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KN4M 08-25-07

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=28456
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 25, 2007
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      SOURCE: Gallup Poll News Service
      CONTACT INFORMATION: Media Relations 1-202-715-3030
      Subscriber Relations 1-888-274-5447
      Gallup World Headquarters
      901 F Street, NW
      Washington, D.C. 20004

      August 21, 2007
      Congress Approval Rating Matches Historical Low
      Just 18% approve of job Congress is doing
      by Jeffrey M. Jones

      PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating
      the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of
      Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of
      the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the
      August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.

      That 18% job approval rating matches the low recorded in March 1992,
      when a check-bouncing scandal was one of several scandals besetting
      Congress, leading many states to pass term limits measures for U.S.
      representatives (which the Supreme Court later declared
      unconstitutional). Congress had a similarly low 19% approval rating
      during the energy crisis in the summer of 1979.

      Americans' evaluations of the job Congress is doing are usually not
      that positive -- the vast majority of historical approval ratings
      have been below 50%. The high point was 84% approval one month after
      the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Americans rallied behind the
      federal government. Since then, Congress' approval ratings have
      generally exhibited the same downward trajectory seen in those for
      President George W. Bush. Currently, 32% of Americans approve of the
      job Bush is doing as president, a far cry from the record-high 90%
      he received in September 2001. Bush's current job approval rating is
      just three percentage points above his lowest.

      There was a slight interruption in the downward trend in
      congressional approval ratings at the beginning of this year when
      party control changed hands from the Republicans to the Democrats
      following last fall's midterm elections. In January 2007, 35% of
      Americans approved of Congress, a significant increase from the 21%
      who approved of Congress in December 2006. That December rating tied
      the lowest in the 12 years the Republicans controlled Congress from
      1995 to 2006.

      But that "honeymoon" period for the new Democratically controlled
      Congress was brief, as its job ratings dropped below 30% in March
      2007 and have now fallen below where they were just before the
      Democrats took over.

      Frustration with Congress spans the political spectrum. There are
      only minor (but not statistically meaningful) differences in the
      approval ratings Democrats (21%), Republicans (18%), and
      independents (17%) give to Congress. Typically, partisans view
      Congress much more positively when their party is in control of the
      institution, so the fact that Democrats' ratings are not materially
      better than Republicans' is notable.

      The nine-point drop in Congress' job approval rating from last month
      to this month has come exclusively from Democrats and independents,
      with Democrats' ratings dropping 11 points (from 32% to 21%) and
      independents' ratings dropping 13 points (from 30% to 17%).
      Republicans' 18% approval rating is unchanged from last month.

      The decline in congressional job approval could merely reflect the
      cessation of any public good will it engendered when the new
      leadership arrived in January, since the current 18% rating is
      similar to what it was in December 2006 (21%).

      But, it could also reflect disappointment with the new Congress'
      performance (especially among Democrats) and economic unease.

      Americans elected the Democrats as the majority party in Congress in
      November 2006's midterm election in large part due to frustration
      with the Iraq war and an ineffective and scandal-plagued Republican-
      led Congress. But any hopes that the elections would lead to change
      have not been realized as Democrats' repeated attempts to force a
      change in Iraq war policy have been largely unsuccessful due to
      presidential vetoes, disagreements within their own party, and the
      inability to attract Republican support for their policy proposals.
      Also, many of the Democratic leadership's domestic agenda items have
      not become law even though some have passed one or both houses of

      As the trend in congressional approval makes clear, ratings of
      Congress usually suffer during times of economic uncertainty, as
      during the late 1970s and early 1990s. While Americans' ratings of
      current economic conditions are not near historical lows, there is a
      great deal of concern about the direction in which the economy is
      headed. The latest poll finds a record 72% of Americans saying the
      economy is "getting worse."

      Survey Methods

      These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly
      selected national sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older,
      conducted August 13-16, 2007. For results based on this sample, one
      can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to
      sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In
      addition to sampling error, question wording and practical
      difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into
      the findings of public opinion polls.



      W.Va. University tops party school list
      By VICKI SMITH, Associated Press Writer

      To the disappointment of school administrators — and the pride of
      some students — West Virginia University is No. 1 on The Princeton's
      Review's annual list of the top 20 party schools.

      The school has made the list seven times in the past 15 years,
      despite efforts to curb underage drinking and rowdy behavior.

      But not since 1997 have the Mountaineers taken the top spot. Last
      year, WVU was No. 3, bested by the University of Texas at Austin and
      Penn State, both of which remain in the top 10 this year.

      Senior Katie O'Hara, 22, said WVU is No. 1 because "no matter what
      kind of party you want it's here — bars, fraternities, house
      parties. ... If you want to take shots all night, there's a bar; no
      matter what you want to do, it's there."

      Still, O'Hara said her friends "know how to manage their time. They
      know when to party and when not to," which wouldn't explain the
      school's No. 1 ranking in the category of Their Students (Almost)
      Never Study.

      The rankings are contained in the 2008 edition of "The Best 366
      Colleges," which is going on sale Tuesday and is based on a survey
      of 120,000 college students at those schools, mostly during the 2006-
      07 school year.

      No. 2 on the party list was the University of Mississippi, followed
      by the UT-Austin, the University of Florida and the University of

      West Virginia's No. 1 ranking is just speculation, said West
      Virginia sophomore Stuart Sauer.

      "I think there's no way to measure that," said Sauer, 20, of
      Richmond, Va. "Every school's a party school."

      Incoming WVU President Mike Garrison focused on the positive rather
      than the rankings, saying the students he met over the weekend and
      on the first day of classes Monday are more concerned with their
      futures "and with the great year we have ahead" than with partying.

      "I'm focused on the way this university changes people's lives, the
      research that we do and the service we provide to the state of West
      Virginia," said Garrison, who officially replaces David C. Hardesty
      Jr. on Sept. 1. "This is a special place, and the whole state is
      proud of it."

      The Princeton Review says the guide to the best schools is intended
      to help applicants who can't visit every school in person.

      Guide author Robert Franek said each of the 366 schools "is a 'best'
      when it comes to academics.

      "But as anyone visiting colleges can attest, their campus cultures
      and offerings differ greatly," he said. "It's all about the fit."

      At the other end of the partying spectrum is Brigham Young
      University, claiming the top spot in the "Stone Cold Sober" category
      for the 10th straight year.

      The book has 62 categories in all, including: Best Campus Food,
      Virginia Tech; Most Beautiful Campus, Sweet Briar (Va.); Dorms Like
      Palaces, Smith College (Mass.); and Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-
      Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians, Hampshire College (Mass).

      This year, WVU finishes among the Top 10 in several other
      categories: No. 4 in Students Pack the Stadiums; No. 5 for Best
      College Library; No. 6 for Lots of Beer; No. 7 for Lots of Hard
      Liquor; and No. 8 for Best College Newspaper.

      The Princeton Review, which is not affiliated with Princeton
      University, is a New York company known for test preparation
      courses, educational services and books. It published its first
      survey findings in August 1992.
      On the Net:

      The Princeton Review: http://www.princetonreview.com

      West Virginia University: http://www.wvu.edu/



      New Challenge for iTunes music store
      Wal-Mart, Viacom and RealNetworks make move
      By Scott Duke Harris
      San Jose Mercury News

      Apple's online music empire is under siege. In separate
      announcements, Wal-Mart and an alliance of Viacom and RealNetworks
      announced business initiatives that put Apple in their cross-hairs.
      Stepping up its competition with Apple's iTunes music store, Wal-
      Mart Stores has started selling some of its online music catalog
      without anticopying software known as DRM. The move complements Wal-
      Mart's sales of MP3 players that rival Apple's iPod.

      Meanwhile, Viacom's MTV Networks and RealNetworks announced a merger
      of their digital-music services, hoping for a bigger share of the
      growing market for downloads. The combined service will be called
      Rhapsody America, Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks, said today
      on a conference call. RealNetworks, based in Seattle, is the owner
      of the Rhapsody music service.

      The competitors are battling Apple's dominance, with its iPod and
      iTunes music store, which has more than a 70 percent share of online
      music sales. Digital track sales have risen 48 percent this year,
      according to Nielsen SoundScan.

      "We're going to do a lot more than we've ever done," Rob Glaser,
      RealNetworks' chief executive officer, said on the call.

      Meanwhile, Wal-Mart reached an agreement with two major labels,
      Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group and EMI Group to sell "DRM-free"
      single tracks for 94 cents a track and albums for $9.22.

      The move shows that music industry has begun to bend to the wishes
      of retailers and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has called upon record
      companies to drop "digital rights management" software, or DRM. Most
      record companies demand that DRM software be used to prevent rampant
      copying. But Jobs argues that DRM has been ineffective in limiting
      piracy, but has limited sales and degraded sound quality.

      Apple has its own DRM, which requires iPod users to buy from iTunes
      and limits iTunes tracks from playing on other devices. In late May,
      iTunes started selling thousands of tracks without DRM under an
      agreement with EMI Group.
      Bloomberg News contributed to this story. Contact Scott Duke Harris
      at sdharris@... or (408) 920-2704.



      T-rex versus Beckham? Sorry, David, you're lunch
      By Michael Kahn
      Tue Aug 21, 2007

      The smallest dinosaur could reach speeds of nearly 40 mph (64 kph)
      and even the lumbering Tyrannosaurus rex would have been able to
      outrun most modern-day sportsmen, according to research published on

      Scientists using computer models calculated the top speeds for five
      meat-eating dinosaurs in a study they say can also illustrate how
      animals cope with climate change and extinction.

      The velociraptor, whose speed and ferocity was highlighted in the
      film "Jurassic Park," reached 24 mph while the T-rex could muster
      speeds of up to 18 mph, the study published in the Royal Society's
      Biological Sciences showed.

      "Our research, which used the minimum leg-muscle mass T-rex required
      for movement, suggests that while not incredibly fast, this
      carnivore was certainly capable of running and would have little
      difficulty in chasing down footballer David Beckham, for instance,"
      said Phil Manning, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester,
      who worked on the study.

      The smallest dinosaur -- the Compsognathus -- could run nearly 40
      mph, about 5 mph faster than the computer's estimate for the fastest
      living animal on two legs, the ostrich.

      A top human sprinter can reach a speed of about 25 mph.

      The researchers used a computer model to calculate the running
      speeds of the five dinosaurs that varied in size from the 3-kg (6.6
      pound) Compsognathus to a six-tonne Tyrannosaurus.

      They fed information about the skeletal and muscular structure of
      the dinosaurs into the computer and ran a simulation tens of
      millions of times to see how fast the animals moved, said William
      Sellers, a zoologist at the University of Manchester, who led the

      They checked their method by inputting data of a 70-kg human with
      the muscle and bone structure of a professional sportsman and found
      the computer accurately spat out a top running speed just behind T-
      rex's pace.

      "People have estimated speeds before but they have always been
      indirect estimates and hard to verify," Sellers said. "What we found
      is they were all perfectly capable of running."

      Looking at how these ancient animals lived and died out is also
      important in trying to predict how modern day species may cope with
      future climate change, Sellers added.

      This study helps to build a biological picture that scientists can
      use to better understand how dinosaurs adapted to changes in the
      weather just before they went extinct some 65 million years ago, he

      "Knowing how these animals coped over the past millions of years
      will give us clues to what is going to happen over the next thousand
      years," he said. "That is why there has been more recent interest in
      biology of these animals."



      Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007
      World of Warcraft: A Pandemic Lab?
      By Laura Blue

      Who says video games are a waste of time? World of Warcraft — a
      virtual online world where millions of players quest for power,
      wealth and magical items — has got public-health experts considering
      new ways to track the spread of disease.

      That's the message behind a new paper appearing this month in the
      journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, and also behind a separate,
      similar paper published in Epidemiology earlier this year. Both
      papers document the path of an unexpectedly virulent virtual disease
      called "Corrupted Blood," which swept through World of Warcraft's
      online characters starting in September 2005. (The game's
      administrators introduced the disease as a challenge for some high-
      level players; they didn't expect it to break out of the caves and
      into the virtual world's cities and towns.) The disease then ravaged
      the player population — despite administrators' efforts to
      quarantine the infected — and gave World of Warcraft its first
      virtual-world pandemic.

      In real life, epidemiologists have long used complex mathematical
      models to predict how an outbreak of, say, pandemic flu might spread
      around the world. The problem is that testing those models isn't
      very easy, which makes it hard to judge whether the models are
      accurate. Scientists can't just release pathogens into cities and
      see how many people die. So, instead, they base their models on past
      outbreaks, where information collection was imperfect, or on
      people's stated (but hypothetical) beliefs about what they would do
      during a future outbreak. The resulting models can be remarkably
      sophisticated, but they "lack the variability and unexpected
      outcomes that arise ... not by the nature of the disease, but by the
      nature of the hosts it infects," according to Eric Lofgren and Nina
      Fefferman, authors of the Lancet Infectious Diseases paper. For
      example, they say, the failure of the World of Warcraft
      quarantine "could not have been accurately predicted by numerical
      methods alone, since it was driven by human decisions and behavioral
      choices." In other words, no model will know whether or not people
      ignore infection-control rules in the real world.

      Lofgren and Fefferman — along with Ran Balicer, who wrote the
      Epidemiology paper — hope that virtual worlds will offer a chance to
      study that human variability. A few features of World of Warcraft
      made the game's 2005 outbreak a surprisingly good simulation of a
      real-world epidemic, they suggest. Players could teleport from one
      virtual-world location to another (not unlike hopping a
      transcontinental flight in the real world) and players kept pets,
      which got infected, serving as reservoirs for the disease. In
      response, some players with healing powers then traveled to help
      heal the sick, just as medical staff would be dispatched during a
      real-life epidemic.

      Virtual-world characters aren't a perfect mirror of human society,
      of course. It's probably safe to assume that 20-year-old suburban
      males are overrepresented among World of Warcraft players and that
      teen mothers from Cambodia are underrepresented. We might also
      assume that players become more daring with the health of their
      online orc-slaying adventurers than they would be with their own
      health; in real life, death can be kind of a big deal.

      But Lofgren and Fefferman believe a virtual disease could be devised
      to prompt a "reasonable analogue" of some real-world human
      responses — or at least give some sense of scale of the impact that
      human variation is likely to have. Games also have a couple of
      distinct advantages over real-world studies. Researchers can have a
      perfect understanding of the parameters of the disease and capture
      every person's response exactly, without any lost
      information. "Human response is, almost by definition, difficult to
      predict," Lofgren and Fefferman write. Virtual worlds may not be
      perfect, but perhaps they can eliminate some of the guesswork.



      August 21, 2007
      Indianapolis Journal
      Yes, Deep-Fried Oreos, but Not in Trans Fats

      INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 17 — The deep-fried Combo Plate may be a little
      more healthful this year at the Great Indiana State Fair. So say the
      fair's leaders, who, taking a step rarely seen in the realm of corn
      dogs and fried pickles, have banned oils with trans fats from all
      the fryers that line the grounds here.

      The change is only the latest in a string of bans on artificial
      trans fats. Tied to health problems including heart disease, they
      have been banished by national restaurant chains, snack brands and
      New York City, which forbids restaurants to use them in food

      But this is perhaps the most unlikely locale yet: the nation's
      classic summer fair, long seen as one final safe haven from the
      health police.

      Along the steamy thoroughfare here, where only sensitive palates can
      distinguish among the various cuts of potato (curly fries, ribbon
      fries and the old standby, French), fairgoers seemed pleased with
      the switch. The food tasted the same, they said happily. And if this
      meant they could indulge without guilt or have one more helping, so
      much the better.

      "This is a slice of heaven," said Ryan Howell, 31, as he cradled his
      Combo Plate, which, for the record, consists of one battered
      Snickers bar, two battered Oreos and a battered Reese's Peanut
      Butter Cup — all deep-fried in oil that is trans-fat free, thank

      "This was an issue we wanted to tackle," said Cindy Hoye, executive
      director of the fair, which spent the winter months testing various
      oils and, despite the fears of some concessionaires about possible
      changes to taste or costs or tradition, concluded that trans-fat-
      free oils created what Ms. Hoye called a better product.

      National fair officials say Indiana and at least one other fair, the
      Western Washington, have led the way on a health issue that is only
      now creating a buzz in the fair industry. During a national
      convention of fair officials in Las Vegas this November, Indiana
      representatives are to offer a workshop, "Going Trans-Fat Free,"
      which, the convention program promises, will answer the
      question "What is all the craze about?"

      Some concessionaires here said trans-fat-free oils seemed to
      leave "less of a varnish buildup" on their French fry baskets and
      corn dog equipment. But Chris Coffman, who helps his brother, Sam,
      operate a stand that sells the fried-dough snack called elephant
      ears, was none too pleased with the new ways.

      The oil they are now using has to be changed more often, Mr. Coffman
      said (although some other concessionaires said their new oils in
      fact required less changing). And he worried, briefly, that the ban
      might also apply to the margarine that the Coffmans use to make
      cinnamon sugar stick to their doughy confections; it does not, fair
      officials ruled.

      And that, Mr. Coffman said, is the silly part of the whole ban: it
      will barely skim the surface of fair food's inherently — and
      proudly — unhealthful nature, he said.

      "It's craziness," said Mr. Coffman, 45, who says he eats fair food
      every day but who appears surprisingly trim. "They're using this for
      a marketing ploy. It's a way to convince people that they can eat
      more — that somehow all of this is safe now and you can eat all you
      want — when we all know that's not true."

      The calorie count? The state fair does not require vendors to
      provide those numbers, and no one here would venture any guesses.
      But figures from the Web site CalorieKing.com suggest that a Combo
      Plate, for instance, comes to well over 700 calories. That is more
      than a third of the entire daily caloric intake recommended by the
      Department of Agriculture for a 30-year-old woman who is 5-foot-6
      and 130 pounds and who exercises less than 30 minutes a day.

      Ms. Hoye, the fair's executive director, pointed out some healthful
      (if, judging from the customer lines, less popular) offerings of
      salads and tomato juice here. But she was quick to acknowledge that
      trans-fat-free oils will not turn standard state fair cuisine into
      health food.

      "When you are having fair food, you are having fun," she
      said. "You're probably still going to use some calories out here.
      Look, we can't control what goes in an Oreo, but we can say what
      goes in our fryers out here."

      Jeremy Orme, who runs Fried Creations, the home of the Combo Plate,
      introduced a new item at this year's fair: deep-fried Pepsi. He
      rolls out his Pepsi-based dough, dips it in a batter made with Pepsi
      and deep-fries it for 90 seconds. His oil, made of soybeans, is
      trans-fat free as required, and on the front of his booth he has
      posted a local newspaper's account about the fair's trans-fat ban.

      But inside the booth, where the air is dense with oil, workers
      chuckle about the whole concept. And Mr. Orme himself rarely eats
      what he cooks here.

      "I stay away from fried foods," he said.
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