Monday, December 1, 2008

In the News

An 86-year-old was left stranded in his mobility scooter for 16 hours after getting it stuck in a patch of mud. Robert Calloway, a retired engineer, was marooned in his scooter overnight when temperatures plummeted to nearly freezing after venturing out for some fresh air. He was only rescued after a dog walker spotted him at 9am the following day.
He said: "I just went out at 5pm for some fresh air and was going across a bridge when I turned left and got stuck fast in the mud. "It got very cold and it was quite a frightening experience. I won't go there again in the dark." He says he kept himself occupied by saying prayers. Mr Calloway, a father-of-two who lives in Crawley, West Sussex, was taken to hospital after his ordeal but did not suffer any serious injuries.
Pastor Who Helped Get 'Under God' in Pledge Dies at 97

ALEXANDRIA, Pa. — A church official says the clergyman credited with helping to push Congress to insert the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance has died in Alexandria, Pa. The Rev. George M. Docherty was 97.
Nancy Taylor, historian for the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church, says Docherty died on Thanksgiving at his home in Alexandria, with his wife, Sue, by his side.
Docherty delivered a sermon saying the pledge should acknowledge God in 1952 at Washington's New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just blocks from the White House.
On Feb. 7, 1954, he delivered it again after learning that President Dwight Eisenhower would be at the church.
Congress inserted the words a few months later.
'12 Days of Christmas' Items Would Cost Over $86,000
Given the economic downturn, even the most romantic might balk at the $86,609 price tag for the items in the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
That's this year's cost, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management, which tallies the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests. The price is up $8,508 or 10.9 percent, from $78,100 last year.
"True loves may take it on the chin for a peck on the cheek," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management, which has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.
In this tight economy, what's a romantic to do?
The creative but cash-strapped consumer might consider some modifications. After all, who needs dozens of birds?
Instead of two turtle doves ($55) why not two Dove chocolate bars at about buck each? Don't have $4,414 for 10 lords-a-leaping? How about a "Riverdance" DVD? Plenty of leaping there, and it's only about $25 on Save a couple grand by skipping the 11 pipers piping and getting a CD of Scottish bagpipe music for less than $20.
"The price of creativity, I think, has to be measured against the value of true love," said Dunigan. "Necessity is the mother of invention. So this year, it might pay to be a little more inventive."
While some sources suggest the gold rings actually refer to ring neck pheasants — apparently, all the birds were for feasting — Dunigan advises sticking with jewelry.
"At least my experience, if you had to lead with something, gold rings probably wouldn't be a bad idea," he said.
They are down about 11 percent, from $395 last year to $350, the result of pressures on discretionary spending, Dunigan said.
But sticklers for tradition might also save by procrastinating. With the economy in its first consumer-led recession since the early 1980s and energy prices falling as of late, prices could come down between now and Christmas, Dunigan said.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc. checks jewelry stores, dance companies, pet stores and other sources to compile the list. While it is done humorously, PNC said its index mirrors actual economic trends.
For instance, gasoline costs topped $4 this summer, driving up shipping costs for many goods. So a pear tree that cost $150 last year will cost $200 this year. (The partridge is up $5 to $20.)
Luxury items are also up, as reflected by the price of the seven swans-a-swimming, which are up 33 percent to $5,600.
But the faltering economy has also brought down the cost of some items.
The three French hens (down $15 to $30) and six geese-a-laying (down $120 to $240) reflect declines in food prices.
The eight maids-a-milking will cost 12 percent more, $52.40 from about $47 last year, thanks to their second annual minimum wage increase.
The 10 lords-a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming are all up about 3 percent, reflecting the general average wage increase.
Bottled water and water coolers are draining taxpayer money and should be banned from city offices, two councilmen say.
"Water is one resource we have plenty of [and] is essentially free and available," Eric Gioia (D-Queens) said yesterday.
He and Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) plan to introduce a bill on Dec. 9 to ban city agencies from buying bottled water and coolers that use water from large bottles.
They said taxpayers could save $2 million a year by having municipal offices switch to systems that filter tap water.
"It is hypocritical for the city to buy bottled water while urging New Yorkers to drink tap," Felder said.
Mayor Bloomberg has already begun curbing bottled-water use by installing nine filtering devices in his office.
WKRP in Cincinnati
WKRP is back on the air in Cincinnati — but this time it's for real.
A low-power TV station has changed its call letters to WKRP, the same as the fictional radio station in the 1970s hit series "WKRP in Cincinnati."
The station changed its call letters to promote its new digital TV signal. It formerly went by WBQC-TV.
General Manager Elliott Block says the new call letters give the station recognition because so many people remember the television


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