

The question we all are asking is how each case is different and is Lance Armstrong guilty enough to go to jail and have all seven of his Tour de France titles vacated? The basic difference comes down to one simple fact. Lance was tested hundreds of times. Each and every test result was negative. for drug in his system. All the rumors and innuendo are not enough to take him to criminal court and convict him with insufficient evidence. The actual evidence was not there. Now to use the OJ analysis: “If the glove does not fit you can’t convict.”

lance and alberto

We will never know for sure if Lance used drugs.  I have talked to many people that are active in the Pro Racing Circuit as racers and support personnel. They are adamant that drugs are used and the testing still lags the doping. So as long as that is the prevailing course of action we will have doping rampant in the Pro Biking Circuit.

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