Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Shopping Tips

This holiday season the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reminding people that cyber criminals continue to aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, and sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at a discounted price.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales

Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else's stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

As for product delivery, unfamiliar Web sites or individuals selling reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites many times are deemed to be fraudulent. In many instances, these Web sites or sellers provide shipping labels to their customers as a service. However, the delivery service providers are ultimately not being paid to deliver the package; therefore, packages shipped by the victims using these labels are intercepted by delivery service providers because they are identified as fraudulent.

Diligently check each seller's rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100% positive feedback, if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam

Be careful about purchasing gift cards from auction sites or through classified ads. If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases.

Phishing and Smishing Schemes

Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate where any personal information you provide, such as account number and PIN, will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed Web site. A spoofed Web site is a fake site or copy of a real Web site and misleads the recipient into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer's computers.


Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

* Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
* Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
* Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files
may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Virus scan the attachments
if possible.
* Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
* Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and
determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
* Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail,
instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to
be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently,
your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper
contact information.
* Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail
is genuine.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lung Cancer Alliance-Georgia Issues 4th Annual State-Specific Report Card on Lung Cancer

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, Lung Cancer Alliance-Georgia (LCA-GA) issued the 4th Annual Report Card on Lung Cancer. This Report is an assessment of progress being made against this lethal disease in the state of Georgia. LCA-GA is a chapter of Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), the only national organization dedicated exclusively to patient support and advocacy for people living with or at risk for lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths nationally, as well as among Georgian men and women, resulting in 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the state. This year alone, 6,150 Georgians will be diagnosed and 4,660 will die from the disease -- more than the combined total of breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

"Despite these alarming statistics, the Georgia legislature and Georgia Cancer Coalition are still ignoring lung cancer and its impact on citizens throughout the state," said Ed Levitt, LCA-GA Chair. "State funding for lung cancer prevention, early detection, better treatments and research must increase if we are going to see a reduction in mortality rates in Georgia."

The LCA-GA 2009 Report Card on Lung Cancer uses six categories to annually grade progress in key benchmarks areas, in order to alert Georgian public health and public policy leaders and state residents to what needs to be done to address lung cancer appropriately. No grade was above a "D" for the fourth straight year in Georgia.

"The problem is clear and it is time to make a change," concluded Levitt. "LCA-GA will ensure that Georgia and its outstanding hospitals and research centers play a major role in the effort to improve lung cancer outcomes."

For more information on the services provided by the Lung Cancer Alliance or to view the complete LCA-GA 2009 Report Card on Lung Cancer, visit the new LCA-GA web pages:

Lung Cancer Alliance is the only national non-profit organization solely dedicated to patient support and advocacy for people living with, or at risk for, lung cancer. Lung Cancer Alliance is committed to leading the movement to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering those with or at risk for the disease, elevating awareness, and changing health policy.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Using New Technique, Scientists Find 11 Times More Aftershocks for 2004 Quake

Using a technique normally used for detecting weak tremors, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that the 2004 magnitude 6 earthquake along the Parkfield section of the San Andreas fault exhibited almost 11 times more aftershocks than previously thought. The research appears online in Nature Geoscience and will appear in print in a forthcoming edition.

“We found almost 11 times more events in the first three days after the main event. That’s surprising because this is a well-instrumented place and almost 90 percent of the activity was not being determined or reported,” said Zhigang Peng, assistant professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

In examining how these aftershocks occurred, Peng and graduate research assistant Peng Zhao discovered that the earliest aftershocks occurred in the region near the main event. Then with time, the aftershocks started migrating. Seeing how the aftershocks move from the center of the quake outward lends credence to the idea that it’s the result of the fault creeping, said Peng.

“Basically, the big event happens due to sudden fault movement, but the fault doesn’t stop after the main event. It continues to move because the stress has been perturbed and the fault is trying to adjust itself. We believe this so-called fault creep is causing most of the aftershocks,” he said.

Peng and Zhao used a method known as the matched filter technique, rather than the standard technique to examine the aftershocks. The traditional way of determining a location of an earthquake is that a human analyst has to go through each seismic recording, determine the order of events and their location. This takes time and if there are many events, or if some of them occur at the same time, it’s hard for the analyst to figure out which came first.

“Because of these difficulties, only the largest aftershocks are located, with many small ones missing. So, we used the matched filter technique because it allows us to use a computer to automatically scan the seismic records to detect events when their patterns are similar. There is no need to manually pick out the aftershocks after the mainshock,” said Peng.

The team chose the 2004 Parkfield quake to test the matched filter technique because the quake is on the San Andreas fault. The San Andreas is one of the most heavily instrumented places in the world, owing to the famous Parkfield, California, earthquake prediction experiment in the 1980s.

Peng is currently using the matched filter technique to work with several other research groups to detect early aftershocks of recent large earthquakes in Japan and China.

By David Terraso

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Commentary: No Turkey and Gravy

As families gather for Thanksgiving this week, we should consider that in just a decade Georgia has deteriorated from average (ranking 22nd) to 4th highest for food insecurity in the nation.

One in seven Georgia households experienced food insecurity during 2006-2008, according to a report released last week by the USDA. The share of Georgia households lacking resources for adequate meals rose from 10.9 percent during 1996-1998 to 14.2 percent during 2006-2008.

These sobering numbers highlight the importance of focusing solutions on combating hunger and poverty in our communities.

How do we do this? Communities across the state are providing support to hungry families through local food banks and pantries to address just this issue. In metro Atlanta, for example, the Atlanta Community Food Bank has distributed 24 percent more pounds of food through October of this year compared to the same period last year to meet the growing need.

Beyond local responses and resources, another important tool is public policy. By thoughtful budgeting and policymaking, the state government and local advocates have a powerful opportunity to reduce the number of Georgians experiencing food insecurity.

For example, expanding participation rates within the federally funded nutrition programs, especially among the unemployed, should be a top priority. Food stamps, school lunches and breakfasts, and summer programs will reach more than one million Georgians this year, providing critical resources for nutritious meals. Additional benefits are available through the federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in February, increasing food stamp benefits by 13.6 percent and sending more than $650 million to Georgia tables over the next five years.

However, many more families remain eligible for federal nutrition assistance but are not enrolled. Participation levels in federal food aid programs in Georgia range from only 11 percent to 68 percent, and hit children -- the very people who need adequate nutrition in order to develop their brains and bodies, and the ones least able to advocate for themselves -- worst of all.

The state needs skilled staff to reach and qualify residents who can benefit from the millions of untapped dollars in federal nutrition assistance available to Georgians. Although the federal stimulus package includes funds for state food stamp eligibility workers, lawmakers have chosen to furlough already-stretched eligibility workers to address the daunting loss of state revenues.

Moreover, the Georgia Department of Human Services plans to layoff 733 federal benefit eligibility workers in the coming year if the governor requires an additional 3 percent cut in services, as he states in his contingency plan. When stimulus funds begin expiring next year, programs serving the elderly such as the Meals on Wheels will also be in danger.

At a time when more families are struggling with hunger and food pantries are stressed to the limit, we must all ensure public efforts are not diminished. Donations to food pantries are an essential ingredient, but they must be combined with thoughtful public policy and budgeting. Georgia has made great strides in reducing hunger in the past -- we must do so again.

By Sarah Beth Gehl

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Fort Benning, Georgia: Thousands Speak Out Against the School of the Americas and for Human Rights in the Americas

/PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of solidarity activists gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia in a funeral procession commemorating the hundreds of thousands killed and tortured by graduates of the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

Four demonstrators carried their witness across military lines and were arrested on Ft. Benning: Nancy Gwin of Syracuse, NY; Ken Hayes of Austin, TX; Fr. Louis Vitale of Oakland, CA; and Michael Walli of Washington, DC. Walli remains in custody and the other three are currently being released on bail, to face trial in January 2010. None of those responsible for SOA/WHINSEC crimes have ever been held accountable, while 286 peace and justice activists have served up to 2 years in prison for their acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

On Sunday morning, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), announced that SOA Watch and founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois have been nominated by the Quaker organization for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. "We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

Following the procession, several hundred activists marched together, risking arrest, into the street beyond the confines of the protest to carry their message of resistance and people power further.

The weekend has been a tremendous success for all those struggling against militarism across the Americas.

Bertha Oliva from the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared from Honduras was one of the featured speakers this weekend. Several SOA Watch activists, including Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch's Latin America Coordinator, will accompany her when she returns to Honduras in order to stay in solidarity with the people who are resisting the SOA graduate-led military coup in that country.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Uga VII passes away unexpectedly Thursday in Savannah

Uga VII, the legendary Georgia mascot who roamed the sidelines at Bulldog football games, died unexpectedly Thursday morning in Savannah.

He died of heart-related causes according to owner Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler.He was four years old and finishing his second season as the team’s mascot. His given name was “Loran’s Best” and his first game was Aug. 30, 2008, vs. Georgia Southern.

“We are all in a state of shock,” said Seiler.“We had no warning whatsoever.”

There will be no live mascot at Georgia’s game on Saturday but a wreath will be placed on Uga VII’s doghouse on the north sideline.

“He was 10-3 last year which is not bad for a ‘freshman,’” said Seiler.“Uga VII was not as active or mischievous as his father but more distinguished.He realized his role when he put his shirt on.He was well-behaved and always appreciated the significance of his role.”

“This is a very sad day for the Seiler family but also for all Georgia people,” said Damon Evans, UGA Director of Athletics.“Just as his ancestors, he had captured the hearts of college football fans everywhere as the country’s number one mascot.He had been truly embraced by all those who follow the Georgia Bulldogs across the country.We will miss him dearly.”

Seiler said there were options available for Uga VII’s replacement but no final determination would be made until sometime next year.

“Our hearts go out to the Seilers and the entire Bulldog Nation at this unexpected loss,” stated University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams.“Uga VII was both a family pet and a symbol for millions of fans, and besides that he was just a sweet dog.We will miss him.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine is saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend and mascot,” Uga VII,” said Dr. Sheila W. Allen, dean of the College, and Dr. R. Bruce Hollett, personal faculty veterinarian for Uga VII. “His playful personality and winning spirit will be missed by all of us at the veterinary college, and all of us at the University of Georgia. The Seilers are long-time friends of the University, and we share in their grief.”

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

ALL Crane Rental of Georgia Puts the Cap on 49-Foot-Tall Coca-Cola Bottle at Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field

(BUSINESS WIRE)--It was literally a refreshing day in July as cranes from ALL Crane Rental of Georgia, Inc. hoisted the entire top, complete with red cap, onto the new, interactive, 49-foot-tall Coca-Cola bottle above left field at the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field. The Austell, Georgia-based crane company is a member of the ALL Family of Companies.

Because of the size of the bottle sections and the layout of Turner Field, two hydraulic truck cranes were required to make the challenging lifts. First, a 75-ton Link-Belt HTC-8675 situated outside the courtyard at Turner Field picked up the sections from the staging area on the street and moved them into position. Then a 90-ton Link-Belt HTC-8690 set the sections in place, successfully overcoming the fact that the lifts were “blind”—that is, the operator could not see the landing spot over the stadium structure. With the assistance of a flagger, the operator was able to finesse the final picks.

The tight layout of the job could have been a problem, but ALL had the right cranes for the job and expert rigging. “It’s another example of our ‘No Job Too Tough’ philosophy,” says ALL Georgia sales representative Jesse Irwin.

The new, three-dimensional polycarbonate bottle replaces the original 42-foot Coca-Cola Sky Field bottle that graced the ballpark for 12 years and was retired in July 2009. Now it features a fully programmable, high-resolution screen in the area where the label would be. The bottle’s framework incorporates 3,000 light-emitting diodes that can create 16 million colors, and the excitement continues as fireworks pour out of the top after each Braves home run and winning game.

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We Need Your Help to Find Civil Rights Victims’ Next of Kin

After two-and-a-half years of exhaustive investigation into more than 100 civil rights-era cold cases, the FBI has announced the next phase of our Cold Case Initiative: we’re looking for the next-of-kin in 33 cases to let families know what happened to their loved ones and to possibly obtain additional investigative information.

So please look over this list, and if you’re a family member of one of the victims or think you may know the whereabouts of a family member, contact your local FBI office.

These cases—announced today in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by FBI Civil Rights Unit Chief Cynthia Deitle, along with cold case documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp—represent the last remaining investigations from our original list of 108 cold cases released in February 2007.

Special Agent Cynthia Dietle

We’ve done a tremendous amount of work since February 2007, locating victims’ families in 75 cases, enabling us to investigate and assess each one. “Our agents have worked tirelessly, reaching out to victims’ families and interviewing witnesses, along with police officers, prosecutors, and judges,” says Deitle. “They’ve combed through old police records, grand jury transcripts, and court transcripts to piece together a story that may have happened decades ago.

Because of our previous publicity efforts, Deitle adds, “We’ve also received tips and other help from the public, the media, academia, and our partners at organizations like the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Urban League.”

To date, three of our 108 cases have been referred for state prosecution. In other cases, there may be no charges filed because many involve:

* deceased suspects (47 percent of cases);
* individuals who were already tried in state court and can’t be prosecuted again in federal court because of double jeopardy;
* deceased witnesses and old evidence that’s been destroyed; or
Civil Rights-era funeral
The FBI will continue to probe civil rights-era cases.
Photo courtesy of Keith Beauchamp.
* deaths that weren’t racially-motivated homicides (19 percent).

However, several additional cold cases have been prosecuted federally in recent years, including the 1964 murders of Henry Dee and Charles Moore. And we’re pursuing leads in other cases, including the 1964 murder of Frank Morris.

Among the 36 victims whose families we’re currently looking for:

* Arthur James Hill: shot and killed in August 1965 in Villa Rica, Georgia during an altercation with a group of white men.
* Clarence Horatious Pickett: beaten to death by a police officer in December 1957 in a jail in Columbus, Georgia.
* Ann Thomas: sexually assaulted and shot four times in the head in April 1969 in San Antonio, Texas.
* William Lewis Moore: a postal worker and former U.S. Marine shot and killed in April 1963 near Attalla, Alabama while marching to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging the integration of the University of Mississippi.
* Ernest Jells: shot to death in October 1963 in Clarksville, Mississippi, by police after he allegedly pointed a rifle at officers attempting to arrest him for stealing a banana.

Once we officially close all 108 cases, we’ll continue to look into racially-motivated homicides from the civil rights era that come to our attention. Protecting the rights of all Americans—whether in 1959 or 2009—remains one of our top criminal investigative priorities.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poll: Georgians Cautious with Spending This Holiday Season

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgians are planning to spend money carefully this holiday season, and overwhelmingly, they don't want to rack up enormous credit card bills in the process, according to a new poll from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).

The Georgia Credit Unions' Holiday Spending Poll of 1,000 credit union members from across the state revealed that 52 percent plan to spend less than they did last year, while 45 percent plan to spend the same as last year and only 3 percent plan to spend more. Concurrently, 76 percent of Georgians polled plan to pay for all or most of their purchases with cash, and only 12 percent are planning to use a credit card to make their purchases, the poll showed.

These results mirror the findings from another recent GCUA poll that found 46 percent of Georgians are spending less overall now compared to one year ago, with an additional 41 percent spending the same as they did a year ago. Only 13 percent are spending more overall now than at this time last year.

"Clearly, Georgians are concerned about their financial well-being, so they are looking to spend money more vigilantly now than in previous years," said Mike Mercer, president and CEO of GCUA. "It's one thing to spend money, but it's another to spend money wisely. While Georgians will still spend money to enjoy the holiday season, they're not going to take on more debt to do it; instead, they are looking at their finances with an eye toward the future."

Of those polled, 59 percent plan to spend less than $500 on gifts this holiday season, while 31 percent plan to spend between $500 and $1,000. Meanwhile, a small pocket - 10 percent - plan to spend more than $1,000. Additional details and charts of the poll results are available at

Credit unions throughout Georgia this year are marking the 100th anniversary of cooperative financial institutions in the U.S., and the 75th anniversary of the Georgia Credit Union League. Last month, credit unions in Georgia celebrated "A Century of Good Advice," which included the release of a poll on the savings and spending habits of Georgia consumers and the debut of a short online video.

The poll results and video are available at

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Good News For Those Who "Do Good With Wood"

(NAPSI)-Reality TV shows and DIY programs featuring home makeovers and doing good in the community have never been more popular, but one contest has encouraged and rewarded that kind of volunteerism since 1992. It honors people who "do good with wood," improving their neighborhoods by donating their wood-finishing and woodworking skills to a worthy cause.

Winning entries through the years have been inspiring. A formerly homeless man now mentors at-risk youths in his furniture refinishing and repair business; a guild of woodworkers uses their wide range of woodworking skills to improve the lives of special-needs children by building wooden holiday toys; and a group of high school students designed and built a fanciful wooden boat in a classroom to improve literacy among grade-schoolers.

These are but a few examples of woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers of all skill levels who have been recognized by the Minwax Community Craftsman Award for improving the lives of others.

Once again, handy people who help build a better community through wood finishing and woodworking could soon see additional rewards beyond the gratification that comes from helping others. Entries are now being accepted for 2009's Award, with top honors going to one grand-prize winner and two runners-up. The grand prize is a cash grant of $5,000, a supply of Minwax wood-finishing products and a working consultation with author, television personality and wood-finishing expert Bruce Johnson.

Runners-up receive a supply of Minwax products. Additionally, a special recognition award and cash grant of $2,000 will be presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her community by working with wood.

Who Can Enter

Eligible participants include individuals, community groups, schools and associations that engage in an activity that involves, but is not limited to, wood finishing and woodworking.

The deadline for submission is Dec. 31, 2009 and winners will be announced in the spring of 2010. All eligible applicants are encouraged to enter by writing a summary of recent woodworking projects that have been completed for the purpose of enhancing their community and helping others. Photos are optional but encouraged.

Contest entries can be submitted at, e-mailed to, or sent by mail to Minwax Community Craftsman Award, c/o Brushfire Inc., 2 Wing Drive, Cedar Knolls, NJ 07927. For more information, visit

NOMINATIONS WANTED-You or your organization may be awarded a $5,000 cash grant.

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Arts Across Georgia

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Device Enables World's First Voluntary Gorilla Blood Pressure Reading

Zoo Atlanta recently became the first zoological institution in the world to obtain voluntary blood pressure readings from a gorilla. This groundbreaking stride was made possible by the Gorilla Tough Cuff, a blood pressure reading system devised through partnership with the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

Created as a senior design project by biomedical engineering undergraduates David Sotto, Nisha Bhatia, Stephanie Drewicz and Scott Seaman, the prototype has now been successfully tested on one of Zoo Atlanta’s 22 western lowland gorillas. The students also had guidance from Hanjoong Jo, the Ada Lee and Pete Correll Professor in Biomedical Engineering and the Division of Cardiology; and Professor Franklin Bost, the Coulter Department director of design instruction.

“Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation’s largest collection of gorillas, so there is an ongoing responsibility to contribute to the zoological community’s understanding of their care,” said Dennis Kelly, President and CEO. “We are proud to have spearheaded an effort that will ultimately benefit gorillas living in captive settings around the world.”

The Gorilla Tough Cuff operates in the same manner as the mechanism familiar to humans, with the patient slipping an arm into a cuff. As the cuff inflates, the blood pressure reading is measured and displayed on a monitor. The student design team’s biggest set of challenges, however, was constructing a durable, comfortable cuff large enough to fit an adult male gorilla weighing upwards of 300 pounds.

The prototype system was comprised of a blood pressure cuff bolted to a casing made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. The casing was zip-tied to a rectangular mesh trap and the trap was temporarily attached to the gorilla cage. The pressure cuff tubing was connected to an off-the-shelf veterinary blood pressure monitor located outside of the gorilla cage.

“We also built a safety mechanism into the device so that the gorillas would not be injured if they became alarmed or frightened and tried to remove their arm from the cuff,” said Sotto, who is currently a graduate student at Georgia Tech.

Once the prototype was complete, the Tough Cuff had its first tester: Ozzie, a 48-year-old male western lowland gorilla. Gorillas aren’t typically keen on the idea of inserting their arms into inflatable cuffs: Ozzie’s accomplishment is the result of months of patience and diligent voluntary positive reinforcement training on the part of Zoo Atlanta’s Primate Team.

One of four geriatric gorillas living at the Zoo (the others are Shamba, 50; Choomba, 48; and Ivan, 47), Ozzie is at an age where he may be subject to health concerns similar to those experienced by mature humans. Cardiac disease is the leading cause of mortality in adult male gorillas living in captive settings, and the new system will enable veterinarians to more effectively monitor precursory signs such as high blood pressure.

“This is a great step forward in the medical management and care of captive gorillas,” said Dr. Sam Rivera, Associate Veterinarian at Zoo Atlanta. “Our Veterinary and Primate Teams are extremely fortunate to have the biomedical engineering department at Georgia Tech and Emory University as a resource.”

The Gorilla Tough Cuff has already been demonstrated for veterinarians and animal care professionals from numerous other accredited zoos. The device could ultimately prove invaluable to the more than 100 institutions around the world currently housing the species.

About Zoo Atlanta
An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta inspires value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family fun. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest attraction, Boundless Budgies: A Parakeet Adventure, opened in April 2009. The interactive new experience is the largest of its kind in the Southeast. Zoo Atlanta is also the proud home of Xi Lan, the only giant panda cub born in the U.S. in 2008. Other highlights include the nation’s largest collection of great apes and a global center of excellence for the care and reproduction of vanishing amphibians and reptiles. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, call 404.624.WILD or go to

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony to Be Broadcast Nationally For the First Time on Public Television Beginning December 4th

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation announced today public television stations nationwide will broadcast the 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony across the country for the first time. In partnership with WETA, Washington, D.C.'s flagship public broadcasting station, public television stations will begin airing the 60-minute lighting ceremony on Friday, December 4th and continue throughout the holiday season. Viewers are invited to check their local public station schedules for exact broadcast dates and times.

In addition, the public will be able to view the lighting ceremony live, as it happens, on Thursday, December 3rd at 5:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. PST at The public is also invited to visit the interactive site now and throughout the holiday season to experience all the behind-the-scenes festivities of the event from the story of the first National Christmas Tree to the one-of-a-kind ornaments made each year by ordinary Americans to hang on 56 trees -- one for every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia. Visitors to the site may also create their own customized, interactive e-card for the holidays.

A first-time lottery for free tickets to the ceremony saw approximately 37,000 people submit their names for a chance to attend the tree lighting. Celebrity performers who will help celebrate at the ceremony will be announced next week.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. Alex Coletti Productions will produce the 2009 ceremony. Other supporters include General Electric, Guest Services Inc., Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Washington, D.C., Hudler Carolina Tree Farms, the W Hotel Washington, and the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C. For more information visit

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The Drucker Society of Georgia Launches on Peter F. Drucker’s 100th Birthday

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Drucker Society of Georgia is launching on November 19, 2009, which is the 100th birthday of the late and legendary management thinker Peter F. Drucker. The mission of the Georgia chapter is to improve the lives of young people in Georgia by applying Peter Drucker’s principles—in conjunction with Georgia educational, government, community and business leaders.

The Drucker Society of Georgia will work with leaders in Georgia education, government, community and business organizations who are committed to improving the lives of young men and women in a sustainable way. Over time, the organization plans to engage 100 leaders who can impact the lives of 1 million young men and women through institutional reinvention—using the Drucker-inspired principles and tools articulated in Reinvent Your Enterprise.

The Drucker Society of Georgia is being co-founded by Jack Bergstrand and Rod Walker. Walker will serve as president of the organization, and he is a current board member of Communities in Schools of Atlanta, past board member of 100 Black Men of America and a graduate of Leadership DeKalb. Walker is a business strategy executive at The North Highland Company, holds BS and MS degrees from Clark Atlanta University, and has an Executive MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC.

Jack Bergstrand is author of Reinvent Your Enterprise, a book endorsed by Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute. He is founder and CEO of Brand Velocity, Inc., the Atlanta-based project acceleration company based on Drucker’s principles. Bergstrand was previously head of the global information technology function of The Coca-Cola Company, is a doctoral candidate at The George Washington University, and has a master’s degree in management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

To launch this effort, 100 free copies of Reinvent Your Enterprise will be distributed to educational, government, community and business leaders across Georgia on Peter Drucker’s 100th birthday—sponsored by Brand Velocity, Inc.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flyers Rights Renews Call for Congressional Action on Passenger Bill of Rights in Light of DOT Delays

/PRNewswire/ -- In response to reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to push back the expected date for a final rule on airline passenger "protections" until February of 2010, the nation's leading flyers rights groups renewed its call for Congressional action. DOT had planned to publish its new rule, which deals with issues such as tarmac delays and chronically delayed flights, before the end of this year. This development would allow Congress to be the first to act on this important issue, but represents yet another delay in the fulfillment of airline passengers rights in the U.S.

"We think allowing Congress to act first, before the Administration does its part is appropriate," said CAPBOR Executive Director, Kate Hanni. "Providing airline passengers with a Bill of Rights, including a 3 Hour limit whereby airlines must return stranded passengers to the terminal, should be established by federal legislation, not and not simply by regulation."

The FAA bill, which contains a Passengers Bill of Rights that includes a 3 Hour Rule in the U.S. Senate version, has been bottled up in Congress for many months now and is overdue. As such, Congress has been forced to pass a series of short term extensions to fund the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) continued operations. The latest extension passed by Congress expires on December 31, 2009.

"Given this most recent delay by DOT, which follows a series of delays in Congress, it is essential that legislators work to pass this legislation as soon as possible before the holiday travel period begins," added Hanni. "Establishing basic enforceable standards in how airlines treat passengers will be one of the most significant consumer protections in recent history -- we need and deserve action now." is the largest airline passengers rights group in the country committed to the Safety, Health, Well Being and Dignity of airline passengers. With 27,000 dedicated members and a hotline at 1-877-359-3776 or for employees of airlines 1-887-877-2678.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

U.S. Postal Service Announces 2010 Shipping Prices

/PRNewswire/ -- The simpler way to ship -- with convenient Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes from the U.S. Postal Service -- will be just as simple in the New Year, when new prices take effect.

Prices for Priority Mail, a product familiar across America through popular television and online advertisements featuring Al the Letter Carrier, will change on Jan. 4, 2010. Customers also can look forward to several Priority Mail innovations.

In a first for the shipping industry, the Postal Service is introducing cubic volume-based pricing for large volume commercial Priority Mail shippers. Customers who ship small, dense, space-efficient packages will receive a financial incentive through a new, tiered pricing option. This encourages greener, more efficient shipping and is one more way the Postal Service is eco friendly.

Other benefits for Priority Mail customers effective in January include a decrease in the domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope retail price from $4.95 to $4.90. The popular Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box will continue to be one of the best consumer values in the domestic shipping market at under $5. Its 2010 price will remain at $4.95.

Cubic volume-based pricing will not be the only first in January for customers who qualify to ship at Commercial Plus prices. A Priority Mail half-pound price, based on distance, will be added only in the Commercial Plus pricing category. And, a new Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope measuring 9.5 x 12.5 inches will be available exclusively for Commercial Plus shippers. This envelope is specially designed for jewelry, electronics and other delicate goods.

"We have put together a range of creative and innovative products and services for our customers," said Robert Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services. "With these new offerings, the Postal Service is reinforcing the value of Priority Mail as the right product at the right time," he said.

In addition to an overall price increase of 3.3 percent, on average, for Priority Mail, there will be new prices for Express Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service, also effective Jan. 4.

Prices for First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Parcel Post and other mailing services products will not change in 2010, with the cost of a First-Class Mail stamp remaining at 44 cents.

"The Postal Service is the best buy in the market, whether you're watching your budget or gearing up as the economy starts to rebound," Bernstock said, noting that other shippers have announced price increases of nearly 6 percent for 2010, excluding fuel surcharges. Most shippers add extra fees for fuel, rural delivery, Saturday delivery and other items to a customer's final bill. The Postal Service has no comparable surcharges.

Customers who pay for their shipping services online will continue to save compared to retail prices. Online costs will be, on average, 5 percent less than retail for Express Mail and 5.7 percent less for Priority Mail. Online savings for international shipping will be 10 percent less than retail for Global Express Guaranteed, 8 percent less for Express Mail International and 5 percent less for Priority Mail International.

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State Income Taxes Push Many Working-Poor Families Deeper Into Poverty

/PRNewswire/ -- Sixteen states taxed working-poor families deeper into poverty last year, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Income tax bills on poor families in those 16 states ranged from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, which is a significant amount for a family struggling to make ends meet, the report said.

"Undermining families' efforts to work their way out of poverty is never a good idea," said Phil Oliff, the report's co-author. "But it's especially harmful in the current recession, when people are already struggling just to get by."

The report measures the "tax threshold" in each state -- the income level at which families begin owing income taxes. In 16 of the 42 states that levy an income tax, the threshold for two-parent families of four was below $22,017, the 2008 poverty line for such a family. The remaining states as well as the federal government do not tax working poor families.

Two fewer states taxed poor families than in 2007. Michigan adopted an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that pushed its threshold slightly above the poverty line. Oklahoma made changes to its income tax deductions and rates, and expanded a credit for families with children, lifting its threshold above the poverty line for two-parent families of four. Although Hawaii and Louisiana made significant improvements to their tax systems, they remain among the 16 states that tax poor families. A number of other states made significant improvements.

In several states, income-tax treatment of the poor worsened as inflation eroded the value of provisions intended to protect the poor from taxation. This erosion coincided with a rising level of poverty and joblessness resulting from the recession.

Among the report's findings:
-- Sixteen states, out of the 42 with an income tax, taxed working-poor,
married couples with two children in 2008: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia,
Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and West Virginia.
-- Michigan and Oklahoma stopped taxing poor families in 2007, and eight
other states implemented changes to reduce low-income families' tax
bills. Hawaii and West Virginia, both of which in 2007 had levied
some of the highest taxes on low-income families, also made
improvements in 2008.
-- On the other hand, in 23 states the value of provisions that protect
low-income families from taxation eroded, in large part due to a
failure to adjust them for inflation. As a result, poor and/or
near-poor families' tax bills in those states rose.
-- The number of states taxing extremely poor families of four - those
with incomes below three-quarters of the poverty line ($16,513) -
decreased from nine in 2007 to six in 2008. Three states that
previously taxed such families began exempting them: Hawaii,
Michigan, and West Virginia. States still taxing extremely poor
families are: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, and Ohio.

Over the last two decades, state policymakers increasingly have viewed the exemption of poor families from taxation as a straightforward way to reduce poverty and support work. The number of states levying income tax on poor two-parent families of four decreased from 24 to 16 between 1991 and 2008. The federal government has exempted poor families from tax since the mid-1980s.

Even in a time of widespread state budget shortfalls, there are a number of relatively inexpensive, effective solutions for state policymakers to consider. These include state EITCs and other low-income tax credits, no-tax "floors" (an income level below which a family owes no tax), and adequate personal exemptions and standard deductions.

"Dire economic conditions are already reducing states' tax revenue. This makes it harder for states to enact new tax cuts targeted to poor families," said Oliff. "But doing so should still be a priority. Taxing people deeper into poverty runs counter to the goal of helping families achieve self-sufficiency."

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Dillard’s Offers Exclusive Southern Living Christmas Cookbook to Benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities®

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dillard’s, Inc. (“Dillard’s”)(NYSE:DDS) is pleased to announce its continuing commitment to Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) with their 16th annual Holiday fundraiser. Since 1994 Dillard’s has assisted RMHC with fundraising campaigns designed to support the Ronald McDonald House® program which provides families with seriously ill children a home away from home while their children are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.

For the second time Dillard’s will offer a beautiful Southern Living Christmas Cookbook to benefit RMHC. This exclusive, 288 page special custom edition hardbound cookbook is filled with color photos and fabulous holiday recipes, menus, decorating tips and entertaining ideas. This “must have” cookbook is available for only $10. “Ronald McDonald House Charities has been serving families for 35 years and we are so thankful to Dillard’s for being a great partner and for their continued support,” said Marty Coyne, Vice-President of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The cookbooks will be available in over 300 Dillard’s stores as well as online at Proceeds from the sale of the cookbooks will benefit local Houses operated by Ronald McDonald House Charities Chapters in Dillard’s markets.

Now in its 16th year of support, Dillard’s has raised more than $4.5 million to benefit RMHC.

“Our continued partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities gives all of us at Dillard’s an enormous sense of pride. We look forward to another successful fundraiser this year and are honored to support the Ronald McDonald Houses in our communities,” said Denise Mahaffy, Vice President of Advertising for Dillard’s.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leading Event for People With Disabilities on November 6-8 Features Latest Technologies, Products, Services, and More

/PRNewswire/ -- The anticipation for Abilities Expo Atlanta ( has been building for months. Thousands of people with disabilities, their families, caregivers and healthcare professionals are expected to attend this free, three-day expo and conference taking place Friday, November 6, through Sunday, November 8, 2009 at the Cobb Galleria Convention Center (Event hours: Friday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm).

Abilities Expo has put together an impressive line-up of exhibits, workshops and special events to appeal to the full spectrum of people with disabilities, from children to seniors and everyone in between.

"Abilities Expo's distinguished 30-year track record of enhancing the lives of people with disabilities through technology, education and networking continues in Atlanta," said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. "Between the adaptive sports demonstrations, the sneak peek at the future of assistive technology, the dynamic workshops and the thousands of products and services on display...this is a must-attend for everyone in the Community."

Attendees will find:

-- Cutting-edge products and services for people with disabilities
-- Brand-new assistive technology prototypes that are still in
development and the latest commercially available AT products at the
Assistive Technology Pavilion
-- Hundreds of low-cost daily living aids at the Retail Pavilion
-- Free compelling workshops
-- Free career-boosting CEU-seminars (for healthcare professionals)
-- Artist Market where Georgia's most-celebrated artists with
disabilities will display, demonstrate and sell their artwork
-- Interactive, adaptive sports
-- A fashion show featuring contemporary and accessible clothing and
-- Dance performance and instruction
-- Canine assistance demonstration
-- Fun activities for kids of all ages
-- The opportunity to donate used disability equipment
-- And much more

For more information, schedules and pre-registration, visit

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Millions of Americans have a sleep debt to repay - Do you?

(ARA) - You're paying down your credit cards and making smart decisions about your home and auto loans. But are you overlooking the most important kind of "debt," a debt that you owe yourself to pay off in order to maintain good health? This is one kind of debt that will have a huge impact on your life if ignored, but is easy to pay off with minimal effort.

More than 75 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, many have incurred a "sleep debt," says Dr. Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. "Many people deprive themselves of sleep during the work week, losing an hour or more a night, and try to make up for it on the weekends," says Dr. Breus. "But while you may be able to replace some of that lost sleep each weekend, you can still be sleep deprived, and your 'sleep debt' will just keep growing."

One quarter of the world's population is subject to a one hour time change twice per year. One study by Ludwig-Maximilian University in Germany shows that it is easier for people to adjust to the time change when we gain an hour rather than when we lose an hour. The majority of people, however, do not use that extra hour in the fall for sleep, and this occurs during a season when schedules get even busier for many Americans.

"Unlike our ancestors, who let the sun delineate between the hours of rest and work, we let the demands of everyday life choose when we can sleep, eat and work," Dr. Breus says. "And all of this has an effect on our bodies - we are more stressed, sleep less, and pack away more fat and calories. All this directly relates to our risk for illness and disease."

Repaying your sleep debt is relatively easy and can be one of the most healthful things you do for yourself, Dr. Breus points out. Here are a few tips to help decrease your sleep debt:

* Wake up to the light. Our brains are hard-wired to want to sleep when it's dark and waken with the sunlight. The shift in seasons and our busy modern schedules have many of us trying to wake up in the dark. Dr. Breus recommends sleeping with the shades open and allowing natural light to enter your room and wake you at an appropriate time.

* Once you get up and begin your daily routine, make sure you turn on all the lights. This will help stimulate the optic nerve to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin.

* Go to bed when your body tells you you're tired. Don't waste the extra hour of sleep we gain when we shift our clocks back in the fall. Additionally, don't add to your sleep debt in the spring when shift our clocks ahead one hour.

* Sometimes, even if you get enough sleep, puffy eyes and dark circles can make you look sleep deprived. Even if you improve your sleep habits, it can take a while for your appearance to catch up. Looking well-rested will help you feel more rested, so try Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream to brighten and depuff. The potent cream uses a combination of natural ingredients, including Panax Ginseng, Caffeine, Vitamin B Complex and Magnolia Extract to combat puffiness and dark circles and help provide radiant, clear skin in the delicate eye area. Visit to learn more.

* If your sleep/awake cycle is truly healthy you shouldn't need an alarm clock, but you may need the psychological comfort of having a backup wake-up system. In that case, position your alarm clock so that you can't see it once you're in bed. Look for a clock that has an LED time display that can be turned off or on, an adjustable volume control for the alarm, and the ability to have music or an MP3 player connected so you can wake to the sounds of your choice.

* Avoid napping the day before and three days after the seasonal time change. Napping can actually make it harder to fall asleep. Parents, keep in mind that your children will probably take longer to adjust to time changes than adults do.

* Stay active. Studies show that regular exercise helps the body better adjust to time changes, so continue your workouts throughout the seasonal transition. However, exercising too close to bedtime can have an over-stimulating effect, so schedule your workout several hours prior to turning in.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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