Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mark Malkoff Completes 30-Day Landmark Journey of Living Onboard AirTran Airways' Aircraft

/PRNewswire/ -- Like a returning hero, Mark Malkoff arrived in Atlanta today to applause and adulation from hundreds of adoring fans. Malkoff set the Guinness World Record for most flight segments in a 30-day period while keeping in touch with friends, fans and family via Gogo Inflight Internet on the airline's aircraft.

During the 30-day tour, Malkoff visited 38 cities, posted more than 1,000 tweets on his Twitter account and updated his Facebook page more than 700 times, all while taking more than 130 flights covering more than 109,000 miles while living onboard AirTran's new Boeing 717 and 737 aircraft. Some of his most memorable stops include: racing remote control cars with Danica Patrick in Richmond, Va.; being hosed down in Flint, Mich. by the Bishop International Airport Fire-Rescue Department for his first shower in weeks; and challenging the famous Klement's racing sausages to a foot race around an AirTran Airways aircraft in Milwaukee.

"What a long, strange trip it has been," said Malkoff. "The other night on a red eye flight I was told that I was muttering 'How are you baby wipes?' in my sleep. I'm extremely excited to be able to take a long, hot shower and see my wife Christine but I will definitely miss the thousands of AirTran Crew Members that have made me feel so welcome and at home."

During the 30-day adventure, Malkoff accumulated more than 100 frequent flier credits as an A+ Rewards Elite Member. To commemorate his World-Record accomplishment, AirTran Airways is giving away 100 of these credits to one lucky winner at http://www.markonairtran.com/. On the site are also videos of Malkoff's adventures posted throughout his trip.

"Watching Mark fly day and night for the past 30 days has been amazing," said Tad Hutcheson, vice president of marketing and sales for AirTran Airways. "He was the fastest passenger ever to become an A+ Elite flyer and we're happy to be able to give these credits away to someone else so they can begin their own adventure."

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Americans acknowledge need for more energy, but underestimate role of oil, natural gas, survey shows

/PRNewswire/ -- A new survey finds that while Americans now recognize the United States will need more energy in the coming years, they continue to underestimate the amount of oil and natural gas that government experts predict will be needed to meet that demand. Conversely, respondents overestimate the role that renewable energy sources will play in meeting future demand, the amount of oil the U.S. imports from the Middle East, and oil and natural gas industry earnings.

The third annual "Energy IQ" survey, conducted for the American Petroleum Institute (API) by Harris Interactive(R), comes as a new administration and Congress are pursuing energy and climate policies that will determine America's economic competitiveness for years to come.

"Americans understand fundamentally that we need more energy to grow our economy but they continue to undervalue oil and natural gas in meeting expected demand," said Jack Gerard, API's president and CEO. "We stand ready to work with the White House and Congress on policies that encourage the development of America's vast resources, which would strengthen our nation's energy security, create new jobs and increase government revenues by trillions of dollars."

"The American public wants to believe there is a silver bullet answer to our energy challenges despite what government experts predict," said Jim Hoskins, senior vice president for Harris Interactive. "Americans have become more aware of how current policies limit increased domestic production but they also continue to subscribe to common, yet critical, misperceptions regarding how the industry operates and the energy we'll need to meet growing demand."

Comparing the results to last year's survey, respondents showed a continued misunderstanding on key issues such as the significance of North American oil and natural gas resources, the number of people employed by the oil and natural gas industry in the U.S., and the amount of taxes the industry pays every year.

API commissioned the online research by Harris Interactive of 1,298 U.S. adults between April 30 and May 8, 2009. Results were compared to the previous two years' responses. Among the survey's key findings:

-- More Americans understand that U.S. energy demand will increase during
the next 20 years, but they underestimate the vital role that fossil
fuels will play in meeting demand.
-- While the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects
that U.S. energy demand will increase 9 percent during the next 20
years, only 5 percent of respondents chose the correct answer. The
majority overestimated this number, believing that U.S. demand
would increase 16 to 21 percent.
-- When asked what percent of global energy demand will be met by
fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal, according to
government projections, only 10 percent of respondents answered
correctly that fossil fuels will meet 85 percent of energy demand.
This is the second consecutive year this number has dropped even
though the EIA figure for future U.S. reliance on fossil fuels has
risen by five percent since 2008.
-- Similarly, while the EIA projects that more than 55 percent of
U.S. energy demand in 2030 will be met by oil and natural gas,
only 16 percent of respondents chose this answer.
-- Those surveyed overestimate the amount of oil and natural gas supplied
to the U.S. by the Persian Gulf countries and underestimate the amount
that is supplied from North America.
-- According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 12 percent of
the oil consumed last year in the U.S. came from the Persian Gulf
countries. Only 7 percent of respondents chose correctly, while
more than 40 percent of respondents believed that over 30 percent
of our oil supply came from the Persian Gulf.
-- Fifty-three percent of respondents believed that Saudi Arabia was
the largest U.S. supplier of imported crude oil. In fact,
according to the DOE, Canada is the largest supplier of imported
crude oil.
-- Only 5 percent of respondents knew that more than 73 percent of
oil and natural gas consumed in the U.S. was produced in North
America. This is down 3 percent from last year's survey. A
surprising 42 percent were under the misconception that the answer
was less than 35 percent.
-- People underestimate the contributions the industry makes to the U.S.
economy through jobs and taxes, and overestimate the industry's
-- Only 15 percent of respondents knew that six million Americans are
employed directly or indirectly by the oil and natural gas
-- Only 9 percent of respondents knew that oil companies pay more
than 40 percent in income taxes as a share of their income. The
majority thought that it was less than 30 percent, with one-third
of all respondents under the misconception that companies pay less
than 15 percent in income taxes.
-- Similarly, when asked how much the oil and natural gas industry
paid in taxes over the past three years, a full one quarter of
respondents believed that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry
contributed less than $100 billion. Forty-three percent of
respondents chose "not sure" and only 10 percent answered
correctly -- $242 billion, according to the EIA.
-- More than 40 percent of respondents believed that the oil and
natural gas industry earned more than 20 cents per every dollar of
sales. In fact the industry earns just below 6 cents on every

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Friday, June 26, 2009

A Change in Fayette: Farewell to Chuck and Cindy Morley

I've been in Fayette County long enough to remember when Chuck and Cindy Morley took over the Fayette Daily News around 14 years ago. For many in Fayette, they've never know a Fayette Daily News without the pair at the helm. At the end of the month, newbies coming into the county will read a Fayette Daily minus the hard-working dynamic duo.

I remember walking into Chuck's office many times way back when to sneak one of my press releases into his huge overflowing in-box stack. I'd position it near the top knowing he'd never get down to the one at the bottom. At times I'd slide the same one in the pile in a couple of spots. Sometimes I just leave it in his chair or someplace where I knew he couldn't miss it in hopes that my bright colors and fancy fonts, if not the subject matter, would catch his attention. Most of the time he'd be in his office and we'd chat. Almost as often, if I found Chuck, I'd find Cindy... always wearing something with a noticeable Georgia Bulldog logo it seemed!

Over the years our paths have crossed many times as I managed my public relations and marketing company, worked part-time for one of their competitors and then became a quasi-competitor of sorts when I started the Fayette Front Page. Inevitably if I went to a Tech or Georgia game I'd see the pair at some point with cameras, pad and pens, covering the action.

Change is a way of life these days so it's hard to complain about some of the changes, even some of the ones I don't like. People retire or move onto better things. Newspapers shrink, formats change and the focus shifts.

The Fayette Daily News will not be the same without Chuck and Cindy. It has become so closely identified with them that whoever attempts to take their place is going to have a difficult time of it I'd think. Despite the growth in Fayette, we're still a small town in many ways and relationships matter.

There are very few Fayette County secrets unknown to the Morleys. They know the history of the county, the good and the bad. They know the relationships, the ties and the heart of the community. They seem to pretty much get along with everyone and manage to find friends on both sides of issues.

It's going to be strange sitting at a Fayette County Commission meeting without Cindy to joke and talk to during the lulls. I'll miss hearing Chuck's dry witty comments at the next event I cover. It's rare to cover any event and not find one of the two.

I wish them well and hope their next ventures are wildly successful. We're going to miss them in Fayette County.

Consumer Watchdog to Obama: No 'Cash for Clunkers' Without Compensation for GM Victims

RJ Note: Isn't this interesting? Buy a car from GM while they are in bankruptcy. Have big safety problem with car. So sorry. They aren't liable? Yep. This should really help consumer confidence so much that even the Cash for Clunkers won't overcome it.

/PRNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog called upon President Obama to prioritize the purchase of an insurance policy for victims of defective GM vehicles in the company's bankruptcy over the "cash-for-clunkers" program. Read the letter to the President at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrObamaReGM.pdf.

"The same $1 billion allocated for clunkers could purchase an insurance policy in the GM bankruptcy proceeding to provide for Americans who are injured or maimed, and the families of those killed by unsafe GM cars and trucks," wrote Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court. "The United States government should make compensation for GM victims a priority before paying cash for clunkers... While a typical bankruptcy would include successor liability - the new company would be responsible for the defects of the old company - this special process for GM provides no such protection for its victims. The new GM should be required to buy an insurance policy to adequately and fully pay the claims of consumers injured in the past and the future by GM's defective cars and trucks."

Consumer Watchdog pointed out the inappropriate priorities in the GM bankruptcy: $100 million for an insurance policy to protect its officers and directors, a policy without a deductible for the executives; $2 billion per year for GM advertising; and hundreds of millions for Wall Street advisors.

"Americans have already sunk $50 billion in GM, and analysts expect that money will never be returned," wrote Court. "How much is there to provide for those burned or killed by an exploding GM gas tank? Not a dime."

The consumer group also sent the President a "death memo" from the GM litigation files showing company managers knew about defects that would burn and kill customers but chose not to recall the cars because it was cheaper to pay out lawsuits. Read the memo at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ValueAnalysisAutoFuel.pdf.

"Such cold-hearted calculations should not prove prophetic," Court wrote. "You have it within your power as President to send a signal that those who have suffered from these calculations are worth at least as much as an Oldsmobile Cutlas Supreme. You simply cannot allow this injustice to stand."

Consumer Watchdog also pointed out that, "Practically, the success of cash-for-clunkers could depend upon the purchase of insurance to cover GM safety claims. Under the current bankruptcy filing, New GM would not be accountable for injuries and deaths from safety defects in cars sold before the company exits bankruptcy. If you want Americans to use their clunker vouchers for a 2009 GM car in the short term, Americans will have to know that if their gas tanks explode or brakes fail they won't be able to hold GM accountable for their injuries. That's certainly not going to help GM dealers move their inventory. Cash-for-clunkers will be far less effective in stimulating the economy if the government vouchers purchase foreign-made cars.

"Mr. President, with the American people owning GM, it is your responsibility to make sure there is coverage that makes good on GM's obligation to families injured and killed by GM cars, in the past and in the future. The price tag, in light of recent government spending on carmakers, is a small cost in order to provide for these devastated families and uphold the cause of the justice in America. We appreciate your attention to this matter of grave concern."

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Test Demonstrates Texting While Behind The Wheel Can Be Even More Dangerous Than Impaired Driving

RJ Note: As I recall being a young driver, swerving cars usually meant drinking and driving. Now, it appears the honor for swerving cars now can indicate driving while talking or texting. How many times do you pass a swerving car and say to yourself "get off the phone and drive"?

I usually make sure I am at a complete stop before I try to talk on the phone. And I never text while driving. After all, it can take my complete dedication to listening to what is being said. Shoot, sometimes I can't even watch TV and talk at the same time.

/PRNewswire/ -- Text messaging is on the rise, and undoubtedly, some "texters" or "tweeters" are sending and receiving messages while driving. In December 2008, more than 110 billion messages were being sent each month, up from less than 10 billion just three years ago. To gauge the effect of these road messagers, Car and Driver magazine decided to conduct a road test to determine just how dangerous texting and driving can be. The results were eye-opening.

Previous academic studies have shown texting while driving using simulators impairs a driver's abilities. But as far as we know, no study has been conducted in a real vehicle that is being driven. In addition, Car and Driver also compared the results of texting to the effects of drunk driving, on the same day and under the exact same conditions.

The focus of the test was solely on the driver's reaction time. All of the driving was done in a straight line on an 11,800-foot runway. Given the prevalence of the BlackBerry, the iPhone, and other text-friendly mobile phones, the test subjects would have devices with full QWERTY keypads and would be familiar with text messaging. A web intern 22, armed with an iPhone, would represent the younger crowd. The older demographic would be covered by Editor-in-Chief, Eddie Alterman, 37.

After conducting the texting tests on both drivers at 35 mph and 70 mph, the test subjects then drank alcoholic cocktails until they reached the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content. They then went back behind the wheel and ran the identical test without any texting distractions.

The results showed even using a straight road without any traffic, road signals, or pedestrians, and looking just at reaction times, the texting results were even worse than the negative impaired driving results.

Both socially and legally, drunk driving is completely unacceptable. Texting, on the other hand, is still in its formative period with respect to laws and opinion. A few jurisdictions have passed ordinances against texting while driving. But even if sweeping legislation were passed today to outlaw any typing behind the wheel, it would still be very difficult to enforce the law.

As summarized by Alterman, "In our test, neither of us had any idea texting would slow down our reaction time so much. Like most folks, we believe we are good drivers, but the real key to driving safely is keeping your eyes and your mind on the road. Text messaging distracts any driver from those primary tasks."

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Next Week is 35th Anniversary of Retail Bar Code Scanning

RJ Note: Long gone are the days when you stood in the grocery line and watched the magical fingers of the check out clerk. Of course, you also watched carefully to ensure no errors were made as those fingers flew over the keys.

Now, the UPC is turning 35. I still remember the first time I saw it used in a store. The store was in Augusta, Georgia, on Washington Rd, but I can no longer recall the name of the store. However, I do recall I got my first hand held hair dryer at that store. Ahh, memories.

(BUSINESS WIRE)--“It’s the wave of the future, and I’m very upbeat on the system.” These were the words almost 35 years ago of Virginia Knauer, special assistant for consumer affairs to the President of the United States, when asked about the Universal Product Code (UPC) and the growing interest in retail bar code scanning.

Today, there is virtually no consumer product that cannot be scanned at the checkout in a retail store.

NCR Corporation first demonstrated its scanning system in 1974 to an overflow crowd that attended the Super Market Institute convention to view the then-revolutionary technology. Less than two months later, on June 26, 1974, history was made when a 10-pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum became the first product ever scanned in a retail store setting — with an NCR scanner in a checkout lane at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

NCR and Marsh quickly made headlines in newspapers and trade publications in the United States, Canada and other countries.

“Throughout its history, Marsh has been a technology leader in the retail industry,” said Lee Nicholson, vice president of MIS for Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. “When that package of Wrigley’s gum moved across the scan window, and a laser beam ‘read’ the bar code imprinted on the package, it was the beginning of a new era for retailing.”

Indeed, the new system helped revolutionize the world of retailing. Bar code scanning at the point of service soon brought faster checkout for shoppers and gave retailers more information and control over inventory and other areas of store operations. But the revolution didn’t stop there.

“That first transaction on an NCR bar code scanner launched a transformation that is still being felt throughout the world of retailing,” said Mike Webster, NCR vice president and general manager, Retail and Hospitality. “It’s a world where NCR has helped make shopping easier and faster for consumers with a stream of innovative solutions that we intend to drive well into the future.”

Today, retailers use the detailed transaction data collected by NCR RealPOS™ bar code scanners in ways only dreamed of 35 years ago. For example, consumer loyalty programs — like NCR Advanced Marketing Solution software — are linked to data that is generated when items are scanned at the point of sale.

In the years since 1974, NCR has introduced a steady stream of technology and software innovations that set the standard for scanning systems in retail stores and made the company today’s market leader in high performance scanners.

Moreover, NCR continues to simplify retailing processes and revolutionize the two things most people like least about shopping — waiting in line and paying. For example:

* NCR SelfServ™ Checkout, from the global market leader in self-checkout, can reduce checkout wait times up to 40 percent, greatly enhancing the shopping experience.
* NCR SelfServ kiosks, available with an integrated bar code scanner, support numerous retail self-service functions, including order placement, bill payment, promotional information, gift registries and more.

In addition, the global standards community, led by GS1™, is working with NCR to introduce the first new bar code symbology introduced worldwide to retail since the introduction of the European Article Number (EAN) format in 1977. The GS1 DataBar™ can be used for identifying small items, such as produce, and can carry more information than the current EAN/UPC bar code.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Atlanta Mom on Mission for Quality, Affordable Healthcare for All Drives Purple Bus Across Nation Gathering Stories

/PRNewswire/ -- As lawmakers wrangle over health reform legislation and the insurance industry ramps up its opposition to reform, one mom is making sure people's voices are heard. Kathie McClure, an Atlanta mother, has logged more than 16,500 miles through 25 states to expose the gaps in our tattered healthcare system safety net and inspire Americans to speak up for real solutions. McClure, a 54 year-old former lawyer and mother of two, will deliver hundreds of personal stories to members of Congress when she arrives in Washington, DC on June 24 with one mission: to convince lawmakers to finally provide quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Since the tour began on March 31, McClure has traveled around the country in the little bus her husband refurbished and painted purple to represent a mixture of the red and blue factions that too often divide our country. It is emblazoned with the campaign's web site, "VoteHealthcare.org," and hundreds of smiley faces representing people all across the country in desperate need of a healthcare system that works for them, not against them.

Now known as the "Purple Bus Lady," McClure formed the nonprofit 501(c)(3) and launched her cross-country trek when insurers refused to sell reasonably priced policies to her own children because of their "pre-existing conditions." Her son, Chris, 27, suffers from Type 1 diabetes, and her daughter, Caitlin, 25, suffers from epilepsy. She believes the way she can influence real change on healthcare in Washington is by collecting stories of people's heartbreak and frustration when insurance companies use fine print and loopholes to deny care.

"Though Washington politicians and moneyed special interests debate the future of our healthcare," said McClure, "as a concerned mother I know that meaningful reform that achieves quality, affordable healthcare for all will not happen without citizens' overwhelming support."

McClure has met countless Americans who, like her, demand that lawmakers put asides partisan differences and find real solutions. "My journey has taught me that I am not alone in this fight," she said. Just a fraction of those she's met include:

-- Jackie, a Persian Gulf veteran who struggles to find basic, preventive
care for her kindergarten age son in La Grande, Oregon;
-- Dan, an unemployed construction worker from Bothell, Washington,
diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes weeks after losing his coverage;
-- Wendy, a hard working 52-year-old organic farmer in Nampa, Idaho, who
is too young for Medicare but can no longer afford the premiums for
her railroad retiree health benefits.

McClure's next stops are in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska on June 16 and Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa on June 17 and 18, then on to Washington, DC's Freedom Plaza on June 24. The full schedule is available at http://www.votehealthcare.org/bandwagon.aspx. To see a compilation of media coverage she's received around the country, visit http://www.votehealthcare.org/Article.aspx?ID=19.

"Whether they live in red states or blue states, people understand what's going on in Washington. They know the insurance and pharmaceutical industries make excessive profits and spend millions lining politicians' pockets and broadcasting misleading ads. People all over the country are standing up and demanding reform," said McClure. "To members of Congress who are not sure they should vote for health reform, I invite you to ride with me on the purple bus."

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Georgia Preacher Rescued Apollo 11 Astronauts

/PRNewswire/ -- When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins splashed down into the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969 after their historic moonwalk, the first human they saw had flowers plastered all over his wetsuit. A picture of Wolfram standing on top of the capsule holding on to the recovery loop like a cowboy on a bucking bronco was plastered all over America's newspapers and periodicals, including the now-defunct Look magazine. You can't miss Wolfram. His flowers distinguish him from the others.

Wolfram remembers that remarkable day as if it were yesterday, "Who would have thought that a 20-year-old seaman like me would have ever gotten the chance to be part of history? Dreams do come true."

Rescuing astronauts was not the only adventure of Wolfram's short navy career. He was deployed twice to Vietnam where he received a purple heart from a leg wound received during a firefight with the Viet Cong. John lost eight close friends, "I was one of the fortunate ones. I was able to return to the U.S. and pick up where I left off."

John's amazing story is chronicled in a book he has published called Splashdown, The Rescue of a Navy Frogman -- just in time for the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Wolfram not only describes in detail his journey to become a Navy UDT/SEAL, he also shares with readers his personal struggles, coping with drugs and the controversial war. While hallucinating on LSD in a Vietnam hotel room, he escaped the horrors of suicide after hearing a familiar voice -- the one that had spoken to him once before as a child.

With the help of faith that never left his side, Wolfram weaves into his narrative how while he was trained to rescue others, he found himself in need of rescue.

When asked the question, what do you want readers to get out of your book, among other things? His reply was "to realize someone is out there, urging us to try, to take the risk, to brave the danger, and standing ready to reveal Himself as our savior."

Wolfram's own conversion came at the end of his four-year Navy enlistment. His turnaround was so dramatic that many of his UDT-11 teammates were also converted. Four of them became preachers of the gospel.

Wolfram's Christian journey has led him back to Vietnam, among those whom he fought in order to lead them to Jesus. "Going back to Vietnam was a rush beyond words," says Wolfram. "I faced my demons and answered God's call all at the same time. I've been making trips every year since the early '90s."

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

New York Times Urges Obama to Consider Executive Order on Gays

/PRNewswire/ -- The New York Times editorial page has called on President Obama to consider signing an executive order suspending the military's gay ban, urging him to "see if there is indeed any action he could take on his own."

Referring to Obama's stroke-of-the-pen authority to issue stop-loss orders which prevent service members from leaving the military, the Times states, "How much better to use the power to prevent the loss of gay service members eager to keep serving."

The Times joins a growing chorus calling for an executive action including Congressman Rush Holt, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean, and Knights Out, an organization of West Point graduates co-founded by Dan Choi, the Arabic translator about to be discharged because he's gay.

The idea of ending the ban by executive order gained momentum after the release last month of a Palm Center study showing that the president has the authority to suspend "don't ask, don't tell" via a stroke of the pen. Before that time, many argued that only Congress or the courts could lift the ban on service by openly gay troops.

Dr. Nathaniel Frank said that today's endorsement increases the pressure on the White House to take action. "The administration is probably coming to believe that this issue is not going away," he said. Frank is author of "Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America" and senior research fellow at the Palm Center.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We May Be Smarter than Chimps, but We get more Cancer

RJ Note: Now isn't this a kicker? Here we are. So advanced and yet, chimps appear to fight cancer much better than we do. Very interesting study.

GT: Cancer: The Cost of Being Smarter Than Chimps?

Are the cognitively superior brains of humans, in part, responsible for our higher rates of cancer? That’s a question that has nagged at John McDonald, chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Biology and chief research scientist at the Ovarian Cancer Institute, for a while. Now, after an initial study, it seems that McDonald is on to something. The new study is available online in the journal Medical Hypothesis and will appear in the forthcoming issue of the journal.

“I was always intrigued by the fact that chimpanzees appear to have lower rates of cancer than humans,” said McDonald. “So we went back and reanalyzed some previously reported gene expression studies including data that were not used in the original analyses.”

McDonald and his graduate students, Gaurav Arora and Nalini Polivarapu, compared chimp-human gene expression patterns in five tissues: brain, testes, liver, kidneys and heart. They found distinct differences in the way apoptosis " or programmed cell death ” operates, suggesting that humans do not “self-destroy” cells as effectively as chimpanzees do. Apoptosis is one of the primary mechanisms by which our bodies destroy cancer cells.

“The results from our analysis suggest that humans aren’t as efficient as chimpanzees in carrying out programmed cell death. We believe this difference may have evolved as a way to increase brain size and associated cognitive ability in humans, but the cost could be an increased propensity for cancer,” said McDonald.

Like all evolutionary hypotheses, this can’t be proven absolutely, according to McDonald. However, his lab has recently obtained additional direct experimental evidence consistent with the hypothesis that apoptotic function is more efficient in chimps than in humans.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

National Hot Dog & Sausage Council Extends Deadline for 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' Video Contest

RJ Note: Mmmmmm. Love those hot dogs at the baseball field. Guess I'd best head on out to see my hometown team soon.

/PRNewswire / -- Due to popular demand, the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (NHDSC) today extended the deadline to June 13 for its song contest to create an updated version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" that includes a reference to hot dogs.

"The Council has received such positive feedback and requests for more time that we will extend the deadline one week to June 13," said the Queen of Wien -- NHDSC president Janet Riley. "We've received entries from people ranging in age from 5 to 70. We want to give Americans one more week to don their creative hats, fire up their cameras and send in a new version of this age-old song."

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game," which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008, includes a glaring omission. While hot dogs are the number one food served in major league ball parks, the song only references peanuts and Cracker Jack(TM).

Entries may be submitted online at www.hot-dog.org or by mail. Props and costumes are encouraged. Complete contest details may be found at www.hot-dog.org.

A panel of judges will review entries for their originality and excellence. Judges include: Washington D.C.'s "Man About Town," Bob Madigan, of WTOP radio; Chicago news and sports personality Bob Sirott of NBC5; hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, author of the new book Hot Dog; Agri-talk Radio Host Mike Adams; and Eric Haman, corporate communications manager at Hatfield Quality Meats and star of the YouTube sensation "The Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher."

Winners will be announced at the start of National Hot Dog Month July 1 and will be featured in an online video on www.youtube.com/hotdogcouncil.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

-- Honorable Mention -- Five (5) pounds of gourmet hot dogs and a $50
gift certificate to MLB.com to be used for merchandise or game tickets
to select teams.
-- Third place -- Ten (10) pounds of gourmet hot dogs and a $100 gift
certificate to MLB.com to be used for merchandise or game tickets to
select teams.
-- Second Place -- Fifteen (15) pounds of gourmet hot dogs and a $250
gift card to MLB.com to be used for merchandise or game tickets to
select teams.

-- Grand Prize -- Twenty-five (25) pounds of gourmet hot dogs and a $500
gift card to MLB.com to be used for merchandise or game tickets to
select teams. Winner also will receive a souvenir baseball autographed
by Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.

"This year, Americans will consume 22 million hot dogs in Major League baseball parks," Riley said. "We thank America, in advance, for helping us correct this cultural oversight and for helping us give hot dogs their rightful place in 'Take Me Out To the Ball Game.'"

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Auto Dealers Believe the 'Cash for Clunkers' Bill Will Help Revive U.S. Auto Sales

RJ Note: If the auto dealers think that a voucher for $4500 will improve car sales, then why aren't they providing them now? Why wait for the government handouts? Will $4500 off the price of a car really encourage more people to go into debt if their present car is already paid off?

/PRNewswire/ -- The nation's auto dealers, pummeled by auto sales that are the lowest in 17 years, are optimistic that the "Cash for Clunkers" bill now moving through Congress will positively impact U.S. auto sales. However, dealers are also concerned that sales are being frozen while the bill is being debated because consumers are waiting for vouchers to become available for trade-ins before purchasing a new car.

These are the results of a national survey of U.S. auto dealers conducted this week by Dealix, a division of Cobalt, and the leading provider of new car and used car automotive sales leads for dealers and OEMs. The Senate is poised to consider a version of the bill, which will provide consumers credits of up to $4,500 if they trade in cars with low mileage per gallon for more fuel efficient vehicles.

Dealix, which counts most of the nation's auto dealers as customers, sent the survey to general managers, dealer principals, Internet managers, and other sales professionals at the majority of the nation's roughly 20,000 franchised dealerships. In their responses to the survey, dealers expressed strong hopes for the legislation:

-- Over 85% said the legislation would stimulate car purchases to some
degree, with over 26% of that group saying it would increase purchases
"a lot."
-- And, almost 60% believe the program will help the environment.

While optimistic about the impact, dealers are also concerned that, in the short-term, anticipation of the bill is decreasing sales. Nearly 60% of dealers responding indicated that some or a lot of consumers are delaying their purchases until the bill is passed.

Dealers are watching the legislative process closely, with 84% of respondents reporting a familiarity with the proposal. These dealers also had strong opinions about some of the most hotly contested elements of the competing Senate and House bills:

-- More than 6 out of 10 responding dealers believe the program should
apply to the purchase of a used car; not solely to new car purchases.
-- The majority - over 70% - do not believe vouchers should be applied
retroactively to purchases made before the bill is passed.

Dealers are anticipating that they will play a role in educating customers about the specifics of the bill. Nearly 70% are planning marketing campaigns to explain that vouchers are available and how they will be used.

"Consumers will need help from dealers to understand how to use the Cash for Clunkers program, and they'll also turn to independent sources to research their car choices," said Anna Zornosa, general manager of Dealix. "During 2008, as consumers responded to increases in gas prices by considering new fuel efficient vehicles, they turned to the Internet for help in significant numbers. We expect independent Internet research sites to play this same vital role as consumers take advantage of the vouchers."

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

American Flags Missing

RJ Note: This story has crossed my desk several times today. So, I thought you'd be interested in seeing the video of the bandits who stole the American Flags right out of the cemetery.

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National Partnership to Meet, Evaluate Addiction Treatment as Component of New Justice Programs

/PRNewswire / -- Representatives from more than 50 federal agencies, corporations, nonprofits and academic institutions are meeting today in Washington, D.C., as part of a multi-phase process aimed at mitigating what they call the crippling effects of alcohol misuse and crime in the United States.

The third meeting for the National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime (NPAMC) will feature keynote speaker Dr. Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health and former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The one-day conference will focus on what NPAMC president and founder Stephen Talpins calls the vital role of addiction treatment in the management of alcohol-involved offenders. "The justice system has been trying for decades to mitigate both the economic and public safety impact of alcohol misuse," says Talpins, a former national policy director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and a former DUI prosecutor for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. "Research is showing, time and again, that treatment-based programs for addicted offenders are, dollar for dollar, the most effective way to reduce the extraordinary burdens placed in justice agencies and to reduce the cycle of recidivism," says Talpins. The Century Council, a NPAMC Participating Organization, is sponsoring the conference.

In addition to Dr. DuPont, the conference includes presentations on the latest clinical research on addiction treatment and its application to criminal offenders. Speakers include Dr. Rick Rosenthal, professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University; Dr. Mark Publicker, president of the Maine Society of Addiction Medicine and medical director of Addiction Treatment Services at Mercy Recovery Center; Dr. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment with SAMHSA; and Judge William Dressel (retired), president of the National Judicial College.

NPAMC was founded in September 2008 with the goal of bringing together the vast expertise, research and resources dedicated to tackling the issues related to epidemic rates of alcohol misuse and crime. NPAMC is comprised of more than 50 Participating Organizations, and the aim is to provide criminal justice agencies across the U.S. with proven, evidence-based program models that will reduce the exorbitant financial burden taxpayers bare managing alcohol offenders by reducing the rate of alcohol-related recidivism.

In 2008, the Pew Center on the States (a NPAMC Participating Organization) released a study titled "One in 100: Behind Bars in America," highlighting the epidemic rates and costs of incarceration in the U.S., where one in every 100 adults is now behind bars. In 2009, Pew released "One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections," which shows that a staggering one in every 31 U.S. adults is under correctional supervision. "Alcohol-involved offenders are literally paralyzing the criminal justice system, clogging court dockets, caseloads and our jails and prisons. We can no longer afford to simply debate the issue," says Talpins.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Georgia Resident Plans to Find New Planet Instead of Recycling

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia non-recycler, Tommy Krenshaw reaches star status this week as he and his reason for not recycling take center stage in a new statewide education campaign. Those who know Tommy will not be surprised that he is receiving notoriety. He proudly proclaims to all who will listen that he will find a new planet when this one fills up with the materials he and others like him refuse to recycle. He has also taken to wearing his non-recycler status on his T-shirt, in case you missed his excuse.

Sound absurd? Well, mission accomplished. Tommy is just one of the unwitting (albeit fictitious) characters of a new recycling awareness campaign created by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The campaign shines a spotlight on these, and other misperceptions to show what non-recyclers might look like to their friends and families. By highlighting the absurdities behind not recycling, the campaign responds on behalf of the rest of us with "you gotta be kidding!" (Incidentally, the URL for the campaign is www.YouGottaBekidding.org.)

"Every time someone bypasses a recycling bin or chooses to throw a can away," Randy Hartmann, the Director of the Office of Environmental Management of DCA explains, "they're effectively saying, 'I don't recycle!' They're wearing their apathy on their sleeve. What we're saying, is that these excuses won't work anymore."

Joining Tommy are several others characters, all of whom have mistaken and ridiculous reasons for not recycling. Maria Inez-Phillips is one such non-recycler. She can't be bothered to sort through her trash and pull out the recyclable items. After all, she gets way too many gossip magazines to have to wade through them all.

More non-recyclers will be introduced by the state over the coming months. All will be wearing "I don't recycle" on their T-shirts, an unusual move designed to break through the media clutter by first entertaining, then creating a buzz that will drive people to the campaign Web site where DCA has a better chance of presenting the myriad reasons to recycle.

"The absurd nature of what these characters say contrasts sharply with the many rational reasons to recycle," adds Hartmann. "Because, unlike what Tommy may say, we can't just find somewhere else to live when we have used up our natural resources. People interacting with the campaign will come away thinking that, in light of these preposterous alternatives, recycling is a pretty simple proposition."

The need for the campaign came from a Solid Waste Characterization Study which revealed that approximately 40 percent of what Georgians throw away is actually recyclable. These findings were amplified by a recent DCA survey which showed that a whopping 45 percent of Georgians do not regularly recycle.

"'I'm dating my ex, does that count as recycling?' is certainly not the type of slogan you'd expect to see in a state's marketing campaign," Hartmann says, "and that's the point."

Through a media relations and marketing campaign kicking off today, DCA will drive Georgia residents to the campaign Web site where the real facts about recycling will be presented in a way that resonates and drives real action. The campaign will target all non-recyclers, but with a special focus on the 25- to 34-year-old group. Research revealed that this group is the least likely to recycle, but also tend to be the easiest to motivate. Local communities will also take part in the campaign, bringing the characters to life through billboards, in a radio PSA, on coasters in restaurants and in many other ways.

See more of the campaign at www.YouGottaBeKidding.org. And don't be surprised if you see a life-size Tommy popping up conspicuously in towns and cities across Georgia as just one of many ways these characters will be revealing themselves!

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