Friday, July 31, 2009

Health Uncle:Chickenpox Stays In You

If we've ever had chickenpox,we still have the virus in us.What is worse,the virus may come out of its dormant state and give us a potentially painful rash called shingles.Shingles affects people 60 and over.Why that is isn't fully established,though age-related immune system flaws seem to be involved.Shingles is often a blistering rash that lasts up to 30 days.Normally,the pain disappears along with the rash.Sometimes,however,it lingers for an extended period-even for years.
Merck has developed a vaccine,Zostavax,that can prevent shingles.It strengthens the immune system by exposing you to a weakened chickenpox virus.Zostavax isn't foolproof.It may not protect you at all,or only partially protect you from shingles.It is the only vaccine available for the illness,however.People with various medical conditions or in certain situations shouldn't receive the vaccine.If you are 60 or over and had chickenpox,consider consulting a doctor about being vaccinated with Zostavax.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quebecor World Emerges

Quebecor World,the Montreal-based printing concern,has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.The firm entered bankruptcy in January,2008.Having restructured its business,it will be known as World Color Press,Inc.During restructuring,the company continued to be an important employer at its plants in Fairfield,Pennsylvania and elsewhere.Quebecor,Inc. owns World Color Press,and is led by CEO Pierre Paladeau.R.F. Donnelley and Sons Co.,a Chicago-based commercial printing rival,had made a bid of 700 million dollars in cash and 394 million in stock for the troubled Quebecor World in May,2009.
Jacques Mallette,President and CEO of Quebecor World,said it was an important and exciting day for the Company,its customers,suppliers and employees.The restructuring and reorganizing process has made us financially healthier and allowed us to start fresh with a strong balance sheet and a leaner cost structure.We believe the Company is now better positioned to meet the present and future competition in the industry and to create value for our stakeholders,Mr.Mallette stated.
World Color Press will continue to produce advertising inserts and circulars,catalogs,magazines,books,directories,digital premedia and other products.It has about 20,000 employees in some 90 facilities in theU.S.,Canada,Argentina,Chile,Brazil,Mexico,Colombia and Peru.Its parent,Quebecor,Inc.,trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beware of Government Aid

Beware of accepting government largess-it isn't free,Governor Sarah Palin warned.I resisted the stimulus package,and we have slashed earmark requests by 85%.Other states should follow this.Let's not start believing that government is the answer,Sarah Palin urged.

We can still carve wealth out of the wilderness,Governor Palin believes.It's what our first people and our parents did.We have come so far in the first 50 years of statehood.

Some still are choosing to not hear why she chose a new path,Sarah Palin complained.It is because she loves Alaska so much that she is avoiding the typical lame duck last year of a governor's term.She can fight for Alaska better that way,and she doesn't need a title to do that.She promised to be like a grizzly bear protecting her cubs.Here it is impossible to lose your way,she explained.We have that great North Star to guide us to the True North.God bless Alaska and God bless the United States of America,she concluded.

Immediately she was finished,Lieutenant Governor Sean Parcell was sworn is as the next governor of the 49th state.Sarah Palin's first major appearance of her new phase will be at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,California in a few weeks' time.

Early Edition:Palin's Firey Farewell

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin bade a lively farewell to state politics in Fairbanks on Sunday,delivering a speech that marked a new phase in her public career,as well as the completion of an old one.Speaking to thousands,including tourists and supporters from other states,in a sun-drenched Pioneer Park,at the third in a series of governor's picnics around the state,Governor Palin minced no words when addressing the media.How about,in honor of the American soldier,you stop making things up?she asked the press corps.The fact that Americans volunteer for the military shows our best days aren't behind us,she observed.As for outside special interest groups,they just don't get it on hunting and second amendment rights.Hollywood needs to know we eat;therefore we hunt.
Turning to one of her favorite talking points,the governor said that,after decades of just talk,we're seeing oil and gas drilling at Point Thompson.And now we are on the road to the largest public/private energy project in the history of America,the natural gas pipeline to the lower 48 states.The pressing issue of our times is energy independence.You can be both pro-energy development and pro-environment,Sarah Palin insisted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Health Uncle:Immune System Protection

The immune system is critical to the quality and length of our lives.A number of factors affect the system's functioning,so there are a number of techniques for enhancing it.One of these is stress-reduction.Laughter releases the mood-elevating chemicals called endorphins,which counter stress hormones that harm the immune system.Other ways to reduce stress hormones are meditation,listening to music and reading.
Exercise is another technique.In moderation,it increases the number and circulation of immune cells.A third technique for improving the immune system is dietary.Eating anti-oxidants such as vitamins B,C and other phytonutrients-nutrients found in plant material-fights the free radicals that damage the immune system.Such foods as blueberries,carrots,oranges and broccoli have high levels of phytonutrients.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NYSE/Euronext Ponders Capital Markets

NYSE/Euronext,or NYX,parent of the New York Stock Exchange,has been analyzing the basis of the capital markets.Trust is the powerful global currency that makes commerce possible,NYX says.The trust between buyers and sellers;the trust in governments;the trust in open markets and in the innovative technologies that power them are crucial to the exchange of capital that creates businesses and jobs.Recently,NYX points out,uncertainty,not trust,has dominated the conversation in unsettled global marketplaces.Properly regulated marketplaces such as NYSE/Euronext are crucial to restoring trust by protecting the interests of investors through transparent and accountable business practices.
NYX notes that its fundamentals have guided it through triumphs and tragedies in every conceivable market condition.As new regulations are being developed today,these principles are as important as ever-if not more so.Proceed with confidence,NYX reassures investors.

Exxon Mobil Explores Alternative

After lagging behind other integrated oil companies in the development of alternative energy sources,Exxon Mobil has listened to many of its shareholders and gotten down to the future-distant though it may be.It is to spend 600 million dollars to develop transportation fuel from algae.The production of algae-based fuels is at least 5-10 years off.One acre of algae can yield about 2,000 gallons of fuel.
Chevron and BP have been multisource energy companies for some years now,while Exxon limited itself to improving batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles,and funding basic research.The Rockefeller family,whose ancestor John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil,the precursor of Exxon,have been especially vociferous about Exxon's reluctance to embrace alternative energy production.

Late Today

I'm running late as I was setting up a new computer today.Thank you for your patience.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I am grateful to the following news organizations for their assistance with matters of fact:The Associated Press,The Washington Post,CNBC,Nightly Business Report,the BBC,Investors Business Daily,The Washington Business Journal,USA Today,The Wall Street Journal,Bloomberg,C-Span,MarketWatch.Without my fellow journalists,I would be much more ignorant.

Health Uncle:Summer Hazards

The hazards of summer are mainly related to the sun on the one hand,and water on the other.Not everyone is active on the water,but we all deal with the sun.Heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke and dehydration are threats,especially to vulnerable populations,but the spectre of skin cancer is a less immediate threat,though a more widespread occurrence.More than 10,000 Americans die of skin cancer every year-mostly from melanoma.If diagnosed early,melanoma patients can survive quite a long time.Five years after diagnosis,99% of melanoma patients are still alive.
Besides melanoma,there are more than a million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed each year in the U.S.These are also mainly sun-related,but they tend not to spread to other organs,unlike melanoma.Non-melanoma skin cancers are typically found on the face,lips,ears and neck,which are exposed to the sun more.The eyes are at risk from the sun's UV rays as well.Cataracts and macular degeneration have been linked to the solar rays.Light-colored clothing,sun glasses,sunscreen and hats keep us feeling and looking cooler through those hot,bright summer days,and help preserve our health.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Del Monte Marks Tenth

Del Monte Foods has been celebrating the tenth anniversary of its listing on the New York Stock Exchange.Rick Wolford,Del Monte's CEO,said the company's business is about half-consumer and half-pet foods.Both are doing very,very well.People are eating at home more,and they are humanizing their pets.Del Monte's brands include S&W,College Inn,Contadina,Del Monte,Milk-Bone,9 Lives,Meow Mix and Puperoni.The Del Monte brand itself is a very strong brand,Mr.Wolford believes.Fifty percent of the company's commodity costs are hedged,protecting them from inflation.
Carly the golden retriever,the company mascot, accompanied Mr.Wolford as he rang the opening bell at the NYSE.

Morningstar's Wide Moats

Paul Larson,equity strategist at Morningstar,says the economy and its indicators are less bad.There's a big difference between less bad and good.We've been having simply a multiple expansion rally-just a rebound.It was not reflecting a meaningful recovery.There is not a whole lot of substance to the green shoots theory.
Morningstar likes companies with wide moats.Their profits are protected from competitors over the long term.Procter and Gamble is one of these.A third of its sales are in the emerging markets.Novartis is another wide moat firm.It is very diverse,being big in vaccines,generic drugs and consumer products.Lowe's is a third wide moat company.It's had negative same-store sales recently,but is very,very cheap right now,Mr.Larson notes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Health Uncle:Medtronic Manages Diabetes

Medtronic is deriving a good part of its growth from insulin pumps and blood glucose monitors,says CEO Bill Hawkins.It gets 10% of its topline growth from diabetes products.Ever more sophisticated devices are being developed to combat the chronic disease.Medtronic has been increasing its spending on research and development by over 70% for the past three years.In consequence,they're on the path of closing the loop with diabetes,Mr.Hawkins believes.
Bill Hawkins described a number of the company's diabetes products,such as a sensor you put on your skin for several days that continuously monitors your condition.They're making continuous insulin pumps,and also a sensor that turns the pump off if blood sugar gets too low.Medtronic is working on a pump patch for the abdomen that communicates to a handheld device.They are working toward an artificial pancreas,Mr.Hawkins revealed.Groups of pancreatic cells,the islets of Langerhans,named for 19th century German histologist Paul Langerhans,produce the hormone insulin,which regulates the body's use of carbohydrates.Diabetes is a disruption of this insulin production in the pancreas.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Q2 Stock Market Results

The best-performing U.S. stocks in Q2 were Genworth Financial,up 267.9%;Bank of America,up 93.5%;and Wynn Resorts,up 76.8%.The worst performers were KeyCorp,down 33.4%;Cephalon,down 16.8%;and Wal-Mart,down 7%.KeyCorp has since been upgraded to overweight by Keefe,Bruyette and Woods,based on valuation.

Alaska's Buried Treasure

According to the U.S. Geological Survey,Alaskan waters cover more hydrocarbons than was previously understood.It had been supposed that the Chukchi Sea area held 30 billion cubic feet of natural gas.Now the USGS thinks there is far more natural gas there.They estimate the Chukchi field contains 30% of the world's undiscovered total,or 1.6 trillion cubic feet.As well,some 4% of the world's undiscovered oil is now believed to be under Chukchi-about 83 billion barrels.
The Chukchi Sea is off Alaska's northwest coast,roughly between Point Barrow and the Seward Penninsula.It is bisected by the International Date Line,with Russia being on the other side of the line.The U.S.Congress has yet to approve exploitation of the resource,while Russia is going ahead with the activity.Critics of Congress point out that alternative energy is still in its infancy.It will be at least several decades before it is viable,they contend.Alaska has the energy resources we can use today,Governor Sarah Palin insists.Environmentalists are concerned that development in the area will harm wildlife such as polar bears.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Health Uncle Early Edition:Half-Done

I will not be in on Friday,so I am publishing today instead.The year is half over now.It's a good time to assess our progress.Have the goals we established in January been met? Have we even started? I've often seen people start jogging,but it seldom lasts more than a week or two.Maybe they got too busy.Someone may have disturbed them.They forgot one day,then another,and eventually they just lost all momentum,coming to a halt.One thing is certain:their need for exercise hasn't gone away.The perception they had when they started is still valid.Hopefully they will restart their activity and fulfill their health potential in the second half of the year.Not only would it help them;it may encourage others to follow.
Happy Canada Day.Today is Canada's national holiday,formerly called Dominion Day.Happy Independence Day weekend.