Friday, January 30, 2009

If We Care, Why Aren't We Making Change Happen?

RJ Note: I know it's been said before, and I shall say it again. Fayette County, Georgia citizens are tremendous in putting their time and efforts into serving others.

/PRNewswire/ -- A Porter Novelli Styles survey reveals a significant Service Gap between Americans who say they are concerned about causes and those who are willing to volunteer their own time and energy to support them. While more than 7 in 10 Americans indicate that a variety of causes are important to them -- supporting health research for problem diseases, protecting the environment and improving schools among them -- fewer than 1 in 5 have actively worked for betterment of these issues in the past 12 months.

In fact, for most causes, only 1 in 10, or fewer, Americans made personal efforts. President Obama took his first steps toward closing the Service Gap with his national Call to Service over the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, which drew an estimated one million volunteers, as part of the highly anticipated launch of his administration's online organizing efforts (usaservice.org). Obama famously made community service a part of his campaign platform and vowed to utilize the Internet to create channels of communication enabling citizen volunteerism. "I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency," he said. His administration's goals include offering a tax credit to college students in exchange for hours of service work, and activating the swelling ranks of retirees into key volunteer service opportunities, among many others.

President Obama's own story of community involvement has put activism in the sights of millions of young Americans -- as a career path. As the country shifts away from consumer-focused industries and toward future-critical industries, college graduates are beginning to turn to service-oriented careers in droves. For example, this year, an unprecedented 19,000 graduates applied to Teach for America, making the nonprofit one of the largest hirers of college seniors -- eclipsing big names like Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Accenture.

"When Teach for America moves into the position of one of the most desirable Ivy League employers," said Wendy Hagen, EVP/Partner and Director of Planning and Integration for Porter Novelli, "you know that volunteerism in America has attracted a whole new generation."

In this unprecedented time of need, the real challenge is how to engage everyday citizens in volunteering and service beyond an annual day of service. "By making it easier for Americans to find specific volunteer opportunities that align with their personal passions, skills and time availability, we could motivate even more people to get engaged in volunteering and sustain their involvement over time," said Hagen.

Porter Novelli Styles is a suite of annual surveys conducted among a variety of audiences. The base survey, ConsumerStyles, was conducted May through June 2008 among a total of 10,108 consumers. The data are weighted to ensure a nationally representative sample. The margin of error is +/- 1% for the total sample, and larger for subgroups. For additional Styles information, contact Styles@porternovelli.com.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Commercially Cloned Dog Delivered to Florida Family

(BUSINESS WIRE)--BioArts International announced today that they have delivered the world’s first commercially cloned dog, a 10-week old Labrador named Lancey, to Florida residents Edgar and Nina Otto.

“We can’t believe this day is finally here,” said Nina Otto, “We are so happy to have little Lancey in our family. His predecessor was a very special dog. We are thrilled beyond words!”

Lancey was hand delivered to the Ottos on Monday, January 26th by BioArts Chairman Lou Hawthorne. “This is a very special milestone for our company – and great fun for me too,” said Hawthorne, who delivered Lancey personally.

The Ottos were one of five families to bid and win an auction held by BioArts International in July for a chance to clone their family dog. Lancey’s genetic donor, Sir Lancelot, died in January, 2008, and the Ottos had his DNA stored. By October, samples from the original dog were on their way to the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, which provides cloning services to BioArts.

Lancey was born on November 18th, 2008, and brought to the US on January 25th, 2009 after being weaned from his surrogate mother.

The Ottos, longtime residents of Boca Raton, have had many beloved dogs over the years, but Lancey’s genetic donor was unique. “Sir Lancelot was the most human of any dog we’ve ever had,” said Otto, “He was a prince among dogs.”

Said Hawthorne, “One minute with Lancey and you know he’s special. He’s both extremely aware and very sweet. The Ottos are the first of six current clients to receive their clone. The next 6 months will be very exciting both for our clients and our staff.”

Additional information about the Best Friends Again program and dog cloning is available at www.bestfriendsagain.com. More information about BioArts is available at www.bioarts.com.

BioArts International is a biotech company focused on unique, untapped markets in the global companion animal, stem cell and human genomics industries. The Best Friends Again program is a collaboration between BioArts and the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea, home to the best and most experienced dog cloning team in the world.

BioArts has been granted the sole, worldwide license for the cloning of dogs, cats and endangered species. The license was granted by Start Licensing, Inc. and applies to the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning patents developed at the Roslin Institute for the cloning of Dolly the sheep.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace New Ad: 'Big Labor's Got a Problem'

RJ Note: It would appear that workers, even union workers, believe that privacy is a good thing. Will Big Brother listen to the voices of the average Joe on the street?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of Big Labor's multi-million dollar campaign to pass the anti-worker Employee Free Choice Act, new advertising from the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) shows opposition coming from an unlikely source -- union households. The Employee Free Choice Act -- or "card check" legislation will effectively remove secret ballots for workers in union organizing elections and bind employers to contracts that inhibit their ability to create much-needed new jobs.

The new print ad follows the release of a new national poll finding that voters and union households believe the Employee Free Choice Act will cost jobs. The results indicate widespread concern among voters and union workers about legislation that threatens secret ballots, worker privacy and job growth at a time when Congress should focus on stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

"The ads reinforce that Big Labor's sales campaign about the job-killing Employee Free Choice Act isn't working," said Brian Worth with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace. "Our polling shows that workers overwhelmingly reject attempts by union bosses to replace secret ballot elections with their card-check scheme."

Specifically, the ads highlight Big Labor's problem with their own rank and file workers:

-- 85% of union households favor having a federally supervised election
as a means to "protect the individual rights of workers" and clearly
see secret ballot elections as a basic right.
-- 65% of union members would be less likely to vote for a member of
Congress who voted to take away the secret ballot.
-- Further exemplifying union worker distaste for the Employee Free
Choice Act, 72% agreed that the binding arbitration provision in the
legislation is "unwise" and "risky."
-- Despite opposition from their own rank and file workers, labor bosses
have made support for the EFCA, or "card check" bill, a top priority
this year and are pressuring Congress to act quickly to pass it.
Unfortunately for Big Labor, 79% of union workers and voters want
Congress to focus on other issues like jobs and healthcare.

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Hospice Care Remains a Misunderstood and Underutilized Benefit, According to In-House Hospice

RJ Note: We've talked before about how beneficial Hospice can be to both patients and their families. Fayette County is blessed to have several options available as our citizens look and consider this type of care for our loved ones. Be sure to talk to one of our favorite groups, Hospice Advantage of Fayetteville. They've helped us before- even out of state referrals to other groups.

/PRNewswire/ -- As unemployment continues to rise in the United States, Americans are battling to hold onto their health coverage. Many are worried about what would happen if they were struck with a serious medical condition - who would care for them? How would they pay for the care? But the widely known benefit of hospice care is often underutilized due to various misconceptions. This benefit is available to all eligible Americans - whether they are employed or not.

Although hospice care has slowly increased over the years with more than 1.2 million Americans enrolled, many Americans are still uninformed of its full services. Because hospice is often misunderstood by patients, family members and some health care providers, many patients who can benefit from hospice care are never enrolled. Of those patients who are enrolled, care is often given far too late. In fact, over 30 percent enter hospice within one week of death - much too short a time for the patient to benefit from the full range of services provided by hospice.

"We have to spread the message to more physicians, hospitals, patients and their family members to utilize hospice programs more appropriately," stated Laura A. Wagner, President and CEO of In-House Hospice. "Hospice services are covered through Medicare and most Medicaid programs. Even certain private insurances programs allow for hospice benefits. There is rarely out-of-pocket expense to the patient."

Wagner explains that Medicare patients are entitled to receive hospice care up to 180 days. Occasionally, with the improved quality of life, many patients live beyond the six month prognosis at which point their case can be reviewed and possibly approved for another 180 days of hospice programs.

"People pay into unemployment benefits in case they lose their job," explained Wagner. "What people don't realize is that they have also been paying for a hospice benefit. And now, with people out of work, losing their life savings, their homes, they should be using their hospice benefit to help themselves or their loved ones during this most important time. The hospice benefit helps the patient, the family and caregivers."

Those who are aware of hospice care often associate it strictly with cancer patients. But illnesses that qualify for hospice benefits also include: Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), Parkinson's, adult failure to thrive and HIV.

Hospice services are not intended to speed up or prolong the dying process, but focuses instead on relief of pain and other symptoms while increasing quality of life. Hospice provides a holistic approach to care and often involves a team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers, home health aides and physicians with expertise in pain and symptom management. The team can also provide support to family members, significant others and children; for example, bereavement support is available for 13 months following the death of a loved one.

A trained healthcare professional is usually scheduled to visit on a daily or weekly basis as needed and is always on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The services often provided by a hospice program will include:

-- Personal care for the patient, in a manner that respects the
individual's dignity. The hospice provider may teach family or
caregivers how to provide proper care

-- Palliative care, including pain management through medications

-- Administering other medications, as prescribed by the physician

-- Spiritual support from the chaplain and spiritual volunteers

-- Companionship, such as reading a book aloud, playing cards, talking
together or simply sitting with the person

-- Emotional support for the patient and family members

-- Visits from volunteers, to provide companionship for the patient and to
offer respite for the caregivers


While it can be hard for a physician to determine an individual's life expectancy, it is part of the application process. Eligibility for hospice is based on two conditions -- that a terminal illness exists and that a physician has indicated the life expectancy as six months or less.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Next Generation Cloaking Device Demonstrated

RJ Note: Well, don't this just beat all! Technology is just fascinating.

A device that can bestow invisibility to an object by “cloaking” it from visual light is closer to reality. After being the first to demonstrate the feasibility of such a device by constructing a prototype in 2006, a team of Duke University engineers has produced a new type of cloaking device, which is significantly more sophisticated at cloaking in a broad range of frequencies.

The latest advance was made possible by the development of a new series of complex mathematical commands, known as algorithms, to guide the design and fabrication of exotic composite materials known as metamaterials. These materials can be engineered to have properties not easily found in natural materials, and can be used to form a variety of “cloaking” structures. These structures can guide electromagnetic waves around an object, only to have them emerge on the other side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space.

The results of the latest Duke experiments were published Jan. 16 in the journal Science. First authors of the paper were Duke’s Ruopeng Liu, who developed the algorithm, and Chunlin Ji. David R. Smith, William Bevan Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke, is the senior member of the research team.

Once the algorithm was developed, the latest cloaking device was completed from conception to fabrication in nine days, compared to the four months required to create the original, and more rudimentary, device. This powerful new algorithm will make it possible to custom-design unique metamaterials with specific cloaking characteristics, the researchers said.

“The difference between the original device and the latest model is like night and day,” Smith said. “The new device can cloak a much wider spectrum of waves — nearly limitless — and will scale far more easily to infrared and visible light. The approach we used should help us expand and improve our abilities to cloak different types of waves.”

Cloaking devices bend electromagnetic waves, such as light, in such a way that it appears as if the cloaked object is not there. In the latest laboratory experiments, a beam of microwaves aimed through the cloaking device at a “bump” on a flat mirror surface bounced off the surface at the same angle as if the bump were not present. Additionally, the device prevented the formation of scattered beams that would normally be expected from such a perturbation.

The underlying cloaking phenomenon is similar to the mirages seen ahead at a distance on a road on a hot day.

“You see what looks like water hovering over the road, but it is in reality a reflection from the sky,” Smith explained. “In that example, the mirage you see is cloaking the road below. In effect, we are creating an engineered mirage with this latest cloak design.”

Smith believes that cloaks should find numerous applications as the technology is perfected. By eliminating the effects of obstructions, cloaking devices could improve wireless communications, or acoustic cloaks could serve as protective shields, preventing the penetration of vibrations, sound or seismic waves.

“The ability of the cloak to hide the bump is compelling, and offers a path towards the realization of forms of cloaking abilities approaching the optical,” Liu said. “Though the designs of such metamaterials are extremely complex, especially when traditional approaches are used, we believe that we now have a way to rapidly and efficiently produce such materials.”

With appropriately fine-tuned metamaterials, electromagnetic radiation at frequencies ranging from visible light to radio could be redirected at will for virtually any application, Smith said. This approach could also lead to the development of metamaterials that focus light to provide more powerful lenses.

The newest cloak, which measures 20 inches by 4 inches and less than an inch high, is actually made up of more than 10,000 individual pieces arranged in parallel rows. Of those pieces, more than 6,000 are unique. Each piece is made of the same fiberglass material used in circuit boards and etched with copper.

The algorithm determined the shape and placement of each piece. Without the algorithm, properly designing and aligning the pieces would have been extremely difficult, Smith said.

The research was supported by Raytheon Missile Systems, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, InnovateHan Technology, the National Science Foundation of China, the National Basic Research Program of China, and National Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China.

Others members of the research team were Duke’s Jack Mock, as well as Jessie Y. Chin and Tie Jun Cui from Southeast University, Nanjing, China.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birdstrikes and Airplanes

RJ Note: The recent emergency landing in the Hudson River captivated us all. The pilot performed his duty with amazing calm, and our hats are off to him for his expertise. We thought you'd like to know more about birdstrikes.

Birdstrikes: Seeking Safer Skies

The near-disaster in New York City drove home the danger birds can pose to airliners. Happily, even as more of us fly than ever before, a combination of common sense and cutting-edge technology is helping to minimize the risks......

By Bruce Barcott

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/InTheNews/birdStrikes.html

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Poll: Reagan, FDR Lead Presidential Role Models

RJ Note: Ain't this a kick? According to this particular poll, Americans favor Reagan's policies and leadership over those of Lincoln and think Obama should follow suit.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When American voters were asked which past President of the United States they believe Barack Obama should model his new presidency after, they did not pick Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy, or even George Washington as their top choice. They picked Ronald Reagan.

According to a nationwide survey conducted by Clarus Research Group this past week, Reagan was the top choice among all voters with 26 percent, followed by Franklin Roosevelt with 18%, Kennedy with 17% and Lincoln with 13%.

"Reagan was the overwhelming favorite among Republican voters," said Dr. Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus. "He received 59 percent as the President GOP voters want Obama to emulate. Nobody else came close."

"Democrats scattered their choices more," Faucheux noted. "FDR was their top pick at 27 percent and was closely followed by Kennedy, with 26 percent. Lincoln, a Republican, ranked third among Democrats."

Other findings:
-- Independents favored Reagan, followed by FDR, Lincoln and Kennedy.
-- Younger voters (under 30) selected JFK as their favorite. Reagan and
Lincoln followed.
-- Older voters (over 65) put Roosevelt first. Reagan was second.
-- White voters picked Reagan as their top choice with FDR in second
place.
-- African American voters favored Kennedy by a wide margin. Lincoln, the
Great Emancipator, came in second.
-- Home regions of past Presidents can still have political impact.
Reagan, from California, did the best in the West (30 percent) and the
worst in the Northeast (22 percent). FDR, a New Yorker, scored highest
in the Northeast (26 percent) and lowest in the Midwest (15 percent).
-- Reagan dominated small town and rural America, winning 31 percent.
Among urban voters, FDR led with 23 percent. Reagan was also favored
among suburbanites, capturing 28 percent.
-- Reagan won high-income voters (over $100,000 a year) with 33 percent
followed by FDR with 21 percent. JFK and Reagan, at 21 percent, tied
among voters with incomes under $50,000 a year.
-- Education was a factor in some cases. FDR received 14 percent among
voters without a college degree but 25 percent among those with
graduate degrees. Kennedy won 27 percent of voters with high school
educations and 14 percent among college graduates.

Presidents among the Founding Fathers -- George Washington and Thomas Jefferson -- received 4 and 3 percent, respectively. Cold War Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower also received 4 and 3 percent among all voters. Theodore Roosevelt, a progressive Republican, captured 4 percent; the Hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Democrat Andrew Jackson, received 1 percent.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

AARP Survey: 70 Percent of Americans Believe the Country Has Not Lived up to Kennedy's Inaugural Request

RJ Note: Many Americans volunteer their time and money through many great causes. Fayette County citizens have such a big heart when it comes to serving others that I can't begin to mention them all. Just know each and every one of you is appreciated.

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seven in 10 Americans do not believe the country has lived up to President John F. Kennedy's inaugural challenge to "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country," according to a survey released today by AARP Create The Good.

The problem might be the way they are being asked: though 73 percent of respondents said they would choose to give time over money, they reported that requests for monetary donations had increased more than requests for time in the last year.

The poll comes as President-elect Barack Obama calls on Americans to renew their commitment to community service and as the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

"The results tell us something very promising: that Americans are ready to answer the call to serve," said Tom Nelson, AARP's chief operations officer. "Across the nation, Americans of all ages gave back today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. But this is not just a one-day activity - rather, it is a commitment to make making a difference part of our lives."

To help Americans answer the call to serve, today AARP launched its new Create The Good Web site (www.AARP.org/CreateTheGood), where thousands are already connecting to flexible opportunities, tools and online communities, and making a difference across the country.

"We believe that small actions yield big results," said Nelson. "Whether you have five minutes or five hours a week, there are simple things you can do to help."

Although survey respondents felt that requests for monetary donations (34%) have increased more compared to requests for volunteer time (11%), when asked what they would choose to give to solve a national problem, they overwhelmingly selected time (73%) over money (16%). Younger respondents were more likely to say they would prefer to give time compared to older respondents.

Though respondents overwhelmingly thought older people volunteer more (71%) than younger people (15%), there was no statistically significant difference between the proportion of younger and older respondents who said they had volunteered in the last year.

More than half of respondents (52%) rate volunteering to help others as an important goal and almost seven in ten respondents (68%) said that they have volunteered in the last year.

The survey was conducted via telephone by ICR from among a nationally representative sample of 1,011 adults age 18 or older. The margin of error for total respondents is +/-3.08% at the 95% confidence level. Full survey results are available at: http://www.aarp.org/research/family/volunteering/volunteering_perceptions_09.h tml.

Visit Create The Good today at www.AARP.org/CreateTheGood to get connected to tools, people and hundreds of ways to make a difference.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fun at the Fred says it all!

I know times are bad, we're all holding onto our money a little (or a lot) tighter, and we're hearing nothing but bleak news on the tube these days. However, while this isn't exactly world-changing, recent news on the local entertainment front is a ray of sunshine that hopefully will bring some smiles to a few faces!

I was very pleased to hear late last year that Nancy Price is now managing The Fred (the Frederick Brown Jr Amphitheater). When Nancy grabs hold of a project, it's always fun and a cut above what's normally expected. She brings a wealth of knowledge, imagination and enthusiasm to the Peachtree City entertainment scene. Add Randy Gaddo, Leisure Services Director, and the great support staff to the mix and it's the real "dream team".

Shortly after Nancy took over we got word that The Fred was getting this rocking new quality sound system! They moved back to a two-night format which means even more of us will be able to attend the concerts.

Now we have a great concert line-up coming to our end of the world.

I'll have to admit, Kenny Loggins has been one of my all-time favorites from the days when he first started with Loggins and Messina. I must have every one of his songs "favorited" on my personal YouTube page!

I think many are going to love seeing Leann Rimes on the line-up, too. Her voice is phenomenal and I've heard she puts on a great concert.

The next three in the concert line-up are going to have us traveling back in time a bit. The Beach Boys concert, featuring Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, is going to be fun, fun, fun.

The Spinners are timeless. Their smooth crooning classics appeal to all ages.

Now this one may sound a bit strange, but it's one that I do not want to miss! Hippiefest.

You may roll your eyes at the title, but if you look back on the 60's and 70's as a time of great music, you're gonna love this line-up. Some of the greats from Badfinger, Brewer and Shipley, Three Dog Night, the Turtles and the Rascals are going to take us back to those crazy days.

I bet you're going to see a lot of fringed jackets, headbands, peace signs and bell bottoms at Hippifest. I hope so, cause I'm pulling out my macrame necklace and plan to have a flower painted on my face! (maybe ;-)

Last but not least, is Peter Cetera of Chicago fame. I heard him recently and he still has a great voice!

One of the things I like about this concert line-up is that, even though some of the artists aren't ones I might follow regularly, they're ones I'll enjoy hearing. They have cross-over appeal for most. I think Nancy and those at the Fred have done put together a great first series. I'm glad Nancy is managing the Fred and I'm looking forward to many fun concerts and events.

(Note to Nancy if you ever read this: Peter Noone in Fayetteville was great, Kenny Loggins in Peachtree City is fantastic... if you ever get Boz Scaggs, it'll be the perfect trio of my long-time favorites )

-jmd

Friday, January 16, 2009

One Day of Service Sure Would Free Me Up

There's been so much about Barack Obama and his wonderful idea of a National Day of Service which is proposed for January 19. Even Obama and Biden are reputed to be willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in on that one day.

Why is this important? Why January 19th? What is the real agenda?

All I have to do is answer the phone or talk to so many of our local Fayette County citizens to know how much time and effort we already give to serving others. There are numerous groups of individuals and clubs who do nothing but serve others.

Are we supposed to scale back to just one day a year to be helpful and caring for our fellow man and our nation? Or does the esteemed president elect suspect a large majority of his supporters don't lift their delicate little pinkies to help others?

Will he give us credit when he mandates one day of service for all the daily and weekly time and money we already provide to those who need help? Or will it have to be his chosen service?

And why serve on Martin Luther King day? Isn't that a day America has set aside to honor the man who preached change through peace? Is the esteemed president elect trying to downplay King's message with his own? Does he want to be big man on the totem pole?

So many questions, but I must run. Seems like I've got another date to go serve an American who needs help. Should I call them and say I'll be there on Monday?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Discovery of Methane Reveals Mars is Not a Dead Planet

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A team of NASA and university scientists has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active.

The team found methane in the Martian atmosphere by carefully observing the planet throughout several Mars years with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and the W.M. Keck telescope, both at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The team used spectrometers on the telescopes to spread the light into its component colors, as a prism separates white light into a rainbow. The team detected three spectral features called absorption lines that together are a definitive signature of methane.

"Methane is quickly destroyed in the Martian atmosphere in a variety of ways, so our discovery of substantial plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars in 2003 indicates some ongoing process is releasing the gas," said Michael Mumma of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "At northern mid-summer, methane is released at a rate comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, Calif." Mumma is lead author of a paper describing this research that will appear in Science Express on Thursday.

Methane, four atoms of hydrogen bound to a carbon atom, is the main component of natural gas on Earth. Astrobiologists are interested in these data because organisms release much of Earth's methane as they digest nutrients. However, other purely geological processes, like oxidation of iron, also release methane.

"Right now, we do not have enough information to tell whether biology or geology -- or both -- is producing the methane on Mars," Mumma said. "But it does tell us the planet is still alive, at least in a geologic sense. It is as if Mars is challenging us, saying, 'hey, find out what this means.'"

If microscopic Martian life is producing the methane, it likely resides far below the surface where it is warm enough for liquid water to exist. Liquid water is necessary for all known forms of life, as are energy sources and a supply of carbon.

"On Earth, microorganisms thrive about 1.2 to 1.9 miles beneath the Witwatersrand basin of South Africa, where natural radioactivity splits water molecules into molecular hydrogen and oxygen," Mumma said. "The organisms use the hydrogen for energy. It might be possible for similar organisms to survive for billions of years below the permafrost layer on Mars, where water is liquid, radiation supplies energy, and carbon dioxide provides carbon. Gases, like methane, accumulated in such underground zones might be released into the atmosphere if pores or fissures open during the warm seasons, connecting the deep zones to the atmosphere at crater walls or canyons."

It is possible a geologic process produced the Martian methane, either now or eons ago. On Earth, the conversion of iron oxide into the serpentine group of minerals creates methane, and on Mars this process could proceed using water, carbon dioxide and the planet's internal heat. Although there is no evidence of active volcanism on Mars today, ancient methane trapped in ice cages called clathrates might be released now.

"We observed and mapped multiple plumes of methane on Mars, one of which released about 19,000 metric tons of methane," said co-author Geronimo Villanueva of the Catholic University of America in Washington. "The plumes were emitted during the warmer seasons, spring and summer, perhaps because ice blocking cracks and fissures vaporized, allowing methane to seep into the Martian air."

According to the team, the plumes were seen over areas that show evidence of ancient ground ice or flowing water. Plumes appeared over the Martian northern hemisphere regions such as east of Arabia Terra, the Nili Fossae region, and the south-east quadrant of Syrtis Major, an ancient volcano about 745 miles across.

One method to test whether life produced this methane is by measuring isotope ratios. Isotopes of an element have slightly different chemical properties, and life prefers to use the lighter isotopes. A chemical called deuterium is a heavier version of hydrogen. Methane and water released on Mars should show distinctive ratios for isotopes of hydrogen and carbon if life was responsible for methane production. It will take future missions, like NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, to discover the origin of the Martian methane.

The research was funded by the Planetary Astronomy Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington and the Astrobiology Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The University of Hawaii manages NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility.

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He Said, She Said: Boomers Rate Their Spouses' Health

RJ Note: Guess love can be blind. Although, my spouse keeps telling me to get out --- and walk more.

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A recent survey of baby boomers revealed that their positive outlook on their own health and that of their spouses' may not sync up with reality. According to the survey(1) conducted by Energizer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ENR) , more than seven out of ten respondents (73 percent) rated their health - and the health of their spouse - as good or excellent. However, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, half of Americans in the 55 to 64 age group have high blood pressure and two in five are obese(2).

This survey is part of Energizer's year-round "Live Healthy. KEEP GOING(R)" campaign to educate baby boomers about better ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle - with some help from key battery-powered devices.

Additional survey findings include:
-- Don't go changing, well, maybe just a little bit. When asked if they
would change anything about their spouse's health habits, more than
four out of ten wished their spouses would exercise more (48 percent);
lose weight (41 percent); and eat healthier (41 percent).
-- Low expectations or the look of love? When asked how their wife was
aging, 39 percent of men said "better than expected"; women gave their
husbands lower marks - only 30 percent thought their husbands were
aging better than they expected. On the flip side, 18 percent of
women responded their husband was aging worse than they expected;
whereas only 11 percent of men gave their wife the "worse than
expected" designation. Nearly half of all respondents (48 percent)
thought their spouse was aging "as expected."
-- If exercise only came in a pill. More than two thirds of respondents
(68 percent) report taking vitamins or nutritional supplements to
maintain a healthy lifestyle, but only one third (33 percent) admit to
exercising regularly.
-- Every step counts. Of those who exercise, 13 percent use a pedometer
or mp3 player as an incentive to keep up with their exercise program.
-- Exercise? I'd rather not. While a third of respondents (33 percent)
found exercise energizing and a way to keep up during times of stress,
a majority of respondents (66 percent) admitted they dislike exercise
or find it to be a hassle.

To address key health issues and provide helpful ways to manage them, Energizer's "Live Healthy. KEEP GOING(R)" program is teaming up with celebrity fitness guru and fellow boomer Denise Austin and working with respected physicians in their field to provide tips on heart health, diabetes management and hearing loss.

"It's evident that a majority of baby boomers are working to maintain their health through either diet or exercise, but we could all use a few pointers from experts like Denise to help bridge the gap to overall health and wellness," said Melinda Jordan, brand manager, Energizer Specialty Batteries.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Saving Bean Burn Out with Fresh Coffee

RJ Note: All the recent cold weather has me taking stock of my coffee supplies at home. I do have to admit I do like my coffee done in a coffee press and saving my precious pennies is always an attractive idea. Right now, a fresh steaming cup of hot coffee sounds like a winner.

Former Big-Coffee Chain Patrons Saving Money Brewing at Home

/PRNewswire/ -- The economic and financial angst consumers are feeling has them ratcheting down spending, cutting back on luxuries such as the daily cup of premium coffee. In fact, 4 in 10 Americans who left a coffee shop without making a purchase did so because the coffee was too expensive.

But even as big-chain coffee houses are feeling the pinch, closing hundreds of stores, one Seattle-based coffee company is attracting new customers by providing luxury and quality ... affordably.

"People are discovering they can brew coffee at home that's higher in quality than most high-end coffee shops," says Chad Turnbull, co-president of Storyville Coffee Company. "Unless you're going to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere and the free Wi-Fi, you're better off making it yourself."

This can have a big impact on your wallet. Cutting out just one "Tall" latte each day and replacing it with a premium coffee you brew yourself and enjoy in your favorite mug can save you more than $1,200 a year.

Despite the economy, business is perking up at Storyville, which caters to the home market by shipping fresh-roasted beans directly to members of its "Private Reserve" program.

"This December was the best month we've had in the history of the company," Turnbull says.

But will customers really spring for coffee in the best and worst of times? Ask Yvonne, one of Storyville's customers in Tennessee.

"Things may be tough, but I will not be canceling my membership, until death," she declares. "My family loves Storyville. There's no way we'd go back to icky, burnt, bitter coffee ... never!"

It's the sort of reaction that Turnbull hears again and again. That's because unlike Storyville, most coffee on the market is over-roasted to add shelf life.

"We've actually had people come up to us and say, 'You've changed my life,' because all of a sudden, this concept of a coffee break becomes a moment that allows for space to be inspired, to remember what we're about."

So what are the keys to brewing up perfect coffee at home?

1. You've got to the buy the right beans. Storyville is unique in that it only offers one blend, Prologue, and its decaffeinated twin, Epilogue. "We're committed to one blend, so for us, it has to be flawless," Turnbull says.

2. Use a French press, as this allows for better extraction of the coffee's flavor.

3. Use bottled or filtered water. If you put tap water in, it's going to affect the taste.

4. Enjoy with others, and repeat as necessary.

Turnbull concludes, "Coffee is the drink that invites us to come together. It's an affordable, soul-enriching luxury."

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Hook Up the IV

Caffeine Survey Reveals Most, Least Caffeinated Cities

/PRNewswire/ -- The second annual HealthSaver Caffeinated Cities Survey, commissioned by HealthSaver, a national emerging health care discount service, found that the most caffeinated city in the country is Tampa, followed by Seattle, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

The least caffeinated cities are Riverside/San Bernardino, followed closely by Atlanta, San Diego, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Dallas. The survey considered numerous caffeine sources, including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers and caffeine pills.

Considering caffeinated coffee consumption alone, it was no surprise that Seattle ranked No. 1 nationwide for the second consecutive year.

The HealthSaver 2008 Caffeinated Cities Survey, released today, was conducted to determine the caffeine consumption habits and attitudes of consumers across the U.S., and to learn more about cultural views and health benefits of this morning pick-me-up, afternoon alert booster and late-night indulgence.

"With the advent of rich, high-end coffees, soaring popularity of energy drinks and national fascination with green tea, our HealthSaver Caffeinated Cities Survey has brewed up some very interesting trends, findings and results," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver. "This groundbreaking research is an important tool to help educate about the health benefits of moderate caffeine consumption in the United States."

The health benefits of caffeine are plentiful and well-documented in numerous studies in recent years. Coffee and tea, in particular, have emerged as good health food sources that can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, colon cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, as well as lift your mood, treat headaches and even lower risk of cavities. Caffeine also enhances athleticism, endurance and performance, according to health care experts.

"Even though at one time coffee was considered harmful to your health, at this point there is no compelling research to indicate that, in fact, is true," said Dr. Peter R. Martin, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology and the Director of the Institute of Coffee Studies, Vanderbilt School of Medicine. "Newer studies actually prove coffee in moderation is good for one's health."

Here's the buzz on the most and least wired cities:
Most Caffeinated Cities

2008 2007
1. Tampa 1. Chicago
2. Seattle 2. Tampa
3. Chicago 3. Miami
4. New York 4. Phoenix
5. Los Angeles 5. Atlanta


Least Caffeinated Cities

2008 2007
1. Riverside/San Bernardino 1. San Francisco
2. Atlanta 2. Philadelphia
3. San Diego 3. New York
4. Minneapolis/St. Paul 4. Detroit
5. Dallas 5. Baltimore



Other cities surveyed in 2008 include Baltimore, Miami, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

For the second year in a row, Seattle ranked No. 1 in coffee consumption, with 55 percent of residents surveyed saying this elixir of alertness would be the most difficult caffeine product to give up.

Nearly one-half (49 percent) of all respondents nationwide said they drink caffeinated coffee every day, while cola and tea tied with a 20 percent daily consumption rate. Sweets containing chocolate ranked fourth among caffeine products, with a 13 percent daily consumption, the survey found.

Some key survey findings:

Most Coffee Consumption
Regular coffee & specialty coffee drinks

2008 2007
1. Seattle 1. Seattle
2. Miami 2. Boston
3. San Francisco 3. Houston
4. Los Angeles 4. Chicago
5. Tampa 5. Miami


Least Coffee Consumption
Regular coffee & specialty coffee drinks

2008 2007
1. St. Louis 1. Dallas
2. Riverside/San Bernardino 2. New York
3. Houston 3. St. Louis
4. Phoenix 4. Atlanta
5. Detroit 5. Philadelphia


Most Cola Consumption
Regular Coke, regular Pepsi, Mountain Dew

2008 2007
1. Houston 1. Chicago
2. Minneapolis/St. Paul 2. Dallas
3. St. Louis 3. St. Louis
4. Chicago 4. Atlanta
5. Washington, D.C. 5. Tampa


Least Cola Consumption
Regular Coke, regular Pepsi, Mountain Dew

2008 2007
1. New York 1. Philadelphia
2. San Francisco 2. New York
3. Riverside/San Bernardino 3. Miami
4. Boston 4. Seattle
5. San Diego 5. San Francisco


Most Tea Consumption
Green tea, iced tea, black tea

2008 2007
1. New York 1. Miami
2. Tampa 2. Tampa
3. Baltimore 3. Washington, D.C.
4. Boston 4. Philadelphia
5. Atlanta 5. Atlanta


Least Tea Consumption
Green tea, iced tea, black tea

2008 2007
1. Minneapolis/St. Paul 1. Minneapolis/St. Paul
2. Miami 2. Detroit
3. San Francisco 3. San Francisco
4. Detroit 4. Seattle
5. Seattle 5. Boston


Most Chocolate Consumption
Candy, ice cream, cake, cookies

2008 2007
1. Seattle 1. Chicago
2. Phoenix 2. Atlanta
3. Chicago 3. Minneapolis/St. Paul
4. Detroit 4. Phoenix
5. Boston 5. St. Louis


Least Chocolate Consumption
Candy, ice cream, cake, cookies

2008 2007
1. Atlanta 1. Los Angeles
2. Dallas 2. Riverside/San Bernardino
3. Riverside/San Bernardino 3. Houston
4. San Diego 4. Miami
5. Philadelphia 5. Dallas


Most Energy Drink Consumption
Red Bull, Monster etc.

2008 2007
1. Atlanta 1. Riverside/San Bernardino
2. Riverside/San Bernardino 2. Los Angeles
3. Tampa 3. Chicago
4. Seattle 4. Miami
5. San Diego 5. New York


Least Energy Drink Consumption
Red Bull, Monster etc.

2008 2007
1. Dallas (tie) 1. Philadelphia
1. Baltimore (tie) 2. San Francisco/Oakland
3. Washington, D.C. 3. Houston
4. Detroit 4. Dallas/Ft. Worth
5. Philadelphia & St. Louis (tie) 5. Boston


Cities Most Likely To Say Caffeine Is Good For You

2008 2007
1. New York 1. Seattle
2. Miami 2. Chicago
3. Baltimore 3. Miami
4. Minneapolis/St. Paul 4. San Diego
5. Tampa 5. Boston


Cities Most Likely To Say Caffeine Is Bad For You

2008 2007
1. Detroit 1. Los Angeles
2. Phoenix 2. Riverside/San Bernardino
3. Riverside/San Bernardino 3. San Francisco
4. St. Louis 4. New York
5. Houston 5. Atlanta


Cities Most Addicted To Caffeine

2008 2007
1. Seattle 1. Boston
2. Philadelphia 2. Minneapolis/St. Paul
3. Phoenix 3. San Diego
4. St. Louis 4. Chicago
5. Los Angeles & Boston (tie) 5. Atlanta


Cities Least Addicted To Caffeine

2008 2007
1. Chicago 1. New York
2. Tampa 2. Philadelphia
3. San Francisco 3. Miami
4. Houston 4. Houston
5. Riverside/San Bernadino 5. Tampa



Consumers tipped their coffee cups on a variety of caffeine-related trends:

-- For the second straight year, nearly one-half of all respondents (42
percent) said coffee/specialty drinks would be the hardest to give up.
-- Men are much more likely than women (47 percent vs. 39 percent) to say
coffee would be the hardest to give up, similar to the first annual
survey.
-- Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of all respondents said they are not
addicted to caffeine.
-- Among age groups, the older the consumer, the more likely they are to
say coffee would be the most difficult caffeinated product to give up,
a pattern similar to that found last year.

Other key findings of the study:
-- Women are more likely than men to say they are addicted to caffeine
(29 percent of women vs. 24 percent of men).
-- A majority (64 percent) said they consume about the same amount of
caffeine as they did a year ago.
-- More than one-fourth (28 percent) consume less caffeine now than they
did a year ago.
-- The younger the age group, the more likely they are to say they
consume more caffeine than a year ago.
-- Among respondents consuming less caffeine, 53 percent said it is
because they are seeking to improve their health; and nearly
one-fourth (24 percent) of those consuming less caffeine are doing so
because of a change of diet/currently on a diet plan.
-- More than one-fourth said they consume more caffeine than a year ago
because their everyday routine is more demanding. Another six percent
said it was because they have more access to caffeine, and 2 percent
said they consume more because of fatigue due to sleep problems.
-- Over one-half of respondents said they are way over their ideal weight
(12 percent) or over their ideal weight (54 percent). Only four
percent said they were under their ideal weight.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Casting Teens Who Want a Break From Their Parents for New TV Show: Local Adventurous Teenagers Encouraged to Apply Immediately!

RJ Note: The grass is always greener on the other side. I suspect this show has the potential to bring home some strong messages of "appreciate what you've got." But that is only if they don't try to turn it into a circus.

/PRNewswire/ -- World's Strictest Parents, Inc. and the producers of SUPERNANNY are now searching for rebellious teenagers for a brand new series.

Teens are you rebellious? Are you tired of your parents' rules and restrictions? Ever thought about what it would be like living with really strict parents? If you would like a short vacation from your parents and are up for the challenge, the casting team wants to hear from you! This is an opportunity for teens to go live with another family and trade in their parents for a new set for almost an entire week. Call 888-41-TEENS (1-888-418-3367) for more information.

"This is a really exciting show and a chance for rebellious teenagers who want to change their ways to learn about how other families bring up their teenage kids," said executive producer Nick Emmerson about the show which is set to start filming in 2009.

The casting team is looking for teenagers (with parental approval) from every type of background who are ready to participate in a social experiment exploring the world of the 21st century teenager matched against contemporary parenting styles. The producers are seeking teens with unique interests; technically savvy teens; hippies; urbanites; slobs; surfers; affluent teens; liberals; defiant teens; and teens who have ordinary or extraordinary circumstances.

Interested teens may apply from anywhere via http://www.theworldsstrictestparents.com/. They can also call 888-41-TEENS (1- 888-418-3367) or email teens@ricochettelevision.com for more information.

The producers of this show are based in Los Angeles and also have offices in London and Brighton. The production company is one of the leading independent production companies of high quality un-scripted television programming in the United States and abroad. The international phenomenon, SUPERNANNY, launched the company in the United States where they are building an innovative reputation for creating transformational, critically acclaimed reality based documentary style television.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

150 Years After 'Origin of the Species', Science and Religion Remain as Conflicted as Ever

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When Charles Darwin published his landmark book On the Evolution of Species in 1859, his theories on evolution were quickly accepted by the vast majority of scientists. The general public, however, was not as eager to accept Darwin's ideas, due largely to the fact that they challenged established religious beliefs.

Today, 150 years after the publication of Darwin's book, science and religion remain as conflicted as ever when it comes to the subject of evolution.

"There is a real disconnect between what science says and what the public believes, at least in the United States," says Ben Pierce, holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair in Biology at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

Pierce is organizing one of the first events in 2009 that will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Darwin book. The symposium, titled "Science and Religion: Conflict or Convergence," will be held at Southwestern University Feb. 5-6 as part of the university's annual Brown Symposium series.

Pierce points to Gallop Polls conducted between 1982-2004, which consistently found that 44 to 47 percent of Americans do not believe in evolution. Instead, they believe that humans were "created by God pretty much in their present form less than 10,000 years ago."

Meanwhile, a recent survey of more than 400 university professors in Texas, a largely conservative state, found that nearly 90 percent believe modern evolutionary biology is largely correct.

Pierce says there are four approaches to the conflict between science and religion. The "Warfare Model" presumes that one side is right, the other side is wrong, and the two are permanently conflicted. The "Separate Realms" approach -- which is taken by many scientists -- says there is no conflict between the two because they address very different questions. In the "Accommodation Model," science and religion each adjust their world views to accommodate findings from the other field. For example, some Biblical scholars reinterpreted the Genesis account of creation when science showed that the world is much older than previously thought.

The model Pierce plans to focus on at the February symposium is the "Engagement Model," which says that both fields can profit by understanding what is happening in the other fields.

For example, one of the conference speakers will be Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. Newburg has developed brain imaging techniques to determine what happens when people have a religious experience, and is co-author of the best-selling 2001 book Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief.

Pierce says students today are very interested in the subject of science vs. religion and are seeking ways to find a middle ground between the two fields. In his evolution course at Southwestern University last fall, four students wrote papers for their Biology Capstone project on ways science could be used to better understand religion. For example, one student wrote a paper on the health effects of prayer and meditation and another student wrote a paper on the genetics of spirituality.

"These students put into practice the notion that science and religion can indeed have something useful to say to each other," Pierce says.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Self -Editing Improves Manuscript for Publishing

RJ Note: Becoming an author certainly sounds fun. Of course, I am published in print for all eternity. I do wonder if this book idea in my head could actually be put on paper. What about you?

/24-7/ -- A writer who wants to publish often entrusts manuscript enhancement to expensive third-party editors. However, no one can do the first round of improvements better than the person who can best keep the written ideas closest to the original: the author.

Drawn below is EDIT. These are practical tips for a writer to self-edit before giving the manuscript to a publishing company. The acronym makes the guidelines easier to remember as a writer plans about how to get a book published.

Eliminate. Get rid of improper words and replace them with accurate ones needed to convey the message. To get the most precise word that describes an idea, it is best to use a thesaurus. When in doubt of the meaning of a word, consult a dictionary. Even if already repeatedly used, a word may imply another meaning when taken in a different context.

Try to eliminate the negatives. Using the word "not" is sometimes effective for emphasis. Nevertheless, sentences written in a positive tone are generally better and stronger than negative ones.

Design check. Another way of self-editing a manuscript is to check the design of the sentences. This means looking at structure, construction and even figures of speech.

Watch for passive sentences. It is always clearer to express an idea when sentences are in active rather than in passive voice. The subject-verb-object structure describes action rather than illustrates situations and this provides readers with an easier understanding of what a writer wants to tell.

Keep an eye for the right punctuation marks and avoid complex sentences as much as possible.

Be consistent and careful in using figures of speech: they must be within the context of the descriptions. Do not confuse readers by comparing something to a forest only to associate it later to an ocean. Using figures of speech is for a purpose, not just for a play on words. Use them creatively and logically.

Inspect. Thoroughly examine each sentence for accuracy of grammar and spelling. Check out your word processor for this application but be watchful in applying the changes to your manuscript.

Test. A writer must test how the message sounds by reading the manuscript aloud. This allows revision of awkward phrasings and avoids redundancy.

These are the four handy self-editing tips that are vital to the publishing process. To complete your publishing journey, you may request a free book publishing guide.

For more information, please visit http://www.xlibris.com/requestkit/index.asp?src=apr&key=rc , e-mail pressrelease@xlibris.com or call at 1-888-795-4247, to receive a free publishing guide.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quick! Give me Viagra for my Heart!

A new study on Viagra and a potential future indication of helping to protect the heart has just been released. The Johns Hopkins study has promising benefits in mice hearts. Wonder what it will do for humans? Or will it just be for men's hearts? Time will tell.

The full research details can be found in the January 5th edition of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Do we need unions these days?

I don't have a problem with the fact that we used to need Unions. In days gone by workers were tromped on, had a difficult time getting wrongs righted and there were a lot of problems. I don't think all problems have vanished, but these days we have so many ways to right a wrong it's almost ridiculous. If anything, employers are scared to step on employee's toes.

After reading, watching and learning more about Unions during the "big 3 auto bailout" hearings, I am appalled at current day Unions. People sitting around not doing anything and getting paid? The kind of benefits that surpass those of the "good old days".

I know Unions get a bad rap and that some of the things I've read are rumor or not based entirely on facts. However, if even a fraction of the info I read is correct, Unions are full of corruption and abuse of power is rampant.

If we are going to be competitive in today's world markets we need to work on equal footing.

I understand that health care is handled differently here than it is in other countries. We need to factor in the differences. I want everyone who works hard and works well to be able to earn a living... but there is a line of reasonableness that seems to have gone by the wayside when Unions are involved in the mix.

I am 100% adamantly opposed to the Democrats and the Unions attempt to deny employees the right to a secret ballot (http://www.psrconline.org/cardcheck_bills_2008.htm). It is intimidation and it is un-American.

Now I receive the following press release, which I'll admit I have yet to research. If this is true, it is more "over-the-top, we-have-the-White-House-and-can-do-anything" potential shenanigans.

Union/Greens Raid On Worker Pension Funds

January 5, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson has called upon Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to launch an immediate investigation into plans by a coalition of union officials and environmentalists to raid employee pension funds in order “to pursue a dubious political agenda.”

Wilson’s call came in a letter to the Secretary hand delivered on Tuesday, December 30th. In the letter, the ALG executive warned that the announced union/environmentalist action directly violates Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) provisions by draining working pension funds to wage a political war on global warming. The letter specifically cites the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) as culpable in what he terms an “elaborate shell game.”

The INCR’s global warming Action Plan has 49 signers, including leaders of pension funds, union officials, state treasurers, state and city comptrollers, financial service firms, asset managers, and foundations. Included among the signatories are Andrew Stern, President of Service Employees International Union, and Bruce Raynor, President of UNITE HERE, together representing over 2 million workers and retirees nationwide.

“Union officials are putting the retirement security of workers at grave risk to pursue a dubious political agenda. This is more than irresponsible, it may in fact be a crime in violation of ERISA,” said Wilson.

ERISA explicitly limits the investment of worker pension funds to the “exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries; defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan.” Dating back to December of 2007, the Department of Labor has repeatedly informed union officials that it rejects “a construction of ERISA which would rend the Act’s tight limits on the use of plan assets illusory, and which would permit plan fiduciaries to tap into ERISA trusts to
promote myriad public policy preferences ….”

Wilson’s letter to Secretary Chao calls upon the Department of Labor to ensure that the union/environmentalist coalition properly acts in the best interests of
participants and beneficiaries under the plan. It states, “We urge you to take the actions necessary to ensure the fiduciaries within your jurisdiction are complying with ERISA… and are investing solely for the benefit of the participants and beneficiaries of their plans.”

Wilson noted that that the success of the investment strategy, by its own admission, is actually necessarily tied to restrictions in carbon emissions that the federal and state governments have yet to enact, thus posing greater uncertainty and risk to
investors.

“The INCR with its Big Labor and state participants create the very financial risks to investors its own action plan portends to reduce,” said Wilson in a statement. “In the process, it is putting the retirement savings and investments of thousands of investors, workers, and retirees in jeopardy by tying financial returns to projected
government actions that have not yet taken place, and to a disputed science that may not be factual.”

The union/environmentalist plan ostensibly seeks to “reduce climate risks” in investor portfolios by requiring investments to consider climate risk, investing capital in “developing and deploying clean technologies”, reducing by 20 percent energy use in real estate portfolios, and to support policy actions to enact a “mandatory national policy to contain and reduce national greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide, making sizable, sensible, long-term cuts in accordance with the 60-90% reductions below 1990 levels by 2050 that scientists and climate models suggest are urgently needed to avoid the worst and most costly impacts from climate change.”

Wilson contends that “reducing climate risk” is not the real intention of the investment plan, nor should it be allowed even if it were. “This amounts to an elaborate shell game to reduce carbon emissions by endangering retirements,” he
said.

“All of which has nothing to do with protecting the savings of investors from risk to their portfolios,” Wilson added.

Wilson warned that left unchecked, “[t]his green-union pension raid will not only endanger workers’ retirement benefits, but the greater economy. The American people have yet to seriously question the cost of going green.”

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Groom's Tireless Search For 'Something Old' Gives His Bride New Joy

RJ Note: Sometimes a smile is just the perfect reflection into the past. Enjoy.

(ARA) - Lt. Greg Martin wanted to give his fiancee the storybook wedding of her dreams. But he had a slight problem. She was in California planning their big day while he was on the other side of the world, stationed in Iraq. Being so far away made it even more difficult for him to hear the disappointment in her voice when she told him she couldn’t find something she had her heart set on for their big day.

"Years ago, my fiancee Shannon saw this cake topper she really liked in a department store that she thought would be perfect for her wedding day," says Martin. "It’s called ‘Swept Away’, and after I proposed Shannon remembered it and said the name was so fitting because I swept her away."

Unfortunately, the manufacturer of the topper, Lenox China, had discontinued it. Martin’s fiancee and her mother searched numerous stores and even got into bidding wars online, but couldn’t find the treasured piece. Martin started his own Internet search which led him to Replacements, Ltd., touted as the world’s largest supplier of old and new china, silver, crystal and collectibles. Unfortunately, Replacements had sold out of the cake topper as well. Little did a disappointed Martin know, his search had far from ended.

"My entire team was so touched by Greg’s story, how he was away serving our country and wanted so much to surprise his fiancee that we made it our mission to find that cake topper," says Martha Newman, Internet services manager for Replacements, Ltd.

Replacements has long helped those like Martin looking for patterns that are no longer in production. In fact, the company’s bridal registry offers hope to those brides looking to complete heirloom patterns lovingly passed down as wedding gifts from generation to generation.

"Even though we sell active patterns, nearly 79 percent of our bridal registry sales are generated from discontinued and heirloom patterns," says Donna Braswell-Bray, who oversees Replacements’ bridal program. "We’re one of the few places brides can turn to in finding patterns that are no longer being made, whether the manufacturer discontinued them last year or over a hundred years ago. In fact most manufacturers and department stores even refer customers to us for patterns they no longer carry."

What’s more, if a bride doesn’t know the pattern name or who made it, Replacements research department will help track down that information through the company’s free pattern identification service. Replacements receives up to 3,000 requests weekly from people looking to identify patterns they’ve inherited or whose name they simply can’t remember.

As for Martin’s dilemma, Replacements’ buying services team launched a nationwide search and finally found the highly sought after cake topper.

"Many of us were in tears, we were clapping and just so overwhelmed," says Newman. "We were so excited to let him know we were able to make this wish come true."

Replacements shipped the cake topper directly to Martin’s fiancee, and he called her so they could open it together over the phone. “I wish I could have been there to see her reaction and her big smile,” says Martin. "Needless to say Shannon was stunned and very excited to get the cake topper she wanted so much. I can’t believe they were able to help me find exactly what she wanted to make our wedding day perfect!"

To learn more about the company’s bridal registry and free pattern identification service, visit www.replacements.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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