Tobacco Companies Targeting Teens, Study Says

THURSDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Tobacco company ads are reaching teenagers and influencing their desire to smoke and what brands they choose, U.S. health officials report.

"We are continuing to find that Marlboro, Newport and Camel brands, among the most heavily advertised brands, continue to be overwhelmingly the preferred brands of cigarettes smoked by middle school and high-school students," said Terry F. Pechacek, associate director for science in the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The industry will deny that they are marketing to underage youth, but our data are showing that the advertising is still reaching the kids," Pechacek said.

A spokesman for one of the tobacco companies defended its marketing program. "Kids should not use tobacco products of any kind," said Philip Morris USA spokesman David Sutton. "We take youth access to tobacco products seriously."

"We have made a significant effort, both at retail and marketing, to connect only to adult smokers," Sutton added.

The brand preferences in the report mirrors what is seen in the marketplace among adult smokers, Sutton said. "If you look at those preferences, they line up with market share among adult tobacco consumers," he said.

Each of the major cigarette companies in the United States has a leading youth brand, Pechacek said. "Industry documents show that all the tobacco companies are continuing to note that if they don't have a leading youth brand, they are in corporate trouble," he said.

Marlboro is marketed by Philip Morris, Camel is made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Newport is from Lorillard Inc.

The report, in the Feb. 13 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that 78 percent of middle school students and 87 percent of high-school students prefer to smoke these three brands.

In addition, there was a considerable difference in the brands preferred by boys and girls, and blacks and whites.

Marlboro is preferred by 50 percent of middle school girls and 54 percent of high-school girls, while the brand is preferred by 38 percent of middle-school boys and 50 percent of high-school boys. Camels were smoked by 12 percent of middle-school boys, compared with 4 percent of girls.

Newport, a menthol cigarette that is primarily marketed to black communities, was the preferred brand for 60 percent of black middle-school students and 79 percent of black high-school students, according to the report.

In a recent report, the U.S. National Cancer Institute said there is sufficient evidence to conclude that tobacco advertising is directly related to getting people to smoke, Pechacek said.

"Our data in this study, without implying intention, [shows] we are finding that adolescents are being heavily exposed to advertising," Pechacek said.

In an editorial note accompanying the CDC report, researchers noted that, in 2004, 85 percent of teens saw tobacco ads in stores, 50 percent saw them in newspapers or magazines, and 33 percent saw them on the Internet. A whopping 81 percent of teens saw smoking on television or in the movies.

Pechacek noted that the U.S. National Cancer Institute report found that partial bans on tobacco advertising are ineffective, and a 2007 report by the Institute of Medicine called for stronger measures to control tobacco advertising.

The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has called for a complete ban on tobacco advertising as far as possible within constitutional restraints, Pechacek said.

Tobacco cessation programs are underfunded when compared with CDC recommendations, Pechacek said. "Are we reaching a majority of vulnerable kids? The evidence is clearly no," he said. "We are reaching some of the vulnerable kids, probably in the range of 20 to 30 percent."

There was a dramatic drop in teen smoking since 1997, Pechacek said. "But that drop stalled in 2003. For 2007, the data are indicating that the sharp decline has stopped. We are still seeing a slow pattern of possible decline. But we are stalled at probably one in five high-school students smoking," he said. "That's pretty much a replacement number for adults that quit."

Danny McGoldrick, research director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said this is yet another example of the reach of tobacco company marketing.

"This is one more piece of evidence that the tobacco marketing efforts affect kids, and the companies are still up to it," McGoldrick said. "For companies that claim not to market to kids anymore, they sure do a good job of getting them to use their product."

Marlboro is smoked by more high-school students than all the other brands combined, McGoldrick said. "When you are close to 90 percent market share among these three brands, they are doing something right," he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to have the authority to regulate tobacco marketing, McGoldrick said. "The FDA regulates food, drugs and even cosmetics, but doesn't regulate a product that kills half the people that use it, and 90 percent of the users start as children," he said.

McGoldrick thinks more money is needed to counter tobacco company marketing. "The states aren't using their tobacco settlement or tax dollars to fund the programs we know work to counter tobacco industry marketing and promotion," he said.

U.S. mothers avoiding foods containing peanut butter

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Almost half of U.S. mothers are avoiding food made with peanut butter even if products are not among more than 1,800 recalled because of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 600 people, according to a survey released on Thursday.

The online survey showed that 23 percent of consumers questioned said the most recent food scare would change their long-term buying habits. The survey was released by public relations company Burson-Marsteller and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, units of WPP Plc.

The salmonella outbreak, linked to 9 deaths, has been traced to a plant in Blakely, Georgia, operated by Peanut Corp of America. The company closed a plant in Texas after tests showed possible contamination in some of its products, Texas state health officials said this week.

Consumers "are clearly willing to quickly change eating or buying habits, for some people, well beyond the actual parameters of a government or a company recall," said Bill Zucker, managing director of Burson-Marsteller.

Almost all of the 501 consumers surveyed (93 percent) said they had recently read about or heard of food safety issues and recalls.

The survey showed that while 68 percent of people questioned believed instances of food contamination had increased in the past five years, 87 percent felt that the United States had one of the best food safety systems in the world.

Companies with strong brands were more likely to withstand an incident of food contamination than companies not as well known, according to the survey.

Consumers were also more likely to judge an incident of food contamination at a well known company as an isolated event than a similar incident at a lesser known company, the survey showed.

Love It or Hate It, Stimulus Spurs Profits From Stocks In 2009

You and I both know the recently-passed stimulus package is far from perfect.

Only the naïve could've thought that such a massive piece of legislation wouldn't get riddled with pet projects and favors.

But whether we agree with the entire package or not is irrelevant. The government support it offers to a few choice market segments will be more than enough for investors to walk away with nice gains.

And I'm not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So I'll tolerate the bad while using the good to transform Wall Street and Washington resentment into pure profits.

One of the best ways I've found to do that is by investing in infrastructure, because the government is virtually guaranteeing a robust market for years to come.

They'll funnel billions into road and bridge construction, electricity grid improvement, and water infrastructure upgrades.

And the companies executing the projects are going to make a fortune... on the taxpayers' dime.

Why not personally profit in the process?

Congress and the White House are busy hashing out the final details, and the full bill could be signed by Monday, the 16th.

When that happens, the sectors receiving handouts will surge on the Street. So you need to be prepared today.

America is - quite literally - falling apart.

Consider this recent example - one that could've come straight from a Hollywood disaster flick:

On December 23, 2008 at about 8 a.m., a 60-inch water main burst along a major road in Bethesda, MD, hurtling 135 million gallons of water per minute over streets and lawns.

Without a second to prepare, drivers in this sprawling D.C. suburb were stricken with terror as a 5-foot wave of icy water - 60 feet wide in some areas - barreled down, trapping them in their cars...

Boulders, trees, and even cars were suddenly swept up in the flood. Cell phone calls from panicked motorists overwhelmed even the 911 dispatchers.

The street called River Road turned into an actual river.

But here's what's truly horrific...

This was just one of 1,357 water main breaks in Montgomery County, Maryland in 2008 (down from 2007's record 2,129 breaks)... In many of these cases, homeowners were left without water or electricity.

In fact, another pipe recently burst there, closing over 800 restaurants and leaving tens of thousands of people hunting for water clean enough to drink.

And water main breaks just like the ones above attack roughly 255,500 locations every single year across the U.S.

What if the same road you've driven thousands of times over... was the next one to cave in?

Truth is, it's all part of...

America's Underground Epidemic

... And we have no choice but to fix it. Here's why:

The oldest pipes in our nation's infrastructure date all the way back to the late 1800s, are made of cast iron, and typically last about 120 years.

During the Roaring '20s, more pipes were laid to accommodate our expanding population. But these pipes normally start to crumble long before their 100th birthday.

The last major installation of pipes came during the boom after World War II. These pipes are scheduled to last 75 years.

A quick look at the following table will tell you just how real this scenario is:





120 years



100 years



75 years


By all measures, we've reached critical mass when it comes to having to replace the bulk of the country's water pipes.

On average, 700 water main breaks happen every day in North America, and the results are often disastrous...

  • On December 26, 2006, a several-ton Portland city truck nose-dived into a massive sinkhole, injuring two workers, rupturing a water line, and causing a natural gas leak...

  • On May 2, 2007, a broken water main in Seattle caused a 10-foot deep and 20-foot wide sinkhole that swallowed a car and a minivan, and flooded a neighboring district with water and mud...

  • A Hollywood water main break this New Year's Eve damaged the roofs of two apartments and left 60 to 70 residents without water...

  • Last April, 294,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed into Seattle's Lake Washington after a pump failure went undetected for 3 days...

  • And just this month, a million-dollar court case was settled involving a misplaced sewer line in Milwaukee drained groundwater and rotted wood pilings beneath an office building during a construction project.

But within America's monstrous infrastructure problem lies a billion-dollar "shovel-ready" solution... one that's virtually guaranteed to make informed investors like you exceedingly wealthy.

How so?

Just imagine how much money you could make, knowing which specific companies will be hired to fix this rapidly expanding problem... before they're called to do it.

Even better, imagine also knowing the specific date that a national project to fix them all starts.

Timing it right, you'd be setting yourself up to collect an absolute fortune!

And it all starts with...

The $697.3 Billion Problem

The money about to flow into infrastructure projects is going to dwarf the amount spent on some of the biggest events in U.S. history (adjusted for today's dollars).

Today, the Louisiana Purchase would cost a mere $217 billion. And we could go to the moon and back 4 times with the gobs of dough about to be spent on transmission lines and sewer pipes alone.

Bringing the country's fundamental support systems up-to-date will be recorded in the history books, along with The New Deal, as one of America's greatest moments.

The profits made from it will be equally legendary. And you can be a part of it all.

You see, our nation's infrastructure is in need of a drastic overhaul.

Take the Seattle sinkhole I just mentioned... the water main at fault was installed in 1912. And the pipe behind the Bethesda flood was installed in 1964.

But frankly, that's just the norm.

(In fact, some of the water pipes running under our streets here in Baltimore date back to the 19th century. Some of them are even wooden.)

But the U.S. government has ignored the problem for so long that water - the most essential substance on earth - has now become a multi-billion dollar dilemma.

The EPA estimates that the necessary upgrades to wastewater treatment and collection, sewage, and storm water management systems will cost a bare minimum of $202.5 billion over the next 20 years... And that's not including the $276.8 billion investment we'll need to upgrade our drinking water systems.

But these inadequate water systems aren't the only symptom of our crumbling infrastructure...

  • It would take 40 cents a gallon more in gas taxes over the next five years to keep our nation's highways in their current condition... and even still, they'd be subpar...
  • One quarter of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and bringing them up to code will cost $140 billion...
  • The Texas Transportation Institute says highway congestion costs us $78 billion each year due to the 4.2 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of gas we waste being stuck in traffic...

Even our telecommunications system is far slower than the broadband speeds of competing countries. But these problems mean more than just hellish rush hour traffic or poorly streaming YouTube videos...

Our Failing Infrastructure Is a Threat to Our Economy

Just look at California...

New federal restrictions on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could cut water supplies in half for some citizens of the Golden State.

That combined with the drought that has dried California's reservoirs to their lowest levels in years and the economic crisis that continues to grip the entire country, could have drastic consequences...

According to a recent study commissioned by The Association of California Public Water Agencies, "the economic impact of a 30% water supply cutback could range from $500 million annually to more than $3 billion during prolonged dry periods." 

And as California boasts America's largest GDP - and is one of the ten largest economies in the world - such a massive hit to its economy will soon be felt by us all...

As Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, put it, "We're basically sliding toward Third World status. It's pathetic."

And the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) couldn't agree more...

The United States Is a D-List Country

That's because America is nearly last in line to take the infrastructure bull by the horns.

China, for instance, is constructing a new 53,000-mile national highway system, while our own roads are checkered with potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement...

In fact, according to Pennsylvania's transportation secretary Allen D. Biehler, "China is spending 9% of its GDP on infrastructure, and we're spending something like 1% or 2%."

Plus, Japan, Taiwan, and 17 other nations have already beaten us in broadband deployment.

And for America to play catch up, the ASCE estimates we'll need $1.6 trillion in government investment over the next 5 years...

But with foreign nations making these major infrastructure investments first, more and more U.S. jobs could be moved overseas... in what could be a punishing blow to our already-unstable economy.

Infrastructure, as it turns out, is...

America's Defining Crisis. And It's the New Way to Build a Massive Fortune.

All told, failing infrastructure could be the crisis that defines the U.S. Its impact on our country could overshadow the effects of both peak oil and climate change...

But the lucrative investment opportunities to emerge from this crisis will assuredly be plentiful.

You see, behind the scenes, billions of dollars are already pouring into solving this national epidemic...

And just as savvy investment minds took advantage of skyrocketing oil prices not long ago...

I want to show you how you can personally benefit from...

The $825 Billion "Green Infrastructure Stimulus"

Chances are, you've already heard about our 44th President Barack Obama's plans to invest $825 billion in our nation's infrastructure...

An investment that will more than dwarf Dwight Eisenhower's interstate highway system launch of the 1950s.

And as you can plainly see, this investment is long overdue.

In fact, history has proven that now is the time for an infrastructure overhaul...

President Roosevelt invested $11.4 billion in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression (that's about $175 billion in today's dollars)...

And despite the 25% unemployment rate, that WPA investment created 8.5 million jobs between 1935 and 1943.

That means President Obama's $825 billion "green infrastructure stimulus" is really just history repeating...  

But solving modern problems means investing in modern solutions. Which is why Obama is putting such a major emphasis on renewable energy with his stimulus package...

In fact, Obama's plan is set to double clean energy generating capacity over the next three years. That's enough to power 6 million American homes...

More importantly, it's 3 years of easy profits for those who know where to get in now...

And for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure, an estimated 35,000 jobs will be created... And those 28.9 million jobs will have, as Biehler puts it, "a strong multiplier effect on the larger economy."

... But the really good news is you can take a direct cut of this massive stimulus fund for your own private portfolio.

For instance, $100 billion of the "green infrastructure stimulus" has already been earmarked for upgrading America's electricy grid with 3,000 miles of new transmission lines.

And word from the White House is the work will be underway this President's Day--- February 16. 

Now, if you wanted to profit from this massive project, you'd need to know the names of the companies responisble for the installation now...

And that's precisely why I'm writing to you today.

So, let me show you exactly how to land a...

302% gain in Less Than 5 Months There's No Better Time to Load up Than Right Now

I'm sure you know by now: things always begin brewing behind the scenes long before the mainstream media breaks the story.

This "green infrastructure stimulus" is no exception...

Those in the know have already booked some impressive gains in the green infrastructure sector.

Why, in the water industry alone, you could've made:

65% in 7.5 months on Tetra Tech
302% in less than 5 months on Lindsay Corp.
273% in 8 months on Calgon Carbon Corp.
185% in 7 months on Flowserve Corp.
129% in 7 months on Badger Meter

But now that Barack Obama's plans for an $825 billion investment have gone public...

Well, remember what happened when the financial bailout was passed? Financial institutions like Citi, AIG, and Barclays saw their stock values increase by 50% or more.

The "green infrastructure stimulus" is doing the same, only on a grander scale.

That's because, rather than bailing out failing financial institutions, it's going to create jobs and pump up the economy as a whole.

To put it simply, it's a sure bet.

And I'll prove it to you...

The Alternative Energy Speculator

My name is Nick Hodge. And I'm the managing editor of the Alternative Energy Speculator.

All through 2008 - even during one of the absolute worst markets in recorded history - I've helped investors like you avoid the pitfalls of this full-blown market meltdown, while successfully leading them to double- and triple-digit gains in the alternative energy and infrastructure sectors.

From a 121% gain on a Canadian marine energy play to a 262% gain on a tiny thin-film solar company (not to mention all 5 of the water-industry winners I just told you about), Alternative Energy Speculators were cashing in while the Dow nose-dived into oblivion... and Wall Street ran for cover.

And because we've been so successful this year, I decided to put together two brand-new special reports - Infrastructure Investing: Sky-High Underground Profits and Water: Profiting from the Disappearance of the World's Most Valuable Resource - to help my readers get off to the best possible start in 2009.

With these reports, my readers will be able to strategically position themselves to get as much out of this $825 billion government investment as they can...

You see, I've found 10 specific water and electric infrastructure stocks that will deliver the quick boost your portfolio surely needs after one of the worst years in market history.

In fact, I've put together two additional special reports that spell out specifically...

Which 10 water and electric infrastructure stocks will deliver the biggest (and fastest) gains...
How you can turn the "Clean Water Atlanta" program into 9 months of steady profits...
How to boost your portfolio with the company that powers both the water and energy industries from behind the scenes...
Which innovative power-systems supplier will be leading the renewable energy charge for the largest municipal utility in the country...

And much, much more.

My readers will know how to profit from every angle of the infrastructure boom, from bridges to bandwidth...

And I want you to join them.

So to get you started, I'm giving you access to both of my special reports absolutely FREE.

You'll learn how to use all this information to your advantage - pouncing at just the right time, and riding these stocks for a very long and profitable run.

Of course, this is nothing new for us.

Just take a look at some of the gains the Alternative Energy Speculator portfolio saw in 2008:

Arise Technologies (TSX: APV) - 262%
Solarfun Power Holdings (NASDAQ: SOLF) - 182%
Emcore Corporation (NASDAQ: EMKR) - 156%
Xantrex Technologies (TSX: XTX) - 25%
Sierra Geothermal (TSX-V: SRA) - 90%

And there's more to come in 2009.

I promise you, the 10 infrastructure picks I'm going to reveal to you in my free special reports are just the beginning...

I've got my sights on a whole year's worth of money-making infrastructure plays... because with Barack Obama's backing, this is sure to be one of the most exciting - and one of the most profitable - years in the history of alternative energy.

In fact, at this very moment we have 14 new stocks in our queue.

That means at any moment, we're going to issue as many as 14 new recommendations...

And that's why I want to send you both free reports right away - so you can claim each and every one of these upcoming gains, starting NOW.

With these reports to guide you, you'll have the chance to join us as we continue exploiting every opportunity afforded to us by the ongoing alternative energy revolution and Obama's $825 billion "green infrastructure stimulus."

And all you have to do to claim your place in this growing market today is accept a no-risk charter membership to the Alternative Energy Speculator.

Not only will you have access to these special reports immediately...

But you'll also receive a username and password for the Alternative Energy Speculator web site. This will give you unlimited access to past issues, help you keep track of the stocks in our portfolio, and allow you to read all of our other reports...

And in addition to these reports, every week you'll also receive detailed updates on the companies in the Alternative Energy Speculator's portfolio... including the 7 solar energy stocks that are currently making our subscribers a mint.

You'll learn how these and all our open positions are doing, the latest in their research, and any breakthroughs that come in the sector.

Plus, the second we decide to add or sell a company, I'll contact you - instantly.

You'll know at what price to get in, how much you should expect to make and, most importantly, when to sell.

These instant alerts are simply too important for the weekly issue.

But that's still not all!

Because this is a charter membership offer, I want to extend a one-time deal to you...

You see, with all the time that goes into uncovering these little-known energy plays found in the Alternative Energy Speculator, and the substantially larger gains involved, we had no choice but to make it somewhat pricier than our flagship Green Chip Stocks service.

In other words, we had to cover our own cost of unearthing these gems. Since we do a great deal of travel, meet with CEOs, and inspect many of the companies with our own eyes, it tends to get pricey... especially when you consider how many opportunities we turn down before we actually find one worth getting excited about.

That's why the membership fee to the Alternative Energy Speculator is $499 a year...

But if that's too heavy a lump sum, you can register for our quarterly auto-renewal service for only $139! Your membership will be automatically updated every quarter for the life of your subscription. That means you won't miss a single pick or buy/sell recommendation. And even better: no annoying renewal notices.

Now, there's no way I can keep an offer like this on the table for too long...

In fact, after February 16th, I'll have to bump the price back to its normal level...

That's the date Obama himself has set for the launch of his stimulus plan, and that's when the starter pistol will go off for these infrastructure companies... and once they're off, the profits will go to the investors who got in early.

But if you sign-up now, you'll be ready to claim every penny of profit from Obama's $825 billion infrastructure boost.

And whichever subscription plan you choose, you'll still get your two free reports, weekly emails, urgent buy and sell updates, and full access to the Alternative Energy Speculator website...

And there's still more...

I'll even throw in a copy of my newly-released book: Investing in Renewable Energy: Making Money on Green Chip Stocks, which I co-authored with energy experts Jeff Siegel and Chris Nelder (a $27.95 value).

So, here's the final tally:

Membership in the Alternative Energy Speculator
Access to our 2 latest reports
nstant updates and recommendations
And a FREE copy of my new book...

All for just $139 if you accept this offer today!

And here's my promise to you:

I will give you 30 days to examine our top-notch research and investment philosophy. If you decide that the Alternative Energy Speculator is not for you at any time during this trial period, simply let me know, and I'll completely reimburse you every penny. That's right - every penny.

You can even keep the book. It's my gift to you.

So if you're ready to join this elite group of infrastructure and alternative energy insiders, just click the subscribe button below.

But I urge you to act fast.

February 16 is just moments away. So time is not a luxury if you want to make the most of your portfolio in 2009.

Investing in Penny Stocks with Pink Sheets

Tiny companies are a great way to make a fortune off of the stock market. Synutra International, Inc. (Nasdaq: SYUT) is a great example of this. This dairy-based, nutritional-products company has jumped from a little Bulletin Board operation to a billion dollar corporation. The company finally graduated from Over-the-Counter status to the Nasdaq Best Stock Market bringing with it 113% gains in less than two months.

This happens all the time and is how some of the best investors in the world became the richest investors in the world. Buying some shares for pennies on the dollar and selling at $10 or $20 is possibly the fastest way from being a hobby investor to a super investor.

This is all well and good, but do you really think that you have access to these lucrative companies? Not really.

The problem is most of them aren't even traded on a major exchange.

The average penny stock is found on one of two places: Pink Sheets, LLC or the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB). Until recently, it has been nearly impossible to get good information about companies like these. Until a few months ago, the pink sheet stocks offered virtually unaccountable information. No required filings, inaccuracies rarely corrected, and even shell companies… Until now…

The pinks have released a new classification system that helps investors sort out the companies with little or no information, leaving you with only credible companies with enough info to make smart investment decisions.

The top level of classification is called PremierOX. This level ensures investors that the companies listed here sell for at least $1 per share, have at least 100 shareholders with a minimum of 100 shares each, as well as meet the requirements of all the major exchanges.

The second tier is called PrimeOX. This level requires virtually the same except there is no minimum share price and only 50 shareholders with a minimum of 100 shares to gain entry.

The third is for international companies. This level, International OTCQX, is currently being broken into two separate categories, Int'l Premier OTCQX and Int'l Prime OTCQX. The requirements here are basically to meet those of the company's national exchange (a UK company would have to meet the London Exchange's requirements). The second prerequisite is to have their filings available in English.

This new classification system makes all of us at Penny Sleuth ecstatic because it gives more incite into the relatively unexploited area of true "penny stocks." For a limited time we have put together a FREE Report that examines 3 stocks that are set to explode. To access this report sign up for The Penny Sleuth and you will receive expert commentary on Pink Sheet stocks and much more.

A Safer, Premium Way to Play the Pink Sheets

A major concern we've been hearing about investing in stocks listed on the Pink Sheets is accidentally stumbling onto an illegitimate company that could instantaneously drop 50%, 75% or even 100%. We'll help you avoid those sub-penny shell companies that do nothing more than issue press releases and more shares of worthless stock.

First, some background information is necessary. You see, the Pink Sheets is not an exchange like the Nasdaq or Amex. It's only a quotation service. The only requirement a company faces on the Pinks is that it must have at least one market maker quoting its stock. Financials do not need to be disclosed.

Even on the OTCBB, companies are required to keep current filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This lack of information can make investing in the Pink Sheets downright frightening.

But there is a very small group of stocks on the Pink Sheets you need to know about, especially if you have never traded on the Pinks before. It's a new premium listing service called OTCQX. The new listing service includes three different levels, each with specific requirements for the companies.

As I mentioned earlier, the top tier is called PremierQX. These are securities that trade for a minimum of $1 and meet all of the requirements to be listed on a national stock exchange. This means the companies are required to post quarterly and annual reports, as well as interim information that could affect share prices.

PrimeQX stocks, the second group, must also meet the requirements to be listed on a major exchange.

However, the stocks listed in this group do not have to trade for the $1 minimum.
International OTCQX stocks, the third category, must meet requirements of their foreign exchange and make their reports available in English.

All three groups require the companies to maintain ongoing operations, keeping away any shell companies that are constantly changing strategies. Together, these three lists make up the safest investments on the Pink Sheets. It's a great place to start looking if you've never invested in these types of companies before.

The OTCQX commenced trading on March 5 with only seven companies (you can view a complete list of OTCQX companies at But more stocks are being added to the list every week as they meet the requirements. Of course, being added to the list is great exposure for some small, legit firms.

How to Survive April Showers in Style

April showers bring May flowers--and a host of style dilemmas.  But never fear.  Read on for three tips to get you through April's rainy days in style.

Tip 1: Wear Bright Colors

The easiest way to brighten up a cloudy day is wearing bright colors.  Whether it's your umbrella, your rainboots, your jacket, or even your handbag, the bright color will make you (and your outfit) shine. 

Tip 2: Go Bold with Pattern

A rainy day isn't the time to shy away from bold patterns (and colors).  It's the time to boldly wear that blouse with the oversized polka dots, or the damask print top you have hanging in the back of your closet.  Style tip?  Wear only one pattern, especially if you're going bold.  Pattern should help add visual texture to the outfit, but it shouldn't overwhelm it.

Tip 3: Choose a Statement Umbrella

Out with boring black! Choose an umbrella that makes a statement.  For a chic look that goes with any outfit, I'm loving clear PVC umbrellas.  They work with absoultely everything in your closet, and you can stand in the rain and see the raindrops falling straight on your umbrella.  How cool is that?
Fall Fashion Tips for Every Figure
What should you be adding to your closet this fall? The answer is simple: Only those clothes that work with your personal architecture -- not against it. Here's how to flatter eight common body types:

Small Bust
To flatter a small bust, flaunt the curves you have while suggesting the appearance of more volume. Flirty and fun, ruffles work wonders to add visual volume. But how do you choose the right ruffle for you? Match the size of the ruffle to the size of your frame. If you're petite, look for small to mid size ruffles, such as the miniature ones on tuxedo shirts. But if you're taller, feel free to experiment with larger ruffles.

Full Bust
With a full bust, your goal is to elongate your upper body while subtly showing off your curves. Make your torso and neck look as long as possible with the subtle vertical and diagonal lines of a wrap dress. The open neckline of the wrap dress helps to balance out your figure while showcasing your curves.

Heavy Arms
Look for tops with subtle vertical lines, such as seamlines or a deep V neckline to visually slim and elongate your arms and torso to balance out your arm width. Kimono sleeves are another great option; their length visually elongates the arm.

Wear geometric prints to camouflage a tummy. Small patterns, in particular, have the tendency to keep the eye moving, preventing it from settling on a single spot. Geometric prints pair well with solid, bright colors. But you can score bonus points for pairing complementary patterns for a unique look.

If you're short-waisted, you have legs that are long in proportion to your torso. In order to balance out your figure, you want to visually extend the length of your torso. Luckily for you, the drop-waist dresses of the '20s were resurrected by design icon Marc Jacobs for fall. The drop waistline will visually lower your waistline, and the skirt will help redirect attention towards your mile-long legs.

Conversely, long-waisted women have legs that are short in proportion to their torso. Instead of lowering your waistline, you want to visually raise your waistline to create the illusion of longer legs. High-waisted pants - especially those with a slim leg - to the rescue! But beware - while high-waisted pants are great for the ultra-slim, they're more difficult to wear for the rest of us. Look for heavier fabrics in dark colors for maximum figure flattery.

No Waist
You can visually suggest a waistline with fitted tops and jackets with nipped-in waistlines, but accessories make the real difference. To create the illusion of a waistline, take advantage of this season's emphasis on belts. Thick belts, when worn around the hips, make your waist appear smaller and more defined by comparison.

To counter a bottom-heavy figure, elongate your figure while visually balancing your hips and shoulders. Boxy jackets, wide necklines, and wrap styles all work wonders. You can subtly show off your curves with a pair of wide-leg tailored pants.

Supporting My Family with a Home-Based Beauty Business

Tara will tell you... she was cheap before cheap was in style. She enjoyed luxury salon treatments, but she didn't enjoy their inflated prices.

Why was it that having healthy, soft locks should cost a car payment?

Tara felt there had to be an easy way to deep condition her hair the way they did at the salon in her own home. Of course she couldn't bring in a salon size dryer, so she set out to find the right mix of materials that would create the same effect.

After finding the secret ingredient while watching a marathon race, she had 100 of her deep conditioning caps made and sold them to different salons and beauty shops in her city. An infomercial company saw the product and began to market it along with some shampoo.

That's when her need for deep conditioning started to fill her need for some serious dough. Tara realized that she had a business on her hands. Something that would be able to make money for her family and herself.

"Once the infomercial was on the air and did fairly well, I realized that this work could go from the realm of a fun hobby, something to do in my spare time, to a real business," she said.

Soon afterward Tara came up with her second invention.

"Ever since high school, I had always had the idea of putting nail polish in a pen, like a felt-tip marker," she says, "I was working on an art project with my daughter, with poster board and pens, and the idea came back to me. That was my genesis for a manicure pen."

Trusting in her ideas helped Tara become successful. Follow her pointers and you can be a successful inventor too--in due time. Inventions take patience.

1. Create a prototype. Nobody buys an idea.

It's important to get your idea to the prototype stage. Find something that's like the product, even though it might be in a completely different industry.
For example, Tara contacted the manufacturers of the pen that she used in her daughter's art project, and while they couldn't do cosmetics because they weren't cosmetic-qualified, they sold her the pen parts that she used to create the first prototype of Manicure Magic.

2. Have your prototype priced out.

Take a look at the marketplace to determine a reasonable cost to create your product.

3. Ask yourself, "How much do I want to invest?"

It's usually not expensive to get to the point of a prototype, so after that, you need to figure out where the manufacturing money is coming from, and how much of the product you want to produce initially.

4. Figure out where to sell it.

Could you sell it on the internet? Could you present it to one of the shopping channels and sell it that way? Could you take it just down the street to your local store and see if they would carry it? Since Tara's product was a manicure pen, she knew that if she could demonstrate it and explain it, it would sell. That's why QVC was the perfect way to launch her product.

If you're interested in taking your product to a large manufacturer or a large retailer that you think would have an interest in it, find an agent or a consultant to help you get in the door.

5. Define success on your own terms.

"You have to define success for yourself," said Tara. "You don't have to be the next Martha Stewart to be successful. If your vision of success is just to supplement your family's income, or just to make enough money to take a really nice vacation, or help pay for tuition for the kids, then you should be proud of that success."

 For those of you with a fascination for new inventions, there's always something new at the Inventor Spot, a blog that targets new creations from the worlds of food, technology and fashion.

How to Have Style that Suits Your Shape

For better or for worse, Trisha's parents always let her pick out her own outfits. She remembers most of her worst fashion moments happened in elementary school.

"I remember the first day of fourth grade―in the '80s, the skin-tight leggings, oversized T-shirts―and that T-shirt clip, of course," she says. "Eventually, I grew out of the '80s. Thank goodness!" 

She might've grown out of the '80s, but Trisha has never lost her love for fashion. In college she studied business during the day and fashion at night. She learned everything from pattern draping to sketching to collection development, and after graduation she works as a designer for a short time.

Wanting to merge her business savvy with her fashion sense, she started a style web site called, with the tagline of "Style for All." It's inspired largely by the fashion challenges faced by women of different shapes and sizes.

"My goal is to make style accessible to everybody, regardless of age, income or personal architecture," she says.

At Omiru, visitors are able to ask specific fashion questions as well as start up dialogue with the Omiru community.

"It's great that everybody has something to add, and two or three heads are always better than one!" Trisha says.

For Trisha, discovering how fashion works involves trial and error. It is not something you're born with and it gets better over time. Her learning process started in elementary school and continues to this day.
Along the way she tried out a lot of different styles and encourages everyone to do the same. 

Here are few of Trisha's tips for finding great style.

The most common problems Trisha sees on Omiru have to do with finding clothes that flatter a person's figure. Trisha often finds people who say, "I'm short-waisted," or "I have big arms," or "I am looking for something to fit my tummy."

Check out Trisha's 4 must-have tops that every woman should own.

So remember these quick tips when stocking up on your must-have tops!

1.  Tailored Shirt.  A must for work wardrobes, note the sleeve length.

2.  Patterned Shirt.  Hides a multitude of sins!

3.  Knit Shirt.  Versitle and afordable!

4.  Sweater. Work both for work and weekend, note the color.

Hungry for more fashion wisdom? Here's Trisha's advice for getting to the bottom -- literally -- of your wardrobe essentials.

1.    Jeans, Jeans, Jeans!

There are a lot of jean styles out there.  Recently, skinny jeans have been very popular, as well as wide-leg jeans. Trisha's advice is don't follow the trends, just know what works for you. If you want to wear skinny jeans, know that it's really tough to get away with, unless you're shaped like a model.

"If you're anything like me -- a regular person --  a straight leg or bootleg cut will be the most flattering," she says. "Wide-leg jeans also tend to be flattering, and what I love to do with them is wear sort of a fitted top over wide-leg pants for a small-over-big look."

Trisha suggests taking a look at to find which jeans will suit your body type.

2.    The Tailored Pant

The idea with tailored pants is that you want pants that drape really well, so make sure to look at the fabric and try them on.  Trying them on is the most important thing with tailored pants because there's no other way to know how they'll fit your figure.

There's some controversy over whether you should get flat-front pants versus pleated pants.  In general, flat-front pants are going be more figure flattering.  Pleated pants have their place, too, but generally it's more an Italian sort of style, and it works best if you're an older Italian gentleman. Basically, I don't recommend them!

3.    Skirts

What I love about skirts is that they're so easy to fit, so they're a lot easier to shop for than pants, and especially jeans. Pencil skirts, in general, are great for creating curves, and if you're boyishly shaped and don't have hips or a waistline, pencil skirts are the way to go.  On the other hand, if you do have hips, I'd recommend a nice A-line shape so it'll veer out slightly at the hip line.  It's generally most figure flattering.

Check out these other resources for more tips to flatter your figure.

Why I’m Proud to Showcase My Quirky Style

When Jennifer got a job as a secretary, the first thing she had to do was go and buy work clothes... she hated it. Going to work was fine--it paid the bills and everybody was nice--but wearing those stuffy clothes was a real drag.

"I've always been a little odd, but I really fit in. I thought, 'They think I am just so Corporate America.' I had on grey suits and little pink tops underneath. But the secretary next to me started noticing I had this crazy array of colorful socks, the ones where all the toes are a different color or with glitter or little animals. You go to enough corporate happy hours and eventually your secret is out of the bag."

The receptionist would go on vacation, and it would be Jennifer's job to cover the phones. She would bring boxes of beads and cubes of resin to work. "I would be sitting there with the phone in my arm, like, "Thank you for calling. Who would you like to speak to?" with my pliers, putting together jewelry."

"I got featured in a magazine, and within three days, I had so many orders I had to make a life decision. I could either keep my job or make my jewelry orders. I ended up saying, 'Why am I a secretary? I might as well do something where I can be more me and express myself.' That's what I've done full time for the last four or five years."

The way that Jenifer feels free to express her creativity is both refreshing and inspring! "I try to express how I am in my work, in the way I look, in my house. Otherwise I would feel like I wasn't being true to myself."

So where can you see more from Jennifer? The Naughty Secretary Club. And as her grandma said,"You got to let it out, or you're going to get sick." So go and be yourself!

Dress Happy

It's winter.

OK, OK, I know it's not officially winter yet, but let me tell you: It is fah-REEZING around these parts, and the weather gurus inform me that there's little chance of a warm-up 'till May. And even if the near future promised a short run of less-chilly days, the sun has already started perfecting his vanishing act. Nothing makes an office worker's day seem more oppressive than arriving at work in the darkness, and leaving work in the darkness.  Am I right?  Eeesh.

Soooo this means a lot more grumpy mornings, and the potential for a lot more frumpy dressing.  But there are a few tricks we can all employ to turn a wrong-side-of-the-bed day into a whistle-while-you-work day.  No shopping required!

1. Slap on some crazy socks

No need to flaunt them, if that's not your style. Just pull on your wackiest pair of footies - the ones adorned with elves or Scottish terriers or florescent polka dots - then pull your boots on over them.  Knowing that you're being surreptitiously silly should shake free a smile or two as the day rolls on.

2. Incorporate at least one bright color

You may feel compelled to swathe yourself in blacks and grays and browns during these cold and dark times, but if you can inject a smidgen of color into that monochrome morass, you'll be amazed by how energized you'll feel.  Best if you can go for a fire engine red sweater, emerald green blouse, or hot pink blazer - put that bright color up top near your noggin.  But if that's too much to bear, a vibrant scarf, peek-a-boo cami, or even a boldly colored necklace will do.

3. Find new ways to dress your tresses

Most of us stick to two or three basic hairstyles, and rarely branch out. Now, I'm not suggesting you attempt to straighten your long unruly curls or craft a behemoth of a beehive before merging into morning traffic.  But try a simple French braid, tuck two little buns at the nape of your neck, or just slap on a barette somewhere.  Pick up a headband at the drugstore, experiment with chignons, or play around with those bobby pins that have been languishing atop your dresser.  And you short-haired gals, I don't want to HEAR about how you can't do anything experimental with your locks.  Check out actress Nora Zehetner in the film Brick: Pixie cut + Of-the-moment feather fascinator = Short hair chic.  Changing up your hair - even just a little - will make you pause and smile every time you saunter past a reflective surface.

4. Wear something jangly

Winter is such a quiet time, and its impenetrable silence can lull us into unshakable gloom. Try breaking the silence by making your outfit more musical.  Clinky multi-layered earrings, a stack of metallic bangles, or a charm bracelet will tinkle gently as you move, preventing your brain from descending into the deepest doldrums. (Not recommended for the anxious or easily annoyed, mind you.)

5. Play with prints

Just as we gravitate toward dark colors during the dark months, we also err on the side of solids when it's snowy. Splash a little houndstooth onto your ensemble, add a dash of winter floral, or sprinkle on a funky geometric.  While solid washes of color are soothing and static, patterned cloth gives the impression of movement and activity: A guaranteed pick-me-up.  If you can't stomach a busy blouse or skirt, throw on a perky patterned scarf instead.  A little dab will do ya.

It can be a real challenge to keep your energy up when the world seems to be slumbering. But if you're proactive in preventing your outfits from descending into Drabsville, you'll provide yourself easy access to untapped stores of personal pep. What you wear influences how you feel, and giving your eyes (and ears) a little something to work with is a simple way to keep your spirits up during the long, dark coldness.

Sizzling hot beauty secrets

For anyone who knows me, it's no secret that I love Valentine's Day. Besides the fact that I adore bouquets from secret admirers, heart-shaped cards and pink stuffed gorilla dolls, I consider it one of the best opportunities to break out some of my very favorite and most decadent beauty tricks.

1. Bath first, dinner later.

Nothing will get you into seduction mode quicker than a really romantic bath. Light some candles and treat yourself to a hot bath with plenty of bubbles.

Don't forget to add a rich oil to help moisturize your skin (but be careful, this will make the bathtub slippery!). I love the scent of LaLicious' super rich body oils ($24,

For a super easy and budget-friendly option, try pouring a little olive oil into your bath water.

2. Glow in all the right places.

I often sing the praises of highlighter because it's an essential tool for enhancing your best features. Just as you would use a highlighter to bring out your lips, brow bones and cheekbones, you can use a shimmery powder or luminizing lotion to bring your favorite physical features into the spotlight.

Got great gams? Blend a little shimmer lotion like Smashbox Body Lights ($35, Sephora) onto your shins and the tops of your thighs.

If you'll be baring your shoulders and decolletage, don't forget to give them a little dose of sexy shimmer as well. If you want to give your honey bunny a tasty surprise, you can even brush on a little flavored body powder like the ones made by Urban Decay ($26,

3. Send some smoke signals.

One of the all-time, sexiest makeup looks ever is the smokey eye. While smokey eyes created with black eye shadows will probably always be sexy, gray eyeshadow is still super hot right now.

If you plan on wearing a strong smokey eye, keep the look balanced with a romantic soft pink blush and lush nude lips.

4. When in doubt, wear red.

If you prefer not to wear heavier eye makeup, go light on your eyes and play up your lips. There are few makeup looks more festive for Valentine's Day than one that includes a pair of seductive, ruby red lips.

Go classic with one of the posh, perfectly pigmented lipsticks from Julie Hewitt's Noir Collection or, if you're more of a gloss girl, try Nars lipgloss in Red Vinyl ($24, Sephora) or L'Oreal Hip Jelly Balm in Ripe ($9, Walgreens)

Front Lawns Versus Edible Gardens: You Choose!

Are edible front yards dethroning lawns in your neighborhood?

From the amount of coverage the subject is getting from newspapers and prominent garden bloggers like my friend Susan Harris over at The Sustainable Gardening Blog, you would think that the movement to replace lawns with edible gardens is a popular one, at least among gardeners. I mean, it seems as though garden blog readers are really "eating this up."

So what are you doing about it? Are you a member of the choir who says"Amen" but hasn't made a commitment yet? How many homes in your neighborhood have made a change?

Display garden of an "edible front yard" by artist and author of "Edible Estates, Fritz Haeg at Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles.

As for me, my garden is a "grazer's garden" where you can grab from an assortment of fruit trees, vines and edible plants as you walk around my yard. I have a tiny patch of lawn for my dog. I've created a couple of "dedicated" edible front yards for clients (only edible plants,nothing else), and plenty of edible landscapes, but I haven't seen many people doing this in my neighborhood.

Fritz Haeg installed a strawberry patch on one side of the walkway and a lawn on the other for comparison.

Kitchen Gardens International, a popular blog and social network for edible garden enthusiasts, is leading a campaign to influence incoming President-Elect Barak Obama to "Eat the View," or replace the White House lawn with an edible garden as an example for the nation.

Here is a portion of the official petition verbage written by Kitchen Gardens international, Roger Doiron:

I'm asking President-elect Obama to replant a large organic food garden or Victory Garden on the White House lawn with part of produce going to the White House kitchen and the rest to local food pantries. The White House is "America's House" and should set a healthy example at a time of crisis. President-elect Obama would not be breaking with tradition, but returning to it (the White House has had fruit and vegetable gardens before) and showing how we can meet global challenges such as food security, climate change, and energy independence."

I think this is a noble effort and I love the idea of functional and beautiful yards, but if the White House adopts this, do you really think it will make a difference in your neighborhood? I'd welcome the boom in business converting lawns to edible gardens and tending to them here in Los Angeles!

It's easy to ask someone else to make a change in their home, (especially when there is full time staff available to tend to the plot), but what about the everyday family that is working overtime and managing the lives of their children?

Unfortunately, the majority of people don't have enough time to tend to their own gardens, or they don't want to! Edible gardens are a joy, but I wouldn't consider them to be "low maintenance."

How about those of you who signed the petition? Have you replaced your front yard lawn with an edible garden or are you planning to in the near future? If you haven't, believe me, I will sympathize with your reasons, especially if it has to do with reasons like I gave above, or because of limited physical abilities.

I guess the larger question is, are those who support this petition willing to make the same sacrifice that we are asking others to make?

Mixed lettuces are beautiful in the garden.

Will Americans opt for the convenience of a fifty cent burrito at a fast food joint over the "economical" practice of growing their own vegetables? You know, there was no "Taco Bell" or "McDonald's" back in the day of the Victory Gardens, so if you wanted cheap food, you had to grow it!

Of course, there are people who will put in the effort to grow their own vegetables for a myriad of reasons in addition to economics and environmental concerns. These people enjoy healthful food and they love vegetables. They LIKE to garden. This is me.

And then there are people who pay others to create edible gardens and tend to them. (They pay me). Not everyone can afford this service.

Do you think a White House garden will prompt a change in our society, or do we have to wait for the next generation of adults to see the influence at work?

You tell me, I'm just asking from Los Angeles...

Don't forget the hostess gifts!

While host or hostess gifts aren't obligatory, it's always nice to show your appreciation for all your host's hard work by bringing him or her a little gifty. Hostess gifts don't need to be lavish or elaborate. Instead, they should be small and thoughtful and are meant to be a token of your gratitude and affection.

When giving a hostess gift, the number one rule is to make it thoughtful. Try your best to tailor the gift to the personality of the person to whom you're giving it.

Is your host a writer? Get her a pretty journal. Does she love photography? Get her a small picture frame, so she can show off her work. Has she been dying to add a certain space puppy in a cactus suit to her collection? Then by all means, buy her one! The point is to show that, just as your host has devoted time and thought into feeding and entertaining a house full of guests, you also made a careful effort to show your gratitude for her kindness.

Don't know your host very well? No problem, just stick with some tried-and-true gifties that virtually any host will love.

1. Don't bring flowers.

Ok, this isn't a gift idea; it's more of a warning. While flowers seem like the perfect gift to bring a hostess, they're one of the worst. Rather than using her time to greet her guests and take care of any last minute details, your host will feel obliged to drop what she's doing and go off in search of a vase to fit your flowers. Once she finds one, she then has to go through all the hibiddy wibiddy of getting the flowers arranged into the vase, finding a place for the arrangement, and on and on and on. You get the point. By giving flowers, you might actually make your host feel more stressed than appreciated.

If you really want to give flowers, call you hostess ahead of time and see if she would like it if you had a small arrangement delivered to her home the morning of her soiree. Better yet, just send them the next day as a gorgeous "thank you" gift.

2. Wine is classic.

Wine is a classic hostess gift, but choosing the perfect bottle might be tricky and may require a little research on your part (here's a collection of great tips to get your started). If you have doubts about choosing the right wine, a good wine shop can be an excellent resource for helping you make your decision.

3. Candles don't have to be boring.

Candles are popular hostess gifts because they're easy, practical, and pretty. For minimum fuss, you can buy a fabby candle set.

However, one of the things that I really love about giving candles as gifts is that you can make them look really shi-shi-poo-poo without spending a lot of money. Just get a plain, inexpensive candle and glass holder. You can then make it special by pairing it up with some fancy matches and tying it all up with a pretty ribbon.

4. It's hard to go wrong with yummy treats.

Unless you know that your host hates sweets, candies or other types of sweet treats are almost guaranteed to please. Whether you spring for ginger wasabi truffles or almond toffee, skip the drugstore candy and go for extra special confections. If you have the time and talent, homemade cookies and candies also make a wonderful hostess gift when packaged in a pretty tin or box.

As always, let your budget as well as your knowledge of both your host and the nature of the party be your guide when choosing the perfect present.

What are your favorite hostess gifts to give? Or, if you find yourself getting hostess gifts, what are some of the favorites that you've received?

Woman Beauty & Style

Tired of snow? Throw a 'wimmer' party!

Some call it a "Winter Beach Party", some call it a "Wimmer" party ("Winter" + "Summer" = Wimmer) and others simply call it "July in January." But if you've ever been to a great summer-themed party in the middle of winter, you know that it's just plain fun.

For a sure-fire way to beat the winter blues, throw a hot party that brings all the sun and fun of summer right into your own home. Do it right and you and your guests will forget (at least for a few hours) that the weather outside is still frightful.

1. Dress Code

Encourage your guests to go nuts with their favorite beach wear: Hawaiian shirts, board shorts, bikinis, flip flops — the whole nine yards. Just don't forget to assure them that they won't freeze since you'll be cranking up the heat and building a roaring fire.

You can also provide grass skirts for guests to wear over their clothes and you even can present them with leis when they arrive.

2. Menu

Serve up summer fare like burgers, steaks or hot dogs with other picnic classics like potato salad, coleslaw and chips.

Another fantastic and summery option is to serve sushi along with beef and chicken yakitori and a variety of fresh salads.

Regardless of what kind of menu you choose, be sure to serve lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and, of course, plenty of hot weather drinks like beer, daiquiris, piña coladas and mojitos.

3. Decor

Get creative and decorate with beach towels, shells, inflatable pool toys and lawn chairs.

Depending on the size and location of your space and the amount of money you're willing to spend, you can create romantic indoor "bungalows" and even rent hot tubs and palm trees (though inexpensive kiddie pools also can add a really fun touch to a wimmer party).

4. Mood Music

Don't forget to set the tone of your beach party with some great music. Classic reggae like Bob Marley is always apropos and Hawaiian tunes and surf rock are also sure to get your guests into the spirit of "wimmer."

Have you ever been to a winter "beach" party?

Have you ever thrown one? What do you think are some ways to bring summer fun into the great indoors?


Holiday Beauty Survival Tips

Winter weather, decadent holiday foods, and late nights spent partying can all take their toll on your skin and makeup. On top of all that, there's bound to be a ton of picture-taking.

Besides party-proofing your makeup, what can you do to make sure you stay looking fabu throughout all your holiday festivities?

1. Don't leave home without your eyelash comb.

If holiday songs make you misty or you get caught trudging through a snowstorm, you run the risk of lash clumpage. Be ready with a good eyelash comb If you wear mascara, it's one of the most important tools in your beauty arsenal (no matter what time of year it is).

2. Combat Shine With Powder Papers.

You probably can't avoid all the holiday picture taking...but you can avoid looking shiny on film. Use face papers to absorb excess oil without messing up your makeup or leaving your skin looking chalky or overdone.

3. Drink plenty of water.

This is simple, but seriously effective. Drinking plenty of water will help counter the dehydration caused by holiday cocktails as well as combat bloating from all that decadent holiday fare.

4. Get your antioxidants.

Few combinations can wreak havoc on your skin as easily as the season's mix of cold wind, blowing heaters, alcoholic bevvies, and a few too many late nights. Be sure you have an antioxidant-packed night cream on hand to moisturize, protect, and recharge your skin.

5. Relax and smile.

When it really comes down to it, true grace and beauty comes with being comfortable with yourself.

Don't worry about cosmetic perfection and just remember that you're already gorgeous. If you relax and enjoy yourself, your true beauty will be sure to shine through.

The gray eyes have it

While nude, neutral eyes are timeless, a smoldering gray gaze is one of this season's hottest looks. Less harsh than black and more fresh than brown, grays can make your eye makeup look instantly fresh and on trend.

Choose lighter grays and silvers for a more subtle, ethereal look. If you want something more dramatic, layer on the deeper shades of pewter, heather and charcoal gray. The best part is that, regardless of which shades you choose, grays trends to be easy to wear and easy to incorporate into makeup that you already have.

1. Your easiest bet: Gray eyeliner.

The easiest way to incorporate gray shades into makeup that you already own is to simply swap out your regular black or brown liner for a gray one. Remember that, because gray is also a neutral, a gray liner will work beautifully with a range of other colors.

When you're short on time and want a super easy makeup look, try lining your eyes with gray liner and then blending it out for a quick, softly smokey look.

To get maximum bang for your buck, invest in a high quality gray shadow that can pull double duty as an eyeliner or an eyeshadow. One of my current faves is Plantlove eyeshadow in Dove ($20, Sephora).

2. Gray was made for smokey eyes.

While the most traditional "smokey" eye relied heavily on black shadow, more recent times have seen a shift to a lighter, more wearable, smokey eye in pretty much any color you desire. Brown smokey eyes are popular, but gray eyes just look more fresh.

To make smokey gray eyes a breeze, invest in a great eyeshadow palette like Elizabeth Arden's Color Intrigue Eyeshadow Duo in Illusion ($24.50) or, for a more budget-friendly alternative, try Loreal's Wear Infinite Eye Shadow Quad in Rich Smokey Eyes ($7.49, Walgreens)

3. All that glitters is not gold.

For an absolutely fabby party look, smoke out your eyes in shades of shimmering silver and pewter. If you really want to amp up your look, layer on a glittering gray shadow (just beware the disco ball effect). Try Tarte's Lock & Roll Creaseless Eyeshadow Duo in Slate or Gunmetal ($17, Sephora). It provides a shimmery, smooth-wearing liquid shadow on one end and a perfectly matched glittery powder on the other.

While the gray eye trend may come and go, the color gray is still classic and neutral enough that you can wear it year-round...and for years to come.

Get dazzling without looking like a disco ball

One of the simplest (and funnest) ways to amp up your makeup look for a special occasion is to add some sparkles or glitter to your look.

Because sparkly makeup has the ability to draw attention to wherever it's being worn, it's an excellent way to enhance your best features. On the other hand, sparkles can be so eye-catching that they tend to look garish if you go overboard and wear them from head to toe (a.k.a. the "discoball effect").

One of the easiest guidelines to follow when stepping up your glam factor with glitter is to choose just one (or maybe two) features to enhance with sparkly makeup. Any more than that and you're probably venturing into the dreaded disco ball territory.

Also, be sure to choose a part of your face or body that you love, so that you can use your makeup to show it off.

1. Make your kisser twinkle

An easy way to add a little sparkle to your makeup look is to simply wear a sparkling lip gloss. You can wear it either by itself or over your lipstick. If you want a more subtle look that will also make your lips look more plump and luscious, try dabbing just a bit of shimmering gloss to the center of your bottom lip.

2. Add some bling to your blink

One of the most popular and effective ways to create a special makeup look is to add sparkle to your eyes.

While you can really load up on a sparkly shadow to create an ultra-dramatic look, my favorite way to wear it is to concentrate a sparkly shadow just on the center of the lid. Every time you blink, you'll show off a nice bit of sparkle without looking over the top.

If you want something more subtle, swap out your regular eyeliner for a sparkly shade or layer a glittery liquid liner over your regular liner.

For the more adventurous, try giving eyelashes their own dose of sparkle with the help of a shimmery mascara (try Beautifully Luminous Lashes by Bare Escentuals, $15 at Sephora).

3. Give blush a boost

Another easy way to amp up your makeup look is to wear a sparkly blush (I'm loving NARS Super Orgasm, $25 at Sephora).

Alternatively, you can give your cheeks a boost by brushing on a layer of shimmery highlighting powder over your regular blush. To create the illusion of higher cheekbones and draw attention to the eyes, try sweeping a shimmery highlighter just over the tops of your cheekbones.

4. Heavenly hair and glitzy gams

When considering a sparkly makeup look for a special occasion, don't forget that you can also wear it on the rest of your body! Shimmery body lotions, powders and gels are all excellent options for adding a little glitz to your party look. To look extra alluring, try adding some shimmer to your decolletage, shoulders and even your legs.

You can even add the look of super tiny diamonds to your 'do by using a sparkly hairspray (try Frederic Fekkai Spray On Hair Crystals, $18.50 at Sephora)

You glow, girls!

Whether you want to go subtly shimmery or all-out glittery glam, the choice is, of course, up to you. If you play up one of your favorite features, you'll be sure to shine!

Why Your Pizza Delivery Boy Is Winning

The engine of the great American Economy is, and always will be, the consumer. You and your neighbors and all of your buying power will determine how well the market performs. Right now, it seems as though everyone is hurting ― so it's the right time to capitalize on the pain with solid small-cap plays.

It all begins with the struggling consumer: your neighbor. His home is worth 20% less than it was just a couple of years ago and he's upside down on his mortgage. He was laid off from a good job back in November when everyone started to fear the worst ― and was forced to take a job that pays much less.

During better times, your neighbor would pay lip service to the idea of saving money ― without actually following through, of course... But the situation has now become far more serious. It's time to save some dough and pay those bills on time…or risk losing it all.

But where to cut back? Here is a list of the average household's top expenses, in order:

  1. Social Security taxes
  2. Mortgage
  3. Car payment(s)
  4. Groceries
  5. Restaurant meals

Your neighbor can't cut back on payroll taxes. And he has to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over his family's head. He also needs to keep his car so he can make the drive to his job every morning. But he can always cut back on food…the easiest and most effective way to balance any family's ailing budget.

Buying cheaper groceries is a start. But cutting back on restaurant food is crucial. As far as we're concerned, there are three kinds of restaurant food: fine dining, casual dining, and take-out.

As you've probably already guessed, fine dining top stocks are getting crushed right now. Morton's Restaurant Group Inc. (NYSE: MRT) ― the folks who brought us the posh Morton's Steakhouse restaurants ― have seen shares plummet more than 80% since September.

The other end of the dining spectrum is where we can make our money. As revenues at casual and fine dining establishments sag, cheap take-out and fast food joints will continue to attract cash-strapped customers. After all, a sack of burgers can sometimes be a cheaper alternative to buying groceries and cooking at home.

The ultimate in cheap food is pizza. You can't go anywhere else and buy so much food for such a small amount of money. Your down-on-his-luck neighbor can even swing by a pizza chain on his way home from work and pick up dinner for his entire family for $10 to $15.

That's why we're turning to pizza's fast food roots ― Domino's Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ). This stock was $13 in September. Now, at about $7 per share, Domino's is trading at seven times earnings and less than half sales.

Domino's competitor Papa John's Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) ― also a small-cap ― has seen share rise more than 50% since November. With a more reasonable multiple approaching more reasonable levels, Papa John's has managed to sustain revenue throughout the 2008 fiscal year. 

Be sure to add these names to your short list of recession-resistant plays. Both stocks warrant additional research.

It's no secret that some industries are primed for performance―even during deep recessions. We're constantly looking for these plays. In fact, we've recently published several detailed reports on some resilient companies set to outperform the market in these troubled times.

Bad News for Bond Prices

The news this morning is as grey and damp as the weather.

First, the U.S. stock market did nothing yesterday. The Dow ended down 9 measly points. The Dow is about 10% above its November low; have we seen the rebound already?

Oil slipped slightly � down to $39. And gold lost $21. While some may see the drop in the gold price as disheartening, we see it as an opportunity to grab some more of the precious metal while the price is relatively low. We urge you to do the same...and right now, there's a way you can get gold at just a penny per ounce. See more here .

The Banque de France says the country's GDP is falling. It's expected to walk backwards by about 1% this year.

The Sarkozy government announced a $12 billion program to support France's auto industry. "We'll give you money," he said, "but you've got to promise not to cut salaries or close down."

Nissan, 40% owned by Renault, announced it was cutting 20,000 jobs worldwide � 9% of its workforce.

Japan is facing an "unimaginable" contraction, its central bank's chief economist warned yesterday. Orders are drying up...production is falling off...and consumers can't seem to find anything they want to buy. Industrial production in Japan fell a record 9.6% in December. The country is looking at an annual GDP decline of 1.7%.

Growth is collapsing throughout all of Asia. Singapore, for example, went from healthy 5.3% growth last year to minus 2.4% this year. India and China are still projecting decent rates of growth � though significantly below their highs. We'll see how long that growth continues...

And poor Latvia. Its economy is not just walking's running. Today's Financial Times tells us that output is falling there too at a depression rate of more than 10% per year.

But the big news yesterday was the sell-off in the bond market.

"All eyes on sudden spike in US Treasury yields," says the headline in the Financial Times .

The yield on the U.S. 10-year note rose above 3% for the first time in three months. The two-year note, meanwhile, moved above 1% yield. What does it mean?

We are bearish on U.S. government paper � in all its forms. And here's why. The latest estimate from Goldman Sachs puts US government borrowing for this fiscal year at $2.5 trillion. Meanwhile, foreigners are showing less and less interest in U.S. debt. They're switching to short term paper � bills and notes, which are less vulnerable to inflation and currency declines. And they're pulling out of U.S. Treasury market generally. The total percentage of U.S. debt owned by foreigners is falling from 60% down to about 40%...a huge drop.

Either one of two things will happen. If the government funds its deficits honestly � by borrowing from willing lenders � this huge extra demand for credit will force up yields...thereby lowering bond prices. Or, if the government resorts to "monetizing the debt" � that is, funding its debt with printing press money � investors will flee bonds, in fear of higher inflation.

Either way, it will be bad news for bond prices.

Remember, we are only in the Boondoggle Stage of the crisis. Using the collapsing economy as an excuse to waste money, the pols are having the time of their lives. Does your community need a bridge? A new drainage system? A shooting range for blind people? A study of the mating habits of fire ants (how do they get together without getting burnt?) Even in the best of times, politicians have trouble saying 'no.' Now, 'yes' is the answer to every request.

What strange madness is this? Why would anyone think the economy will be made better off by squandering money now on projects that were deemed unworthy or unaffordable only a few months ago? The country got into trouble because people squandered too much money; now they think they will get out of trouble by letting the government squander money. But we'll have to wonder about that later. Now, we're just trying to keep up with the torrent of boondoggles, bailouts and bunkum.

Let's see, Bloomberg reports that about $3 trillion has been spent fighting the downturn in the last two years by the United States of America. We pass over the issue of whether this has done any good, and stick to our figures... Another $5.7 trillion has been pledged. Plus, this latest Obama Bailout will cost about a trillion more.

Hmmm...a trillion here...a trillion there...pretty soon you're talking about real money.

"US Taxpayers Risk $9.7 Trillion on Bailout Programs," Bloomberg figures, or about two-thirds the entire national GDP.

Hmmm....that's about as much as the total burden of household mortgages. In other words, instead of all these boondoggles, bailouts and bunkum, Congress could have just paid off everyone's mortgage.

*** Inflation is now only a problem because there isn't any. In the United States, the consumer price index crested at nearly 6% last year. Now, it appears to be headed down to zero...and perhaps below. That is what the feds are desperate to avoid. When consumer prices fall, consumers become obsessively frugal. They know that if they just wait, they'll be able to get what they want at a lower price. And then, why not wait a little longer...and get the item even cheaper still? This "propensity to save," as economists call it, becomes self-reinforcing. As consumers stop spending, lower demand causes prices to fall further...which incites consumers to dilly dally even more...which causes prices to sink again.

That is the Japanese-style 'deflationary cycle' that gives Ben Bernanke a nightmare.

But we explained yesterday, there's not much he can do about it � at least nothing honest. Rupert Murdoch says the financial crisis has caused $50 trillion in wealth to vanish. The feds have put back only $3 trillion (arguably) so far. Just looking at the numbers, it doesn't seem as though prices will be rising anytime soon. For every dollar the feds put into the system, $17 disappears.

What's a fellow to do? The only way out, as near as we can see, is the road taken by Gideon Gono. "Monetizing the debt"..."quantitative easing"..."printing press money" � it will no doubt go by a number of different euphemisms and code words. It's what happens when the Fed buys U.S. Treasury debt directly. For this purpose, it simply creates a ledger transaction...effectively adding to the money supply.

But even printing money does not automatically and immediately cause consumer price inflation. According to classical economic theory, the shelves must be cleared and the excess capacity must be re-absorbed before prices will rise. That could take a very long time. But we're not sure it works like that. If money were suddenly dropped from helicopters, as Ben Bernanke once pledged to do, merchants probably wouldn't wait for their inventory to disappear before raising prices. They'd be concerned that there were giving away something that was valuable in exchange for something that was not.

When this kind of inflation happens � perhaps worthy of the adjectival modifier 'hyper' � it can happen very suddenly, and very violently. That is why we suggest selling U.S. paper now...even if it turns out to be very early.

*** Drought...fires... plagues...

The poor Australians are battling blazes all over Victoria province. The total cost is climbing up towards 200 dead...and half a billion Australian dollars worth of property damage.

There's a terrible drought in China too...the worst in 50 years. Peking has put up 10 million euros to help the peasants.

Chris Mayer sends this note:

"China is in the midst of its worst drought since 1951. Beijing has gone 100 days without rain. Nearly one-fifth of China's wheat harvest is at risk and over 1.8 million head of livestock are short of water. Over 3.7 million people face water shortages, as do nearly 23 million acres of farmland. Rivers and lakes are drying up and farmers are drilling deeper than ever to reach falling water tables.

"As is the way with these things, it couldn't happen at a worse time. The economy is clearly slumping along with the rest of the world. Unemployment is on the rise. And now food prices may also climb. Not a good combination for a country that already has a fair amount of unrest bubbling just below the surface.

"Water mismanagement has long been a problem in China. Wasteful irrigation is one problem. So is pollution and mass urbanization to the cities, particularly in the more industrialized � but water-parched � areas in the north.

"The government knows this and has swung into action with a number of emergency measures, including financial aid for farmers. One of these measures also increases the subsidies to pay for irrigation projects.

"Over the next several years, I think irrigation equipment is going to play an ever-larger role in helping reduce water use. Water problems will get only worse before they get better. The companies that make the tools and have the expertise to solve those problems will be very valuable. And so will their shares."

Of course, irrigation is not the only water play out there. There are several others in the Mayer's Special Situations portfolio. See for yourself here .

*** And from Argentina comes bad news. Not only is the country parched, the drought seems to be centered on your editor's farm.

"It's dry...very dry..." says the farm manager. "We got almost no rain this season. The reservoirs are empty. There's no way to keep the cattle. There's nothing for them to eat. We just have sell as many of them as we can."

So far, the cattle business has not been a big winner for us.

"When the grass is too dry and too short," the farm manager explained, "the cattle pick up a lot of dirt and sand when they eat. The sand wears down their teeth, so even if they had good grass, they wouldn't be able to put on much weight. And since they can't find much to eat and can't eat it very well, they don't have the energy to go very far looking for better grass. It's a vicious circle. But that's what we've got up here...a difficult place to raise cattle."

Meanwhile, here in Europe, there's water everywhere. Fields are flooded in England. In France, it's been raining for days.

*** "Oh Madeleine, I threw her out of the house three times. She kept coming back. I couldn't get rid of her."

We stopped in to a local café in Normandy to get a cup of coffee. It was Sunday morning. Still, the two men at the bar � one young, one old � were drinking beer and talking to the waitress, a youngish woman with stringy blond hair, a bad complexion, and the look of a drug addict.

We listened in on the conversation.

" are so full of s***," said the young man. "You didn't throw her out. She threw you out."

"No way... She couldn't live without me. And she knew it."

"You mean you couldn't live without her."

"Well, she was nice to have around the house sometimes. Until she got fat. It wasn't the weight. I like a woman with a little meat on. But she got to be so bossy. I hated it when she worked at the bar. I couldn't come here and get any peace and quiet. She'd start complaining about things...right in front of my friends.

"That's why I like Laetitia at the bar better. She don't complain. You don't complain do you, Laetitia?"

"Complain? What do I have to complain about? Just so long as you yahoos pay for drinks, what do I care what you do?"

"Aw...that sounds kind of hard-hearted. You have to admit that you're happy to see us. Otherwise, you'd be here all by yourself."

"'d be terrible."

"Tell me something...what do you do when you're here and they aren't any customers?"

"I clean up. And I watch TV...

"And I wait for you two good-for-nothings to come in."

"Yeah...I knew you were happy to see us."

Then, turning towards the younger man:

"Arnold, why don't you get another job?"

"You know good and well I got laid off..."

"You didn't get laid off; you got fired for incompetence."

"Lay off of him," said the woman, "you know he's a half-wit."

"Yeah, I know he's a half-wit. But he still ought to get a job. Contribute to society. If everybody did like he does, the whole country would go to the dogs."

President Obama is under the impression that history owes him $1 trillion right now to spend on whatever he wants. His language is strident and full of irritation that anyone would question his right to live out his personal dream of being Franklin Roosevelt to George Bush's Hoover. This, he says, is what the election was all about.

The arrogance reminds me of George Bush after 9-11, who similarly believed that history owed him a gargantuan war in the tradition of FDR. And look how that arrogance led to disgrace and loss, as he unwittingly presided over the destruction of American prosperity while searching for bugbears abroad.

It just goes to show you that the presidency is something like a drug. It makes people lose all connection to reality. Part of the reality that Obama needs to recognize is that the New Deal was a calamity far worse than the initial market downturn that began it. He needs to stop basing his policies on dumbed-down civics texts versions of events and consider the economic logic.

With his rhetoric and policies, he has decided to demonize private enterprise, just as FDR did, as a way to present government as the great savior. Now, think about this. If there is a way out of the recession, it will have to be provided by private enterprise. It will come by new businesses, business expansions, entrepreneurship, new technology, and this will be the source of lasting jobs and prosperity.

You cannot make a country rich by looting taxpayers and paying people to pound nails into siding at public schools! These activities amount to capital consumption. They are not sources of investment. You can say that they are stupid tasks or wonderful tasks, but it is not a matter of ideology as to whether such public projects will make us all wealthier. They will not. They drain the sources of wealth from society. They represent a cost, not a blessing.

That was also true of Bush's dumb stimulus program. He was only bailing out his friends at our expense. The effect was to give a little longer life to institutions that were failing anyway. It's pathetic that the Republicans ever went along with it. You will notice that the scheme didn't actually work.

Well, Obama is doing the same thing, though rewarding a different set of friends. This is not wealth production. This is wealth consumption. Do enough of this nonsense and you can destroy the livelihoods of an entire generation.

Americans are proud of their system of government, but consider what it has given us this time around. We had an outgoing president who thought it was his right to grab as much as he could while leaving. Now we have a new president who thinks that the election entitled him to grab as much as he can, right from the beginning. We get looted by the state coming and going. It all amounts to one massive war on prosperity and freedom.

Particularly culpable here are the official historians who have for generations heralded FDR as the great savior. It is a case study in how a civic lie can appear and fester for decades. The fact is that the New Deal did not work. It prolonged what might have been a troubling two-year downturn into a horrifying blow to world prosperity that ended up in a war that killed countless millions. It was one of the greatest acts of wreckage in world history.

And Obama is inspired by this? He wants to repeat it?

I'm not so cynical about human affairs that I believe that errors must be endlessly repeated. Obama can put a stop to his madness. He needs to know � someone must tell him frankly and openly � that his current path is going to lead not to recovery, but to an extension of suffering, and untold amounts of it.

The biggest threat facing the American economy right now is rarely even discussed. It is the massive buildup of paper bank reserves in the last quarter of 2008. This was Bush's doing. He ordered the Fed to print like mad. Fortunately for us, the banks are still holding on to these reserves. When they start lending again, the result could be hyperinflation of Confederate-dollar proportions.

Hence the priority of the Obama administration should be to first do no evil, and second to find some means for withdrawing those reserves from the banking system before they wash through the economic structure and destroy the dollar. There is still time. He must act. Yes, that will lead to bank failures. That's good! It will lead to business failures. That's good and essential too.

There simply is no choice. If he acts now, he could find that recovery will come before his second term. This is precisely what happened with Reagan. He was fortunate to have advisers who insisted that he let the liquidation happen rather than attempt to fix the recession of 1981�82 with huge new government spending programs.

In any case, the hardest work to do here is intellectual. Obama's head is filled with myths and lies, not only about FDR and the New Deal but also about the government's power to repair the existing economic problems. With this model in his head, he can only do evil. This must change.

Nothing is inevitable. He can turn on a dime. The main message: do not repeat the actions of FDR, lest you destroy what is left of American liberty and prosperity.