Saturday, October 15, 2005

Portland (Ore.) Man Charged with Fraudulent Receipt of FEMA Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Funds

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Karin J. Immergut, the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today that an indictment was returned on Wed., Oct. 12, by a federal grand jury charging Harold Allen Miller, Jr. 41, of Portland, Ore. with Mail Fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

The charges stem from a federal investigation by the Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the Secret Service, and the Department of Homeland Security into allegations that Portland residents are making false statements in order to qualify for disaster relief payments in the amount of $2,000 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In order to qualify, a person must have suffered damage to property as a result of the Hurricane. Applicants are required to identify the specific property which suffered such damage.

The indictment alleges that Miller falsely represented that he suffered such damage to a property located in Baton Rouge, La. As a result, a FEMA check for $2,000 was mailed from a government office in Texas to a post office box controlled by Miller in Portland. Investigators are gathering evidence relating to numerous other checks sent to Portland, which may also be based on fraud.

A criminal indictment is only an allegation and not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Miller could face imprisonment and a fine depending on judicial findings under the federal Sentencing Guidelines. Miller was arrested this morning and is scheduled to appear in federal court in Portland on today at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment on the charges.

This prosecution is supported by the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force established by the United States Attorney General on Sept. 8. Task Force members include the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspection Service, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and other federal agencies.

This national task force, working with state and local agencies, will swiftly bring to justice those who seek to commit fraud in connection with payment of hurricane relief funds.

Questions may be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Caldwell, who is handling the prosecution, at 503-727-1000.

Washington, D.C. Man Pleads Guilty to High-Tech Distribution of Child Pornography

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Bruce A. Schiffer, 34, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in Federal District Court today to one count each of using his computer to advertise, transport, receive and possess child pornography, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and Kenneth L. Wainstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, announced today.

During the plea hearing, Schiffer admitted to charges contained in an indictment handed down on June 9, 2005. The indictment alleged that Schiffer advertised, transported, received and possessed the child pornography that forms the basis for the charges.

By operating his personal computer as a file server, Schiffer allowed selected files to be downloaded and uploaded by the public from and to his computer respectively. He also advertised on specified internet relay chat (IRC) channels a willingness to receive or distribute files.

Schiffer advertised his file server on the "100 percentpreteenboysexpics" IRC channel, making available to the public a collection of approximately 11,000 image and movie files of child pornography and erotic depictions of children over the course of about five months beginning on or about Sept. 1, 2004 and continuing until on or about Jan.14, 2005.

Among the items seized from Schiffer's bedroom pursuant to a search warrant, were several computers; a large quantity of storage media, including videotapes, CDs, DVDs and floppy disks, a clown suit; and two boxes of catalogued correspondence between Schiffer and roughly 160 prison inmates, the vast majority of whom had either sexually assaulted or murdered children.

"Pedophiles who think the Internet is a safe haven for the sexual exploitation of children are dead wrong," said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher. "Through vigorous and vigilant law enforcement efforts, we will find and punish those who prey on our nation's youth. The Department of Justice will devote every resource to eradicating the victimization of children wherever it occurs."

U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein stated, "It is chilling to consider the number of young children who were exploited and degraded in the production of the obscene images on the defendant's file server. Today's conviction puts pedophiles on notice that we will stop at nothing in our effort to incarcerate and severely punish those who would ruin the lives of our children to satisfy their sexual perversions."

The indictment and guilty plea were the result of an investigation by the FBI, the Pennsylvania State Police, the High Tech Investigative Unit of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section at the Criminal Division, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

Schiffer faces a 15-year mandatory minimum and a 30-year mandatory maximum sentence for advertising child pornography and a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for transporting and receiving.

Under the federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a likely sentence of 262 to 327 months in prison.

The government is seeking the forfeiture of the computer equipment allegedly used to commit these crimes.

The sentencing date will be February 9, 2006, before the Honorable Paul L. Friedman.

NLPC Criticizes Farrakhan and Millions More March; Says Extremists Have Seized Control of Civil Rights Movement

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today said of today's Millions More Movement march, "Extremists have seized control of what used to be called the civil rights movement. It is amazing to see Jesse Jackson, members of Congress, the NAACP all marching in Farrakhan's parade."

Flaherty continued, "Farrakhan was up there looking and sounding like some kind of tinpot dictator. He referenced a charge he made at least twice in the week preceding the rally claiming that the levees in New Orleans were blown up by the United States government.

One of his wackiest ideas is for African-Americans to lease land from Native Americans to grow food so that the 'merchants of death' who currently own supermarkets can be by-passed. It would be a mistake, however, to make light of the likes of Farrakhan and Malik Zulu Shabazz, who spoke just before him. They are dead serious about their agenda."

Shabazz is the leader of the New Black Panther Party and has a history of anti-Semitism. He reportedly claimed that Jews had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. In 2002, Shabazz reportedly lead a march on Hitler's birthday on the B'nai B'rith building in Washington, DC.

Flaherty continued, "Neo-nazis tried to march in Toledo, Ohio and were met with bricks and rocks. The neo-Nazis who organized the Million More march were met with cheers and uncritical media coverage. The coverage has failed to emphasize the ugly and dangerous character of the Millions More Movement march, when it is mentioned at all. There is clearly a double-standard. The media is simply unable to objectively cover issues of race."

Flaherty noted that slave reparations had a prominent place at the march, and in Shabazz's speech. Wachovia, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase have all recently apologized for their alleged links to slavery and have made financial commitments to reparations activists.

NLPC promotes ethics in public life, and sponsors the Corporate Integrity Project.

The group has published a monograph titled "The Case Against Slave Reparations," that is available as a pdf at

Psychiatrist Behind Bars After Bail Security Withdrawn For Assault And Uttering Threats.

Dr. Anderson has been free to walk the streets, but now has to await his sentencing hearing for his July 2005 conviction and a bail hearing for his more recent charges in a Penticton, British Columbia jail cell.

/24-7PressRelease/ - VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA, October 15, 2005 - Dr. Larry Anderson, a psychiatrist who was found guilty of three counts of indecent or sexual assault involving three female patients over several years by a jury trial in July, 2005 has been behind bars since September 27 because his bail security was withdrawn when he was charged with two counts of assault and two counts of uttering threats on Sept 7 and Sept 14 in the Princeton, British Columbia area. (Court case # 31377).

Since his conviction in July, Dr. Anderson has been free to walk the streets, but now has to await his sentencing hearing for his July 2005 conviction and a bail hearing for his more recent charges in a Penticton, British Columbia jail cell.

The sentencing hearing for his July conviction is tentatively fixed for November 18, 2005.Anderson is not the only psychiatrist in the world who has been found to sexually assault woman patients.

16 other psychiatrists have lost their license to practice worldwide in just the past 3 months making it a possible case of one psychiatrist losing their license every week for sexual related incidents with woman patients or in one case a child female patient.

According to evidence given during the Anderson trial, The Doctor once put sexual instructions on what a female patient thought was a prescription for anti-depressant drugs. The prescription read: "Take one erection and put it in an appropriate space. Do what is needed to obtain satisfaction". Brian Beaumont, spokesperson for the British Columbia chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights said, "Psychiatric sexual assault is a very common occurrence over the world, but all too often the perpetrator is only slapped on the wrist by being given a fine or suspension from practice.

Over 300 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals worldwide have been criminally convicted of sex crimes in the last 27 years according to various court documents and media reports gathered by chapters of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights over the world. Hundreds of others have lost their licenses in that same time period. These figures do not take into account women who have been reluctant to file charges or who were unwilling or unable to come forward".

A 1997 Canadian study of psychiatrists revealed that of the 10% that admitted to sexually abusing their patients, 80% were repeat offenders. Many had undergone personal analysis or psychotherapy in an unsuccessful effort to rehabilitate themselves.

The complaint processes carried out by various medial boards and colleges are thwarted, in part, by the belief that psychiatrists are somehow above the law and above reproach. However, evidence shows, a woman is at a very great risk of being sexually assaulted while in a psychiatrist's office.

Studies show that between 6% and 13% of psychiatrists and psychologists sexually abuse their patients and, according to one American Journal of Psychiatry study, 80% of psychiatrists reporting sexual contact did so with an average of six patients.

According to a 2001 study, "Sex Between Therapists and Clients," by Kenneth Pope, a former head of the ethics committee for the American Psychological Association, 1 out of 20 clients who had been sexually abused by their therapist was a minor, the average age being 7 for girls and 12 for boys. The youngest child was 3.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was established by the Church of Scientology to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.

If you know anyone, including a child, who has been abused or harmed by a psychiatrist call The Citizens Commission on Human Rights at1 800 670 2247. Complete confidentiality assured.

Will Baby Boomers Hurt Stock Market Returns

Significant numbers of baby boomers will retire in the next 20 years. Will they sell their stocks and cause trouble for the stock market?

Menlo Park, Calif., (PRWEB) October 15, 2005 -- Some financial market forecasters believe that the upcoming retirement of baby boomers spells trouble for the stock market in coming decades.

"These observers suggest that as baby boomers retire they will sell their stock holdings to generate income needed for retirement, causing stock prices to decline or at least to have limited appreciation potential," says Dan Goldie a financial advisor to wealthy individuals and families in Menlo Park, California.

"These same folks generally attribute the excessive stock gains of the 1990s to baby boomer accumulation of stocks. They assume that demography is destiny, and that demographic changes determine stock market returns."

To a casual observer this might sound plausible, but logical analysis exposes the shortcomings of this thinking. There are many factors other than demographics that influence stock returns. According to Mr. Goldie, "It is far too simplistic to assume that basic population changes, which are known by markets participants decades in advance, are a major determinant of future stock returns.

"Long-term market returns are determined by the cost of capital, not demographics. Certainly, demographics could cause a change in the cost of capital, but it would likely be a small change and would affect all asset classes, not just stocks. In addition, there are numerous other macro factors that could have a meaningful mitigating influence over demographic effects on our economy, such as:

- Future immigration inflows of younger workers

- International capital flows

- Changing birth and death rates

- Relative aging patterns of other countries

- Changing work habits and income needs of older workers

- Productivity changes coinciding with aging workers

The forward-looking behavior of markets suggests that prices are not likely to decline significantly due to demographic changes. Mr. Goldie continues, "The world’s capital markets are a highly efficient information processing mechanism -- probably the greatest the world has ever known. It seems highly unlikely that this market system, which can instantaneously process enormous amounts of information every second of every trading day, would fail to account for basic knowledge of population trends that has been known for decades.

"A doom-and-gloom forecast implicitly assumes that markets are incorrectly pricing the risk of population changes. Even if one assumes that markets are inefficient and do not price risk correctly, they are as likely to be under priced as overpriced. In other words, if we accept that markets don’t work and prices are wrong, we must also accept that prices could be wrong in a “positive” direction -- i.e., priced too low, leading to higher unexpected returns as events unfold.

It is impossible to predict big macroeconomic changes decades in advance because dynamics of the global economy are too complex. Mr. Goldie says, "Simply put, demographic trends are easily dwarfed by other factors.

There is also no evidence that older Americans systematically sell stocks as they age."Mr. Goldie's analysis of historical patterns of stock holdings by age confirms that investors tend to not sell stocks as they get older. Using data from the Federal Reserve Board, Mr. Goldie observes that Americans over 55 have higher equity ownership than their younger cohorts and maintain it throughout their lives.

This suggests that investors accumulate stocks during their high-earning years and do not dramatically reduce them in retirement.Dan Goldie is a financial advisor to wealthy indviduals and families.

He is located in Menlo Park, California. Investment Advisory services provided through Partnervest Advisory Services LLC.

For further information contact:Dan Goldie750 Menlo Avenue, Suite 200Menlo Park, CA 94025650-566-1121

Turkish Jews Rebuilding a Presence in New York

Brooklyn, NY (PRWEB) October 15, 2005 -- The International Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP) is announcing a new Judaic cultural and traditions program known as Mahazike Tora. The program is for Turkish Jews, or anyone else interested in learning about authentic Turkish Sephardic traditions. The program strives to educate and focus on the traditions that have been handed down from the Jews who are descendant from Turkish lands including the modern Republic of Turkey, Rhodes, the Balkans and other locales.

Initially, Mahazike Tora will be scheduling occasional programs consisting of lectures and discussions. The initial program will be held on October 27, 2005. On this night, Rabbi Nissim Elnecave will be discussing the Me'am Lo'ez (Bereshit/Genesis).

All Jews are welcome to come enjoy an intimate evening where we will learn from the beginning of the Tora, studying the Sephardic Tora commentary written in 1689 by Haham Yakoub Huli of Constantinople. Shelomo Alfassa, Executive Director of the ISFSP will open the evening with a discussion on the significance of the Me'am Lo'ez, why it is important, and why it was written. He will also reflect upon the history of the Turkish Jews in New York.The Mahazike Tora program was founded by Rabbi Nissim Elnecave, Shelomo Alfassa, David Hasday and Isak Sefada.

On the initiation of the Mahazike Tora program, Shelomo Alfassa stated:"Mahazike Tora is the first program in over a quarter of a century focusing on this unique Jewish group. While some 25,000 Turkish Jews once filled the streets of the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, New Lots and the Bronx, today, just a scattered and loose fragment remain.

Together with Turkish Jews that arrived in the past few decades, this is a chance to rally together, a way to and reach out to those wanting to learn about Turkish traditions."Participation is open to all Jews, men and women, no matter what their level of knowledge is.

The event starts at 8:30pm and kasher Turkish refreshments will be served. The event will be held at the Sephardic Synagogue 511 Ave. R. in Brooklyn, N.Y.; there is no charge for this event. Point of Contact:Shelomo Alfassa 407-496-1125More information can be found by visiting

Friday, October 14, 2005

Damage Inspections Progressing For Hurricane Rita Victims

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that progress is being made in the inspection of homes damaged by Hurricane Rita. More than 400 FEMA-contracted inspectors are spreading out across parishes hard hit by this storm.

Many homeowners received home inspections in less than two weeks after they applied with FEMA for disaster assistance. The rate of processing inspections is increasing, which will bring aid to other affected homeowners sooner. To date, nearly 25,000 inspections have been completed in the three weeks since Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast.

Residents whose homes have not yet been inspected will be called at the contact number they gave when they registered. The inspector will set up a time for an inspection appointment. If homeowners have evacuated to another area and cannot return for an inspection, the inspector who calls can arrange for an authorized agent, named by the homeowner, or a FEMA agent to be present during the inspection.

Residents are reminded that if their home was damaged by both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, they should register with FEMA for both disasters. In addition, if their contact phone number or address has changed since they registered, they should report the change to FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for people who are speech- or hearing-impaired.

Changes also can be made at the FEMA Web site,, and at Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC).

Locations of DRCs can be obtained by calling the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) and following the prompt to the Helpline. Telephone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until further notice.

Inspections are ongoing for those who suffered damages from Hurricane Katrina. More than 200,000 inspections have been completed on Katrina-damaged homes in the six weeks since that storm.

Poor Water Quality? The Fridge May Be to Blame

(NUI) - There's one water source that many people are forgetting about when aiming to improve the water quality in their homes: the refrigerator.

With scientists finding more and more contaminants in fresh water sources, it's no wonder people are going to great measures to filter their drinking water. But even though many refrigerators with water and ice dispensers already contain a water filter, upkeep is necessary for good water quality.

"To ensure clean drinking water and ice from the refrigerator's dispensing system, the filter must be changed every six months," said Ray Scardigno, president of, a leading retailer of water filters.

"Refrigerator water filters are designed to purify a certain volume of water, and once they have dispensed that amount, they lose effectiveness."

Those who neglect changing their refrigerator's water filter may be in for a disturbing surprise. Poor filtration can allow chemical contaminants - from household cleaners, solvents, petroleum products and pesticides - to pass right through the refrigerator's water and ice system. Metal contaminants, such as lead and mercury, can pass through as well.

Furthermore, Environmental Protection Agency regulations currently don't require certain parasites to be removed from municipalities' water supplies.

Knowing this would make anyone with a refrigerator water and ice dispenser cringe. But what should you do if your refrigerator doesn't have a filtration system in the water and ice dispensing unit? Scardigno recommends purchasing an inline water filter that is easy to install and designed to fit most refrigerators.

"Most of us never think about our refrigerator water filters unless the water gets cloudy, starts tasting funny, someone gets sick or the refrigerator's lines or mechanical devices stop working properly," Scardigno said. "But disciplined replacement at scheduled intervals will ensure clear, crisp, safe drinking water and extend the life of the refrigerator."

For more information on refrigerator water filters, visit or call (866) 438-3458.

NATO to dispatch an Antonov Cargo Aircraft Carrying Base Camp to Pakistan

On Saturday, 15 October, NATO will dispatch an Antonov cargo aircraft to Pakistan containing a base camp for the World Food Program.

The camp, donated by the Swedish Government, will be used in Mazaffarabad for distribution of food to earthquake victims.

A high-level NATO official, Deputy Assistant Secretary General Maurits Jochems, will accompany the flight to liaise with Pakistani officials on the ongoing NATO support operation.

30 Things You May Not Have Known, Nor Should You.

1. The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

2. Wearing headphones for 1 hour will increase the bacteria in you ear by 700 times.

3. If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end due to the rate of reproduction.

4. The average human body contains enough sulfur to kill all the fleas on an average dog.

5. You are more likely to be target for mosquitos if you eat bananas.

6. The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

7. In medieval England, beer was often served with breakfast.

8. The first man-made item to exceed the speed of sound was a leather whip.

9. The most common non-contagious disease in the world is tooth decay.

10. A cat's jaw can not move sideways.

11. The names of all the continents end with the same letter they started with.

12. If you stood at the bottom of a well, you would be able to see the stars even during the daytime.

13. Grapes will explode if you put them in the microwave.

14. Starfish do not have brains.

15. Cats have better memories than dogs.

16. The largest number of children born to one woman is 69.

17. If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn white.

18. Clouds fly higher during the day than at night.

19. One human brain generates more electrical impulses in one day than all the world's telephones put together.

20. The Bloodhound is the only animal whose evidence is admissable in an American court.

21. On average 13 people die each year from vending machines falling on them.

22. An elephant can throw a baseball faster than a human.

23. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.

24. Mozart wrote "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" when he was 5 years old.

25. There are 3 golf balls sitting on the moon.

26. A zebra is white with black stripes, not black with white stripes.

27. You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than a spider.28. A cow gives nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.

29. There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

30. The total length of eyelashes shed by a human in thier lifetime is over 30 meters.

July 2005 Airline Traffic: Seven-Month Domestic Traffic Up 5.6 Percent From 2004

Friday, October 14, 2005 - U.S. airlines carried 5.6 percent more domestic passengers and flew 2.0 percent more domestic flights during the first seven months of 2005 than they did during the same period in 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today reported, in a release of preliminary data (Table 1).

BTS, a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), reported that the airlines carried 389.7 million domestic passengers during the first seven months of 2005, up from the 369.0 million carried between January and July 2004 (Table 2).

The passengers were carried on 5.92 million flights, up 2.0 percent from the 5.81 million flights operated in 2004 (Table 1).

In other domestic comparisons from the first seven months of 2004 to the first seven months of 2005:

Revenue passenger miles, a measure of the number of passengers and the distance flown, were up 5.6 percent.

Available seat-miles, a measure of airline capacity, were up 2.0 percent.

Passenger load factor, passengers carried as a proportion of available seats, was up 2.7 load factor points.

Flight stage length, the average non-stop distance flown per departure, was up 1.1 percent.

Passenger trip length, the average distance flown per passenger, was at 868 miles per trip, no change from the first seven months of 2004.

Among airlines, Southwest Airlines carried 51.1 million domestic passengers during the first seven months of 2005, the most of any airline (Table 3).

Among airports, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the busiest U.S. airport for domestic travel during the first seven months of 2005, with 22.9 million passenger boardings (Table 4).

National Press Club to Hold Forum on Harriet Miers Nomination, Nov. 7

WHAT: National Press Club Forum: The Harriet Miers nomination

WHEN: Monday, Nov. 7 at 10 a.m.

WHERE: National Press Club, National Press Building (13th Floor), 14th & F Streets NW, Washington, D.C.

Join Ralph Neas of People for the American Way, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, and two more participants to be determined, to discuss the pending confirmation hearings of Harriet Miers, President George W. Bush's choice to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The panelists plan to discuss her qualifications as well as the political divisions generated by her nomination.

Fifteen Bakersfield Residents Charged With Fraud in Connection with Funds Intended for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

FRESNO, Calif., Oct. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced today that late yesterday indictments were returned for fifteen Bakersfield residents charged with participating in a wire fraud scheme to defraud the American Red Cross of funds intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Each of the defendants was previously charged by way of a criminal complaint.

Eleven of those defendants have been arrested and previously appeared in federal court.

They are:












The remaining four defendants, ELIZABETH RAY, age 48,



MARIETTA SNOWDEN, age 48, have not yet been arrested.

Of the eleven previously arrested defendants, defendants TRENT PRESLIE, ROBERT JOHNSON and STANLEY LEWIS remain in custody. The remaining eight have been ordered to appear in federal court in Fresno on either October 14 or October 19, 2005.

All of these cases are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Bakersfield, California, with the assistance of the Bakersfield Police Department. The cases are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office in Fresno, California. The investigation is continuing.

United States Attorney Scott commented that the investigation is on-going and more arrests are anticipated. "Those who would victimize charitable organizations such as the Red Cross, whose purpose is to provide assistance to victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, are hereby on notice that they will be ferreted out and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales recently created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force -- chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division -- includes members from the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service, the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys, and the Federal Trade Commission, among others.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Mark E. Cullers, Jonathan B. Conklin and Stanley A. Boone, who are prosecuting the cases, the indictments allege that the defendants participated in a plan or scheme to defraud the Red Cross by submitting or causing others to submit a fraudulent claim through the Red Cross call center located in Bakersfield, California.

The complaint explains that the Red Cross, in an attempt to expedite payments to actual victims of Hurricane Katrina, has set up at least two call centers in the United States, the largest of which is located in Bakersfield.

According to the complaint, when a person contacts the call center to request assistance, their personal information, including an address within the area affected by the hurricane, is verified by call center employees. Once that information is verified, the caller is provided instructions on how to obtain financial assistance from the Red Cross.

Once assistance is approved, a victim is given instructions on how to obtain that assistance at their closest Western Union branch.


They were able to obtain false claim information and, using that information, obtain payment from Western Union. United States Attorney Scott emphasized that both the Red Cross and Western Union continue to provide substantial assistance in the investigation and are working diligently to prevent further losses from occurring.

The charged count for each defendant carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Congressional Leaders Join Call for International Probe into Chicago Torture Cases

-- Torture Victim, Congressmen Rush and Davis, and Victims' Lawyers Available for Media Comment Prior to Hearing Before International Human Rights Investigators


In a move that could impact Chicago authorities suspected of stalling their own investigation, international human rights monitors will conduct an inquiry TODAY, October 14, into well-documented allegations that Chicago Police systematically tortured 135 African-American criminal suspects during the 1970s and 80s, with total impunity. This is the only hearing focused on human rights violations within the U.S.

Congressional critics of Chicago police abuse will join lawyers involved in the torture cases at a press conference for reporters at 10 am EST TODAY before presenting the case to the international human rights monitors.

The hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was granted at the request of a coalition of human rights organizations, bar associations, attorneys, and community activists that have long sought justice against former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and other officials responsible for the torture of African-Americans in an effort to coerce false confessions.

When/: TODAY, October 14, IACHR Administrative Building

Where 1889 F. St. N.W., Washington, D.C.

10 am EST, press conference for media (on the building steps)

11:15 am EST, international human rights hearing

Who: U.S. Illinois Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis

David Bates, victim of torture under Burge's command in 1983

Locke Bowman, MacArthur Justice Center

Bernadine Dorn, Midwest Coalition for Human Rights

Flint Taylor, The People's Law Office

Standish E. Willis, The National Conference of Black Lawyers


The torture represents one of the most explosive police controversies in Chicago's history, fueling concerns about systemic racism in law enforcement and ultimately leading to the release of African American prisoners from Illinois Death Row after evidence showed they were victims of police torture. Other victims still languish in prison based on confessions that were extracted through torture.

All of the alleged acts of torture, including electric shocks to the genitals administered by a cattle prod, suffocation, burns and mock executions with a shotgun, took place under the direction of Burge, who has been the subject of various legal inquiries for nearly a decade.

A special prosecutor was appointed in 2002 to review the case but has yet to issue any findings or file criminal charges. Meanwhile, Burge resides in Florida and collects a taxpayer-funded pension.

The lack of state or federal accountability for these heinous acts prompted the victims and their supporters to seek international intervention. The groups will present their case to the IACHR, the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), at the hearing in the hopes that the panel will conclude that an independent international inquiry and report in this case is warranted.

Consumers Should Understand Their Debt Collection Rights Given Alarming New FTC Statistics About Debt Collectors

Austin, TX (PRWEB) October 14, 2005 -- Every year, the FTC reports to Congress about the kinds of consumer complaints it received during the previous year. The FTC just released its report for 2004 and the report shows that complaints about debt collectors, which were already high, are on the rise.

According to the report, the number of complaints the FTC received from consumers regarding third party debt collectors increased by a whopping 70% between 2003 and 2004. Complaints about in-house debt collectors also increased during this same time period, but not by as much.

Complaints about in-house and third party debt collectors combined represented 23% of all of the complaints the FTC received in 2004. In fact, complaints against debt collectors represented the single largest category of complaints against a specific industry.

To read the full FTC report, go to

Some of the most common debt collector abuses are cited in the FTC’s report include:• Demanding a larger payment than is permitted by law. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from misrepresenting the character, amount, or legal status of the debts they are trying to collect.

• Harassing consumers. Debt collectors are not allowed to try to collect a debt by calling a consumer repeatedly, using profanity or other abusive language, or threatening a consumer with violence.

• Threatening consumers with dire consequences if they don’t pay a debt, or using false or misleading threats to scare them into paying. For example, debt collectors may threaten to sue a consumer, prosecute the consumer criminally, garnish his/her wages, seize the consumer’s property, cause the consumer to lose his/her job, throw the consumer in jail, or ruin the consumer’s credit rating. Debt collectors who make such threats are violating the FDCPA unless they have the legal authority and the intent to follow through on their threats.

• Calling consumers at work when a debt collector knows or has reason to know that a consumer’s employer does not allow such contacts. By continuing to contact a consumer at work in such a circumstance, the debt collector may put the consumer’s job in jeopardy.

• Revealing an alleged debt to third parties by contacting a consumer’s employer, relatives, children, neighbors, and friends about the money about an alleged debt in order to embarrass and/or intimidate the consumer. (The FDCPA only allows debt collectors to contact third parties in order to learn how to contact a consumer from whom they are trying to collect money.)

• Failing to send consumers a written notice about their debt. The law requires a debt collector to send a consumer a written notice that indicates, among other things, the amount of their debt, the name of the creditor to whom the money is owed, and the consumer’s right to dispute the debt in writing and to obtain written verification of the debt from the debt collector.

• Continuing to contact a consumer after a debt collector has received a notice from the consumer asking that all communication about an alleged debt cease, or a notice indicating that the consumer refuses to pay the alleged debt.According to consumer law attorney John Ventura, the FTC’s report should serve as a wake up call for consumers.

“When consumers are having trouble paying their bills, it is critical that they understand their rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). That way, they will know what to do when they are contacted by a debt collector who ignores the law. I have seen first hand how miserable consumers’ lives can become when they can’t pay their bills and a debt collector tramples all over their legal rights.”

Consumers who want to learn more about their debt collection rights and what to do when they are contacted by a debt collector should visit the Federal Trade Commission’s web site at

They can also purchase a copy of an e-book Ventura has co-authored entitled Stop Debt Collectors Cold (available at

The book provides detailed step-by-step advice about how to deal with debt collectors. John Ventura is a nationally-known consumer law attorney who is also a board certified consumer bankruptcy attorney. He has written numerous books about consumer money problems including the best selling The Bankruptcy Kit, 3rd edition and The Credit Repair Kit, 4th edition (Dearborn Trade Publishing) as well as Law for Dummies, 2nd edition and Divorce for Dummies, 2nd edition (Wiley Publishing).

He has been quoted in such publications as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money Magazine etc. and has been a guest on CNN, CNBC, NPR, Bloomberg

Top 10 Halloween Costumes and Decorations Ranked

(PRWEB) October 14, 2005 -- Each year, ranks the most popular Halloween Costumes and Decorations. This year's categories include kid’s costumes, men’s costumes, women's costumes, pet costumes, decorations, and mascot costumes.We were surprised to see a growing popularity in Pet Costumes, with the "Frank the Dog" black tie tuxedo costume for Dogs coming in at the number 2 spot overall."One in four families are now buying costumes for their Pet." says Kristen Machut, Marketing Specialist for "This is one of our fastest growing categories"

This year's top overall costumes and decorations are as follows:

1. Queen Bee Costume

2. Frank the Dog Costume

3. Elvira Costume

4. Skull Knocker Decoration

5. Captain Cuthroat Costume

6. Monster Bride Costume

7. Neverland Fairy Costume

8. El Toro Couples Costume

9. Willy Wonka Top Hat Accessory

10. The Flash Child

CostumePictures of these most popular Halloween costumes and decorations as well as the top 10 for each category are available at

Bellbottoms and Peace Signs are Being Replaced as Podcasts Brings a New Wave of Expression

As individuality defines each Podcaster, is influencing the new airwaves with his form of expression.

Nashville, TN (PRWEB) October 14, 2005 -–The technology boom brings with it new ways of doing things, influencing news and how it is received, and changing the airwaves, literally, on a daily basis. Podcasting is the new form of expression. It is unrehearsed, done from the heart, controversial, and very exciting. Currently, over 25 million MP3 players have been sold around the world, with that number only promising to increase dramatically over the next few years.

Podcasting has grown out of this new medium and already has nearly 7 million subscribers. Yet the average Joe is still unaware of this phenomenon. is quickly becoming an “Internet landmark” and subscriber’s favorite among listeners.

Jason Carson, Creator and Producer, is excited about the rapid changes in the music and political environment. “What first attracted me to Podcasting was the idea that I can create any message I want, in any style I want, and share it with an unlimited number of people.”Yahoo has recently announced that they will become the first heavy weight search engine to create the ability for users to find podcasts best suited to their likes, organize podcast directories and even allow listeners to rate and rank the podcasts.

Though there are a few sites already offering his ability, Yahoo brings a larger audience to the table. “I think this is great for Podcasting,” states Jason Carson. “I produce for the audience and community it develops. This venture by Yahoo only helps. Other search engines will follow suit soon. It is the wave of the future.”

Yahoo and other search engines are betting on the fact that Podcasting will become the future of the search request. Text as opposed to audio and video is quickly becoming the “Old” format. People no longer want to rummage through pages of text when they can listen to a podcast in their own time. Even well-known TV broadcasters are doing podcasts as well at movie critiques. Jason Carson easily expresses his impressions of his podcasts along with the entire new form of media, “I've heard it said that the popularity of Podcasting can be attributed to the many advantages inherent in the technology such as time shifting, being able to control what content you receive using subscriptions, etc.

Others will tell you it's the ever growing number of new and original podcasts and artists emerging from the wasted landscape left by years of shameless corporate radio. I agree with all of that. But, for me, as I'm sure it is with countless others that have discovered Podcasting; It's total freedom of expression that I have when I record. No scripts. No censors. Just honesty. That simply cannot, and does not, exist in any other form of media or distribution channel out there today.”

Increasing Methadone-Related Deaths Alarming

Methadone use has increased in pain management and drug replacement therapy for addicts despite hundreds of people dying each year from black market use.

(PRWEB) October 14, 2005 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that more than 10,000 people turned up in emergency rooms after having abused methadone in 2001, which is double the number from just two years earlier.

Reported deaths from methadone abuse are rising in North Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, Montana and Nevada while it has become the deadliest drug in Oregon according to state medical examiners. Meanwhile, profits for the drug’s manufacturer and dispensers have increased dramatically as well.Methadone was developed by German chemists as a painkiller during World War II and has been widely used as drug replacement therapy to get addicts off heroin and other opiates.

There are currently more than 1,200 facilities that dispense methadone to addicts, totaling approximately 200,000 patients. While methadone may not produce the same high as heroin or Oxycontin, it is more physically addictive and more difficult to withdraw from.

The Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS) issued a report on a multi-city study of status of patients before and after various types of treatment, including outpatient methadone treatment. The results of this study that was done in the 90’s showed that there was actually a slight increase in heavy alcohol use among methadone patients, but perhaps the most obviously overlooked flaw in this type of treatment is that the addicts are still on drugs, and this cannot be considered rehabilitation.

A new documentary called “Methadonia” is to be aired on HBO that follows the lives of several methadone patients, including one who has been on the drug for 30 years.According to J.J., a 30 year-old former heroin addict from Michigan, “I was on methadone for 5 years and it was much harder to get off than the heroin. You can’t skip a day going to the [methadone clinic or you immediately get really sick.

It’s a trap either way.” He has since become drug-free through the Narconon Arrowhead program, which consists of a uniquely effective withdrawal phase, confront and communication exercises, a dry heat sauna detoxification program that rids the body of physical drug cravings and a series of life skills courses to not only fully rehabilitate individuals but also to prepare them for life after drugs.

This comprehensive treatment approach was researched and developed by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard and this drug-free methodology is the reason for Narconon Arrowhead’s high rate for successful recovery.To get help for a loved one caught in the downward spiral of addiction or for more information, call Narconon Arrowhead today at 1-800-468-6933 or log on to

Thursday, October 13, 2005

U.S. PIRG Response to American Chemistry Council's Comments on Toxic Chemicals in Baby Products

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Yesterday, the state PIRGs and Environment groups released a report, "The Right Start: The Need To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Baby Products," coauthored by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment California Research and Policy Center. The report documented phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers found in bath books, teethers, sleep accessories and other baby products.

Today, an independent panel of scientists convened by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) released the findings of their review of one type of phthalate, di-ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP). The panel reconfirmed that DEHP poses a risk to reproductive and developmental health. PIRG's research found DEHP in 13 baby products.


The authors of the report purchased 25 common baby products from a variety of stores, selecting products intended for a variety of uses and from a variety of manufacturers.

The authors then sent the products to two EPA-accredited laboratories, Paradigm Environmental Services in Rochester, NY, and STAT Analysis Corporation in Chicago, IL for analysis. These two laboratories used EPA-accredited methodology to determine the presence of the chemicals of concern in the products.


-- Three of the seven infant sleep accessories, including sleep wedges and mattress pads, tested positive for PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). These chemicals have been linked in scientific tests to learning and behavior disorders and other health concerns.

-- Fifteen of the eighteen plastic children's products, such as bath books, teethers, bath toys, and other products, tested positive for phthalates. The labs looked for seven different types of phthalates. These chemicals have been linked in scientific tests to reproductive defects and other health concerns.

"Toxic chemicals don't belong in baby products," said U.S. PIRG Environmental Health Advocate Meghan Purvis. "Parents and caregivers deserve a regulatory system that requires chemicals be proven safe before they are allowed in our children's products."

For the results of the product testing, a description of the methodology, tips for parents, and a survey of the scientific studies documenting the problem, please visit

U.S. PIRG is the national advocacy office of the state Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non- partisan, public interest advocacy organizations.

Pelosi: 'President Bush Has Still Not Provided a Clear Plan and Strategy for Success in Iraq'

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the Secretary of Defense's report to Congress on Iraq:

"The Bush Administration's second report describing the measures of security and stability in Iraq is as incomplete as the first report. President Bush still has not provided a timetable for achieving performance standards and goals for the Iraqi security forces. The report does not clearly state what has to be done so that Iraqis can provide security in Iraq independent of U.S. troops.

"The American people and our men and women in Iraq deserve to know what President Bush's plan is for training and equipping sufficient numbers of Iraqi forces so that our troops can come home. President Bush has still not provided a clear plan and strategy for success in Iraq; until he does so, he will not have met his obligation to the nation."

See previous post titled "RNC Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt Responds To Harry Reid's Latest Misleading Attacks; Senator Conveniently Forgets Recent Briefing"

Samsung Agrees to Plead Guilty and to Pay $300 Million Criminal Fine for Role in Price Fixing Conspiracy

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. (Samsung), a Korean manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $300 million fine for participating in an international conspiracy to fix prices in the DRAM market, the Department of Justice announced. Samsung's fine is the second largest criminal antitrust fine in U.S. history and the largest criminal fine since 1999.

"Price fixing threatens our free market system, stifles innovation, and robs American consumers of the benefit of competitive prices," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. "Today's guilty plea is evidence of the Department's ongoing commitment to protect consumers from corporations that engage in illegal conduct."
Including today's charge, three companies and five individuals have been charged and fines totaling more that $646 million have resulted from the Department's ongoing antitrust investigation into price fixing in the DRAM industry.

DRAM is the most commonly used semiconductor memory product, providing high-speed storage and retrieval of electronic information for a wide variety of computer, telecommunication, and consumer electronic products. DRAM is used in personal computers, laptops, workstations, servers, printers, hard disk drives, personal digital assistants (PDAs), modems, mobile phones, telecommunication hubs and routers, digital cameras, video recorders and TVs, digital set top boxes, game consoles, and digital music players. There were approximately $7.7 billion in DRAM sales in the United States in 2004.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from April 1, 1999 to June 15, 2002, Samsung and its U.S. subsidiary, Samsung Semiconductor Inc., conspired with other DRAM manufacturers to fix the prices of DRAM sold to certain computer and server manufacturers.

The computer makers directly affected by the price-fixing conspiracy were: Dell Inc., Compaq Computer Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, Apple Computer Inc., International Business Machines Corporation, and Gateway Inc. Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Samsung has agreed to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation of other DRAM producers.

"This case demonstrates the need for vigorous antitrust enforcement in high-technology markets, which is one of the most important sectors of the American economy," said Thomas O. Barnett, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division. "This case also illustrates the worldwide scope of our criminal investigations and exemplifies the need to prosecute and deter cartels that target American businesses and consumers."

Samsung is charged with carrying out the conspiracy by:

-- Participating in meetings, conversations, and communications in the United States and elsewhere with competitors to discuss the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain customers;

-- Agreeing, during those meetings, conversations, and communications, to charge prices of DRAM at certain levels to be sold to certain customers;

-- Issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; and

-- Exchanging information on sales of DRAM to certain customers for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon prices.

Samsung is the third major semiconductor company, after the Korean manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and the German manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG, to agree to plead guilty to fixing DRAM prices. In May 2005, Hynix pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $185 million criminal fine.

In October 2004, Infineon pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay $160 million criminal fine. In December 2004, four Infineon executives, T. Rudd Corwin, Peter Schaefer, Gunter Hefner, and Heinrich Florian, pleaded guilty to the DRAM price-fixing conspiracy.

All four Infineon employees served prison terms ranging from four to six months and each has paid a $250,000 fine. Three of the charged Infineon employees are German citizens.

In December 2003, the Department charged Alfred P. Censullo, a regional sales manager for Micron Technology Inc., with obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1503. Censullo pleaded guilty to the charge and admitted to having withheld and altered documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena served on Micron in June 2002. Censullo was sentenced to serve six months of home detention.

Today's charge is the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division's San Francisco Field Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco.

Anyone with information concerning price-fixing in the DRAM industry should contact the San Francisco Field Office of the Antitrust Division at 415-436-6660 or the San Francisco Division of the FBI at 415-553-7400.

RNC Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt Responds To Harry Reid's Latest Misleading Attacks; Senator Conveniently Forgets Recent Briefing

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ - RNC Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt issued the following statement in response to the misleading attack by the Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid.

"While President Bush was speaking with U.S. and Iraqi troops who will ensure security for the Iraqi people to exercise their right to participate in the democratic process this weekend, Harry Reid launched an uninformed and false attack on the military. To say that there is no plan for success in Iraq means that either Harry Reid was sleeping through a briefing by U.S. military leaders, who offered to brief all U.S. Senators on the strategy for victory in the War On Terror, or he didn't understand it.

Clearly Senator Reid would rather focus on partisan politicking than the facts."

Web Site Users Decide: No More Ugly Old People In Snub Club

/24-7PressRelease/ - DALLAS, TX, October 13, 2005 -- A hip, new, on-line service is offering young the opportunity to create a cyber community designed solely by them. Fed up with conventional dating sites, three months ago, two, 20-something brothers, Owen and Jarrod Blake, gave birth to their brainchild,

"We are the only private, on-line community where the public says who gets in," said Owen. "Each potential member posts their picture on the web site and they will only be allowed in if the public votes them in. We feel the number one complaint with dating online is the quality of users.

Young people are tired of their inboxes filled with old perverts!""It's like a virtual Studio 54," said Jarrod. "Except, the owner of the club is not the door-man, the public is."Once inside, members have a variety of options to choose from that include browsing personal web pages, writing online journals, connecting with friends and of course - meeting new people. And, it is free to join.

"Whether you are looking for hot girls, guys, or just bored we think you will enjoy This is where you will find pictures of that sexy cuttie, hotties, and babes you can write to and get to know. So why be bored? Come have some fun," said one happy "club goer."

Interested parties simply submit a digital photo to the web site. Other members vote, and if a rating of 75 percent or higher is met, the user is automatically. If a rating of 25 percent or less is received, that photo goes to the rejection section for one month. However, if a new photo is submitted right away, they can try again."We want to bring young people together in a fun, relaxed and safe environment," said Owen. "Also, being a private club allows our members access to a higher quality social network.

It seems to be working. We have been getting great reviews from our users.""With more and more time spent communicating on the Internet, the Snub Club is a fun and interactive way to meet new people. The whole voting idea is genius; being able to choose who should and shouldn't be admitted to the Club gives you a sense of authority - which I would say appeals to most people. I can't wait to see where they take this concept," said one happy club.

The Snub Club is appealing to people from around the globe and already has 5,000 active members.While Jarrod and Owen may be new to the e-communities world, they are no strangers to business and competition. Their competition stems from soccer where they both represented the United States in international competition and later Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

After they graduated from Southern Methodist University, Owen went on to be the owner of a highly successful construction company and Jarrod, who has a background in banking, now owns a real estate company.


Martha Stewart Show Ponchos Listed in Charity Auctions on eBay

/24-7PressRelease/ - MANHATTAN, NY, October 13, 2005 - The Lion Brand Yarn Company ( listed 27 charity, poncho auctions on eBay this week.

Each of the auctions feature a one-of-a-kind, hand-made, poncho that was worn by a member of the studio audience at the September 13th, 2005 taping of the new "Martha" TV show in New York. Winning bidders will receive a poncho, an 8" x 10" photo of the Lion Brand staff wearing the ponchos on the set of the Martha show taping and a letter from Lion Brand certifying that the poncho was worn at the September 13th 2005 taping of "Martha" in Manhattan.

The ponchos were all custom crocheted by designers for Lion Brand with Lion Brand yarns and are offered in a wide variety of colors and styles of yarn. Most of the ponchos listed in the auctions were made using the famous "Coming Home" pattern which is based on the poncho that Martha Stewarts wore after her release from federal prison in March of 2005.

The pattern has been downloaded from the Lion Brand Web site by knitting and crochet enthusiasts over 1,000,000 times since it was first released to the public in March of 2005."This is a unique opportunity for people to purchase a bit of TV history." said Ilana Rabinowitz, director of consumer marketing for Lion Brand Yarn.

"Not only will they get an extremely interesting and comfortable collectible item, but their winning bid will go towards a great cause."All winning bids from the sale of the ponchos will be donated to AmeriCares. All of the auctions are starting at a minimum bid of just $0.01 and there are no reserve prices set on any of the auctions.

All of the auctions can be viewed online at:

The Lion Brand Yarn Company is a 127-year-old entity and is America's oldest hand knitting yarn company. Founded in 1878, the company began operation in New York and has been a leading supplier of quality hand knitting and crochet yarns ever since. Throughout its history, Lionn Brand Yarn has been at the forefront of yarn trends while consistently providing its customers with the highest quality product, service andinspiration.

About AmeriCares

AmeriCares is an I.R.S. registered 501 (3) tax-exempt organization; as a non-profit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization, it provides immediate response to emergency medical needs, as well as supporting long-term humanitarian assistance programs for all people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion. AmeriCares solicits donations of medicines, medical supplies and other relief materials from U.S. and international manufacturers, and delivers them quickly and efficiently to indigenous health care and welfare professionals around the world.

Congressman Lantos Announces Evacuation Legislation on Animal Radio

(PRWEB) October 13, 2005 -- Congressman Tom Lantos (CA-D) announced on Animal Radio® new legislation entitled The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act, H.R. 3858).

This new legislation will ensure that in any future disaster, federal officials will not separate people from their household pets and service animals such as seeing-eye dogs, as they did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Lantos is also the co-founder of the Friends of Animal Caucus. Hear the Congressman this week on Animal Radio®

.“Many lives were lost during Hurricane Katrina, both human and animal, because humans were told to leave their pets behind. With the help of people like Congressman Lantos, no one will ever have to make that choice again!” says Animal Radio Network® Associate Producer Judy Francis. Animal Radio is America’s most listened to animal talk show according to Arbitron.

Animal Radio Network is dedicated to educating guardians and reducing the unnecessary euthanasia of homeless animals. Anyone can listen on one of the 90+ radio stations across the U.S. - Internet Savvy folks can listen online anytime by logging onto

Secret Confession and True Confessions: Would You Confess To Having An Affair With Your Boss If You Had Complete Anonymity?

Detroit, MI (PRWEB) October 13, 2005 -- There's nothing more comforting than knowing that others harbor thoughts just as sick and weird as our own.

On that score, consider as comforting as it gets. This web site is filled with enough secret confessions to keep a diocese of priests busy 24/7.

As a venue for true confession, the Internet is becoming the perfect space to admit sin sans judgment.

“Cyber confession has become a growing method of secular absolution,” says editor James Wilson. Marrying soul-searching to the convenience of the Net, electronic tell-all parallels today's push for the quick fix, providing armchair confessors with instant release.

"I was interested in the secret confessions of other people as it relates to their relationships." Explains Wilson. "What they've done and whether or not it might alter my perception about the basic nature of humanity. Every time I go on the site I think, 'these are the people I share this world with.'"

And why should priests get to hear all the good stuff? But Lousy In Bed isn't stealing business from the Church. The true confessions on the site, don't seem the stuff of priestly absolution.

Unlike church-goers, those making confessions to Lousy In Bed are not granted absolution, but they seek solace in the chance to speak what cannot be spoken to another living soul.

How do you tell anyone something like this: "I once slept with my boyfriend’s best friend after he offered me $1,000."

Ultimately, says Jim, Lousy In Bed provides its confessors with relief. "I genuinely believe that. Every time you talk about something you feel a measure of relief," says Wilson. "And it's the small private revelations that surprise me the most. "

What makes confessing in this manner so peculiar is the act of telling no one yet telling so many at the same time. "It's anonymous but broadcast to millions," says Wilson.

The flip side to this, he says, is it has a tendency to attract those prone to boasting.

("I kick butt in the bedroom. People see it too, and then they think it's weird that I'm kind of conceited when it comes to my bedroom skills. But they aren't the ones kicking so much butt"). Several of the other online confessions seem to exist only to provide a forum to brag about sexual prowess and perversion.

One of the more shocking entries Wilson has seen of late was this: "I want my girlfriend to depend on me in ways no one could imagine. One time as she was leaving the house, I secretly flattened her car tire just so she would need me to fix it."

If misery loves company, there's plenty of it out there. "These secret confessions shine a spotlight into the many dim corners of our collective psyches," Says Wilson.For more information, visit

Breathing Easier Over Workplace Misconduct

(PRWEB) October 13, 2005 -- Congress has made life easier for employers who find it necessary to investigate workplace misconduct.

A little-noticed provision of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act took effect March 31, 2004, freeing employers to commission investigations of workplace misconduct by outside agencies without triggering the fair-notice and paperwork burdens of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act swept those burdens away by nullifying the Federal Trade Commission’s controversial "Vail letter," issued in 1999, which asserted that the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s definition of "consumer reporting agencies" included outside providers of workplace investigations. The Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which prohibits consumer reporting agencies from compiling "consumer reports" for "employment purposes" without first disclosing the nature and scope of the investigation to the individuals involved and obtaining their consent.

Triple threat:In the real world of the workplace, the Vail letter made it virtually impossible for employers to commission outside agencies to undertake undercover investigations of workplace misconduct--and it was only one of three burdens on employers triggered by the letter. The other two required employers to provide the employee under suspicion with a copy of any report generated by the investigation and to wait a reasonable period of time thereafter before taking adverse action against the employee.

In turn, these three requirements:• Raised the risk that a suspected employee, alerted to the investigation, might flee or conceal or destroy evidence. • Gave the employee an opportunity to intimidate witnesses named in the report of the investigation. • Made any effort by employers to impose discipline following workplace misconduct essentially ineffective.

As long as the Vail letter remained in effect, companies had few good choices when faced with workplace misconduct, particularly when it involved sophisticated financial crimes such as embezzlement or bank fraud, which could require the investigative services of a forensic accountant. Read more about workplace investigations at

Many relied on their own resources, often by giving the job to in-house security personnel or to the human resources department. Out of caution, many directed their in-house attorneys to oversee such efforts to avoid violating employee privacy rights. Most hoped to avoid the problem of workplace misconduct altogether, and some may have chosen not to investigate incidents when they did occur, potentially exposing them to other liability.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act shifts the balance of power to employers in their efforts to manage the workplace. It specifically excludes "communications" to employers from outside investigative agencies from the restrictions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Such communications, however, must stem from an outside investigation of suspected misconduct involving employment or compliance with:• Federal, state or local laws and regulations. • The rules of self-regulating professional or trade organizations to which the employer is subject. • The written policies of the employer.

In addition, the employer must guard against disclosing information generated by the investigation to outsiders.Safeguard medical info

Employers must take special care to safeguard employee medical information when investigating workplace misconduct. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act broadly defines "medical information" as:… information or data, whether oral or recorded, in any form or medium, created by or derived from a health care provider or the consumer, that relates to (a) the past, present or future physical, mental or behavioral health or condition of an individual; (b) the provision of health care to an individual; or (c) the payment for the provision of health care to an individual.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act bans the use of medical information for employment-related purposes unless the employer obtains advance, written consent from the employee. Moreover, the language disclosing to the employee how the information will be used must be clear and conspicuous, and the information must be relevant to the question at hand.

This means that employers cannot escape the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act’s restrictions by asking employees to sign a blanket medical release authorization as part of the employment application process.

Under another new federal statute, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, employers also cannot "backdoor" their way to medical information they gather on employees as sponsors of group health insurance plans. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act explicitly forbids the use of medical information provided to obtain group medical insurance coverage in an investigation of workplace misconduct.

Thus employers must be circumspect in gathering and using medical information in any investigation of workplace misconduct. Indeed, it might well be that an employer can use such information only in such limited circumstances as when the employee involved takes the initiative by citing a medical condition as exculpatory. One example: An employee who, having subjected a fellow worker to abusive cursing, tells the employer that he suffers from Tourette's syndrome, a nervous disorder sometimes manifesting itself in uncontrolled verbal outbursts.

Caution still advised

To avoid liability for Fair Credit Reporting Act violations, employers must step lightly in other matters as well. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act requires that if an investigative report leads an employer to discipline, demote, terminate or otherwise take adverse action against an employee, the employer must furnish the employee with a summary of the nature and substance of the report.

Although the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act does not require it, employers should put such a summary into writing so that there can be no question as to the information divulged to the employee. Employers need not, however, give employees the original investigative report or disclose the sources of the information it contains. This enables employers to conduct more effective investigations, since they can assure employees who provide evidence against the wrongdoer that their identities will remain confidential.

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act does not affect the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s limitations on routine pre-employment background and credit checks, which still apply. Thus, employers cannot conduct such checks on job applicants without alerting them and obtaining their authorization in advance--usually done via routine language on the employment application form. In addition, employers must make certain that they comply with state laws regulating workplace misconduct investigations, since they may impose more restrictions than federal law.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.Patricia A. Kotze is president of Diversified Risk Management Inc., Los Angeles, a full-service investigation firm. Eric H. Joss is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP specializing in labor and employment law online at

Where There’s a Tom, There’s a Way

(PRWEB) October 13, 2005 -- Imagine swimming 2.4 miles in the open ocean, then biking in a 112-mile race, and finishing with a full 26.2 marathon. Then imagine doing this after brain tumor surgery. This is exactly what Tom Tucker is doing!

Just one month before the 2004 New Zealand Ironman, Tom was told he had a brain tumor. The challenge of competing then became more mental than physical, but after crossing the finish line Tom was ready for his next challenge – surgery. “Since then Tom has had a new perspective on life and not only has he met this challenge, he has embraced it with his optimism, his problem-solving abilities and his ‘glass half-full’ approach” says Kim, his wife and training partner.

More determined than ever after his surgery, Tom decided he wanted to go all the way and compete in the World Championship Ironman in Hawaii on October 15th.

At age 32, this native Canadian is not only a Princeton scholar, triathlete, and successful private equity investor, he is a man of vision. Tom is what Ironman is all about; he typifies the very essence of the sport. He is not someone you forget, he is an amazing man!

Typically, in the week leading up to Ironman, his training schedule includes swimming 6 miles (10 km) in the pool, cycling for 220-250 miles (350-400 km), and running between 38-44 miles (60-70 km). The training is heart rate based and there is some wattage training on the bike. He has to challenge his body by swimming faster than race pace, cycling hill repeats, and running intervals on the track.

With this quantity of training he must be careful of the amount of sleep he gets. If he cuts the sleep short, he’ll get sick. Also with this intensity of training, he has to eat an enormous amount, probably 6 meals a day. For the longer workouts, he also eats during the workouts (e.g., a four hour bike ride would have him eating 4 sandwiches and drinking 4 liters of liquid). Following the longer workouts he has to have some recovery foods immediately (e.g., protein to help muscles’ recovery and additional food to get ready for the next workouts).

Now as if this wasn’t enough, Tom made the decision to turn his personal battle with brain cancer into a journey to make a global impact on the lives of others around the world fighting this disease. He started the fundraising project called T4T Racing for Research and raised $150,000+ during his Australian and Canadian Triathlons. Now Tom has joined the American Brain Tumor Association to help him raise money for this cause with the World Championship Ironman.

Over 190,000 individuals will be diagnosed with a brain tumor in the United States this year. There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors and the cause is unknown. Tom and the American Brain Tumor Association share their vision of eliminating brain tumors through research.

Ideally, Tom would love to assist funding research in order to find a cure for brain tumors. “Being realistic, I think it will be unlikely that this cure will necessarily occur in my lifetime; however the glass is half-full. I hope my fundraising efforts will help children, teenagers, adults and the elderly win their brain tumor challenge,” says Tom.

Tom is available for interviews, please contact:Peggy KasprzakCommunications CoordinatorAmerican Brain Tumor Association2720 River Rd.Des Plaines, IL 60018847-827-9910 ext. 16fax: 847-827-9918

Listening at Warp Speed for Organizational Adaptation: The Answer is Blowing in the Wind after Katrina

(PRWEB) October 13, 2005 -- Under the newly formed Department of Homeland Security, FEMA’s entire workplace was revamped and new leadership was installed at the highest levels, without input from those veterans who had worked at FEMA for decades.

But rapid change without listening to the workforce will add insult to injury, according to experts like Dr. Elaine Gagne, award winning organizational development specialist. She and other professionals who study organizational change cite the breakdown of emergency relief programs in Katrina’s aftermath as a textbook example of what happens when change is not coupled with thorough organizational alignment and workplace communication.

Veteran employees of FEMA have warned for years that the organization suffers from poor management, squandered workforce talent, and attrition of experienced personnel or “brain drain.” But those warnings appear not to have been integrated into the organization re-design.

In truth, how many workplaces could handle their own “Katrina?” According to organizational systems consultants and experts in the field of corporate management, when organizations cannot adapt to rapid change, they fail.

But how many organizations will heed the lessons of Katrina? Are the people, systems, and processes strong enough to bear the “perfect storm?” Does leadership factor in the worst case scenarios in addition to the best case scenarios? Is the organization transparent enough so that each part knows the relevance of other parts and how they depend on each other? Would they pull together or apart in a time of crisis?

These and other questions are essential for organizational leaders today. And, according to Dr. Gagne, the answers lie in engaging the entire organization in becoming adaptable to a changing environment whether it be a slow evolution or one with the speed and power of Katrina. Dr. Gagne says, “The workforce today is not merely about machines, brawn, or even brain. Successful organizations also engage the heart elements like creativity, passion, commitment, loyalty, and morale. Leadership cannot survive without these elements.”

Workforce morale is an issue in organizational success. Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employees are less satisfied with their jobs and their wages. Low morale costs companies their competitive advantage, it blocks creative product research and design ideas, and it translates into more expensive, slower production. However, corporate winners today are faster, more efficient, and more agile.

A recent National Business Research Institute study confirms Dr. Gagne’s premises for workforce involvement. NBRI found that root cause of low job satisfaction was that employees were disconnected from the organization’s short and long term goals, vision, and mission and recommends communicating plans throughout the organization and reinforcing those plans in daily activities.

Dr. Gagne addresses these issues in her acclaimed book Engage! Roadmap for Workforce-Driven Change in a Warp-Speed World, where she describes that successful change involves input from the entire workforce, coupled with a proven roadmap, a unique approach to organizational vision, and an execution plan that has lock-step accountability. According to Dr. Gagne, successful changes in organizations like FEMA must involve everyone in the workforce working together to share ideas, set goals, and -- most importantly -- implement them as a team.

Although that may seem like a nearly impossible logistical task for a gigantic organization set in its bureaucratic ways, it is the same principle that applies to responding to a large natural disaster. For disaster relief to succeed, it has to be implemented within a system that can adapt to rapid changes and take advantage of clear and accurate internal communication. Scores of people have to be able to communicate throughout the chain of command, without stepping on each other’s messages, and then be supported by the entire organization so that they can act with confidence.

Dr. Gagne believes it is possible to fix what is wrong with FEMA. The silver lining in this cloud of catastrophe is that in the process of fixing FEMA, we will also learn new and improved ways to respond to other organizational problems that plague us in a rapidly evolving world. And that includes overnight problems brought on by unforeseen disasters like hurricanes and terrorist attacks.

For a review copy of the book or to set up an interview with T. Elaine Gagne for a story, please contact Jay Wilke at 727-443-7115, ext. 223

Congressional Leaders Join Call for International Probe into Chicago Torture Cases

-- Torture Victim, Reps. Rush and Davis, and Victims' Lawyers Available for Media Comment Prior to Hearing Before International Human Rights Investigators

WHAT: In a move that could impact Chicago authorities suspected of stalling their own investigation, international human rights monitors will conduct an inquiry on Friday, Oct. 14, into well-documented allegations that Chicago Police systematically tortured 135 African-American criminal suspects during the 1970s and 80s, with total impunity. This is the only hearing that day focused on human rights violations within the U.S.
Congressional critics of Chicago police abuse will join lawyers involved in the torture cases at a press conference for reporters at 10 a.m. EDT on Oct. 14 before presenting the case to the international human rights monitors.

The hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was granted at the request of a coalition of human rights organizations, bar associations, attorneys, and community activists that have long sought justice against former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and other officials responsible for the torture of African-Americans in an effort to coerce false confessions.

WHEN/WHERE: Friday, Oct. 14

IACHR Administrative Building, 1889 F. St. N.W., Washington, D.C.

10 a.m. EDT, press conference for media (on the building steps)

11:15 a.m. EDT, international human rights hearing

-- U.S. Illinois Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis
-- David Bates, victim of torture under Burge's command in 1983
-- Locke Bowman, MacArthur Justice Center
-- Bernadine Dorn, Midwest Coalition for Human Rights
-- Flint Taylor, The People's Law Office
-- Standish E. Willis, The National Conference of Black Lawyers

WHY: The torture represents one of the most explosive police controversies in Chicago's history, fueling concerns about systemic racism in law enforcement and ultimately leading to the release of African American prisoners from Illinois Death Row after evidence showed they were victims of police torture. Other victims still languish in prison based on confessions that were extracted through torture.

All of the alleged acts of torture, including electric shocks to the genitals administered by a cattle prod, suffocation, burns and mock executions with a shotgun, took place under the direction of Burge, who has been the subject of various legal inquiries for nearly a decade. A special prosecutor was appointed in 2002 to review the case but has yet to issue any findings or file criminal charges. Meanwhile, Burge resides in Florida and collects a taxpayer-funded pension.

The lack of state or federal accountability for these heinous acts prompted the victims and their supporters to seek international intervention. The groups will present their case to the IACHR, the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), at the hearing in the hopes that the panel will conclude that an independent international inquiry and report in this case is warranted.

Rich Countries Should Compensate Poor Countries for Loss of Skilled Labor, According to Center for Global Development Report

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Migration of skilled individuals from developing countries to rich countries can have far-reaching negative impacts on those left behind, and the rich countries should consider policies for mitigating these impacts, according to a new book from the Center for Global Development.

The book, Give Us Your Best and Brightest: The Global Hunt for Talent and Its Impact on the Developing World, documents convincingly that rich countries are increasingly seeking to attract highly skilled workers from developing countries, to strengthen their global competitiveness and to shore up their work forces and tax roles in order to off-set the effects of rapidly aging populations.

"The idea that the migration of a significant fraction of a country's best and brightest is not particularly harmful and may even be beneficial to the country is simply unwarranted," the authors write. "If people of talent and drive are essential for building institutions, then their loss can have severe consequences."

Despite this and other negative impacts, such as the loss of desperately needed health care workers, the authors do not generally recommend that developing countries restrict the emigration of educated, skilled workers.
Instead they propose a variety of measures that rich and developing countries can take. Most strikingly, the authors support Jagdish Bhagwati's longtime proposal that rich countries compensate poor countries for the loss of skilled labor.

CGD President Nancy Birdsall said that publication of the book, in preparation for two years, marked the start of the Center's broader investigation into cross-border flows of people and their causes and consequences for developing countries. The book, she said, "sets out how immigration policies could be more development friendly-benefiting rich as well as developing economies."

The authors will present key findings from the book at a CGD event in Washington, DC on Oct. 18 from 4 to 6. See the CGD web site for details

Quote about advice.

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.

Wise Use of Disaster Funds Will Speed Recovery of Katrina Survivors

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The enormous loss of property and personal items caused by Hurricane Katrina means many families and individuals may have to replace everything they owned. In the face of such great losses, Katrina survivors will need to handle their disaster assistance funds wisely in order to get back on their feet.

“State/FEMA disaster aid will not make everything the way it was; it is designed to start people on the road to recovery,” said Senior Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer, Michael Bolch. “Spending has to reflect that fact.”
Anxious to live as they would normally, many buy things their grant or loan was not intended for. All Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster aid is disbursed to help with specific disaster needs.

“Checks should be deposited in a bank as soon as possible and carrying large sums should be avoided,” Bolch added. “This will make it easier to resist the temptation to make purchases unrelated to disaster losses.”
Officials also advised aid recipients to keep their receipts in case spot checks are made to insure disaster funds are used as intended.

Individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina who want more information concerning their application or those who want to register for disaster assistance should call toll-free, 800-621-FEMA (3362). The speech- or hearing-impaired who use special keyboard equipment (TTY) should call 800-462-7585. The lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Registration via the Internet is available online at

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages the federal response and recovery efforts following an incident of national significance. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Walk at Least a Mile in My Shoes

Mindy Hermann (NAPSI)-The famous 1970's song, "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," wasn't about increasing physical activity. But today, the message could help millions of Americans who don't include enough activity in their day.

I received a small pedometer as a gift. It came with instructions telling me to walk 10,000 steps every day. Wow, that seemed like a lot to me! So I gave it a try-an exercise class, my usual walk with the dog, and several loads of laundry up and down the stairs. At the end of the day, I had taken 8,000 steps. I was a bit discouraged, but realized I could add more steps here and there to reach 10,000. If you think that you're far off from this goal, don't worry! You can add activity gradually.

A new program called "America on the Move" recognizes that many Americans may find it difficult to fit 10,000 steps into a typical day. "If we give people goals that are too high, they may get frustrated and quit," says Dr. James Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "America on the Move inspires Americans to become healthier by doing just a little more each day-walk an extra 2,000 steps, about a mile, and also eliminate just 100 calories from foods."

Cutting 100 calories or more a day is surprisingly easy. It can be done at one meal or in smaller increments through out the day. Try a serving of Whole Grain Total with skim or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. Swap a couple of tablespoons of regular salad dressing for fat-free. Eat one cookie instead of two. Cook in a non stick skillet and use less oil, butter or margarine. Top your sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard rather than mayonnaise. The easiest of all, trim portion sizes.

Ask Mindy
Q: We don't have sidewalks in my neighborhood. How can I get 2,000 extra steps if it's not possible to safely walk where I live?

A: Walk in a local mall. Many malls sponsor walking clubs that meet before the stores open. Use a treadmill at your local Y, community center or gym. Or purchase a comfortable, sturdy treadmill to use at home.
Mindy Hermann

Daily joke: Girls night out!

Two women friends had gone for a Girls Night Out, but had beendecidedly over-enthusiastic on the Bacardi Breezers.

Incredibly drunk and walking home, they needed to pee. They were very near a graveyard and one of them suggested they do their business behind a headstone or something. One of them had nothing to wipe with so she thought she'd take off her panties and use them, then throw them away. Her friend however was wearing a rather expensive underwear set and didn't want to ruin hers but was lucky enough to salvage a large ribbon from a wreath that was on one of the graves and proceeded to wipe herself with that.

They then made off for home.

The next day one woman's husband phoned the other husband andsaid, "These girls nights out have got to stop. My wife came home last night without her panties.""That's nothing," said the other, "Mine came back with a card stuck between the cheeks of her butt that said 'From all of us at the Fire Station. We'll never forget you'."

Tips from the auto insurance industry.

What to do if you're in an accident

According to the latest statistics by the National Safety Council, one in eight licensed drivers is involved in an automobile accident each year. Whether or not you become one of those unfortunate drivers involved in a collision, the following information can help you lessen the headaches and expense of an accident. In case of an accident:

Don't leave the scene.

If vehicles are operable, move them to the shoulder, out of the way of oncoming traffic
Call for medical assistance if there are any injuries.

Provide basic first aid, but don't move an injured person unless you possess medical or lifesaving expertise
In many areas, you have to call the police Get the officer's name, badge number, police station address, and phone number. Ask when the accident report will be filed, its case and report number, and how you can get a copy .

Take careful note of the date and time of the accident, the street and city, weather and road conditions, direction and speed you and other drivers were going, and how the accident occurred.

What you need in your glove compartment

Always carry your insurance card and vehicle registration
Keep a list of emergency numbers in the glove compartment at all times
Keep a medical card with you if you have allergies to any medicine or you have a condition that requires special attention.

About Rental Cars

Check your insurance policy or call your agent to see if you have rental car reimbursement coverage.
For an average of $1 to $2 per month, rental car reimbursement will pay for the cost of renting a car after an accident while your vehicle's in the repair shop.

If the accident is not your fault, the other party's insurance company may provide you with rental car reimbursement.

Hurricane Victims Getting Out Of Shelters And Into Temporary Housing

Baton Rouge, LA - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Louisiana, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are all working together in a push to provide temporary housing for all victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who have been living in shelters since the storms.

Strike teams of representatives from the State and federal departments are visiting shelters this week and talking with individual evacuees directly, informing them about housing options and other programs that are available.
"Hurricane Katrina forced over 270,000 Gulf Coast families to flee to emergency shelters.

In the past few weeks, 92 percent of them, over a quarter million people, have moved from shelters to some form of transitional housing," said Vice Admiral Thad Allen, principal federal official and federal coordinating officer for the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. "While we continue to make significant progress in reducing the shelter population, no one will be forced out of the shelters by mid-month, absent options for other temporary housing. We are working diligently with our State, local and private sector partners to help the remaining eight percent move into transitional housing that fits the needs of each family."

FEMA workers also are doing pre-placement interviews for travel trailers or mobile homes with evacuees in Disaster Recovery Centers to facilitate getting them into temporary housing as soon as possible.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.

FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003