08-03-2017 Columns

Breastfeeding on the Bluff event

The Berrien County Health Department in partnership with the Berrien County Breastfeeding Coalition will host the second annual “Breastfeeding on the Bluff” event occurring on Saturday, August 5 starting at 10:00 a.m. in Lake Bluff Park across from the St. Joseph Public Library in St. Joseph, Michigan.

The “Breastfeeding on the Bluff” event takes place on August 5 as part of the “2017 Global Big Latch On,” a global breastfeeding awareness celebration, where moms across the globe are linked in simultaneous breastfeeding, which occurs annually during World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). Mothers, fathers, families and breastfeeding supporters are encouraged to arrive at 10:00 a.m. for registration, before the “Big Latch On” at 10:30 a.m. Breastfeeding support resources, gifts for moms, face painting for kids, a photo booth, and refreshments for the whole family are provided. Transportation to the event is also provided and can be reserved by calling the Berrien County Health Department.

The Berrien County Breastfeeding Coalition has a mission to provide support for the community by identifying and growing opportunities for on-going breastfeeding support and promotion, normalizing breastfeeding in the community, and ensure that families have the resources needed to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. The Coalition has membership and support from a variety of community organizations, such as Lakeland Health, InterCare Community Health Network, and Michigan State University Extension, as well as representation from breastfeeding mothers and advocates.

In Michigan, 80% of moms initiate breastfeeding after birth; however, at 3 months of age, only 42% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding has been proven to have countless health benefits for mothers and babies, as well as long-term positive public health impacts throughout the community. As of June 24, 2014, Michigan mothers who nurse their children in public are protected from discrimination and prosecution under bipartisan legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder. The “Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act” gives women the right to nurse a child in any place that is open to the general public, including stores, restaurants and municipal buses.

More information can be found at www.facebook.com/berriencountybreastfeedingcoalition or by calling 269-926-7121.

Diversify your investments but consolidate your providers

You have probably heard that diversification is a key to investment success. So, you might think that if diversifying your investments is a good idea, it might also be wise to diversify your investment providers – after all, aren’t two (or more) heads better than one?

Before we look at that issue, let’s consider the first half of the “diversification” question – namely, how does diversifying your investment portfolio help you?

Consider the two broadest categories of investments: stocks and bonds. Stock prices will move up and down in response to many different factors, including good or bad corporate earnings, corporate management issues, political developments and even natural disasters. Bond prices are not immune to these dynamics, but they are usually more strongly driven by changes in interest rates. To illustrate: If your existing bond pays 2 percent interest, and new bonds are being issued at 3 percent, the value of your bond will fall, because no one will pay you full price for it. (Of course, it may not matter to you anyway, especially if you planned to hold your bond until maturity, at which point you can expect to get your full investment back, providing the bond issuer doesn’t default.)

Here’s the key point: Stocks and bonds often move in different directions. If you only own U.S. stocks, you could take a big hit during a market downturn, but if you own domestic and international stocks, bonds, government securities, certificates of deposit and other types of investments, your portfolio may be better protected against market volatility, and you’ll have more opportunities for positive results. (Keep in mind, though, that even a diversified portfolio can’t prevent all losses or guarantee profits.)

So, it clearly is a good idea to diversify your investment portfolio. Now, let’s move on to diversifying financial service providers. Why shouldn’t you have one IRA here and another one there, or enlist one advisor to help you with some types of investments and a different advisor assisting you with others?

Actually, some good reasons exist to consider consolidating all your investment accounts with one provider. For one thing, you’ll keep better track of your assets. Many people do misplace or forget about some of their savings and investments, but this will be far less likely to happen to you if you hold all your accounts in one place.

Also, if you have accounts with several different financial service providers, you might be incurring a lot of paperwork – and many fees. You can cut down on clutter and expense by consolidating your accounts.

But most important, by placing all your accounts with a single provider, possibly under the supervision of a single financial advisor, you will find it much easier to follow a single, unified investment strategy, based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. You won’t get conflicting advice and you’ll receive clear guidance on important issues, such as the amounts you can afford to withdraw each year from your retirement accounts once you do retire.

Diversification and consolidation – one is good for building an investment portfolio, while the other can help you invest more efficiently and effectively. Put the two concepts together, and make them work for you.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Holding Russia, Iran, and North Korea accountable

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3364, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that seeks to hold global bad actors accountable for their actions. The bill passed by an overwhelming vote of 419-3.

These bipartisan sanctions hit Russia, Iran, and North Korea where it hurts the most: their wallets. It’s important to send a message as these three all pose serious threats to our national security and consistently undermine global stability. H.R. 3364 enshrines existing sanctions against Russia into law, strengthens sanctions in response to cyber-attacks against the U.S. and other democracies as well as Russian interference in Ukraine, empowers Congress to review any potential sanctions relief, and works to strengthen trans-Atlantic cooperation in countering Russian aggression.

The bill also contains sanctions for those involved in the Iranian regime’s missile program, its efforts to destabilize the Middle East region and threaten Israel, as well as its ongoing human-rights abuses. In addition, H.R. 3364 expands sanctions to deter North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, targets those individuals overseas who employ North Korean slave labor, cracks down on North Korean shipping and use of international ports, and requires the administration to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism. In light of North Koreas missile test on Friday, these sanctions are timely.

The United States should continue to be a global leader on this front and I was pleased to see the president sign these new, sweeping sanctions into law.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Nominate local clergy to deliver Senate invocation

Several times a year, I have the opportunity to invite a member of the local clergy to deliver the official invocation to the Senate.

It is truly an honor to show the state the outstanding religious leadership that Southwest Michigan has to offer.

This year, I have welcomed the Rev. Chris Peddie and the Rev. Robert Braman to the Capitol for invocations before Senate session. Peddie is the senior pastor at Lakeside Family Church in Stevensville, and Braman is the former senior minister at First Congregational Church in St. Joseph.

Pastor Peddie reminded us of St. Paul’s words that we should do nothing out of selfish ambition, but rather — in humility — consider others more important than ourselves. Pastor Braman asked that God help give us courage when it is lacking and banish our fears when they hinder rather than motivate.

Both men encouraged us all to perform our duties in a manner that is good for the people of our great state.

I am tremendously thankful every day for the blessing and responsibility of serving the hardworking residents of Southwest Michigan as we work to improve our state. One of the best ways to stay grounded in how we meet our endeavors is to listen to the good word from religious leaders.

If your church has a pastor, priest or minister who goes above and beyond their call of duty for the benefit of others, please nominate them to share their passion with the Senate.

Residents may nominate a local pastor, priest or minister to deliver the Senate invocation by contacting my office at 1-517-373-6960 or at senjproos@senate.michigan.gov.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan.

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