No New Year celebration for Pussy Riot

Published: Dec. 20, 2012 at 2:53 PM

MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (UPI) – A lawyer for the two jailed members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot said the women have no New Year celebration plans because of “strict rules” in prison.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are serving two-year prison sentences for their “punk prayer” performance in Moscow’s main cathedral in February, RIA Novosti reported.

“Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will have no New Year celebrations, because penal colonies have strict rules. Inmates go to bed at 9:00 p.m. and get up at 6:00 a.m. No exceptions are allowed. A rule is a rule,” lawyer Irina Khrunova said.

A third convicted group member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released from prison and will be ringing in the New Year with her family, the news report said.

Sela Ward Argentinian Cheerleaders

FDA Warns of Fatal Rash From Hep C Drug Incivek

By Cari Nierenberg
WebMD Health News

Dec. 19, 2012 — The FDA warned people taking the hepatitis C drug Incivek (telaprevir) that it has received reports of a serious skin rash from the medication, which has led to several deaths.

The deaths occurred in people taking Incivek combination treatment. This antiviral treatment includes the drug Incivek in combination with the drugs peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.

This combination treatment is most commonly used for genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C in adults with compensated liver disease (meaning the liver has some damage but still works), including those who have cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or those who have previously received interferon-based treatment.

The FDA says some people had developed a serious skin rash while on the combination drug treatment, yet they continued to take the three medications despite the rash worsening and leading to life-threatening symptoms.

The FDA advises people receiving Incivek combination treatment to be aware of the potential for developing a rash as a side effect of drug treatment. It recommends that anyone who gets a serious skin reaction after taking these drugs stop them immediately and seek emergency medical care.

The FDA will be adding a boxed warning about these potential problems to the Incivek drug label. The warning will instruct people receiving Incivek combination treatment to immediately discontinue all three medications if they develop a rash.

In a news release from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, makers of Incivek, the company said that less than 1% of people who received Incivek combination treatment had a serious skin reaction to it when the treatment was tested in a late-stage clinical trial. These patients required hospitalization for the skin reaction, yet all recovered from it.

The FDA also encourages patients and health care professionals to report any serious or harmful side effects to its MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. This report can be submitted online. Forms can also be obtained by calling 800-332-1088, and then faxing to 800-FDA-0178. 

Rebecca Demorney Lisa Loring

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Wind slams SoCal; blizzard in Midwest

Published: Dec. 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 19 (UPI) – Heavy wind blew through California as a storm system made its way north to the upper Midwest where blizzard-like conditions are expected, forecasters said.

About 50,000 people lost power when high winds downed trees and power lines in the Los Angeles area, where winds gusted to 35-40 mph around the city and 50 mph in higher elevations, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, reported Wednesday. High wind warnings were posted until 2 p.m. PST Wednesday.

Weather contributed to a 60-car pileup Tuesday evening that resulted in the closure of northbound lanes along Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border, after a tractor-trailer skidded on an icy portion of the roadway and crashed into a concrete wall, the California Highway Patrol said.

Northbound lanes of the freeway were reopened at 5 a.m. Wednesday, the Medford (Ore.) Mail Tribune reported.

Two people were hospitalized with injuries, six were treated and released and an undetermined number of stranded motorists were taken to the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds for shelter from frigid overnight temperatures, the newspaper said.

The system is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions to a wide swath of the Midwest, stretching from Kansas northeast through Iowa Wednesday and into Wisconsin and the Michigan upper peninsula by Thursday morning.

Wind gusts of 50-60 mph will be accompanied by heavy snow, making travel conditions treacherous, Accuweather.com said. Visibility will be near zero at times.

Snow is in the forecast for Chicago, Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis, and flights in the region could be delayed or canceled, Accuweather said.

A blizzard warning is in effect for Des Moines from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday, the Des Moines Register said, with 6 to 12 inches of snow expected in that time.

Josie Maran Wendy Schumacher

China ripe for S. Korean auto parts growth

Published: Dec. 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (UPI) – South Korean auto parts companies are likely to experience earnings growth due to an expanding market in China, market analysts said.

“We believe that China will continue to post leading global auto sales growth in 2013 thanks to the Chinese government’s likely introduction of economic stimulus and capacity expansions via joint ventures with overseas automakers,” said Cho Soo-hong, an analyst with Woori Investment & Securities.

Yonhap reported Wednesday that vehicle sales from January through November rose 6.9 percent compared with the first 11 months of 2011.

Auto parts capacity among South Korean companies in China will get a significant boost in July with the start-up of Hyundai Motor Co.’s third plant in China.

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Without a Safety Net: Abandoning Louisiana’s Uninsured

The opposition to the two major programs that would ensure health care to much of the country’s unhealthiest states, and how it now matters for the entire country

jindal 615 300.jpg

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal [NatiHarnik/AP]

Earlier this year an uninsured patient at Lallie Kemp Medical Center, a small safety net hospital operated by LSU, suffered a subdural hematoma — bleeding between the brain and the skull that is treatable if given prompt attention. The hospital attempted to transfer the patient to LSU’s referral facility in New Orleans, but the hospital, with shrunken capacity, already had seven patients in the emergency department awaiting ICU beds. The doctor called 17 other hospitals that day, including some with neurosurgeons, operating rooms, and ICU beds available. None accepted the patient. He died that evening.

Unfortunately, examples like these are becoming easier to identify in Louisiana. The Institute of Medicine reports that 18,000 people a year die in the U.S. for lack of health insurance. When Louisiana’s Health Secretary, Bruce Greenstein, was asked about the patient at Lallie Kemp in testimony before the legislature a few months ago he explained that the patient could not get care because of a shortage of neurosurgeons in Louisiana. That, of course, sounded better than the fact that it is more essentially due to the state’s approach to the uninsured.

Louisiana has some serious health care challenges, with the fourth highest uninsurance rate in the country, among the highest cost and lowest quality outcomes for patients with Medicare, and among the highest rates of tobacco use, obesity, poverty, and infant mortality, to name a few. For health status and outcomes, Louisiana is among the worst in the country.

Like in other states, the health care system in Louisiana is an amalgam of private and public providers and programs loosely woven with some attempt to care for the entire population. The solutions are not simple, but in Louisiana we have perhaps the most qualified governor to address them: McKinsey consultant, Secretary of Health for Louisiana, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, and assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, instead of providing desperately needed leadership and clarity for his constituents, Bobby Jindal continues to confuse us.

Two recent reports in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that Medicaid coverage results in better preventive care and is associated with lower mortality. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion would provide Medicaid insurance to 456,000 Louisianans and reduce the uninsured in the state by 60 percent. Gaps in Medicaid coverage and care for the uninsured (350,000 of whom would remain after the expansion) are addressed by safety net systems which, according to the journal Health Affairs, can provide care at half the cost of providing insurance, an assessment consistent with an Urban Institute study done in Louisiana in 2007. The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centers operate the statewide safety net system, serving over half a million people annually through which the uninsured and underinsured receive care from immunizations to neurosurgery, with outcomes on par with national norms for people with insurance.

The amount of state dollars spent on Medicaid in Louisiana is less than 9 percent of total state funds compared to the national average of over 15 percent. The average state spends twice as much on Medicaid as it does on prisons; Louisiana spends roughly the same amount. Since Jindal took office, Medicaid and Disproportionate Share Hospital spending (funding for uninsured care) in the public safety net system has decreased by nearly $200 million on an annual basis. In September he cut funding for the safety net by another $329 million, over half of the total funding for uninsured care.

Escalating health care spending in Louisiana and the U.S. is driven by the insured, not the uninsured. Jindal’s spokespersons, however, have characterized care for the uninsured in the safety net system — which has had flat spending in the last 10 years — as “unsustainable” while proposing an ambiguous plan to shift that care to a private sector that has demonstrated cost increases that actually are unsustainable.

Adoption of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion paired with a healthy safety net would provide the component pieces of a universal coverage model in Louisiana for the first time. However, Jindal has declared his opposition to the two major programs that would ensure care to the uninsured. He has made clear his intention to reject the federal Medicaid expansion and at the same time is dismantling the state’s public safety net. It’s a combination of blows for many of the state’s citizens who are among the lowest earners in the country and are destined to go without care.

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By refusing to participate in the Affordable Care Act, Jindal will deny access to 456,000 low income individuals through the Medicaid expansion. A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation put the 10 year cost at less than $1 billion for Louisiana. In fact, when that expense is offset against additional savings on state funds currently spent on the uninsured, it is probable that there would be a net financial benefit to the state.

After two years as Louisiana’s Health Secretary and five years as governor, Jindal presides over a Louisiana that has one of the country’s largest uninsured populations with worsening access to care. He is now chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, with a message for the country. Those outside of Louisiana can start to get to know him better by examining his health care record back home.  

this link Glenn Close

How a Child’s ADHD Affects Their Siblings

Having a child with ADHD means dedicating time to meeting their special needs, and to making sure that doesn’t come at the expense of your other children.

“Being a parent of a child with ADHD can be hard,” says Terry Dickson, MD, director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan, and an ADHD coach.

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ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and the inability to control impulses. It affects an estimated 1.5 to 3.5 million school-age children in the U.S. Everyone, especially younger children, may have symptoms of ADHD from time to time. But with ADHD, the ability to function with daily activities is affected. A diagnosis of ADHD can be hard to make, and evaluation must be made by a specialist. There are several different approaches to…

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“It’s so important for parents to show all of their children — both the child with ADHD and the kids without — that they are equally loved. But given the needs of a child with ADHD, it takes work to keep it balanced.”

Keeping It Equal

When there’s a child with ADHD in the family, it’s common for their siblings to feel jealous and to act out if they sense their parents’ attention shifting away from them.

“It works like a squeaky wheel,” says Los Angeles psychotherapist Jenn Berman, PhD. “The child who is being the loudest gets the most attention from the parents.”

Usually, that’s the child with ADHD, so it’s normal for parents to spend most of their energy focusing on meeting that child’s special needs, whether it’s in therapy, extra time at home doing homework, or a special effort on managing disobedience or impulsivity.

The behavior of children with ADHD can also make them hard to get along with as a peer, which means their brothers or sisters simply might not like being around them.

“The child who doesn’t have ADHD might prefer to be at a friend’s house than at home, might not invite other kids over to hang out, or might be embarrassed socially,” says Dickson, who has a child with ADHD.

School is another outlet for kids who have a brother or sister with ADHD.

“It can be a reprieve where kids can get away from the stress they might be experiencing at home, or kids can use it as an opportunity to act out for attention,” says Mark Wolraich, MD, a pediatrics professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The bottom line is that parents need to share the love and the attention with all their children,whether or not they have ADHD.

10 Tips for Parents

Balance is the key. Here are tips from the experts on how to help your kids with an ADHD sibling learn, adjust, and grow:

1. Manage expectations. Parents expect immediate obedience from their kids who don’t have ADHD, Dickson says. It’s common for them to think that their child should know better because they don’t have the condition. But remember, they’re still kids, and helping them understand boundaries and rules is just as important for them as it is for the child with ADHD.

2. Be fair. Just like you shouldn’t be extra hard on your kids who don’t have ADHD, you shouldn’t be too lenient with the one that does, Dickson says. Be clear about the house rules and enforce them equally with all the kids.

Tara Reid Nina Moric

Without a Safety Net: Abandoning Louisiana’s Uninsured

The opposition to the two major programs that would ensure health care to much of the country’s unhealthiest states, and how it now matters for the entire country

jindal 615 300.jpg

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal [NatiHarnik/AP]

Earlier this year an uninsured patient at Lallie Kemp Medical Center, a small safety net hospital operated by LSU, suffered a subdural hematoma — bleeding between the brain and the skull that is treatable if given prompt attention. The hospital attempted to transfer the patient to LSU’s referral facility in New Orleans, but the hospital, with shrunken capacity, already had seven patients in the emergency department awaiting ICU beds. The doctor called 17 other hospitals that day, including some with neurosurgeons, operating rooms, and ICU beds available. None accepted the patient. He died that evening.

Unfortunately, examples like these are becoming easier to identify in Louisiana. The Institute of Medicine reports that 18,000 people a year die in the U.S. for lack of health insurance. When Louisiana’s Health Secretary, Bruce Greenstein, was asked about the patient at Lallie Kemp in testimony before the legislature a few months ago he explained that the patient could not get care because of a shortage of neurosurgeons in Louisiana. That, of course, sounded better than the fact that it is more essentially due to the state’s approach to the uninsured.

Louisiana has some serious health care challenges, with the fourth highest uninsurance rate in the country, among the highest cost and lowest quality outcomes for patients with Medicare, and among the highest rates of tobacco use, obesity, poverty, and infant mortality, to name a few. For health status and outcomes, Louisiana is among the worst in the country.

Like in other states, the health care system in Louisiana is an amalgam of private and public providers and programs loosely woven with some attempt to care for the entire population. The solutions are not simple, but in Louisiana we have perhaps the most qualified governor to address them: McKinsey consultant, Secretary of Health for Louisiana, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, and assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, instead of providing desperately needed leadership and clarity for his constituents, Bobby Jindal continues to confuse us.

Two recent reports in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate that Medicaid coverage results in better preventive care and is associated with lower mortality. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion would provide Medicaid insurance to 456,000 Louisianans and reduce the uninsured in the state by 60 percent. Gaps in Medicaid coverage and care for the uninsured (350,000 of whom would remain after the expansion) are addressed by safety net systems which, according to the journal Health Affairs, can provide care at half the cost of providing insurance, an assessment consistent with an Urban Institute study done in Louisiana in 2007. The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centers operate the statewide safety net system, serving over half a million people annually through which the uninsured and underinsured receive care from immunizations to neurosurgery, with outcomes on par with national norms for people with insurance.

The amount of state dollars spent on Medicaid in Louisiana is less than 9 percent of total state funds compared to the national average of over 15 percent. The average state spends twice as much on Medicaid as it does on prisons; Louisiana spends roughly the same amount. Since Jindal took office, Medicaid and Disproportionate Share Hospital spending (funding for uninsured care) in the public safety net system has decreased by nearly $200 million on an annual basis. In September he cut funding for the safety net by another $329 million, over half of the total funding for uninsured care.

Escalating health care spending in Louisiana and the U.S. is driven by the insured, not the uninsured. Jindal’s spokespersons, however, have characterized care for the uninsured in the safety net system — which has had flat spending in the last 10 years — as “unsustainable” while proposing an ambiguous plan to shift that care to a private sector that has demonstrated cost increases that actually are unsustainable.

Adoption of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion paired with a healthy safety net would provide the component pieces of a universal coverage model in Louisiana for the first time. However, Jindal has declared his opposition to the two major programs that would ensure care to the uninsured. He has made clear his intention to reject the federal Medicaid expansion and at the same time is dismantling the state’s public safety net. It’s a combination of blows for many of the state’s citizens who are among the lowest earners in the country and are destined to go without care.

Recommended

Women’s Health in Juvenile Detention: How a System Designed for Boys Is Failing Girls

By refusing to participate in the Affordable Care Act, Jindal will deny access to 456,000 low income individuals through the Medicaid expansion. A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation put the 10 year cost at less than $1 billion for Louisiana. In fact, when that expense is offset against additional savings on state funds currently spent on the uninsured, it is probable that there would be a net financial benefit to the state.

After two years as Louisiana’s Health Secretary and five years as governor, Jindal presides over a Louisiana that has one of the country’s largest uninsured populations with worsening access to care. He is now chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, with a message for the country. Those outside of Louisiana can start to get to know him better by examining his health care record back home.  

Donna Gubbay Ashley Greene

Life After Your Brain Explodes

When I was 25, I had a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. I later joined a brain injury support group — reluctantly.

explosion615.jpg

LadyDragonflyCC/Flickr

“Don’t compare apples to oranges. All of you are in dif­ferent areas in life. Remember that. Different catego­ries completely.”

Kari, the moderator and social worker of the brain injury support group, was trying to give us a pep talk.

“You need to understand that your lives changed after your brain injuries. Understand that point, and you won’t get jealous or hurt,” she continued.

It didn’t work. Out of the twenty attendees in the room, four, including me, were still morose, sad, and bitter. I was there because, following several months of treatment for a brain aneurysm that wiped out much of my memory and left me partially blind, everyone — neurologists, therapists, counselors — told me to join a group as soon as I was released from the hos­pital. But it took almost four years for me to actually attend a meeting. I had never planned to go, but finally I was so lonely and depressed that I felt I had no choice. Most of all, I had become painfully envious of everyone around me. To live in the outside world again, I needed to cope with non-brain-injured folks, whom I called “norms” a la old-school carnival-freak patois. These norms, with their goddamn unscarred heads, were pissing me off. They would never under­stand what had happened to me.

“For a while I’ve been thinking this is only some stupid pointy thingy. But now I totally understand what this is! I know what this is! It goes in your skin!” He was holding a syringe.

I was nervous that first day as I made it to room 10B in the Center for Disability, a run-down, twelve-story building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I had never before considered myself “disabled,” but now, as I begrudgingly accepted that possibility, I tried to prepare myself for my first meeting with my new peers.

Twenty people, wearing resigned expressions, sat on cheap blue plastic folding chairs arranged in a circle. The dingy white walls, offset by blackened gray tiles on the floor, en­closed a room that was suffocating in stale air. On one wall hung a framed poster of a striped cat with a word-balloon over its head that said, “I meow, therefore I am.” I imagined Descartes’s reaction if he had seen this. He wouldn’t have just rolled over in his grave. No, he would have climbed out, purchased a Colt .45, and shot himself.

Daunted but not deterred, I looked closer. All those in the circle displayed evidence of brain injury. Some had paralyzed legs, some were blind, some were deaf. Some were quadriplegic.

At five foot nine, weighing one hundred and sixty pounds, my average frame looked downright Charles Atlas-esque next to some of the weakened bodies I saw before me.

This was one of the rare occasions when I didn’t wear my contact lenses, so my view was slightly obscured by the scratches on the thick lenses in my Buddy Holly frames.

The glasses accentuated my fleshy nose while downsizing my large eyes, which were widening in horror as I took time to look closely at everyone gathered there.

Of course, my looks hardly mattered at that point, and I knew it was ridiculous to even contemplate how I appeared. I had entered a room where fashion was the least of anyone’s concerns.

After each member had been seated, the moderator in­troduced herself as Kari and welcomed us to “the once-a-month brain support session,” as she called it. She was a petite, attractive mid-thirties white woman who worked at the nearby hospital as a social worker.

The room was chillingly quiet, as in support group tradi­tion we told our stories one by one. I suddenly had mon­strous pangs of guilt. I was one of the few there whose ailments, while severe, appeared nonexistent. I wasn’t in a wheelchair. Though half-blind, I could see. I could hear. I could speak. And, yes, I could samba.

I had always been irritated about this lack of obvious scar­ring, thinking mine to be a silent disease. Nobody could look at me and tell that I had a scorched battlefield between my ears, in part because, by all accounts, my brain still worked. I could articulate my thoughts, and even better, I had thoughts to begin with.

We went around the circle, each of us sharing our circum­stances. We were different ages, different races, and different genders. The one commonality was brain injury. But even our brains were altered in diverse ways. Three of the younger ones, maybe in their twenties, couldn’t speak at all; they sat in wheelchairs and simply nodded.

An overweight mid-fifties white woman with an unkempt gunmetal bob sat lazily in her chair. Wearing an oversized gray running jacket over a shapeless green sweatsuit, she had a foolish grin and drooled thickly.

Kari smiled at the woman, whose name, she told us, was Sara.

“Sara’s just started speaking these past few weeks,” she said with pride.

“Just last year, she didn’t even understand the meaning of the word ‘the.’”

Everyone smiled.

“She now can form full sentences,” she said, her pride even more pronounced.

Everyone applauded.

I learned after the meeting that Sara had been living with brain injury ever since the early nineties, when she was in­volved in a three-car accident on the Long Island Expressway. She was the only driver substantially injured. Kari gave me the background.

“That’s terrible,” I said, “but even though she’s in bad shape, it’s great that she’s speaking again.”

“I know,” Kari said, “I’m so happy for her progress. Just last year, she didn’t even understand the meaning of the word ‘the.’ “

“That’s fantastic,” I said, attempting a forced cheerfulness that unsuccessfully masked my sadness. “What was she doing before her injury?”

“She was a corporate lawyer.”

Our group also included a former model. A brain bleed had left half of her face paralyzed. She looked like she was wearing a mask.

One distinguished-looking middle-aged black man dressed in a suit stood up. His companion, who could have been his twin, or lover, or friend, said the dapper fellow was named Matt, and had been a heart surgeon.

Matt shushed him. “I can speak for myself, Tim,” he barked. “I just want to tell everyone how proud I am of myself!”

We waited for Matt to continue, but he didn’t say any­thing more. He simply sat down again, closed his eyes, and began rubbing his face. He looked exhausted.

Tim broke the silence.

“I’m proud of him, too,” he said, without revealing the nature of Matt’s injury. “Time for show-and-tell,” he said and turned to his friend.

Matt revealed to us the reason for the delight: he stood up, opened his right hand, and showed us a small metallic object.

Then, like a five-year-old thrilled to finally understand the difference between a nickel and a quarter, Matt exclaimed, “For a while I’ve been thinking this is only some stupid pointy thingy. But now I totally understand what this is! I know what this is! It goes in your skin!”

He was holding a syringe.

A tall, attractive thirty-something white man with long­ish black hair stood up. His companion, an elderly white woman, immediately told us the gentleman had been an established soap opera actor.

The man seemed to have come straight from a fashion shoot, decked out in sleek black slacks and a fitted blue sweater that hugged his well-built body. I wondered why a guy so sharp was in a place like this.

When he started talking, I understood.

“My-y-y-y-y-n-n-n-nayy-y — “

It took him more than a minute to utter “my name.”

One of the group’s main rules was not to interrupt any member when he or she was speaking. We waited out the next two minutes, until he was able to complete “My name is Charles.” But his main problem was not stuttering; he seemed to be floating in and out of lucidity itself. In the next breath, he began speaking coherently, but extremely slowly. Like a three-year-old reading Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Even though I was curious to find out the anatomy of his injury, nobody asked him. Perhaps that was the code of the group, I figured, to let everybody speak the way they wanted to, and to tell only as much as they felt comfortable revealing.

Standing up, he recounted the day-by-day schedule of his week. Everybody listened carefully, even me. Usually I had a tendency to be impatient and interrupt. But I said nothing and joined the others in offering silent nods until he was done feeding us his datebook.

Kari picked me to follow Charles. When I was done confessing, I looked around the room. Everyone appeared shocked. One wheelchair-bound elderly Hispanic woman, who had yet to speak in group, introduced herself as Natalie.

She stared at me.

“You seem very healthy and well-spoken, young man,” she said. “You must have had the brain injury around ten years ago, am I right?”

“Not really,” I said, looking down.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. It was probably more than ten. That was stupid of me. I know brains take a long time to recover, honey.”

Her face became solemn. “Even if it’s taken you fifteen years, or your whole life to recover, you should be proud. You’re still alive, and that’s all that matters.”

“Actually,” I said, “this happened to me three years ago.”

“Listen, kiddo,” she responded, displaying hints of irrita­tion. “Be serious. When did you have your trauma?”

I tried to explain that I was telling the truth, but nobody in the group seemed convinced.

Then the soap star stood up again. Perhaps feeling en­couraged by my openness to talk, he was ready to tell us what happened to him.

Whereas before he couldn’t even speak one sentence co­herently, now Charles’s words came out with eerie clarity. He started slowly, and progressed to a faster pace.

“Ten years ago…

“…my boyfriend was saying bye to me in the Fourteenth Street subway station at midnight waiting for the E train must have been behind a stalled car since it was taking so long to get to me…

“Mike and I had been holding hands and hugged when he left I didn’t think…

“…much about it

“Two minutes after he left a cop comes up to me…

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“He holds his crotch and asks me if I want it. I looked shocked and as soon as I say something he punches me in the face calls me all the names you can think of…

“He punches me four or five more times I beg him to please stop I’ll do what you want please stop he doesn’t I can’t think straight when he’s finished he pushes me into the tracks I survived I ate pizza for breakfast today and… I held the slice with these many fingers

Charles held up three fingers on his right hand.

After recounting his tale, Charles left, with his compan­ion. The silent room became, impossibly, even quieter.


This is excerpt from The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/life-after-your-brain-explodes/266214/

Famke Janssen Thora Birch

How to Talk to Children About School Shooting

Dec. 14, 2012 — As the nation grieves over the horror of the school shooting in Connecticut, parents across the U.S. — both in Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere — are struggling with how to help their children through this tragedy.

WebMD talked to Leslie Garrard, PsyD, a child psychologist at Miami Children’s Hospital, and Melissa Brymer, PhD, director of terrorism and disaster programs at the UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. We asked for their best suggestions on what parents and others can do now to help children cope.

Q: What reactions should parents and other caregivers in Newtown expect from the children who have gone through this tragedy?

A: Kids can have a wide range of reactions, Garrard says. “Any exposure to trauma can have immediate reactions and lasting effects. Parents need to be very [mindful] and watch their children.”

“Some kids withdraw, some are dismissive, although internally they are scared. Some cry and some are outwardly terrified. Some become depressed. Some just kind of shut down. Some might have nightmares and re-experience the traumatic events. … They may be fearful of leaving their parents.”

Q: What reactions are typical from children who didn’t go through it, but watched news coverage or heard details about the tragedy?

They can also have [the same range of] reactions — maybe not as strong, but they can also be impacted, Garrard says. “When watching it and seeing it on TV, it’s very scary.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics President Thomas McInerny, MD, says in a statement that if possible, “young children should not be exposed to the extensive media coverage of the event — in other words, turn off the TV, computer, and other media devices.”

Q: Is this age — elementary school — a particularly difficult one to experience trauma?

A: Yes, according to Garrard, because it affects emotional development and the way we view the world — whether it’s safe or not.  But “I think kids are very resilient. They can learn to maneuver the world and get through and past things. However, they do need a lot of care to get through things.”

Q: What is the best thing parents can do now?

A:  The most important thing parents can do is talk to their children, Garrard says. “Sit down with your child. Tell them a really bad thing has happened. Maybe they have already heard it on the news. Tell them, ‘We need to talk about this.’”

See how they feel about it, Garrard says. You want them to share their feelings.

“Technology makes things a lot more complex,” Brymer says. “They are getting information through Twitter feeds and Facebook. It’s harder to keep up with what your kids are hearing. When we tweet, we hear something from someone and then you re-tweet. You can’t fact-check when you tweet or post something on Facebook.”

Natalie Portman Gary Estrada

Amgen to plead guilty in criminal case: prosecutors

NEW YORK | Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:34pm EST

(Reuters) – Biotech company Amgen Inc is scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday in a criminal case in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, prosecutors said.

A brief statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office gave no details of the charges Amgen would plead guilty to.

Representatives of Amgen could not immediately be reached to comment on the subject matter of the expected plea.

Amgen in October 2011 said it had taken a $780 million charge to settle a probe into allegedly illegal sales and marketing practices. The investigation, relating to sales of its anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen, had been conducted for several years by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and Seattle.

Amgen said at the time that if settlement discussions were successful, the $780 million would resolve federal probes and related state Medicaid claims as well as other litigation. But the company did not disclose when and if it would plead guilty to criminal charges.

The biotechnology company disclosed in court papers filed in 2010 that it has been under investigation by the Brooklyn federal prosecutor since 2006 in connection with alleged violations of the False Claims Act and other federal statutes.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Jessica Dye; Editing by M.D. Golan)

Sara Cox Kyla Cole

EPA finalizes stricter soot pollution limits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Friday tightened limits on harmful soot pollution from sources including power plants, diesel engines and burning wood.

The new standards, which the Environmental Protection Agency was under court order to finalize, limit annual average soot emissions by the end of decade to about 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air from the standard of 15 micrograms set in 1997.

Individual states will be responsible for deciding how to cut emissions of the fine particulates, which can lodge deep in the lungs and threaten the elderly, people with heart disease and children. Health problems associated with the pollution include premature death, acute bronchitis and asthma.

“More mothers like me will be able to rest a little easier knowing that our children and our children’s children will have healthier air to breathe for decades to come,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who has two sons with asthma, told reporters in a conference call about the rules.

Industry groups and some lawmakers have complained the soot standards are too costly. The standards “impose significant new economic burdens on many communities, hurting workers and their families,” a group of senators including global warming skeptic Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, and Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, said in a letter on Friday to Jackson.

New power plants, machinery at ports and other industrial sources of soot could find it hard to get operating permits in places found in violation of the limits.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said it feared the new rule “may be just the beginning of a ‘regulatory cliff’” including forthcoming EPA rules on smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

“EXCITING AND ENERGIZING”

The EPA, however, estimated that by 2030 the soot rules would prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths and that health care bills would be cut by $4 billion to $9 billion annually. Costs on industry to implement the rules would range from $53 million to $350 million, it said.

The agency said only seven counties, all of them in central or southern California, are projected to fail to meet the standard by 2020. The rest of the counties can rely on air quality standards that have already been finalized to meet the limits, it said.

Many observers have speculated Jackson could step down from the EPA next year, after four years fighting Republicans in Congress. She did not comment on the speculation on the call, saying only there was still plenty to do at the EPA, work that is “exciting and energizing.”

Her agency is expected to roll out more pollution rules on power plants, refineries and boilers that were delayed during the election year.

Environmentalists and health groups applauded the soot rules, which federal clean air laws require to be reviewed every five years.

Carol Browner, who served as EPA administrator from 1993 to 2001, said American innovation has found ways to meet pollution standards while contributing to new technology and jobs.

“We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and healthy air and lungs,” she said. “We can have both.”

Rebecca Romijn Olivia Thirlby

Keep thimerosal in vaccines: pediatricians

NEW YORK | Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:07am EST

(Reuters Health) – A mercury-containing preservative should not be banned as an ingredient in vaccines, U.S. pediatricians said Monday, in a move that may be controversial.

In its statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed calls from a World Health Organization (WHO) committee that the preservative, thimerosal, not be considered a hazardous source of mercury that could be banned by the United Nations.

Back in 1999, a concern that kids receiving multiple shots containing thimerosal might get too much mercury – and develop autism or other neurodevelopmental problems as a result – led the AAP to call for its removal, despite the lack of hard evidence at the time.

“It was absolutely a matter of precaution because of the absence of more information,” said Dr. Louis Cooper, from Columbia University in New York, who was on the organization’s board of directors at the time.

“Subsequently an awful lot of effort has been put into trying to sort out whether thimerosal causes any harm to kids, and the bottom line is basically, it doesn’t look as if it does,” Cooper, who wrote a commentary published with the AAP’s statement, told Reuters Health.

In a 2004 safety review, for example, the independent U.S. Institute of Medicine concluded there was no evidence thimerosal-containing vaccines could cause autism. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to the same conclusion in 2010.

With the exception of some types of flu shots, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States, which are distributed in single-dose vials.

And nobody is arguing that should change, according to Dr. Walter Orenstein, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and a researcher at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta.

But in countries with fewer resources – where many children still die of vaccine-preventable diseases – it’s cheaper and easier to use multi-dose vials of vaccines against diphtheria and tetanus, for example.

Thimerosal prevents the rest of a multi-dose vial from getting contaminated with bacteria or fungi each time a dose is used.

Researchers estimated it could cost anywhere from two to five times as much to manufacture vaccines for developing countries without thimerosal, and both transporting vaccines and keeping them refrigerated would be much harder as well.

“If we had to take the thimerosal out of those multi-dose vials, we’re having a hard time completing the task of getting every kid immunized now, that would add a tremendous burden,” Cooper said – and more children would probably die as a result.

“Children who can now be protected from these life-threatening diseases could become vulnerable,” Orenstein told Reuters Health.

The new statement is published in the AAP’s journal Pediatrics.

Thimerosal contains a type of mercury called ethyl mercury. Toxic effects have been tied to its cousin, methyl mercury, which stays in the body for much longer.

Earlier this year, the WHO said replacing thimerosal with an alternative preservative could affect vaccine safety and might cause some vaccines to become unavailable.

Mercury, however, is still on the list of global health hazards to be banned in a draft treaty from the United Nations Environment Program – which would mean a ban on thimerosal.

Reducing mercury exposure “is a wonderful thing,” Orenstein said.

However, “We need this exception because thimerosal is so vital for protecting children.”

He said keeping thimerosal in vaccines is essential mostly for humanitarian reasons – although preventing childhood diseases in the developing world could also help the U.S. because other countries can serve as reservoirs for illness.

“For American parents, this is more looking at the world and our role and responsibility in protecting the children of the world than it is a direct impact,” Orenstein said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/cxXOG Pediatrics, online December 17, 2012.

Christine Anu Rachael Leigh Cook

My Beauty Purchases

My recent beauty purchases:

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 With Dermaxyl Complex SPF 15 With Dermaxyl Complex
I use this primer everyday!  It creates the perfect canvas for foundation application, while helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores for visibly softer skin.  Love it!

Yves Saint Laurent ROUGE PUR COUTURE Glossy Stain 5 Rouge Vintage
This is a new product I’m trying.  It claims that is coat your lips with this lip color that offers a lightweight texture, which immediately melts onto lips. Glossy Stain delivers intense glossy color for an extremely long-lasting shine.  So far so good.

Cle de Peau Beaute Concealer Ocher
There’s a reason why it continues to win “Best Concealer!” Moisturizing and blends perfectly to conceal dark circles, spots and imperfections.  It’s worth the premium price.

NARS Blush Orgasm
This is a staple in my beauty routine, a classic blush.

Smashbox Brow Tech
I love the angled, long-wearing waterproof gel pencil for easy filling and defining along with a brow brush applicator to groom brows perfectly into place.  No need for sharpening!

Josie Maran Wendy Schumacher

Recreational marijuana should not be top federal priority: Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama says federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states where it has been made legal given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance.

His first comments on the issue come weeks after Washington state and Colorado voters supported legalizing pot, or cannabis, last month in ballot measures that stand in direct opposition of federal law.

“It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal,” he told ABC News in part of an interview released on Friday.

“At this point (in) Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And, as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,” Obama said.

The Department of Justice has said pot remains a federally controlled substance and states have been looking for guidance from Washington on how it will handle the conflict with state laws.

Medical use of the substance is legal in 18 U.S. states. But federal officials have still continued to crack down on some providers in those states.

Pot remains an illegal narcotic under U.S. law, but Washington and Colorado became the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use on November 6. A similar effort in Oregon failed.

Obama called the situation “a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law.” He told ABC that “what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about” how to reconcile federal and state laws, and that he has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to examine the issue.

In his 1995 memoir, “Dreams of My Father,” Obama admitted to regularly smoking pot in high school. The father of two told ABC that he would not go so far as to say pot should be legalized altogether. There are also concerns about drug use in children and violence, he told ABC, according to its website.

“I want to discourage drug use,” he added.

The new measures in Washington and Colorado, which already permit medical marijuana use, allow possession of up to an ounce of the substance for private use. They also will regulate and tax sales at special stores for those aged 21 and older.

Lillian Muller Hedy Burress

The Makings of an Asthma Epidemic in St. Louis

Weak smoking regulations atop an environment of poverty and pollution, in a city where childhood asthma rates are three times the national average.

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Reuters

Among its many distinctions, like being the birthplace of both peanut butter and hot dogs on buns, St. Louis holds two less cheerful records: Its cigarette tax is the lowest in the United States, and it also ranks as the seventh worst “Asthma Capital” in the country, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Although an indoor smoking ban took effect nearly two years ago, fines on first-time violators are mild, ranging from $50 to $100, and casinos and bars are exempt. More importantly, researchers have found that smoking bans are ineffective in changing the behavior of smokers. In areas with bans, smokers are no less likely to have tried to quit, and studies indicate that bans mostly affect where people smoke, not how much. Higher cigarette taxes, though, are a statistically significant factor in getting smokers to quit, implying that price matters for the prevalence of smoking in a community. Last month, however, Missouri voters narrowly voted down a proposition to raise cigarette taxes from 17 to 90 cents per pack, which would have still ranked far below the nation’s average of $1.49. This was the third effort in eleven years to raise tobacco taxes in the state.

Health of a Nation bug

Medical providers, local communities, and the public wellness movement. See full coverage

Meanwhile, residents of St. Louis, particularly children, continue to struggle with respiratory issues. The number of children suffering from asthma in the St. Louis metropolitan area is nearly three times the national average, according to Asthma Friendly St. Louis, a community program designed to help school-age kids and teens manage respiratory illness. Despite the efforts of several community initiatives, the disease is often poorly managed because of a lack of access to care and educational resources. At the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, asthma is the number one reason for patient admissions, and the county’s rate of emergency room visits for asthma-related incidents among children under 15 is 52 percent higher than in the rest of Missouri.

Certain communities in the area struggle with asthma more than others, pointing to a complex set of root causes underlying the prevalence of childhood respiratory problems in the area. In 2008, African American children accounted for 91.9 percent of asthma-related emergency room visits in St. Louis City, a rate nine times greater than that among white children. In East St. Louis, which sits across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in Illinois, asthma rates are among the highest in the nation, and experts suspect that this is linked to the high rates of pollution and poverty in the city. 44 percent of East St. Louis residents live on incomes below the federal poverty line.

With a smoking rate 19 percent higher than the rest of the country and an estimated $2.13 billion in annual healthcare costs directly related to smoking in Missouri as a whole, in St. Louis, smoking clearly aggravates these underlying causes of poor respiratory health.

Solutions to these kinds of systemic problems are clouded by a lack of resources and education, and by attitudes about health. “Survival needs are more important than long-term prevention needs,” explained one participant at The Atlantic’s Conversation on Community Health in St. Louis on Wednesday. Her comments pointed to the vast number of pressing, everyday problems, such as poverty, lack of education, and problems with the built environment, like pollution, that have to be overcome in battles for better community health. 

As another participant put it, this leads to “band-aid surgeries” on area health problems, which only amount to temporary solutions for structural problems. Although the summit’s panelists and participants focused heavily on root cause analysis of public health problems in the city, many agreed that real change will depend upon broad shifts in attitude and approach to the social, economic, and environmental problems affecting struggling communities.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/the-makings-of-an-asthma-epidemic-in-st-louis/266289/

Ian McKellen Anne Heche

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