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    Father's Day gifts that are a little left of center

    Whether it's a gift to help his golf game or a musical gift, think out of the box this year.

    This year, Father's Day falls on Sunday, June 16, so there's not a lot of time to pick something up for dad.

    And when you do pick something up, try to be a little creative this year, since most dads have all the ties, socks and work shirts they'll ever need.

    How about going with the Admetior Digital BBQ Tongs and Thermometer for $29.99 on Amazon? Not only is it a great gift for the dad who loves to grill, but it'll make grilling a lot easier for him.

    The tongs have a built-in instant read thermometer that gives you the meat's temperature in about five minutes. Plus, the temperatures of seven different kinds of meat are preset into the tongs, so an alarm goes off once the meat is cooked.

    In addition, the tongs have an LED flashlight if dad wants to cook at night, and they measure temps up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    The tongs are easy to clean too. Dad will just have to remove the digital screen and pop it into the dishwasher.

    Bottle hat

    And if your father likes a cold beer while he's manning the grill, you may want to get him the Guinness Clover Bottle Opener Baseball Hat for $18.99.

    That's right; while he's wearing the hat all he has to do is lift the bottle, put it to the hat's brim, insert the cap and pop open the bottle.

    The Guinness hat comes in black, dark brown and olive green and has a Velcro strap, so one size fits all.

    "The hat is great," wrote a customer who goes by the name of Flavia in an Amazon review.  "The bottle opener works perfectly. And the best part is: I'm in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the product arrived a week before the estimated time."

    Golf glove

    Then there's the SensoGlove for $89.95. It's a digital golf glove that has a built-in computer that provides feedback on how the club is being gripped.

    As most golfers probably know already, the way you hold the golf club is of crucial importance, because if you hold it too tightly, it can take away from a smooth swing. If you hold it too loosely, you may not get enough power or worse, the club might fly out of your hands.

    The creators of the SensoGlove say not only does the built-in computer provide visual feedback, it provides audio feedback as well, so it's almost like having a golf trainer on the course with dad while he's trying to perfect his swing.

    But if you would rather buy a golf glove that's a little less expensive, you may want to go with the Golf Swing Glove by Protech Innovations Inc. It goes for about $35.

    The Golf Swing Glove doesn't come with a built-in computer screen like the SensoGlove, but it does have a hinged-plate that keeps dad's hand and wrist in the right position, so he can get the most out of his swing.

    And the company says the glove is made out of premium Cabretta leather, so it should be something dad can use for a long time.

    Pill speakers

    If you'd really like to wow dad this year, there's always the Beats by Dr. Dre Pill speakers for a little under $200.

    The Beats by Dre headphones have been a hit with music lovers since they came on to the market, and the Pill speakers are known to work just as well and be just as powerful.

    The Pill is pretty small, being only 3.3 inches in length, but it's known to pack a serious musical wallop, just like Dre's headphones.

    Another thing that's cool about the portable speakers is it allows dad to take phone calls while he's listening to his favorite tunes. And it runs on Bluetooth so no wires are necessary.

    Portable speakers have been pretty trendy as of late, as speakers like the Jambox and the Monster have been purchased by many.

    But according to Internet reviews, the other speakers don't even come close to the Pill.

    "I owned a Jambox and played around with the Monster, Jabra Solemate and others that are about this size and I'll have to say the Pill has them beat hands down in my opinion," wrote the reviewer Aztec506 after he recently purchased the Pill.

    So this year -- just like every other year -- you have a lot of different ways you can go for a Father's Day gift, but you only have a little over two weeks to decide.

    That should give you enough time, so you're not waiting for the very last minute.

    Because when you shop for dad at the very last minute, you're more likely to settle on that tie or pair of socks, which will probably end up collecting dust in a drawer or closet somewhere. And most dads deserve better than that.

     This year, Father's Day falls on Sunday, June 16, so there's not a lot of time to pick something up for dear old dad.And when you do pick something...
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    Netflix wading deeper into original content

    Arrested Development is deemed a success, though the reviews are mixed

    Viewers once waited anxiously for the season premier of a much-loved TV series. But subscribers to online video streaming services now wait for an entire season, in one gulp.

    Such was the case Sunday when Netflix debuted Season Four of the groundbreaking comedy series, "Arrested Development." The series, cancelled by Fox in 2006, was brought back to life by Netflix, which released the entire season instead of dribbling the episodes out one per week, as network television does.

    Netflix had been offering the first three seasons for some time, helping to grow the audience for what is becoming a cult classic. Aside from being a risky venture – producing original content – Netflix chose to revive a series that has been dormant for seven years.

    White hot hype

    The gamble paid off initially. The return of "Arrested Development" generated white hot hype, including a marathon all day Saturday on the cable channel IFC. However, the reviews of season four of the series – and a sizable chunk of viewers has already viewed the entire season – have been lackluster to say the least.

    So much so that it affected Netflix stock this week. Shares were pummeled, losing more than six percent of their value. Market analysts were counting on the return of "Arrested Development" to spur sales of Netflix subscriptions. The company may enjoy a pick-up in business but the Street has decided that is far less certain.

    But Netflix appears undeterred. In interviews this week, company CEO Reed Hastings opened the door to produce additional seasons of "Arrested Development," but said it will ultimately be up to the cast.

    Whether Netflix brings "Arrested Development" back for an encore or not, it appears to be committed to producing original content, with Hastings telling one interviewer that his company could be the next HBO.

    House of Cards

    In January, Netflix launched "House of Cards," an original series starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a Washington, D.C., power couple, doing whatever it takes to get to the top. The series appears to have been both a critical and popular success, though Netflix doesn't release viewership data.

    Moving into original content is actually a self-preservation move since Netflix faces more competition for content. In 2011 Starz Entertainment announced it was not renewing the lease on its movie catalog because Netflix didn't charge enough for access to its content.

    Now, there are more TV shows than movies on Netflix's streaming service and the new content appears to have found a ready audience, though not all viewers are sold. Linda, of Atlanta, Ga., says the movies she wants to watch are not available for streaming.

    Not so good reviews

    “In fact, all I can find is 2-3 year-old first run movies and occasional newer movies that must have bombed out in theaters before anyone ever heard of them,” she writes. “Sorry. Not worth it.”

    “Netflix is affordable and it has many shows and movies for everyone,” writes Dina, of Brooklyn, N.Y. “However, they neglect some of their categories such as Anime. They need to fairly add new shows in all sections.”

    “We are so disappointed with the selection of old movies and TV shows available,” Debra, of Minneapolis, Minn., chimed in. “These are not second run in our view, more like fourth, fifth or worse.”

    It's not that Netflix is cheap. The company would surely like to purchase access to more movies. But with Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus becoming bigger competitors, and distributors reluctant to provide content for a service that costs just $8 a month, the content is increasingly hard to come by.

    Viewers once waited anxiously for the season premier of a much-loved TV series. But subscribers to online video streaming services now wait for an entire s...
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    Do the math and lose weight

    If you can keep track of calories you have a better chance of controlling your weight

    More people are losing weight the old-fashioned way. They're simply being more aware and keeping track of what they eat. In the end, it's calories that make the difference.

    While nutrition is key to good health, it's generally acknowledged that consuming too many calories – hundreds more than you burn each day – is a good way to pack on the pounds. That's one reason that many restaurants are being required to post calorie information on their menus.

    A hungry consumer might want a triple burger with a large order of fries until they see how many calories that is. Armed with that information, they may opt for a small, single burger and a side order of fruit.

    Increasingly, restaurants are getting on board. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) recently reported member food and beverage companies have exceeded their goal of reducing 1.5 trillion calories in the marketplace in the United States.

    “Our industry has an important role to play in helping people lead healthy lives and our actions are having a positive impact,” said Indra Nooyi, HWCF Chair, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. “We see continued opportunities to give consumers the choices they’re looking for and to work collaboratively with the public and non-profit sectors on initiatives that enable continued progress.”

    Food providers under pressure

    Restaurants, food processors and beverage companies have been under pressure as America's obesity problem has mushroomed over the last 30 years. McDonald's, for example, has responded with happy meals that include apple slices, salads and wraps, and began posting calorie information on menus before they were required to.

    But that still hasn't silenced critics, nor did it spare CEO Don Thompson a recent scolding from a nine-year old girl, who stood up at a shareholders' meeting and accused his company of “tricking kids.”

    Restaurants that post calorie information on their menus help consumers who want to maintain a limit on the number of calories they consume each day to stay on track. Previously, it has been difficult to know how much a restaurant meal bumped up your calorie intake.

    When you eat at home it's much easier. Food nutrition labels state the calories per serving and if you total up the calories per part of a meal, you can keep track of your caloric intake.

    More than just cutting calories

    Nutritionists stress that restricting calories, while important, is only part of a healthy diet. There are good calories and bad calories, they say. Some foods give you more bang for the buck, when it comes to calories.

    For example, foods that are high in fiber are not only good for you, but are more filling. You don't have to eat as much to feel full. Some foods provide what are called “empty” calories.

    Alcohol falls into that category, packing seven calories per gram. Giving up alcohol for a while can definitely make it easier to shed pounds and lower your caloric intake.

    There's growing research that suggests reducing your calories can improve your overall health. A 2006 study at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine found that reducing calories was good for your heart. The researchers, however, found increasing calories from vegetables promoted the best health, since vegetables contain a high percentage of nutrients per calorie. 

    A 2012 study linked consuming too many calories with memory loss. And of course, consuming too many calories will make you obese, leading to all types of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

    How many are too many? It will depend on your age, sex and body make-up. Here's a calculator that can help you determine the number that's right for you. 

    What to do

    To keep track of your daily calories you need to keep a food journal. With the memo functions on most smartphones now, it's easier than it once was.

    Eat smaller portions. Americans have increased their portion sizes over the years because calories have become cheap. Eating less food will translate into consuming fewer calories.

    Where possible, try pre-packaged meals. These will help get you accustomed to smaller portions and enable you to easily track the number of calories you are consuming.

    More people are losing weight the old fashioned way. They're simply being more aware and keeping track of what they eat. In the end, it's calories that mak...
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      Honda drops the price of its Fit EV

      Nissan lowered the lease price of its Leaf earlier this month

      Pretty soon, automakers will be paying you to go humming off in an all-electric car. Nissan dropped the lease price of its Leaf to $199 a month and now Honda says it will leave you a Fit EV for $259 a month.

      It will cost you $1,999 to drive off in the Leaf, while Honda says it is offering the Fit EV with no down payment. Even more amazing, it's dropping the monthly lease payment to $259 for any existing Fit EV leaseholder.

      Honda's offer also includes collision insurance, scheduled maintenance, unlimited mileage and a 240-volt Leviton charger, although you'll have to pay the installation cost for the charger.

      Honda says it is also expanding the number of Fit EV dealers from 36 to more than 200 by the end of June. Honda now sells the car in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

      The Chevrolet Spark EV, meanwhile, will be priced at $27,000 when it goes on sale in California and Oregon this month. That works out to $19,500 after a federal tax credit of $7,500.

      Pretty soon, automakers will be paying you to go humming off in an all-electric car. Nissan dropped the lease price of its Leaf to $199 a month and now Hon...
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      Starbucks extends smoking ban to store entrances

      The coffee chain wants its outside seating areas to be smoke-free

      A few generations ago, a cup of coffee and a cigarette just seemed to go together. Those days are long gone, as evidenced by Starbucks' new policy that prohibits smoking within 25 feet of its stores.

      Of course, many localities and states already prohibit smoking around building entrances but Starbucks says it wants to make it clear that smoking isn't allowed in its outside seating areas.

      OK, but what if it's an electronic cigarette? Starbucks already bans them, so there's nothing new to report on that front.

      Ah, but what about drive-through windows? Can you smoke in your car while rolling up to the window? Starbucks is mum on that one.

      Obviously, the new rule applies only to Starbucks' own stores, not licensed stores in places like airports and big box stores, which have their own no-smoking rules.

      A few generations ago, a cup of coffee and a cigarette just seemed to go together. Those days are long gone, as evidenced by Starbucks' new policy that pro...
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      Google brings it home, will build a smartphone in the U.S.

      Google's Motorola will start building the Moto X in Fort Worth, Texas

      Americans are pretty accustomed to driving around in German or Japanese cars while yakking on smartphones made in Asia. But Google's Motorola Mobility says it will start buiding a new phone, the Moto X, in Fort Worth, Texas, a place you might associate more with steerhorns than with high-tech manufacturing.

      "There are more than 130 million smartphones in use in the U.S., but not one of them is made here. That changes with Moto X," Motorola spokesperson Danielle McNally said, according to TechNews/World.

      Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside, speaking at the All Things D conference said Motorola will completely revamp its product line-up by October. 

      It's expected the Moto X will compete primarily with Apple's iPhone and the more advanced Samsung models. It's expected to feature what's called "context aware" technology that "knows" where it is -- whether traveling in a car or train or being taken out of the user's pocket at home or at work. 

      But can Motorola really build an all-American phone cheaply enough to compete effectively with Samsung and Apple? The answer lies with how consumers respond to the idea of a Made-In-USA phone.

      Consumers in the Midwest and Northeast traditionally respond better to products they perceive as being made in the U.S. Motorola says it will also be applying some pretty advanced technology to the manufacturing process, which may help lower the assembly costs. 

      Besides, Woodside said, Google and afford to take a smaller profit margin than the other companies. 

      And just to be perfectly clear, the Moto X won't be entirely manufactured on these shores. The processors will come from Taiwan and its screens from Korea but the company says 70 percent of the assembly will happen in Fort Worth. Motorola Mobility has said it will hire 2,000 workers at the Moto X plant.

      Americans are pretty accustomed to driving around in German or Japanese cars while yakking on smartphones made in Asia. But Google's Motorola Mobility says...
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      You mean Mini-Wheats don't make you smarter?

      Kellogg's settles class-action suit claiming it made false claims for its cereal

      Kellogg's will pay $4 million to settle a long-running class-action suit that claimed the cereal maker made false claims that its Frosted Mini-Wheats could improve kids' attentiveness, memory and other cognitive functions.

      The suit was filed after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a false advertising complaint against Kellogg's in 2009.

      While not admitting that it did anything wrong, Kellogg's has agreed to settle the suit and has set up a website where consumers can get claim forms.  

      In a statement, Kellogg's said it "has a long history of responsible advertising" and said it "stands by its advertising and denies it did anything wrong." 

      Kellogg's will pay $4 million to settle a long-running class-action suit that claimed the cereal maker made false claims that its Frosted Mini-Wheats could...
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      SARS-like virus claims another victim

      Most victims have been in the Middle East so far

      A 61-year-old Saudi has become the latest fatality attributed to a SARS-like virus that has caused at least 30 deaths in the Middle East, the U.K., France and Germany.

      The virus is "a threat to the entire world," the World Health Organizaiton's (WHO) general director said earlier this week. Margaret Chan said it "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself." 

      Known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus  (MERS-CoV), the virus has a high fatality rate, so far killing more than half those it infects.

      The World Health Organization (WHO) has received reports of laboratory-confirmed cases originating in the Middle East. The other cases mostly involved patients who had traveled from the Middle East.

      In France, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among patients who had not been to the Middle East but had been in close contact with the laboratory-confirmed or probable cases, the WHO said.

      "Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns," WHO said in an update. "Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. ... Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhea, in patients who are immuno-compromised."

      WHO said it does not yet advise special screening at points of entry nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.

      Although the virus is similar to SARS -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- it is not identical. It causes symptoms including fever and a cough and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

       The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has notified WHO of an additional laboratory-confirmed case with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus ...
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      Allergy meds and driving may not mix

      Be sure you know the side effects before getting behind the wheel

      That yellowish dust all over the hood of your car can mean only one thing: it’s allergy season again.

      You know what it does to you --sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, etc., etc. But you may not know why.

      Simply put, when your body comes into contact with whatever triggers your allergy -- pollen, ragweed, pet dander, or dust mites, for example -- it produces chemicals called histamines. Histamines cause the tissue in your nose to swell (making it feel stuffy), your nose and eyes to run, and your eyes to itch. Some people even develop itchy skin rashes known as hives.

      Fortunately, medications containing antihistamines -- drugs that counteract the effect of histamines -- can help relieve many different types of allergies, including hay fever and food allergies.

      User beware

      But some antihistamines can make you feel drowsy, unfocused and slow to react. If you don't take them responsibly and according to directions, they can pose a danger to your health and safety. Information about whether an antihistamine medication can make you drowsy can be found in the product’s label. You need to read the Drug Facts label of the medication and understand the warnings before they use it.

      “Any of these reactions can negatively interfere with driving or operating heavy machinery,” says Jane Filie, M.D., a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development. Filie says you may experience slower reaction time, haziness, or mild confusion even if you don’t feel drowsy after taking a medication containing antihistamines.

      Exercising care

      Different antihistamines may be dosed differently. “Don’t assume that when you run out of one antihistamine and happen to buy another, it’s the same dose,” says FDA pharmacist Ayana Rowley, Pharm.D. If one specific antihistamine worked for you before, take note of the dosage and make sure you get the same medication the next time.

      It’s also important to avoid taking alcohol, sedatives (sleep medications), or tranquilizers while taking some antihistamines. This information can also be found in the Drug Facts label. Alcohol and sedatives can seriously increase the sedative effects that already may occur when taking antihistamines.

      Rowley also cautions against self-medicating. “If the correct dosage isn’t providing you the relief you expect, don’t simply keep taking more and more of that product,” she says, “but instead, consult your health care professional”.

      What do do

      • Always follow directions for use and read warnings on the packages of the drug products you purchase.
      • Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness, and you need to exercise caution when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery. Avoid using alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers while taking the product because they may increase drowsiness.
      • Know that some antihistamines take longer to work than others. Recognize that you might feel the sedating effects of these medications for some time after you’ve taken them and possibly even the next day.
      That yellowish dust all over the hood of your car can mean only one thing: it’s allergy season again. You know what it does to you --sneezing, itchy eyes...
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      Fixed mortgage rates hit their highest levels in a year

      Both Freddie Mac and Bankrate report increases

      Fixed mortgage rates are following long-term government bond yields higher.

      Freddie Mac reports the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.81% this week,with an average 0.8 point for the week. Last week, it averaged 3.59% and last year at this time, it averaged 3.75%.

      The 30-year FRM is up nearly half a percentage point since the beginning of May when it averaged 3.35 percent. Still, mortgage rates remain low historically helping keep home-buyer affordability high, which should continue to aid home sales and construction as the housing market continues to recover.

      The rate for the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98% this week, with an average 0.7 point, up 22 basis points from last week's 2.77%. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.97%.

      The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.66% this week with an average 0.5 point, compared with 2.63% last week and 2.84% last year.

      One-year Treasury-indexed ARM stood at 2.54% this week with an average 0.5 point, dipping one basis point from last week. A year ago at this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.75%.

      Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, at Freddie Mac says rates followed long-term government bond yields higher following a growing market sentiment that the Federal Reserve may lessen its accommodative policy stance. “Improving economic data may have encouraged those views,” he said, noting that The Conference Board reported that consumer confidence  rose in May to its highest level since February 2008. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index  for March rose to its highest reading since November 2008.

      Bankrate.com

      Mortgage rates tracked by Bankrate.com also spiked this week, reaching their highest levels in a year.

      The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.99% from 3.74% last week, according to the Bankrate's national survey of large lenders. One year ago, that rate stood at 3.94 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 3.52 percent.

      The last time the 30-year fixed mortgage was near this level was May 9, 2012, when it reached 4.02 percent. At the time, that was a record low for the fixed rate.

      The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.21%, compared with 2.97% last week, and the benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.81% from 2.7%.

      Fixed mortgage rates are following long-term government bond yields higher. Freddie Mac reports the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.81% this...
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      Consumer spending dips in April as personal incomes show little change

      The rate of personal savings held steady during the month

      Consumers were keeping a closer watch on their budgets during April, resulting in a surprising 0.2%, or $5.6 billion, decline in personal spending. The cutback came as personal incomes decreased $5.6 billion, or less than 0.1 percent.

      Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had been calling for increases of 0.1% in both spending and incomes.

      The decline in spending was particularly disappointing, given the fact that consumer confidence rebounded during April  from a decline in March.

      The personal saving rate -- personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal

      income -- was 2.5 percent in April, the same as in March.

      The full report can be found on the Commerce Department website.

      Consumers were keeping a closer watch on their budgets during April, resulting in a surprising 0.2%, or $5.6 billion decline in personal spending. The cutb...
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      Your dog can get diabetes too

      Learn the symptoms and make sure they get treatment

      Diabetes is a disease that increasingly strikes Americans. As it turns out, our dogs also suffer from it in increasing numbers.

      It's called diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes. Though any dog can have it, it is most commonly found in miniature schnauzers, German shepherds, golden retrievers and poodles. It strikes females more than males and it usually appears in a dog's middle years – age six to nine.

      The causes of diabetes in dogs are similar to those in people. The islet cells in the pancreas slow down, failing to produce enough insulin. Without the proper amount of insulin, glucose can't pass into cells and produce energy for metabolism.

      The result is high blood sugar as well as too much sugar in the urine.

      Symptoms

      How do you know your dog is suffering from diabetes? The symptoms are similar to a human's. The glucose in the urine causes them to urinate frequently. Because they are passing so much fluid, they get dehydrated and drink lots of water. Later, they may become lethargic, stop eating and be prone to vomiting.

      Often these symptoms are cited by pet owners who blame a particular brand of dog food for their pet's condition. In some cases, these symptoms might have nothing to do with the dog food but the onset of diabetes. Only your vet can tell for sure.

      The good news is diabetes in dogs is treatable, just as it is in humans. Many veterinarians prescribe daily insulin injections, along with a strict diet. Your vet will decide how much insulin your dog needs. It's hard to predict and will vary, depending on the level of damage to the pancreas.

      Typically, you are your pet will start the treatment at home. After a week or so of proper diet and daily insulin injection, the vet will want to see the dog again to run some blood tests. The goal is to see when glucose levels rise and fall.

      How to give an injection

      Below is a brief video that demonstrates the way to give your dog an insulin shot.

      Left untreated, diabetes will affect all the dog's organs. It will result in enlarged livers and hearts and the dog can become easily infected. Sometimes a dog with advanced diabetes will have major problems with its central nervous system.

      Avoid obesity

      Just as with humans, avoiding obesity makes it easier to treat diabetes. If the dog is obese, it can reduce its responsiveness to insulin. So when your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to make sure he or she is at a proper weight.

      If your dog is overweight, institute a high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar – they include most soft-moist food and doggie treats.

      According to the Whole Dog Journal, dogs with diabetes have survival rates similar to those without the disease, as long as they get proper treatment and good care. The greatest risk is early in the treatment and a diabetic dog is more likely to die of complications, like kidney disease, than diabetes itself.

      What to do

      Take note and act quickly if your dog exhibits symptoms of diabetes. Some may be subtle at first, but uncharacteristic indoor “accidents” may be a sign that your pet is suffering.

      Tell your vet exactly what symptoms you have observed. If diabetes is the diagnosis, learn the proper technique for administering insulin shots and commit yourself to it.

      Ask your vet to recommend a healthy dog food and make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise.

      Diabetes is a disease that increasingly strikes Americans. As it turns out, our dogs also suffer from it in increasing numbers.It's called diabetes melli...
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      The facts and the myths surrounding acne

      Most people have it at some point in their life, so what can you do to get rid of it?

      Most people have some challenges during their teenage years that stop once adulthood hits.

      Social awkwardness is one example. A person might have a lack of self-confidence at one time or another, but in many cases learns how to deal with it as he or she gets older.

      But then there are some teenage problems that follow you right into adulthood like acne, which plagues more than 60 million Americans, according to statics gathered by BES Skincare.

      Variety of problems

      Some of the different types of acne are blackheads, which penetrate the surface of the skin and obviously turn black.

      There are whiteheads that remain under the surface of the skin, papules, which are tiny inflamed pink bumps, pustules, which are regular pimples, cysts, that are puss-filled and can cause permanent marks and nodules--which are painful bumps that exist way below the skin.

      Is it your diet?

      Experts say a diet that's highly glycemic can cause acne to worsen, so foods like rice, pasta, bread and products with a lot of flour can make a person's acne condition worse. In addition, scientists say dairy products can cause a person to breakout, since milk is filled with hormones and hormones can cause acne.

      In a 2007 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found a definite link between milk and skin outbreaks.

      At the conclusion of the study researchers noticed the people who drank skimmed milk had worse acne than the others, and had a 44% chance of the acne scarring their skin.

      A new look

      Dr. Jennifer Burris, from the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Education and Human Development at New York University, said scientists are taking another look at the link between diet and bad skin.

      Before the 1960s, a lot of scientists believed certain foods caused acne, but afterwards, others started to challenge this belief and said acne came from other sources besides diet.

      Today that has changed a bit, said Burris.

      "More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment," she said. "This research is necessary to fully understand the underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne. The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne.

      "At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling,"  Burris added.

      Not a 'kid' thing

      Jane Liedtka, a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said people of all ages deal with acne, and a good percentage of them aren't going through puberty.

      "Many see their acne go away by the time they reach their 30s," she says. "But for some, acne persists into their 40s and 50s."

      In addition, Liedtka says that very few people with acne are facing a serious health risk, but the emotional problems it can cause can have long-term effects.

      "It can cause significant emotional distress, as well as permanent scarring of skin tissue," she said.

      Besides diet, experts say stress can cause a person to have acne, and so can genetics. Many experts believe that certain bacterium species can cause acne.

      According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dry skin or dermatitis can cause breakouts too, so moisturizing the skin regularly can be extremely helpful.

      Myths

      What are some common myths surrounding acne?

      There are many, but some include the myth that acne is caused by sweating, not washing your face or bad hygiene.

      "These factors do not cause the clogged pores that contribute to acne development," says Liedtka.

      In addition, there isn't a definitive way to prevent acne, even though many infomercials and companies will try to convince you that their product is the way  to avoid outbreaks.

      Another myth is that a person should let acne disappear on its own, but that's the wrong move, say experts, because it can leave permanent scarring.

      According to the statistics released by BES Skincare, 40% don't do anything about their acne, 30% will grab over the counter medicines, 20% will see a dermatologist and 10% will visit a doctor.

      What to do

      It's important not to squeeze your pimples, as this increases the risk of infection and scarring, say experts. 

      In addition, you can get an over-the-counter medication, because some of them do work, but these types of treatments should only be for mild cases.

      Over-the-counter medications come in various forms, including creams, lotions and gels, so the FDA says it's extremely important to speak with a physician before using any of these products, to determine which is best for you.

      Additionally, it's smart to read the ingredients of the medication so you know how to react if you have any side effects. And if you have severe acne be sure to speak with your dermatologist to see if there is a prescription medication that can help you.

      Dr. Susan Evans,  director of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery and Skin Care, says getting the right medication can be the only thing standing in your way of getting rid of your acne.

      "If you are suffering from acne that has not been successfully treated, you may need to seek out acne treatments that are stronger than the average over-the-counter products. There are many different types of acne treatments available," she said.

      For most people, there are some challenges during their teenage years that stop once adulthood hits.Like the social awkwardness a person might have or a...
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      Facebook promises to get tougher on hate speech

      Advertisers have been pulling their ads rather than offend consumers

      Sometimes the free market does what it's supposed to, although not always in the way you might expect. In the latest instance, advertisers are enforcing some minimal standards of decency on Facebook.

      For some inexplicable reason, perhaps the result of technocrats taking too many science and math courses, there is a currently popular attitude that the publishers of web sites aren't responsible for what they let people say on their sites; acting like a responsible publisher is somehow seen as censoring free speech.

      It is, of course, nothing of the kind. Bigots and misogynists are free to say what they like but publishers aren't required to disseminate their comments. Ironically, it is advertisers who have had to conduct Publishing 101 classes in an attempt to explain this to the likes of Facebook.

      Money talks

      Feminist groups have been pressuring Facebook to ban pages that glorify violence against women but their efforts didn't bear much fruit until advertisers took notice and let their checkbooks do the talking. Yesterday, Nissan U.K. pulled all of its ads from Facebook because of offensive content on the site.

      "Working with Facebook, we realized that if an individual goes to a page that may have offensive content on it, our ads could follow them into those pages," Nissan spokesman David Reuter said, according to Advertising Age.

      According to Women, Action & the Media (WAM), one of the women's groups leading the campaign, 15 advertisers pulled their ads from Facebook. 

      Message received

      Facebook seems to finally be getting the message. 

      "We need to do better — and we will," Facebook said in a blog post. It said it has "no tolerance for hate speech or content that is threatening, or incited violence, and we will not tolerate material deemed to be directly harmful to anyone."

      "We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards," Facebook said.

      It's often forgotten by new media types that advertisers place great value on the environment in which their ads appear. It's the reason that advertisers are still willing to pay more to advertise in, say, Vanity Fair than on web sites that rely on unedited -- or "unmoderated" to use the current patois -- user-generated content that all too often is illiterate, hateful, ill-informed and rife with grammatical and spelling errors that render it all but unreadable.  

      Sometimes the free market does what it's supposed to, although not always in the way you might expect. In the latest instance, advertisers are enforcing so...
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      You don't have to be rich to set up a trust fund

      More people are using them to control how their assets are distributed

      Popular conception of a trust fund beneficiary is the heir to a fortune. Plenty of them do, in fact, have trust funds but you don't have to be rich to set one up.

      The main reason to establish a trust is to ensure assets are transferred to someone else in keeping with your wishes. While a will can do the same thing, a trust can actually do the transfer while you are still living, if the conditions you set out are met.

      Even if you aren't rich, if you are contemplating a trust fund you most likely have been able to save some money or produce some significant assets. You may want to set up a trust because the beneficiary isn't quite as financially savvy as you are. You may have made the judgment that it would be a mistake to give them a large sum of money all at once.

      People also set up trusts for tax reasons. In some cases, the assets in the trust can grow but the growth does not result in higher taxes for you.

      Revocable and irrevocable

      There are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. With a revocable trust, you can change the terms once it has been established. With an irrevocable trust, once it's set up you can't change it. The assets in the trust fall outside your control.

      Why would you agree to that? You might because the assets that are in an irrevocable trust are no longer part of your estate. That might be important when you die and your estate is over the now-lower limit for the death tax.

      Assets you place in a revocable trust still belong to you and, as such, are part of your estate. If their value nudges you over the limit of a tax-free estate, your heirs will owe death taxes.

      But if your estate is well under the limit, you don't have that concern an a revocable trust might be a good option.

      Estate tax uncertainty

      Attorney John O. McManus, founding principal at McManus & Associates, says there was a rush to create trusts before the end of 2012 because of uncertainly over tax laws. It turned out changes were mostly minor, but McManus says people considering a trust shouldn't delay.

      "Less than six months ago, many of our clients put assets into trust and have enjoyed appreciation in the trust assets of 20 percent in cases where they chose the most aggressive portion of their personal portfolio to deposit into trust,” he said. “Now those who funded the trust with $5 million have $6 million, an additional $1 million free of state and federal estate tax."

      Naturally, there are costs associated with setting up any kind of trust. The legal assistance required to properly do it is specialized and tends to be expensive. Before heading down that road, it might be wise to first have a conversation with your accountant about whether its needed or not.

      Trustees and beneficiaries

      As the name implies, a trust is administered by a trustee. A trustee may be an individual or a company. It controls the assets and has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiary.

      The beneficiary, the person or entity that will eventually receive the assets, may be entitled to income from the trust for a period of time before they receive all the trust's assets.

      If estate taxes are not a concern, a revocable trust gives the grantor the most flexibility. With a revocable trust, you can even cancel the entire arrangement if circumstances change. If you aren't among the super rich but think you could benefit from a trust, this could be the way to go.

      Popular conception of a trust fund beneficiary is the heir to a fortune. Plenty of them do, in fact, have trust funds but you don't have to be rich to set ...
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      TSA completes removal of "backscatter" x-ray scanners

      Machines had been derided as "digital strip searches"

      The "backscatter" x-ray body scanners that caused so much consternation in U.S. airports have been removed. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) says the last of the scanners has been taken out of service.

      The TSA was forced to remove the machines after Congress required that the devices produce only generic images. They've been replaced by about 700 body scanners that use what is called Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) software, which display items on a generic body outline.

      But TSA says the backscatter machines could return if their manufacturer, Rapiscan, comes up software that would return a more generic image to the TSA screening officers.

      Critics of the machines have also objected to the radiation travelers are exposed to when they pass through the scanners.

      Record firearms seizure

      For its part, TSA notes that it is business as usual, and then some, at the nation's airports. The agency says it discovered 65 firearms being carried by passengers last week, a record number. Of the 65, 54 were loaded and 19 had rounds chambered.

      In one case, a passenger with a prosthetic leg got a pat-down at Salt Lake City after passing through the x-ray machine when officers noted something unusual in the image. They found a fully-loaded .22-caliber firearm inside the man's boot, strapped to his prosthetic leg. 

      Some of the firearms discovered last week in carry-on baggageThe "backscatter" x-ray body scanners that caused so much consternation in U.S. airports h...
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      Target pledges not to sell genetically engineered salmon

      It's the latest big retailer to take the pledge as the FDA ponders its decision

      Target is the latest large food retailer to pledge that it won't sell genetically engineered salmon. It joins nearly 60 other stores inlcuding Trader Joe's, Aldi, Whole Foods, Marsh and Hy-Vee.  

      “There’s no room on our plates for genetically engineered seafood. Consumers don’t want it and price-competitive stores across middle America are refusing to sell it,” said Eric Hoffman food & technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "We need to see more big retailers take this kind of initiative. We're hoping that Safeway, which has become a real leader in seafood sustainability in other ways, and other major grocery stores turn the corner here and pledge to stay away from genetically engineered salmon."

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been reviewing a proposal to permit the sale of genetically altered salmon. It has received more than 1.8 million comments from consumers, most of them opposing the proposal.

      The FDA had preliminarily determined that the process would have no effect on the environment. But a new peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, found evidence that genetically engineered salmon can breed with wild trout and create offspring that grow even faster, possibly overpowering wild fish in the competition for food. 

      Problem or solution?

      “Simply put, this genetically engineered fish is a problem masquerading as a solution,” said Heather Whitehead, online campaigns director at Center for Food Safety. “It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the environment, and bad for our native salmon. Since these fish will likely not be labeled, consumers have to rely on retailers like these to reject unwanted and unnecessary GE fish. We will continue to pressure other retailers to side with consumers.”

      The FDA has said that it will likely not require labeling genetically engineered salmon, providing consumers no way of knowing if the fish they are feeding their families is genetically engineered.

      At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are under development, and the FDA's decision on salmon will be seen as a precedent for other fish as well as other food animals, including cows, chickens and pigs.

      Target is the latest large food retailer to pledge that it won't sell genetically engineered salmon. It joins nearly 60 other stores inlcuding Trader Joe's...
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      Dear old dad is about to get his

      Survey suggests consumers will increase the Father's Day spending this year

      A rebounding economy means consumers will have more discretionary money to spend and that may benefit dads across the country.

      Industry research firm IBISWorld projects Father’s Day spending will total $13.2 billion this year -- 2.1% more than in 2012. And, in even better news for pop, traditional Father’s Day gifts, such as automotive accessories and clothing, will take a backseat to gift choices reflecting economic recovery, like home-improvement tools. This increase is mainly due to the overall rise in consumer spending during the past year.

      How we spend

      Special outings, like dining out and watching sporting events, are expected to account for the largest share of Father’s Day spending this year, contributing 18.8% of total holiday sales -- up 3.5% from 2012. Specifically, spending at restaurants is expected to increase on Father’s Day as families go out to eat to celebrate.

      Spending on things such as books, CDs, personal care products and sporting goods is expected to account for 18.4% of this holiday’s spending. These gifts are estimated to increase 1.9% from last year as people shift away from more practical gifts like clothing. Because consumers have higher disposable income levels than they did during the recession, they have more flexibility in buying discretionary gifts, such as golf clubs.

      Put it in writing

      Greeting cards sales are estimated to jump 9.0% from 2012, but will only account for 6.9% of total holiday spending. Higher disposable incomes will lead consumers to be more inclined to buy a card AND a present for dad, instead of just one or the other. Additionally, the growth in popularity of handcrafted greetings cards, driven by a willingness to spend on personalized goods, will help boost spending on this category.

      Clothing and electronics, both popular, long-standing choices for dad, are estimated to account for more than one-quarter of Father’s Day spending combined. Spending on clothing, however, is expected to slightly decline as consumers change preferences and increase spending on electronics, such as an iPod touch or Amazon Kindle Fire.

      Gift cards will also remain a holiday mainstay this year because of their ease, convenience and their ability to let dad choose his own gift. They are estimated to account for the same amount of Father’s Day spending as they did last year – 13.1%.

      Hands-on gifts

      Despite strong growth in overall spending on Father’s Day this year, spending on automotive accessories is estimated to drop 3.4% from 2012. Even though the automotive industry is expected to show signs of growth in 2013, consumer preferences for Father’s Day gifts have started to shift from car accessories to home-improvement gifts.

      This is because of rises in housing prices and disposable income levels, which have led consumers to put time and money into do-it-yourself home repairs. Homeowners have veered away from hiring outside workers or contractors, as they are still adhering to tight budgets after the recent housing crash. These factors are estimated to boost consumer spending in this gift category in 2013.

      A rebounding economy means consumers will have more discretionary money to spend and that may benefit dads across the country. Industry research firm IBIS...
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      Universal anti-bacterial treatment seen as best answer to hospital infections

      Large study finds that treating all patients as though they carry MRSA is most effective antidote

      The antiobiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA is a huge problem in hospitals but a new study finds a simple solution that reduces bloodstream infections in intensive care unit patients by up to 44 percent.

      The solution: treat every ICU patient as though they carry the infection. In a study involving 74 ICUs and more than 74,000 patients, it was found that providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients reduced MRA by 37 percent and bloodstream infections by any germ by 44 percent.

      MRSA -- short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- is often present on the bodies of incoming patients. Besides infecting those patients when they are exposed to needle sticks and other skin punctures, it can also be spread to other patients in the ICU.

      The study, REDUCE MRSA trial, was published in the New England Journal of Medicineand took place in two stages from 2009-2011, involving a multidisciplinary team from the University of California, Irvine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is the largest study of its kind to date.

      Three practices studied

      Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA , and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients.   The study found:

      • Routine care did not significantly reduce MRSA or bloodstream infections.
      • Providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA reduced bloodstream infections by any germ by 23 percent.
      • Providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients reduced MRSA by 37 percent and bloodstream infections by any germ by 44 percent.

      "This will save lives, and sets a new standard for preventing bloodstream infections in the intensive-care unit," said Jonathan Perlin, president, clinical and physician services group and chief medical officer at HCA. HCA said it is now implementing the protocol in all of its hospital ICUs. 

      The antiobiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA is a huge problem in hospitals but a new study finds a simple solution that reduces bloodstream inf...
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      A slightly slower rate of first quarter economic growth

      The labor market shows a little slack as well

      Economic growth in the first quarter wasn't quite as robust as first estimated. Still it's a lot better than it was in the final three months of last year.

      The Commerce Department today released its second reading of gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services in the United States -- which showed expansion at an annual rate of 2.4%. The initial reading came in at 2.5%, while the growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 was a tepid 0.4%.

      The second GDP estimate shows that increases in private inventory investment, exports and imports were smaller than first believed. But the general picture of overall economic activity is not greatly changed.

      The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports that were partly offset by declines in federal government spending and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

      The full GDP report can be found at the Commerce Department website.

      Jobless claims

      Some giveback in the weekly jobless claims.

      After falling sharply last week, first-time applications for state unemployment benefits shot up by 10,000 in the week ending May 25 -- to 354,000. Turns out the number reported previous week by the Labor Department (DOL) wasn't quite as good as first estimated. The total number of claims was revised upward -- by 4,000 -- to 344,000.

      The 4-week moving average, which is less volatile and consider a more accurate gauge of the job market, rose 6,750 to 347,250.

      More information on the jobs picture is available on the DOL website

      Economic growth in the first quarter wasn't quite as robust as first estimated. Still it's a lot better than it was in the final three months of last year....
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