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3 Things to Know Before Ride-Booking a Car

Lifestyles - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 7:18am

(NewsUSA) - If you were some innocent fleeing a terrorist attack, would you expect to be charged four times the normal cost of a car ride?

Alas, that's what happened to some Uber passengers last December when the "off the charts" demand for a quick escape from anywhere near the 16-hour siege at Sydney, Australia's Lindt Chocolate Café automatically triggered the controversial "surge-pricing" that Uber and other ride-booking services also employ here in the U.S.

Even some of the app-based companies' (former) biggest fans say that's just a fancy term for price gouging. "#Neverforget, #neveragain," read the hashtags celeb Jessica Seinfeld used in Instagramming a receipt for a whopping $415 Uber fare during a recent New York snowstorm. And so many lawmakers across the nation have their own pro-consumer reasons for wanting to crack down on the industry -- lesser players include Lyft and Sidecar -- that you'd almost think the very idea of summoning a ride on a smartphone was Evil Incarnate.

It's your call, but here's what you should know before booking one of those cars:

* Your driver may not have been thoroughly screened. Newspapers have reported numerous cases of ride-booking drivers arrested for allegedly raping or assaulting passengers. But efforts to subject the newbies to the same rigorous background checks as taxi and limousine drivers -- akin to a "Not Welcome" sign for lowlifes -- have been fought by all three services.

"Background screening is a public safety issue," says Gary Buffo, president of the National Limousine Association ( "Competition is a good thing, but everyone needs to play by the same rules."

Uber, for one, has touted what it calls its "industry-leading (vetting) standards." But that claim took a hit last December when prosecutors in California alleged, as part of a consumer protection lawsuit against the company, that their drivers weren't being fingerprinted -- thus making its criminal checks "completely worthless."

* Good luck suing if you're injured. Some ride-booking services allow drivers to carry personal, rather than commercial, insurance. (Hey, they use their own cars.) Testifying at a recent City Council hearing in Buffalo, New York, Kristina Baldwin, of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, called that a "serious insurance gap."

* Surge pricing can be a shocker. Uber did reimburse Sydney riders after getting skewered by the media. But New Year's Eve revelers in New York City, learning a lesson in supply and demand, apparently had no such luck. "The most expensive eight minutes of my life," the New York Daily News quoted one angry passenger.

Bulldog Softball To Host Lions on Thursday

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 4:26pm
Having played 10 games over eight days to open the season, Mississippi State softball is off to a 9-1 start and will host Southeastern Louisiana at the MSU Softball Field, Thursday.

Women’s Tennis Hosts Samford; Patrasc Named SEC Player Of Week

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 4:25pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Following a two-match road trip last weekend that included impressive wins against Winthrop and East Tennessee State, the 71st-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team returns home on Thursday, hosting the Samford Bulldogs.

Baseball Announces Schedule Changes For This Weekend

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:30pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State baseball has moved up the first pitch times for all six games scheduled at Dudy Noble Field this weekend.

Rivals Clash Thursday At The Hump In ESPN2 Showdown

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:45am
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Humphrey Coliseum will play host to the Southeastern Conference's oldest rivalry on Thursday, as Mississippi State looks to defend its homecourt against archrival Ole Miss.

For Advanced Heart Failure Patients, There Is Hope

Lifestyles - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:29am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Advanced heart failure is a serious and deadly disease that needs to be managed and understood. As a progressive disease that is rarely cured, it can get worse over time. That is why it might be time to consider other treatment options -- like LVAD therapy.

See full-sized image here.

2015 Football Season Tickets On Sale Now

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 9:52am
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Season tickets for the anticipated 2015 Mississippi State football season are on sale now at or by calling 1-888-GO-DAWGS.

Bulldogs No. 16 In 12th-Straight Week In USA Today Coaches Poll

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 3:09pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State earned its 12th-straight week in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll Tuesday, checking in at No. 16.

Women’s Track and Field Lands At No. 17 In USTFCCCA Rankings

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 2:42pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Continuing to move up in the polls, the Mississippi State women's track and field team ranks No. 17, according to the USTFCCCA rankings.

Victoria Vivians Named USBWA National Freshman Of The Week

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 1:09pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Victoria Vivians' stellar week garnered national attention Tuesday as she was tabbed Mississippi State's first U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Week.

5 Easy Tips for Taking Care of Your Heart

Lifestyles - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:31am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Northern California native June Auld, 76, leads a very full life. Aside from her day job as a mental health professional, she can be found, with her husband, Glenn, cooking for the homeless, providing foster care to guide dogs or taking walks around their neighborhood.

It was during one of those full days that Auld began experiencing extreme discomfort in her chest. She and her husband went to the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center, where doctors immediately began running tests. Doctors confirmed that Auld had experienced a heart attack, and placed a stent in a blocked artery.

Auld's decision to seek immediate care at Kaiser Permanente not only saved her life, but saved her from having to undergo more complicated treatment.

"The care Kaiser Permanente gave me was fantastic," Auld said. "The day after I got home, I did my walk like I had never had a heart problem, and I've never had any pain or discomfort since."

Show your heart some love now and throughout the rest of your life with these five simple, healthy aging tips from Marc Jaffe, M.D., clinical leader, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program.

How to keep your heart strong:

1. Be sweet. Instead of chocolate, try blueberries or strawberries. These heart-healthy treats are filled with natural antioxidants that can help keep your arteries open.

2. Move to the beat. Grab a partner and do some fancy footwork. Any activity that gets you moving -- like dancing or walking -- can help increase blood circulation, reduce stress and protect your heart.

3. Do your thing. Activities like painting, writing, yoga and meditation can help slow your heart and breathing rates and lower your blood pressure, all of which are good for your body and your heart.

4. Avoid tobacco. If you smoke, join a tobacco-cessation program to help you quit, and talk to your doctor about medications that can help increase your chances of kicking the habit. If you don't smoke, avoiding secondhand smoke may also help protect your heart, lungs and blood vessels.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can make a difference and lower your risk of heart problems.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help your heart stay strong, so you can live -- and love -- for years to come. See a video about Auld's story on the Kaiser Permanente Care Stories blog. For more information about Kaiser Permanente and heart care, visit For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk to your physician.

Robson Named Collegiate Baseball National Player Of The Week

Bulldog Beat - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:23am
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State redshirt sophomore center fielder Jacob Robson was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week, the organization announced this week.

The Financial Implications of Heart Disease

Lifestyles - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:35am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - NewsusaInfographic - Many people share the overly optimistic belief that they are shielded against suffering a heart attack or stroke. But the truth is, no one is immune to life-altering medical events. And, many don't understand the financial implications associated with these health issues. Critical illness insurance can help cover costs resulting from an unexpected illness.

See full-sized image here.

Labels Shed Light on Your Perfect Bulb

Lifestyles - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:32am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - In today's health-conscious times, chances are you read the labels of grocery items at the store before tossing them into your cart. And if you've ever accidentally shrunk a favorite sweater, it's a safe bet you check clothing labels before putting them in the washing machine. But when was the last time you checked the label when purchasing light bulbs?

"The labels on light bulb cartons are mandated by the Federal Trade Commission, and like food labels, they are designed with the consumer in mind," says Terry McGowan, director of engineering and technology for the American Lighting Association (ALA).

Light bulb labels answer the question: What kind of performance should you expect from this light bulb when you buy it and install it in your light fixture? In addition to factors like brightness, energy costs and wattage ratings, bulb labels also focus on the light's appearance, which is described in words such as "warm" or "cool" and also in Kelvins.

Kelvins Count

The color you see from light bulbs involves two components.

"The first component," says McGowan, "is what you see when you look at the bulb itself -- that's the overall tint or tone of the light. You might look at the bulb and say that it looks 'cool' or 'warm.' That color characteristic is called 'chromaticity,' and for bulbs used for residential lighting, chromaticity is expressed in Kelvins, such as a bulb of 2700 Kelvins, or 2700K.

"The second component is color rendering," says McGowan, "which is more subtle than chromaticity because it involves much more human judgment about what the eye is seeing. Color rendering, expressed as a number using the Color Rendering Index (CRI), describes how lifelike or natural people and objects appear."

Natural daylight and standard incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100, with all other light sources being measured against them. For example, if a bulb has a rated CRI of 80 or 90, that means the light from that bulb will not render the colors of objects or people as well as if they were in natural daylight.

New bulb technology, particularly with LED bulbs, means bulbs are available in myriad brightness levels and colors.

An ALA retailer can help you select the perfect light bulb to provide the best color and ambience for your home. To find your closest ALA-member store, go online to

Bringing Chiropractic to the Little League

Lifestyles - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:29am

(NewsUSA) - Participating in sports may be a rite of passage for kids, but it's up to parents to recognize, manage and -- yes -- prevent sports-related health conditions and injuries like concussions. One way to help do just that: an evaluation by a doctor of chiropractic, says Stephanie Mills, the recently crowned Ms. America 2014 and herself a chiropractor. To learn more, visit


Watch the video at:

Singapore Pastor Kong Hee Maintains Innocence, Gains Support From Leaders

Lifestyles - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:25am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - It is a classic case of "he said, she said."

At the crux of the matter is whether or not charismatic, influential Singapore pastor Kong Hee used millions of dollars from church funds to buy bonds to promote his wife's cross-over music career, as is being contended.

While the prosecution argues that the investment companies and bonds amounted to "shams," Hee maintains that he did nothing wrong. Supporting this claim is his church body, City Harvest, noting that all monies were returned to their coffers with interest, and no funds were lost.

While the case continues to gain attention both in America and abroad, Hee's supporters remain adamant that he is innocent.

"He [Pastor Hee] never did anything illegal, never did anything to the inurement of his own pockets or that of his wife," Pastor A.R. Bernard told the Washington Times in an interview this year. Bernard, an international religious leader based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been one of Hee's most outspoken and vocal supporters.

Instead, Bernard asserts that the Singapore government is trying to make an example out of Hee and the 20,000-member church that he founded, saying, "Change is taking place in the nation [of Singapore] that is part of a bigger picture."

Bernard is referring to the fact that at least one-third of Singaporeans are Buddhist, while its younger generation is embracing Christianity and Christian churches that are popping up all over that country. This trend, Bernard says, is not sitting well with a government that is accustomed to control and status quo, and has little experience with special interest groups.

Theresa Tan, a spokeswoman for City Harvest, agrees.

"As a church, we believe that God's doing something in Asia, and Singapore is pivotal as a location," she told the Financial Times in an interview last month. "We are at a crossroads to various parts of Asia, so we feel that God's using Singapore in such a way."

For his part, Hee has remained quiet but has told his congregation that he "maintains his integrity ? and will defend that integrity against these charges." Hee continues to preach at City Harvest as a senior pastor.

"Pastor Kong has been a great leader of the church in Singapore and an influence throughout the world," said Pastor Casey Treat, a religious leader at the Christian Faith Center in Washington.

"I have never seen a compromise or unbiblical behavior."

Hee is expected to take the stand in his own defense when the trial resumes this summer.


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