- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Study finds why losing money is scary

People are afraid to lose money, and an unusual study released Monday explains why — the brain’s fear center controls the response to a gamble.

The study of two women with brain lesions that made them unafraid to lose on a gamble showed the amygdala, the brain’s fear center, activates at the very thought of losing money.

The finding, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers insight into economic behavior and suggests that humans evolved to be cautious about the prospects of losing food or other valued possessions.

Benedetto De Martinoa of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and colleagues were studying why people will turn down gambles that are likely to lead to gain.

“Laboratory and field evidence suggests that people often avoid risks with losses even when they might earn a substantially larger gain, a behavioral preference termed ‘loss aversion,’” they wrote.


Officers to retrieve Edwards ‘sex tape’

RALEIGH | A North Carolina judge wants security officers to accompany a former John Edwards aide as he goes to retrieve what he describes as a sex tape of his former boss.

Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones said in an order released Monday that the Orange County sheriff has appointed a security firm to help recover the video and other items. Former Edwards loyalist Andrew Young has said he has the original tape and copies stored in an Atlanta safe-deposit box. Judge Jones wants the security officer to accompany Mr. Young into the vault.

Judge Jones has declared Mr. Young was in contempt for not immediately turning over the tape. Mr. Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, has sued Mr. Young for invasion of privacy. Mr. Young says the tape shows Mr. Edwards in a sexual encounter with a woman he assumes to be Miss Hunter.


Bill: Oust senators for misdemeanors

ALBANY | A day before the New York state Senate is expected to decide whether to expel a senator convicted of misdemeanor assault, Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada has proposed legislation to require the automatic expulsion of senators in such cases.

Sen. Hiram Monserrate, Queens Democrat, was convicted of dragging his girlfriend, but was acquitted of a felony. A felony conviction would have automatically cost him his job.

Mr. Monserrate and Mr. Espada, Bronx Democrat, teamed up last summer to make a Senate coup possible that paralyzed the chamber for more than a month.

The measure Mr. Espada filed Monday wouldn’t be retroactive and wouldn’t affect Mr. Monserrate if it’s passed as proposed.


Lansing mayor joins governor’s race

DETROIT | Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has kicked off his Democratic bid for governor at an auto-supplier plant in Detroit, saying partisanship and insider politics are blocking efforts to rescue Michigan from its dire economic condition.

The 45-year-old Mr. Bernero is the son of a former GM worker and made his first stop Monday at the Detroit Chassis LLC plant, which supplies Ford Motor Co. with RV chassis.

Mr. Bernero paints himself as an outsider, saying the state has tried Republican and Democratic ways and now needs to find “the Michigan way.”

He had a Grand Rapids stop planned for midafternoon and an evening stop planned in Lansing.

So far, state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith is the only other Democrat officially running.

Five Republicans are running.


N.J. group curtails political donations

MONTCLAIR | New Jersey’s largest gay rights group is suspending donations to political parties after feeling spurned by Democratic lawmakers who failed to pass a gay-marriage bill.

Garden State Equality is also asking its 65,000 members not to contribute to parties.

The group has not said it will refrain from donating to individual candidates.

The organization’s leaders expected lawmakers would legalize gay marriage last month. But they saw support erode after Republican Chris Christie was elected governor in November.

Chairman Steven Goldstein says the contribution decision is to tell political parties they can’t take for granted the support of the state’s gays and their allies.


Carp prompt controls on waterway locks

Navigational locks and gates in Chicago-area waterways crucial for commercial shipping may be opened less frequently than usual in a stepped-up campaign to prevent Asian carp from overrunning the Great Lakes, federal officials said Monday.

The plan falls short of closing the navigational structures entirely, as demanded by Michigan and five other Great Lakes states. They fear the locks will provide an opening to the lakes for the giant carp, which some scientists say could devastate the region’s $7 billion fishing industry.

But the Obama administration described the plan as part of an effective strategy for keeping the invaders at bay while long-term biological controls are developed. The government said it would spend $78.5 million and take 25 actions to slow the advance of the carp, which can reach 4 feet long and 100 pounds.

Invasive species have hammered the Great Lakes for decades, and the Asian carp threatens to be particularly damaging, Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said after talks with several governors from the region.


Idaho, Nevada eye California egg farms

BOISE, Idaho | Idaho is among several states watching to see if a California animal-cruelty law drives flocks of big egg farms there to fly the coop.

California voters in 2008 approved Proposition 2, banning cramped cages for laying hens by 2015.

Neither Idaho nor Nevada, where officials are aggressively courting the Golden State egg industry, have restrictions on “battery cages” that leave chickens little room to spread their wings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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