Sunday, December 27, 2009

Delaware educators hope early intervention will help reduce dropout rates

Delaware schools are looking for early signs of dropout risk. The Delaware News Journal reports that the state department of education will begin a new study in January. Educators will analyze math and reading scores, as well as attendance. They hope that early intervention will identify students at risk for dropping out. Read more>>

Website takes the mystery out of auto repair

I love my Toyota Camry. It’s one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned. However, as any car owner knows, auto parts wear out – even if you’re good at performing scheduled routine maintenance.

Let’s face it. Repairs, such as brake rotor replacement, are sometimes necessary. If you’re like me, you hope that the mechanic does the job quickly and professionally – and that you don’t need to empty your bank account to pay for the work.

If you live in the Dallas area, online assistance is available to help you identify shops that provide Dallas auto repair. RepairPal.com offers a number of free resources. For instance, if you need a brake job, all you have to do is fill out an easy form to learn the estimated cost. In addition, you can quickly locate auto repair shops near you.

RepairPal.com also offers owner ratings and reviews on virtually any type of car or truck. My son is a truck owner, so I’m going to give him a heads up on this feature.

Say, for instance, you owned a Chevrolet Silverado. Enter the year of your vehicle on the online form, and discover lots of valuable information. Read other owners’ reviews and ratings. With a few mouse clicks, you can learn common problems associated with the vehicle. You can even check for automaker recalls.

RepairPal takes the mystery out of auto repair. The site is user-friendly and free. It doesn’t get much better than that.


Sponsored Post - Original Content Created by Sistrunk Journal

Venezuela's Chavez threatens Toyota, GM

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is threatening to expel international automakers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Chavez specifically targeted Japanese carmaker Toyota. The Venezuelan president was also critical of Fiat SpA of Italy, which controls Chrysler Group LLC, and General Motors Co.

Reuters reports that Chávez, threatening the auto manufacturers with nationalization, accused Asian and U.S. carmakers of refusing to share technology with the locals. Chávez ordered an investigation into Toyota operations.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Schools offer fewer computer science classes

Fewer students seem be interested in computer science courses, and some educators worry that future employees may lack essential skills for the workplace. These same young people, who know their way around the Internet and social networking sites, may not know how computers and the Web actually work.

Why the concern? A survey by the Computer Science Teachers Association reveals that the number of schools offering introductory or advanced computer science courses has declined since 2005. The website CSEdweek.org explains why computer science education is important:

  • It exposes students to critical thinking
  • It is essential for success in the digital age
  • Too few students are exposed to opportunities presented by computer science

The Washington Post takes a closer look at the issue.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Native Americans win $3.4 billion settlement

The U.S. government has agreed to pay $3.4 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit for mismanagement of trust fund accounts held by hundreds of thousands of Native Americans. The settlement ends a 13-year legal battle to resolve a dispute that dates back to the late-1800s.

The agreement ends the case brought by Native American tribes charging that the Interior Department had swindled hundreds of thousands of Indians out of royalties for leasing their lands to mining, timber, and energy interests. The lead plaintiff in the suit filed in 1996 is Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Indian tribe in the western state of Montana.

Study: Stress levels in teens higher than parents realize

If your teen is looking particularly stressed, school pressure and family finances may be contributing factors. That's according to a new national survey by the American Psychological Association. The study adds that parents often are unaware of the stress.

Psychologists say that if young people don't learn healthy ways to manage that stress now, it could have serious long-term health implications. The study looked at young people between the ages of 13 and 17. Read more

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Improve your online promotion

Many small businesses and large corporations with corporate branches share a similar online problem. They don’t pay attention to how they’re listed on local search sites such as Yahoo Local, Superpages.com, and Google Maps. This method of online promotion is important. It’s also simple, powerful, and inexpensive.

That’s where Universal Business Listing (UBL) comes in. This firm knows how to improve your company’s Web profile – making sure your business listing gets picked up by local search engines, major online directories, search portals, data aggregators, and the national 411 database.

Traditional business listings require a business phone line. If you run your company part-time or as an Internet site, UBL can list your cell phone, website, and email. The results – broader online visibility – lead to more traffic to your site. That, of course, translates to more customers and bigger profits.

Every business looks for ways to stay ahead of the competition. By moving from traditional white pages listings into something comprehensive, you’re taking a step in the right direction.

You’re busy. You don’t have 30 or 40 hours to list your company with dozens of local search engines and online directories. While you focus on sales and marketing strategies, UBL can distribute your information, ensuring accuracy and broader visibility. The distribution system includes:

  • full product and service description
  • locations
  • website URL
  • email contact info
  • online reviews

List your business once – with UniversalBusinessListing.org – and let them boost your online presence.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michelle Obama: Don't let tests define you

"Don't let those tests defeat you. Don't let those tests define you."
-- First Lady Michelle Obama, speaking recently to students at Denver's South High School. Mrs. Obama told the students that she was not a great standardized-test-taker.

The first lady, however, did not hint that she thought standardized tests should go away. Read more

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kansas elementary school to teach engineering classes

A Kansas school district will become the first in the country to offer engineering classes at the elementary-school level. The Derby school district began offering engineering courses in middle and high schools this year, but a pilot program next year will bring aerospace engineering lessons to a district elementary school.

The curriculum is designed by Project Lead the Way and will include hands-on and computer-based activities. The Wichita Eagle has details.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Scholarship help for migrant and immigrant families

The Western Union Foundation's Family Scholarship Program offers a unique educational initiative for migrants, immigrants, and their families in the United States. The program helps two members of the same family move up the economic ladder through education. Scholarships may be used for tuition for college education, language acquisition classes, technical/skill training, and/or financial literacy.

Maximum award: $5,000. Eligibility: two members of the same family, aged 18 years or older. The country of origin for at least one applicant must be outside of the U.S. Deadline: February 5, 2010. More info...

Recession sends Americans to the World Wide Web

More than two-thirds of American adults -- or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users -- went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems. That's according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Researchers say the Internet ranks high among sources of information and advice that people are seeking during hard times, especially when it comes to their personal finances and jobs.

The study found that 34 percent of online economic users have created content and commentary about the recession in places like blogs, social network sites and Twitter. Click here to read the overview and the full report.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Examining mobile phones' impact on global development

Computer scientists are using Android, the open-source mobile operating system championed by Google, to transform a cell phone into a flexible data-collection tool. Their free suite of tools, named Open Data Kit, is already used by organizations around the world that need inexpensive ways to gather information in areas with little infrastructure. Science Daily has more.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Public data on private schools

A database on the U.S. Department of Education website offers a comprehensive resource for families interested in private schools. Some 91% of private schools have responded to a variety of survey questions about such things as:

- demographics
- length of the school year
- college-enrollment rates

Survey results are posted to the site in a searchable format that provides information that may not be otherwise available to the public. An overview of the Private School Universe survey can be found here. More info: Washington Post.


New parent power emerges at L.A. schools

Parents in Los Angeles are wielding new power, thanks to a new plan that supports new initiatives geared at improving outcomes at low-performing schools. According to Los Angeles Times, parents of individual schools can now initiate major reforms without waiting for the Los Angeles Unified School District to make changes.

Under a plan set forth by Supt. Ramon Cortines, a majority of parents at a school could trigger reforms at a local campus. As the L.A.Times reports, this new parental power is part of a school-control resolution that allows groups inside and outside the district to take over campuses.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Magna Awards

The American School Board Journal's 16th annual Magna Awards honor outstanding programs developed or supported by school boards that showcase school district leadership, creativity, and commitment to student achievement.

Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment) with one grand prize winner in each category. Maximum award: $4,000. Eligibility: local school boards. Deadline: October 31, 2009. More info

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teach for America

Top graduates line up to teach to the poor

Teach for America is drawing graduates who want to contribute to improving society while building an impressive résumé. For a surprisingly large number of bright young people, Teach for America - which sends recent college graduates into poor rural and urban schools for two years for the same pay and benefits as other beginning teachers at those schools - has become the next step after graduation. It is the postcollege do-good program with buzz, drawing those who want to contribute to improving society while keeping their options open, building an ever-more impressive résumé and delaying long-term career decisions.

Government drops request for telcom data

The federal government has agreed to drop a request for sensitive revenue and Internet speed data from telecommunication providers. The information would have been for a program to map broadband use in U.S. homes and bring high-speed Internet service to more people.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that companies such as Verizon Communications Inc, Comcast Corp, and AT&T Inc do not have to share how much money they make from each Internet subscriber. Nor must they say how fast their Internet connections typically run.

Instead, they will provide data by the block, usually about a dozen homes depending on the size of the block. They also will share the speed of Internet service that they advertise.

Companies do not want to share the specific data because they do not want their competitors to see it.

However, critics of the Commerce Department's decision maintain that failing to make the data public allows the companies to advertise -- and charge for -- something that they often cannot deliver.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Enjoying the outdoors

I recently became engaged to a man who loves the outdoors. From the time he was a kid, DJ has been a water/boat kind of guy. One of my favorite photos of DJ shows him flashing a big smile as he relaxes in his canoe. All is right with the world when my guy is near the water.

Hiking is also in DJ's blood. He has an adventurous nature and is always up for exploring a new trail.

Right now, I'm on a mission -- easing DJ out of some of his frayed shirts and pants. He's overdue for some new sportswear. His hiking shoes are also starting to show signs of wear. An outdoorsman needs clothing that's comfortable and stands up to the elements. At the same time, I want my guy to look good.

A few days ago, I discovered the Columbia Sportswear website, and I was impressed with the extensive product line. I found shoes and clothing that are both functional and fashionable. DJ has a pale complexion, thanks to his Scandinavian roots, so I was thrilled to learn about Omni-Shade, the sun protective fabric recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

I'm not the outdoors fanatic that DJ is, but I still like to join him when he's off on some new adventure. There's nothing like getting outdoors to clear your head and enjoy nature's treasures.

Pondering nature

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
-Willa Cather, O Pioneers


Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.
-Juvenal, Satires


Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
-Longfellow, Evangeline


The whole secret of the study of nature lies in learning how to use one's eyes.
-George Sand

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Table displays and marketing

When you work in public relations or marketing, trade show appearances go with the territory. It's important to have a user-friendly table display for your trade show booths. The right display will help you sell your organization and its services.

When selecting a display, pay attention to detail. For instance, choose table skirts will give your display a professional, eye-catching look. Depending on your company's style and budget, you may go for something simple or seek a custom look. Either way, I recommend choosing a fabric that will hold up well under frequent use.

When it comes to portable displays, take your time in selecting banner stands. They come in many styles. Pick those that allow you flexibility in choosing a variety of marketing themes.

A good pipe and drape system will offer you versatility in using your display. This is so important for nonprofit organizations and schools, which may participate in a show one week and hold a news conference the following week. When it comes to the drapery, I tend to opt for the multi-print backdrop. It allows me the opportunity to duplicate my company logo. The multi-print look is particularly useful when using your backdrop during news conferences.

Finally, look for a pipe and drape system that allows for easy set-up. If you're like me, you don't have the time or energy to use tools in setting up. I'd rather use all of my efforts in promoting my organization.

Quote of the week

We all have quotes that motivate us and keep us focused. The following is one of my favorites when it comes to marketing.

No matter what your product is, you are ultimately in the education business. Your customers need to be constantly educated about the many advantages of doing business with you, trained to use your products more effectively, and taught how to make never-ending improvement in their lives.
~ Robert G. Allen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CareerAcademy.com, a leader in IT training



My son is busy carving out a career in information technology. He took his traditional college education to the next level by pursuing specialized career education. He completed IT certification in several areas, and now has skills that will help him survive the recession.

For the past ten years, CareerAcademy.com has been offering computer training for people who want to stay one step ahead of the game in IT. The school offers a number of courses that utilize best practices in multimedia technology. Students can take advantage of on-demand video lectures, testing modules, hands-on lab simulations. Live mentoring is an added bonus.

When it comes to training, A+ certification can lead to a good job and increase your chances for promotion. This course is a must for employees seeking to demonstrate their proficiency as PC service specialists.

If you want to show off your abilities to design and implement IT infrastructure, MCSE certification fits the bill. Career Academy prepares you for rigorous Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer exams.

IT professionals are highly valued in today's global economy. With training at Career Academy, your dreams can become reality.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Education or political talking points?

A debate on what children should learn in the social sciences is looming in Texas, and it's not pretty. The Texas State Board of Education is weighing political and religious input for the social studies curriculum.

Meanwhile, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd writes that teachers shouldn't have to contend with competing ideologies in the classroom. Students should be prepared for tests, not the voting booth, she writes.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Swing sets, timeless recreation for kids

My inner child is alive and well. I like the sound of children happily playing outside. Play areas are a source of great comfort.

I love taking little ones outside and letting them swing to their heart's content. Some of my best childhood memories occurred while I played on the swings.

My favorite three-year old, Sidney, is like me. He never seems to tire of swinging. For strong, active kids like Sidney, metal swing sets like the ones available at Swing Sets Depot offer a safe play environment. Parents can take comfort in knowing that their children are playing on high-quality equipment that's also affordable. All swing sets that you find at SwingSetsDepot.com are ready to assemble. They also ship factory direct.

Various swing sets are available to meet the needs and tastes of different families. Parents can browse through the site to find the equipment that perfectly suits their children and their pocketbooks. All swing sets are designed with child safety in mind.

With a little bit of planning, parents can make play on the swing sets an educational experience. Swing Sets Depot offers accessories that encourage imagination and exploration. For parents, SwingSetsDepot.com has a page with plenty of safety tips.

Get serious about play time. Browse the site for a wide selection of wood and plastic playhouses. These colorful playhouses are built to last. The Breckenridge model offers kids to use their imaginations as they check out their very own country cottage playhouse.
Meanwhile, the Kids Center toddler playhouse offers a colorful and safe environment for groups of children. It's ideal for day care centers and toddler playgrounds. All of the playhouses are built with durability in mind. They'll last through all the seasons, and they're easy to assemble.

I believe in good, clean fun for my kids and their friends. Summer is a good time to explore all the possibilities.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Reforms have been proposed across the country to make personal finance courses a requirement for graduation in high school or even college. The push is on to teach youngsters about the pleasures and perils of money before they're drowning in debt.

Companies are jumping on the bandwagon too. Websites and resources designed to teach young people about money are popping up all over the place -- and in some cases, in very unexpected places.

Each summer in the Austin, Texas area, kids between 8 and 18 gather for the Money Academy. More than a dozen weeklong camps take place at merchant locations. CNBC has the details.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Educating kids on personal finance


If this economy has taught us anything, it’s that poor fiscal management -- at the corporate and personal level -- eventually catches up with you and can have broad-reaching repercussions. People at virtually every socioeconomic level are impacted by the current recession.

The embattled economy can serve as a teachable moment to today’s teenagers. That generation will one day run this country. Even if kids don't end up on Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, or Capitol Hill, we adults need to teach them the basics of good financial management. After all, we Main Street folks need to know how to handle our money, too.

If we start kids off in the right direction, it could deter them from making mistakes that will cost them big-time in adulthood. That’s where Teen Financial Literacy comes into play.

This new initiative, designed for teens aged 13 to 17, offers practical lessons on personal finance. The program is operated by Nouveau Riche, which is set to host new classes this month. Participating students will hear from experts and utilize cutting-edge technology to learn basic financial terms. Teens will also discover financial management tools and how to use them.
Students will also learn two very important lessons:

- how to live within your means
- how to build and maintain good credit

As a parent, I’ve tried to teach my children as much as I can, hoping that they can avoid slipping into bad habits that have long-term consequences. While I believe parents are their kids’ first teachers, I also believe that having these lessons reinforced outside the home really drives the message home. There’s also something to say for sharing interactive learning experiences with one’s peers.

Teen financial literacy is always relevant. My father educated me on the basics. As a good mom, I’ve wanted to do the same for my children. I’m hoping that when I retire, our economy will be strong and that the country’s fiscal future will be in good hands.

School strip-searches

The Supreme Court's recent ruling on a strip-search case involving an Arizona teenager has captured national attention. The high court concluded that school officials violated the student's rights with a strip-search aimed at finding prescription-strength ibuprofen pills. However, the court added that school authorities can’t be sued in this case. The ruling clarified when such searches are permissible, as Education Week reports.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ADT Home Security: For many, it's a necessity, not an option

There's something unsettling about having crime lab guys in your house, dusting for fingerprints. I had that experience a few years ago when someone broke into my home. They stole a brand-new appliance, my computer, and a few other items. While I am grateful that police showed up promptly after I called them, it was hard to settle down after they left. My sense of security was gone.

My next door neighbor never had this problem. For years, she had had a home alarm system. Both of us were single mothers. I mistakenly thought that alarm systems were for other people. It was only afterward that I realized that I had been living with a false sense of security.

Several of my close friends and relatives installed home alarms, and they have never regretted it. My brother-in-law Hal is a perfect example. He recently went to the neighborhood convenience store a few blocks away, only to return home to hear his ADT Home Security alarm sounding. Fortunately, nothing was taken. The would-be robbers sprinted away.

Hal is retired, and he travels a lot. He's smart enough to know that even though he lives in a quiet suburb, he still needs protection. For him, a home alarm system is a necessity, not an option.

iPhone app gives you full control of your security system

A new iPhone application allows you to monitor your home or business even when you're away. According to CNET, Alarm.com customers using the iPhone app can arm or disarm their security systems from a remote location.

The technology gives users full control of their systems. Home subscribers can even check on their pets or take advantage of a variety of other tools. The iPhone application is free to Alarm.com customers.

School website to allow students to anonymously report bullying

Hillsborough County, Fla., officials will soon launch a website that allows students to report incidents of bullying anonymously. The site is designed for students who are afraid to speak out publicly.

A school board member said the goal is to bring these incidents to the forefront to help students. Details from the Tampa Tribune.


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Six Flags seeks protection from creditors

Will treasured childhood memories held by my children and me turn to dust? Is the ride over?

Six Flags, the amusement park operator, has declared bankruptcy but says that it will keep its parks open, at least for now. According to the Washington Post, the company is carrying $2.4 billion in debt. According to the Associated Press, Six Flags reported 25 million visitors and posted record revenues in 2008.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Schools scramble to keep up with demand for free and reduced meals

Record numbers of American students getting free and reduced-price lunches, and many school districts are struggling to keep up with demand.

While the cost to districts averages $2.92 per free lunch, schools receive just $2.57 in federal reimbursement. That's according to the School Nutrition Association. Some states pitch in extra, but many schools are stretching budgets to make up the difference, as USA Today reports.


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ADT Alarm Systems

For 12 years, my family and I lived in a bungalow a few miles north of the city. I liked the community because it was quiet. A lot of retired people lived in the neighborhood, so I felt it had a lot of stability.

The families living next to me and across the street had home alarm systems, but I didn’t think it was necessary. I felt quite safe – until I came home one day and found that someone had broken in through my back door. I’m convinced that it was some kid in the neighborhood who knew my kids because most of the items taken belonged to my son.

Of course, I called the police and filed a report. After the officers left, I went outside to think. I felt so violated. Even worse, I hated to see the frightened looks on my children’s faces.

As I stood in my front yard, the signs in my neighbors’ yards came into view. They all had chosen the ADT Home Alarm. The neighbor to the right of me was a single mom with a daughter. She told me that she wouldn’t think of leaving her teenaged daughter at home alone without her ADT alarm. I got the point, but I learned it the hard way.

Things can be replaced, but no one can put a price on peace of mind and the protection of your family. That's the true value behind the ADT alarm system.

Protect your home while away on vacation

It's June, and if you're like me, your mind is on that summer getaway. If you're headed out of town, do your best to burglar-proof your home while you're away.

Here is a checklist recommended by many police departments:

  • Stop mail and newspapers, or ask a trusted neighbor to get them every day.
  • Put timers on several household lights.
  • Arrange to have grass mowed while gone.
  • Be cautious about whom you tell about your departure.
  • Make sure that everything is locked and secure. Double-check sheds, windows, garage doors and basement windows.
  • An unanswered phone might tip off a prowler that no one is home. Turn off the ringer and don't mention your departure on the answering machine.
  • Leave on an outdoor light with a motion sensor.
  • Remove all "secret" keys from outside. Leave blinds and curtains in normal positions wherever possible, taking care not to expose many valuables.
  • Stow valuables (important papers, jewelry, etc.) in a home safe or safe-deposit box.
  • Activate the alarm system and notify the security company about your vacation.

Do everything you can to give the illusion that someone is at home.


Source: Orlando (Florida) Police Department

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Open Meadows Foundation offers grants to women and girls

Grants for projects involving women and girls are available through the Open Meadows Foundation. Open Meadows supports projects that are led by -- and benefit -- women and girls.

Awards are made to organizations that:
  • reflect the diversity of the community served by the project in both its leadership and organization promote building community power
  • promote racial, social, economic and environmental justice
  • have limited financial access or have encountered obstacles in their search for funding

Maximum award: $2,000. Eligibility: 501(c)3 organizations with an organizational budget no larger than $150,000. Projects must be designed and implemented by women and girls. Deadline: August 15, 2009.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Studio RTA Network 1330X Computer Cart

I'm a self-professed workaholic who spends hours each day at her PC. I want my workspace to be comfortable and efficient.

Studio RTA has created an innovative computer cart that offers versatility and convenience. It's a space-saving solution for a computer work station. I like this cart because it compartmentalizes an office, while simultaneously creating space.

This workstation is compact. Its spacious compartments and sturdy steel base allow the casual computer user and the avid computer enthusiast (or workaholic) to enjoy their office space, regardless of size. The slide-out keyboard shelf and the various storage compartments maximize space and optimize organization.

The product comes in either a teak or cherry finish. Both finishes are stylish, but the cherry fits my personal style and office decor. The work station is ergonomic, another plus.

The Studio RTA Network Computer Cart has redefined the term “computer cart” in every sense, with its innovative practicality. For years, Studio RTA has been a leader in office furniture design.

Designs with consumer comfort in mind -- that's the kind of thinking that keeps any firm ahead of the competition.

Exploring Google Wave

Google Wave, which the Internet giant unveiled last week to much fanfare, is described as a communication and collaboration tool. However, those who follow IT trends believe the application has even more value.

Wave combines popular Web trends into a seamless application. Ben Parr, writing for Mashable, offers a reader-friendly explanation of what could prove to be a killer application.


Tags: Google Wave, Technology,

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Most states agree to push for common college standards

An aggressive timetable by most 46 states calls for college standards to be drafted and ready for public review by July, and grade-by-grade standards by year’s end. After a meeting in April, each state signed a memorandum of agreement committing to the process and development of voluntary, common standards. Four states are not on board -- Alaska, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas.

Once the standards are agreed to, it will be up to the states to get them adopted. The signed memo requires that the common core must represent at least 85 percent of a state’s standards, and that the common core needs to be adopted within three years.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is happy about the move, as Education Week reports. (Education Week provides free access to this premium article.)


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Travel Alaska

My friend Jim is a son any parent would love to have. Each year, Jim treats his parents to a nice vacation. A couple of years ago, he chose Alaska as the destination.

Jim and his parents brought back amazing photographs and stories about their experiences. In fact, Jim is so big on Alaska travel, that he made a return trip the following year.

Travel Alaska. Those words stayed on my mind a couple of days ago when the temperature outside was in the upper 80s and the air conditioning had quit in my office. Hanging out in the "Land of the Midnight Sun" would have been perfect that day!

On any given day, Alaska's Denali National Park has much to offer – stunning mountain views, peaceful waters, and plenty of wildlife. It’s no wonder that Denali considered the “crown jewel” of America’s national park system. Tops on my must-see list would be a presentation on Alaska’s amazing Northern Lights.

When it comes to Denali tours, there are lots of options. For instance, you might decide to spend your time hiking, camping, or going on guided ATV and bus tours. If you have a fascination with Alaskan huskies – and who doesn’t? – you'll want to a personal tour of the Iditarod Race Dog Kennel. My kids would really love THAT experience.

Alaska boasts a rich history and colorful heritage. I just learned that the state has five distinct groups of Native Alaskan people. As a student of culture, I want to learn about each one.

When it comes to wildlife, there is much to see. Nearly 175 species of birds and 40 species of animals call Denali Park home. I can understand why my friend Jim decided that one trip to Alaska wasn’t enough.

Tips for enjoying your summer vacation

Ready to take off on a summer vacation? If your trip takes you outside of the U.S., there are some new rules to keep in mind.

Starting Monday, June 1, passengers will need passports for air, land, and sea travel to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.

If you're remaining in the U.S., don't forget that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently implemented stricter rules for traveler IDs. You have to make your reservation using the full name that you have on your government-issued ID card -- for instance, your driver's license.

To avoid delays at the airport, don't use nicknames or shortened versions of your name when booking your flight. If your middle name appears on your passport, be sure to also use it when booking flights.

This is intended to cut down on the number of misidentifications at the TSA checkpoint. TSA officials say that following this rule will help to move the process along more quickly.

For more tips, visit the TSA web page for travelers.


Tags: Vacations, , TSA,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Should teachers interact with kids online?

More teachers are using social networks or text messages to keep in touch with students and build rapport, but online friendships may be considered inappropriate. Some officials are considering banning online "fraternization" between teachers and students.

The Missouri Legislature is debating a proposal to ban elementary-school teachers from having social networking friendships with their students. And the Lamar County School District board in Mississippi recently passed a policy that bans "fraternization via the Internet" between staff members and students. It also prohibits text messages to students except for educational purposes.

Should more communities consider such bans? The Arizona Daily Star examines the issues.


Tags: Social Networks, Technology, Students, Teachers, Education, ,

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on flags and patriotism

I have a great deal of respect for people who display a flag in front of their homes on holidays. Ever since I was a little girl, I would pay attention to the proudly displayed banners. Perhaps that’s because my parents made a point of visiting our family cemetery on Memorial Day, where I saw even more flags waving in the wind.

I have a great deal of respect for the military men and women who serve our country, and I think American flags and patriotic banners are a great way to honor them. “Support our Troops” banners are very popular. Some people choose the ones that have the yellow ribbons. “Happy Birthday America” banners seem to be perfect for Independence Day celebrations.

When it comes to banners, the only ones I don’t care for are the Confederate ones – for obvious reasons. Personally, I fail to see the connection between Confederate displays and patriotism. However, that’s a discussion for another day.

According to the United States Flag Store, nylon is the most popular fabric for American flags. I can see why. Nylon flags are strong and durable. They hold up well under all weather conditions, and they are less likely to fade.

I loved flags as a child, and I love them now. However, when I was in high school and college, I faced some personal conflicts about the American flag and what it represented. Like many young people of my generation, I was torn up about many of the wars that the U.S. supported. In addition, I was disappointed to see our country's displays of arrogance when it came to our relationships with other countries.

I may not have always liked some of the behaviors I saw in our leaders – or some of the biases perpetuated against certain ethnic groups. Still, the U.S. has come a long way since it first declared its independence. We’ve shown a great capacity to change – and to pull together in times of crisis.

The phrase “we, the people” has taken on a much more significant meaning. I am proud to be an American.

New web browser understands technical terms in life sciences

European scientists have created a ‘semantic grid browser’ that can understand technical terms in life sciences and automatically find additional resources and service. According to ScienceDaily, this new development could lead to a new generation of intelligent search engines.

The browser utilizes grid computing, a process that uses the resources of many computers in a network at the same time, to solve a single problem. According to the publication, the "life sciences community has built numerous databases – such as for gene sequencing and information about diseases – that are available to researchers as ‘grid’ services."

Many researchers look forward to a next-generation search engine that can understand what the user is looking for and return much more relevant results than today’s engines can. To learn more about the new web browser, click here.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Measure your ROI, increase revenue, and grow your firm

On any given day, millions of executives are wondering if they are using the right approach when it comes to their marketing plans and ROI (return on investment). They wonder if they're spending the right money on the right marketing approach. That's a valid concern. My advice: Leave Internet marketing to specialists.

If it's been a while since you evaluated your company's marketing plan, now is the time to review it. Do you know who is visiting your website? What percentage of visitors actually become customers?

ROIanalytics Inc. estimates that the average company loses up to 90% of opportunities when it comes to website visitors. Don't let this happen to you. Don't just throw money at a marketing plan.

You've got your hands full overseeing day-to-day operations. Bring in experts who can identify lost opportunities on your website -- professionals who can offer strategies for follow-up.

Stay ahead of the competition. Learn how to gauge your return on investment down to a dollar amount, and add value to each of your Internet marketing programs.

With the growing number of websites being added by businesses and individuals, the only way to stay visible on the Web is search engine optimization (SEO). Make your website search engine friendly. That's one of the first steps in website promotion.
Find out how to implement a SEO process that allows you to:

  • Understand your marketing plan, products / services, and competition.
  • Choose the right keywords or phrases that describe your product or service.

Numbers-driven CEOs demand to know how efficiently their companies’ marketing dollars are being put to use. Put together a plan that keeps you ahead of the game.

Web hosting firms thrive during recession

The web-hosting industry appears to be recession-proof. That's according to Network World, a provider of information to IT executives.

Web hosting firms are experiencing a rising demand for their services as more and more businesses elect to outsource their IT needs. For small- to medium-sized businesses, keeping up with the demands of IT infrastructure can be a challenge. Shifting the hosting responsibilities to a reputable web hosting firm can prove to be a savvy move for firms strapped for cash and IT personnel.




Network Word quotes Michael Foust, CEO of Digital Realty Trust, a San Francisco owner and operator of Internet data center facilities that has seen its revenues grow more than 30% in a year. Foust said:

The economic crunch we are all facing is forcing folks to be more creative and more open minded about how they deploy their businesses.

Faust acknowledged that many web-hosting companies, including his, are building new data centers to respond to the rising demand. He said:

There's a lot of expansion by all of the players, but it's a more rational approach based on real customer demand.

To learn more on this trend, click here

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Choosing the right web host

The economy is forcing businesses to get more creative when it comes to their Web presence. Nearly all organizations are trying to survive the recession on smaller budgets. However, smart executives understand that e-commerce remains a strong force.

A well-executed website can be a valuable marketing tool. Web development involves several key elements. One of the most important is web hosting.

Web hosting is an art, so look for a provider that best fits your needs. Pick a company that has a good reputation within the industry.

Web Hosting Rating can help. Their site has been offering reviews, ratings, and awards about providers since 2002. Ratings are based on several criteria, including customer satisfaction. Free articles are available to assist novices and veterans alike who are seeking IT solutions.

On the site, you’ll find an important list -- the Top 10 Web Hosting Providers -- Best Web Hosts for 2009. I’m checking out one provider in particular because it offers a number of goodies, is inexpensive, and targets itself to the needs of small businesses.

Do your homework before deciding on a web host. Find out how companies like yours rate providers on affordability, reliability, uptime, and technical support.

Web hosting is a crowded field, but you don’t have to agonize over your decision. Use free online resources to help you make an informed choice.

Obama picks shuttle veteran to be NASA chief

President Obama nominated has former shuttle commander Charles Bolden to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). If confirmed, the 62-year old would become the space agency’s first black administrator and just the second astronaut to hold the position.

Bolden joined the astronaut corps in 1981 and logged more than 680 hours in space on four shuttle missions. News sources see the selection of Bolden as reassuring to those who feared that Obama was lukewarm on future manned missions.


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Friday, May 22, 2009

The search for young female social entepreneurs

Youth Service America (YSA) is launching its first annual Gladys Marinelli Coccia Awards to recognize young female social entrepreneurs whose initiatives serve the common good. Maximum award: $2,000 for the winner's social enterprise, as well as travel to and registration for Youth Service Institute. The winner also will receive an invitation to serve on the executive board of Girls Helping Girls, and access to YSA's resources to support and expand social enterprise.

According to YSA:

Social entrepreneurs apply business practices to achieve positive social change and measure their success through their social impact. They find innovative and sustainable ways to address pressing issues.

Eligibility: Girls between the ages of 14 and 17 (as of December 31, 2009) who reside in the United States and have their own social enterprise. Deadline: June 15, 2009. For additional details, click here.


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strategic SEO and smart web design can boost your profits

I’ve been working in marketing and communications long enough to know that it’s difficult for any business to be successful without a strong online presence. A few days ago, when I stumbled on AuraDev.com, I lingered for a while. I like the fact that a portfolio of the company's work -- other websites it has designed -- is on the front page.

This Portland-based company demonstrates versatility in the services it delivers. AuraDev has developed a reputation for doing several things well – Portland web design and development, Internet marketing, and web hosting. Its specialty: small businesses.




AuraDev's services go far beyond web design. The company demonstrates savvy in Internet marketing. It's an expert in search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click management, brand identity, and logo identity.

Firms that want to maintain their competitive edge know that they have to get serious about SEO. Even the smallest organizations can gain a lot from having Aura Dev on their team.

If your operation is based in the Portland, Oregon area, check out AuraDev. This firm can strategically integrate technology and SEO -- customizing a package that meets your marketing goals while staying within budget. That's an offer that any smart executive can't refuse.

For educators, additional stimulus cash exists in unlikely places

Now is the time for educators to get creative. The federal stimulus package contains millions for community health centers, billions for vocational training. and additional funds that could go to schools. Experts in education finance say this is the case even though the programs aren't a part of the dedicated education package.

Reportedly, some of the nearly $4 billion for work force training could be used for adult education, youth training programs and career exploration, especially for fields related to renewable energy or energy efficiency. Details from Education Week, which is offering this premium article for complimentary viewing.

Related: Recovery.gov


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Examining Internet gambling

“The best gambler is an informed gambler.” That message was repeated often by my bosses when I worked in promotions at a casino. The sentence is also the tagline at Casino Examine, a free resource for online gamblers.

CasinoExamine.com is a trusted guide, offering a comprehensive list of reviews of the best online casinos in the U.S. The website is dedicated to ensuring safe and secure gaming experiences. Part of being an informed and responsible gambler is knowing whom to turn to avoid scammers.

The site is well designed and easy to navigate. Casino Examine is also a reputable casino portal. What does that mean? Simply put, the site is a gateway, or “information central”, for all things related online gambling. In the early days of online gaming, you entered sites at your own risk, not sure what to expect. Now you can use Casino Examine to research top sites.


The website also offers updated news related to online casinos and gambling. For instance, you’ll find background information to help you understand the issues surrounding proposed legislation that would support Internet betting.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., unveiled the bill last week. The Los Angeles Times quoted Frank in a recent story:

"The poker players and other online gamblers have gotten organized," Frank said, adding that he supported the legislation as a matter of personal freedom.

Gamblers visiting CasinoExaminer.com will quickly discover that the site offers a list of U.S. friendly online casinos. Reviews identify those casinos that are “100% U.S. friendly”.

Gaming novices and veterans alike will appreciate another Casino Examiner feature – details of online casino game rules. Definitions of several casino games are also readily available. In addition, gamers can sign up for Casino Examiner’s newsletter.

When it comes to gambling, some people prefer the experience of getting into their car and going to their favorite casino. Others prefer the convenience of accessing online games from their own computers. I am sure that there are many people who do both.

I’m not a gambler, but I’d like to think that if I were, I’d be responsible. Bottom line for all gamers: Stay informed and stay safe.

Efforts underway to legalize online gambling

According to Bloomberg.com, Harrah’s Entertainment and Youbet.com support a bill that would legalize online gambling. A new House bill would put the Treasury Department in charge of Internet gambling. Specifically, the bill would allow the Treasury secretary to license and revoke licenses of Internet gambling websites. Such action, supporters say, would protect Americans' personal freedoms to gamble and address consumer protection concerns.

Supporters tell Congress that online gaming can be regulated and taxed. Critics are raising moral objections.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Johannesburg to play host to Africa Banking Conference

The recent decision by investors and lenders to infuse $15 billion into the African economy is sure to stir conversation at the 2009 Africa Banking Congress, which will be held July 6-10 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Sandton is situated in an ideal location. The Sandton sits in the hub of this region's commercial activity.

If your company plans to attend the Africa Banking Conference, there’s still time to find good deals on Sandton convention accommodation. Online resources are readily available to visitors seeking details on several popular Johannesburg hotels. See accommodation around Johannesburg here. Sandton delegates can also check here to learn more about the wealth of information and services available to convention goers.

There are deals on a wide range of modern accommodations – ranging from the luxurious Hilton Sandton Hotel to the Town Lodge Hotel Johannesburg, which offers rooms for the budget-conscious. The high-tech Sandton Convention Centre is nestled near several hotels that offer hundreds of rooms and varying amenities. The Sandton is also close to many shops, restaurants, attractions, and other businesses that showcase South Africa's international flavor.

Organizers of the Africa Banking Congress want to facilitate compelling dialogue. Investors and lenders hope to see a restoration of faith in the region’s financial institutions. Holding the conference in Johannesburg’s business center may be a good first step.

Helping Africa weather the financial crisis

Africa's biggest investors and lenders are making available another $15 billion to help the continent weather the global financial crisis. That report comes from the African Press Association. The $15 billion is meant to promote trade, strengthen Africa's financial sector, and increase lending for agricultural projects, infrastructure, and small- and medium-size businesses.

The increased financial support represents a coordinated effort from the African Development Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Investment Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, German Financial Cooperation, the World Bank, and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation.


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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sometimes "me" time can be a good thing

Every year, my friend Ruth vacations in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Ruth lives for her visits to her favorite Myrtle Beach resorts and hotels. She has been making these trips for as long as I can remember.

Ruth adores the beach. She loves sea shells, and I can always count on her to bring me back some beauties. She loves being near the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying the many restaurants, and taking in the nightlife.

Professionally, Ruth is a workhorse, so I’m thrilled that she takes time off to do something she enjoys. Because she’s made this trip so many times, she's become a bit of a tour guide.

Ruth can tell you just about anything you need to know about Myrtle Beach hotels, where each is located, and who offers what amenities. Making the arrangements has just gotten easier, now that vacationers can book their getaways online.

I’m way overdue for a vacation, and I’m determined to make my own trip to a Myrtle Beach resort. This recovering workaholic has fallen off the wagon. Spending some time near the ocean – away from cell phones and laptops – sounds just perfect.

Mother's Day thoughts



The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
~ Rajneesh ~


I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
~ Abraham Lincoln ~


Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.
~ Pearl S. Buck ~

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

When language meets science

Teaching science can be challenging for many elementary teachers. Grade school instructors often aren't required to take many college science classes. The teaching of science is intensified when students possess limited English-speaking skills. A professional-development program being used in Miami-Dade trains teachers to build students' scientific knowledge while strengthening their English skills.

Source: Education Week


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Monday, May 04, 2009

Life insurance - a necessity, not an option

The subject of life insurance came up yesterday in a conversation I was having with a friend. We both made the observation that some families fail to see the importance of having life insurance policies in place. At the very least, the policies should cover funeral expenses.

Most of us who have children also want to make sure that enough is left over to pay any outstanding bills. If you’re like me, you also want to leave something to your kids.

Researching life insurance rates doesn’t have to take a lot of time. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can get instant term life insurance quotes online. FinancialOne.com, for instance, uses the databases of more than 140 insurance companies. Gone are the days when you had to contact individual companies for rates.

I don’t believe that anyone intentionally wants to be a burden to their families after their demise, but that’s exactly what happens if you don’t have all of your business affairs in order.

Some people think it’s impossible to get term life insurance because they’re 50 or older. Others think it’s impossible because they have preexisting health issues. Not true on both counts. Coverage is available for the over 50 crowd and for people with health challenges.

Many people rely solely on insurance provided through their jobs. However, that's not enough. If you lose your job for any reason, that coverage goes out the window. This economy is not the time to make risky decisions.

Everyone needs life insurance. Do the right thing and make sure that you and your family are protected.

'Wardrobe malfunction' case could still mean fine for CBS

The CBS television network could once again face a fine for the wardrobe malfunction involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The Federal Communications Commission wanted to fine CBS $550,000 for the incident, which lasted 9/16 of a second, but a federal appeals court decided to set the fine aside. On Monday, however, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the appeals court.

The Supreme Court's decision means that TV stations and networks once again face the specter of fines for even fleeting, one-time slip-ups.

This is the second time in two weeks that the Supreme Court ruled on lewd behavior or language on TV. In a case last week, the Supreme Court ruled that regulators can fine television and radio broadcasters for letting "fleeting expletives" slip through. Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps called the ruling "a big win for America's families."

Variety is following the story.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Discover Boston Luxury Real Estate


While the overall economic picture continues to reflect consumer uncertainty, spring is still bringing out home buyers. If you live in Boston – or you’ve decided to relocate there – you’ll discover quickly that buyers still have the advantage.

Buyers can find a variety of housing options on the website Boston Luxury Real Estate. This first-class site is the brain child of specialists at Bushari Group Real Estate. This free online guide allows you to search thousands of listings representing a variety of properties.

Boston lofts remain popular among many buyers. Dazzling designs, open floor plans, and amazing views attract those who want a marriage of urban living, spacious environments, and bona fide Bostonian culture. Let Bushari specialists direct you to properties in various areas of the city. See the magnificent settings that house Boston luxury lofts.

Looking for something different? Check out the Boston condos. You’ll find many units among the active listings. The area is rich with condo deals. Get started by checking out opportunities in the South End. Compare the South End units with those in a number of other locations. Wherever you set your sights, you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck. These units represent some of the best real estate in Boston.

Discover Boston real estate. When it comes to luxury living, it doesn’t get any better.

Flu fears impact college graduation on many campuses

Northeastern University in Boston dropped the traditional handshake for graduating students accepting diplomas, while Cisco Junior College in Texas cancelled its commencement ceremonies altogether.

Coast to coast, fears of the H1N1 flu strain are altering American campus life in both subtle and dramatic ways after a dozen universities reported probable or confirmed cases of the virus that has killed up to 176 people in Mexico and one in the United States.

School officials say there is good reason for their concern -- from the hectic travel schedules of academics who could transport the swine flu virus, to the ever-present risk in densely populated residence halls of flu spreading like wildfire.

Many schools such as Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Western Illinois University and Tulane University in New Orleans suspended study-abroad programs in Mexico. Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania will hold a separate graduation for students returning from Mexico.

In Boston, when about 20,000 people gathered on Friday for Northeastern's graduation events, the school did not take any chances. About 100 bottles of hand sanitizer were available to the crowd and the officials handing out diplomas were not shaking hands -- a traditional graduation gesture.

Northeastern officials said that they took their cue from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Cisco Junior College cancelled a graduation ceremony scheduled for Friday and instead plans to mail diplomas to graduates.


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Friday, May 01, 2009

Keyless locks: Do they offer better security?

Fingerprint have been used as a means of identification for well over century. In more recent years, with advances technology have made it possible to automate fingerprint recognition. As a result, keyless locks are now available for business and home use.

Recently, I’ve been wondering if keyless locks would fit into my lifestyle. I’m thinking about the many times my kids have misplaced their keys. It’s annoying – and at times a bit scary – but I try not to fuss too much. Why? Because by the time I reached 20, my dad has four sets of locks to our home! Every time I lost my keys, my dad replaced the locks to the front door.

So there is a practical component for considering keyless locks. If we had a security system that recognized fingerprints, we wouldn’t have to worry about lost keys. Our home would be more secure, right? Maybe.

Not having to worry about keys anymore is an attractive idea. It would be cool for my family to use our unique fingerprints to get into our home. However, another thought persists in the back of my mind.

While the technological advance is wonderful, I think we have to assume that there are unscrupulous people out there who are thinking of ways to beat the system. Even with the best safeguards, I think it is possible for someone to unscrupulously obtain -- and illegally use -- my fingerprint. I’m no expert in this area, mind you, but it stands to reason that use of biometrics, while it offers many advantages, presents another possible method of identity theft.

We don’t live in a perfect world. But I do believe some methods of home security are worth considering. The corporate sector and law enforcement are finding success with this technology.

These days, traditional keys seem to be so “old school”. Even though I have a lot of questions about keyless locks, I’d be willing to consider them as a way to better protect my family.

Intergenerational project honors preservationist

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joins two other organizations in sponsoring a photo, essay, and poetry contest "that best expresses the Sense of Wonder that you feel for the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes." Generations United and Rachel Carson Inc. are co-sponsors. The contest honors Rachel Carson, the late preservationist and ecologist.

In her book The Sense of Wonder (written in the 1950s and published in a magazine in 1956), Carson used lyrical passages about the beauty of nature. She enjoyed helping children develop a sense of wonder and love of nature.

Prize: Publication on the websites of EPA Aging Initiative, Generations United, and Rachel Carson Council, Inc.

Eligibility: Entries must be joint projects involving a young person under 18 and someone aged 50 or older.

Deadline: June 10, 2009.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Landmark civil rights law in jeopardy?

U.S. Supreme Court conservatives today sharply criticized a central part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that is aimed at more than a dozen states with a history of racial discrimination.

It is the second major race case heard by the justices since Barack Obama became America's first black president.

The justices seemed split along conservative and liberal lines in considering a provision applying to all or parts of 16 states, mostly in the South. It requires them to get federal government approval before changing their voting procedures.

Congress adopted the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to make it easier for people of color to exercise their right to vote.

Congress extended it in 2006 for 25 years, with then-President George W. Bush signing it into law.

Last week the justices considered whether race still can be used as a factor for job promotions and hirings, an issue that could affect millions of employers nationwide.

Opponents of the voting rights law argue that the protections for minority voters are no longer needed after more than 40 years of progress, and they cite Obama's election as evidence of how America has changed since 1965.

Defenders of the measure say minority voters still face discrimination in some local elections.

The legal challenge was brought by a Texas municipal utility district. It says it should be exempt from the law and that it should be struck down.

The Associated Press is following the story.


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take the work out of moving

Spring is here, and ‘tis the season for moving. If you’re on the lookout for apartments for rent, take advantage of a free online resource.

NationalRelocation.com lists rental property available in communities all across the country. If you’re moving to a new area and you want to know what’s available, all you have to do is enter a zip code (or a city and state). Search results come up immediately. Single-family homes, condos, and townhomes are also listed.

The search also reveals other valuable information, such as demographics about the neighborhoods you’re targeting. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can also learn about schools and parks in the area.

If you own real estate and have rental property you’d like to list, NationalRelocation.com is for you, too. List your property for free. At the upper right hand corner of the page, there’s a place for agents and owners to get started.

If you're looking for a place to rent -- or listing a place to rent -- take the work out of moving. Use National Relocation’s free resources to broaden your options.

Sen. Arlen Specter to switch parties, become Democrat

This could be the political news of the day. The Washington Post is reporting that Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania intends to switch parties and become a Democrat. The switch puts Democrats closer to 60-vote control in the U.S. Senate.

Specter is a 79-year-old veteran of five Senate terms, and one of only a handful of moderate Republicans left in Congress in a party made up largely of conservatives. Click here for details.


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Supreme Court upholds FCC expletives policy

The Supreme Court today upheld a policy by the Federal Communications Commission that prohibits the use of curse words during live TV broadcasts. The vote was close, 5-4.

The high court’s decision, which argued broadcasters can be fined for even single curse words used on live TV, throws out a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in favor of a Fox Television-led challenge. The lower court had asked for a more detailed reasoning of the tougher stance on indecency.

Tthe court refused to pass judgment on whether the FCC's "fleeting expletives" policy is in line with First Amendment guarantees of free speech. The justices say a federal appeals court should weigh the constitutionality of the policy.




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