Friday, November 28, 2008

United States Mint Releases Designs for Native American $1 Coin On Native American Heritage Day

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Native American Heritage Day, the United States Mint is releasing the designs for the new 2009 Native American $1 Coin. Public Law 110-82 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue the new $1 coin to recognize Native Americans for their contributions to the history and development of our Nation. The new coin, slated to be released into circulation in January 2009, will circulate along with the United States Mint's Presidential $1 Coins.

"We are proud to produce the Native American $1 Coin," said United States Mint Director Ed Moy. "When Americans use this coin, we hope they reflect on the tremendous contributions Native Americans have made, and continue to make, to our Nation."

Like the Presidential $1 Coins, the Native American $1 Coins will be minted in the distinctive gold-colored alloy. The coin's obverse (heads side) will feature the Golden Dollar's striking image of Sacagawea -- the young Shoshone woman who accompanied Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their historic expedition -- by sculptor Glenna Goodacre. Inscriptions on the obverse are LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. The year, mint mark and E PLURIBUS UNUM are incused on the coin's edge.

The reverse (tails side) of the Native American $1 Coin will bear a new design each year. The featured design for 2009, by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Norman E. Nemeth, is based on an agricultural theme, a significant part of Native American culture. This design depicts a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash, representing the Three Sisters method of planting. Inscriptions on the reverse are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and $1.

Throughout the Presidential $1 Coin Program, the Native American $1 Coins will be issued in chronological order, to the greatest extent possible, of the events or persons featured. The Secretary of the Treasury approves the designs after consulting with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, the National Congress of American Indians, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the Commission of Fine Arts.

The total quantity of Presidential $1 Coins and Native American $1 Coins minted and issued into circulation by the United States Mint will be sufficient to meet the Nation's needs. As required by law, at least 20 percent of all $1 coins minted and issued in any year will be Native American $1 Coins.

To view and download digital images of the 2009 Native American $1 Coin, go to: http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?action=Photo

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barricade Fire Gel Earns EPA 'Champion' Award

RJ Note: Great observation skills of used diapers lead to environmentally friendly fire gel. What a cool idea. And to think, I never noticed that while I was changing all those diapers.

/PRNewswire/ -- A revolutionary fire blocking gel developed by a veteran Florida firefighter has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its environmentally friendly formula through the use of safer surfactants and for its efforts in documenting a strategy for ensuring that only safer surfactants are used.

Barricade Fire Gel was invented by Palm Beach County firefighter John Bartlett after he observed that a disposable baby diaper did not burn during a routine trash fire. The water-absorbing polymers used in diapers are like those now used in Barricade Fire Gel. While Barricade has been credited with saving thousands of homes and businesses, Bartlett and his chemists worked for more than a decade to perfect this current formulation. The company now manufactures the only liquid fire gel approved for use by the U.S. Forest Service that is completely free of the hazardous surfactant known as nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), which scientific studies have shown can have long-term toxic effects on fresh- and salt-water fish and other wildlife.

Barricade, based in Hobe Sound, Fla., is the only fire gel to receive a "Champion" designation, the highest level of recognition from the EPA as part of its Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative. "Safer surfactants break down quickly to nonpolluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water," said EPA Administrator Steve Johnson at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. "By removing surfactants from their products, these SDSI Champions are improving their environmental footprints, satisfying consumer demand for safer products and contributing to cleaner, better protected waterways."

"NPEs and other problematic detergent chemicals are worthy of our attention and concern," said James Gulliford, assistant administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "NPEs are toxic to aquatic life, and as they break down in the environment they become even more toxic."

"This Champion Award is important because it validates that a firefighting chemical can be both more effective and earth-friendly at the same time," said Bartlett. "I appreciate EPA's recognition in designating our fire gel as an environmentally preferable product. This distinction will empower Barricade to save many more homes and businesses from destruction in wildfires while enabling my brother and sister firefighters to accomplish their important mission in a safer and more environmentally responsible manner."

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

American Women Confident in the Face of Economic Gloom

RJ Note: Yep, its tough. Yep, we are spending less. Yep, we are confident. Yep, we are women! We've come a long way---

/PRNewswire/ -- Women are spending less on microwaves, gifts, hobbies, gourmet coffees, video games, and even organic foods than they did just two months ago. And with the holidays approaching, they are about to get stingier still. But despite this stark outlook, fully 95 percent of all American women feel they will "make it" through the recession and 64 percent feel 2009 will find them financially "better off." These are among the findings of a recent study conducted for Fleishman-Hillard International Communications by the Harrison Group.

In "Women, Power & Money - The Shift to the Female-Driven Economy," a survey of more than 1,600 women conducted initially in early September and again in early November 2008, women acknowledged being financially worse off than they were a year ago, but felt sure they would be able to manage. The study is a large-scale, nationally representative survey that codifies the power of women in the marketplace.

In the September study, 79 percent of women stated that their opinion determines family financial decisions, while 91 percent claim to be the manager of their family's quality of life. More than half pay the family bills and about half are the shared or primary breadwinners.

"It's clear from this research that we are now living in a 'mom-ocracy' -- women are setting the agenda," said Nancy Seliger, president, U.S. East region, at Fleishman-Hillard, the global communications firm that commissioned the study. "We believe the most successful marketers will address concerns of the spouse, the children, and even friends of women. When these individuals are well informed, it is easier for women to build consensus within their families."

"These women hold the consumer economy in their hands," said Jim Taylor, Ph.D., vice chairman of the Harrison Group, a marketing and research consulting firm. "Their decisions over the next year will determine the economic health of the country."

The study also examined how women make decisions. For instance, women rank both "articles in magazines and newspapers" and "expert recommendations" as more influential than advertising. Moreover, even as the contemporary American woman controls a greater share than ever of household spending, she leads more by consensus than by decree.

Regarding the near-term economy, the study revealed much more about American women:

-- 79 percent plan to cut back on gift-giving this holiday season
-- 56 percent are spending less than last year eating out
-- 51 percent are spending less than last year on toys and games
-- 49 percent are spending less in November than in September on
entertainment
-- 50 percent are spending less in November than in September on shoes,
handbags, and accessories
-- 86 percent are delaying purchases until items go on sale

"Retailers may look at these numbers and cringe," said Seliger. "But family level cost controls give women confidence they will be able to manage through these tough times."

Women in the study acknowledged there will be some stress in charting their courses over the coming months, but they have strategies in place to cope with that as well. The majority plan to spend more time with friends and family, exercise and eat healthier.

The margin for error in the master survey is plus or minus 2 percent, and in the November survey the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Mail Holiday Packages With Care

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With 19 billion cards, letters and packages expected to be delivered this holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service has some tips to help get gifts to their destination swiftly and safely.

"The Postal Service is making it easier to ship packages to family and friends this season," says Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer Patrick R. Donahoe. "Proper addressing and proper packaging will help us give every gift the service it deserves."

The Postal Service offers free, environmentally friendly Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes. These supplies can be ordered at usps.com or picked up at a local Post Office.

"The best shipping value may be our Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes," says Donahoe. "No calculating of postage or weighing is needed. If it fits, it ships."

The Postal Service also offers pre-packaged shipping products, READY POST, sold at local Post Offices for customers needing sturdy, secure boxes and envelopes.

"Save money on Priority and Express Mail prices when you mail online with Click-N-Ship," adds Donahoe. "The more you ship, the more you save. And when a package is ready to be shipped, log on to usps.com/pickup to schedule free package pickup from home or office. Skip the trip and do all of your shipping online."

Helpful packaging tips:

-- Make sure packages are able to withstand processing without the
contents or packaging breaking.
-- Cushion items with bubble wrap, newspaper, or "foam peanuts" so they
do not shift during transit.
-- Wrap each item separately when packing more than one item in the same
box.
-- Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.
-- Close and shake the box to see if there is enough cushioning. If items
are shifting, add more cushioning.
-- Mark packages "Fragile" in large print on the outside of the box when
shipping materials that might be more likely to break.
-- When re-using a box make sure previous labels and markings are covered
before mailing.
-- Mark "Perishable" on packages that contain food or other items that
can spoil.
-- Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address
inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could
not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.
-- Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use
string, cellophane and masking tape to seal packages.
-- Packages can weigh up to 70 lbs. and measure up to 130 inches in
combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the
largest point of the package.


Guidelines for addressing envelopes and packages:

-- Print complete address clearly.
-- A complete address includes:
-- the recipient's name
-- Post Office Box or street number
-- street name
-- suffix (Ave., St., etc.)
-- directional (N, S, E, W)
-- secondary address (apartment or suite number)
-- city, state and 5-digit ZIP Code
-- For example: 123 S. Main St. Apt 4, Washington, DC 20001
-- Use the proper ZIP Code. ZIP Codes can be found at usps.com or by
calling 1-800-ASK-USPS.
-- Print the delivery and return addresses on the same side of the
envelope or package.
-- Always use a return address. It tells the Postal Service where to
return mail if it cannot be delivered.


The Postal Service recommends the following mail-by dates to ensure your gift arrives on time:

Dec. 4 -- Military mail destined for Iraq or Afghanistan
Dec. 11 -- Military mail for other overseas bases
Dec. 16 -- Parcel Post, the most economical shipping service
Dec. 20 -- First-Class Mail
Dec. 20 -- Priority Mail
Dec. 23 -- Express Mail


Due to security requirements, packages bearing postage stamps that weigh more than 13 ounces must be presented to a letter carrier or retail associate at the Post Office and cannot be dropped in blue collection boxes.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

One Giant Flush for Mankind on World Toilet Day

Just couldn't resist this story about toilets. I admit it. As long as my flushes well (and it does with the superior technology product I own) and my seat is warm (yes, I have a seat warmer), then all is right in my world:)

Another report I found stated that someone in Russia has developed a terrorist proof toilet. They claim it will withstand a suicide bomber. Just gets my mind running around in circles and down the drain.

Ode to the Commode
By Margaret Wertheim
LA Times- Opinion

Read the story.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Over 10 Million Images from the LIFE Photo Archive to be Made Available on Google

PRNewswire/ -- Access to LIFE's Photo Archive -- over 10 million images in total -- will soon be available on a new hosted image service from Google, Time Inc. has announced. Ninety-seven percent of the photographs have never been seen by the public. The collection contains some of the most iconic images of the 20th century, including works from great photojournalists Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and W. Eugene Smith.

These images can be found when conducting a search on Google.com or on Google Image Search. Users can also search through the LIFE Collection directly by visiting http://images.google.com/hosted/life.

The LIFE Photo Archive featured on Google will be among the largest professional photography collections on the Web and one of the largest scanning projects ever undertaken. Millions of images have been scanned and made available on Google Image Search today with all 10 million images to be available in the coming months.

"For 70 years, LIFE has been about one thing, and that's the power of photography to tell a story," says Andy Blau, LIFE's President. "LIFE will now reach a broader audience and engage them online with the incredible depth and breadth of the LIFE Photo Archive from serious world events, to Hollywood celebrities to whimsical photographs." Time Inc. EVP, John Squires adds: "We're delighted Google recognized the rich value of our photo archive and worked with us to bring it to millions of consumers. Consistent with the launch of the TIME Archive, PEOPLE Archive and the SI Vault, this initiative continues our efforts to build valuable new revenue opportunities from our rich heritage."

All keywords are translated into 16 different languages. LIFE's Photo Archive will be scanned and available on Google Image Search free for personal and research purposes. Copyright and ownership of all images will remain with Time Inc.

"Bringing millions of never-before-seen offline images online aligns with Google's mission to organize all the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," said R.J. Pittman, Director of Product Management at Google. "The LIFE Photo Archive captures some of the most compelling events, people and places of the past two hundred years. We have enhanced Google Image Search to provide our users with a rich search and browse experience to explore these high quality historical images."

In addition to housing some of the most important images taken by LIFE photographers, the LIFE Photo Archive also includes: The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880's; Hugo Jaeger Nazi-era Germany 1937-1944; DMI red-carpet celebrity shots; Pix Inc. personalities; the entire works left to the Collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen.

LIFE also announces the most comprehensive offering to date to purchase fine art photographic prints online. The general public will now have access to buy LIFE's famous photography through QOOP.com, a leader in online art sales.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Study Finds Cost of Diabetes in the United States Exceeds $217 Billion

RJ Note: Thoughts on changing our future-- and our nation's health.

/PRNewswire/ -- According to findings from a National Diabetes Economic Barometer study, undiagnosed, pre-diabetes and diabetes cost the United States an estimated $217.5 billion in 2007 due to higher medical expenditures and lost productivity.

The research shows that beyond the estimated $174 billion that is widely-accepted as the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2007, an additional $18 billion was spent on 6.3 million people with undiagnosed diabetes; $25 billion for 57 million American adults with pre-diabetes; and $623 million for the 180,000 pregnancies where gestational diabetes is diagnosed.

The National Diabetes Economic Barometer research was conducted by The Lewin Group and commissioned by the National Changing Diabetes(R) Program (NCDP), an initiative created by Novo Nordisk to improve the lives of people with diabetes.

"In individuals with pre-diabetes, we observed a significant increase in ambulatory visits for a wide variety of medical conditions, including hypertension, endocrine, metabolic and kidney complications," said Tim Dall, vice president at The Lewin Group. "Additionally, the data show that during the two years before diagnosis people exhibit an increase in ambulatory and hospital-based care for diabetes-related complications."

As the leading source of health insurance, covering about 158 million non-elderly people in America(1), employers are beginning to feel the financial sting. However, businesses can take steps to help reduce these negative consequences by focusing efforts on diabetes prevention and detection.

"We encourage businesses to take action to reduce the devastating economic consequences of this disease by learning about their workforce, engaging their employees, and making purchasing decisions that will encourage better health choices," said Dana Haza, senior director of the National Changing Diabetes(R) Program. "If companies can help their employees learn how to better manage their health, businesses can potentially cut down on their own healthcare spending while improving the quality of life of those who work for them."

At a Forbes Innovation in Healthcare forum sponsored by Novo Nordisk's National Changing Diabetes(R) Program today, top executives from large employers in the U.S. discussed the critical role of business in addressing the diabetes crisis and protecting the health of our nation's current and future workforce.

"Novo Nordisk is committed to defeating diabetes, but we can't do it alone. We started the National Changing Diabetes(R) Program to bring together the many different groups and organizations it will take to beat this disease," said Jerzy Gruhn, president of Novo Nordisk Inc., the world leader in diabetes care. "As the leading source of healthcare for Americans, businesses have the ability to change the direction of diabetes by tailoring benefits toward prevention, education and access to treatment."

The National Diabetes Economic Barometer is the second in a series of studies that comprise NCDP's National Diabetes Triple Barometer, a research program to benchmark the current societal, economic and clinical state of diabetes in the United States.

More information about the National Diabetes Economic Barometer and the National Changing Diabetes(R) Program is available online at www.ncdp.com.

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TheCarConnection.com Names the Best Pick-Up Trucks, Declares There Has Never Been a Better Time to Buy a New Truck

RJ Note: With all the deep discounts local car dealers have offered on trucks and SUVs, you may be getting the urge to buy. Here's a site that provides their thoughts on the best trucks.

/PRNewswire/ -- TheCarConnection.com's expert editors today named the best pickup trucks on the market and declared that there has never been a better time to buy a new pickup truck.

"Yes, the economy's in trouble, and no one's quite sure where the plummeting markets and federal bailout plans will end," said TheCarConnection.com's editor Marty Padgett. "But if you truly have a need for the towing and hauling capacity that only a truck can provide, the deals have never been better. "According to TheCarConnection.com, incentives of more than $6000 have been spotted on some GM and Chrysler trucks and gas prices are falling. "Gas price averages are pushing back toward $2 a gallon nationwide, something of a miracle for drivers who were dreading $5 a gallon gas just a few short months ago," said Padgett. "At the same time, trucks have never been more refined, or more capable, or more rugged, if the brand-new Dodge and Ford full-size trucks for 2009 are any indication."

Padgett explained that when TheCarConnection.com reviewed this year's crop of new trucks some clear winners have emerged. "To tell you which trucks we think deserve a nod as the Best in Class, we've consulted a wide range of truck reviews from other trustworthy Web sites. Then our own experts weighed in with their own driving impressions to give consumers the best, most inclusive information possible -- information that helps people decide which truck is best for them."

After breaking down this year's pickups into three groups -- the traditional full-size trucks, the mid-size and compact trucks, and a group of small-bed pickups derived from SUVs TheCarConnection.com calls sport-utility trucks--editors highlighted the highest-rated pickups below, with a couple of other names to consider when consumers go shopping for a truck.

The best in class pickups for the 2009 model year, as rated by TheCarConnection.com, are:

Full-Size Pickups: 2009 Dodge Ram
* The Ram Box storage system
* High level of ride refinement from new rear suspension
* Best Dodge interior in years
* More HEMI power with improved fuel economy
* Under-floor storage in Crew Cab

* The 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 currently stands as the leader in the full-size light-duty truck market.

Other Choices: Toyota Tundra, Ford F-150


2009 Nissan Frontier XE
Mid-Size and Compact Pickups: Nissan Frontier
A repeat winner from our Best Bang for the Buck Cars feature
* Rugged styling
* V-6 performance
* Four-door version's flexibility
* High towing capacity
* Longest bed is six feet
* Interior trim is mid-grade

* For those of us who don't live on a ranch, the 2008 Nissan Frontier is large enough to haul real people and cargo, but sized for the urban-congestion reality.

Other Choice: Toyota Tacoma


Sport-Utility Trucks: Cadillac Escalade EXT
* Superb drivetrain
* Refined handing
* Exhaust note to die for
* Rich interior
* Easy-to-use controls
* Is the Midgate worth it?
* Some non-Cadillac parts inside
* No Bluetooth connectivity

* The 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT stands out as the world's only transforming luxury truck/SUV.

Other Choices: Chevrolet Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Largest Study of Granite Countertops Finds No Stones That Pose Health Threat

RJ Note: It seems like this subject keeps coming up.

/PRNewswire/ -- The most comprehensive scientific study of health threats from granite countertops did not find a single stone slab that poses a health risk. Quantities of radon and radiation emitted by stones included in the analysis all fell well below average background levels commonly found in the United States.

The scientists conducted more than 400 tests of 115 different varieties of granite countertops, including stones cited in media reports as being potentially problematic. The stones tested include types of granite that comprise approximately 80 percent of the annual U.S. market share for granite countertops, based on the most recent market data available. The study specifically included types of granite most commonly used in countertops in the United States and more exotic stones that represent a tiny share of the market. The study found:

-- Not one stone slab contributed to radon levels that even reached the average U.S. outdoor radon concentration of 0.4 picocuries per liter -- one-tenth the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency level for remedial action within a home. The stone slabs found to emit at higher levels -- though still well below average outdoor background levels -- represent a tiny share of the U.S. market for granite countertops, less than 1 percent of sales.

-- Not a single stone emitted radiation levels that even approached a radiation dose of 0.3 milliSievert per year (mSv/year), the level determined by the European Commission to be negligible for human health risk; the U.S. has no such standard. However, this European standard is just 30 percent of the 1 milliSievert per year annual dose limit recommended for the general public by the National Council for Radiation Protection & Measurements.

Unlike some media reports of questionable scientific accuracy, this study evaluated a large variety of stones and used a number of complementary, well established scientific techniques to assess the exposures that people could have to radon and radiation in real-world environments and to determine whether the presence of these specific stones could compromise consumer health.

"The study showed that you are more likely to have a fatal fall from bed than to develop a health problem related to the most common granite countertops," said Dr. John F. McCarthy, president of Environmental Health & Engineering, the independent environmental testing firm that conducted the study. "Stones were selected for the study based on their prevalence of use as countertops and media reports suggesting specific types of granite pose health risk.

"Our research program was designed to assess exposure and risk to individuals in real world conditions. The scenarios that we evaluated were selected to ensure that they represent what people will really encounter in U.S. homes," McCarthy said. "Our research shows that some of the reports published by the media significantly exaggerate risk because they report raw data without considering real-world conditions as commonly defined by the scientific community. It is very important to put the results of these product evaluations into a context that is meaningful for the consumer."

Study findings are consistent with an earlier review of the scientific literature, which assessed results from every identified study of radon emissions from granite published in the scientific literature to evaluate potential exposures in homes.

The new study is being submitted for peer review and publication in a scientific journal, a process that can take several months.

"Our study included detailed mapping of radiation emitted from various stones that had areas that we identified as being elevated above levels for typical granite countertop material. We found that it's easy to get what appear to be high readings of radon or radiation from a small fraction of granite countertops, but those readings do not reflect the actual risk to consumers because they do not assess the real exposure, only isolated, extreme measurements," McCarthy said. "As with any other type of environmental measurement, assessing the real risk to consumers must take into account more than isolated readings from small spots on a countertop. It must reflect real- world exposure scenarios and be interpreted using well established principles of environmental health."

The study also concluded:

-- Radon levels associated with emissions from granite countertops in homes are low in comparison to typical background levels of radon exposure. In other words, natural stone is a minor contributor to concentrations of radon gas within homes. These findings are consistent with an earlier review of the scientific literature that EH&E performed.

-- Absorbed dose associated with radiation emissions for all of the slabs tested are well below health-protective guidelines, including the exemption limit of 0.3 mSv per year recommended by the European Commission. The United States has yet to establish an exemption level for building products based on radioactivity to our knowledge.

-- A portion of stones used as countertops may contain limited areas that are enriched in radioactive materials relative to the remainder of the slab. The areas of enrichment in the stones evaluated for this study make up a small proportion of the stone, on the order of less than 10 percent of the surface area. Detailed measurements of these enriched areas showed that they make a negligible contribution to potential doses of ionizing radiation.

-- Assessing exposure to radon and radiation requires accounting for duration and frequency of exposure, not just absolute magnitude. Additionally, careful consideration of several key parameters is warranted. For radon, measurements of radon flux from a countertop must account for variability across the countertop surface, the effect of any backing material on the stone, and diffusion through the slab. It is critical that ventilation is accounted for when estimating radon concentrations in indoor air from measurements of radon emissions from stones. For radiation, distance and geometry must be incorporated into dose assessments.

-- While significant variability was observed across stone types, the stones at the lower end of radon emissions were found to account for the vast majority of sales and also exhibited little variability among slabs. The varieties of granite countertop that exhibited the greatest variability of radon flux among slabs represent a small fraction of the U.S. market.

"You can never rule out anything, but [the likelihood of a granite countertop posing any health risk] is as close to zero as you could hope to get about a risk in your life based on what I know," said David Ropeik, risk consultant and author of the book "Risk." "Cumulatively, we have a huge body of evidence that suggests that this particular risk from granite is negligible."

Marble Institute of America President Guido Gliori said, "This study once again proves that granite countertops do not pose the risk that some exaggerated media reports would suggest. While some organizations that benefit financially from consumer concerns about granite attempt to spread panic, this study was designed to withstand the closest scientific scrutiny and should reassure the public about granite countertops."

In the absence of comprehensive, independent scientific analysis of granite countertops, the Marble Institute financed the study as part of its continuing effort to define a standard test protocol to assess radiation and radon emissions from different stones. The goal is to develop protocols for testing granite in the home, in showrooms or fabrication shops and at the quarry. The fact that no single protocol exists has allowed individuals to make claims about granite countertops based on inconsistent and often incorrect tests, methodologies or analyses.

The MIA is working with the scientific community to develop a single, acceptable standard for the proper testing of granite countertops and other granite building material. Work on the standard will involve scientists and several independent and governmental agencies.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Hubble Directly Observes A Planet Orbiting Another Star

RJ Note: Just another "wow" moment I thought you'd enjoy.

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken the first visible-light snapshot of a planet circling another star.

Estimated to be no more than three times Jupiter's mass, the planet, called Fomalhaut b, orbits the bright southern star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis, or the "Southern Fish."

Fomalhaut has been a candidate for planet hunting ever since an excess of dust was discovered around the star in the early 1980s by NASA's Infrared Astronomy Satellite, IRAS.

In 2004, the coronagraph in the High Resolution Camera on Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys produced the first-ever resolved visible-light image of the region around Fomalhaut. It clearly showed a ring of protoplanetary debris approximately 21.5 billion miles across and having a sharp inner edge.

This large debris disk is similar to the Kuiper Belt, which encircles the solar system and contains a range of icy bodies from dust grains to objects the size of dwarf planets, such as Pluto.

Hubble astronomer Paul Kalas, of the University of California at Berkeley, and team members proposed in 2005 that the ring was being gravitationally modified by a planet lying between the star and the ring's inner edge.

Circumstantial evidence came from Hubble's confirmation that the ring is offset from the center of the star. The sharp inner edge of the ring is also consistent with the presence of a planet that gravitationally "shepherds" ring particles. Independent researchers have subsequently reached similar conclusions.

Now, Hubble has actually photographed a point source of light lying 1.8 billion miles inside the ring's inner edge. The results are being reported in the November 14 issue of Science magazine.

"Our Hubble observations were incredibly demanding. Fomalhaut b is 1 billion times fainter than the star. We began this program in 2001, and our persistence finally paid off," Kalas says.

"Fomalhaut is the gift that keeps on giving. Following the unexpected discovery of its dust ring, we have now found an exoplanet at a location suggested by analysis of the dust ring's shape. The lesson for exoplanet hunters is 'follow the dust,'" said team member Mark Clampin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Observations taken 21 months apart by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys' coronagraph show that the object is moving along a path around the star, and is therefore gravitationally bound to it. The planet is 10.7 billion miles from the star, or about 10 times the distance of the planet Saturn from our sun.

The planet is brighter than expected for an object of three Jupiter masses. One possibility is that it has a Saturn-like ring of ice and dust reflecting starlight. The ring might eventually coalesce to form moons. The ring's estimated size is comparable to the region around Jupiter and its four largest orbiting satellites.

Kalas and his team first used Hubble to photograph Fomalhaut in 2004, and made the unexpected discovery of its debris disk, which scatters Fomalhaut's starlight. At the time they noted a few bright sources in the image as planet candidates. A follow-up image in 2006 showed that one of the objects is moving through space with Fomalhaut but changed position relative to the ring since the 2004 exposure. The amount of displacement between the two exposures corresponds to an 872-year-long orbit as calculated from Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

Future observations will attempt to see the planet in infrared light and will look for evidence of water vapor clouds in the atmosphere. This would yield clues to the evolution of a comparatively newborn 100-million-year-old planet. Astrometric measurements of the planet's orbit will provide enough precision to yield an accurate mass.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2013 will be able to make coronagraphic observations of Fomalhaut in the near- and mid-infrared. Webb will be able to hunt for other planets in the system and probe the region interior to the dust ring for structures such as an inner asteroid belt. For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Many Trees Do You Get?

RJ Note: I ran across this story and thought it interesting enough to share. Please follow the link to read about how many trees there are per person in the world. Good thing trees are a renewable source.

Going Out On A Limb With A Tree-Person Ratio

by Robert Krulwich

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cabbage Patch At 25

RJ Note: Wow. Cabbage Patch Dolls. What memories they evoke. Do you remember before Cabbage Patch when the Xavier Roberts dolls were called "Little People?" Do you remember the grown women who would spend hundreds of dollars to have that little doll? Do you remember the grown women who would purchase car seats for the dolls? It was a cult, for sure, in the metro Atlanta area.

(NAPSI)-They've been up to outer space, on the cover of Newsweek, on postage stamps, been celebrity impersonators and have even been the U.S. Team Mascots for the Summer Olympic Games twice. According to Elizabeth Werner, chief toy officer of iVillage, "Cabbage Patch Kids are a huge part of pop culture history."

It all started in 1983, when artist Xavier Roberts took his one-of-a-kind dolls, known as Cabbage Patch Kids, to the mass market. That year, over 3 million homes welcomed one of these new additions. Adorable and unique, each 'Kid came with a special name and birth certificate and quickly took the nation by storm.

Today, more than 118 million 'Kids have been "adopted," and in honor of their 25th Anniversary, a collection of limited-edition 'Kids is now available. The 25th Anniversary 'Kids are replicas of the originals with the same outfits, names and faces-that have not been available since the early '80s.

Grandparents who waited in endless lines and parents of today who had Cabbage Patch Kids as children are overcome with nostalgia at seeing these 'Kids again and are clamoring to share the experience with their young kids this holiday season. Anyone with a great Cabbage Patch Kids story, photo or video can share that memory with other fans at the Cabbage Patch Kids Memory Wall at www.cabbagepatchkids25.com.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Dr. Ben Johnson Services, LLC Releases a New Book about Breast Health

RJ Note: Food for thought, or is it thoughts to read?

24-7 -- Most women pay little attention to their breasts unless there is a problem. A new book, The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom (Morgan James 2008) by Ben Johnson, M.D., D.O., N.M.D. and Kathleen Barnes, changes that focus to breast health.

As an integrative cancer specialist, Dr. Ben Johnson has treated hundreds of women with breast cancer. The experience led him to seek ways to increase awareness of the directions women can take to keep their breasts healthy, thereby diminishing their risk of breast cancer and other breast diseases.

Dr. Johnson and his co-author have a unique approach to breast health that stems from the principles of the Law of Attraction as presented in the blockbuster movie, The Secret, in which Dr. Johnson appears. The book expands on the Law of Attraction by adding the principles of quantum physics and cellular memory that show how deeply our emotions affect every cell in our bodies, causing wellness or illness.

"Dr. Ben Johnson and Kathleen Barnes have fresh new ideas based on solid science and on the truths of the Law of Attraction," said Hyla Cass, M.D. author of 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health (McGraw-Hill 2006)

The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom is written to provide greater breadth and scope on maintaining healthy breasts than other similar books. Unlike other books that deal primarily with breast cancer, The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom focuses on dietary and lifestyle choices that create breast health for women of all ages.

Dr. Johnson explains some of the principles used to bring about healing on the deepest possible levels:

"To put it in the simplest possible terms: Your body, down to the individual cells, remembers and believes messages about you that may not be true.

"These messages are lies. Somewhere along the line, you might have been told you were stupid, ugly or not good enough. These messages may have come from your family, from society, even from generations past."

The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom offers ways to heal those toxic memories, to re-establish healthy communication between cells by eliminating all sorts of old cellular memories based to help us learn on all levels to forge a sense of self-worth, something that many women are lacking.

Johnson, co-author with Kathleen Barnes, said modern medicine focuses on disease conditions rather than on means of creating health. "Nowhere in medicine is this as apparent as in breast health," says Dr. Johnson.

The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom is loaded with practical advice and personal anecdotes from both Barnes and Dr. Johnson about wearing bras, thermograms versus mammograms, the healthiest diet, the best supplements, and much more.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

China to Emerge as Fourth Largest Western Drug Consumer by 2012

RJ Note: Now, isn't this a kick?

24-7 -- We have recently released a new research report, "China Healthcare Sector Analysis", that says, western drugs are gaining popularity in China on account of their high efficacy and better results. The market size of western drugs in the country stood at US$ 15.5 Billion last year, and it is expected to surge at a CAGR of 14.4% by end of 2012, making China the world's fourth largest pharmaceutical market after the US, Japan and Germany.

The report identifies that rising aging population (above 65 years) in China is one of the key factors boosting sales of western drugs. In 2007, 104 Million people, constituting nearly 8% of the total population, in the country were above 65 years of age and this number is expected to rise to 322 Million, more than the entire present population of the US, by 2050. With growing aging population, the prevalence of various chronic diseases like arthritis, cardiovascular and diabetes is also anticipated to increase strongly in the country. This will give rise to enhanced need for western drugs.

Furthermore, the healthcare expenditure on a person, aged 65 years or above, is estimated to be higher by 3-6 times from what a person aged between 35 and 44 years spent. Thus, rising proportion of aging population is projected to create a strong demand for drugs in China.

"China Healthcare Sector Analysis" provides in-depth analysis on the factors that define the structure and composition of healthcare market in China. It also provides detailed statistical and analytical view on various parameters of the market, including demographics, macroeconomic indicators, disease profile, healthcare services market, pharmaceutical market, medical device market, key drivers and restraints. It also gives quality information to clients that enable them to plan their market strategies and assess opportunities in the Chinese healthcare sector.

The report also gives forecast on various segments of the Chinese healthcare industry, such as healthcare expenditure, traditional Chinese medicines market, medical devices market and medical devices market by segment.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Post-Election Etiquette from The Protocol Centre(TM): Five Tips for Moving Past Divisive Politics and Back Into Normalcy

RJ Note: With the major election behind us, let us focus on the future of our country. If there are any local runoffs in your area, be sure to get out and vote for the candidate of your choice.

PRNewswire/ -- It's finally done, and the United States of America has a new president-elect. With approximately 64% of the voters participating in what has been arguably called an historical race, managers may be left dealing with a divided workplace of "winners" and "losers."

With both sides of the political spectrum calling for unity and cooperation, Dale Webb, director and founding partner of The Protocol Centre(TM) in Coral Gables, Florida, offers a few tips on how to transition back into productive work relationships. Webb, who is an expert to professionals on matters of business etiquette and protocol, guiding them on everything from table settings to managing their Blackberrys, offers the following:

-- Set the ground rules: Webb advises managers to gauge their offices for emotional tension and set ground rules according to what was acceptable during the campaigns. "If political talk was allowed before the election, then political talk may likely continue," Webb said. "But the manager should strongly encourage respectful discussions. No gloating, no bragging, no insults. Emphasize that the race is over, and that it's time to focus on work."

-- Give the other candidate's supporters some space: If your candidate emerged victorious, acknowledge that the other candidate's supporters may be going through a depressed spell. "Losing leads to feelings of emptiness, and your co-workers or employees may not want to talk about the election at all. Give them time to re-group," Webb said.

-- Have a plan for social settings: Holiday gatherings can lead to political conversations. If things get heated, have a plan to defuse the drama, Webb said. "Co-workers can try to head off talk of election winners and losers with neutral topics about work, family or holiday plans," Webb said. This holds true for tense personal gatherings, as well.

-- If your candidate won, be gracious: The onus is on both sides to be professional, but someone probably has to start the conversation. The winning side should be magnanimous. Webb suggests comments such as, "I know you were pulling for your candidate as hard as I was for mine ... " to re-build relationships.

-- Know when to exit: Sometimes, even the best efforts at protocol fail. When the other party is uncomfortably antagonistic in his or her stance, due to anxiety or anger, leave the conversation. "This is a workplace, which is not conducive to constant arguing," Webb said. "You're not a shrink, and some people cannot be convinced, by your words alone, that the country will be OK under new leadership."


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Troops Need Support Now More Than Ever

RJ Note: It's great to remember our armed forces who are willing to lay down their lives for our freedom.

PRNewswire/ -- Many groups and organizations hoping to do something for the troops this holiday season are turning to online troop support provider Treats for Troops (http://www.treatsfortroops.com/) to turn their plans into reality.

Treats for Troops provides the best solution for those in search of the best way to put funds raised for the troops to good use. The Group Gift Department has helped hundreds of companies, organizations, churches, schools and other groups and non-profits put smiles on the faces of thousands of soldiers.

Simply provide a budget, tell Treats for Troops what you'd like to accomplish, and they'll do the rest. A personal representative will make suggestions about what to choose, help you create a message to go with your gifts, and make sure you receive any thank you notes or e-mails sent by the soldiers who receive them.

The company's Denver warehouse is filled with holiday feasts, bright red stockings stuffed with cookies, candies and treats, electronic games, phone cards, and dozens of other packages, all ready to brighten a homesick soldier's holiday.

The tough economy has put a crimp in holiday support. Treats for Troops says the number of soldiers being sponsored through their Foster-A-Soldier program has fallen by nearly twenty-five percent from last year.

"I am heartsick thinking about the thousands of soldiers who have registered with our program in hopes of getting a package who may not get anything this holiday," says company founder Deborah Crane. "We've never had a year when every soldier didn't receive something. We are doing everything we can to reach out to companies, groups and organizations in time for the holidays," Crane continued.

Greg Ackerman, marketing manager for the Harris Jewelry chain, credited Treats for Troops with helping the company greatly improve their philanthropy program.

"We were looking for an easy way to send care packages to our troops; we donate to a lot of organizations, but we wanted to do something more personal that went directly and immediately to our troops in the field," said Ackerman. "Treats for Troops helped us reach three times as many soldiers as we'd hoped to. Both our employees and our customers are very excited to be part of this effort."

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Ten 'Turkey Day' Facts

RJ Note: Tuesday is going to be a big day as the country votes to elect our next president. Just thought we could all use a break from the election. So take a moment and dream of a large juicy turkey with all the trimmings....

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Whether it's while seated around the table or during halftime of the football game, talk turkey this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season with interesting facts from the National Turkey Federation (NTF).

-- Approximately 46 million turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving.
Another 22 million will be eaten at Christmas.

-- When purchasing a whole turkey, plan to buy at least one pound of
uncooked turkey per person. You'll have enough for the feast and
leftovers too!

-- The average weight of a turkey purchased for Thanksgiving is 15
pounds.

-- Turkey is healthier than any other protein source. A three-ounce
serving of cooked skinless turkey has fewer calories from fat, zero
saturated fat and eight percent more protein than chicken.

-- Many people report drowsiness after eating Thanksgiving dinner. While
turkey often receives the blame, studies suggest that
carbohydrate-rich meals may cause sleepiness by increasing the number
of tryptophans in the brain.

-- Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President
of the United States with a live turkey and two dressed turkeys in
celebration of Thanksgiving.

-- The National Thanksgiving Turkey has been the Grand Marshall in the
Thanksgiving Day Parade at both Disneyland Resort in California and
Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the past four years.

-- President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday
in 1863.

-- Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the turkey as the official United
States' bird, was dismayed when the bald eagle was chosen over the
turkey.

-- Minnesota is the top turkey producing state, followed by North
Carolina.

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