Happy New Year's Day!

The new year of 2004 is particularly out of this world as January 4th finds highly detailed images of Martian landscapes being relayed to Earth from the Martian surface rover aboard NASA's Spirit spacecraft.

Regarding the conflict in Iraq, a big story is brewing as the United States Army conducts an internal criminal investigation over reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq. The news and infamous graphic photographs will not receive public attention until 60 Minutes produces a segment about the story in June of 2004.

January 5th finds the incorporation of a new security system, U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, or US-VISIT, which requires international travelers to be fingerprinted and photographed. The measure prompts question marks about the legality of collecting such information when the overwhelming majority of visitors are most likely guilty of nothing. In addition, the president reveals a plan that would allow illegal immigrants working in the United States to apply for temporary guest worker status and increase the number of green cards granted each year.

The Labor Department announces on January 9th, that thousands of unemployed individuals stopped looking for employment in December 2003. The department had predicted the creation of 150,000 jobs, but, when all was said and done, only 1,000 new jobs were reported for the month of December.

For many, the coming of a new year represents a time to make positive lifestyle changes. The custom of making resolutions at the beginning of a new year is still going strong. Giving up habits like smoking or drinking and losing weight seem to be the classic favorites, while finding new jobs and ending dysfunctional relationships are a close second.

For those who plan to follow through with New Year's resolutions, here are some helpful links: 

  • American Cancer Society: Quitting Smoking Offers statistics about health risks associated with smoking plus a host of helpful resources for those who are ready to quit. 
  • Medline Plus: Weight Loss  Features statistics about obesity and an index of resources for healthy weight loss from National Institutes of Health. Includes support groups, tutorials and more. 
  • Medline Plus: Substance Abuse Find research associated with a variety of substance abuse problems as well as a catalog of support resources for recovering patients and family members.
  • Craig's List Famous web board offers job listings for a variety of vocations across the globe. Also features local personal ads and classified ads.