The Halls are Alive With the Sound of Music

<b>The Halls are Alive With the Sound of Music</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As students purchase No. 2 pencils and notebooks, parents and teachers might want to think about putting something else on back-to-school lists — musical instruments.

Numerous studies demonstrate that musical education benefits children both in and out of the classroom. One study from Columbia University found that students in the arts are more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. Students in music programs show higher IQs than their peers, and art programs have been proven to boost critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

A study by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Ph.D., of the University of Washington examined essays by 1,155 teenagers on school music programs. The essays revealed that music gives teens the freedom to be themselves, as well as a creative and emotional outlet.

With music programs being cut across the country, independent organizations are working hard to help students access musical educations. For example, NAMM, the 109-year-old trade association of the international music products industry, has launched the non-profit Wanna Play Fund ( to support programs and activities that strengthen music education in schools. Endorsed by Mike Huckabee, a bass player and former governor of Arkansas, the Wanna Play Fund uses donations to fund community-based music programs and provide musical instruments to schools.

Another NAMM-sponsored program, SchoolJam USA, encourages teenagers to form bands through a unique, all-teen battle-of-the-bands competition. Amateur bands with members aged 13-19 compete to win prizes and musical instruments for their band, funding for their school music programs and the chance to perform live at the SchoolJam USA Finals in Anaheim, Calif.

The 2010 winner, a band called After Math, won $5,000 for its schools’ music programs, a trophy in the shape of a platinum album and a grand-prize trip to Europe to perform at the international 2010 SchoolJam finals in Frankfurt, Germany. Kids can take this opportunity to form their own bands and get involved in the contest. Teen bands can sign up for the 2011 SchoolJam USA competition after August 2nd, 2010, at

Tips for Planning a Wine Tour For Your Next Special Event

<b>Tips for Planning a Wine Tour For Your Next Special Event </b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – If you’re looking for a unique way to mark an occasion, spend time with friends and family or even host a work event, consider a wine tour. Most wineries are open year round and cater to groups of all sizes. Consider the following to help you plan:

* Choose a theme: Many wineries have theme weekends throughout the year that celebrate changing seasons, holidays, local happenings and new vintages. Start with an invitation and then plan everything from food to music around your theme.

* Location, location, location: Make it convenient and choose your tour destination based on the number of wineries and hotels in one area. The Finger Lakes Region in New York is home to more than 200 wineries spread along five organized wine trails that make touring easy.

Travel resources such as can help visitors map out their route, learn more about a specific trail or find things to see and do along the way — even point you to wineries off the beaten path. Other growing wine regions such as Napa and Sonoma Valley, Calif., and the Niagara region found between Western New York State and Southern Ontario offer more than 50 wineries for visitors to choose from.

* Leave it to the professionals: If you don’t know the area, schedule a guided tour. Many Inns and bed and breakfasts, for example, provide overnight packages that include private, luxury wine excursions (as well as picnic lunches and other “wine themed” surprises). Check out Aurora Inn’s “Wine Country Getaway” package at or 10 Fitch’s “Spoiled Girl’s Getaway Package” at

* Get in on the action: Don’t just taste the wine, be part of the process. Call the wineries you plan to visit in advance to see how you can roll up your sleeves and get involved in everything from the picking to the stomping. For example, Heart & Hands Wine Company on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail in Union Springs, New York, offers an annual “Crush Camp.” Work alongside the winemaking team by picking fruit, sorting and pressing grapes, performing lab analysis and even the cleaning!

* Make it a lasting memory: Take a photo of your group, and turn it into a unique wine label for your favorite wine bottles, or hand them out as inexpensive souvenirs. Photo coasters are another fun, affordable way to remember your tour. Host a tasting event at your own home, and ask friends to share their favorites.

Wine touring can be a fun, unique and inexpensive way to spend a day with friends, loved ones or a large group. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your tour or overnight reservations, particularly in the peak months of June through October. Try to plan midweek to avoid big crowds. Saturday is the busiest day at most wineries.

Answering an Enduring Call, America’s Toughest and Brightest Become America’s Few

<b>Answering an Enduring Call, America’s Toughest and Brightest Become America’s Fe</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In cities and towns across America, from major metro areas to small farming communities, young men and women are heeding their nation’s call to service and challenging themselves to see if they have what it takes to become a United States Marine. Marine Corps recruiting has recently experienced an increase in “walk-in” office traffic, as well as online requests for more information about opportunities in the Marine Corps and increased interest in their officer programs.

The increase is in response to a 2007 President-approved recommendation by the Secretary of Defense for a permanent increase to the end strength of the U.S. Marine Corps from 175,000 to 202,000 over the next five years. Currently, the Corps is set to reach this goal in fiscal year 2009, two years ahead of schedule. This outcome is a combination of recruiting efforts, high retention and re-enlistment among Marines, and low attrition among first-term enlistments.

So, what does it take to become a Marine? Answering the call to serve is just the beginning. All who respond must prove themselves in the most demanding 12 weeks of their lives. Marine Corps recruit training is an unwavering, relentless and uncompromising process of transformation. The process instills in all recruits the core values of honor, courage and commitment. Collectively, it is an epic test of mind, body and character.

“There is only one reason to put yourself through the toughest 12 weeks of your life — and that is to become a United States Marine,” said Lieutenant Corporal Oscar Franquez, Jr., of Canyon Country, Calif., one of three Marines featured in an advertisement in support of recent recruiting efforts. “Becoming a Marine has allowed me to defend my country and become part of a centuries old tradition of service and sacrifice.”

The call to become a Marine is answered by the best and the brightest of each generation. This has been the case since 1775, when the Second Continental Congress requested that the first Marine battalions be formed. For generations, the Marine Corps has taken young Americans who have answered the call and forged them into Marines through a time-tested crucible known as recruit training.

“By earning the title, Marines take their place in a 233-year old brotherhood of smart, tough, elite warriors who are ready to win our nation’s battles and serve their communities as quality citizens,” said Major General Robert E. Milstead, Jr., Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

The Corps’ rigorous training process is featured in America’s Few, a new advertising campaign launched September 19 by the Marine Corps. America’s Few demonstrates what it really takes for young men and women to earn the title of Marine and take their place in the impenetrable line of warriors stretching back 233 years. The ads can be viewed at

Expanding and Recruiting: Roche Pharma Research Seeks Scientists

<b>Expanding and Recruiting: Roche Pharma Research Seeks Scientists</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – With well over 100 projects in research and over 60 NMEs (New Molecular Entities) in development, Roche’s new product pipeline is among the best in the pharmaceuticals industry. Roche invests almost $9 billion a year in research and has nine pharmaceutical research centers located on three continents. Because of current expansion, Roche’s Nutley, N.J. site will become the company’s second largest global research center.

“Roche Nutley is a science-centered organization which encourages innovation and entrepreneurship and is experiencing growth in these tumultuous times,” said Marcia Geremakis, director, human resources for Roche Pharma Research in Nutley, N.J.

Roche is expanding its research facility in Nutley with a major focus in inflammation, oncology, metabolic disease and RNAi therapeutics. It plans to continue to staff the Nutley facility with world-class scientists. Roche and Genentech are currently integrating their U.S. operations, which presents an opportunity for scientists to join the company at the start of a new chapter for Roche. In addition, many scientists working on inflammation drugs are moving to Nutley from the site in Palo Alto, Calif. and Roche will be adding over 120 new positions in the next year — approximately 50 in inflammation.

Roche Pharma Research in Nutley has a tradition of developing innovative new medicines. Research activities are focused on creating clinically differentiated medicines based on small molecules (chemical compounds) and therapeutic proteins (mainly monoclonal antibodies and peptides), including glycoengineering and next-generation biologics. In addition, Roche is now exploring small interfering ribonucleic acid molecules (also known as RNA interference, or RNAi), a promising approach based on the concept of targeted gene silencing (turning genes on or off) that is hoped will eventually yield powerful new therapeutic options.

Roche’s strong funding, increased investment in R&D and entrepreneurial, creative environment make the company an ideal organization where scientists can devote much of their time to science and see their work make a difference in patients’ lives.

During the past decade, Roche has been recognized as a great place to work by several publications, including FORTUNE and Science magazines. The company was also listed as one of AARP’s Top Companies for Workers Over 50.

For more information on careers at Roche, visit

Children Create Posters for Peace

<b>Children Create Posters for Peace</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – When Yennie Shyu, a 12-year-old from San Jose, Calif., tried to visualize peace, she immediately thought of e-mail.

“In this age, technology and computers are very popular, so I thought about combining technology and e-mail with spreading the message of peace and love,” said Shyu, whose poster, which depicts little girls e-mailing olive branch-carrying doves, won the 21st Lions Clubs International Peace Poster Contest.

Shyu describes the image as “little fingers typing big messages, spreading love and peace worldwide.”

Shyu’s poster, which was selected from 350,000 entries from 70 countries, portrays the theme “Peace Begins With Me.” As the grand prize winner, Shyu received a trip to New York City for a special award ceremony during Lions Day with the United Nations.

“Lions in many nations have embraced the Peace Poster Contest as a hands-on way to promote peace and to support the young people in their communities,” said Lions Clubs International President Al Brandel. “The contest is another example of Lions being everyday heroes in reaching out and listening to the young people of this world.”

During the past two decades, more than 4 million children from ages 11 through 13 have artistically shared their visions for peace through the Lions International Peace Poster Contest. Lions clubs sponsor the contest in schools and organized youth programs. The contest provides an outlet for children and adults to discuss the meaning of world peace while visually portraying their feelings. Now entering its 22nd year, the contest has been held in more than 100 countries.

“It takes energy and even courage to live in peace,” said Remi Delanghe, a merit award winner from Belgium. “It’s something you need to work on every day in order to be able to create and maintain it.”

Winners have come from all across the globe to share their visions of peace. “Peace is something big and marvelous, full of happiness to be achieved from our own homes and in the heart of each human being,” said Ana Stephanie Rosero Morales from Peru, a merit award winner.

The 24 finalist peace posters will be exhibited during the year at children’s museums and various locations throughout the United States. Visit to view posters and send e-cards.

“Stars of Life” Float Honors Heroes of Organ and Tissue Donation

<b>“Stars of Life” Float Honors Heroes of Organ and Tissue Donation</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Americans impacted by organ and tissue donation joined to celebrate the cause on Jan. 1 in the Tournament of Roses Parade aboard the Donate Life “Stars of Life” float. Each year, the float is built as a tribute to the millions of people touched by organ, tissue and blood donation, including living donors, donor families, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.

Among the participants involved with this year’s float were two distinct individuals sponsored by AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest non-profit providers of skin, bone and soft tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures. May Chen, from Fremont, Calif., saw her life changed as a tissue recipient, and Dr. Richard Kagan, a seasoned burn care surgeon in Cincinnati, works daily to further the cause of organ and tissue donation.

Chen, a skilled martial artist who competes at international levels, is a popular Tai Chi instructor in California and is president of Health Qigong Association USA. Several years ago, a severe knee injury threatened to end her career altogether, until a tissue transplant gave her new hope.

Chen’s knee was saved after she received a fresh tissue transplant from a young donor who had been killed in a car accident. She participated in the float as one of 26 float riders.

“Everything I’ve done since the transplant, and all that’s to come, are because of the tissue donor family,” said Chen. “The allograft gave me a second chance to fulfill an unrealized destiny.”

Across the country from Chen, Dr. Kagan works as the Chief of Staff at Cincinnati’s Shriners Hospital and Director of Adult Burn Care at University Hospital. Kagan is responsible for giving thousands of patients the chance to live despite life-threatening burns, often using allograft skin -; a gift from deceased human donors.

Kagan was included as one of 14 “Walk of Fame” stars within the float, which honored those who’ve made a lasting impact on organ and tissue donation. He was selected for his progressive research and dedication to the promotion of tissue donation.

Donate Life’s 26 float riders were immersed in a shower of stars climbing more than 30 feet in the air, representing all the people who make the gift of life possible.

Each year, millions of organ and tissue recipients are impacted by the gift of donation. It is simple to register to be a donor, by visiting Donate Life America at

Rescue Dog Groups Need Support

<b>Rescue Dog Groups Need Support</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Even as rescue technology advances, few things prove so sophisticated as a dog’s nose.

Search-and-rescue dogs can track one scent for hours, distinguishing it from other stimuli. Paws can trek where wheels cannot, helping find victims trapped in uneven or unsteady terrain. Off the leash, dogs can find survivors in places difficult for humans to search – they can climb ladders, tunnel and navigate through debris.

Not every dog can become a search-and-rescue dog. Canines must be athletic, brave, capable of single-minded focus and willing to please their handlers. Training for FEMA-certification takes at least one year and must continue through the dogs’ lifetime – about 10 years.

Demand for search-and-rescue dogs is high – there are currently not enough dogs to supply each emergency team that needs their help. But some organizations are working to find and train more search-and-rescue dogs.

For example, National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) in Ojai, Calif., and Nutro Products’ Natural Choice dog food have joined together to raise awareness about the need for more FEMA-certified canine search teams.

The SDF produces highly-trained, FEMA-certified canine search teams. The SDF finds its dogs in shelters – many successful search-and-rescue dogs only narrowly escape euthanasia – and they complete the rigorous training.

The SDF pairs the trained dogs with firefighters, who use the dogs as part of their emergency response teams. The SDF, a nonprofit organization, ensures that every dog – even those who do not complete the program – receive complete care for life.

Today, there are only 150 Advanced Certified canine teams in the U.S. More search-and-rescue dog teams will help boost national security and disaster preparedness. Americans can help support the SDF and its efforts by donating money online at or buying Nutro Natural Choice Branddog food – every bag sold helps support the SDF.

New Fragrances Capture Lifestyle of ‘The O.C.’

<b>New Fragrances Capture Lifestyle of ‘The O.C.’</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – First came the wildly popular TV series, “The O.C.,” then came the ringtones, wallpaper, buddy icons and music compilations.

And now, to make the O.C. lifestyle complete, there are signature fragrances – The O.C. for Her and The O.C. for Him – inspired by the show.

Set in the affluent, harbor-front community of Orange County, Calif., “The O.C.” lets the rest of us live the life of the privileged, if only for an hour a week. Millions of viewers tune into the show to follow the glamorous lifestyle of its captivating characters.

The new fragrances, created by AMC Beauty, a marketer of licensed personal care products, capture the seductive Newport Beach lifestyle. Like the show, the fragrances are all about “the self-expression of today, what’s hip and what’s new,” according to AMC Beauty.

In The O.C. for Her, top notes combine juicy mandarin and florals. Middle notes of hibiscus, tuberose, jasmine and freesia, with accents of white peach, guava and nectarine lead the way to a foundation of white amber, vanilla and clear musk, creating a scent that is ideal for either day or night.

The O.C. for Him begins with a fresh scent of mandarin, citron and bergamot. The middle consists of a masculine yet fragrant combination of lavender, rose and jasmine laced with spicy accents of black pepper. An accord of golden amber and clear musk blended with patchouli and other sensual woods concludes the fragrance.

Since its debut in 2003, “The O.C.” has attracted legions of viewers and devoted fans that buzz about the show in online message boards and eagerly speculate what the next episodes will bring.

The fragrances, introduced just in time for the show’s fourth season, are available at select retailers nationwide. “The O.C.” airs Thursday nights on Fox at 9 p.m. Eastern /8 p.m. Central.