Sprawling Memphis Aims To Be A Friendlier Place For Cyclists

English: Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the a...

English: Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the air. A photograph by myself while in Memphis] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MEMPHIS — John Jordan, a 64-year-old condo appraiser here, has been pedaling his cruiser bicycle around town nearly every day, tooling about at lunchtime or zipping to downtown appointments.

“It’s my cholesterol-lowering device,” said Mr. Jordan, clad in a leather vest and wearing a bright white beard. “The problem is, the city needs to educate motorists to not run over” the bicyclists.

Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has long been among the country’s most perilous places for cyclists.  In recent years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting.

Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor.  But Mr. Wharton spied an opportunity.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/us/memphis-aims-to-be-a-friendlier-place-for-cyclists.html?ref=us

A Record Worth Wilting For: Death Valley Is Hotter Than …



FURNACE CREEK, CALIFORNIA — For Death Valley, a place that embraces its extremes, this has long been an affront: As furnace-hot as it gets here, it could not lay claim to being the hottest place on earth.  That honor, as it were, has gone since 1922 to a city on the northwestern tip of Libya.

Until now. After a yearlong investigation by a team of climate scientists, the World Meteorological Organization, the climate agency of the United Nations, announced this fall that it was throwing out a reading of 136.4 degrees claimed by the city of Al Aziziyah on Sept. 13, 1922.  It made official what anyone who has soldiered through a Death Valley summer afternoon here could attest to.  There is no place hotter in the world.  A 134-degree reading registered on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch here is now the official world record.

And while people were not quite jumping up and down at the honor, the 134-degree reading has inspired the kind of civic pride that for most communities might come with having a winning Little League baseball team.

“For those of us who survive here in the summer, it was no surprise that it’s the hottest place on the world,” said Charlie Callaghan, a Death Valley National Park ranger who personally recorded a 129-degree day here a few years back.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/science/earth/death-valley-temperature-record-is-restored.html?hp&_r=0

Pottstown New Year’s Day Polar Plunge Could Be Coldest Ever

POTTSTOWN — To celebrate the 5th annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge in Riverfront Park, swimmers will brave what will likely be the coldest water yet in the event’s history.

“If the weathermen are right, this will be the coldest polar bear dive we’ve had in the series,” said Bill Krause, who organizes the event with his wife, Sue.

The swim will commence at 10:30 a.m. when the participants, who will all have to sign a waiver beforehand, will line up and dash into the Schuylkill River.

Running into the freezing river won’t be the only thing going on, however.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121228/NEWS01/121229427/pottstown-new-year-s-day-polar-plunge-could-be-coldest-ever#full_story

Senate Leaders To Make Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders agreed on Friday to make a final effort to prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff,” setting off intense bargaining over Americans’ tax rates as a New Year’s Eve deadline looms.

With only days left to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession, two Senate veterans will try to forge a deal that has eluded the White House and Congress for months.

Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” an agreement could be found.  But neither side appeared to give much ground at a White House meeting of congressional leaders on Friday.

What they did agree on was to task Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, who heads the chamber’s Republican minority, with reaching a budget agreement by Sunday at the latest.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscalbre8a80wv-20121109,0,6642146.story

Flu Cases In Pennsylvania Spike

The holidays offer a chance to gather with faraway family and snuggle by the tree.  But according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Health, many of us have been sharing a lot more than gifts.

The number of reported flu cases soared the week before Christmas to 2,196, more than double the 933 reported one week earlier. Before Dec. 8, there had been a total of 848 cases statewide.  One influenza-related death has been reported as well.

The trend in Pennsylvania is consistent with the numbers nationwide.

“It’s certainly a bigger flu season than we had during the past two years,” said Dr. Luther V. Rhodes, an infectious disease specialist at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-early-flu-season-pa-20121228,0,5869559.story

Upper Macungie Swears In 28 New Officers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upper Macungie Township began a new era Friday when 28 officers were sworn in to become the first members of the township’s new police department.

Police Chief Edgardo Colon said the ceremony was more meaningful because the township planned the police department from the ground up. Formerly, the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Department serviced the township, but Upper Macungie elected to break away and form its own department.

“Everybody is eager and ready and prepared to move forward and start going to work,” Colon said.

Nicklaus Morris, one of the officers sworn in on Friday, echoed Colon’s sentiments.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/parkland/mc-upper-macunge-new-police-department-20121228,0,2751181.story

Milk Might Hit $8 A Gallon, Absent Federal Action

Picture 487Consumers soon could be defying the adage of not crying over spilled milk.

If Congress doesn’t pass a new farm bill or extend the one in place by Monday, the price of a gallon of milk in grocery stores could go as high as $8, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. said Friday during a media conference call.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said lack of action would mean milk prices would be based on permanent law enacted in 1949.

The department would be forced to provide substantial financial support to dairy farmers based on their production costs and start buying up surplus milk, he said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=439496