BOSTON?American homes are increasingly besieged by menacing zombies, invading aliens, and threatening criminals. The fact that these beings exist only on-screen?as characters in popular video games?may be small comfort to parents concerned about limiting their children's exposure to violence. The October issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter reports that worries about video game violence are probably overblown, but also offers advice on how parents can minimize any potential harm.

As a first step, check a video game's Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating to better understand what type of content the game has. It may also help to place video consoles and computers in common areas of the home, such as the kitchen or living room, rather than in children's bedrooms. Finally, set limits on the amount of time youths play these games. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours or less of total screen time per day?a limit that includes television and computers as well as video games.

Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, points out that video games share much in common with other pursuits that are enjoyable and rewarding, but that can become hazardous in certain contexts. Parents can best protect their children by remaining engaged with them and providing limits and guidance as necessary.

Read the full-length article: "Violent video games and young people"

Also in this issue:

  • Cognitive enhancement therapy for schizophrenia
  • Managing dental phobia
  • Treatment for adolescent depression
  • Living with bipolar disorder
  • Why eating slowly makes people feel full
  • Antidepressants and cataracts

The Harvard Mental Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications (, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $59 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


At the Start of the 10th Year of the War in Afghanistan, Military Families Say: "Bring our Troops Home Now and Allow Them to Heal"

Family Members of Troops Currently Deployed, Recently Returned, or Killed in Action in Afghanistan Available for Interview

October 7, 2010 - Today marks the 9th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan War, now the longest war in American history, with 1,321 American service members killed in action, at least 8,000 wounded, tens of thousands of Afghani civilians killed, and over 352 billion of American taxpayer dollars wasted. Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), the largest organization of military families to speak out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calls on Senators and Representatives to bring our troops home now and provide the support they need to recover from the wounds of war, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Members of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), and their chapter Gold Star Families Speak Out (GSFSO), will be participating in vigils and actions to mark this day. We are also involved in the launch of a national veteran-led campaign to end the military's widespread practice of deploying wounded troops into war zones. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops will focus on ending the practice of deploying service members suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

One MFSO family member recalls the experience of her cousin who served in the US Marine Corps, and was deployed after 2 tours of duty, including the 2007 troop surge in Fallujah, Iraq, "He wasn't mentally stable enough to return to combat operations in Afghanistan but the Marines deployed him anyway. He had to go because orders are orders. On December 26th 2009, just two weeks into combat operations in Afghanistan¾he killed himself because he couldn't handle the war raging in his head."

How many more lost lives and injured young souls will it take before our Congressional leaders will demonstrate the kind of courage our loved ones in the military show every day? When will Congress stop thinking about political posturing, show the courage to end the war, and allow our surviving troops to heal and recover from this nine-year debacle?

Family members of both the Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans, including many with personal experience of having a loved one deployed while wounded, are available for interview. We will be supporting the IVAW press conference at 1:30pm at Russell Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave NE, and Delaware Ave. NE) At this press conference, veterans and military family members will testify about their experiences with redeployment and announce the launch of Operation Recovery.

Military Families Speak Out includes over 4,000 military families whose loved ones serve or have served in the military since 2002; it is the largest organization of military families to be speaking out against wars in the history of the United States. Gold Star Families Speak Out is a national chapter of MFSO and includes families whose loved ones died as a result of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. More information about Military Families Speak Out can be found at; more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out can be found at

WASHINGTON - Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley this week asked for answers about the Department of Labor's continued interpretation of whistleblower provisions included in the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The senators' letter follows reports that show that the Department of Labor has dismissed more than 1000 of the approximately 1,600 cases that have been filed by whistleblowers alleging retaliation under this law.  The cases were allegedly dismissed on the grounds that the employee alleging retaliation worked for a non-public subsidiary of a publicly traded parent company and was not therefore covered by the law.

"We strongly disagree with this legal interpretation. It erroneously excludes thousands of employees Congress meant to protect when it passed Sarbanes-Oxley and contradicts the spirit and intent of the overall legislation," the senators wrote.

The senators are the authors of the corporate whistleblower protection provision in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and have been outspoken advocates for whistleblowers following the Enron scandal.  The Senators have previously written to President Bush in 2002 objecting to interpretations made by White House staff following the signing of the law, to the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman in 2004, and to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in 2008 explaining the intent of the law.  While the current administration has pledged to review its handling of whistleblower cases under Sarbanes-Oxley, it appears that it is interpreting the law in a similar fashion.  The senators have asked for details of an ongoing internal review and how recent changes to the whistleblower provisions will be implemented.

Here is a copy of the text of the letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

October 6, 2010

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis

Secretary of Labor

United States Department of Labor

200 Constitution Ave, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20210


Dear Secretary Solis:

We authored the corporate whistleblower provisions of the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act, section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Since passage of the law in 2002, we have been frustrated by the executive branch's overly restrictive interpretation of these provisions.  It is our understanding that the Department of Labor has dismissed more than 1000 of the approximately 1,600 cases that have been filed by whistleblowers alleging retaliation under this law.

Many of these cases were dismissed on the grounds that the employee alleging retaliation worked for a non-public subsidiary of a publicly traded parent company and was not therefore covered by the law. As we made clear in our September 2008 letter to then-Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, we strongly disagree with this legal interpretation. It erroneously excludes thousands of employees Congress meant to protect when it passed Sarbanes-Oxley and contradicts the spirit and intent of the overall legislation.

We are optimistic that the recently passed Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will clarify any remaining confusion on this point.  Section 929A of the new law makes clear that the whistleblower provisions in Sarbanes-Oxley include "any subsidiary or affiliate whose financial information is included in the consolidated financial statements of [a publicly traded] company."  The legislation also extends the whistleblower protections in section 806 to employees of nationally recognized statistical rating organizations.

Additionally, we were encouraged to read in a July 22 article published by the Center for Public Integrity that Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels has ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of the Department's handling of claims brought under the whistleblower provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley.  We would like more information about the Department's progress in conducting this review, including the scope of the review process and the timeline for its completion.  We are also interested to hear about the Department's recent decision to provide employees who file whistleblower complaints a copy of employer responses to that complaint, and to learn why the Department previously withheld this information.

Whistleblowers are vital in promoting accountability and transparency, but they are also extremely vulnerable to retaliation.  They need and deserve the protection of the law, and they should be able to rely on vigilant application of the law by the Department.  Accordingly, we ask that you please work with staff from our offices to schedule a briefing on this important matter.


PATRICK LEAHY, Chairman                                         CHARLES GRASSLEY, Senator

Amana - Due to popular demand, Church Basement Ladies, the musical comedy that celebrates the heart and soul of every church - the basement kitchen and the women who work there- will add a matinee performance on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. The show runs through Oct. 17 at The Old Creamery Theatre Company.

The cast consists of Jean Liuzzi of Boston; Nicole Savitt of Arlington Heights, Ill; Deborah Kennedy of East Amana; Kamille Zbanek of Ely; and Sean McCall of Marengo. Directed by Curt Wollan, Church Basement Ladies was inspired by the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the best seller "Growing Up Lutheran." Written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen, Church Basement Ladies serves up laughs with the casseroles and advice with the Jell-O salads.

The added performance at 3 p.m. on Oct. 16 is in addition to regular show times on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $26.50 for adults and $17.50 for students. Reservations are highly recommended.

Call the box office at 800-35-AMANA or visit the website at for tickets or more information.

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. Voted #1 Theatre Group on the 2010 KCRG A-List, the company is celebrating 39 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest.

Common Sense On:
New Consumer-Friendly Improvements to

By Senator Tom Harkin

The historic health reform bill, The Affordable Care Act, was signed into law just over six months ago and Iowans are already seeing many of the benefits.  For example, the new Patient's Bill of Rights, which cracks down on the worst abuses of health insurance companies and gives Iowans and all Americans important new protections, is now in effect.  

By now, all Iowans should be familiar with  Launched on July 1, it is the first website of its kind to bring information and links to health insurance plans into one place to make it easy for consumers to learn about and compare their insurance choices.  Just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that new information and tools have been added to the website that will make the health insurance market more transparent, increase competition and help lower costs for individuals.  These are changes that put consumers, not the insurance companies, in the driver's seat.

What changes have recently been made to

For the first time, the site makes price estimates for private insurance policies available, allowing consumers to easily compare health insurance plans.  This one-stop shopping takes the guesswork and confusion out of buying insurance.  So far, more than 225 insurance companies have provided information about their individual and family plans for more than 4,400 policies, including policies in every state.  Consumers can search for and compare information on plans available to them based on their age, gender, family size, tobacco use and location.  

What details about the insurance plans can I now find on

Consumers can find a great deal of information on each insurance plan including: monthly premium estimates, deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket costs and services covered.

What additional protections for consumers are available at

According to HHS, to help consumers make more informed choices, the site includes new information including two notable metrics never before made public:

  • Insurance providers are required to provide the percentage of people who applied for insurance and were denied coverage.

  • Insurance companies are required to provide the percentage of applicants who were charged higher premiums because of their health status.

Where can I find more information on health reform?

For more information on the health reform bill please feel free to contact any of my offices or my website at


A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here.

Des Moines, Iowa–A sea of green shirts at the IMT Des Moines Marathon will mean a river of money flowing all the way to Mozambique to build a school there. Iowans for Africa, a running team from the Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls, has already raised nearly $50,000 for World Vision and hopes to hit $100,000 by race day.

Between 135 and 145 athletes will make the trip to Des Moines, along with nearly 400 supporters wearing green Iowans for Africa shirts. The group will hold a worship service before the race at Nollen Plaza.

The team was founded by Don Williams, a church staffer who is also a running coach. "We have four main goals," Williams said. "One: Use this event to praise God and advance His kingdom. Two: Get everyone to the finish line healthy and happy! Three: Develop a team mentality through building community and relationships. Four: Raise money to build a school in Mozambique, Africa."

Last year the team ran the Chicago Marathon to raise money for HIV/AIDS research and prevention in Africa, also through World Vision.

"It's not unusual for a group of runners to raise money for a charity," said Chris Burch, IMT Des Moines Marathon director of racing and events. "But this is certainly one of the bigger groups we've seen, and the number of people coming to support them is inspiring."

To make a donation to Iowans for Africa, go to

The IMT Des Moines Marathon & Half Marathon and Bankers Trust Marathon Relay start at 8 a.m. Sunday, October 17. The Principal Financial Group 5K Road Race starts at 8:30 a.m. The Bankers Trust Kids Run Presented by Iowa Kidstrong starts at 1 p.m. All races start and finish at Nollen Plaza. Register to race or to volunteer at


St. James Lutheran Church in Bettendorf will hold their 5th annual Halloween Party for kids on Saturday, October 23rd from 2-4 p.m. in the church's basement.  There will be games, prizes, treats, face painting and more.  Wear your costume and bring a friend!

St. James Lutheran Church is located at 1705 Oak Street in Bettendorf,  just up the hill from K&K Hardware.  The phone number is 355-4161 and the email address is

Purpose: Mississippi River Valley Art Directory is a website to
promoting art along the Mississippi River. The goal is to create one
website organizing all forms of art, making it easy for clients to
locate you, your website and your place of business.

Mission: The Mississippi River Valley area is saturated with wonderful
ART.   Connecting us all together and creating an art destination to
meet specific desires is our mission.

Let us introduce ourselves:

Diane Michele (Wall) Volrath started her art career in the medium of
sugar. She was the owner of Cake Creations for 16 years in Davenport,
Iowa. After retiring she became a multi-media artist living on the
Mississippi River in Princeton, Iowa. Her studio, Inspirational Images
Photography,  is next door to her house where photography meets the
stained glass world. Diane images photography on to glass and finishes
it with stained glass. Visit to learn more about
Diane and see her creations.

Rhonda LeMar-James spent 20 years managing a variety of venues in the
hospitality business. It was a fast-paced, exciting business where 2
days were never alike. That's where multi tasking became so important!
A family responsibility took her from that world and into the world of
art. She grows gourds here in Iowa and then uses them to express
herself. Along the path there were so many talented artists all
searching for the best way to get their art noticed by others. Diane
and Rhonda intend to make that a much easier task with this website
and these maps. To learn more about Rhonda visit

Both ladies are active in the art world, promoting area groups,
festivals and artists. They sit on several boards, including the Quad
City Photography Club, Artist Advisory Council, Left Bank Art League,
The Gourd City Area Gourd Patch, and they also teach in the area.

After several discussions about how to assist artists in the task of
getting products noticed, the Mississippi River Valley Art Directory
was born.

Please join us in celebrating art in the Mississippi River Valley area.

Within this website you will find a Weekly Blog listing current art
events throughout the Mississippi River Valley. The second page is a
directory of all art locations organized by region with links to their
web-pages. The third page is a map of the art locations, hours of
business, and media available. Included here is a spot where you can
purchase full size maps for self driving tours. The fourth page is a
list of art galleries and home based art studios participating in the
Spring and Fall Art Drives. The annual Fall MRVAD drive is the first
weekend in November. This year that is November 6th & 7th, 2010 from
10am- 5pm, check this page to plan your route. The final page is an
application form for artists and art galleries to complete to be
included in this website and map listings.

Memberships include :

? Web-presence and link

Have your gallery, studio or home address listed on the world wide web
to access  clients and agents. A link will be provided to your
personal web-page if applicable.

? Map listing, maps for display and dispersal upon request

Maps will be placed in Welcome Centers, hotels, motels, area
businesses and all locations that visitors and locals search for ideas
for things to do along the Mississippi River. You may request maps to
hand out at your site and at art shows.

? Bi-annual newsletter promoting the open gallery/private studio self
drive tour.

A newsletter will be forwarded with helpful information and tips for
all members about the spring and fall art drives. This is a time for
artist to invite clients in to their personal studios. For those of
you without a studio, considering joining with several other local
artists at a public building in town. Our Goal is a fun day for a
drive along the Mississippi River Valley viewing great art and
interacting with the people that create it.

? Bi-annual open house gallery/private studio self drive

Each year we promote a special ART DRIVE twice a year, inviting
clients to view your galleries and private studios. This will be held
the weekend before Mother's Day and the first weekend in November each
year on Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. You may list your private home
based studio address, gallery address, the address of an Art show you
may be attending, a farmers market address, or a public building you
have rented for this occasion. The dates will be November 6 & 7, 2010;
April 30 & May 1, 2011; & November 5 & November 6, 2011. THIS IS AN
You do not have to be listed on the Art Drive Directory page to be
included in the main listings.

? Monthly Blog available for individual artist promotion

The first page will blog art shows and art events in the Mississippi
River Valley. Please send your promotional event materials to subject line MRVAD BLOG INFO or Diane Volrath, Po
Box 282, Princeton, Iowa 52768.

1 month prior to the event.

? Photos of your three top selling items included in photo gallery

Email with your photos to include.

Annual fee: $20.00

Form to join Mississippi River Valley Art Directory

Artist name:

Business name:

Email address:

Business Address and Phone #:

Dimensions of display shop-important for possible tour groups.

Is shop handicap accessible:

Your hours of business and

if you would like to be included

in the Spring and Fall ART DRIVE:

Information on your studio:

Medium (media):

Webpage address:


By submitting this application form, I understand I am giving
permission to M.R.V.A.D. to publish my information on the web and it
is my responsibility to provide accurate information and timely
revisions of this information to M.R.V.A.D.

Mail form with check to: MRVAD, 22185 180th Ave., Davenport, Iowa 52807

Form may also be filled out online at .

For questions please inquire at: mail@MRVAD.COM or phone Diane at

563-343-2765 or Rhonda at 563-508-1853.

MILWAUKEE, WI - Recent findings from what is believed to be the largest study of a weight-loss program in the United States indicate that TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, is associated with clinically significant weight loss among participants who remain in the program for at least one year.

According to a study published in Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society, TOPS participants who renewed their annual membership consecutively over a period of one to three years lost between 5.9% and 7.1% of their initial weight.  People who remained in the program lost 6% of initial weight in the first year and maintained that weight loss for up to three years. 

The Institute of Medicine defines successful long-term weight loss as "losing at least 5% of body the completion of a weight-loss program... and keeping it [off]...for at least one year."  The average weight loss estimated in this study exceeds these criteria for successful long-term weight loss which have been associated with improved health benefits, including decreased likelihood of developing heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and the reduction of sleep apnea symptoms.

Study authors Nia S. Mitchell, L. Miriam Dickinson, Allison Kempe, and Adam G. Tsai, all of the University of Colorado Denver, examined data from nearly 43,000 TOPS members who joined between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007, and who had at least one membership renewal between 2006 and 2008.  Members were weighed at weekly meetings by the chapter weight recorder and subsequently submitted to TOPS' national headquarters by local Field Staff.  In addition to regular group meetings designed to reinforce healthy habits, such as setting reasonable goals, increasing physical activity, portion control, and food journaling ? major components of TOPS' weight-loss philosophy, the TOPS program includes a six-week "quick-start" guide, My Day One, and TOPS' lifestyle guide, The Choice Is Mine. Membership also includes a one-year subscription to TOPS News, the organization's members-only magazine.

The researchers noted the substantial difference in cost between TOPS and commercial weight-loss programs, like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.  A nonprofit organization, TOPS' annual membership fee is $26 in the United States and $30 in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees (on average, $5 per month) collected for local chapter expenses.  There are no special foods to purchase.

TOPS chapters are also led by volunteer leaders who are elected by their peers.  The study authors speculate that the lower dropout rate in TOPS could be due to the camaraderie, support, and recognition that develops from regular chapter meetings because participants may hold offices in the chapter.

"We are pleased that the findings of this landmark study further confirm that members of TOPS can experience measurable and lasting weight-loss success," said Barbara Cady, TOPS President.  "TOPS has been shown to be as successful as commercial groups and plans that have been scientifically studied and evaluated in recent years.  These include the 2005 JAMA study of the Ornish, Zone, Weight Watchers, and Atkins diets.  TOPS is affordable and nationally available, with more than 7,000 chapters located across the country.  Our focus on wellness education and healthy lifestyle choices has led TOPS members to lose a combined total of 431 tons of weight in 2009.  By joining TOPS, anyone can experience even the smallest (or largest) of health benefits as they take steps on the journey of weight loss."

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original, nonprofit weight-loss support and wellness education organization, was established more than 62 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success.  Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TOPS promotes successful, affordable weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.


Saturday, October 30th from 7-11

Dancing Towards Death: A sophisticated All Hallows Eve bash complete with gothic décor, a costume contest, creepy cocktails, wine and a menu of diabolical delights will be hosted by Thunder Bay at the Figge on Saturday, October 30th from 7-11.

Evening events include :

Cocktail Reception at 6pm [cash bar]

Gallery Tours available from 7-9

Heavy Appetizers served from 7 -9:30

Martini Tasting from 7-8

Live DJ from 7-11

Costume Contest at the end of the evening

The cost per guest is $40 and includes food, tax, gratuity and two free passes to come back another time to view the Figge's Dancing Towards Death: The Richard Harris collection before December 1, 2010.

If you have any questions or to make your reservation please call Dave or Kim at 563.326.7804 ext. 1227.