) - From encyclopedias to microfiche, we're surrounded by casualties of the digital age, relics of the era before the Internet revolutionized daily life. But even as technology has rendered many advancements, Americans still prefer -- and need -- important information on paper, especially when it comes to financial documents.
That's why Consumer Action
is calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to abandon its efforts to make e-delivery the default method for important mutual fund investment materials. While such a move would lower mutual funds' operating costs, the true cost would likely be passed onto individual investors. We all need to tell Congress that this can't happen.
Despite the fact that the SEC's own study finds that 71 percent of American investors prefer to read shareholder reports in paper format, the agency approved and proposed Rule 30e-3, which would permit mutual funds to switch investors to electronic delivery of shareholder reports without ever receiving specific permission to do so.
Under the new rule, mutual funds would distribute a one-time notice, after which the burden would be shifted to investors to declare a continued preference for paper reports. If they don't take explicit action to request paper delivery of these shareholder reports, investors will only be able to access them online.
Shareholder reports are critical tools containing the information investors need to make informed investment decisions, and many investors prefer and need to see that information on paper. In fact, of the more than 700 comments the SEC has received regarding Rule 30e-3, 94 percent of them express objection to the rule and urge the SEC to rescind it.
While Rule 30e-3 reflects the broader trend toward digitization, the reality is that most Americans prefer to receive financial information in paper form, and, for many Americans, viewing shareholder reports online is simply not an option. Even though e-delivery of shareholder reports has been available for years, only a small minority of investors have chosen that option. In fact, a Pershing survey conducted in 2013 shows that 30 percent of investors do not use the Internet for investment correspondence due to concerns about security. And according to the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of Americans over 65 years of age do not use the Internet at all, yet 34 percent of this population owns mutual funds.
Rule 30e-3 could also disenfranchise many small investors across the country, including those in rural areas without reliable Internet and those with smaller incomes. After all, analysis of census data commissioned by the advocacy group Consumers for Paper Options shows that households with incomes below the national average are 18 percent less likely to have Internet access.
Even more concerning is the fact that the SEC has tried this scheme before -- with disastrous results. In 2006, the SEC shifted the mailing of proxy statements from paper to e-delivery, and from 2007 to 2009, proxy voting declined by 80 percent. E-delivery simply isn't a preferred or
reliable method for important investment information.
Consumer Action is asking Congress to ensure that the SEC cannot implement Rule 30e-3, and we urge you to join us. Visit www.consumer-action.org
and use our Take Action Center
to quickly write your members of Congress. We need to tell lawmakers that the needs of individual Americans should come before the desires of the financial services industry.
Linda Sherry is the director of national priorities at Consumer Action, a national non-profit organization dedicated to empowering underrepresented consumers nationwide through multilingual financial education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy.
) - Driving through neighborhoods this holiday season, you may have noticed that some holiday lights are brighter and more vividly colored than others. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), the reason for the added brilliance is that more and more homeowners are opting to decorate with LED lights instead of the traditional incandescent type.
"Incandescent bulbs have been used for decorating holiday trees since 1882, shortly after (Thomas)Edison invented and demonstrated his first practical incandescent bulbs on New Year's Eve in 1879," says Terry McGowan, ALA director of technology. "Now, more than a century later, incandescent holiday lights are being phased out as LED bulbs appear in a multitude of types, colors, sizes and string configurations."
Compared to strings of incandescent bulbs, LEDs offer:
* Longer bulb life (3-year warranties; average life up to 100,000 hours)
* Energy savings (16-17 watts of savings for a 25-foot light string) -- a reduction of more than 75 percent
* Bright colors -- LEDs generate only the desired color; incandescent bulbs use color filters which waste light
* Cool operation -- LEDs have no hot filament inside; bulbs remain cool
What's New This Year?
* Miniature Light Strings. LEDs are small and can be fabricated into tiny dots of light. American Lighting Inc.
) calls these "dew drop" lights. Strings of these tiny cool-operating lights can be used to decorate foliage, live plants or a floral centerpiece. The light strings are made in various colors and operate at low voltage, and some strings are designed for battery operation so that no power cords are required.
* Tree wrapping. Strings of lights closely wrapped around the base of deciduous trees and then up into the branches give a festive look to even small trees or shrubs. The secret is to use strings of lights with 6 inches or less between bulbs, which can be wrapped around the trunk and limbs with no more than 3inches between the layers of wrapped wiring.
* Magnetic sockets. Sockets designed to be used with standard screw-in incandescent or LED bulbs are available with built-in magnets that hold tightly to any ferrous metal. A narrow metal backing strip can be used to quickly mount lights in a straight line, making installation, take-down or spacing adjustments easy. The magnets keep the lights in line and hold tightly in all weather conditions.
For more LED lighting tips, visit americanlightingassoc.com.
) - NewsusaInfographic - It's estimated that 18.4 million Americans have had an overnight hospital stay. And, whether you stay multiple nights or just a few hours in the ER, the medical expenses can add up quickly. While major medical insurance may cover most of your stay, oftentimes there are still out-of-pocket costs that fall on patients and their families. Voluntary hospital insurance can help ease the financial burden of a hospital stay. Read below for additional information about what a hospital stay can cost you and how hospital insurance can help. For more information, visit www.aflac.com/hospital
See full-sized image here.
) - Independent films are the heart and soul of the movie industry. These original works of art have the potential to push the boundaries of film; engage new, underserved audiences and, just maybe, develop into blockbuster hits seen by millions of viewers worldwide.
This journey of growth, however, is no easy task. For an independent filmmaker, distribution can be the difference between a flop and a million-dollar success.
How can filmmakers trump this trend? The Movie Studio
(TMS) evolved with an answer to this ever-important industry problem.
The TMS model is two-fold. The company both creates its own movies and simultaneously distributes other independent films. The combination provides TMS with a full library of diverse work that appeals to a broad network of buyers worldwide.
Currently, TMS is focused on English-speaking films. Plans are in the works, however, to enter the foreign films language market in the near future.
Gordon Scott Ventures, CEO, stated, "We are very excited to assist many independent producers, with their collective team in their quest for having their efforts rewarded by reaching audiences around the globe."
TMS' growth comes through enrolling indie producers from the top film schools and film festivals. If recruited, producers have the opportunity to share their work with audiences in more than 60 countries. These moviemakers can also become a member of TMS' growing family of followers, shareholders and supporters, ultimately working together for a mutual profit.
In addition, TMS continues to prove its value through its finesse and speed, period. The organization prides itself on giving viewers the power to decide for themselves if a film is successful.
As a pledge to its commitment to the industry, the TMS team has solidified a powerful, well-coordinated media platform through NewsUSA and FilmFestival.com. This platform will boast a strong social media program intended to reach new independent producers and savvy film watchers alike.
With the indie industry begging for more options to grow, TMS could be in the right position at the right time to swiftly become a leader in the entertainment industry at large.
To learn more, please visit www.TheMovieStudio.com
) - Taking the step up from baby food to table food requires a key skill: chewing. Chewing is a learned skill, and parents can help their babies make the transition by offering a mix of appropriately textured foods.
Before introducing textured foods, review a baby's readiness. Signs that a baby is ready to begin eating soft foods include crawling with his or her stomach off the floor, pulling up to a standing position, starting to mash food with the jaws and attempting to feed him or herself (not necessarily successfully, but making the effort).
Learning to chew
takes practice. It's not a skill babies develop instantly or even over a limited period of time, such as one month. Studies show that even when babies reach 3 years of age, they are still mastering chewing skills. Baby foods that combine different textures allow babies who are at the crawling or standing stage to simply explore those textures in their mouths without having to navigate separate foods. For older babies, small, soft food pieces can help promote side-to-side tongue movement and jaw mashing movement as preparation for chewing. Children who eat foods with chunky textures before the 10-month mark have an easier time transitioning to table food.
Textured foods such as those in Gerber's Lil' Bits recipe collection are specifically designed with soft bits of food sized for babies' mouths and a gradual progression in texture to help them further develop their chewing skills. Gerber experts analyzed more than 20 hours of video footage of babies chewing and mashing food, and tested approximately 30,000 spoonfuls of food to develop optimally sized food pieces that promote chewing ability.
We hold ourselves to high standards and bring deep passion to making baby food," a company statement notes. "We only work with farmers who comply with our strict quality standards, use cooking practices that help ensure our products are safe and developmentally appropriate, and test our products with babies from our panel of 2,000 Tiny Taste Testers. We do all of this to help ensure that our baby food is as delicious as it is nutritious."
The Gerber Lil' Bits collection includes 11 fruit and vegetable options and six dinner options, resulting from more than 80 taste tests to ensure baby approval. Recipes include Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle, Garden Vegetable & Beef, and Autumn Vegetable & Turkey.
For more information, and to share photos of your baby's first chewing efforts, please visit www.gerber.com/learntochew
) - Four years after the first set of baby boomers hit the retirement age of 65, this segment of America continues to grow at record numbers. In fact, over the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 10,000 a day.
As this important pocket of America's population grows older, it is redefining the institutions of aging in a number of ways. For starters, the once-traditional retirement age of 65 doesn't necessarily mean retirement anymore.
Adjusting aging attitudes notwithstanding, one fact remains: Father Time, will take its toll on the health of this aging populace. For many, that might mean more minor aches and pains that come with growing older. For others, it means more serious matters.
That's why millions of baby boomers have traditionally moved to warmer Sun Belt locations where sunshine and active lifestyles prolong one's health and outlook on life. Interestingly, while many northern snowbirds are still making the traditional migratory retirement path to places like Florida, a number of retirees are reluctant to abandon their roots, and remaining in their lifelong homes year-round.
Whatever the case might be, aging Americans are downsizing toward more convenient and maintenance-free homes. And one of the most visible trends being adopted are modifications being made to a home's troubling set of stairs.
Whether it's gimpy ankles, worn-out knees or just the simple fragility of getting older, walking up and down a set of stairs has never been more dangerous. Sure, one can be vigilant in always holding onto the railings when going up and down a flight of stairs, or taking slow, measured steps.
The reality is, however, even young, healthy people frequently trip. When this happens to our aging loved ones, these accidents can be catastrophic.
That's why installing motorized stairlifts are increasingly becoming popular, allowing people to comfortably navigate their tiresome steps. One of the largest providers of these life-saving items is Florida-based Acorn Stairlifts.
Founded in 1992, www.acornstairlifts.com
) - Looking for a quick and easy way to freshen up your living room? Look no further than your sofa. A change of upholstery, especially a custom design, can change the look and feel of your room without a complex renovation. Today's sofa styles range from sleek and modern to traditional and timeless with a range of details like tufting and nailheads, shown in ready-to-ship fabrics, or you can pick from an expanded collection of fabric or leather to suit your style and budget.
When picking out your new sofa and giving it your own personal touch with a range of custom options, keep these design tips in mind:
* Fabric: There are so many pattern and texture options.
How do you decide between a menswear stripe, graphic floral, luxe leather or solid chenille? Gary Babcock, with Arhaus
, a home furnishings store, says to look in your closet for guidance. "What color do you wear more? What's your favorite pattern? Your home is like your wardrobe and you need to look good in it."
* Tufting: It's trending and so much so that entire sofas are tufted. But it does come in various degrees. The deeper the tuft, the more dramatic and glamorous the sofa, while a more subtle tuft with simple button detail is more conservative, contemporary and more suited for the minimalist.
* Frame: Rather than concealing the frame in the construction process, designers are exposing it, giving the wood timeworn details and a beautiful finish. Adding an architectural element to the piece, an exposed frame brings another level of style to your space particularly if it's an open floor plan.
* Finish: The finish of the sofa frame, if exposed, and legs comprise another opportunity to showcase your individual style. With retailers like Arhaus, you have your choice of many finishes, ranging from a rich walnut to weathered barnwood.
* Finale: If an option, don't overlook the nailhead detail-the finale to your sofa design. Use nailheads to accent a unique feature of the sofa such as a rolled arm or seatback. But be sure to browse the range of sizes and finishes, including old gold, stainless steel, pewter and gunmetal. Designers can further customize the look of your sofa by changing the spacing between each nailheads.
Home furnishings stores such as Arhaus offer a range of sofa styles, as well as complimentary design services to help you create a one-of-a-kind item. In-stock pieces can be delivered in two to four weeks, and custom pieces can be expected in 10 to 12.
For more information and design ideas, visit www.arhaus.com
) - Desde su debut en 1977, Star Wars (Guerra de las Galaxias) ha establecido franquicias de la película, convirtiéndose tanto en un fenómeno de la cultura pop como una favorita permanente que puede disfrutarse con toda la familia. Con seis películas, y casi cuatro décadas más tarde, Lucasfilm sigue haciendo de Star Wars una película mágica con el lanzamiento, este mes de diciembre, de Star Wars: El Despertar de la Fuerza (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Con el entusiasmo generado de la última película, los fanáticos de todas las edades se están preparando reexaminando y descubriendo las seis películas de la saga, es la excusa perfecta para reunirse y ponerse cómodos para disfrutar de una noche de películas.
Para que el evento sea aún más memorable, JCPenney, una de las tiendas minoristas de ropa y artículos para el hogar más grandes de la nación, está ofreciendo productos para toda la familia del clásico de Star Wars y Star Wars: El despertar de la fuerza. Monta la escena con una ropa cómoda para estar en casa, artículos de decoración y regalos fuera de este mundo. Los siguientes consejos estamos seguros harán que tu noche de película sea inolvidable, incluso para los más grandes (y más pequeños) aficionados:
* Elije un tema y disfruta por todo lo alto. Hay un montón de opciones fantásticas para cada habitación de la casa, con todos los personajes favoritos, citas memorables y diseños gráficos hasta cobijas, sábanas y mantas con las naves espaciales emblemáticas.
* Hazlo acogedor. JCPenney
también ofrece una colección de almohada de divertidos amigos, que no sólo son decorativos sino también perfectos para abrazar. Estamos seguros que a las divertidas almohadas de nuestros amigos, Yoda y R2D2, toda la familia le dará una calificación de cinco estrellas.
* Sirve refrigerios divertidos, sin desorden. Ningún maratón de películas está completo sin algo que comer, así que ¿por qué no lo haces con el tema (y evitas la confusión de cuál es el vaso de cada quien) ofreciendo bebidas para adultos en vasos de cerveza con sus personajes favoritos? Para los aficionados más pequeños, los aperitivos y bebidas se sirven en vasos bien cerrados, tapados para evitar derrames con las figuras de Darth Vader y Stormtrooper
* Vestirse para impresionar. Para mantener a los niños abrigados y cómodos (y hacer que sea más fácil llevarlos a la cama más tarde), son necesarios los conjuntos de pijamas para el maratón. Para mamá y papá, hay una gran variedad de camisetas de moda, cómodas pijama y pantalones, e incluso monos con el personaje. ¡No olvides reunirlos a todos para una foto familiar!
For more information, visit www.jcpenney.com
) - Have you ever suffered from sticker shock at the pharmacy? You arrive with a prescription from your doctor, but you are told that the medication is not covered and could cost you several hundred dollars. Health insurance and prescription drug coverage is a complex puzzle, and many consumers find themselves at a loss to understand what is or isn't covered and why.
However, some companies are trying to make the process easier. In particular, services to educate doctors and patients about drug benefits right in the doctor's office can help avoid unpleasant surprises at the pharmacy.
One example is a new drug benefit service available from Humana's IntelligentRx service, available to physicians through DrFirst's electronic prescription system. It provides doctors with details about their Humana patients' drug coverage, pricing and pharmacy options on the spot in the exam room. Doctors and patients can discuss and review drug costs and options as the prescription is being written.
According to William Fleming, president of Humana Pharmacy
, the ability to help doctors make informed prescribing decisions in the exam room can help improve clinical outcomes by improving patients' access and adherence to their medications.
"Real-time information provided by the IntelligentRx service is a perfect example of how we can help doctors proactively deliver better care more affordably to their patients," Fleming said. "This is a big step forward in closing the gaps in the health care system, using transparency and technology to create a better health care experience," he added.
Here's how it works: A doctor chooses a medication, and the DrFirst's myBenefitCheck interface connects with Humana's IntelligentRX service. The doctor sees information specific to his or her patient about drug costs and coverage, information about drug allergies and even alternative therapies.
Such programs could have a significant impact on health care costs, which are a known barrier to medication adherence. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 125,000 deaths in the United States each year result from individuals not taking medications as prescribed.
For more information, please visit www.Humana.com
) - Americans love their cars -- especially the classics. Coupled with a long road trip, well, it doesn't get better than that.This winter, three vintage cars from the LeMay -- America's Car Museum
will make the trip of a lifetime when they participate in The Drive Home
, a 13-day journey from Tacoma, Washington, ending in Detroit to coincide with the opening of the 2016 North American International Auto Show
.The ride will follow a 1957 Chevy Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Ford Mustang as they make their way back "home" to The Motor City from Dec. 27 to Jan. 8. To ensure the drive is safe and without incident, Michelin North America will be literally helping the caravan roll."Traveling from the Pacific Northwest to Detroit that time of year will certainly offer some winter weather challenges along the way," says Ron Margadonna, Michelin tire expert. "We're excited to help ensure the rally is a safe and comfortable one with proper winter tires for each of these beautiful, classic vehicles."Years ago, making this journey during the winter would have been nearly impossible because the tire technology just wasn't the same as it is today. Now that the vehicles can be outfitted with technologically advanced winter tires, the cruise should be safe and seamless.Whether you're driving cross country or across town this winter, consider these tips to help make your ride safer:1. Take care of the outside: Check essential safety components like your tires, headlights and windshield wipers. Make sure you have proper tire pressure and enough tread, that your headlights are bright, and that your wipers are clean and in good working condition. If the temperatures are still mild, it's also a good time to give your car a good wash and a protective coat of wax.2. Have the right type of tire: All- season tires are effective for three seasons and in regions with light-to-moderate winter weather. However, when winter precipitation is greater and/or when temps approach the freezing point and below, all-season rubber compounds begin to stiffen enough to compromise traction in emergency maneuvers or panic braking. If you're driving in a climate where the temperature consistently approaches the freezing point, consider winter tires like the MICHELIN X-Ice Xi3 to better manage winter conditions.3. Have a winter ready kit in the trunk: Be sure you know where your ice scraper or snow brush is. It's not a bad idea to have an extra set of gloves and boots in the trunk, as well as a shovel, ice melt and jumper cables. Hopefully you'll never need them, but better to be safe than sorry!For more information, visit www.michelinman.com