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Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

Tell Congress to Protect Paper Investor Reports

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 11:53
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - From encyclopedias to microfiche, we're surrounded by casualties of the digital age, relics of the era before the Internet revolutionized daily life. But even as technology has rendered many advancements, Americans still prefer -- and need -- important information on paper, especially when it comes to financial documents.

That's why Consumer Action is calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to abandon its efforts to make e-delivery the default method for important mutual fund investment materials. While such a move would lower mutual funds' operating costs, the true cost would likely be passed onto individual investors. We all need to tell Congress that this can't happen.

Despite the fact that the SEC's own study finds that 71 percent of American investors prefer to read shareholder reports in paper format, the agency approved and proposed Rule 30e-3, which would permit mutual funds to switch investors to electronic delivery of shareholder reports without ever receiving specific permission to do so.

Under the new rule, mutual funds would distribute a one-time notice, after which the burden would be shifted to investors to declare a continued preference for paper reports. If they don't take explicit action to request paper delivery of these shareholder reports, investors will only be able to access them online.

Shareholder reports are critical tools containing the information investors need to make informed investment decisions, and many investors prefer and need to see that information on paper. In fact, of the more than 700 comments the SEC has received regarding Rule 30e-3, 94 percent of them express objection to the rule and urge the SEC to rescind it.

While Rule 30e-3 reflects the broader trend toward digitization, the reality is that most Americans prefer to receive financial information in paper form, and, for many Americans, viewing shareholder reports online is simply not an option. Even though e-delivery of shareholder reports has been available for years, only a small minority of investors have chosen that option. In fact, a Pershing survey conducted in 2013 shows that 30 percent of investors do not use the Internet for investment correspondence due to concerns about security. And according to the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of Americans over 65 years of age do not use the Internet at all, yet 34 percent of this population owns mutual funds.

Rule 30e-3 could also disenfranchise many small investors across the country, including those in rural areas without reliable Internet and those with smaller incomes. After all, analysis of census data commissioned by the advocacy group Consumers for Paper Options shows that households with incomes below the national average are 18 percent less likely to have Internet access.

Even more concerning is the fact that the SEC has tried this scheme before -- with disastrous results. In 2006, the SEC shifted the mailing of proxy statements from paper to e-delivery, and from 2007 to 2009, proxy voting declined by 80 percent. E-delivery simply isn't a preferred or

reliable method for important investment information.

Consumer Action is asking Congress to ensure that the SEC cannot implement Rule 30e-3, and we urge you to join us. Visit and use our Take Action Center to quickly write your members of Congress. We need to tell lawmakers that the needs of individual Americans should come before the desires of the financial services industry.

Linda Sherry is the director of national priorities at Consumer Action, a national non-profit organization dedicated to empowering underrepresented consumers nationwide through multilingual financial education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy.

Brighten Your Holidays With LED Lights

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 08:36
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Driving through neighborhoods this holiday season, you may have noticed that some holiday lights are brighter and more vividly colored than others. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), the reason for the added brilliance is that more and more homeowners are opting to decorate with LED lights instead of the traditional incandescent type.

"Incandescent bulbs have been used for decorating holiday trees since 1882, shortly after (Thomas)Edison invented and demonstrated his first practical incandescent bulbs on New Year's Eve in 1879," says Terry McGowan, ALA director of technology. "Now, more than a century later, incandescent holiday lights are being phased out as LED bulbs appear in a multitude of types, colors, sizes and string configurations."

Compared to strings of incandescent bulbs, LEDs offer:

* Longer bulb life (3-year warranties; average life up to 100,000 hours)

* Energy savings (16-17 watts of savings for a 25-foot light string) -- a reduction of more than 75 percent

* Bright colors -- LEDs generate only the desired color; incandescent bulbs use color filters which waste light

* Cool operation -- LEDs have no hot filament inside; bulbs remain cool

What's New This Year?

* Miniature Light Strings. LEDs are small and can be fabricated into tiny dots of light. American Lighting Inc. ( calls these "dew drop" lights. Strings of these tiny cool-operating lights can be used to decorate foliage, live plants or a floral centerpiece. The light strings are made in various colors and operate at low voltage, and some strings are designed for battery operation so that no power cords are required.

* Tree wrapping. Strings of lights closely wrapped around the base of deciduous trees and then up into the branches give a festive look to even small trees or shrubs. The secret is to use strings of lights with 6 inches or less between bulbs, which can be wrapped around the trunk and limbs with no more than 3inches between the layers of wrapped wiring.

* Magnetic sockets. Sockets designed to be used with standard screw-in incandescent or LED bulbs are available with built-in magnets that hold tightly to any ferrous metal. A narrow metal backing strip can be used to quickly mount lights in a straight line, making installation, take-down or spacing adjustments easy. The magnets keep the lights in line and hold tightly in all weather conditions.

For more LED lighting tips, visit

The INs and OUTs of a Hospital Stay

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 07:56
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(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - It's estimated that 18.4 million Americans have had an overnight hospital stay. And, whether you stay multiple nights or just a few hours in the ER, the medical expenses can add up quickly. While major medical insurance may cover most of your stay, oftentimes there are still out-of-pocket costs that fall on patients and their families. Voluntary hospital insurance can help ease the financial burden of a hospital stay. Read below for additional information about what a hospital stay can cost you and how hospital insurance can help. For more information, visit

See full-sized image here.

The Movie Studio Reveals New Opportunities for Indie Filmmakers

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 07:53
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(NewsUSA) - Independent films are the heart and soul of the movie industry. These original works of art have the potential to push the boundaries of film; engage new, underserved audiences and, just maybe, develop into blockbuster hits seen by millions of viewers worldwide.

This journey of growth, however, is no easy task. For an independent filmmaker, distribution can be the difference between a flop and a million-dollar success.

How can filmmakers trump this trend? The Movie Studio (TMS) evolved with an answer to this ever-important industry problem.

The TMS model is two-fold. The company both creates its own movies and simultaneously distributes other independent films. The combination provides TMS with a full library of diverse work that appeals to a broad network of buyers worldwide.

Currently, TMS is focused on English-speaking films. Plans are in the works, however, to enter the foreign films language market in the near future.

Gordon Scott Ventures, CEO, stated, "We are very excited to assist many independent producers, with their collective team in their quest for having their efforts rewarded by reaching audiences around the globe."

TMS' growth comes through enrolling indie producers from the top film schools and film festivals. If recruited, producers have the opportunity to share their work with audiences in more than 60 countries. These moviemakers can also become a member of TMS' growing family of followers, shareholders and supporters, ultimately working together for a mutual profit.

In addition, TMS continues to prove its value through its finesse and speed, period. The organization prides itself on giving viewers the power to decide for themselves if a film is successful.

As a pledge to its commitment to the industry, the TMS team has solidified a powerful, well-coordinated media platform through NewsUSA and This platform will boast a strong social media program intended to reach new independent producers and savvy film watchers alike.

With the indie industry begging for more options to grow, TMS could be in the right position at the right time to swiftly become a leader in the entertainment industry at large.

To learn more, please visit

Is Your Baby Ready for Chewing?

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 14:22
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Taking the step up from baby food to table food requires a key skill: chewing. Chewing is a learned skill, and parents can help their babies make the transition by offering a mix of appropriately textured foods.

Before introducing textured foods, review a baby's readiness. Signs that a baby is ready to begin eating soft foods include crawling with his or her stomach off the floor, pulling up to a standing position, starting to mash food with the jaws and attempting to feed him or herself (not necessarily successfully, but making the effort).

Learning to chew takes practice. It's not a skill babies develop instantly or even over a limited period of time, such as one month. Studies show that even when babies reach 3 years of age, they are still mastering chewing skills. Baby foods that combine different textures allow babies who are at the crawling or standing stage to simply explore those textures in their mouths without having to navigate separate foods. For older babies, small, soft food pieces can help promote side-to-side tongue movement and jaw mashing movement as preparation for chewing. Children who eat foods with chunky textures before the 10-month mark have an easier time transitioning to table food.

Textured foods such as those in Gerber's Lil' Bits recipe collection are specifically designed with soft bits of food sized for babies' mouths and a gradual progression in texture to help them further develop their chewing skills. Gerber experts analyzed more than 20 hours of video footage of babies chewing and mashing food, and tested approximately 30,000 spoonfuls of food to develop optimally sized food pieces that promote chewing ability.

We hold ourselves to high standards and bring deep passion to making baby food," a company statement notes. "We only work with farmers who comply with our strict quality standards, use cooking practices that help ensure our products are safe and developmentally appropriate, and test our products with babies from our panel of 2,000 Tiny Taste Testers. We do all of this to help ensure that our baby food is as delicious as it is nutritious."

The Gerber Lil' Bits collection includes 11 fruit and vegetable options and six dinner options, resulting from more than 80 taste tests to ensure baby approval. Recipes include Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle, Garden Vegetable & Beef, and Autumn Vegetable & Turkey.

For more information, and to share photos of your baby's first chewing efforts, please visit

Climb Stairs Without Hurting Yourself

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 10:25
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Four years after the first set of baby boomers hit the retirement age of 65, this segment of America continues to grow at record numbers. In fact, over the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 10,000 a day.

As this important pocket of America's population grows older, it is redefining the institutions of aging in a number of ways. For starters, the once-traditional retirement age of 65 doesn't necessarily mean retirement anymore.

Adjusting aging attitudes notwithstanding, one fact remains: Father Time, will take its toll on the health of this aging populace. For many, that might mean more minor aches and pains that come with growing older. For others, it means more serious matters.

That's why millions of baby boomers have traditionally moved to warmer Sun Belt locations where sunshine and active lifestyles prolong one's health and outlook on life. Interestingly, while many northern snowbirds are still making the traditional migratory retirement path to places like Florida, a number of retirees are reluctant to abandon their roots, and remaining in their lifelong homes year-round.

Whatever the case might be, aging Americans are downsizing toward more convenient and maintenance-free homes. And one of the most visible trends being adopted are modifications being made to a home's troubling set of stairs.

Whether it's gimpy ankles, worn-out knees or just the simple fragility of getting older, walking up and down a set of stairs has never been more dangerous. Sure, one can be vigilant in always holding onto the railings when going up and down a flight of stairs, or taking slow, measured steps.

The reality is, however, even young, healthy people frequently trip. When this happens to our aging loved ones, these accidents can be catastrophic.

That's why installing motorized stairlifts are increasingly becoming popular, allowing people to comfortably navigate their tiresome steps. One of the largest providers of these life-saving items is Florida-based Acorn Stairlifts.

Founded in 1992, Acorn Stairlifts features contemporary and innovative stairlift technology and is recognized by the Arthritis Foundation as the only manufacturer to earn their prestigious Ease-of-Use Commendation. This means that Acorn Stairlifts have been independently tested with real-world arthritis sufferers to determine that they are safe, comfortable and easy to use.

Other common safety features are sensors on the foot platform that will stop the lift when triggered, light-touch controls designed for individuals with limited manual dexterity and remote control options so other family members can help when needed. To learn more, please visit

Shopping for a New Sofa? Keep These Design Tips in Mind

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 14:40
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(NewsUSA) - Looking for a quick and easy way to freshen up your living room? Look no further than your sofa. A change of upholstery, especially a custom design, can change the look and feel of your room without a complex renovation. Today's sofa styles range from sleek and modern to traditional and timeless with a range of details like tufting and nailheads, shown in ready-to-ship fabrics, or you can pick from an expanded collection of fabric or leather to suit your style and budget.

When picking out your new sofa and giving it your own personal touch with a range of custom options, keep these design tips in mind:

* Fabric: There are so many pattern and texture options.

How do you decide between a menswear stripe, graphic floral, luxe leather or solid chenille? Gary Babcock, with Arhaus, a home furnishings store, says to look in your closet for guidance. "What color do you wear more? What's your favorite pattern? Your home is like your wardrobe and you need to look good in it."

* Tufting: It's trending and so much so that entire sofas are tufted. But it does come in various degrees. The deeper the tuft, the more dramatic and glamorous the sofa, while a more subtle tuft with simple button detail is more conservative, contemporary and more suited for the minimalist.

* Frame: Rather than concealing the frame in the construction process, designers are exposing it, giving the wood timeworn details and a beautiful finish. Adding an architectural element to the piece, an exposed frame brings another level of style to your space particularly if it's an open floor plan.

* Finish: The finish of the sofa frame, if exposed, and legs comprise another opportunity to showcase your individual style. With retailers like Arhaus, you have your choice of many finishes, ranging from a rich walnut to weathered barnwood.

* Finale: If an option, don't overlook the nailhead detail-the finale to your sofa design. Use nailheads to accent a unique feature of the sofa such as a rolled arm or seatback. But be sure to browse the range of sizes and finishes, including old gold, stainless steel, pewter and gunmetal. Designers can further customize the look of your sofa by changing the spacing between each nailheads.

Home furnishings stores such as Arhaus offer a range of sofa styles, as well as complimentary design services to help you create a one-of-a-kind item. In-stock pieces can be delivered in two to four weeks, and custom pieces can be expected in 10 to 12.

For more information and design ideas, visit

Millennials Are Determined to Lessen Their Kids' College Debt

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 11:38

(NewsUSA) - Pity the parents of college-bound kids.

According to the just-released 9th annual national "College Savings Indicator Study" conducted by Fidelity Investments, while more parents than ever before are socking away money to finance their children's college educations -- 69 percent nationwide, up 5 percent from last year -- they're still on track to save just 27 percent of their stated goals by the start of freshman year.

Even non-math whizzes can see what's described as "the challenge ahead" implied by these two numbers: $232 (the median monthly amount parents report saving) and $31,231 (the current average annual cost of tuition and fees at private colleges).

Of particular interest may be the behavior of millennial parents.

This is the generation, born between 1981 and 1997, whose particular revelation from the 2008 recession was how tough it is paying off their own student loans while trying to establish a career (56 percent who graduated with such debt remain saddled with it). So it's understandable, as the study found, that they "appear particularly determined to help their children" avoid the same plight -- specifically, by planning on covering 8 percent more than the 66 percent of their offspring's college costs than parents overall.

"Millennials have weathered challenging conditions for much of their adulthood, and have adopted smart savings habits at a higher rate than their older counterparts," says Keith Bernhardt, vice president of retirement and college products at Fidelity.

Here are some ideas you might not have thought of to keep from underfunding your own kids' higher education:

* Consider opening a 529 Plan. According to the survey, 93 percent of parents using one of these state- or state agency-sponsored, dedicated college accounts say it helps keep them on target. Savings can be used for tuition, books, and other education-related expenses. And the best part? Federal income taxes are deferred on any earnings, and separate state tax deductions may also apply.

* Get with the trend. You've heard of wedding registries set up to help finance a honeymoon in, say, exotic Bora Bora, right? Well, it's the same for college. If you have a 529 Plan through Fidelity, for example, its free 529 Online Gifting Service lets friends and family contribute to your account -- with a private dashboard provided for you to send invitations and track gifts.

* Reallocate pre-school dollars. If your child has aged out of day care and afterschool care, that's an average of $730 in monthly fees that could instead be squirreled away in a dedicated college savings account.

One other finding to emerge from the study: 70 percent of all parents say they need more "guidance" on the whole subject. Among the most popular Fidelity resource is an interactive, online College Savings Quick Check that lets you see how you're progressing.

Organizar Un Maratón De La Película Star Wars Nunca Había Sido Tan Fácil

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:46
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(NewsUSA) - Desde su debut en 1977, Star Wars (Guerra de las Galaxias) ha establecido franquicias de la película, convirtiéndose tanto en un fenómeno de la cultura pop como una favorita permanente que puede disfrutarse con toda la familia. Con seis películas, y casi cuatro décadas más tarde, Lucasfilm sigue haciendo de Star Wars una película mágica con el lanzamiento, este mes de diciembre, de Star Wars: El Despertar de la Fuerza (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Con el entusiasmo generado de la última película, los fanáticos de todas las edades se están preparando reexaminando y descubriendo las seis películas de la saga, es la excusa perfecta para reunirse y ponerse cómodos para disfrutar de una noche de películas.

Para que el evento sea aún más memorable, JCPenney, una de las tiendas minoristas de ropa y artículos para el hogar más grandes de la nación, está ofreciendo productos para toda la familia del clásico de Star Wars y Star Wars: El despertar de la fuerza. Monta la escena con una ropa cómoda para estar en casa, artículos de decoración y regalos fuera de este mundo. Los siguientes consejos estamos seguros harán que tu noche de película sea inolvidable, incluso para los más grandes (y más pequeños) aficionados:

* Elije un tema y disfruta por todo lo alto. Hay un montón de opciones fantásticas para cada habitación de la casa, con todos los personajes favoritos, citas memorables y diseños gráficos hasta cobijas, sábanas y mantas con las naves espaciales emblemáticas.

* Hazlo acogedor. JCPenney también ofrece una colección de almohada de divertidos amigos, que no sólo son decorativos sino también perfectos para abrazar. Estamos seguros que a las divertidas almohadas de nuestros amigos, Yoda y R2D2, toda la familia le dará una calificación de cinco estrellas.

* Sirve refrigerios divertidos, sin desorden. Ningún maratón de películas está completo sin algo que comer, así que ¿por qué no lo haces con el tema (y evitas la confusión de cuál es el vaso de cada quien) ofreciendo bebidas para adultos en vasos de cerveza con sus personajes favoritos? Para los aficionados más pequeños, los aperitivos y bebidas se sirven en vasos bien cerrados, tapados para evitar derrames con las figuras de Darth Vader y Stormtrooper

* Vestirse para impresionar. Para mantener a los niños abrigados y cómodos (y hacer que sea más fácil llevarlos a la cama más tarde), son necesarios los conjuntos de pijamas para el maratón. Para mamá y papá, hay una gran variedad de camisetas de moda, cómodas pijama y pantalones, e incluso monos con el personaje. ¡No olvides reunirlos a todos para una foto familiar!

For more information, visit

Know Your Drug Costs Before You Leave the Doctor's Office

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:30
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Have you ever suffered from sticker shock at the pharmacy? You arrive with a prescription from your doctor, but you are told that the medication is not covered and could cost you several hundred dollars. Health insurance and prescription drug coverage is a complex puzzle, and many consumers find themselves at a loss to understand what is or isn't covered and why.

However, some companies are trying to make the process easier. In particular, services to educate doctors and patients about drug benefits right in the doctor's office can help avoid unpleasant surprises at the pharmacy.

One example is a new drug benefit service available from Humana's IntelligentRx service, available to physicians through DrFirst's electronic prescription system. It provides doctors with details about their Humana patients' drug coverage, pricing and pharmacy options on the spot in the exam room. Doctors and patients can discuss and review drug costs and options as the prescription is being written.

According to William Fleming, president of Humana Pharmacy, the ability to help doctors make informed prescribing decisions in the exam room can help improve clinical outcomes by improving patients' access and adherence to their medications.

"Real-time information provided by the IntelligentRx service is a perfect example of how we can help doctors proactively deliver better care more affordably to their patients," Fleming said. "This is a big step forward in closing the gaps in the health care system, using transparency and technology to create a better health care experience," he added.

Here's how it works: A doctor chooses a medication, and the DrFirst's myBenefitCheck interface connects with Humana's IntelligentRX service. The doctor sees information specific to his or her patient about drug costs and coverage, information about drug allergies and even alternative therapies.

Such programs could have a significant impact on health care costs, which are a known barrier to medication adherence. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 125,000 deaths in the United States each year result from individuals not taking medications as prescribed.

For more information, please visit or .

Ultimate Winter Driving Tips

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 10:19

(NewsUSA) - Americans love their cars -- especially the classics. Coupled with a long road trip, well, it doesn't get better than that.

This winter, three vintage cars from the LeMay -- America's Car Museum will make the trip of a lifetime when they participate in The Drive Home, a 13-day journey from Tacoma, Washington, ending in Detroit to coincide with the opening of the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

The ride will follow a 1957 Chevy Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Ford Mustang as they make their way back "home" to The Motor City from Dec. 27 to Jan. 8. To ensure the drive is safe and without incident, Michelin North America will be literally helping the caravan roll.

"Traveling from the Pacific Northwest to Detroit that time of year will certainly offer some winter weather challenges along the way," says Ron Margadonna, Michelin tire expert. "We're excited to help ensure the rally is a safe and comfortable one with proper winter tires for each of these beautiful, classic vehicles."

Years ago, making this journey during the winter would have been nearly impossible because the tire technology just wasn't the same as it is today. Now that the vehicles can be outfitted with technologically advanced winter tires, the cruise should be safe and seamless.

Whether you're driving cross country or across town this winter, consider these tips to help make your ride safer:

1. Take care of the outside: Check essential safety components like your tires, headlights and windshield wipers. Make sure you have proper tire pressure and enough tread, that your headlights are bright, and that your wipers are clean and in good working condition. If the temperatures are still mild, it's also a good time to give your car a good wash and a protective coat of wax.

2. Have the right type of tire: All- season tires are effective for three seasons and in regions with light-to-moderate winter weather. However, when winter precipitation is greater and/or when temps approach the freezing point and below, all-season rubber compounds begin to stiffen enough to compromise traction in emergency maneuvers or panic braking. If you're driving in a climate where the temperature consistently approaches the freezing point, consider winter tires like the MICHELIN X-Ice Xi3 to better manage winter conditions.

3. Have a winter ready kit in the trunk: Be sure you know where your ice scraper or snow brush is. It's not a bad idea to have an extra set of gloves and boots in the trunk, as well as a shovel, ice melt and jumper cables. Hopefully you'll never need them, but better to be safe than sorry!

For more information, visit

Could Egg Freezing Be Right for You?

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:59
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - These days it's popular to talk about 40 being the new 30. Unfortunately, this does not apply to a woman's fertility, which peaks in her 20s, then declines in her 30s.

One option for fertility preservation that has been getting a lot of attention recently is egg freezing. Historically, egg freezing was an option for young women with medical problems. Now, women who do not have major health problems but are considering delaying having a family are wondering if egg preservation could be a potential option for them.

Human oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a novel technology done in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which a woman's eggs are extracted, frozen and stored. Later, when she is ready to try and become pregnant, the eggs may be able to be thawed, fertilized and transferred to the uterus as embryos.

Pei Lin Kim decided to freeze her eggs at the age of 34. She says, "After consulting with my physician, I decided to freeze my eggs so that if I experience infertility issues when I decide that the time is right for me to have children, I may have another option that could help me start a family."

Success rates of IVF with thawed eggs depend on many factors, such as the woman's age and fertility potential at the time of freezing, successful thawing and a successful IVF procedure. There is no guarantee that the process results in being able to have a healthy baby.

Pei Lin's doctor, David Ryley, MD of Boston notes, "While egg preservation is not guaranteed to lead to childbirth, just as no infertility treatment is guaranteed a positive outcome, more women are considering the procedure. Women must weigh pros and cons based on personal circumstances and should consult with their doctor to learn about their fertility potential, risks of delayed childbirth, risks associated with the procedure -- including medications -- and facts associated with elective egg freezing."

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine does not currently recommend egg freezing for patients who wish to delay childbirth due to insufficient data on the efficacy and safety of this procedure for these patients.

For more information see

Holiday Beers Dating Back to Antiquity

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:57
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - With the craft beer market growing an astounding 20 percent each year, brewers are looking for more ways to stand out from the crowd. While the recent crop of "Holiday" beer popping up in the aisle might elicit eye rolls, the category has grown a whopping 200 percent over the last four years.

Maybe the reason for holiday beer's recent surge in popularity is a deep-seated love for the first holiday brews enjoyed by our ancient ancestors. What exactly makes a holiday beer? Generally, it's a higher-alcohol beer made for the late autumn and winter months that often has notes of seasonal spices, herbs, chocolate or fruit.

Dating as far back as 650 AD, before hops were used as a preservative, Viking brewers often resorted to mixes of herbs, spices, seeds, peppers, and even tree bark to help stabilize their brews. These proto-beers were strong, malty and most often enjoyed during the Viking holiday of Jul -- or Yule.

The other piece of the puzzle comes from a tradition started in fifth-century Britain during festival season when bowls of ale were passed around the tables for people to drink. Centuries later, slices of Yule cake were placed in the bottom of the bowls and the ale poured over it, flavoring it with seasonal spices.

On this side of the Atlantic, holiday beers were widespread by the early 20th century, with Stella Artois being introduced in 1926 as a Christmas beer (ergo, Artois or "star") and beers creating packaging that reflected the season, such as Miller Brewing Co.'s 1930s "Christmas Special Beer," replete with a Norman Rockwell-esque painting of a family surrounding a fire.

The 1980s saw a rise of brewers incorporating "warming" spices into beers, and more recently, brewers have looked to richer, heavier beer styles -; stouts and porters -- that are packed with flavors that evoke thoughts of sitting inside by a warm fire.

This brings us to today's holiday beers. While heavier beers still rule the season, one new offering in the lineup is the Traveler Beer Company's Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy. Like holiday beers, shandys originated in Europe, where brewers mixed ale with citrus for low-alcohol refreshment. Although traditionally seen as a warm-weather beverage, Jolly uses seasonal spices and fruit, including orange and pomegranate, to create a new kind of holiday beer that's both warming and seasonable.

So whether it's a winter warmer or holiday shandy, go on and enjoy a beer with your holiday dinner. It's what our Viking ancestors would have wanted.

'A Sunday Horse' Named Official Selection at Li'l Herc Family Fest at Equus Film

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:54

(NewsUSA) - Hosting a major film industry event is not for the faint of heart. Ask James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Or David Niven. It takes charisma, flexibility and endurance. Attributes like those of the horse, whose place in history and our hearts will be celebrated through more than 145 films, videos and documentaries Nov. 21 and 22 at EQUUS Film Festival NYC at the Village East Cinema. Its two Oscar-worthy hooved celebrities welcoming filmgoers are Li'l Herc and A Sunday Horse.

Based on Hercules, the real-life Lusitano owned by author Suzanne Kopp-Moskow, Li'l Herc is an equine literary character returning to New York to host his free Family Fest on Saturday morning. "This horse," she says, "re-awakened my heart to the power of goodness," and inspired a children's book about globetrotting goodwill. Beatrice Bulteau, renowned artist and multi-media illustrator, is working with Kopp-Moskow to bring Li'l Herc from paddock to paper in a book to debut next year.

The classic story of a girl with a dream and a horse who beats the odds is behind Li'l Herc's official selection, "A Sunday Horse," screening at 10:15 a.m. It's the true story of Ocala show jumper Debi Connor, played by "Twilight" actress Nikki Reed, who overcame hurdles bigger than a Grand Prix course -- a near-fatal accident and epilepsy diagnosis - to prove her horse deserved to be called a champion.

"It's the first American-based movie set in Grand Prix show jumping since Disney's 1968 classic, 'The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit,' starring a young Kurt Russell," says director Vic Armstrong, a lifelong horseman and action stunt coordinator and director (six Bond movies, Mission Impossible 3, Terminator 2 and all the Indiana Jones films). "It was a terrific challenge, working with 30 actors, 300 extras and about 150 horses. It was important to tell this great story, but equally important to get the world of show jumping right onscreen."

Early screenings suggest "A Sunday Horse" might be the most authentic movie ever made about show jumping. It will hold its U.S. world premier at EQUUS Film Festival.

When the "barn doors" open to Li'l Herc's Family Fest, it will be the first time a novel Lusitano and show jumping star like A Sunday Horse have joined up anywhere, including the Oscars, to introduce so many horse films at one time (while 'horsin' around' better than Franco and Hathaway). Tickets and information at

Getting Engaged? How to Spend Your Dollars Wisely

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:52
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Blame it on Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

The average cost of a wedding -- excluding the honeymoon -- has now soared to $31,213, according to the wedding planning website TheKnot. And experts cite the "images of celebrity wedding extravagance," a la last year's $12 million "Kimye" nuptials in Florence, Italy, as at least one factor influencing couples' spending choices.

Obviously, no one's saying you have to shell out that much. But with this being prime time for popping the question -- 39 percent of all marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day -- there is one trend that's become both almost a must and a potential money-saving opportunity.

"Personalization," TheKnot reports, "is on the rise."

Here's what you need to know:

* The wedding venue. Scenic farms with barns are big with brides and grooms. "I think it has a lot to do with photography," Lorin Holmes, co-founder of, told USA Today. "When couples get married, they're really looking for interesting, unusual details." And hey, when you consider the $50,000 tab to hold a reception at the New York Public Library -- anything cultural or historic is also hot -- the average venue booking fee of $14,000 starts to look pretty good.

* The reception. The big news flash here is that spending on cocktail hours jumped 7 percent. So think signature cocktails -- TheKnot's spiked chocolate milkshake recipe sounds yummy -- rather than an open bar.

* The engagement ring. If you've been reading the glossies, you know the splash celebs like Elizabeth Hurley and Jessica Simpson made sporting ones with colored gemstones. And while it needn't be her birthstone -- Simpson's is ruby, but Hurley's sapphire jibes with the month her then-fiance was born -- the right romantic touch can make for the ultimate in personalization.

"It can also be the month a couple met or her favorite color," says Jason Kordvani, president of product development at Davani (, a family-owned company specializing in colored gemstones that has a nearly 50-year rep for creating some of the most gorgeous engagement rings around.

And here's the kicker: Whether sapphire, emerald, ruby or some other stone, as Kordvani notes, couples are also often pleasantly surprised to discover they can get "a larger, more important-looking ring at much less cost than a diamond." The firm itself offers styles ranging from the more affordable Davani Bridal to the show-stopping Luxury Collection.

As if thinking of those Kimye nuptials, he adds: "People want big rings like the ones celebrities wear."

'A Sunday Horse': This Year's Heartwarming Horse Story

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 09:50

(NewsUSA) - A talented young woman and her horses defy the odds to rise to the top of the show jumping world in a new family film, "A Sunday Horse," scheduled to debut in 2016.

The movie is inspired by the true story of Debi Connor, a rider and trainer from Ocala, Florida. The story is set in the present, although the main events occurred in the 1980s. The star of the film, Debi Walden (her maiden name), has drive and talent, and dreams of becoming an Olympic champion in the sport of show jumping. Unfortunately, she lacks the money and resources to train for the top tier of the sport and she is unable to afford the expensive horses needed for Olympic-level competition.

Debi defies the odds, doing farm chores in exchange for training and earning the emotional and financial support of an African-American entrepreneur with similarly humble beginnings. She buys several horses with no formal jumping skills, trains them herself and starts taking the Grand Prix jumping world by storm. When Debi and her horses make the U.S. Olympic team, her dream is within her grasp, but an accident during a training exhibition leaves her comatose and paralyzed. When she finally comes to, Debi sells her top prize-winning horse Touch of Class to her co-trainer, who takes the horse to the Olympics and wins a pair of gold medals for the USA.

Despite a dire prognosis of never riding again, Debi perseveres through months of painful rehabilitation and enters the Governor's Cup at the Virginia Horse Show, where, despite her ongoing struggles with paralysis and seizures, she competes against her old horse Touch of Class and wins.

A "Sunday Horse" features a well-known cast, including Nikki Reed (Twilight), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible), Ryan Merriman (Final Destination), and screen legends William Shatner (Star Trek) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator). The director is Vic Armstrong, renowned stunt coordinator and second unit director on hundreds of films including Indiana Jones films, Terminator 2, Mission Impossible 3, and six James Bond movies. Armstrong has a personal connection to the story: He is a lifelong horseman whose father coached Great Britain's equestrian team for five Olympic Games.

The film premieres at the Equus Film Festival in New York in late November 2015.

To learn more, please visit The film premieres Saturday morning during the Li'l Herc Family Fest at the Equus Film Festival in New York.


Feeding Your Joints to Stay on the Move

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 14:12

(NewsUSA) - If you experience joint discomfort, you're not alone. No matter how active you are, joint problems are one of the most common reasons for doctor's visits and will affect most of us as we age. Registered Dietitian & Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Marie Spano says there is a lot you can do to help yourself, beginning with a healthy diet.

"What you eat can have a big impact on joint inflammation, cartilage breakdown and bone formation," says Spano. "There are many foods that not only help, but are also delicious and easy to find."

At the top of Spano's joint-friendly grocery list are fatty fish, including salmon, herring and anchovies. They contain the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects. In cell culture studies, EPA and DHA decrease cartilage breakdown. "Cartilage is like a sponge that cushions your joints, so make sure you're taking care of it. These fatty acids can also improve symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis and possibly decrease the need for anti-inflammatory medications," says Spano.

Another way to feed your joints is to take a high-quality glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplement. Together, these have been shown to limit the activity of enzymes which can break down healthy cartilage. "To help support your joint health, I recommend CosaminDS, which is the most researched glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplement on the market. It contains high-quality ingredients and a specific formulation shown in peer-reviewed studies to be effective for joint health management." Spano cautions that not all supplements are created equally. "Be an informed consumer. Look for supplements like Cosamin that are backed by clinical research and certified by an independent third-party organization."

Next stop on Spano's grocery trip is the produce aisle. She recommends oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and other foods that are rich in Vitamin C. "Vitamin C is necessary for repairing and maintaining cartilage. In population-based studies, those with higher Vitamin C intake had less severe osteoarthritis and cartilage breakdown."

A balanced exercise routine also helps by maintaining joint mobility and assisting with weight control. Obesity can lead to a greater risk of joint issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two in three people who are obese may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Even a loss of one or two pounds may feel more like 10 pounds to your joints.

Camden Preserve Offers Opportunity for Developers

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 12:27
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - As the population nationwide grows and uncharted areas are increasingly few and far between, those looking to purchase or develop land have fewer and fewer options. Is developing new, high-quality land an American dream of the past?

Camden Preserve is one continuous 1,221-acre coastal community that is located in Camden County, Ga. The community overlooks the White Oak River, approximately a 20-minute boat ride to the Atlantic Ocean. Other local destinations, such as Sea Island and Jekyll Island, are within a short ride as well. Despite trends, this preserve seems poised to offer new opportunities to interested developers.

The location is also just a 35-minute drive from the Jacksonville International Airport, which makes it easy to get anywhere in the world. Brunswick, St. Simons and Savanna, Ga., are all just a short drive away.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find that the location is extremely appealing thanks to an abundunce of golfing, boating, fishing and hunting spots. And for those who just want to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery, there are miles of gorgeous marshfront. Simply put, the location truly offers something for everyone to enjoy.

As of now, Camden Preserve is undergoing phase one of development. The developing company is Egret Landing, LLC, which is managed by Zuckerman Homes, a Florida-based company specializing in residential communities.

Additional land at Camden Preserve is already zoned, meaning that growth is imminent and opportunities will come and go quickly. In fact, the federal and state government recently selected the area as home to the new Interstate 95 interchange because of the predicted growth in the days ahead.

As one of the last pristine approved properties available in southern Coastal Georgia, it is a rare and special place for those looking for new opportunities. The question is, how long will this opportunity last?

Developers interested in learning more should contact Zuckerman Homes via email at or by phone at (954) 481-3700.

Musicians Fighting Back Against Big Radio for Performance Royalties

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 12:25
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Americans can listen to the radio via AM/FM, Internet, satellite, or cable TV. The music is the same, but payments to the artists are not. Internet radio pays musicians a small amount, but AM/FM radio pays them nothing.

Most experts agree that this policy doesn't fit the digital era, and many musicians say that it hurts performers and will continue to adversely affect the music industry.

"When many of us think of the song, 'Respect,' we think of Aretha Franklin," notes David Byrne of the Talking Heads. "Many people are shocked to learn that Aretha never made a penny from all the radio broadcasts of her performance. Many musicians receive little compensation or struggle to pay bills despite having widely-aired recordings."

Musician Sheryl Crow adds, "Dionne Warwick does not get paid for her beautiful recordings when they are played on the radio. She had to file for bankruptcy."

Artists' advocates, such as MusicFIRST, point out that AM/FM radio earns billions of dollars a year selling ads to listeners while musicians struggle to make ends meet.

A growing number of top stars including Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Imogen Heap, Common, Elton John, and R.E.M., are taking the fight to Washington. Several of these artists helped launch the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, bipartisan legislation that would pay musicians the same royalties no matter what kind of radio uses their work.

The National Association of Broadcasters claims that the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act is unnecessary, because artists are paid by the radio in "promotional value" or "exposure." But many artists disagree. Grammy-winning artist Rosanne Cash says, "Exposure is something you die of," and musicians deserve fair pay for their work.

Top U.S. Copyright official Maria Pallante also questions the decades-old justification for not compensating artists. "As consumer preferences shift away from music ownership, the potential for sales is becoming less relevant, and the promotional value of radio less apparent," she says.

Many artists believe the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act can and should become law.

"I support the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act because I love music and I think all musicians should be paid," says singer Cyndi Lauper.

"Every democratic country in the world pays musicians for radio play," says Cake's John McCrea. "We think the United States is a good enough country to do that as well."

To learn more, please visit

Millennials Start Out Behind the Curve Financially

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 10:09

(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Millennials are so financially burdened -- and not just by an average of $30,000 in student loans -- that they're delaying key parts of "the American Dream" that other generations took for granted. Forty-eight percent of those aged 18 to 34 have put buying a house on "hold," for example, while 38 percent have made the same decision regarding having kids. Those insights -- and how millennials can turn things around -- are all part of TD Ameritrade's new "2015 Financial Support Survey."



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