Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Federal Cigarette Tax Increase and Current Economy Will Change Smoker's Habits

RJ Note: I don't smoke and am certainly not interested in it. Besides the obvious health risks, the overall stench on the clothes would be enough to deter me. If I did smoke, I would be in fumes over this tax. Seems like it's a way to be sure that a select group of people will be paying for this new improved government program. If the program and higher tax does provide smokers the incentive to smoke, what will the government have to tax next to pay for this program? Just wondering.

/PRNewswire/ -- On April 1, the federal cigarette tax will increase by 62 cents to a total of $1.01 per pack, to fund the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program that was signed into law earlier this year.(1) A new survey shows that the April 1st federal price increase on cigarettes and the current economy are big concerns for smokers and will change their current smoking habits.(2)

The survey, commissioned by the marketers of Nicorette, showed 70 percent of smokers say that the current price of cigarettes is already very expensive and is one of their main concerns about smoking, second only to health concerns.(2) For survey respondents over 45 years old, the price of cigarettes was the most cited concern.(2) Further, 56 percent of smokers say the April 1st price increase will prompt them to smoke fewer cigarettes and 72 percent say the price increase on cigarettes would increase their intention to quit.(2)

Smokers also say the current economy is a big concern and it will prompt them to change their smoking habits.(2) Forty-seven percent of smokers say they would cut back on cigarettes because of the economy.(2)

"Research shows that smokers are more likely to try to quit when the price of cigarettes goes up," said Dr. Frank Chaloupka, professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and affiliate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Given the recent tax hike and the state of the economy, now would be a great time for smokers to re-evaluate how smoking affects their finances and calculate how much they could save by quitting. A typical pack-a-day smoker could be spending approximately $2,000 each year on cigarettes, but no matter how expensive it is to smoke, quitting smoking is a big challenge."

Almost half of smokers currently quitting, or more likely to quit smoking, noted in the survey that they do not plan to get help.(2) In fact, almost half (48 percent) said they would prefer to quit cold turkey or gradually cut down smoking without assistance.(2) Unfortunately, research shows only 3-5 percent of smokers who quit without the help of cessation tools are successful long-term.(3) The same research shows smokers are twice as likely to be successful if they use therapeutic nicotine rather than quitting unassisted.(3)

"Tools for cessation, such as therapeutic nicotine, social support and counseling have been proven to significantly increase a smoker's chances of quitting successfully," said Saul Shiffman, Ph.D., professor in the departments of psychology and pharmaceutical science at the University of Pittsburgh. "Therapeutic nicotine products, like Nicorette White Ice Mint gum, are a safe and effective approach to quitting, and can help a smoker manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms during the quitting process."

Smokers interested in quitting due to the federal tax increase can access free tools and resources at www.nicorette.com. Nicorette is giving away a free starter pack of Nicorette White Ice Mint gum while supplies last.

About the Survey
A national survey of 1,046 U.S. adult smokers was conducted in March

2009 by Richard Day Research through Global Market Insite, Inc. (2) The survey was balanced according to age, gender and regional dispersion of smokers found in the 2007 National Health interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.(2) The survey was conducted on behalf of Nicorette.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Texas Now Leads Nation in Requiring Critical Analysis of Evolution in High School Science Classes

RJ Note: Nice to see someone finally remember that it's the Theory of Evolution. I took a complete course in evolution in college, and it was always called theory. Somehow that word theory just seems to keep getting dropped. For example, has anyone heard of the Global Warming Theory? Keep on truckin' and show all sides of evidence, not just the ones that are politically correct.

/PRNewswire/ -- In a huge victory for those who favor teaching the scientific evidence for and against evolution, Texas Friday moved to the head of the class by requiring students to "critique" and examine "all sides of scientific evidence" and specifically requiring students to "analyze and evaluate" the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.

"Texas has sent a clear message that evolution should be taught as a scientific theory open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned," said Dr. John West, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute. "Contrary to the claims of the evolution lobby, absolutely nothing the Board did promotes 'creationism' or religion in the classroom. Groups that assert otherwise are lying, plain and simple. Under the new standards, students will be expected to analyze and evaluate the scientific evidence for evolution, not religion. Period."

The new requirements were contained in revised science standards approved today by the Texas State Board of Education. The science standards include language requiring students to "analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations... including examining all sides of scientific evidence... so as to encourage critical thinking by the student." Equally important, the high school biology standards now require students to "analyze and evaluate" the scientific evidence for key parts of evolutionary theory, including common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.

Discovery Institute has long endorsed the idea that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, including its unresolved issues.

The Discovery Institute's mission is to make a positive vision of the future practical. The Institute discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty. Their mission is promoted through books, reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute's own publications and Internet website (http://www.discovery.org/).

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Friday, March 27, 2009

AirTran Airways Unfairly Suspends Pilot for Dropping Children Off at Circus While in Uniform

RJ Note: Gotta wonder how many working parents either pick up their children or drop them off while wearing the clothes they work in. Should we start to worry when a parent in military uniform goes to the schools? Or wearing the waitress outfit?

This suspension appears to be a little overkill on the part of the airline. Would the airline have done this if he stopped to fill his car up with gas or to grab a fast bite to eat? Now, if the pilot had been seen cruising around the bar scene and making a very bad impression of the industry or his employer, then I would applaud.

That reminds me, anybody recall the days when airline employees would stand out at Friday afternoon happy hours due to their uniforms? Seems like that used to be a common occurence in the days of Hotlanta.


/PRNewswire / -- The Board of Directors of the National Pilots Association (NPA), which represents the nearly 1,700 pilots of AirTran Airways, strongly condemns the wrongful suspension of one of their pilots, and asks the public to join them in demanding that he be reinstated immediately and paid in full.

AirTran Vice President Steve Kolski called NPA President, First Officer Linden Hillman last week to inform him that management's position is that the pilot was in violation of AirTran's flight operations manual and would face possible discipline for wearing his uniform while dropping off his wife and two young children at a circus in Atlanta on February 21, 2009. The NPA sponsored a family day at the circus, and the pilot was on his way to work when he stopped at Philips Arena to help his wife with their kids.

"He was wearing his uniform so that he could get to work on time," said First Officer Tim Baker, spokesman for the NPA. "The circus started at 3 p.m., and he had to be at work at 4:30 p.m. He was leaving on a four day trip and wanted to spend as much time with the kids as possible. He will soon be deployed overseas and is focused on spending time with his family. He only stayed at the circus for a few minutes. The rules even state that he can wear his uniform to and from work."

The AirTran pilot in question is a pilot in the Air Force Reserves, where he has served for thirteen years.

NPA President Hillman said, "It is intolerable for our pilots to be exposed to this type of intimidation. We have tried to resolve this issue directly with management. However, we continue to find management unreasonable. It would be nice to see management focused on returning to profitability, instead of threatening their hardworking crewmembers. You don't see other airlines treating their employees like this."

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

This is a GREAT speech!

Jim DeMint is talking about the National Service Act which is going to cost taxpayers a minimum of $6 BILLION dollars over the next few years. It is a government "volunteer" program which will has so many flaws it's already a boondoggle. They are voting on this today. S 277.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Annie Get Your Guns... Now!

The following is a CNN story put together in early February of this year. You don't have to be a gun owner, or even like guns, to be interested in this story. Gun sales are way up, there are long back orders for guns, ammo is running short and people are very concerned about where we're headed in regards to taxing guns and supplies. Well, they're concerned about a lot more than that!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

World War II Combat Flying Reenactment Online

(BUSINESS WIRE)--iEntertainment Network, (PINK SHEETS: IENT.pk), the award-winning developer of the world famous WarBirds TotalSims series, today announced that “Pillars of Smoke”, a reenactment of the massive Allied bombing campaign over Germany 1944-1945, will be held online starting Sunday, March 22, 2009, at 0030 GMT (2030 EDT), in the online arenas of iEntertainment Network. The online event will run for five Sundays.

Hundreds of online players are expected to participate in this longest running online World War II reenactment series, the Squadron Select Series (S3). These players will fly on both sides of the reenactment for the Allies (in B-24s, B-17s, P-51 Mustangs, and P-47 D Thunderbolts), against the Axis Luftwaffe (in Messerschmitt, Me-109s, Focke-Wulf 190s, and in the German jets, the ME-262). The Allies will be trying to bomb German industry and the Luftwaffe will try to prevent the bombers from getting to their targets.

Players will participate as member of their online Squadrons. Some of those Squadrons include the =4th= Fighter Group, the 31st Fighter Group, JG-27, JG-51, the 332nd Fighter Group, Menacing Ferrets, 100th FBG, Knights of Ni!, and over 15 other online Squadrons.

Virtual aviators, who want to participate in this reenactment, can download the simulation software from www.TotalSims.com for FREE and fly with assignment to one of the current online Squadrons.

Email custserv@ient.com to get assigned to an online Squadron for this event. The description of this online event can be found here: Pillars of Smoke.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NASA Researchers Find Clues to a Secret of Life

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA scientists analyzing the dust of meteorites have discovered new clues to a long-standing mystery about how life works on its most basic, molecular level.

"We found more support for the idea that biological molecules, like amino acids, created in space and brought to Earth by meteorite impacts help explain why life is left-handed," said Dr. Daniel Glavin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "By that I mean why all known life uses only left-handed versions of amino acids to build proteins." Glavin is lead author of a paper on this research appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 16.

Proteins are the workhorse molecules of life, used in everything from structures like hair to enzymes, the catalysts that speed up or regulate chemical reactions. Just as the 26 letters of the alphabet are arranged in limitless combinations to make words, life uses 20 different amino acids in a huge variety of arrangements to build millions of different proteins. Amino acid molecules can be built in two ways that are mirror images of each other, like your hands. Although life based on right-handed amino acids would presumably work fine, "you can't mix them," says Dr. Jason Dworkin of NASA Goddard, co-author of the study. "If you do, life turns to something resembling scrambled eggs -- it's a mess. Since life doesn't work with a mixture of left-handed and right-handed amino acids, the mystery is: how did life decide -- what made life choose left-handed amino acids over right-handed ones?"

Over the last four years, the team carefully analyzed samples of meteorites with an abundance of carbon, called carbonaceous chondrites. The researchers looked for the amino acid isovaline and discovered that three types of carbonaceous meteorites had more of the left-handed version than the right-handed variety -- as much as a record 18 percent more in the often-studied Murchison meteorite. "Finding more left-handed isovaline in a variety of meteorites supports the theory that amino acids brought to the early Earth by asteroids and comets contributed to the origin of only left-handed based protein life on Earth," said Glavin.

All amino acids can switch from left-handed to right, or the reverse, by chemical reactions energized with radiation or temperature, according to the team. The scientists looked for isovaline because it has the ability to preserve its handedness for billions of years, and it is extremely rarely used by life, so its presence in meteorites is unlikely to be from contamination by terrestrial life. "The meteorites we studied are from before Earth formed, over 4.5 billion years ago," said Glavin. "We believe the same process that created extra left-handed isovaline would have created more left-handed versions of the other amino acids found in these meteorites, but the bias toward left-handed versions has been mostly erased after all this time."

The team's discovery validates and extends the research first reported a decade ago by Drs. John Cronin and Sandra Pizzarello of Arizona State University, who were first to discover excess isovaline in the Murchison meteorite, believed to be a piece of an asteroid. "We used a different technique to find the excess, and discovered it for the first time in the Orgueil meteorite, which belongs to another meteorite group believed to be from an extinct comet," said Glavin.

The team also found a pattern to the excess. Different types of meteorites had different amounts of water, as determined by the clays and water-bearing minerals found in the meteorites. The team discovered meteorites with more water also had greater amounts of left-handed isovaline. "This gives us a hint that the creation of extra left-handed amino acids had something to do with alteration by water," said Dworkin. "Since there are many ways to make extra left-handed amino acids, this discovery considerably narrows down the search."

If the bias toward left-handedness originated in space, it makes the search for extraterrestrial life in our solar system more difficult, while also making its origin a bit more likely, according to the team. "If we find life anywhere else in our solar system, it will probably be microscopic, since microbes can survive in extreme environments," said Dworkin. "One of the biggest problems in determining if microscopic life is truly extra-terrestrial is making sure the sample wasn't contaminated by microbes brought from Earth. If we find the life is based on right-handed amino acids, then we know for sure it isn't from Earth. However, if the bias toward left-handed amino acids began in space, it likely extends across the solar system, so any life we may find on Mars, for example, will also be left-handed. On the other hand, if there is a mechanism to choose handedness before life emerges, it is one less problem prebiotic chemistry has to solve before making life. If it was solved for Earth, it probably has been solved for the other places in our solar system where the recipe for life might exist, such as beneath the surface of Mars, or in potential oceans under the icy crust of Europa and Enceladus, or on Titan."

The research was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the NASA Cosmochemistry program, and the NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology, and Evolutionary Biology program.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Non-Profit Seeks Partners for Major Cover-Up

RJ Note: Hip, hip, hooray! Finally, someone is going to tackle that age old problem of hospital gowns! Grab it and growl!

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Soldier On, a non-profit agency dedicated to helping homeless veterans of the United States armed services reclaim their lives with integrity, dignity and hope, is looking to restore some dignity to another, more widespread group: medical patients. The Northampton, Massachusetts-based Soldier On, which has created a national model for assisting homeless veterans, hopes to partner with a designer and manufacturer to create a new garment to replace the undignified, revealing and outdated hospital Johnny. The new garment, to be called the Rodney, will be marketed and sold to hospitals, clinics and medical practices by Soldier On, with proceeds going toward the agency's ongoing efforts to end veteran homelessness.

Soldier On's move reflects an ongoing national trend in which non-profit organizations become involved in money-making ventures in order to raise funds to support their mission. It comes concurrently with the launch of a capital campaign through which Soldier On is seeking to raise funds for two first-of-their-kind limited equity housing projects that will allow formerly homeless veterans to own their homes for the first time. Sales of Rodneys ideally will support both the Veterans Village housing developments and the organization's ongoing efforts to help homeless veterans get the help and support they need in order to reclaim their lives and their place in society.

Soldier On has begun its push toward development of the Rodney with a print ad seeking a designer and manufacturer to partner with them on the project. The ad was created and placed with funding from Robinson Donovan P.C., a Springfield, Massachusetts law firm that has devoted its marketing budget to assisting Soldier On. With the headline, "We're A Good Organization Looking For A Little Less Exposure," the ad calls on American clothing designers and manufacturers to join the cause. The goal is to create a garment that provides patients with more privacy than the open-backed Johnny while continuing to serve the needs of medical professionals during treatment and examination. Rodneys also will offer an American-made alternative to Johnnies, almost all of which are manufactured in China.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Georgia Tech Student-Designed Device Provides New Way to Track Calorie Burning

Counting calories that burn through activity is a constant quandary.

One can only run on a treadmill so long, watching intently as the pedometer reads out the number of calories melted during a session of exercise. Not to mention the question of how many calories are burned through basic daily movements and even during sleep.

But technology – and youthful ambition – is presenting a round-the-clock solution for those consumed with this calculation.

A group of Georgia Tech students has crafted a device that allows individuals to constantly compute the amount of calories they burn – even as they sleep.

“It’s a completely converged device,” said Garrett Langley, 21, a senior in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) who spearheaded the project. “It’s a single unit that provides complete fitness monitoring and management.”

Dubbed HappyHR, the instrument is a personal monitor that allows users to measure and compare day-to-day physical and caloric activity. The name is a reference to the euphoric feeling that follows an intense round of exercise – the “happy hour.”

The small, rectangular-shaped instrument straps to the wrist or ankle, gathering data related to heart rate and exercise. The information is then transferred via Bluetooth to a PC, where the statistics can be analyzed through Web-based software.

Although the device focuses on calorie counting, Langley envisions more thorough health applications including respiratory and glucose monitoring.

This tool began as a senior design project for Langley, who viewed a marketplace that was lacking such technology coupled with a results-hungry populace eager for more health information. An aspiring entrepreneur, he also found that it provided an organic way for him to develop a business.

An avid runner, Langley himself was frustrated at the challenge of quantifying fitness results.

“I saw that there was a huge gap in the market,” he said. “There are simple $30 pedometers, and there’s nothing in between that and $400 health monitors.”

Comparatively, HappyHR should carry a $100 price tag if it becomes commercially available.

Shortly after conceiving the idea, the development process became an interdisciplinary endeavor incorporating several colleges at Georgia Tech.

Fellow electrical engineering student John Hamilton, biomedical engineering students Stephen Mann and Nathan Kumar and industrial design student Stuart Lawder all contributed their expertise to actualizing Langley’s concept.

The result: a deft and subtle device that resembles a compact MP3 player more than fitness monitoring technology.

The project, and the fortitude behind it, has impressed Steve Chaddick, Tech alumnus and chairman of the ECE Advisory Board. Chaddick has served as a mentor to Langley and his team, lending his advice to both the design and business plan process.

“It’s a terrific opportunity to promote what I believe in engineering education,”
Chaddick said. “We should be teaching the ‘why’ before the ‘what,’ so to speak. It’s been very satisfying for me personally.”

Langley is finalizing the HappyHR prototype and beginning discussions with manufacturers. His goal is to make HappyHR commercially available some time this fall.

“Ideally, this could change the way America stays in shape,” Langley said. “ ’Stay fit and be happy’ is the slogan. This is going to motivate people to exercise more and be happier.”

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

“Stimulus Tuesdays” Kick Off March 10th at Carmike Cinemas

RJ: Popcorn at the movies at a reasonable price-- such a great idea. Make mine full of dripping butter and we've got a date....

-(BUSINESS WIRE)--Carmike Cinemas, Inc. (NASDAQ: CKEC), a leading motion picture exhibitor in 3D, today announced its own economic stimulus plan designed to put more disposable income in the hands of filmgoers across the nation. “Stimulus Tuesdays” start March 10th at all of Carmike’s 250 theatres and approximately 2,300 screens, across 36 states. Under Carmike’s Plan, all 16-ounce drinks and 46-ounce popcorns will be available on Tuesday at the bargain basement price of $1 each.

Carmike Director of Marketing Dale Hurst, stated, “While lawmakers in Washington, DC continue to debate how to get the American economy back on-track and the rest of us wait for some positive impact on the economy and our pocketbooks, Carmike has an immediate solution that is sure to please our valued patrons and make the movie-going experience more affordable and enjoyable. Popcorn and drink prices like these have not been seen since the 1970s, when a loaf of bread was only $0.25, a gallon of gas cost $0.35 and the average home could be purchased for under $30,000.”

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The 3 Rs Add Up to a Fourth: Recession... 51 Per Cent of Parents Are Educating Their Kids on the Credit Crunch

/PRNewswire/ -- Reading, writing and arithmetic are widely regarded as the essential building blocks of learning, but during these days of economic turmoil it seems another R is now being added to children's education - recession.

According to research carried out for The Co-operative Child Trust Funds, half (51 per cent) of all parents are actively teaching their kids about the economic downturn alongside helping with homework and reading bedtime stories.

The findings confirm that the financial crisis is taking modern parenting to another level with six in 10 (62 per cent) of Mums and Dads believing it is important for their children to understand the UK's unprecedented economic situation.

Zack Hocking, head of Child Trust Funds at The Co-operative, said: "Parents clearly don't want to shelter their children from the realities of the credit crunch and are making extra efforts to improve their financial education."

"It's possible that one good thing to come from the current downturn will be a generation that's financially wiser and better equipped to manage their money through times of economic uncertainty."

Further proof that today's children are fast becoming the 'credit crunch' generation is evident, with 49 per cent of parents confirming their kids have actively asked them about the economic situation.

While the greatest interest is shown from older children, it seems even the young are keen to gain an understanding with one in three (35 per cent) of 6 to 9 year olds seeking information from Mums and Dads.

Parents also feel financial knowledge equals financial power with more emphasis needed on educating children on their financial foundations.

64 per cent think children should be taught about savings and investments whilst Interest rates need greater attention from teachers according to 37 per cent of parents as does tax and national insurance (41 per cent) and government support such as child tax credits (28 per cent).

However, seven per cent of parents do not feel that they understand the economy enough to explain it to their children and, in some instances, have had to ask their older children to explain the economy to them.

Zack Hocking added: "If children are taught about money from an early age, future financial decisions are likely to be better considered. One of the easiest ways to set children off to a good financial start is to utilise the Government child trust fund voucher and supplement it with regular contributions, which will give young adults a fantastic head start when they turn 18."

The Co-operative Investments, with The Children's Mutual, the UK's only specialist in savings for children, offers the UK's first Ethical Child Trust Fund stakeholder account .

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Recession Survey: Americans are Very Concerned, Have Cut Spending & Say their Lives have been Impacted

/PRNewswire/ -- An overwhelming majority of Americans are concerned about the recession and say it's had a dramatic impact on their lives, and their spending according to a national survey released today by BuzzBack Market Research.

Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said their lives have been impacted by the recession and 92 percent were concerned, according to those surveyed.

The survey found that 76% had cut back on spending, the most dramatic cuts coming in eating at restaurants (86%), buying clothing (76%) and attending entertainment events (71%) like movies, concerts and sporting events. 47% said they are spending more time researching items before buying and saving money.

Two other signs of the recession's impact, 9 percent said they had recently purchased an automobile and 5 percent had bought a house.

The BuzzBack survey also found that 67% are worrying about money and spending.

Despite all the concerns, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed are optimistic that President Obama can turn the economy around.

And in a dramatic change seven years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, more people are fearful of the recession than terrorism. The BuzzBack survey indicates 50% of those surveyed are worried about the recession compared to 14 percent worried about terrorism.

"The survey confirms that consumers are making noticeable changes to their day-to-day lives to adjust," says Carol Fitzgerald, President of BuzzBack Market Research. "Americans are worried, they've cut spending, and those reductions are not only dramatic in both the housing and automobile industries, keys to reviving the economy, but also in daily purchases such as groceries." Fitzgerald says the majority of those surveyed believe the economy will not turnabout in 2009.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

ABC Radio Networks Statement on the Passing of Paul Harvey

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from Jim Robinson, President of ABC Radio Networks, on the passing of Paul Harvey:

Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation's history. As he delivered the news each day with his own unique style and commentary, his voice became a trusted friend in American households. His career in radio spanned more than seven decades, during which time countless millions of listeners were both informed and entertained by his "News & Comment" and "Rest of the Story" features. Even after the passing of his loving wife Angel in May 2008, Paul would not slip quietly into retirement as he continued to take the microphone and reach out to his audience. We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his son Paul Jr. and the rest of the Harvey family.

Jim Robinson

President, ABC Radio Networks

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