Federal Deficit Falls For Fifth Year In a Row

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit for 2014 will be nearly $200 billion less than 2013, falling from $680 billion to $492 billion thanks in part to record tax revenue.

via Bloomberg:

“This will be the fifth consecutive year in which the deficit has declined as a share of GDP since peaking at 9.8 percent in 2009,” CBO said. The 20-page report is an update of CBO’s 10-year baseline projections released in February.

The 2.8 figure as a percentage of gross domestic product is lower than the 3.1 percent average of the last 40 years, CBO said.

Many people look back at the Budget Control Act and lament it, and while the effects of sequestration have been unfortunate, it shouldn’t be forgotten that President Obama and the Democrats managed to insert a large tax increase on the rich into the bill without Republicans realizing it.

In addition to the lowest deficit since 2007, the Congressional Budget Office also reported today that revenue will surpass $3 trillion for the first time.

The U.S. government is projected to collect more than $3 trillion for the first time in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a 9.2 percent increase over last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. CBO forecasts another 9 percent rise in 2015 and estimates that more than half of the increases in revenue stem from tax law changes.

Taxes on the lavish insurance plans of the rich under Obamacare will also lead to increased revenue.

It’s not rocket science. Raising taxes on rich allows the nation to pay it’s bill and it doesn’t kill the economy because most of that money was simply going to be collecting dust anyway.

I certainly don’t mean to gloss over spending cuts that have been reluctantly implemented over the past several years, but I do believe the next administration will be in a much stronger position because of the sacrifices and the progress made by the current administration.

Getting the Maximum Health Benefits From Your Coffee

Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a study from the University of Scranton. Plus, a growing body of research suggests that drinking a few cups a day can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even prostate cancer. 



So what’s the catch? While any coffee will provide some payoff, you need to pick the right roast, storage strategy, and brew method if you want joe with mojo. Here’s your step-by-step guide to making your coffee its healthiest.



1. THE ROAST

In the universe of coffee beans, lighter roasts are to be preferred. “The antioxidant effects of coffee are related to compounds called chlorogenic acids,” says Peter Martin, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt University Institute for Coffee Studies. 



“Roasting green coffee beans transforms these acids into better antioxidants, but if you keep on roasting them, they break down again.” So buy light-brown beans. And when you’re on the go, ask for Original Blend at Dunkin’ Donuts or Blonde at Starbucks.



2. THE STORAGE

Roasted coffee beans have free radicals, which become more numerous the longer the beans are exposed to air, according to a study in Food Chemistry. That’s a problem because, as free radical levels rise, some antioxidants in the beans are spent fighting to stabilize them. 



Store your beans in an airtight container and don’t grind them until you’re ready to brew; the same study noted that whole beans had fewer free radicals than ground coffee. For an even grind and smooth-tasting joe, use a burr grinder; it ensures that the particles are more uniform in size. 



3. THE BREWING

The Keurig is king for convenience, but for antioxidants, the Moka is the one to buy. Researchers in Italy examined five different brewing methods and found that coffee percolated in a stovetop Moka pot, an espresso pot, or a Neapolitan-style pot produced coffee with more than double the antioxidant levels of java brewed through a paper filter.



4. THE CUP

How do you take your coffee? Here’s your new answer: “Black, without sugar,” says Dr. Martin. “Coffee in itself is extremely nutritious—anything you add is diminishing it.” 



A touch of half-and-half may not add many calories, but new research from Croatia suggests that milk can reduce the antioxidant levels. Of course, if you doctor your drink with sugar or artificial sweeteners, you’re just stirring in calories or chemicals. A better way to handle bitter: Add some ground cinnamon to taste.

Grover Cleveland’s Wedding Cake

The humble house in Caldwell, NJ, where future U.S. President Grover Cleveland was born has been preserved pretty much as it was in 1837. Visitors can see his cradle, his marriage certificate, and the bed on which he was born. But it’s the cake that draws visitors to this spot.

“We’re sort of blessed with it and cursed with it,” said Sharon Farrell, curator of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace, as she showed us her attraction’s most famous artifact: a chunk of cake from the wedding of America’s 22nd President in June 1886.

cleveland cakeThe cake chunk, in a presentation box designed by Tiffany, doesn’t look anything like a modern fluffy wedding cake topped with a tiny bride and groom. It’s a fruitcake, whose sugary embalming has preserved it into its third century — longer than any other cake in America, according to Sharon. “We don’t do anything special for it,” she said. “We check it for insect infestations. We’ve never had any problems.”

One corner of the cake seems to have been nibbled, and Shannon recalled a “legend” of a Cub Scout in the 1950s who bit the cake on a dare. That kind of intimacy is impossible now; the cake is kept safely behind glass. Perhaps some future scientist will unlock its DNA or possibly clone it, since, according to Sharon, scholars cannot find the Methuselah cake’s original recipe.

We May Be On the Verge of Making Big Oil Obsolete

The U.S. Navy may be putting big oil out of business and giving the worlld energy independence by turning seawater into fuel:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

For some reason though, this not being mentioned on the evening news nor much of anywhere else. The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline, and yet there’s virtual silence on the story in the national media.

With this technology still in its infancy and already making fuel this cheap, what happens when it’s perfected? Oil is only getting more expensive as the easy-to-reach deposits are tapped so this truly is, as it’s being called, a “game changer.”

I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to the fossil fuel industry that bankrolls them from the billions in profits made by big oil. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone. Hopefully, once this kind of genie is out of the bottle, it’ll be very hard to put back in.

There are two other aspects to this story that have not been brought up yet:

1. The process pulls carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas driving Climate Change) out of the ocean. One of the less well-publicized aspects of Climate Change is that the ocean acts like a sponge for CO2 and it’s just about reached its safe limit. The ocean is steadily becoming more acidic from all of the increased carbon dioxide. This in turn poisons delicate ecosystems like coral reefs that keep the ocean healthy.

If we pull out massive amounts of CO2, even if we burn it again, not all of it will make it back into the water. Hell, we could even pull some of it and not use it in order to return the ocean to a sustainable level. That, in turn will help pull more of the excess CO2 out of the air even as we put it back. It would be the ultimate in recycling.

2. This will devastate oil rich countries but it will get us tout of the Middle East, another reason Republicans will oppose it. We know we’re not in the Middle East for humanitarian reasons. We’re there for oil. Period. We spend trillions to secure our access to it and fight a “war” on terrorism. Take away our need to be there and, suddenly, justifying our overseas adventures gets a lot harder to sell.

And if we “leak” the technology? Every dictator propped up by oil will tumble almost overnight. Yes, it will be a bloody mess but we won’t be throwing away the lives of our military and draining our treasury. Let those countries figure out who they want to be without billionaire thugs and their mercenary armies running the show.

Here are more details about the process. This is from the Naval Research Laboratory’s official press release:

Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system.

In plain English, fuel is made from hydrocarbons (hydrogen and carbon). This process pulls both hydrogen and carbon from seawater and recombines them to make fuel. The process can be used on air as well but seawater holds about 140 times more carbon dioxide in it so it’s better suited for carbon collection.

Another nice detail is that it’s essentially a carbon neutral process. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon dioxide in the air and currently has an excess amount dissolved in it. The process pulls carbon dioxide out of the ocean. It’s converted and burned as fuel. This releases the carbon dioxide back into the air which is then reabsorbed by the ocean. And so on, and so on.