Saturday, January 07, 2017

Toxic Chemicals Crackdown

New Report Shows Big Retailers Cracking Down on Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products But Others Remain Serious Laggards

Report Reveals Significant Improvements to Chemical Policies at Target, CVS and Best Buy

Washington, DC – Today, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families released a new report, "Who's Minding the Store? -- A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals," the first major evaluation of the United States' largest retailers' safer chemicals programs.  The investigation revealed that while some leading retailers are making significant progress to move the market away from toxic chemicals, other top retailers remain serious laggards. Major U.S. retailers earned grades ranging from B for good progress to F for failing to develop and make public even basic safer chemical policies.  The average grade was a D+, indicating a significant need for improvement by retailers to meet rising consumer demand for safer products.

Of the eleven retailers evaluated, three retail leaders are setting the pace for the entire sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals and products. Walmart, Target, and CVS Health received the highest grades and have developed and made public the most robust safer chemical management programs during the past three years. Meanwhile, other large retailers remain serious laggards. Amazon, Costco, and Albertsons all earned failing grades.  Amazon received the lowest grade of any retailer evaluated, accruing only 7.5 out of 130 possible points.  Meanwhile, Amazon's market share is rapidly growing and the company is projected to soon be the biggest retailer of apparel and electronics in the U.S. 

Retailers were graded on a scale of 0 to 130 points, and a corresponding letter grading scale was developed to match the points. Grades were assigned based on publicly available information concerning retailer policies and self-reported information concerning retailer practices. We also reached out to retailers, giving them an opportunity to review their draft score and provide additional information. Below is a full list of the retailers with their letter and corresponding number grades, ranked from the highest to the lowest graded companies:

1. Walmart Stores (Walmart and Sam's Club):  B (78.5 points)
2. Target: B (76.5)
3. CVS Health: C (53)
4. Best Buy: C- (41)
5. The Home Depot: D+ (35.5)
6. Lowe's: D (29.5)
7. Walgreens: D (29.5)
8. Kroger: D- (15.5)
9. Albertsons: F (12.5)
10. Costco: F (9.5)
11. Amazon: F (7.5)

The report card reveals for the first time significant improvements made to Target's chemical policy over the past year.  The company: 1) Added cosmetics to the categories of products covered by its policy; 2) Expanded the list of chemicals subject to its policy to include chemicals banned in cosmetics in the European Union and Canada; 3) Significantly improved its evaluation of suppliers' transparency practices, particularly a new way for Target to evaluate fragrance ingredients against its restricted substance list; and 4) Added new criteria pushing suppliers to publicly disclose their fragrance palette, allergens in fragrance, and nanomaterials.

The report card also reveals for the first time that CVS Health has become the first pharmacy chain in the country to become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project.  Additionally, CVS Health has pledged to publicly disclose its restricted list of chemicals in 2017.  Best Buy also disclosed it is developing a safer chemicals policy, restricted substance list, and manufacturing restricted substance list, to drive harmful chemicals out of electronics.

In addition, SCHF provided recommendations for retailers including developing public written safer chemical policies, reducing and eliminating toxic chemicals, embracing "radical transparency," and requiring reputable third-party safer chemicals standards such as "Safer Choice" and "Made Safe" aimed at promoting healthier products.

Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and report co-author said, "As the holiday shopping season approaches, consumers should pay close attention to how big retailers are tackling toxic chemicals.  Our new report found that some giant retailers like Walmart, Target, and CVS are taking meaningful and concrete steps to systematically drive toxic chemicals out of products.  However, too many others like Amazon, Costco, Albertsons and Kroger have failed to make public even basic safer chemical policies. The eleven retailers we evaluated have combinedsales of over one trillion dollars, a market power that can transform the toxic chemical economy."

Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of Environmental Health Strategy and Senior Advisor to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and report co-author, said, "Big retailers are on the frontline of consumer discontent with product safety.  Parents are more aware than ever that our chemical safety system is badly broken.  When out shopping, no one should have to worry that the shampoo, lotions, cleaners, clothing, shoes, or home electronics contain toxic ingredients that could harm their family's health.  Retailers must send a stronger signal up their supply chains - no more toxic ingredients. And consumers should use this report card to decide which retailers to patronize.  Where would you rather shop, at a retailer that scores a B or the retailer with a red F for failure to ensure their safety of their products?" 
For more information go to:
For interviews with Mike Schade, please contact CJ Frogozo at or 310 570 2622

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Book Honors Gone-But-Not-Forgotten Family Members

My Dad, My Dog: Love, Loss, Healing & Hope Collide, as Heartwarming Memoir Honors Memory of Author's Gone-But-Not-Forgotten Family Members.

Written from the heart and life of Sheila Hermel, 'My Dad, My Dog' is a truly profound and emotive memoir; a recollection of memories that encapsulates the beautiful impact and love afforded by Hermel's late father and dog. It's a unique personal story that transcends literature to compel readers to consider just how important their own loved ones are.

Sherman Oaks, CA – Sheila Hermel has a brave and empowering view on losing a loved one, in the belief that they never truly die. Hermel thinks about her late father and dog every single hour and, while they're no longer around in a physical sense, their love, influence and memories will never die.
In a wholly-unique and beautiful new memoir, Hermel remembers them both in what can only be described as a moving and uplifting recollection of memories. There really isn't anything else on the market quite like 'My Dad, My Dog'.

It's always difficult to accept that when someone you love dies, they're actually gone from your life forever. But in truth, once you really get used to their supposed absence, you come to find out that they're only really "gone" in the physical sense... That's how I feel about my dad and my dog. Although they're no longer in my sight, they live on, still, inside my heart. Both were beyond special, and mattered so much to me. Writing this story is just one way that I intend to keep their memory alive. The world gave me an amazing gift in the form of my dad...and he later gave me an amazing gift in the form of my dog... Come on in and let me introduce them.

"Everyone who met my dad and my dog were left with a positive and long-lasting impression," explains the author. "Their love knew no boundaries and, even though they're no longer with us in a physical sense, they're both always a topic of conversation and inspiration for those of us left behind. I see no better way to honor them than with a book."

Continuing, "But the story goes above and beyond their own lives, to encapsulate humanity at its deepest level. Love and loss are two of the Universe's most powerful forces that, ironically and unfortunately, lay at extreme opposite ends of a scale. Still, they're emotions we're all going to contend with, and my book provides a neutral exploring ground to unravel them. There's so much heart and soul in this book; it will appeal to anyone."

With the volume's demand expected to increase, interested readers are urged to secure their copies without delay.

'My Dad, My Dog', from J&S Publishing, is available now from Amazon.

About the Author:

Sheila Hermel has always enjoyed making creative use of the written word, be it poetry in her younger years, or letters, invitations, speeches, etc. for friends and family later on. She has also penned professional business letters and the like during her career in the legal industry. It is her sincere belief that the right words can encompass the very essence of one's being. A proud mother of three, Sheila lives in Southern California with her husband Jerry.

Best Health Insurance Companies Survey Publishes 2017's Best Health Insurance Companies for Baby Boomers

Nov. 28, 2016 (Foster City, CA) – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was ranked the top health insurance company for Baby Boomers in a new survey conducted by

Respondents to the survey between the ages of 51 and 69 gave ratings based on the following insurance company factors: customer service, claims handling, value for price, plan to renew, and would recommend.
  • First place: BCBS of Michigan
    • Overall score: 90.8
    • Value for price: 4.75
    • Customer service: 4.75
    • Claims processing: 4.5
    • Plan to renew: 80%
    • Would recommend: 90%
  • Second place: Blue Shield of California
    • Overall score: 90.7
    • Value for price: 4.75
    • Customer service: 4.25
    • Claims processing: 4.5
    • Plan to renew: 94%
    • Would recommend: 93%
  • Third place: Independence Blue Cross
    • Overall score: 90.6
    • Value for price: 4.75
    • Customer service: 4.25
    • Claims processing: 4.75
    • Plan to renew: 88%
    • Would recommend: 90%
The results of the Baby Boomer survey echoed those found in the general study in which regional insurers lead in the overall satisfaction results. Baby Boomers favored Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates this year, which were all strong in the "value for price" category. Members of this demographic become eligible for Medicare at 65, and since opinion of the program is generally favorable, companies may have received a boost from Medicare-enrolled members.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was number two in the general survey, but came in first with Baby Boomers. Blue Shield of California was second, and Philadelphia-based insurer Independence Blue Cross came in third. Independence Blue Cross, or IBX as it's known, is one of these 38 independent Blue Cross Blue Shield licensees and covers the specific counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
"The Baby Boomers are a group at a particular age where health claims are going to increase," says Jennifer Shelton, managing editor of  "Unlike Millennials, these are people who are likely using their networks and dealing with claims on a fairly regular basis. In a notoriously difficult industry to navigate, I'm glad to see such high overall scores."
See scores and rankings for all 15 health insurance companies in the general survey.'s Best Heath Insurance Company survey removes the guesswork from finding the best companies in the industry. Not only can you compare five of the most important factors when choosing your carrier, but now you can sort companies by your priorities, like age or location, and immediately have your own top three from which to get and compare quotes.
For more details on the survey, including company scores and rankings across categories, please see the full feature on

Methodology commissioned Op4G to survey more than 3,700 insurance customers nationwide in June 2016. The survey collected customer ratings for 15 leading companies in the health category. Only current customers of the insurers on our lists were surveyed, and the survey was not open to the general public on the website.

Health insurers were ranked according to a weighted 5-point measurement of the following factors: customer service, claims processing, value for price, would recommend and would renew. Weighted measurements were derived from surveyed policyholders' rank of prioritization of these factors.
The A.M. Best ratings, discounts and coverage options noted in the survey do not affect the scores, but are provided as a supplementary resource. makes these ratings freely available via this site. The views and opinions expressed by users do not reflect the views and opinions of expressly disclaims any and all liability in connection with the ratings.

About provides a comprehensive array of information on auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, and life insurance. The site offers an extensive library of originally authored insurance articles and decision-making tools that are not available from any other single source, including its extensive car insurance discounts tool. For more information, please visit
Twitter: @InsureCom

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Friday, January 06, 2017

New Year's Resolution "fad" diets and tips to achieve weight loss goals

new years resolution statistics

2017 is here, and most of us are looking at the New Year as a fresh start, a new beginning that includes thinking about your New Year's resolution. Research shows that only about 9 percent of people actually achieve their New Year's goals. After the holiday tradition of over-indulgence, people often set out to rid their cabinets of junk food, hit the gym and start fresh.  But while most start out the New Year with the best of intentions, they often employ the worst of strategies - tackling the problem too aggressively, with overly restrictive "fad" diets, or exercise regimes that they can't commit to, and soon give up their efforts.

Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, think about a few small changes that you're confident you can make right away, even today. That way you'll build on each small success – and rebuild a healthier and better diet, step by step.  A few small changes over the course of the day really can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your diet.

The following tips are provided by Dr. John Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Chief Health & Nutrition Officer at Herbalife.
  • First, don't call it a diet, because diets are restrictive. Create specific and achievable goals and resolutions. Remember, this is a lifestyle change that can lead to sustainable, lasting results, not a "fad" diet.
  • Make little lifestyle changes- it takes three weeks to make a habit, add fruits and vegetables to every meal, go for a walk, take the stairs instead if elevator, park your car further from the door and walk.  For example, just ditching soda in favor of water at one meal, can cut at least 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar out of your day.
  • Take action.  Weight management is a result of balanced nutrition and exercise.  Remember that you need to supply your muscles with protein and other nutrients that are important to your workout recovery.
  • Balanced nutrition that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins will help maintain energy and curb appetite.  Many people find that an easy way to jump start their diet is to replace two meals with a meal replacement shake or bar, like Herbalife® Formula 1, then have a calorie-controlled, healthy entrée as their third meal, with extra veggies and salad on the side.

About Dr. Agwunobi
Dr. John Agwunobi is the Chief Health & Nutrition Officer for Herbalife and brings an accomplished background and a wealth of experience as a physician, a public health official and a global executive. From 2005-2007, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. During his term, he was responsible for disease prevention and health promotion. He oversaw the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, and numerous other public health offices and programs. At Herbalife, he is responsible for the company's nutrition philosophy and ensuring nutrition science is integrated into nutrition training and product education for Herbalife Independent Distributors. He works closely with Herbalife scientists and Ph.D.s to provide leadership and support to the Herbalife Nutrition Institute and the company's expert advisory boards.

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Vegan Recipe Swaps for 'New Year, New You'

2017 could be the year "veganism" goes mainstream - already over 16 million people in the U.S. eat zero animal products and many more are adding non-dairy to their diets. According to a survey from Califia Farms and Berrycart, 56% of omnivores consume plant-powered alternative dairy beverages, like almond milk, several times a week, with nearly one in four (23%) consuming them every day.

According to a recent survey by the Nutrition Business Journal:
  • 13% of consumers associate vegan products with cleaner ingredients

  • 12% eat vegan for weight loss

  • 11% cite environmental responsibilities

  • 8%  embrace a vegan lifestyle because of social responsibility

For your 'New Year, New You' stories, consider vegan swap out recipes and a great place to start is brunch

  • High calorie, stodgy pancakes– RECIPE SWAP: Fluffy and light Almondmilk flap jacks  - Check out this recipe that uses Almondmilk to whip up stacks of delicious vegan pancakesVegan Brunch Swap Out Recipes:

  • Overly sweet and heavy Chocolate Chip Waffles - RECIPE SWAP: Chocolate Chip Waffles – Waffles are the ultimate comfort food, and this is a vegan recipe with a mocha twist, from Clean Food, Dirty City's recipe which includes Nitro Cold Brew Mocha.

  • Too Rich Puddings - RECIPE SWAP: Up your pudding game and have the brunch crowd leave happy and fulfilled with a turmeric spiced vanilla chai pudding desert from Shine Organic made with Vanilla Almondmilk.

New Year's Resolutions!

2016 was filled with touring, radio visits, charity campaigns and more for Shari Rowe.  Here is a recap of her year and a look into 2017! 

Opened for Three Dog Night at the West Valley Fair and Music Festival in Phoenix, Arizona
Toured Poland and played 13 gigs in 10 days. Check out article about Poland tour in Country Music News International by clicking here!
CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee - signing booth in Fan Fair X in the Music City Center and performed with Uncle Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty
Released "Take That Shot" to Country Radio (see more below!)

Shari "lights it up blue" for Autism Awareness. Check out article from Digital Journal by clicking here!
Red Note Foundation Celebrity Ambassador. View article on All Access by clicking here!
Shari Performed at the Red Note Foundation's 4th Annual Benefit Concert.  Read about the concert and orchestra on Nashville Music Guide by clicking here!
During the holiday season, Shari began her #TakeThatShot Kindness Challenge Campaign.  Learn more by scrolling down! 

Shari Rowe's newest single, "Take That Shot," released on September 19, in conjunction with her Good Morning Arizona live interview and performance.  The song was recorded/produced by The Rukkus Room, a Grammy award-winning studio whose credits include Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson, Thomas Rhett and Justin Moore.  Since the release of "Take That Shot," Shari has visited radio stations across the US, has appeared on AZTV's Sandy & Friends as well as multiple newspapers, has received spectacular reviews and is climbing the country charts! 

During the holiday season, Shari began her #TakeThatShot Kindness Challenge on Social Media.  One of the first press outlets to begin the campaign was Crank It Country.  Through this challenge, Shari hopes to encourage fans to take the message of her song to heart, be brave, and show a random act of kindness.  By taking a photo of your act and posting it on social media, using the hashtag #TakeThatShot and tagging 10 friends, the challenge is passed along! Keep sharing the kindness! For more information on the campaign, read the Ammoland article by clicking here, or watch Shari's promo video below.  

HERE'S TO 2017!
Already this year, Shari Rowe's #TakeThatShot Kindness Challenge has grown! This is a challenge Shari hopes to grow throughout the year and it is a perfect New Year's Resolution.  Shari is also gearing up for her on air interview and performance on The Morning Blend on January 12 on Tucson, Arizona's ABC's Channel 9.  
Stay Updated on Shari Rowe and her exciting 2017!






CTA Foundation, IBM, Local Motors Collaborate on How to Create Accessible, Self-Driving Vehicles


Series of workshops and hackathons to help personalize the transportation experience

   Las Vegas, NV, January 6, 2016 - Today the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™  Foundation announced an alliance with IBM and Local Motors to help create the world's most accessible, self-driving vehicle. The CTA Foundation, a public foundation with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives, announced the innovative partnership at CES® 2017 - the global stage for innovation, owned and produced by CTA - running Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas, NV.

   To begin identifying new innovations in accessible transportation, the CTA Foundation, IBM and Local Motors will launch a series of workshops and hackathons throughout 2017 to reach innovators of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. The Local Motors Olli - the first self-driving cognitive vehicle, already equipped with some of the world's most advanced vehicle technology - will serve as the foundation of the initiative. Built to include IBM Watson Internet of Things for automotive, the Olli improves the passenger experience and allows for natural interaction with the vehicle.

   "Our goal is to explore new ways to improve access to transportation and personalize the experience to each person's unique abilities," said Ruoyi Zhou, director of accessibility research, IBM. "IBM has been committed to developing accessibility technology solutions to help people with disabilities for over 100 years. And by working with the CTA Foundation and Local Motors, we can further advance the role technology plays in transportation so everyone can stay more connected with friends, family and their community."     By calling on students and seasoned developers to apply the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson, Local Motors can create seamless interactions between the vehicle and passengers in an adaptive and immersive environment. Examples of how the Olli may be more accessible include:
  • Understanding sign language and communicating back via text
  • Adapting light and videos for users with photosensitive epilepsy
  • Simplifying the language for those with cognitive disabilities
  • Using Image recognition to describe what is outside of the vehicle for blind or visually impaired passengers
    "Through the power of cognitive computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and accessibility technology, this initiative will significantly improve the lives of persons with disabilities and the growing aging population," said Stephen Ewell, executive director of the CTA Foundation. "CTA's member companies are already using connected mobile devices, sensors and cognitive systems to change our lives for the better - whether that means an improvement to our everyday lives or a game-changing disruptive innovation. And we invite others in the tech industry to join us in helping ensure these critical accessibility and transportation solutions come to life."

    This effort represents an extension of IBM's recent collaboration with the CTA Foundation which produced the Outthink Aging study. The research revealed that meeting the needs of a growing aging population will require new technologies, partnerships, ideas and business models. Today, one billion people experience some form of disability - and by 2050, people aged 60 and older will account for 22 percent of the global population. But better access to transportation helps improve independence and the quality of life for seniors and people who suffer from cognitive, vision, memory or physical challenges.

Image result for CTA self-driving vehicle
Self-driving Car
About CES:
   CES is the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for almost 50 years-the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. As the largest hands-on event of its kind, CES features all aspects of the industry. And because it is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ - formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®- the technology trade association representing the $287 billion U.S. consumer technology industry, it attracts the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers to a forum where the industry's most relevant issues are addressed. Check out CES video highlights. Follow CES online at and on social.

 About Consumer Technology Association:
   Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, is the trade association representing the $292 billion U.S. consumer technology industry, which supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs. More than 2,200 companies - 80 percent are small businesses and startups; others are among the world's best known brands - enjoy the benefits of CTA membership including policy advocacy, market research, technical education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. The Consumer Technology Association also owns and produces CES® - the world's gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Profits from CES are reinvested into CTA's industry services.

  About CTA Foundation:
   The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation is a public, national foundation affiliated with the Consumer Technology Association. It was established with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. The Foundation is focused on strategic support of programs to impact these communities and has launched its first series of grants in 2012. It also serves to facilitate dialog between industry, consumers, government, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders around important issues. For more information on the CTA Foundation please visit