Beware Of Dirty Swimming Pools This Summer

July 30, 2010

A dip in your local swimming pool to beat the heat may be hazardous to your health. The Center for Disease Control says the major source of stomach bug outbreaks comes from germ infested pools across the nation. Click here to see this ABC News investigation of the hidden dangers of your community watering hole.

New Information On Safest and Worst Domestic and Foreign Airlines

July 29, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

In the year since Consumer Warning Network ranked the world’s airlines on their safety record, the top airlines have retained their safety record, but the list of worst airlines in the world has changed considerably. On July 28, a Pakistani Air Blue flight from Karachi to Islamabad, crashed on approach and killed all 152 passengers and crew. Let’s take another look at the record.

The fatality records of the top eight airlines in the United States (those having more than 2 million flights per year) have not changed in a year. The number of fatal events per million miles traveled remains as follows:

  1. Southwest Airlines        0.00 (no fatalities in its history)
  2. Delta Airlines                 0.17
  3. Northwest Airlines       0.21
  4. Continental Airlines     0.24
  5. US Air                              0.28
  6. United Airlines              0.31
  7. Alaska Airlines              0.33
  8. American Airlines        0.40

Similarly, the top foreign airlines with more than 2 million flights per year remains the same as last year:

  1. British Airlines             0.17
  2. SAS                                 0.19
  3. Lufthansa                      0.22
  4. All Nippon Airlines     0.22
  5. Air France                     0.72

The worst commercial airlines in the world, based on fatalities, have a new cast of characters. The Hall of Shame is as follows:

  1. Cubana 18.53
  2. Air Zimbabwe 11.54
  3. Aero Peru 9.74
  4. Royal Jordanian 7.99
  5. Egypt Air 7.60
  6. TAM Brazil                           7.40
  7. China Airlines (Taiwan) 7.16
  8. Air India 4.89
  9. Pakistan Airlines 4.55
  10. Ethiopian Airlines 4.06

As last year, the People’s Republic of China still does not report airline fatality incidents, so it is not known where its safety record stands.

Thus, as we found last year, the major airlines have enviable safety records, while smaller national airlines of foreign countries generally have much poorer records.

That is not to say, however, that the major airlines are without dangerous incidents. A United Airlines flight on July 20, 2010, from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles encountered turbulence en route, injuring 26 passengers and 4 crew members. On July 27, 2010, a Lufthansa cargo flight crashed on landing and broke in two, although neither crew member was injured.

All in all, however, it remains true that the most dangerous part of air travel is the drive to the airport.

Top 20 Best Paying College Degrees

July 28, 2010

It pays to be good at math.  The college degrees that lead to the highest salaries all involve high-level mathematics.

A survey posted on CBS MoneyWatch of salaries by college degrees shows engineering majors dominate the list. For undergraduates, seven of the top 10 college degrees, according to PayScale, Inc., belong to engineering majors. The best paying college degree of all — by a long shot — is petroleum engineering.

Click here to see the list of top degrees and what they pay starting out and mid-career.

Lost Bag Lawsuit

July 23, 2010

Frustrated airline travelers fed up with excessive fees, delays and restrictions found a touch of satisfaction from a woman in Washington State. She filed a lawsuit against American Airlines for losing her luggage and then refusing to refund her baggage fee.   Click here to watch this report by KOMO TV, the ABC affiliate in Seattle.

No New Jobs Despite Soaring Profits

July 23, 2010

Profits are up for corporate America, especially at several leading tech companies.  Unfortunately, that good news is not translating into new jobs.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d spread the wealth and actually hire a few new employees?  Click here to watch this report by Anthony Mason at CBS News.

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs for Children: When Is Enough Enough?

July 20, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

Could we really be headed for a future where kids take Lipitor with their Flintstone vitamins? Childhood obesity is an epidemic, but this has the potential of going too far.  A new study in the latest issue of Pediatrics, the leading journal of pediatric medicine, argues that current standards for pediatric cholesterol screening are inadequate, and that universal cholesterol screening of children 8 years and older should be instituted. Children are now being shoved into the spotlight, even though questions still surround the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs by adults.

Read more

6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook

July 16, 2010

It’s certainly tempting to share your every living thought, picture and desire, but think twice before you do.  More good advice from Financial Columnist  Kathy Kristoff at CBS MoneyWatch.com:

You can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?

  • Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.
  • Vacation plans. There may be a better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting something along the lines of: “Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!” on Twitter. But it’s hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don’t invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you’ll be gone.

Click here to read the rest of Kathy’s article.

Ten Tips For Safe Picnicking and Barbecuing in the Summer Heat

July 16, 2010

By Terry Smiljanich:

We all love the great American tradition of outdoor picnics and barbecuing during the summer, with kids swimming and playing, while the smell of  hamburgers and hot dogs grilling on an open fire invite everyone to dinner. No one wants to ruin this idyllic scene with sick guests suffering from the effects of food poisoning due to toxic bacteria growing in the warm air.

Here are ten tips to help insure your picnic food stays safe for everyone:

  1. Start off with clean food. As in all cooking, be sure that as you prepare the potato salad or shape the hamburger patties you first thoroughly clean your hands and all utensils, so the food starts out as free of bacteria as possible.
  2. Separate the raw from the cooked. Raw meat or poultry already has some bacteria in it, hopefully held in check by storage in cold temperatures in your refrigerator. The juice from this raw food should never be allowed to mix with other food, or even with plates and utensils to be used in eating. That means you should never use the same plates to hold the raw food and then serve it when cooked.
  3. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Bacteria grows best between 40 and 140 degrees. Cold food (eg. potato salad, deviled eggs) should be kept at or below 40 degrees from the time it is prepared to the time it is served. Hot foods (e.g., casseroles, mashed potatoes) should be kept above 140 degrees until served. This means using proper coolers or insulated containers to keep food at these temperatures from the time of preparation up to the time of serving.
  4. Treat partially cooked food just like raw food. Sometimes you might want to partially cook a meat ahead of time in order to cut down on the cooking time at the park. Many safety experts recommend against doing this, as partially cooked food can become infected with bacteria which will start to grow. Heating up such foods later does not kill whatever bacteria established a foothold. If you must pre-cook, treat the food as though it were still raw, refrigerate it immediately, and keep it below 40 degrees until it reaches the grill.
  5. Pack your coolers properly. Keep raw meats at the bottom of the cooler so that no juices can make their way to other foods. Keep drinks in a separate cooler. Cans and bottles contain bacteria on their surfaces that you don’t want to get onto your food. Pack your coolers as full as possible. Contrary to what you might think, a full cooler keeps food cooler than a partially filled cooler.
  6. Is mayonnaise dangerous on a picnic? Mayonnaise has established a reputation as a condiment that is especially susceptible to bacteria on a picnic. This is not true, as mayonnaise is very acidic, just like  ketchup and mustard, and is not conducive to the growth of bacteria. It is the ingredients you mix with mayonnaise, such as potatoes, eggs, or prepared sandwiches, that can spoil quickly in the heat. It is best to keep condiments in smaller jars rather than large containers, but as long as they are kept in closed jars and separate from the food until used, they are safe at room temperature.
  7. Transport your coolers properly. No matter how well built, coolers are not perfect insulators and will not retain their cold temperatures for long. Don’t put the coolers in the trunk of your car. Keep them in the air conditioned car during transport to help them maintain their internal temperatures. When unloaded, keep the coolers in the shade to further slow the process of warming up.
  8. Follow recommended cooking temperatures on the grill. Just because you’re using a grill doesn’t mean you can ignore safe cooking temperatures. Hamburgers, for instance, have large surface areas and should never be cooked “rare” on a grill. They should reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees. Hot dogs should reach a temperature of 165 degrees (easy to do since they heat up rather quickly). Not many of us take a meat thermometer on a picnic, relying on a “sense” of when things are done, but if you want to be a safe cook, you might think about packing a thermometer.
  9. Eat up! It’s hard on a picnic to have everyone sit down at the same time to eat. “Come and get it!” It’s OK to let food sit out for a small period waiting for people to serve themselves. If the outside temperature is below 90 degrees, food can sit out for up to two hours. If it is 90 degrees or above, however, food should not sit out longer than one hour.
  10. Throw away the leftovers. It’s tempting to save some of Aunt Millie’s delicious potato salad to take home, but having sat out in the summer heat for an hour or so, it’s best to just throw away any leftovers. Bacteria will continue to grow long after the family has packed the car for home. When planning a picnic, this is why it is a good reason to carefully plan how much to prepare in order to cut down on leftovers. People can always fill up on cookies after the meal, which don’t spoil.

So prepare carefully, pack well, and head on down to the local lake for some summer fun.    

Signs of Stimulus Waste

July 16, 2010

It’s nice to see our stimulus dollars at work, right?  Well, maybe not.  In this report from ABC News, Jonathan Karl reports on what looks more like a SIGN of waste, than true stimulus.  Click here to watch the report.

Consumer Protection Agency a Go in Financial Reform

July 16, 2010

It’s been a long time coming and listening to the political debate is down-right painful, but one good thing that’s come from the new financial reform bill is more protection for consumers.

The Senate voted 60-39 Thursday to pass the  financial reform bill, which would put in place broad federal authority to oversee Wall Street and attempt to prevent practices like those that led to the 2008 crash of the financial markets. It now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it next week.

The bill is an overwhelming 2,500 pages,which has drawn a great deal of criticism that lawmakers don’t really know what they’re voting for.   Perhaps, but several of the key provisions in the bill are clear, including more protection for consumers:

Create a consumer protection agency. A new bureau under the Federal Reserve, led by a presidential appointee, will oversee financial products that directly impact consumers — credit cards, bank fees, mortgages, car loans, pawn brokers — and weed out predatory practices. Currently, the work of protecting consumers is spread across various bank regulators. Existing regulators would enforce new rules on community banks.

Click here to read more from Reporter David Sessions of Politics Daily.

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