October 5, 2007

Today, the National Climate Prediction Center will issue its three-month forecast for this winter. The predictions will include a forecast for another warm winter this year.

If
that comes to pass, it would make drought conditions in some parts of
the country worse. Every state is now affected by drought or
abnormally dry weather, according to the newest U.S. Drought Monitor report.

On the bright side, some folks could catch a break on heating bills.



Getting Graphic About Meth

Cable TV viewers in Arizona, Illinois and Idaho may be shocked by some new ads that show the dangers of methamphetamine. The same graphic ads could head to a TV near you soon. Click here to see the ads.

Stateline.org explains:

All three states [Arizona, Illinois, Idaho] are replicating a highly
touted advertising campaign that began in Montana and centers on a
series of shocking and graphic TV commercials intended to grab the
attention of viewers — especially young people — and warn them about
the dangers of methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that has been
identified by law enforcement officials as a leading cause of crime
nationwide.


The states have jumped at the chance to debut the ads at home, largely because of what many consider a success story in Montana. The state last month announced a nearly 50-percent drop in reported meth usage among high school students since the Montana Meth Project,
a private advocacy organization founded by billionaire businessman and
philanthropist Tom Siebel, introduced the ads two years ago.


According to a report [PDF] by the Montana Office of Public Instruction,
4.6 percent of the state’s high schoolers now say they have tried meth,
compared with 8.3 percent in 2005. State leaders have directly
connected that decline with the ad campaign, despite the already
decreasing use of meth in state high schools between 1999 and 2005, as
documented by the Office of Public Instruction in the same report.


“If it’ll work in Montana, it’ll work anywhere,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said at a news conference Sept. 18 in Washington, where the state’s congressional delegation joined Siebel and Julie Gerberding, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to announce the state’s meth decline and tout the ads.

At
least seven other states — Alaska, California, Iowa, Indiana, Oregon,
Kentucky and Washington — also could start airing the ads as part of an
anti-meth initiative announced last month by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Utah, meanwhile, decided against the shock campaign in favor of its own
public awareness drive against meth, unveiled by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
(R) on Sept. 24 and aimed specifically at women ages 12 to 45, whose
use of meth has increased in that state.


Friday Classes Could Curb Binge Drinking

The University of Iowa, which is ranked 12th on Princeton Review’s list of top party schools, will start holding more classes on Friday starting in fall 2008. 
 
According to Stateline.org, the decision was made after a University of Missouri study
released in July found that students are less likely to binge drink on Thursdays if they have Friday morning classes.

Stateline.org reports:

Alcohol abuse by college students is a rampant problem. A March study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University reported that 3.8 million full-time college students, or 49
percent, regularly abuse drugs or binge drink, which is defined as five
or more drinks at a time for men, and four or more drinks for women.

Here’s more from that study:

Findings from the study, which examine college students’ daily
alcohol consumption, indicate that students who don’t take Friday
classes consume twice as much alcohol on Thursday as those with early
Friday classes. Phillip K. Wood (one of the researchers) said men who drank at least one drink on Thursday
consumed an average of six to 7.5 drinks in relation to their Friday
class loads. Women consumed an average of four to five drinks. The
higher averages were most evident among men and members of the Greek
system or those who participated in Greek activities.

“Approximately
two-thirds of students who consumed some alcohol Thursday consumed a
binge amount if they had late or no Friday classes,” Wood said.

Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more for women.

To
remedy the problem, Wood said, colleges should require students to
enroll in early classes – before 10 a.m. – on Fridays. The study was
prompted after a national task force offered recommendations to college
administrators for reducing alcohol usage on campus. The focus on
Friday classes, as well as possibly scheduling Saturday classes, was
one of several suggestions.

“There are many programs on
university campuses to reduce drinking,” he said. “Having more Friday
classes, early Friday classes or tests on Friday seem to be a pretty
cost-effective way of reducing college drinking. Essentially, your
academic class schedule starts to interfere with that drinking
behavior.”

The U.S. Surgeon General also suggested Friday classes in a call to action [PDF] to prevent and reduce underage drinking. For TV stations considering November sweeps projects, looking at youth binge drinking could be worthwhile.


New Poynter Video Resumes

I want to tell you that Poynter.org just added a new feature to the Poynter Career Center. You can now upload a video resume on the site for potential employers to watch. Click here to learn more.
Job
hunters can post resumes and newsrooms can post job openings on the
Poynter Career Center’s Web site. Employers can also search resumes on
it.

Don’t forget, it is not just TV folks who have video resumes to post. Newspaper multimedia folks, radio broadcasters, etc., are welcome to post video resumes, too.



How Can Young People Ever Buy a House?

I recently came across an Orange County (Calif.) Register article that says the median selling price for a house in Orange County has dipped to $590,000.” It floored me. DIPPED to $590,000? The median single family house there is $675,000. How in the world will our kids ever afford to buy a house?

Click here to see house prices in most metro areas around the country.

Here is a cool site called Housing Tracker, which estimates the inventory of homes for sale in many cities and lists median sales prices.



Outlawing Droopy Pants and Sex Toys

Elected officials in Alabama, having solved all of the other important problems their constituents face, are considering outlawing baggy pants. They have already outlawed sex toys; however, the sex toys can apparently still be sold if they are classified as medical or scientific equipment.

Alabama’s attempt to ban sex toys has chewed up countless hours in court and even went to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case.

Despite the hours of attention the case has demanded from tax-paid state lawyers, there is nothing to prevent customers from buying what they want online.


We are always looking for your great ideas. Send Al a few sentences and hot links.


Editor’s
Note: Al’s Morning Meeting is a compendium of ideas, edited story
excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as
original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly
from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided
whenever possible. The column is fact-checked, but depends on the
accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. Errors and
inaccuracies found will be corrected.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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