Friday, February 27, 2009

World Congress of Families Reacts to UNFPA Leader Who Says Family Breakdown is a 'Triumph' for 'Human Rights'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to a leader of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who declared that family breakdown is a triumph for human rights, World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs said he was only surprised that UNFPA is now willing to admit what has always been part of its agenda.

At a recent colloquium in Mexico City, Arie Hoekman, a UNFPA representative from the Netherlands, told participants that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births represent the triumph of "human rights" over "patriarchy."

Jacobs stated, "Ironically, the UNFPA ignores international law and their own UN declaration on the basic human rights of children and the natural family as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Section 16 of the United Nations UDHR adopted in 1948 states that, 'the family is the natural fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.' Furthermore, UDHR states, 'men and women of full age, without any limitation, due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.'"

Jacobs charged: "Deconstructing the natural family has always been high on the agenda of groups like UNFPA. Ignoring international and domestic laws, they pursue this goal relentlessly through funding and promoting abortion, contraception and coercive population control - such as China's one-children-per-family policy.

Jacobs continued: "There are reams of data showing that children from broken homes, either through divorce or failure to form families, have much higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse, crime and mental illness than their counterparts from intact families. But, perhaps Hoekman thinks these social pathologies also represent the triumph of human rights over patriarchy."

Jacobs concluded: "If Hoekman thinks fatherless families are an advance for human rights, he should spend time in America's inner cities, where they are the norm and life is exceedingly dangerous." Jacobs also noted that unattached males in their teens and twenties drive the crime problem in most developed nations.

Even U.S. President Barack Obama recognizes the importance of two married parents at home. As he stated during his speech on Father's Day, "We...need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Semi-Automatic Rifle Ban Would Reduce Jobs, Not Crime

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Responding to Attorney General Eric Holder's comment yesterday that the Obama Administration will attempt to reinstate a ban against semi-automatic rifles, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminded Congress and all Americans that such a ban would cause jobs to be lost in a difficult economy, have no effect on reducing crime and would deprive millions of law-abiding sportsmen and gun owners of their Constitutional right to own the firearm of their choice.

Holder made his comments in connection with criminals supplying illegal guns from the United States to drug dealers in Mexico.

"The problem of criminals breaking the law to acquire firearms and illegally smuggling them across the border is not remedied by legislation that would violate the rights of Americans to own semi-automatic firearms," said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF, the trade association of the firearms industry.

"These types of firearms, which are erroneously called 'assault weapons,' are used by millions of Americans for hunting, sporting and personal defense purposes," Sanetti added. "We can only conclude that certain officials are waiting for any politically advantageous excuse to announce the intention to seek a new ban on sporting rifles, a ban that would break the president's campaign promise to gun owners that 'I'm not going to take away your guns.'"

The industry and firearms owners were understandably outraged by Holder's comments yesterday, and today even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed away from the idea of a new gun ban. "On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now," said Pelosi, surprisingly taking the position of pro-gun advocates.

Holder's use of the inaccurate term "assault weapons" is one that is deliberately used by gun-ban advocates to create confusion between legally sold, semi-automatic rifles and look-a-like, fully automatic military versions. While the civilian version of these rifles may resemble their military counterparts, the civilian rifle fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. Additionally, these rifles fire ammunition calibers no more powerful than traditional-looking sporting arms. Civilian access to fully automatic machine guns has been severely restricted since 1934.

Studies show that the ban against sporting firearms, known as the Assault Weapons Ban, that was in place from 1994 to 2004 did not reduce crime. Furthermore, there has been no increase in crime involving these types of firearms since Congress allowed the ban to expire.

A ban on sporting firearms also would have a severe effect on jobs and the economy. Sales of semi-automatic rifles have been strong over the last several months -- overall sales of firearms have increased as much as 42 percent -- and have allowed companies in the firearms industry to withstand, to some extent, the downturn in the economy.

"These semi-automatic rifles are the most popular rifle in America today and they are largely behind the recent increase in firearms sales," said Sanetti. "This is a bright spot in our economy and has helped save jobs in our industry."

Since the election last November gun owners have feared the Obama Administration would seek legislation that would infringe on their Second Amendment rights. "It appears gun owners' fears were well-founded given Attorney General Holder's comment that the Obama Administration will seek new restrictions on gun owners. A new gun ban would fly in the face of last year's Supreme Court decision in the Heller case that reaffirmed the Second Amendment right of all Americans to keep and bear arms," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Government Again Concedes Vaccines Cause Autism

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's Los Angeles-based non-profit autism organization, today announced that the United States Government has once again conceded that vaccines cause autism. The announcement comes on the heels of the recently unsealed court case of Bailey Banks vs. HHS. The ruling states, "The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine...a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to PDD [Autism]."

In a curious and hypocritical method of operation, the mysterious Vaccine Court not only protects vaccine makers from liability but supports a policy that has tripled the number of vaccines given to U.S. children - all after being made aware of the fact that these vaccines do, in fact, cause autism and repeatedly ruling in favor of families with children hurt by their vaccines.

"It was heartbreaking to hear about Bailey's story, but through this ruling we are gaining the proof we need to open the eyes of the world to the fact that vaccines do, in fact, cause autism," said Jenny McCarthy, Hollywood actress, autism activist, best-selling author and Generation Rescue board member. "Bailey Banks' regression into autism after vaccination is the same story I went through with my own son and the same story I have heard from thousands of mothers and fathers around the country. Our hope is that this ruling will influence decision and policy-makers to help the hundreds of thousands of children and families affected by this terrible condition."

Banks vs. HHS is the second known case where the Vaccine Court could not deny the overwhelming evidence showing vaccines caused a child's autism. The first was the case of Hannah Poling in March of 2008, where the court found in her favor and awarded her family compensation.

Jim Carrey, Hollywood legend and Generation Rescue board member, reacted to the news, "It seems the U.S. government is sending mixed messages by telling the world that vaccines don't cause autism, while, at the same time, they are quietly managing a separate 'vaccine court' that is ruling in favor of affected families and finding that vaccines, in fact, were the cause. For most of the autism community the question is no longer whether vaccines caused of their child's autism. The question is why is their government only promoting the rulings that are in favor of the vaccine companies."

Why is a secret court, which no one knows about or understands, quietly paying these families for vaccine injuries and autism? Deirdre Imus, Generation Rescue board member and founder of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology says, "Over the past 20 years, the vaccine court has dispensed close to $2 billion in compensation to families whose children were injured or killed by a vaccine. I am not against vaccines and my own child has been vaccinated. But, I share the growing concerns of many parents questioning the number of vaccines given to children today, some of the toxic ingredients in vaccines, and whether we know enough about the combination risks associated with the multiple vaccines given to children during critical developmental windows."

Generation Rescue seeks to answer these questions and many more on a daily basis as they fight for the truth and to recover children with autism around the world. To learn more please visit, write to .

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Lyme Disease Epidemic Causing Healthcare Crisis

(BUSINESS WIRE)--An ongoing battle over the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, is pitting doctors against doctors, prompting health insurance companies to deny medical claims at an alarming rate, and leaving suffering patients stuck in the middle.

Transmitted through the bite of a tick, the number of Lyme disease cases in the United States has doubled since 1991—with at least 27,000 new cases reported each year. But because of inaccurate tests and under-reporting the actual numbers may be up to 12 times higher, according to the CDC, making Lyme disease an epidemic larger than AIDS, West Nile Virus and Avian Flu combined.

Tens of thousands of people suffer from what they say are the debilitating effects of chronic Lyme disease, which can lead to lifelong disabilities or even death. Yet many doctors deny that such a disease even exists, and doctors willing to treat it using long-term antibiotic therapy have faced losing their medical licenses.

The award-winning documentary Under Our Skin takes an unflinching look at the controversy surrounding Lyme disease and its impact on the national healthcare system, with billions of dollars of insurance claims, doctors’ medical licenses and patients’ lives hanging in the balance.

The implications are staggering. Irwin Vanderhoof, PhD professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, in 1993 estimated that Lyme disease cost society nearly $1billion per year. That estimate has since skyrocketed to about $2billion per year, including diagnosis, treatment, and lost wages, according to Contingencies, an actuarial trade publication for the insurance industry.

“Given the CDC’s admitted underreporting bias, the ultimate cost to society may prove to be even more alarming,” said Dr. Joseph Jemsek, a Charlotte-area physician featured in Under Our Skin. “The cost in lives unfulfilled by an illness that today’s medical profession refuses to acknowledge is incalculable.”

In a landmark prosecution announced last year, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal brought charges against the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) for abuse of Lyme disease treatment guidelines and conflicts of interest for guideline committee members. In response, the IDSA agreed to restructure its committee and revise its controversial Lyme Disease Guidelines. Meanwhile, as shown in Under Our Skin, patients continue to suffer through misdiagnosis while seeking treatment for a disease they’re often told is just in their heads.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beware When Shopping Going-Out-Of-Business Sales

(SPM Wire) Going-out-of-business sales can mean huge discounts, but Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to beware of false deals.

"The bargains are not always as advertised at going-out-of business sales and some consumers don't realize they're getting ripped off when they're supposed to be getting a deal," said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson.

When a large retailer liquidates assets, the sale is undertaken by a liquidator who sets prices and attempts to sell items quickly and at the highest profit. So, some items actually will be marked up.

In 2008, an ABC News report revealed that many items sold during one liquidation sale were marked up as much as 14 percent.

The BBB offers this advice:

Confirm that a deal IS a deal. Some liquidators mark up prices, while a store's competitors sometimes drop prices to compete with liquidation sales.

Use credit cards. Credit cards include consumer protections if the company doesn't deliver on promised goods.

Don't count on customer service. Consumers might be responsible for delivery of large items. Understand all sales are final and you don't have many options if dissatisfied.

Know the warranty status before buying. Warranties are often maintained by manufacturers or third-parties, meaning they still apply if the retailer goes out of business.

Use gift cards ASAP. Businesses in liquidation won't survive long, so don't get stuck with worthless plastic.

For more consumer advice visit

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Monday, February 23, 2009

60 Minutes Story on College Binge Drinking Highlights Importance of Limiting Access to Alcohol Among Youth

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 60 Minutes, CBS's weekly newsmagazine, aired a story last night on underage drinking focused on the significant problem of binge drinking on college campuses but did not include peer-reviewed scientific data showing lives are being saved on and off the roadways. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President, Laura Dean-Mooney, said, "Lowering the drinking age would only make the problem worse among 15, 16 and 17 year-olds, just look at European countries with an 18 law." Data from European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) in 2003 showed that of 35 European countries, 31 had a higher percentage of 15-year olds who had been drunk in the past year than in the U.S.

Support 21, a broad coalition of stakeholders from science, medical and public health organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the American Medical Association (AMA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), today said they are deeply disappointed that the story fuels an irresponsible debate with lives at stake. The Coalition stands firmly behind the indisputable scientific research found by more than 50 high-quality, peer-reviewed studies that show that the 21 minimum drinking age law saves lives on the roadways. Additionally, the law has been proven to lower underage consumption and save lives off the roads.

Dean-Mooney added, "We are deeply disturbed by the so-called debate over the drinking age that has minimized the lifesaving benefits of the 21 Law. The answer is not to lower the drinking age so that more lives are taken, but to take proven and effective steps to combat the problem. The 21 Law saves lives - 900 a year on the roadways including those 21 and older impacted by underage drinking and driving - and prevents injuries."

Access on college campuses is a severe problem - where students drink because they can and they are in a high-risk environment where enforcement of the law varies. In fact, research shows that more than 30 percent of college students abuse alcohol and six percent are dependent on alcohol - rates much higher than for young adults who are not in college.(1) Research also shows that the problem of binge drinking is worse among college age students in college versus those who are not in college. Dean-Mooney said, "Any college president who supports lowering the drinking age is just passing the buck to high school principals."

Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, said maintaining the legal drinking age at 21 is a socially and medically sound policy that helps parents, schools and law enforcement protect our youth from the potentially life-threatening effects of underage drinking.

"As a three-time university president, I can tell you that losing a student to an alcohol-related tragedy is one of the hardest and heart-rending experiences imaginable," Shalala said. "It's not just the loss of life but the loss of the future and that potential that bright, young individual had to offer."

Since states began setting the legal drinking age to 21, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates over 26,000 lives have been saved. And as one of the most studied public health laws in history, the scientific research from 46 high-quality studies all found that the 21 Law saves lives.(2) In addition, studies show that the 21 Law reduces causes those under the age of 21 to drink less and to continue to drink less throughout their 20s.(3) Of the 5,000 total alcohol-related deaths among 18-24 year-olds - 80 percent or 4,000 - were alcohol-related traffic deaths.(4)

"Lowering the minimum drinking age to 18 is both misguided and dangerous," said IACP former President Ronald Ruecker, Director of Public Safety in Sherwood, Oregon. "The worst thing any police officer has to do is knock on a door in the dead of night to tell parents that their child will not be coming home because he or she is a victim of impaired driving. Lowering the national drinking age would inevitably lead to more tragedies for more families."

The public strongly disagrees with efforts to lower the drinking age. According to a 2008 survey by Nationwide Insurance, 78 percent of adults support 21 as the minimum drinking age and 72 percent believe lowering the drinking age would make alcohol more accessible to youth.

Bill Windsor, Associate Vice President of Safety for Nationwide, said, "While advocates argue a lower drinking age will curb teen binge drinking, our survey shows only 14 percent of Americans agree and 47 percent believe it will actually make a huge problem worse. Americans feel so strongly about teen binge drinking more than half say they are less likely to vote for a politician who supports lowering the legal limit or to send their child to a known 'party school.'"

Parents are crucial in addressing this problem and can do more by talking and listening to their son or daughter about the many challenges they will face in college. In fact, research shows that parents should educate children before they reach middle school about the dangers of alcohol. We do not want to pass the problem on to high school principals. Parents need to ask themselves whether they want their kids to have more or less access to alcohol. When searching for the right college, parents should ask questions about the college's policies on alcohol and what the consequences are for underage drinking while on campus. MADD strongly believes parents should be notified if their son or daughter is disciplined or arrested for alcohol.

Dean-Mooney said, "Underage drinking is not just a youth problem, but an adult problem." Parents and other adults are the key to reducing underage drinking. MADD is developing a program for parents that will give them proven-effective tools for communicating to their teens about this issue.

Members of the Support 21 Coalition include:
-- American Academy of Pediatrics (
-- Allstate Foundation (
-- American Medical Association (
-- Center for Science in the Public Interest (
-- Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (
-- Governors Highway Safety Association (
-- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (
-- International Association of Chiefs of Police (
-- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (
-- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (
-- National Liquor Law Enforcement Association (
-- National Organizations for Youth Safety (
-- National Safety Council (
-- National Transportation Safety Board (
-- Nationwide Insurance (
-- Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation ( Students
Against Destructive Decisions (

(1) Knight et al, 2002
(2) Wagenaar & Toomey, 2002
(3) O'Malley & Wagenaar, 1991
(4) Hingson, Ralph, et al., 2005

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Friday, February 20, 2009

WEBS Virus, the Wall Street Elite Blood Suckers Virus, is Responsible for Infecting Nation's Financial Market, says CornerCap Investment Counsel CEO

/PRNewswire/ -- Over the last year, stock, bond, real estate, commodity and other markets have been devastated by fear and panic selling. The destructive forces leading up to this once-every-century bear market are analogous to an awful virus that has attacked and spread across our land more quickly, and infected more people than any other virus in recorded history.

While this virus appeared relatively benign for years, once the fatal contaminants were triggered, the disease brought down its victims in just a few months.

Origin of the Virus

We have traced the origins of the virus to a truly unique village on a small island in the Northeast U.S. by the Hudson River. While this village has realized exponential population growth over the years, its unique characteristic is the very high level of intellect and wealth of the inhabitants.

With such a density of elite and well connected talent, our hope and expectation has been for this village to be a valuable source of creative ideas that will make our country more productive and globally competitive.

Sadly, this has not been the case.

While they have been prolific with the new and creative ideas, whatever productive benefits were created flowed solely to them. They connected with other elites across the nation and around the world that were responsible for large pools of wealth (pensions, endowments, foundations, wealth managers, etc.) and enticed them with the same luring elixir - greed.

We have found that greed, which is an inherent component of everyone's DNA, is the infectious agent that originally created this terrible virus. And, like most human viruses, it is spread by carriers that extract blood from one victim and transport it to the next victim.

Rather than relying on physical contact, this virus has quickly spread around the globe via the Internet, global cell phones and other means of instant communications.

To recognize the origin, connectivity and carrier nature of the disease, we have labeled it the WEBS Virus - Wall Street Elite Blood Suckers Virus.

The Virus Carriers

Are we being a little harsh? Probably so, but we are talking about a hugely destructive force. We are also talking about our business, the investment industry. As Pogo the Possum said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

At CornerCap, we believe we remain virus free. The fundamentals of our business are completely transparent and, unlike some advisers, we are subject to regular audits by the SEC.

On that note, the virus was most recently epitomized by Bernard Madoff who reportedly stole $50 billion of investor money in a Ponzi scheme.

It is difficult to comprehend how investors and regulators could have been duped for so long and so much. There is no rationale. The SEC reviews CornerCap in week-long audits every few years. How is it that, year after year, they chose not to examine the Madoff firm?

What about the other virus carriers in the investment industry?

There are many managers, bankers, brokers, and planners whose greed led to excess risk and poor advice. Over-priced bad advice not only destroys value for the client, but it creates unwarranted wealth for the advisor.

In other words, our most feared virus carriers are these investment industry advisors who seem to win even when their clients fail.

Virus Strands

In recent years two strands of this WEBS Virus have emerged. And each of these strands always involve the creation of a bubble in the marketplace which are relatively easy to spot.

There are 'greed-strand' bubbles. These are the more frequent and toxic variety. They typically involve taking more risk than is expected or understood.

There are also 'fear-strand' bubbles, which are also unhealthy, and they usually involve a stampede away from a possible risk.

Right now we are actually in the middle of a fear-strand bubble with the rush to buy "safety" at any cost. This has caused a substantial over-valuation of U.S. Treasury securities.

However, we've also seen several greed-strand bubbles recently.

The on-going housing and subprime meltdown involved investment bankers, mortgage brokers, and many others in the investment industry who were virus carriers.

The tech bubble involved investment bankers, Wall Street analysts, and stock brokers. In a response to the tech bubble, we have seen a growing concentration in alternative assets (hedge funds, private equity, leverage products, etc.) which involved most of the same characters.

While not picking on any particular virus carrier, the investment banker community seem to be the best bubble blowers in the bunch.

To succeed Wall Street needs a continuing cycle of bubbles, i.e. promoting new products to passionate buyers. This process creates incredible wealth - not for the buyer but for themselves.

Like Madoff, these virus carriers only needed to create the appearance of future profits without a commensurate amount of risk, and investors would be willing to reward them with substantial compensation from their pension funds, foundations, endowments, home equity, personal savings, etc. Like Madoff, much of the wealth promised to investors was lost.

The Broader Issue

In a broader sense, this deadly WEBS virus seems to have become part of our society and culture.

We used to be rewarded for making truly useful products. Today, we seem to be more in the business of leveraging, swapping, bundling, layering, and trading financial products with each other. We incur significant costs and waste much of our talented manpower with most products in the investment industry.

Most Wall Street people are honest, hard working professionals. They listen to investors and try to create the products that investors will want to buy. These professionals usually believe in the products they are selling. They believe that their products adequately control risks.

In the research and development (R&D) labs, their models confirmed that more and more leverage would not inordinately increase the risks. Smart professionals creating sophisticated products that seem to satisfy a client need.

What's wrong with that?

As markets oscillate between fear and greed, Wall Street creates new products to solve the most recent problems. So long as investors continue to demand and pay for financial products that exceed reality, these talented professionals will make models that promise to redefine reality.

The post-tech bubble products were broadly labeled as alternative investments such as hedge funds, private equity, fund-of-funds, absolute value funds, market neutral funds, etc.

These were all highly profitable products for Wall Street that offered high expectations for greater profits at more controlled risks for the investor. Few of those profits were realized, especially after paying there exorbitant fees.

What will be the post-housing and subprime bubble products? Be assured, those new products are already in the R&D labs.

The Cure

We do not see greed and fear being controlled, and as such, we see no permanent cure for the WEBS Virus. The cycle will continue to repeat itself.

Uneducable investors will demand new products with promises of profits without the pain of the recent past. Wall Street will create those products and convince the institutional investors of their value.

The new and exciting products will work well initially, and the message will quickly spread from the institutional market to Main Street and around the world. The new financial products will eventually lose their luster and self-destruct.

However, successful investing is not about new and exciting financial products with promises of profits by slicing and dicing other financial products. It is about owning successful business enterprises that produce real profits by actually delivering something useful to their customers.

Successful, virus-free investors will (1) not fall victim to unreasonable promises; (2) demand transparency and understand the product; (3) minimize costs; (4) avoid the use of leverage; and (5) choose morals and substance over promises from talented product purveyors.

At CornerCap, the portfolios that we build and manage for clients meet those criteria. Even though encouraged to do so by others, we avoided leverage, hedge funds, illiquid private equity funds, subprime investments or any security concentrations.

Client success over time requires that risk be the principal focus. When the expectation of return is allowed to trump risk, the client will eventually be nailed by a Black Swan, i.e. an unpredictable financial disaster. However, the investment profession, our virus carrier, will have accumulated sufficient wealth to move on to the next virus strand.

To stay virus free investors will need to avoid those soon-to-come offerings that appear too good to be true.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Link Between Unexploded Munitions in Oceans and Cancer-Causing Toxins Determined

During a research trip to Puerto Rico, ecologist James Porter took samples from underwater nuclear bomb target USS Killen, expecting to find evidence of radioactive matter – instead he found a link to cancer. Data revealed that the closer corals and marine life were to unexploded bombs from the World War II vessel and the surrounding target range, the higher the rates of carcinogenic materials.

“Unexploded bombs are in the ocean for a variety of reasons – some were duds that did not explode, others were dumped in the ocean as a means of disposal,” said Porter. “And we now know that these munitions are leaking cancer-causing materials and endangering sea life.”

These findings will be presented at the Second International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions on February 25-27 in Honolulu. Data has been gathered since 1999 on the eastern end of the Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico – a land and sea area that was used as a naval gunnery and bombing range from 1943-2003. Research revealed that marine life including reef-building corals, feather duster worms and sea urchins closest to the bomb and bomb fragments had the highest levels of toxicity. In fact, carcinogenic materials were found in concentrations up to 100,000 times over established safe limits. This danger zone covered a span of up to two meters from the bomb and its fragments.

According to research conducted in Vieques, residents here have a 23% higher cancer rate than do Puerto Rican mainlanders. Porter said a future step will be “to determine the link from unexploded munitions to marine life to the dinner plate.”

While Porter believes every nation with a coastline has problems with unexploded munitions, there is a solution.

“With the creation of the Ordinance Recovery System, we now have a way to safely remove unexploded munitions,” he said.

The machine picks up unexploded bombs off the sea floor and delivers them safely to a lift basket for surface disposal or deep sea burial. It is operated remotely with proportional toggle switches that allow much more fine control of the delicate undersea operation than an on/off button. The system relies on an underwater hydraulic system designed James Barton, president of Underwater Ordinance Recovery, Inc., with the technical expertise of machinists at the UGA instrument shop.

“When you remove the bomb, you remove the problem – but you’ve got to pick it up,” said Porter.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rodriguez and Baseball: 'No Accountability'; 'Disgraceful' News Conference, Says Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Robert Weiner

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball are showing no accountability for A-Rod's now-admitted drug abuse," asserts former White House Drug Policy spokesman Robert Weiner, who worked on the creation of both WADA and USADA, the World and U.S. Anti-Doping Agencies.

Weiner, who was White House Drug Policy spokesman 1995-2001 and coordinated White House anti-drug media at the Sydney Olympics and WADA media at the Salt Lake Games, added, "In any Olympic sport, Rodriguez and the other 103 major league baseball players now known to test positive (of 600 tested) would be banned for at least two years starting now. There is rightly no tolerance for cheating -- which A-Rod pitifully would not even admit at his news conference that he had done. Why else except to cheat would he allow himself to be injected with steroids twice a month for three years?"

Weiner stated, "Rodriguez now apologizes to his teammates, youth, and parents, but what is the real message? He gets away with it. He looks forward to playing this season. He looks forward to the rest of his career. He refuses to say his records should be eliminated -- which the Olympics would also do.

"Baseball's drug policy is a sham. Unless Baseball bans Rodriguez for a significant amount of playing time, the real message to kids is... you can get away with it.

"When Barry Bonds still is getting away with dodging despite his admission of at least amphetamines and likely use of other banned substances, and A-Rod is getting away with whining without real consequence, it's essentially the public and fans be damned -- all that counts is tickets, TV viewers, and advertising revenue.

"Even for drugs that are clearly not performance-enhancing, like marijuana, Olympic sports enforce consequences of use: Michael Phelps was banned three months for his marijuana abuse. For performance-enhancing drug cheating, youth, parents, coaches, and trainers must understand that there is, as USA Track & Field's sports-leading policies provide, 'Zero Tolerance,'" concluded Weiner, a devoted masters track runner.

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Media Seen as the Primary Cause of the Depth and Length of the Global Recession, According to New Research From Frost & Sullivan

/PRNewswire/ -- In a recent survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, 91% of CEOs blame the breadth and depth of the current economic situation on the media.

"The media's manipulation of statistics, negativity, exaggeration, and doomsday forecasts have driven fear and panic among consumers and businesses alike," says David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan.

Economic statistics are often twisted and exaggerated. The fear of total economic collapse is perpetuated in the media to grab attention and sell more copies or attract more viewers or listeners. Because of this, consumers and business have frozen spending, canceled projects, sold investments, and laid off workers. This has caused a downward spiral in demand and pricing that has now caused about 20 trillion dollars of damage globally.

"As the media continues to perpetuate fear, uncertainty and doubt, there is a growing chance that it will result in a self-fulfilling prophecy," adds Frost & Sullivan Economist Sandeep Maheshwari.

What clearly started out with financial mismanagement and fraud on Wall Street has now escalated into a major global recession exacerbated by the media. According to Frost & Sullivan's research, CEOs cite how the media has continued to drive fear through efforts to gain more readers, viewers, and listeners. The ironic turn is that the media is also being victimized by the current recession, with declining audiences and falling ad revenues.

In the responses portion of the study, CEOs made several interesting comments:

-- "Several newspapers have compared the overall job losses to the Great Depression without taking into account the huge increase in U.S. population since that time. These comparisons only generate more fear and are counter-productive."

-- "Economists miss every turn in the economy. Why do we rely on their forecasts today when they are so unreliable? They move like a herd of antelope -- their current forecasts all fit nicely into a pack."

-- "I recently read a headline that said Microsoft will lay off 5,000 workers. At the end of the piece it mentioned it would be over a three year period. Compared to the overall size of Microsoft, this is not newsworthy."

We are now at a turning point. An unprecedented global stimulus plan and guaranteed programs are now in place. More than 8 trillion dollars globally is being pumped into the economy, along with trillions of dollars in guarantees. Retail sales, housing prices, existing home sales, and used car sales are all showing signs of strength. Interest rates are at historical lows and mortgage relief is in sight.

"All of these trends could signal the turning point if we change our outlook. The media, economists, politicians, bankers, and business executives could collectively turn the economy around by working simultaneously to restore confidence back into the system -- in turn, calming the public. It's time for us to give up on the doom and gloom," concludes Frigstad.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Partnership for Prevention: CDC Report Shows Compelling Need for FDA Regulation of Tobacco

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report on the cigarette brand preferences of middle and high school students demonstrates the need for Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco, Partnership for Prevention Interim President Corinne G. Husten, MD, MPH, said today.

"It's no accident that the most-advertised brand of cigarettes in history is also the favorite brand of high school and middle school students," Husten said. "Congress must move quickly to introduce and pass legislation giving FDA the authority to curtail advertising and promotional practices that appeal to underage youth."

The survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that Marlboro - the most heavily advertised brand of cigarettes - was the brand "usually smoked" by 52.3 percent of high school students and 43.3 percent of middle school students who regularly smoke. Cumulatively, the three most heavily advertised brands - Marlboro, Newport and Camel - were preferred by 78.2 percent of middle school smokers and 86.5 percent of high school smokers. Marlboro is manufactured by Altria, while Newport is made by Lorillard and Camel is sold by R.J. Reynolds.

"Altria and R.J. Reynolds must accept responsibility for their actions and end their advertising practices that appeal to children," Husten said. "Giving the FDA the power to regulate tobacco marketing would be a huge step to address one of the greatest public health threats facing American youth."

Husten said the report also underscored the need for increased funding for mass-media campaigns to counteract tobacco-industry marketing.

"Altria funds a campaign it claims is intended to discourage youth smoking," she said. "But data have shown that such campaigns by the tobacco industry actually increase youth tobacco use."

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Salmonella Recalls: Don't be Afraid, be Informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration advise consumers not to eat peanut products made with peanut butter or peanut paste made at the Peanut Corporation of America facility in Blakely, Ga. More than 1,300 products ranging from cookies and ice cream to trail mix and pet food have been recalled due to a nation-wide salmonella outbreak connected to the facility.

Elizabeth Andress, food safety specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, offers advice on how to handle the outbreak:

What should I do with peanut products in my cabinets?

Hold on to unexpired foods not on the recall list until you know more. If you don’t see a product on the recall list you can double check by visiting the company’s Web site or calling customer service. Many companies have disclosure statements on the Web letting consumers know if they have not purchased products from Peanut Corporation of America. If you have some products that don’t show up on the recall list, and manufacturer Web sites don’t reveal where the nuts came from, hang on to them until we learn more. However, if you have a family with children who may grab snacks without asking, you may have to make different choices about whether to keep them in cabinets.

Where can I find a list of recalls?

Check with the FDA’s information line (888-723-3366) or CDC’s consumer information hotline (800-232-4636) for questions. Or go online for a complete list of all products affected:

What should I do with recalled products?

Take products back to the store where you purchased them. Most stores are offering refunds. Some recalled products, like those sold as fundraisers, can’t be returned to stores. You can also contact the manufacturer and request a refund. Unlike a salmonella scare from chicken and eggs, the peanut-related products involved in the recall cannot be heated to kill the bacteria. So, your only real protection is to discard the item in question. Be sure to wash your hands after touching a contaminated product.

What is safe?

All major brands of peanut butter sold in consumer packages are not affected. But, some in-store, grind-your-own peanut butter supplies may be tainted. If eating out, ask your waiter or chef if certain foods contain peanuts and learn the source of those nuts. If they can’t tell you, you may want to make another choice. The American Peanut Council has a list of safe products on their Web site at According to the list, M&Ms, Reese’s, Snickers, Girl Scout Cookies and Lance crackers are all safe to eat, as well as many other products.

Should I check all food labels?

Yes. Read product labels for peanut ingredients. Some common foods that contain peanuts and peanut products are baked goods such as cakes, cookies and pie and pastry crusts; breakfast cereals, including granolas; candy, especially chocolates and nougat; chili and pasta sauces; crackers; ethnic cuisines, especially African, Chinese, Thai and Mexican; ice creams and frozen yogurts; trail mix; and seasoning mixes.

What is salmonella? Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Foods may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected person who does not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.

What are symptoms of salmonella posioning? If you think you’ve gotten sick from eating a contaminated product, contact your doctor. You will usually experience vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after exposure. This can last about 4 to 7 days without treatment other than fluids to combat dehydration. Infants, elderly individuals and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer severe infections that can spread from intestines into the blood stream and can lead to death.

How do I treat salmonella poisoning?

Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated. People with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids. People who have salmonellosis should not prepare food or pour water for others until the diarrhea has cleared up.

Are there long-term consequences to a salmonella infection?

Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of people with salmonella develop pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes and painful urination. This is called Reiter's syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether the person develops arthritis.

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

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Consumer Safety and Product Performance of Micronized Copper Technology Confirmed

/PRNewswire/ -- On Feb. 9, 2009 in a negative public relations document apparently intended to scare users of treated wood, Charlotte, NC-based Viance criticized the effectiveness of micronized copper wood preservatives. "Viance is once again attempting to create unfounded concerns about consumer safety and product performance, using statistically insignificant and suspect data," said Paul Goydan, President of Osmose, Inc.

Extensive laboratory and extended field testing have confirmed the effectiveness of micronized preservatives. Several world renowned scientists have confirmed the strong performance of this technically advanced preservative technology and have published their comprehensive findings, which support the micronized technology's efficacy in providing wood protection for both above ground and ground contact applications.

So why this unfounded attack by a competitor? An attack based on an insignificant sample of a few posts selected by this competitor -- out of the millions of posts in service? One might conclude the competition has not been able to create a viable alternative product to compete with our patent pending technology and the ever-increasing market penetration of the micronized copper preservative systems. Rather than offering similarly advanced technology, they have resorted to needlessly alarming the public.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poll: Most Teens Think They Can Make Ethical Business Decisions, Yet Many Also Believe It Is Okay to Lie and Cheat

/PRNewswire/ -- In large numbers, teens today express a troubling contradiction when it comes to ethical readiness for the workforce. At the same time they express confidence in their preparedness to make the right choices in the future, they freely admit to unethical behavior today. Those are among the key findings of a new national poll from Junior Achievement and Deloitte, the results of which reveal considerable ethical confusion among teens regarding what types of behavior are appropriate in order to succeed.

Key Findings:

-- Eighty percent of teens either somewhat or strongly agree that they
are prepared to make ethical business decisions when they join the
workforce, yet more than a third (38 percent) think that you have to
break the rules at school to succeed.

-- More than one in four teens (27 percent) think behaving violently is
sometimes, often or always acceptable. Twenty percent of respondents
said they had personally behaved violently toward another person in
the past year, and 41 percent reported a friend had done so.

-- Nearly half (49 percent) of those who say they are ethically prepared
believe that lying to parents and guardians is acceptable, and 61
percent have done so in the past year.

-- Teens feel more accountable to themselves (86 percent) than they do to
their parents or guardians (52 percent), their friends (41 percent) or
society (33 percent).

-- Only about half (54 percent) cite their parents as role models. Most
of those who don't cite their parents as role models are turning to
their friends or said they didn't have a role model.

-- Only 25 percent said they would be "very likely" to reveal knowledge
of unethical behavior in the workplace.

What the Findings Mean:

-- Teens' feelings about accountability, coupled with self-reported
unethical behavior, raise a potential concern among employers because
ties within a community, school, work environment or social network
often guide behavior. If teens lack accountability to others, the data
suggests that their choices may be driven purely by self-interest and
not by interest in the greater good.
-- An absence of adult role models can leave a vacuum of ethical guidance
as young people enter adulthood. With a significant number of teens
reporting they don't have an adult role model for ethical behavior,
the data raises even more questions about why adults are not viewed as
role models and what can be done to fill the gap.
-- Teens seem to be experiencing a sense of ethical confusion and
relativism -- an endemic ethical attitude of "the ends justify the
means." Given that in a few years these same individuals will be
performing our hospital lab tests, repairing our cars, teaching our
children and investing our money, the survey results raise concerns
for employers about how ethically prepared their future workforce will

What Is the Solution?

-- To provide tools to teens to help them become better ethically
prepared, Junior Achievement and Deloitte offer "JA Business
Ethics(TM)" as part of a $2 million initiative.

-- "JA Business Ethics" was developed in response to the needs of high
school students; it provides hands-on classroom activities and
real-life applications designed to foster ethical decision making as
students prepare to enter the workforce. Students examine how their
beliefs align with major ethics theories and learn the benefits and
advantages of having a code of ethics.

-- Additionally, Junior Achievement recently updated the original
"Excellence through Ethics(TM)" program, which is available online at free of charge and provides age-appropriate lessons
for students in grades 4-12.


-- Attributable to David W. Miller, Ph.D., director of the Princeton
University Faith & Work Initiative and professor of business ethics at
Princeton University:

"There is a troubling incongruence between the degree to which teens feel ethically prepared to enter the workforce, and the unethical behaviors in which they engage. The survey results do prompt concerns about teens' future workplace behavior and forecast serious challenges to businesses around how they will need to prepare and train these future leaders."

-- Attributable to Sean C. Rush, president and chief executive officer of
JA Worldwide:

"The results of the survey reveal considerable ethical relativism among teens and raises questions about their ability to make good decisions later in life. We're understandably concerned about these results but recognize that they do point to a major learning opportunity."

-- Attributable to Ainar D. Aijala, global consulting leader, Deloitte,
and Chairman of JA Worldwide:

"Teens need training in ethical decision making, practical tools and role models that help them understand not only how to make the right choices, but how those choices will impact their personal success and the success of the organizations they join. That is why Deloitte continues to support ethics education in collaboration with Junior Achievement."

Related Links:
Junior Achievement's online Ethics Center
Downloadable Photos
Related News
Ainar D. Aijala bio
Sean Rush bio
David W. Miller, Ph.D. bio


This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, among a national sample of 750 teens comprising 375 males and 375 females 12 to 17 years of age, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this TEEN CARAVAN(R) Survey was completed during the period October 9-12, 2008. The survey's margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Teaching Both the Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While Texas is reconsidering the longstanding "strengths and weaknesses" language in their science standards, a new national poll shows that over 78% of likely voters agree with teaching both the evidence for and against Darwin's theory, a trend that continues to grow. Surprisingly, the poll also shows overwhelming support among self-identified Democrats and liberals for academic freedom to discuss the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution.

The number of Americans who support teaching both sides, as the Texas science standards have encouraged for over twenty years, has increased, as more now agree that when biology teachers teach the scientific evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it.

"This represents a dramatic 9-point jump from 2006, when only 69% of respondents in a similar poll favored teaching both sides," said Discovery Institute's Dr. John West. "At the same time, the number of likely voters who support teaching only the evidence that favors evolution dropped 7 points from 21% in 2006 to 14.4% in 2009."

"We need to change Darwin Day to Academic Freedom Day because just when Darwinists are celebrating evolution's triumph, this poll shows that they have been losing the public debate over whether students need to hear both sides," added West. "There appears to be a public backlash against the strong-arm tactics being employed by many Darwinists to intimidate scientists, teachers, and students who want to raise criticisms of Darwin's theory."

The poll results also shatter some preconceptions about who supports letting students hear a balanced presentation on Darwinian evolution, with Democrats supporting teaching Darwinism's "strengths and weaknesses" even more overwhelmingly than Republicans, at 82% and 73%, respectively.

Added West: "Media reports insinuate that a right-wing conspiracy of know nothings and religious extremists is afoot. But the Zogby poll reflects a very broad-based and well-informed constituency for academic freedom that includes liberals, moderates, independents, and people from every race and age group. The Darwin Lobby has really isolated itself from public opinion."

The telephone poll, commissioned by Discovery Institute and conducted Jan. 29-31, surveyed over 1,000 likely voters and has a +/-3.1% margin of error.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Families, School Groups Urged to Take E. coli Precautions on Trips to Livestock Shows, Petting Zoos

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eating contaminated food is still far and away the most common way for people to become infected with E. coli O157:H7, a deadly pathogen that sickens more than 70,000 Americans each year.

But national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen Attorneys is reminding families early in 2009 that contact with animals at livestock shows, petting zoos and other exhibits is another proven way for the organism to travel.

The law firm's warning stems from a current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Colorado. Health officials there are investigating an apparent connection between a growing number of genetically matched infections and attendance at the recent Western National Stock Show in Denver.

According to numerous press reports, at least 20 people who live on the Front Range in Colorado have been infected with the same strain of E. coli. Sixteen of the illnesses are in children who attended the animal exhibit, including a child who is 17 months old. The two-week show drew more than 643,000 attendees before it ended January 25 and health officials expect the number of E. coli O157:H7 infections in the current outbreak to grow.

"This outbreak should not have happened and could have been prevented," said Fred Pritzker, founder and president of PritzkerOlsen. "When stock shows encourage or permit public contact with animals, there is a well known risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection and equally well known measures that should be in place to prevent such infections."

Pritzker said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV) published a compendium of such infection prevention measures almost four years ago.

"Although the matter is still under investigation, it seems likely that rules of this sort were not implemented or followed," he said.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a rare variety of E. coli that produces a toxin that causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine. Specifically, the acute disease caused by E. coli O157:H7 is hemorrhagic colitis. E. coli O157:H7 can also result in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the United States.

With the understanding that children are more at risk for being seriously injured or killed by E. coli O157:H7 infection, it is imperative for families and school groups to take precautions while attending petting zoos, livestock shows and other animal exhibits. Based on guidelines set by the CDC and the National Ag Safety Database, PritzkerOlsen presents the following strategies to reduce the risk of E. coli transmission in settings with animals:

* Locate hand-washing stations and always wash your hands after being in an area with animals, even if you don't touch them. Bacteria can be spread by shaking hands, touching railings or coming in contact with soil.
* Running water and soap are best for hand washing. Where there is no running water, hand sanitizing gel is better than nothing.
* Don't consume food or drinks in any area shared with animals.
* Older adults, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and young children should be extra careful.
* Avoid hand-mouth activities such as smoking, drinking or nail biting in any area shared with animals.
* Do not eat or drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or other dairy products.
* Children younger than 5 years old need adult supervision around animals.
* Never allow children to put their hands, toys, pacifiers or other objects in their mouths while around animals.
* Supervise the hand washing of children.
* Even after hand washing, be aware that exposure to E. coli O157:H7 can come from shoes, contaminated clothing or even strollers that were in areas shared with animals.

PritzkerOlsen currently is representing victims of the nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter and peanut products made by Peanut Corporation of America at a plant in Blakely, Georgia. The Minneapolis-based firm is representing the families of two Minnesota women who died in the outbreak after consuming contaminated peanut butter served on toast.

In one case, Pritzker already has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Peanut Corporation of America and King Nut Companies, a peanut butter distributor.

PritzkerOlsen has considerable experience and a reputation for success in representing survivors of foodborne illnesses, including E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Shigella. The firm is involved in virtually every national outbreak and has collected large sums on behalf of people injured or killed by adulterated food.

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Hidden Danger in Your Backyard

/PRNewswire/ -- Findings on 4x4 posts at residential locations reveal dramatic evidence that wood treated with micronized copper preservative(MCQ(TM)) is decaying more rapidly than anticipated. These decay findings raise serious concerns about the structural integrity and safety of outdoor structures, such as decks and fencing, built with micronized copper preservatives within the last three years.

"We are very concerned about the safety of possibly millions of consumers whose decks and other structures were built with micronized copper-treated wood because the wood may be subject to early failure and possible collapse," said Steve Ainscough, president and CEO of Viance, a leading provider of wood preservation technologies that refuses to offer micronized copper preservatives due to ongoing concerns about the technology.

Residential Findings in Southeastern U.S. Show Evidence of Significant Decay

Today's announcement is based on Viance's in-service findings of decay on 4x4 posts located in multiple residential locations near Atlanta, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Timber Products Inspection (TP), a leading independent and accredited wood products inspection and testing organization in the United States, supervised the identification, extraction and testing of the decaying posts at these locations.

TP's reports describe numerous posts receiving a rating of "less than sound" on the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) rating scale. The decaying posts from these multiple subdivisions were rated at "9.5," "9" and "8" on the AWPA's scale of 1 to 10. One post removed from the Georgia location was rated a "7," which the AWPA defines as having moderate to severe attack with 10 to 30% of the cross sectional area subject to decay. A decay rating of 7 or below is considered unserviceable by the building industry. TP verified that the average preservative penetration and retentions for the samples examined met the current retention requirements outlined in the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) requirements for MCQ products. The TP report is available in it's entirety at Viance's website; Furthermore, TP's reports indicate that the decay is present in the outside zones of the posts below the ground line, to a depth of nearly one inch on some posts.

According to Lee Gjovik, a widely published independent wood scientist, "Any decay on a post that's only been in service for less than two years represents a significant amount of unexpected decay. Decay ratings of 9.0 or 9.5 should not occur until after many years of service."

"Another cause for concern," explains Ainscough, "is that the decay we're seeing is below the line of sight where consumers may not be able to see or properly inspect the posts. A post's strength comes primarily from the outer surface of the post, and it is also in this area that the preservatives are present and must prevent decay. The hidden or buried portion of a post must have preservatives that work and prevent decay or the post and structures will fail."

These recent decay findings corroborate the results of Viance's ongoing field tests, which were presented to the lumber and building products industries in the spring of 2008 and can be downloaded in their entirety at

An Overview Of Today's Technologies

Micronized copper-treated wood products were first introduced to the marketplace in 2006. The manufacturers of micronized copper preservatives, Osmose(R), Arch(R) Wood Protection and PhibroWood(R), have not submitted any of these products to the AWPA for review or standardization. Micronized copper wood preservatives are sold to U.S. builders and consumers through more than 5,000 lumberyards and some leading national home center chains.

Viance remains committed to providing its customers with high quality, industry standardized preservatives, such as Preserve(R) ACQ(R) and Ecolife(R) Stabilized, Weather-Resistant Wood, and ongoing information, testing and investigations regarding the performance of micronized copper-treated products.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

CPSC Spells Out Enforcement Policy For New Lead Limits In Children's Products Effective February 10

Starting on February 10, 2009, consumer products intended for children 12 and under cannot have more than 600 parts per million of lead in any accessible part. This new safety requirement is a key component of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) aimed at further reducing children's exposure to lead.

In an effort to provide clear and reasonable guidance to those impacted by this important law, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing its enforcement policy on the lead limits established by the CPSIA.

Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:

*Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling

**a children's product to the extent that it is made of certain natural materials, such as wood, cotton, wool, or certain metals and alloys which the Commission has recognized rarely, if ever, contain lead;

**an ordinary children's book printed after 1985; or

**dyed or undyed textiles (not including leather, vinyl or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children's apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.

(The Commission generally will not prosecute someone for making, selling or distributing items in these categories even if it turns out that such an item actually contains more than 600 ppm lead.)

Sellers will not be immune from prosecution if CPSC's Office of Compliance finds that someone had actual knowledge that one of these children's products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice. Agency staff will seek recalls of violative children's products or other corrective actions, where appropriate.

*Issue an interim final rule effective February 10, 2009, which establishes alternative lead limits for certain electronic devices, in order to prevent unnecessary removal of certain children's products from store shelves.

*Accept a manufacturer's determination that a lead-containing part on their product is inaccessible to a child and not subject to the new lead limits, if it is consistent with the Commission's proposed guidance or is based on a reasonable reading of the inaccessibility requirement. Paint and other coatings or electroplating are not considered barriers that make a component inaccessible.

This enforcement policy will remain in effect until superseded by action of the Commission.

CPSC still expects companies to meet their reporting obligation under federal law and immediately tell the Commission if they learn of a children's product that exceeds the new lead limits starting on February 10, 2009. Companies also should know that the CPSIA generally prohibits the export for sale of children's products that exceed the new lead limits.

As announced on January 30, 2009, the Commission approved a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification requirements for manufacturers and importers. Significant to makers of children's products, the 'stay' provides limited relief from the testing and certification for total lead content limits, phthalates limits for certain products and mandatory toy standards. Manufacturers and importers - large and small - of children's products will not need to test or certify to these new requirements, but will still need to meet the lead and phthalates limits, mandatory toy standards and other requirements. Certification based on testing by an accredited laboratory is still required for painted children's products and soon will be required for children's metal jewelry, as well as certain other products for non-lead issues.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Little Cigar Consumption On the Rise, While Cigarette Use Declines

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data from the Maxwell Report indicates a dramatic increase in the use of cigarillos and little cigars over the past decade, a troubling trend given the popularity of these products with young adults (ages 18-25) and the African American community. According to the data, over a 10-year period from 1997-2007, little cigar consumption increased 240 percent, while cigarillos increased by almost 150 percent. Meanwhile, cigarette consumption has declined by about 25 percent over the same 10 year period.

"These numbers are extremely concerning. Little cigars and cigarillos are obviously a serious public health threat and there is evidence that they are popular among young adults and minorities," said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, President and CEO of American Legacy Foundation. "While much effort has been focused over the past decade on increasing awareness about cigarettes and the dangers of smoking, cigar products have emerged as a profitable product while remaining taxed at a much lower rate and consumers are taking the bait," she added. Low prices, candy flavors, marketing promoting affluence and hip hop culture as well as the fact that these products can be sold individually as "loosies" may be factors that make little cigars so popular among youth and young adults. Healton points out that today's announcement of a federal tax increase on these emerging products may help to curb the consumption.

Under the newly signed State Children's Health Insurance Plan law (SCHIP) signed by President Obama [today], taxes will increase not only on cigarettes -- a major victory for public health advocates -- but on cigar products as well. Little cigars will now be taxed at $1.01 per pack, and cigarillos and large cigars will have an increase from $.05 to $.40.

"For years there has been an established correlation between increased taxes on tobacco and a decrease in consumption rates. This is especially true among price-sensitive youth and young adults," Healton said. "The signing of SCHIP into law is indeed a momentous victory for the public health community on several fronts."

Little Cigars

Little cigars -- which look like cigarettes but are wrapped in tobacco leaf -- were once an almost invisible product and have grown exponentially in popularity.

In May of 2006, attorneys general around the country filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to ask the federal agency to close a loophole allowing tobacco manufacturers to pass off their cigarettes in brown wrappers as "little cigars." Under these rules, the tobacco companies were able to classify their own products in a way that defeats public health and marketing restrictions that would otherwise apply to cigarettes. Some suggest that with the current economic crisis, even the most loyal traditional cigarette smoker may begin to use little cigars or cigarillos to save money.


Cigarillos are longer, slimmer versions of a large cigar and are currently available in a variety of flavors, including apple, cream and wine, which may be more appealing to youth. While sold in packs they are individually wrapped and often sold individually at a much lower cost than a pack. Additionally, many state and local laws do not have minimum pack size requirements for cigars -- unlike cigarettes. Research shows cigar products' popularity and sales are rising, particularly with young adults and in urban communities of color.

Philip Morris which acquired John Middleton as of (Nov 1, 2007) is the manufacturer of "Black & Mild." Black & Mild is among the most popular cigar brand for young adults today.

This issue holds great significance in the U.S. as Black History Month is observed throughout the month of February and the contributions of the nation's African American leaders is celebrated.

The American Legacy Foundation, the national non-profit organization dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit, and that created the truth(R) youth smoking prevention campaign, has been working with the National Association of Attorneys General and John Hopkins University to monitor and bring attention to the rising health risks associated with little cigar consumption.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth(R), a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX(R), an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use; and a nationally-renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

CEA’s Shapiro Responds to House Action to Change DTV Transition Deadline to June 12, 2009

TT Note: Why did the government step in on this issue? Education of the public has been ongoing for over a year, and now the feds say there hasn't been enough time for about 6.5 million families to get ready?

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®) President and CEO, Gary Shapiro today issued the following statement regarding the action in the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the date U.S. broadcasters transition from analog to digital television (DTV):

“Our nation is leading the world in the digital migration, and CEA again pledges full support for a successful transition to digital television. We will quickly update our consumer education material as necessary and we will devote a significant portion of our Washington Forum event in April to DTV education.

“As CEA has repeatedly cautioned, this date change will inject uncertainty into the market and may result in a shortage of converter boxes, because manufacturers and retailers planned box inventory based on a February 17 transition date. CEA urges Congress and the Administration to take the necessary steps to ensure converter box availability and to urge consumers to act immediately to enjoy the benefits of DTV.”

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

FDA Urges Consumers Not to Eat Hundreds of Products Recalled Because of Contaminated Peanuts and Peanut Ingredients

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- So far more than 500 cases of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported. Many of these cases have required hospitalization. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed that the sources of this outbreak are peanut products from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA sells peanuts, peanut butter, peanut paste, peanut granules and peanut meal, all of which have been recalled

Although none of these PCA products were sold directly to the public, they can potentially sicken consumers because they are used by institutions, the food service industry, and by many companies as ingredients in hundreds of food products, including cookies, crackers and other baked goods, candies, snack bars and snack mixes, fruit and vegetable products with peanut butter, ice cream, and pet foods.

Major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores are not affected by the PCA recall.

Companies are recalling their products that contain peanut ingredients from PCA. FDA urges consumers not to eat products that have been recalled or feed them to their pets, and to throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them. To help consumers identify these recalled products, FDA has created a searchable database which can be found at Identification of products subject to recall is continuing and this database is updated frequently. The database is sorted by product category, such as cookies, snack bars, etc., or it can be searched by brand name, UPC code, product description (example: crackers with peanut butter), or any combination of brand, UPC code and description. Persons who do not have access to the Internet can get this information by calling FDA's information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or CDC's information line at 1-800-CDC-INFO. The CDC line is staffed 24 hours every day.

If a product is not in FDA's list of recalled products, consumers can check the company's Web site or call the toll-free number listed on most packaging. Information consumers may receive from the companies in this manner has not been verified by FDA.

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Green Tea May Negate the Effects of a Common Cancer Therapy

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Green tea products have become regarded as a valuable health supplement, as studies have shown evidence of its benefit against a variety of diseases, including cancer. However, a new study suggests that some components of green tea may counteract the anticancer effects of one cancer therapy, bortezomib (Velcade(R)), and may be contraindicated for patients taking this medicine to ensure its maximum therapeutic benefit. This study is being prepublished online today in Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Because of its increasing popularity and availability to the public in many formulations, green tea has been increasingly studied to understand its effect on cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. In animal studies, an antioxidant compound in green tea called the EGCG polyphenol (epigallocatechin gallate) has been shown to be a potent anticancer agent, with effects demonstrated against leukemia, as well as lung, prostate, colon, and breast cancer. Among other properties, EGCG binds to a common protein in tumors called GRP78 (which is responsible for preventing cell death) and inhibits its function, thereby assisting in the death of tumor cells.

"We know that cancer patients look to green tea extracts among other natural supplements to complement their therapeutic regimens. We wanted to better understand how the compounds in green tea interact with a cytotoxic chemical therapy and how that may affect patient outcomes," said Axel Schonthal, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and senior study author.

In this study, researchers evaluated whether the combination of green tea and bortezomib would improve outcomes against multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. Bortezomib, an anticancer therapy approved to treat multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, normally fights disease by inhibiting proteasomes and inducing tumor cell death. However, in both in vitro and in vivo mouse experiments, the team was surprised to find that the EGCG compound seemed to prevent bortezomib from fighting the disease by blocking its proteasome inhibitory function -- the two compounds effectively contradicted one another in the cell, leaving nearly 100 percent of the tumor cells intact.

Importantly, the team found that EGCG only reacted with proteasome inhibitors that have a boronic acid base (including bortezomib) but did not react with several non-boronic acid-based proteasome inhibitors (such as nelfinavir [Viracept(R)], a treatment for HIV). The researchers determined that the boronic acid in bortezomib helped to bind the EGCG directly to the therapy molecule, thereby cancelling out the effects of both the green tea and the therapy on the tumor cells.

The study findings may have several important implications in the clinical setting. The EGCG blocked bortezomib's antitumor effects at levels that are commonly achieved with the use of available concentrated green tea supplements (as low as 2.5 micromolars -- which can be attained with two to three 250 mg capsules of green tea extract) suggesting the impact is very real for patients supplementing their therapy. The team also believes that as the EGCG inactivates bortezomib's function in the tumor cell, it may also prevent some of the side effects that usually accompany the therapy. As a result, patients taking green tea products to supplement their therapy may experience improved well being and feel encouraged to increase their intake while unknowingly blunting or completely negating the efficacy of their bortezomib treatment.

"Our surprising results indicate that green tea polyphenols may have the potential to negate the therapeutic efficacy of bortezomib," said Dr. Schonthal. "The current evidence is sufficient enough to strongly urge patients undergoing bortezomib therapy to abstain from consuming green tea products, in particular the widely available, highly concentrated green tea and EGCG products that are sold in liquid or capsule form."

The findings of the study are considered specific for patients taking bortezomib as opposed to any other common cancer therapy. The analysis of the study offered a clear understanding of the boronic acid-related mechanisms that cause the negative outcome, offering the conclusion that green tea would counteract most, if not all, compounds that work with boronic acid. However, while there are many chemicals that contain boronic acid, few are being used with patients.

"Although the study has exposed detrimental effects of green tea in specific combination with Velcade, this should not minimize the previously reported potentially beneficial effect of this herb," said Dr. Schonthal. "Related studies with other types of cancer therapies are promising and green tea extract may actually improve the anticancer effects of other drugs."

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Got High Cholesterol? Statins Are Not the Only Answer, Says Natural Solutions Magazine

/PRNewswire/ -- Eleven million people are currently lowering their cholesterol with statins -- and that number continues to climb as doctors prescribe these pharmaceuticals to those with normal cholesterol as a preventive measure. But these powerful drugs have many side effects, some of which are permanent. Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living's February issue, on newsstands now, explores these side effects and describes healthy lifestyle choices and alternatives to statins.

"Medical experts agree that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains is the key to keeping cholesterol low," said Natural Solutions' editor-in-chief, Linda Sparrowe. "Lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthier diet, taking certain supplements, and exercising regularly, can be challenging at first, but why not do what we can before resorting to drugs that may have negative effects?"

The article, "The Scary Truth About Statins," reveals some of the major side effects that come with statin drugs. Of particular concern to doctors are muscle and joint pain -- a primary reason why many people stop taking the drugs -- and neurological and cognitive function. Women should be aware of the elevated risk of breast cancer from taking statins.

The article also recommends taking three to six months (with a doctor's OK) to lose weight, especially around the middle, and begin an exercise program before starting statins. Certain supplements may also help: niacin lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol; the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation, thus lowering cholesterol; and red yeast rice extract, a fermented food, may lower cholesterol as well as a statin but without the side effects. Another article titled "The Heart Healthy Diet" offers several low- or no-cholesterol recipes, including dark chocolate and date truffles, vegetable frittata, and grilled cod with black bean-mango salsa.

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