Buffett promotes buying U.S. stocks

Warren Buffett is greedy when others are fearfulInvestor Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, has announced that he is buying American stocks.

A bear market provides a perfect opportunity to purchase stocks at a low price, the billionaire suggested in an opinion column in the New York Times.

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO described how he had moved his money from government bonds to U.S. stocks in an attempt to take advantage of market conditions.

He repeated his oft-quoted advice to investors: "Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful."

Buffett explained that although we are in the midst of a frightening economic period, including rising unemployment and falling business activity, the situation will take a turn for the better.

"What is likely … is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up," he wrote.

Savvy investors will not let this opportunity pass them by, he advised.

Buffett ranked number one on Forbes magazine’s 2008 World Billionaires list, with an estimated net worth of $62 billion.
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Hospital admits tools not properly sterilized

Around 160 patients could be at risk of a staph infectionApproximately 160 patients may be at risk of developing a staph infection, following a North Carolina hospital’s admission that it had neglected to sterilize surgical instruments.

Although the tools were cleaned, disinfected, decontaminated and packaged, they were not sterilized, the Fayetteville Observer reports.

Medical officials say that the risk of infection is slight, as the instruments had already undergone all of the other steps of the cleaning process.

However, some patients who have been affected by the scare told the news provider they were unsettled by the news.

One woman who did not want to give her name said, "You are so vulnerable when you’re a surgery patient. You’re at their mercy. You have to believe that they are going to take good care of you."

Dr. Chuck Chima, physician advisor to infection control, said that the patients were at risk of a regular staph infection, but not the antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

According to MedicineNet.com, there are more than 30 different types of staph bacteria that can cause infections in humans, with the most common being staphylococcus aureus.
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Civil liberties concerns about bank fingerprinting

Some people object to bank fingerprintingEach year, millions of foreign visitors to the U.S. are fingerprinted at the airport – but did you know that some banks may also require prints from American citizens?

Bank of America customer Pauline Pavlis told the Press of Atlantic City about her experience trying to cash a check at one of the bank’s branches.

Because she is not a customer, she was asked to give a thumbprint to prove her identity, a practice which Pavlis questioned.

"I feel like it’s infringing on my personal liberties. You hear all the time about misuse of personal information," she told the news provider.

Fingerprinting is a common requirement for noncustomers at larger banks, the article states. Five years ago, one of these people sued Bank of America because it would not cash his check without a print and a Maryland court of appeals sided with the bank.

Timothy Doherty of the New Jersey Bankers Association, said that banks have a right to give preferential treatment to customers and prevent identity fraud.

He added that "the issue of protecting identities outweighs the issue of people concerned about giving thumbprints."

The government began fingerprinting foreign visitors to the U.S. in 2004.
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Experts uncertain about effects of drugs in drinking water

How do pharmaceuticals in drinking water affect our health?Questions about the effects of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals that are found in Americans’ drinking water continue to cause concern among both scientists and members of the public.

An ABC News report reveals that while some scientists claim the concentration of prescription medications in tap water is so low that it poses no risk, others are deeply concerned about the long-term effects of exposure.

"The concern is we don’t know what these chemicals do in the body over a lifetime of exposure," Dr. Brian Buckley, an environmental scientist at Rutgers University, told the news provider.

He acknowledged that the amount of contamination is very slight, but said that he would rather "be safe than sorry" in regard to consuming pharmaceuticals through the water supply.

Additionally, Buckley raised concerns about the possibility of "drug-drug interaction," which may not be apparent until a person has consumed tap water over a period of several years.

Earlier this year, an Associated Press investigation uncovered levels of pharmaceuticals present in the drinking water of 24 major metropolitan areas across the country.
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Study: Many doctors misinterpret statistics

Doctors do not always understand medical statisticsWith something as serious as your health at stake, you might expect doctors to be able to look at medical research data and produce meaningful results for patients.

A new study, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, may cause you to think again.

The report describes various scenarios in which medical professionals have significantly misinterpreted statistics relating to the effects of drugs, behaviors and procedures.

For example, a pill backed up by research that promises to "double" the chances of a full recovery from an illness may mean raising the figure from one in 10,000 to two in 10,000 – but not all healthcare professionals understand the meaning behind the numbers.

"Many doctors, patients, journalists, and politicians alike do not understand what health statistics mean," the authors write, according to ABC News.

The researchers describe a situation of "statistical illiteracy" that they say is endemic in healthcare, for both patients and physicians.

In one scenario, a group of doctors was presented with a set of figures and asked to estimate the chances that a patient who tested positive for colorectal cancer actually had the disease. Many were unable to do so correctly.
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Some older homeowners turning to reverse mortgages

Reverse mortgages can help free up cash in retirementAn increasing number of older people are looking to reverse mortgages to boost their cash flow in retirement, according to new figures from a trade group.

The creation of these types of mortgages increased by 4.2 percent during the fiscal year, figures from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association reveal.

Reverse mortgages are available to homeowners over 61 who want to convert some of the equity in their property into cash without selling, giving up the title or remortgaging. Their income from this transaction is tax-free.

The interest in reverse mortgages has been growing over the past several years, with this year’s total of 112,100 setting a new record for loan volume.

Peter Bell, president of the NRMLA, said that the group expects the number of these home loans to grow even higher in the coming years.

"Reverse mortgages are really one of the only positive stories in financial services this year, because they provide a safe, proven solution to many Americans’ retirement funding needs," he explained.

Effective from November 1st, the Department of Housing and Urban Development states that federally insured reverse mortgages have a single national loan limit of $417,000, Reuters reports.
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Many Americans say big government is necessary

Many people are welcoming government interventionA new poll reveals a shifting attitude about the role of big government in helping the U.S. out of the credit crunch.

The Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey, conducted on October 10-13, found that a larger number of people support the $700 billion bailout than oppose it.

This finding contrasts with the results of a similar poll conducted by Bloomberg/Times last month, which revealed that the majority of respondents were against the scheme.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans seem to welcome some help from big government with their own financial problems.

The data indicates that a two-to-one proportion of respondents think the government should help homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

According to Bloomberg, some of this increased confidence in government action may be a result of positive activity in the stock market, which occurred just after details of the bailout were made public.

"They have to do something to spur the economy – otherwise, we’ll be further in the hole than we already were," independent voter Mike Hackenberg told the news agency.

The news comes after a recent survey by Reuters and the University of Michigan found that slightly more than half of Americans have lost confidence in the Federal Reserve in the past five years.
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Retirees weigh options for guarding their wealth

Baby boomers are facing tough choices about retirementJust a few years ago, men and women on the cusp of retirement may have been feeling very good about their nest egg.

However, the economic turmoil of the past year has already done significant damage, according to reports. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that retirement accounts lost a total of around $2 trillion over the past 15 months.

An article in U.S. News and World Report describes how baby boomers have been looking at different options for ensuring they have enough money to fund them throughout retirement.

Maurice Soto, a research associate at the Urban Institute, told the news provider that a potential retiree should make sure they have a portfolio that "reflects the time horizon and taste for risk" of their situation.

"The common advice is for households to reduce their exposure to stocks as they approach retirement," he explained.

Meanwhile, some workers who were hoping to get a different job after retirement or start a new business may want to think again in light of the effects of the credit crunch, the article suggested.

Richard Johnson of the Urban Institute said that new job opportunities – particularly part-time positions and flexible working – are likely to become scarce in the next few years.
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FDA accused of being “asleep at the switch” over BPA

States are asking that BPA not be used in baby bottlesSome studies have suggested that the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) could be linked to a number of different health problems, ranging from heart disease to cancer, even in low doses.

So why has the FDA not issued a stronger statement on its use to manufacture baby bottles? That is what the attorney generals from three states would like to know.

These individuals – from Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware – wrote letters to 11 companies that that make containers used to feed babies, requesting that they discontinue their use of BPA.

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said that the action was necessary because the FDA "has been asleep at the switch" regarding the regulation of BPA and is "resistant to respecting the scientific evidence" about the chemical’s risks.

Earlier this year, Laura Tarantino of the FDA said that "our tentative conclusion is that [BPA] is safe, so we’re not recommending any change in habits." Scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of Americans have trace amounts of BPA in their bodies.

The FDA has said it is preparing a new statement on the chemical that will be delivered later this month.
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Bush: Government is not trying to destroy free market

Bush says the government's actions are necessaryPresident Bush has described the government’s bailout plan – decried by some as meddling in the free market – as an "essential short-term measure" to free up credit and unfreeze the economy.

Some $250 billion of taxpayer money is set to be invested in some of the nation’s largest banks, in an effort to encourage lending and restore confidence in financial institutions.

In a speech, Bush said that the "limited and temporary" actions taken by the government were necessary to avoid a larger recession.

"These measures are not intended to take over the free market, but to preserve it," he explained.

Treasury secretary Henry Paulson also fleshed out further details of the government’s economic plan, including a scheme to guarantee new debt issued by banks for three years and an unlimited FDIC guarantee on bank deposits in non-interest accounts.

Banks that receive investment money will have to agree to limits on executive compensation during the period they are receiving funds, Paulson said.

A recent survey conducted by Reuters and the University of Michigan revealed that 29 percent of Americans said they have "a lot less" confidence in the Federal Reserve than they did five years ago.
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