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Updated: 15 min 36 sec ago

A New Prescription for Finding the Right Doctor

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:11pm
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(NewsUSA) - Finding the right doctor can mean living a healthier life, or it can be the difference between life and death.

Yet until now, consumers traditionally haven't accessed information that would enable them to find the right doctor for their individual needs. Americans have typically found their physician by word of mouth -- either from friends, family members, their doctor or their insurance list. And the problem is that these references are not subjective and only give a snapshot of a particular doctor -- one who may or may not be the best fit for your needs.

"The Internet has dramatically changed how people get important information and make connections. Just look at the popularity of sites like Zillow and TripAdvisor.com. But unlike shopping for a house or vacation, detailed information about physicians and hospitals hasn't been easy to use for decision-making," says Roger Holstein, CEO, Healthgrades.

But that's about to change. For the first time, consumers can search for doctors based on information that physicians themselves agree are most important: the doctor's experience, the clinical outcomes of the hospital where they practice and the satisfaction of their patients. The new search experience is available free at Healthgrades.com.

The in-depth search capability addresses an important gap -- 90 percent of consumers have said they could make a better choice when selecting a physician if they knew more about the physicians in their insurance plans, according to a Harris Interactive study conducted for Healthgrades.

"Knowing if a doctor diagnoses a particular condition or performs a procedure is critical to understanding their experience in treating patients like you -- which can influence the quality of care you receive," says Archelle Georgiou, MD, a healthcare advisor. "If you are searching for a doctor, Healthgrades should be your first stop."

To find the right doctor for you, visit www.healthgrades.com.

Be on the Lookout for These Invasive Species

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 9:40am
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(NewsUSA) - Insects originating in foreign countries, commonly called invasive species, are a major concern in the U.S. because they often don't have natural predators, allowing their populations to grow quickly. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners that several of these invasive species can be a threat or a nuisance to families or properties.

According to the NPMA, here are the five most common invasive species that homeowners encounter:

1. Brown marmorated stink bugs arrived in Pennsylvania in 1996 from Asia. The stink bug earned its name from its tendency to release an odor when disturbed or when crushed. While quite harmful to the agricultural industry, stink bugs do not pose a threat to people's health, but their tendency to invade homes in high numbers can be a nuisance.

2. Red imported fire ants (also known as RIFAs) are an invasive species from Brazil that are found throughout the South and in parts of California and other western states. RIFAs will attack humans who disturb or threaten their nests, inflicting painful bites and stings. Those allergic to insect stings will react more severely.

3. Formosan termites were brought into the U.S. from China in military cargo shipments after World War II. This termite species is one of the most destructive, forming huge underground colonies, and is more aggressive in nature, consuming more wood, flooring and wallpaper at much faster rates than other species. Formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest an area and can cause severe structural damage to a home in as little as six months.

4. Rasberry crazy ants are spreading rapidly throughout the Southwest. First found in Texas in 2002, its common name comes from the workers' habit of running in an erratic, jerky manner when searching for food. The ants can bite humans and feed on plants, other insects and even small animals.

5. Conehead termites, an invasive species native to the Caribbean, were first introduced to the U.S. in 2001 and are currently found in Florida. Unlike most termites, the conehead termite does not rely on underground tunneling to travel. Instead, they forage on the ground like ants, allowing them to spread rapidly. As an extremely aggressive species, they are known to cause widespread property damage in a short amount of time.

For more information, visit www.pestworld.org.

It's Official: Women Are the Decision-Makers Even When It Comes to Roofs

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 8:55am
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(NewsUSA) - What do shoes have to do with choosing the perfect shingles for your roof?

If you have to ask, then you haven't been paying attention to the seismic shift going on when it comes to marketing to women. For a while now, we've been told that females make more than 80 percent of purchasing decisions. But it's only relatively recently that companies across the spectrum have begun embracing -- no, bear hugging -- women consumers in ways that show they actually "get" the societal changes behind that stat.

Cadillac just released its first-ever commercial depicting a CEOish-looking woman behind the wheel of one of its luxury vehicles, for example, while American Express is out with a new no-fee rewards card targeted to "busy moms." Heck, even the NFL now has a line of sleek, fitted team jerseys that the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch couldn't even get over his neck.

"Women in the fall are thinking about football as much as the guys are," one executive told Adweek magazine.

Which brings us back to those shoes -- and what may actually go down as one of the most eye-opening nods to women's clout.

Females, according to She-Conomy, now make "the majority of home renovation decisions." (Relax, guys. They're still even less likely than you to want to undertake do-it-yourself projects.)

And so GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer -- yes, roofs -- now features a "Style Guide" on its website (www.gaf.com) that couldn't be more female-friendly if Eve had designed it herself while Adam was off dozing.

"Women are extremely important decision-makers, and therefore we're focusing on providing them solutions that not only perform but also provide the sophistication and style to match their personal taste," says Emily Videtto, vice president of shingles and new product development at GAF, which has won the Women's Choice Award for America's Best Roofing Brand for the past three years based on input from general contractors and female customers.

HGTV's design expert Carter Oosterhouse takes a mostly straightforward approach to walking users through the process of picking the right shingles for the desired effect. But GAF apparently realizes that women share a secret (or not so secret) vice that's foreign to most men: a love of shoes.

And so users get to have some fun by matching their fave shoe style to the corresponding shingle type. High heels your thing? "Explore Monaco Shingles," they're told. More the sneakers type? "Explore Timberline Lifetime Shingles."

Now that's getting it.

Where the Jobs Are: Why Relocating May Be the Best Option

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:02am
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(NewsUSA) - Unemployment rates and joblessness has been a prevalent topic in the U.S. since the recession began in 2007. Just three years into the country's economic slump, an estimated 8 million jobs were lost nationwide.

While many of those jobs have been regained, the recession is still showing aftereffects in many parts of the country, which are lagging behind in unemployment. East and west coast cities are among the slowest to bounce back. Data from 2013 revealed that of the 13 U.S. cities with the highest unemployment rates, eight are in California and two are in New Jersey.

With all the bad news still out there, there is a light at the end of a long tunnel, and it may be found in the Lone Star State.

The Dallas economy has been booming, coming out of the recession early. In the past four years, Texas has added more than 1.2 million jobs, and more are coming. This spring, automotive giant Toyota announced its plans to relocate its North American headquarters from Torrance, California (where it's been for 57 years) to Plano, Texas, just outside Dallas.

In addition to energy, technology and manufacturing, Dallas also offers opportunities in health care, one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor released an Employment Projections report that named home health care services as the fastest-growing industry in the country, with an estimated 700,000 jobs being added over the next decade. Of the 38 Best Health Care jobs in 2014, physical therapist, registered nurse and nurse practitioner were in the top five.

One Dallas-based company, Axxess (www.axxess.com), is an example of a health care software technology company growing at an accelerated rate. Just over a year ago, Axxess had just 30 employees. With widespread acceptance of its software and increased industry demand, the company now has more than 100 employees and is still hiring. Relocation packages are available to employees moving to Dallas from out of state.

Recently, Axxess announced plans to relocate its corporate offices to a 25,000-square-foot space in Dallas and add more than 100 more employees in the next year. CEO John Olajide plans to expand the company to add more services to its software solutions and bring more mobile health care technology into the home.

Value of Education Brings Success Among Unique Student Population

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 1:04pm
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(NewsUSA) - Impeccably green mountains overlook a picturesque New England landscape as families gaze upon capped and gowned graduates sitting along mahogany benches. One cannot help but think of this scene as suited only for institutions of the academic elite.

However, a different educational success occurs in this part of New Hampshire, where students wear jumpsuits and study in cells.

Grafton County Department of Corrections in North Haverhill, 35 miles north of Dartmouth College, prides itself on the number of inmates it's able to graduate from the state's new high school equivalency test called HiSET.

"We're the HiSET jail -; we get inmates an education," said correctional educator Kenn Stransky.

A teacher for the last 15 years, eight at the facility, Stransky has led numerous initiatives borrowed from more conventional education environments. For Stransky, to have a real impact on these students, it's about creating an education-focused culture.

"A student is a student," says Stransky on how he views this unique student population.

One such initiative is an alumni tutoring program, in which inmates who've earned their high school equivalency certificate help current inmates who are preparing to take the tests.

"I'm here only once a week, so that's a limited opportunity, but their inmate peers are here all the time and can provide continuous support," Stransky said.

Support for education success goes beyond those directly involved with the education program. Down to each correctional officer, everyone shares the responsibility to motivate inmates to enroll voluntarily and earn their high school equivalency.

"We want them to be a more prepared and better person when they leave the facility," program officer Sgt. Mark Deem said. "Confidence that they could achieve something really makes a difference on whether we'll see them again."

Inmates tend to gain a sense of purpose by graduating from the program, which has been shown to reduce recidivism.

Inmates who participated in education programs have a 43 percent lower chance of recidivating than those who did not, according to a 2013 RAND Corporation study funded by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice.

The facility's honor graduate during this recent graduation is 45-year-old Mary Howard. Howard said that coming from a broken home, hanging around with the wrong crowd and illegal substance use led her to drop out of school early. However, the support and encouragement she received from fellow inmates and the facility's staff kept her focused and driven.

"I have a completely different outlook on my future because there are more opportunities for me when I get out," Howard said.

Is Faith Really a Good Thing?

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:54am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Turn on the TV, go online or stream music, and it may seem like there is no place for faith in our culture. People -- especially young people -- will share just about any detail of their personal lives, except when it comes to their faith. Many are reluctant or even embarrassed to share how their faith makes them who they are.

Despite this trend, there are tens of millions of Americans who still value their faith tremendously, and they want to make faith more visible. Thanks to a fast-growing social media movement (www.FaithCounts.net) people, regardless of their religion, are openly celebrating their faith -- because they believe faith is a very good thing. How is faith good? Let us count the ways.

1. Faith inspires, empowers and comforts billions of people the world over. And that makes people of faith happier.

2. People and organizations are motivated by their faith to help millions of people every single day, in soup kitchens, hospitals, schools and homeless shelters.

3. People of faith live longer.

4. People of faith are more engaged in civic life.

5. People of faith are more likely to be law-abiding citizens.

6. People of faith are more generous and charitable.

7. Faith has the power to add deep spiritual meaning and help people survive the most challenging times.

And last but not least, a basic teaching of every major world religion asks that we treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated. If more people followed this Golden Rule, that alone would be a positive influence on society. And that's reason enough to promote the value of faith.

What does the future hold for faith in America? Nobody knows for sure, but those who value their faith can help push back against current trends by visiting www.FaithCounts.net and sharing with friends. FaithCounts.net showcases compelling stories about faith through videos, uplifting quotes, articles and images. Hopefully, more people will feel inspired, and ultimately feel good about expressing how their faith makes them who they are.

These are small steps, but they are making a big difference, and FaithCounts.net can help restore the value of faith in America.

Are Workers Taking Enough Time to Understand Their Benefits Choices?

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:47am
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(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Choosing the right health insurance plan is one of the most important decisions Americans make, yet workers spend more time researching for a car or planning a vacation. In fact, the 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey found many workers spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefits options during open enrollment last year.

See full-sized image here.

Save Now With Proven High-Efficiency Gas Wall-Hung Boiler

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:43am

(NewsUSA) - With the memory of last winter's harsh heating bills still vivid, North American property owners would do well to embrace proven cost-saving energy efficiency and conservation practices.

Space and water heating can consume up to 80 percent of a home's energy use, notably in northern climates. So, a high-efficiency combination space and domestic water heating system is the right home-heating choice for the times, according to Marathon International, the exclusive distributor of Baxi heating and renewable energy solutions in North America.

"These heating and renewable energy systems have enabled property owners throughout the U.S. and Canada to generate significant energy use and utility cost savings over the past two decades," says Marathon International president Mike Thomas.

Up to 98 percent energy efficient, combination gas boilers typically save upwards of 35 percent. On the high side, a Long Island resident is saving over 70 percent annually with a Baxi combi gas boiler, which reduced his previous inefficient oil boiler bills by $3,500. (Learn more at www.wallhungboilers.com.)

"Our retrofit applications typically cut utility costs by 35 and 70 percent," Thomas notes. "Our Energy Star-certified Luna Duo-Tec is the only boiler with gas-adaptive technology. It not only ensures proper initial set-up, but also sustains high-efficiency performance for the life of the appliance."

The boiler is so quiet that it is approved for closet installation. It has multiple built-in performance enhancement and safety components, such as gas-adaptive and self-calibration technology. It can be used in a range of applications, including in-floor radiant, hydro air, radiators, towel warmers and snowmelt systems.

Before investing in the right heating solution for their property, Thomas advises homeowners to talk first with a qualified heating and plumbing installer with gas experience. He further recommends that property owners get an energy efficiency audit, covering their older heating appliance, as well as insulation, windows and doors.

"Above all, make sure contractors are trained, certified and accomplished in the installation and servicing of the equipment they recommend," says Thomas. "Do they offer annual maintenance and an optional extended parts and labor protection? What utility rebates and other energy-efficiency incentives are available?"

Choosing the right heating appliance, properly installed and maintained, is key to achieving energy-efficiency and conservation success. Visit wallhungboilers.com.

 

 

 

 

 

NewsusaInfographic. See full-sized image here.

Some Jobs Really Are a Pain in the Back

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:39am
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(NewsUSA) - More than 200,000.

That's the number of nonfatal occupational back injuries -- 217,666, to be precise -- that resulted in lost workdays in just one year, according to the most recent annual data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That's more than the number of work-related head, neck, arm and foot injuries combined.

This has a huge impact on our economy: The World Health Organization has estimated that low back pain alone costs the U.S. between $100 billion and $200 billion annually.

Here's some of the jobs that were most prone to back injuries:

* Laborers and freight, stock and materials movers.

* Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.

* Nursing assistants.

* Production workers.

Until recently, surgeons could count on a booming business of patient referrals. But these days, given the increasing interest in drug-free, non-invasive alternatives and the reality of the outcomes of surgical care, chiropractic care has become a go-to approach.

"Very few conditions present situations where it is appropriate to proceed directly to the operating room," Natalie Drake of the Texas Institute of Spine and Neurosurgery recently stated. "In many cases, less-invasive options will provide the desired relief."

Cost has also played a factor in chiropractic's rise. As noted in a recent study in the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, "paid costs for episodes of care initiated with a D.C. [doctor of chiropractic] were almost 40 percent less than episodes initiated with an M.D. [medical doctor]."

Indeed, as Gerard Clum, D.C., of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress says, "We're noticing that patients who use chiropractic care as a first choice have better outcomes and incur fewer costs."

To locate a doctor of chiropractic in your area, visit www.F4CP.org/findadoctor.

Straighten Up if You Want to Help Avoid Back Problems

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:00am
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(NewsUSA) - Remember how mom always reminded you about your posture? Turns out she was right.

Years of poor posture, we now know, puts undue pressure on the spine and supporting muscles and ligaments that can result in everything from back pain to muscle strain to degenerative arthritis. And many of us make things worse on a daily basis.

How so?

Research has found that common things like stress, obesity, incorrect posture while sleeping, walking and working, and -- yes, all you fashionistas out there -- wearing high-heeled shoes can contribute to poor posture.

And the back pain alone that often follows hurts us in more ways than one. "Americans spend at least $50 billion each year (seeking relief from) back pain," notes the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. "And it's one of the most common reasons for missed work."

If you just read those stats while seated, here's a quick checklist to see if you're maintaining the correct posture:

* Relax shoulders and keep forearms parallel to the ground when working at a keyboard.

* Don't cross your legs.

* Use a footrest if your feet don't reach the floor.

For those who are past the checklist stage, know that the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research almost twenty years ago recommended spinal manipulation provided by a doctor of chiropractic as a "safe and effective, drugless" treatment for sufferers of low back pain.

"Old habits die hard," says Ron Kirk, DC, an avid supporter of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress and founder of Straighten Up America (straightenupamerica.org). "But a doctor of chiropractic can recommend exercises to strengthen core postural muscles and can help you choose proper postures to reduce your risk of injury during activities."

For more information, visit www.yes2chiropractic.org.

Watch a related video at http://youtu.be/ye/ynGfJhUtalw.

Are Your Investments Doomed by Overfunded Public Markets?

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 9:47am
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(NewsUSA) - A recent 15-year research report comparing the Public Dow Index companies' revenues to their stock price by the Private Company Index (PCI) seems to show how there is too much money chasing too few stocks, leading to unparalleled public market stock price increases.

"The study shows how the continued supply of investment capital keeps pushing stock prices higher -- beyond the indexed revenue performance of the underlying companies," said Stephen H. Watkins, CEO of the PCI (www.PrivateCompanyIndex.com).

If you look at the indexed data, for the first time in nearly two decades the indexed stock price is above the indexed revenue of the Dow Index Companies, which means investors are buying up stock and elevating its price well above the relative top-line revenue performance.

What's worse is that despite the influx of capital driving indexes and stock prices higher for public companies, private companies, which generate the economic and employment growth of our nation, are forgotten by investors.

Bryan Larrison of Hyde Park Wealth Management agreed. "Our U.S. capital markets need to expand beyond the 3,500 actively traded stocks, and into product offerings that bring new businesses and new investment opportunities for investors."

There are 26 million companies in the U.S., but only 500,000 have annual revenues between $5 million and $250 million. These privately held companies have capital needs above what friends and family can offer, yet operate below the level to attract Wall Street investment banks. To this point, it has become almost impossible for small businesses to attain the capital they need to grow. And there's opportunity.

Enter Entrex (www.entrex.net), a company that creates a global capital market system for entrepreneurial companies by aligning revenue performance for investors through their patented "Top Line Income Generation Rights Certificates" -- or TIGRcub Securities.

Entrex learned through its PCI, a compilation of historical revenue performance of a cross section of U.S.-based privately held companies, how vibrant the growth of this area is.

Entrex supports nationwide brokers who help entrepreneurial companies with their capital needs through its TIGRcubs, which it believes are a "right-sized" investment product delivering fair returns to investors and appropriate cost of capital to companies.

Learn more at Entrex.net and PrivateCompanyIndex.com.

Smoke Alarms Save Lives -- Make Sure Yours Are Working

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 3:10pm
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(NewsUSA) - Smoke alarms save lives. Yet, every day in homes across the U.S., fire deaths still occur. By ensuring that you have working smoke alarms, you can cut your risk of perishing in a home fire by half, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

"Nearly 3,000 people continue to die in fires each year, with most of those deaths occurring in homes," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "The vast majority of home fire deaths are preventable, and working smoke alarms play a big role in helping reduce those numbers."

This is why the theme for NFPA's Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5 - 11) is "Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!"

"Smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire, but they need to be working," said Carli. "Unfortunately, many home fire deaths result from fires where a smoke alarm is present but does not operate. This year, we're trying to motivate people to test their smoke alarms each month to make sure they're working properly."

Since these small, unobtrusive, but life-saving devices have become such a fixture in homes across the country, it's easy to take for granted that they work properly. The following tips on testing your smoke alarms and other guidelines will help protect you and your family:

* There should be at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home (including the basement), outside all sleeping areas and in every bedroom.

* For smoke alarms that include a 10-year non-replaceable battery, replace the entire smoke alarm if it begins to "chirp," indicating that the battery is running low. For smoke alarms that use regular batteries, replacing the batteries once a year is recommended, or before then if the alarm begins to chirp.

* All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested.

* For the best protection, smoke alarms should be interconnected, so that when one alarm sounds, they all do.

For more information and tips, visit www.nfpa.org.

3 Pescadores Rescatados en el Mar gracias a Dispositivo GPS

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:41pm
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(NewsUSA) - El uso efectivo del dispositivo GPS VehSmart probablemente salvó a tres pescadores de Ecuador cuando su bote fue atacado por ladrones. Los pescadores navegaban en su pequeño bote, el Luis Miguel, al suroeste de la penísula de Santa Elena cuando fueron alcanzados por atracadores que les robaron sus pertenencias y el motor del bote y luego los encerraron en un compartimiento de almacén, según la Armada Ecuatoriana (DIRNEA).

Los pescadores lograron salir del compartimiento y accionar el "botón de pánico" del dispositivo GPS VehSmart instalado en el bote. Esta función se enlaza directamente al Sistema Nacional de Respuesta de Emergencia de Ecuador, y un equipo de la guardia costera logró ubicar y rescatar a los pescadores en menos de tres horas.

El sistema VehSmart está construido alrededor de un dispositivo pequeño y portátil que, entre otras funciones, precisa la ubicación del usuario y le permite a cualquiera en la embarcación activar una llamada de peligro en caso de emergencia. El Luis Miguel estaba equipado con la tecnología de ubicación GPS como parte de un programa piloto de instalar sistemas GPS en 4.000 embarcaciones pequeñas de pesca artesanal.

El programa es patrocinado por el Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca (MAGAP) de Ecuador y está diseñado para darles a los pescadores mayor seguridad y tranquilidad mental contra las amenazas de piratería y el frecuentemente peligroso ambiente marino. Además, la tecnología VehSmart les permite a las autoridades monitorear los movimientos de la flota para evitar la sobrepesca en ciertas regiones y para proteger zonas que están prohibidas para la pesca.

La tecnología GPS utilizada en la flota pesquera ecuatoriana combina la telemática de VehSmart y el transmisor satélite SmartOne de Globalstar, Inc.

"Instalar uno requiere menos de 15 minutos, que es una inversión pequeña para garantizar la seguridad de alguien", dijo Brad Merritt, presidente de VehSmart.

"Únicamente las embarcaciones registradas en el programa reciben esta protección, y el MAGAP está instando a la comunidad de la pesca artesanal a que se tomen el tiempo de hacer que instalen las unidades lo más pronto posible", según una declaración de VehSmart. Sin la tecnología GPS, los pescadores podrían haber quedado a la deriva por varios días, o incluso perdidos en el mar, según la declaración.

Visite www.vehsmart.com para mayor información sobre la gama de productos y servicios de GPS disponibles a través de VehSmart.

Got a Headache? Manage it With Chiropractic Care

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 11:15am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Ready to try another way to manage your headaches? A new study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics has found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, is a safe and drug-free alternative to relieve headaches. So before you reach for that bottle of aspirin, consider visiting a doctor of chiropractic. For more information, visit www.yes2chiropractic.org.

Watch the video at: http://youtu.be/Az0WQtK2ilA

When It Comes to Winter Roof Checkups, the Attic Is Your Friend

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:41pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - You know you're supposed to do it twice a year. But what homeowner relishes the thought of climbing a ladder to check the health of his roof -- as key to a home's energy efficiency as that roof might be -- when the weather is turning sharply colder outside?

Well, as it turns out, while even a quick, eyeball roof-check is recommended this time of year, there's a fallback option.

You could just check your attic instead.

"Roofs actually create an insulated barrier that helps trap heat inside, and most attic spaces are located right below them," explains Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence. "That makes them perfect for spotting potential problem areas and damage without worrying about falling."

Here's some tips on what to look for:

* Water leaks. As sure as cable companies will do anything to avoid a la carte pricing, it will soon storm. And when it does, shine a flashlight up in the attic in search of not just dripping water and condensation, but also water stains on the ceiling, walls and floor. All are signs that H2O is finding its way under your roof's shingles or behind its flashings.

* Animal damage. You don't want to know the havoc refuge-seeking birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons can cause. So anything suspicious -- nests, droppings and gnawed wood, wires or insulation -- merits an immediate call to a pest professional.

* Ventilation. "Think of the attic as the lungs of the house," says Joplin. "It has to be able to breathe in order to function properly." Meaning, if your vents are stuffed with debris, they need to be cleared.

* Structure. Any hint of a sagging roof -- look up for this one -- could signal potential structural weakness requiring professional repair.

But wait. You say you love the cold as much as you do the spring (the recommended time for a second annual roof check-up)? If so, you can still inspect for structural deformities without risking your neck on a treacherous ladder by using binoculars to zoom in on everything from loose shingles to broken gutters.

And if prolonging your roof's life is truly your goal, experts say it pays to consult a professional roofing contractor who's insured and uses quality materials like Timberline American Harvest shingles from GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer. A free service that makes it easy to find a factory-certified contractor in your area can be found at www.gaf.com.

Is It Time to Sell Your Structured Settlement for Cash?

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:36pm
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(NewsUSA) - It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Maybe you were in an auto accident, and for whatever reason -- taxes spring to mind -- you agreed to forgo a large, lump-sum payout from the other driver's insurance company in favor of small periodic payments. Or maybe your child was born with a birth defect that Big Pharma was held legally liable for, and all you could think about was making sure the money to care for him would be flowing in for decades.

Whatever the case, you've decided that "structured settlement," as it's called, no longer works for you.

Now what?

"Sometimes cashing in is the only option," says Bankrate.com. "That $500 monthly payment from an accident in 2002 may have helped with the medical bills early on, but if the beneficiary has now lost his job and is on the verge of losing a home, a lump-sum payout of $50,000 may seem quite enticing."

In fact, an estimated $6 billion in structured settlements are bought or sold in any given year. Not all players are alike, though, so you'll want to be sure you don't just automatically call the 1-800 number you saw in some come-on TV ad.

One new web-based entry in the field, SellMyAnnuity.net, stands out for the care it takes to make the process utterly transparent for potential sellers. It's not just that it provides hundreds of examples of past sales -- including six-figure ones -- to give you an idea of what to expect before requesting to be contacted by an agent. No, it actually features PDFs of signed court documents.

Did you get that? PDFs. Of. Signed. Court. Documents.

"We're committed to providing more information about structured settlement annuity sales than any other company in the industry," says Todd Albert, SellMyAnnuity's chief technology officer. "And we'll help people determine whether they should sell, how many payments they want to sell, and of course make sure they get as much money as possible as fast as possible."

The website also explains how various federal and state laws exist to protect you from doing anything foolish. Chief among them: Even after you've accepted an offer, a court judge who's heard your reasons for trading future payments for an immediate lump sum must confirm the sale is in your "best interest."

"You can't turn a structured settlement into cash just because you'd like a new car," says Albert. "But things like buying or repairing a home, starting a business, funding a college education and paying off debt can be acceptable."

Pest Proof Now to Protect Homes for Winter

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:34pm
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(NewsUSA) - As the cold winter months quickly approach, people won't be the only ones huddling inside for warmth. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take steps to prevent pests like cockroaches, rodents and nuisance wildlife from making your home their winter getaway.

Winter invaders such as cockroaches, mice and rats present considerable health threats to family members. Cockroaches carry bacteria and other kinds of human pathogens, contaminating food surfaces and potentially triggering asthma attacks in children, and with 24 percent of homeowners reporting mice infestations specifically in the winter, they are among the top pest issues of the season. Most rodents only need a space the size of a quarter to enter a home, and once inside, they can cause considerable damage and pose serious health risks to people and structural damage to homes, as they are known for chewing through electrical wires and wallboard.

Nuisance wildlife such as raccoons and squirrels can also be an issue in the colder months and may present a unique set of dangers due to their size and aggressive nature if they are frightened or feel threatened when trapped in an unfamiliar environment. Lastly, homeowners should check wood piles for ants and spiders that can often be hiding within.

Prevention is the best way to avoid an infestation during the winter months. NPMA offers these 10 important measures for homeowners as the temperatures begin to drop:

* Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.

* Screen vents and openings to chimneys.

* Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.

* Replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around the basement foundation and windows.

* Keep tree branches, shrubbery and ground covering well trimmed and away from the house.

* Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.

* Store boxes off of the floor to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.

* Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles, as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.

* Store garbage in containers with lids.

To find a pest professional or learn more about how to protect your family from the diseases and dangers of pests, visit www.pestworld.org.

Mes de la Hispanidad inspira liderazgo, empoderamiento, sentido comunitario

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:07pm
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(NewsUSA) - Al celebrar el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, temas inspiradores tales como el liderazgo, el empoderamiento y el sentido comunitario tomarán un lugar central.

Durante las próximas semanas, los casi 54 millones de estadounidenses y latinoamericanos hispanos que viven actualmente en los EE.UU. celebrarán su patrimonio cultural con amigos, familiares y sus comunidades. Lo que experimentarán es una sensación general de orgullo como ninguna otra.

Desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 15 de octubre, los EE.UU. rendirán homenaje a las contribuciones, historias y tradiciones de estadounidenses cuyos ancestros vinieron de México, España y países de habla hispana en el Caribe, América Central y América del Sur.

Las fechas son importantes porque representan la independencia de cinco países latinoamericanos: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua y Costa Rica. Además, México también declaró su independencia el 16 de septiembre y Chile el 18 de septiembre.

En reconocimiento de este mes histórico, JCPenney se asociará con Gonzo Soccer y su fundadora, Mónica González. González, ex jugadora profesional de fútbol y ahora analista de fútbol y locutora de ESPN, creó Gonzo Soccer una academia de liderazgo que ofrece a niñas entre los 8 a 16 años de sectores más vulnerables, entrenamiento de fútbol y valiosas habilidades de liderazgo y preparación para la vida con el fin de fomentar su crecimiento y darles la posibilidad de desarrollar todo su potencial como atletas y estudiantes.

Con esta asociación, JCPenney cree que puede honrar no sólo lo que estas niñas pueden lograr en el campo de futbol, sino también su compromiso para tener éxito como mujeres, atletas, y como miembros orgullosos de la vibrante comunidad hispana. Para empezar, JCPenney ofrecerá una clínica de fútbol gratuita en Houston el 30 de septiembre donde González enseñará ejercicios, trucos y consejos de fútbol para jóvenes de la zona. JCPenney equipará a las niñas con su línea de ropa deportiva Xersion y les ofrecerá las últimas tendencias en peinados deportivos por estilistas del salón JCP. Los amigos y familiares están invitados a asistir y animar a las jóvenes mientras disfrutan de la música, la comida y la diversión.

"Mónica y sus chicas demuestran fuerza, poder y perseverancia a través de su dedicación al deporte y queremos celebrarlo con ellas mientras aceptamos su herencia hispana", dice Lyris Leos, director de marketing multicultural de JCPenney.

Para más información, visite www.facebook.com/JCPenneyLatino.

3 Fishermen Rescued at Sea Thanks to GPS Device

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 8:35am
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(NewsUSA) - The effective use of the VehSmart GPS device likely saved a trio of fishermen from Ecuador after their boat was attacked by robbers. The fishermen were sailing their small boat, Luis Miguel, southwest of the Santa Elena peninsula, when they were overtaken by robbers who stole their personal belongings and the boat's motor before locking them in a storage compartment, according to the Ecuadorean Navy (DIRNEA).

The fishermen were able to break out of the compartment and deploy the "panic button" on the VehSmart GPS device installed on the boat. This feature links directly to Ecuador's National Emergency Response System, and a Coast Guard team was able to locate and rescue the fishermen within three hours.

The VehSmart system is built around a small, portable device that, among other features, pinpoints the user's location and allows anyone on the vessel to activate a distress call in case of emergency. The Luis Miguel was equipped with the GPS locator technology as part of a pilot program to install GPS systems in 4,000 small artisanal fishing vessels.

The program is sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries (MAGAP) of Ecuador and is designed to provide fishermen with greater security and peace of mind against threats of piracy and the often dangerous marine environment. In addition, the VehSmart technology allows authorities to monitor the fleet's movements to help prevent overfishing in certain areas and to protect zones that are off-limits for fishing.

The GPS technology used in the Ecuadorean fishing fleet combines VehSmart's telematics and the SmartOne satellite transmitter from Globalstar, Inc.

"The installation only requires less than 15 minutes, which is a small investment to ensure someone's safety," said Brad Merritt, president of VehSmart.

"Only vessels registered under the program receive this protection, and MAGAP is encouraging the artisanal fishing community to take the time to have the units installed as quickly as possible," according to a statement from VehSmart. Without the GPS technology, the fishermen could have drifted for days or been lost at sea.

Visit www.vehsmart.com for more information about the range of GPS products and services available from VehSmart.

Majority of Moms and Moms-to-Be Believe in Public Breastfeeding

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:30am
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(NewsUSA) - Attitudes and opinions can vary greatly when it comes to public breastfeeding. Yet, when it comes to the opinion that matters most -- the mother's -- a recent survey suggests that "breast is best."

Highlighting breastfeeding attitudes and behaviors of moms and expecting moms around the U.S., the 2014 Lansinoh Global Breastfeeding Survey found that more than half of women surveyed say that breastfeeding in public is perfectly natural (57 percent).

Other key findings included:

* Ninety-three percent of moms believe that "breast is best" when it comes to feeding babies. That number increases to 98 percent for moms who are pregnant with their first baby.

* "Mommy Guilt" is real. In fact, 64 percent of moms say they would feel guilty if they did not breastfeed.

* The majority of moms (86 percent) who choose to breastfeed do so because of the health benefits for baby. Forming a close bond with baby (5 percent) and to save money by not buying formula (5 percent) were distant second-place reasons.

"These data show that moms today have the best interest of their baby's health in mind when forming their breastfeeding goals and opinions," said Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC and Vice President of Healthcare & Media Relations, Lansinoh Laboratories. "Yet, ultimately, there are many other factors moms navigate when making their decision."

One such factor is whether to use breast pumps. According to the survey, more than three-fourths of moms have used -- or plan to use -- breast pumps. That number is highest with expecting moms, with 82 percent saying they plan to use pumps, and the remaining 18 percent unsure whether they will or not.

It's important to note that the survey was very careful in choosing its participants.

"We wanted to talk to moms who are currently breastfeeding, as well as those who recently stopped, because understanding how they feel is the best way to support today's breastfeeding moms, whether it's through new breastfeeding products or with workplace policies and government support," said Ciagne.

To read the full survey, visit www.lansinoh.com/globalsurvey.

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