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Los Angeles Sample Sales

Posted on Dec 20, 2012

Rachel Pally Warehouse Sale

Big Star Friends & Family Sale

Claudia Schiffer Coco Sumner

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Embraer, Astronics collaborate on KC-390

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer will collaborate with New York defense firm Astronics Corp. as part of an effort to give the KC-390 tactical transport and tanker program a push toward global markets.

Published: Dec. 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM

SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil, Dec. 19 (UPI) – Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer will collaborate with New York defense firm Astronics Corp. as part of an effort to give the company’s KC-390 tactical transport and tanker program a further push toward global markets.

Embraer is developing the KC-390 as a rival to other military transport aircraft, including fleets of C-130 Hercules worldwide that are yet to be replaced by Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Super Hercules.

The Brazilian manufacturer’s KC-390 is of two major military aviation programs that are aimed at global markets. The other Brazilian export, the A-29 Super Tucano, is aiming to enter the U.S. Air Force after some initial setbacks to a marketing campaign mounted by Embraer’s U.S. partner, Sierra Nevada Corp.

Astronics Corp. said its wholly owned subsidiary, Luminescent Systems Inc., was selected by Embraer Defense and Security as a supplier for the KC-390 program.

Astronics will provide a complete exterior lighting system, including navigation, anti-collision, landing, taxi, aerial refueling and formation lights. The system will feature Astronics’ LED technology to provide enhanced optical performance, high reliability and reduced power consumption. The KC-390 is expected to enter service in 2016.

Astronics President and Chief Executive Officer Peter J. Gundermann said Astronics has a long history as an Embraer supplier, including providing the exterior lighting system for the Phenom family of business jets.

“The KC-390 selection serves to both enhance that relationship and builds on our industry leading position of supplying best in class exterior lighting solutions for the military and commercial aerospace market,” Gundermann said.

The sums involved in the contract weren’t discussed by either side.

Astronics Corp., which has headquarters in East Aurora, N.Y., is a leader in advanced, high-performance lighting, electrical power, specialized avionics products and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries.

Meanwhile, Embraer is pushing its campaign to get the Super Tucano light attack aircraft inducted into U.S. military fleets.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles F. “Chuck” Wald, who tried the Super Tucanco, said after the test flight “this is an awesome 21st-century airplane,” Sierra Nevada Corp. said.

Wald compared the A-29 to an F-16 in terms of handling, capabilities, displays and navigation. Where the similarities end, he said, was cost.

“This airplane doesn’t cost anything like an F-16 in terms of initial cost, fuel or maintenance. This is an affordable aircraft that gives you F-16-type delivery performance,” he said.

The Super Tucanco’s fight for the U.S. military market is far from over. The aircraft was initially chosen in a U.S. air force competition for light attack aircraft but USAF canceled the $355 million contract for 20 light-attack aircraft, originally destined for the Afghan military.

The U.S. Air Force rescinded the order after rival bidder Hawker Beechcraft complained and took the military to court.

Catherine Deelay Michelle Branch

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The Case Against a Smoke-Free America

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

There is such thing as a refined taste for tobacco, and enjoying it in moderation.

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Claudia Daut/Reuters

If a time traveler from the early 1990s were to arrive in the U.S. bars and restaurants of today, what would notice first? Perhaps that the food has become more interesting and varied, or that a perplexing number of diners are photographing it with their remarkable phones. The most obvious change, however, might register on the nose: the nearly complete absence of indoor smoking.

California implemented the United States’ first modern statewide smoking ban in 1998. Today twenty-nine states and 703 municipalities require bars and restaurants to be smoke-free, according to data maintained by the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (North Dakota brought the tally to thirty states this month). Tobacco use has been banished from our culinary radar along with the question “smoking or non?” Most of us don’t miss it. Yet as a slew of new bans, taxes, and regulations drive smoking to the peripheries of society, it’s worth giving tobacco another look.

Tobacco is viewed as pure vice by public health officials. Surgeon General Everett C. Koop famously hoped for a smoke-free America by the year 2000. Koop echoed Lucy Page Gaston, the early twentieth century prohibitionist who campaigned for “a smokeless America by 1925.” This impulse was revived by Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who testified before Congress in 2003, “I see no need for any tobacco products in society.”

But millions of people do see the need, and they’re not all just looking for a nicotine hit. There is much more to tobacco than mass-produced cigarettes; premium tobacco is arguably every bit as artisanal as many of the other food and drink products that those of us in the culinary world obsess over. The unique leaf offers flavors that many find enticing, appearing occasionally in the works of creative chefs, bartenders, and baristas. At the French Laundry, Thomas Keller experimented successfully with desserts like coffee custard infused with tobacco. In Tampa, Cigar City Brewing crafts beers inspired by cigars. Tobacco bitters appear on fancy cocktail menus. In France, distiller Ted Breaux makes a liqueur called Perique that captures the essence of Louisiana pipe tobacco; it’s a remarkable elixir with a light, tea-like quality, and alas, as of this writing not imported to the United States. (Cautionary note: Tobacco infusions can extract dangerous levels of nicotine, so anyone curious to attempt one should first do careful research.)

Links between alcohol and tobacco are not new. In Elizabethan England, the then novel act of smoking was described as “dry drinking.” The metaphor is apt: Neither alcohol nor tobacco is essential to life, but both offer pleasant flavors while enhancing mood and sociality. And, of course, both are harmful when consumed in excess.

RTR24PL6inset.jpgStefan Wermuth/Reuters

My own introduction to tobacco came through the drink world too, though with coffee instead of alcohol. In my days as a barista, one of my best customers was a fitness instructor and avid cigar smoker. This combination perplexed me until I realized that he talked about his cigars the same way I talked about coffee. The varietal of the plant and the origin of the leaf mattered, a Cameroon wrapper tasting differently than one from Nicaragua. Flavors ranged from light claro tobacco to deep, dark oscuro, much as coffee roasts have their own spectrum from light to dark. I eventually realized that cigars offered rewards similar to those of the food and drink with which I was already enamored.

Though access to other quality goods has expanded in recent years, tobacco is ever more restricted. Smoking bans make it difficult to enjoy. Taxes make it expensive. And the Food and Drug Administration, which may soon regulate cigars, threatens to stifle the industry with heavy-handed rules.

Smoking bans are the most obvious difficulty for those of us who enjoy cigars. A good cigar could take an hour or more to burn, so huddling in the cold and rain to have one isn’t an appealing option. Smoking bans are an inconvenience to all smokers, but for cigar smokers they can mean not lighting up at all.

Not content with banning smoking in most indoor environments, legislators have moved on to shutting down the remaining exceptions and extending bans outdoors and into private homes. The bans creep steadily forward, beginning with seemingly reasonably exemptions that are soon eroded. Boston, Massachusetts is a prime example. The city’s original ban grandfathered in six existing cigar bars. This was apparently six too many for the city of more than 600,000 people, so a later ban wiped out that allowance and extended to outdoor patios. Boston’s remaining cigar bars are slated to shutter after a grace period, a delay granted because, as one member of the Boston Public Health Commission so generously put it, “We wanted to give them a bit more time to get used to the idea that they’ll have to close.”

Boston is far from alone. New York is banning smoking in parks. California has banned it on many beaches. In much of sunny Los Angeles one can no longer smoke on restaurant patios. The entire town of Calabasas, California, is smoke-free in public places. San Francisco suburb San Rafael has banned smoking in all multi-unit residences. In Oregon it’s essentially illegal to open a new cigar bar or smoking lounge. In North Dakota voters recently approved a ban that includes tobacco shops. In rainy Washington, even an indoor private smoking club protected by a twenty-five foot airlocked walkway was deemed to be in violation of the statewide ban. I could go on. Non-smokers understandably prefer to avoid secondhand smoke, but really, where’s a smoker supposed to go?

Taxes are another threat. As the percentage of smokers has fallen, tobacco has become an easy target for taxation. Tobacco taxes present an attractive opportunity to raise revenue while discouraging an unpopular activity.

The argument for tobacco taxes appears solid at first glance: Smokers impose health costs on the government, so it’s fair to make them pay for it. However the fiscal argument is not as clear as it seems. To put it bluntly, heavy smokers pay a lot of taxes and then die early. That’s nothing to cheer, but it does reduce governments’ health and retirement costs. Numerous studies, including a commentary from the Congressional Budget Office published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirm that in the long-run smokers are generally self-financing.

Cigars and pipe tobacco have faced less tax pressure than cigarettes, but that is changing. The 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act raised tobacco taxes across the board, including an eight-fold tax increase on large cigars. An unintended consequence of this law has been a shift in consumption. Pipe tobacco, which is taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco, boomed in popularity as smokers began buying it to make their own cigarettes. Similarly, producers of small cigars added weight to their products to qualify as lesser taxed large cigars. The result is that an unusual coalition that includes public health groups, cigarette producers, and government agencies has come together to call for fixing the disparity.

Higher taxes would be detrimental to local smoke shops, among the few refuges left to cigar smokers. Some customers are simply priced out of the market, while others turn to online sales. And floor taxes, which are applied all at once to a store’s existing stock, can trigger such a substantial one-time cost that they shut down stores entirely.

RTR207XTinset.jpgRegis Duvignau/Reuters

Finally, there looms the threat of the Food and Drug Administration, which is signaling its intent to begin regulating premium tobacco. Anyone who liked clove cigarettes, which have been banned along with all flavorings aside from menthol, has already felt the pinch of new regulations. A 2011 report from the FDA suggests that banning menthol cigarettes would also be beneficial, despite finding insufficient evidence that they are more dangerous than their unflavored counterparts. They would be banned merely for enhancing the smoking experience.

Producers of premium tobacco are understandably skittish about what such a mindset may mean for their industry. I spoke with Jeff Borysiewicz, Board Chairman of Cigar Rights of America and President of the Corona Cigar Company, about what he worries FDA regulation may entail. While this is inherently speculative, among the possibilities he cited are restrictions that would eliminate online sales or walk-in humidors, forced display of graphic warning labels on packaging, new fees and taxes, bans on promotional giveaways and events, regulation of nicotine content, and a requirement that new blends be approved by the agency prior to sale. Prior approval could be time-consuming, expensive, and may block some blends from ever coming to market. There is also the possibility that flavored cigars — not just “candy” flavors but also adult flavors like rum and cognac — could be forbidden, a measure pushed by several United States senators and already enacted in New York City.

Such regulations would drastically impact the cigar industry. In response, cigar advocates have introduced legislation to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. H.R. 1639, the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act,” would create a new definition for large cigars, requiring them to weigh at least six pounds per thousand count, contain no filter, and be wrapped in tobacco leaf. This definition is designed to distinguish traditional premium cigars from the “drugstore cigars” that have boomed in popularity thanks to tax and regulatory changes. Given the uncertainty of FDA regulation and the potential hostility the agency may hold toward the industry, this would be a sensible step.

More generally, we must stop treating smoking as pure vice. Lost in discussions of the very real problem of how to reduce deaths from smoking is an acknowledgement that tobacco has redeeming qualities, that it can be enjoyed in moderation, and that not all forms of tobacco use are equally dangerous. We can and should educate consumers about the risks of tobacco and tax it appropriately. But we should also respect the rights of consenting adults to gather in private places and decide for themselves what to ingest into their bodies. That doesn’t necessitate going back to the days of smoking on airplanes, but it does require fighting back against the extreme measures sought by today’s anti-smoking movement. It requires letting smokers have a few rooms of their own and not destroying the tobacco industry with excessive taxes and regulations.


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I know that my own life has been improved by friendships deepened over sessions with cigars, and the match of a good cigar with an equally good rum or whiskey is as compelling as any wine and food pairing I’ve encountered. Having overcome my own anti-smoking prejudice, I’ve learned that it’s an indulgence worth defending.

There’s a funny legend about Sir Walter Raleigh, the Englishman who helped popularize pipe tobacco brought over from the New World. A servant, seeing him exhaling smoke, concluded that Raleigh was on fire and promptly doused him. Today’s anti-smoking activists understand tobacco about as poorly as Raleigh’s servant and have acquired some very large pails of water. Let’s not allow them to extinguish something wonderful.

Olivia Pascal Kimberly Joseph

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Tobacco companies, 17 states settle over payments

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:38pm EST

(Reuters) – U.S. cigarette makers including Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co said on Tuesday they reached a settlement with 17 states in a long-running dispute over the amount of payments they are required to make under the 1998 landmark anti-smoking agreement.

Under the settlement, the states will receive their share of $4 billion in disputed payments and the manufacturers will receive credits against future payments.

The payments resulted from the 1998 national accord that obliges companies to help cover the health bills of ailing smokers.

States, counties and cities have sold nearly $40 billion of bonds backed by the more than $200 billion in payments that U.S. cigarette makers agreed to make to them over time.

So far in 2013, returns on tobacco bonds have largely outperformed the rest of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market despite concerns expressed by credit rating agencies about the decline in tobacco consumption.

In July Moody’s investors service warned that the majority of tobacco bonds sold by U.S. states, counties and cities will default if cigarette consumption keeps falling at a 3 percent to 4 percent annual pace.

In December, California and New York’s Nassau County tapped reserve for payments on three different series of state tobacco bonds due to insufficient tobacco settlement revenue.

The 46 states that participated in the 1998 agreement shared $6.15 billion in payments in April, up from $6.03 billion in April 2011, according to the National Association of Attorneys General.

Tobacco companies, including Marlboro cigarette maker Philip Morris, a unit of Altria Group Inc, and Camel cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American Inc, have for years disputed the amount of payments they owe after losing market share to companies that did not agree to the 1998 settlement.

“This agreement resolves disputes with a large group of states on financial terms that are fair to the parties and in a way that we believe will lead to a better method for resolving these issues in the future,” Denise Keane, Altria Group’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

The states in the settlement are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Also settling are Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, the tobacco companies said.

Philip Morris said it will receive a total of about $450 million in credits toward payments over the next five years. Reynolds said its credits will total more than $1 billion while Newport cigarette maker Lorillard Inc said its credits will be at least $198 million.

The agreement also allows other states to enter the settlement and is subject to approval by a panel that has been arbitrating the dispute over the payments. If they do not join the settlement, the arbitration will continue.

Altria shares closed at $32.59 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, while Reynolds closed at $41.94 and Lorillard ended at $116.09.

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman; editing by Andrew Hay and Phil Berlowitz)

Diane Lane Mariah Carey

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Markets close higher

Posted on Dec 19, 2012

Published: Dec. 18, 2012 at 7:41 PM

NEW YORK, Dec. 18 (UPI) – U.S. stock indexes rose Tuesday on reports that lawmakers in Washington are closing in on a budget deal.

The New York Times reported the philosophical quibbling between the White House and House Republicans over the 2013 budget was over and the numbers are close.

The National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday that business confidence among builders had risen modestly in December for the eighth consecutive monthly gain.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 115.57 points, 0.87 percent, to 13,350.96. The Standard and Poor’s 500 gained 16.43 points, 1.15 percent, to 1,446.79. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 43.93 points, or 1.46 percent, to 3,054.53.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,276 stocks advanced and 816 declined on a volume of 4 billion shares traded.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 136.15 points, 1.37 percent, to 10,059.16.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.4 percent, 23.75 points, to 5,935.90.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.817 percent.

The dollar rose to 84.38 yen, up from Monday’s 83.89 yen. The euro rose to $1.3228 from Monday’s $1.3163.

Michelle Johnson Suzanne Snyder

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GlaxoSmithKline wins U.S. approval for new flu vaccine

Posted on Dec 18, 2012

Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Signage is pictured on the company headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline in west London July 21, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:03pm EST

(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators have approved a new four-strain seasonal influenza vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the company said on Monday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Fluarix Quadrivalent to immunize children age 3 and older and adults against flu virus subtypes A and B contained in the vaccine.

It is the first intramuscular vaccine to protect against four influenza strains. Three-strain flu vaccines currently administered help protect against the two most common A virus strains and the B strain expected to be predominant in a given year, the company said.

Since 2000, however, two B virus strains have circulated to varying degrees each season, meaning patients infected with the B virus not contained in the vaccine were not immunized.

Fluarix Quadrivalent helps protect against the two A strains and adds coverage against a second B strain, the company said.

Three-strain vaccines “have helped protect millions of people against flu, but in six of the last 11 flu seasons, the predominant circulating influenza B strain was not the strain that public health authorities selected,” said Dr. Leonard Friedland, head of clinical development and medical affairs for Glaxo’s North American vaccines program.

“Fluarix Quadrivalent will help protect individuals against both B strains and from a public-health standpoint, can help decrease the burden of disease.”

Glaxo said it will make the vaccine available in time for the 2013-14 flu season and plans to fulfill orders for its trivalent, or three-strain, vaccines. Healthcare providers traditionally order flu vaccines about a year in advance of each flu season.

Fluarix Quadrivalent is not currently approved or licensed in any country outside of the United States.

(Reporting By Toni Clarke; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

Martina Warren Hugh Grant

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EPA finalizes stricter soot pollution limits

Posted on Dec 18, 2012

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.”

Killing Hiedi Michelle Vieth

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Inherited colon cancer risk tied to certain foods

Posted on Dec 18, 2012

NEW YORK | Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:16pm EST

(Reuters Health) – Among people who have a genetic susceptibility to colon cancer, those whose diets are heavy in junk food have an even higher risk, according to a new study.

“These patients have this very high risk because of this (genetic) mutation they have, but it might be that they could reduce the number of (tumors) by having a more healthy lifestyle,” said Akke Botma, the lead author of the study.

Botma’s study is just the first to find a link between certain foods and a higher colon cancer risk in this group, and it can’t prove that the diet is to blame.

All of the people in the study had Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that predisposes people to cancer at younger ages and that affects up to one in 660 people.

In Western countries, colorectal and endometrial cancers are the dominant cancers to turn up in people with the syndrome, while in Asia it’s mostly stomach cancer, Botma said.

Up to 70 percent of people with Lynch syndrome will develop colon cancer. Among people without Lynch syndrome, such cancers are thought to be influenced by diet, particularly alcohol and red and processed meat, the authors note in their study, published in the journal Cancer.

Botma and her colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands contacted 486 people with Lynch syndrome from a national database of families with inherited risks for cancer.

At the beginning of the study they surveyed the participants about what they ate, and they ranked each person on whether he ate low, medium or high amounts of foods within four dietary categories.

The food groups included one that was dominated by fruits, vegetables and whole grains; another that was high in meat and coffee; a third dietary group that resembled a Mediterranean diet – fish, leafy greens, pasta, sauces and wine; and a fourth group that was heavy on fried snacks, fast food and diet soda.

Botma and her colleagues found that, over 20 months of follow up, 56 of the participants — or 12 percent — screened positive for tumors in the colon, a precursor to cancer.

Of the four dietary groupings, only the junk food category showed any link with a different risk for developing colon tumors.

Of the 160 people who scored low on the junk food diet, 17 developed tumors, while 18 out of the 160 people who ate the most junk food developed tumors.

The numbers initially seemed similar, but after taking into account smoking and other risk factors, the researchers determined that those in the high junk food group were twice as likely to develop colon tumors.

HOW TO MANAGE RISKS?

“It’s hard to say why” junk food is linked with a greater risk for these tumors, said Dr. Mala Pande, an instructor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who was not involved in the research.

She said some researchers have suggested that high fat might have something to do with it, but it’s impossible to conclude that from this study.

Although the findings are too preliminary to be used in making dietary recommendations to people with Lynch Syndrome, the study was valuable in launching research into the possible role of certain foods on cancer risk, said Christopher Amos, a professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.

“People with Lynch Syndrome are at higher risk, and we’d really like to know how to manage their risks better,” Amos, who was not part of the study, told Reuters Health.

Certain foods have been shown to be linked with different types of cancer, but many of those studies contradict each other and sow confusion (see Reuters Health report of December 5, 2012 here: reut.rs/YPuDcs).

Amos said the new study is a good start, but “it would be nice to confirm (it) with additional findings.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/SG85JD Cancer, online December 17, 2012.

Marlee Matlin Rebecca Romijn

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Study: Compared to 1990, 33% More People Are Living Past Age 70

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

43 percent of people worldwide now live into their seventies, up from 33 percent twenty years ago. But just because we’re living longer doesn’t mean we’re living better.

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ToastyKen/Flickr

PROBLEM: The world has changed in unfathomable ways since 1990, and one of the most salient ways of visualizing exactly how this is so is by looking at how — and when — we’re dying now, compared to how we were dying then. Twenty years ago, the last time we took a step back to account for global patterns of this sort, the primary causes of death throughout the world were infectious disease and the consequences of childhood malnutrition. Many of the problems identified then have been addressed and, in some cases, solved by now. A critical look at the new challenges facing humanity, as a whole, can help us to refocus our health efforts for the 21st century.


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METHODOLOGY: As befits a study of the entire world, this was a massive undertaking, with a lot of people analyzing a lot of data. The entire thing results from a collaboration of almost 500 researchers from 50 countries, led by the University of Washington.

RESULTS: Most children now make it to adulthood. Malnutrition has been cut by over 60 percent — in a complete reversal from 1990, and with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, kids generally have too much to eat. Poor diet and physical inactivity now contributes to 10 percent of the global disease burden. 

And adulthood, once reached, extends beyond the age of 70 for 43 percent of the world’s population.

This is great for kids, but not so great for adults, who are suffering from diseases now caused by lifestyle risks instead of by contagion. These “first world” conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, are now a leading cause of death. Cancer, too, is now responsible for about two thirds of global deaths.

And the biggest caveat is that while life expectancy has increased, years spent living with health problems have increased as well. Pain and disability, more than ever, characterize people’s final years, which amount to 9.2 years for men and 11.5 years for women of poor health.

IMPLICATIONS: Summing up our global health advances in one pithy, irony-laden sentence, the authors write that as a species, we now “avoid premature death, but live longer and sicker.”

The good news is that we’re not very creative in how we’re dying — of the more than 300 diseases and risk factors studied, only 50 distinct causes were found to account for over three-quarters of deaths. In theory, the burden of solving these problems should be manageable.

The bad news, however, is that it’s relatively easy to get people vaccinated — implementing significant behavior change is a much a more challenging task for public health advocates.

So maybe the problem should really be, how do we define health, and are our priorities really in line with what we most need? We might debate a potential adjustment in the direction we’re taking medicine and public health efforts so that we can focus less on living longer and more on living better. Despite disparities found between nations, this is a question that we all have to consider over the next twenty years.

The “Global Burden of Disease Study 2010″ was published in the journal The Lancet .

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/study-compared-to-1990-33-more-people-are-living-past-age-70/266307/

Arnold Schwarzenegger Rachel McAdams

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First Christmas without chemotherapy for little Ruby, 7, who is finally clear of cancer

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

  • Ruby was diagnosed in February 2010 after suffering from leg pains
  • She underwent gruelling treatment for more than two years
  • She is now looking forward to celebrating her first cancer-free Christmas in years

By Claire Bates

|

A brave young girl who has battled leukaemia since 2010 is set to enjoy her first Christmas without cancer in three years.

Ruby Orr, seven, was diagnosed in February 2010 after suffering from a cold and leg pains. She underwent grueling chemotherapy sessions to try and rid her body of the disease.

The creative youngster from Manchester took to customising shoes to cheer herself up during her treatment and even set up her own business.

Ruby is now in remission from leukemia. She was given the all-clear in May this year

Christmas joy: Ruby is now in remission from leukemia. She was given the all-clear in May this year

Ruby and her mother Vanessa (pictured in Christmas 2011, left) are looking forward to enjoying the festivities without worrying about treatment. Ruby (right) in December 2010

Ruby enjoyed a trip to Lapland thanks to the When You Wish Upon a Star charity

Ruby enjoyed a trip to Lapland thanks to the When You Wish Upon a Star charity

Ruby has now been in remission since May and is relishing the chance to enjoy many festive firsts – such as swapping Christmas cards with her class mates.

Her mother Vanessa, 42, said: ‘She’s looking forward to it so much and as a family it’s been the Christmas we’ve been praying for.

‘It will be the first Christmas in three years Ruby’s not been in chemotherapy and we can’t wait to see her enjoying herself and having the Christmas she deserves.

‘The little things, like having Christmas cards to open from all her friends at school, mean so much to her because it’s stuff she hasn’t been able to do before.

The schoolgirl from Denton, is also fit enough to hold a birthday party for the first time since starting her treatment.

‘She’s having a chocolate-themed birthday party with all her friends next week, which she’s incredibly excited about, and it’s wonderful to see her have all these things to look forward to because she’s been so brave,’ Mrs Orr said.

Ruby, pictured at Christmas in 2010, lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatment

Ruby with the shoes she decorated worn by Suzanne Shaw in the Christmas pantomime Cinderella

Ruby with the shoes she decorated worn by Suzanne Shaw in the Christmas pantomime Cinderella

Ruby and mother Vanessa with a chocolate cake for her sixth birthday

Ruby and mother Vanessa with a chocolate cake for her sixth birthday

Ruby now has a check-up with her doctor every three months.

She first won the hearts of the nation after starting her own shoe-making business. Her diamante-encrusted creations proved so popular with family and friends that she set up a small business called Ruby Slippers. She even designed a pair for singer Suzanne Shaw to wear in the pantomime Cinderella last year.

But despite being back to full health, Ruby hasn’t lost passion for her crystal creations. She recently auctioned two canvasses of Manchester footballing heroes Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli for £600 in aid of Wish Upon A Star.

The charity took Ruby to Lapland to meet Father Christmas last year along with dozens of other children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

Sophia Bush Danniella Westbrook

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Keep thimerosal in vaccines: pediatricians

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

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.

Coco Sumner Christy Turlington

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Cyclone Evan threatens Fiji

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Published: Dec. 17, 2012 at 5:14 AM

SUVA, Fiji, Dec. 17 (UPI) – More than 3,000 people moved to evacuation centers Monday in Fiji as Cyclone Evan threatened the Pacific island nation, the government said.

The Information Ministry said a hurricane warning remained in effect for the Yasawa and Mamanuca island group while wind warnings were issued for the entire nation of about 870,000 people ahead of the Category 4 storm.

In Suva, major roadways were closed due to fallen trees, the ministry said.

Telecommunications in several parts of the country were disrupted.

The ministry said Evan, with winds of 115 miles per hour and gusting to 168 miles per hour, was moving southwest at about 11 miles per hour.

The BBC said flights to and from Fiji remained canceled.

The cyclone moved toward Fiji after striking Samoa, where at least four deaths were reported in widespread flooding.

more stories Drake

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Los Angeles Sample Sales

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Rachel Pally Warehouse Sale

Big Star Friends & Family Sale

see more Tammy Gretchen

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How to Talk to Children About School Shooting

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

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.”

Rebekah Emily Symons

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REFILE: Should breast cancer patients skip the pre-op MRI?

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

[Refiles story posted Dec 7, 2012 as 20121207elin020 to change "woman" to "women" in second paragraph.]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new review of existing evidence suggests that using magnetic resonance imaging to “stage” a woman’s breast cancer before surgery might do more harm than good.

MRI produces a much clearer image than X-rays and ultrasound, and is recommended for detecting early tumors in women at increased risk for breast cancer. But routinely using the technology once any woman is diagnosed with a tumor may lead to more radical surgery without any benefits, says a team of Australian and U.S. researchers.

They found that about 26 percent of women who had a pre-operative MRI to help determine the extent and severity of their tumor ended up having their entire breast removed, compared to about 18 percent of those whose surgeons only used traditional methods of characterizing the cancer.

“I wasn’t surprised by the results at all. What I am surprised by was the strength of the data,” said Dr. Monica Morrow, the study’s senior author and the chief of breast service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Because MRIs are more sensitive than mammograms, some doctors think they are a good tool for identifying the precise outlines of cancerous tissue. Others, however, have begun to question whether the imaging led surgeons to remove more breast tissue than necessary.

Moreover, women who have MRIs before breast surgery seem to be no less likely to need a second surgery to remove additional cancerous tissue.

A study published in September, for instance, found that among more than 300 women who underwent breast cancer surgery, just as many of those who had an MRI before the first surgery ended up having a repeat operation. (see Reuters Health article of September 25, 2012 here: http://reut.rs/Oogm3c)

An MRI can also add more than $1,000 to a patient’s bill.

“I think more surgeons are starting to question this because they’re seeing the outcomes,” Morrow said.

For the new study, she and her colleagues pulled together data from nine previous studies to see if MRIs influenced the number of women who had their breast removed or who had a second surgery to remove additional cancer.

From the nine studies, the researchers had information on 3,112 women who had breast cancer surgery.

Overall, the team found that about 16 percent of the women who had an MRI ended up having the entire cancerous breast removed, known as a mastectomy, during their first surgery. That’s compared to about 8 percent of women who did not have an MRI.

They also found that having an MRI before surgery did not influence whether women would need additional surgery to remove more tissue. In each group, between 11 percent and 12 percent had to go back under the knife.

After taking into account the women’s initial surgery and the second operations, the researchers calculated that about 26 percent of those who had an MRI ended up having their entire breast removed, compared to 18 percent in the no-MRI group.

“It causes more mastectomies to start with, but it doesn’t decrease the number of women who started out wanting a lumpectomy and needing a mastectomy,” said Morrow of preoperative MRIs.

The study did not look at long term outcomes, including how many women survived beyond five years. Nor did it examine the use of MRI to screen the opposite breast for signs that cancer had spread, the researchers note in their report, which is published in the Annals of Surgery.

These results do not apply to certain subgroups of patients, they add, including women with genetic mutations that predispose them to cancer and those whose other diagnostic tests produced conflicting results.

But based on the short term measures of how many surgeries women got and how much tissue surgeons removed from them, Morrow told Reuters Health that MRIs do not seem to have a place in breast cancer surgery.

“There may be select circumstances where we’d use it to solve a problem, but for most women with breast cancer they don’t need an MRI for their evaluation,” she said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/RdZNIw Annals of Surgery, online November 26, 2012.

Natalie Portman Gary Estrada

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Woman seriously injured in crash abandoned

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Published: Dec. 16, 2012 at 1:47 PM

WICHITA, Kan., Dec. 16 (UPI) – A 20-year-old woman who suffered a broken neck in a car crash was abandoned at the scene of the accident by her friends, Wichita, Kan., police said.

The car crash happened early Saturday when the driver of the vehicle was speeding, then lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a concrete wall and a tree, The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle reported.

Alcohol was found in the car, police Sgt. Scott Brunow said.

The woman, whose name was not reported, was thrown from the car and suffered a broken neck, as well as “numerous broken bones,” Brunow said. She was transported to a local hospital where she was conscious but in serious condition.

Police said they have interviewed the woman and believe that at least two other people were in the car at the time of the crash and fled the scene before police arrived.

Brunow said police have a tentative identification of the driver, who is another woman in her 20s.

other facts Rebecca Gibney

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Typhoon Bopha death toll rises to 1,020

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Published: Dec. 16, 2012 at 11:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines, Dec. 16 (UPI) – The death toll from Typhoon Bopha that devastated southern Philippines reached 1,020 on Sunday, with 844 people still missing, authorities said.

Bopha was the most powerful and destructive storm to hit the Philippines this year, CNN reported.

About 1.2 million families were displaced and $14.8 billion of damage to agriculture, infrastructure and private property, authorities have said.

Officials say they are worried the chances of finding survivors alive decrease with each passing day.

Ann-Maree Biggar Josie Maran

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Czech MPs vote to legalize marijuana for medical use

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czech lawmakers voted on Friday to allow marijuana and drugs derived from it to be available on prescription from pharmacies from next year, extending narcotics laws which permit possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin and cocaine.

Only imported marijuana will be available for the first year, after which the central European country’s State Institute for Drug Control will allot licenses to local growers.

“The point of the proposal is to make medical marijuana accessible to patients that need it and that already use it today, even when it is against the law,” said Pavel Bem, one of a group of deputies who created the bill.

The central European country already lets the public grow, possess, and consume – but not sell – small amounts of most illicit drugs and considers the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana as legal.

It also tolerates the use of recreational drugs in pubs and clubs, and the sight of people rolling and smoking marijuana joints in public and outside pubs is common.

Czech lawmakers were told how the use of marijuana can help some people with debilitating medical conditions. The upper house is expected to approve the bill, which needs to be signed by the president.

Farrah Fawcett Arnold Schwarzenegger

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My Beauty Purchases

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

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!

Carey Lowell other facts

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Russian parliament votes for public smoking ban

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Local residents meet during sunset, with the Metallurgical Plant seen in the background, in the Southern Urals city of Magnitogorsk, July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Local residents meet during sunset, with the Metallurgical Plant seen in the background, in the Southern Urals city of Magnitogorsk, July 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW | Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:02am EST

(Reuters) – Russia took a step towards clamping down on the tobacco industry on Friday as a bill to ban smoking in public spaces and to restrict tobacco sales sailed through its first reading in parliament.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that 44 million Russians, nearly one in three, are hooked on smoking, and almost 400,000 die every year of smoking-related causes.

Under the draft legislation tobacco advertising will be outlawed and smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars and hotels will be phased out. It will also ban kiosks and outlets in stations from selling cigarettes, much to the consternation of the kiosk owners who say they could be put out of business.

Deputies in the Russian Duma, the country’s lower house of parliament, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill at its first reading, with 429 votes in favor and two abstentions.

Deputy Health Minister Sergei Velmyaikin said in the Duma that the purpose of the bill was not to reduce the number of smokers, but to prevent that number growing.

Foreign tobacco firms, including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, and Philip Morris, control more than 90 percent of Russian sales and have been lobbying to soften the proposed legislation.

Russia is the largest tobacco market after China. The cigarette market was estimated at be worth around $22 billion in 2011 by Euromonitor International.

Lawmakers had initially thought that the legislation might come into force early next year but following delays the second reading is not now expected until spring 2013. If passed, the restrictions will be phased in and are expected to be fully in force by 2016.

Russia’s Finance Ministry has previously announced plans to increase the excise duty on tobacco by around 40 percent for 2013 and 2014, and by 10 percent a year after 2015. The Health Ministry supports a greater increase in duty.

(Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Natalia Ishchenko; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

Allie Mutch David Beckham

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UPI Sports Calendar for Sunday, Dec. 16

Posted on Dec 16, 2012

Published: Dec. 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM

(All times Eastern)


Football

NFL

NY. Giants at Atlanta, 1 p.m.

Denver at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Green Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Washington at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville at Miami, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

Minnesota at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Detroit at Arizona, 4 p.m.

Seattle at Buffalo, 4:05 p.m.

Carolina at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.

Kansas City at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.

San Francisco at New England, 8:20 p.m.


Basketball

NBA

Houston at Toronto, 1 p.m.

LA Lakers at Philadelphia, 6 p.m.

Denver at Sacramento, 6 p.m.

New Orleans at Portland, 9 p.m.


NCAA

Central Arkansas at (23) Oklahoma St., 4 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky at (10) Illinois, 6 p.m.


Golf

European Tour

Alfred Dunhill Championship at Malelane, South Africa

Alexis Bledel Sienna Miller

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CORRECTION: Researchers say form of Ecstasy may heal combat trauma

Posted on Dec 15, 2012

[Corrects story posted Dec 5, 2012 as 20121205elin013. In 10th paragraph, corrects title of professor; in 11th paragragh, corrects percentage of patients who benefited to at least 74 percent from more than 80 percent.]

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A South Carolina psychiatrist and his wife, a nurse, have taken an uncommon, controversial approach to helping war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder by treating them with MDMA, a pure form of the party drug known as Ecstasy.

Their studies have found that the psychoactive stimulant decreases fear and defensiveness while increasing trust in those who take it as part of a therapy program, say Dr. Michael Mithoefer and Ann Mithoefer.

The MDMA-assisted therapy could eventually provide relief for thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who suffer from combat trauma, the Mithoefers say, noting that nearly 300 military personnel from around the country have contacted them seeking help.

Though concerns may arise about creating drug dependence or abuse by administering a tightly controlled substance, Dr. Mithoefer said he hasn’t seen that problem. The couple’s use of MDMA in studies has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, he said.

MDMA “does cause some euphoria. But for people with PTSD, it can be pretty intense anxiety as well,” he said. “You need to have the support there. This is not a take-home medicine.”

Not everyone is convinced the benefits outweigh the potential dangers.

Ron Acierno, director of the PTSD clinical team at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, said the Mithoefers’ results were interesting, but he remains skeptical of the treatment.

“I don’t think any VA is going to touch this with a 10-foot pole because of the type of drug it is,” Acierno said. “It’s hard to switch conceptual gears that it might actually be very useful for a relatively common emotional disorder.”

“Because the abuse potential is high, we have to be very careful about it,” he said.

SHIFTING CONSCIOUSNESS

Dr. Mithoefer, an assistant professor in the Medical University of South Carolina’s department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said he has long been interested in experiential techniques that help patients shift their consciousness to revisit their traumas.

He developed the protocol for MDMA-assisted therapy in 2001 and published the first completed study of its effect on patients with trauma in 2010. He found that after two months of treatment, at least 74 percent of the patients, including rape victims and a veteran, no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis.

A follow-up review of those patients, published last month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed more than 80 percent of them still had lasting benefits 3-1/2 years after treatment.

The Mithoefers currently are treating 24 veterans, firefighters, police officers or victims of military sexual trauma who have chronic PTSD that hasn’t been helped by other kinds of treatment. This three-year study will be completed in 2014.

The participants travel to Dr. Mithoefer’s private practice in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, for treatment over a period of five to eight months. After being screened to eliminate anyone with cardiovascular problems or a psychotic disorder, patients are given a series of doses of MDMA.

The Mithoefers are both present for the eight-hour drug-assisted sessions, which include therapy and support. The patients also participate in therapy before, in-between and after the medication sessions, they said.

Those who suffer from PTSD often can’t sleep, have nightmares, isolate themselves emotionally and avoid “anything that reminds them of Iraq,” including crowds, fireworks or overpasses, Ann Mithoefer said.

The use of MDMA seems to help the brain learn to process traumatic memories without becoming overwhelmed by emotion or fear, Dr. Mithoefer said.

“People have said things like, ‘It’s changed my relationship to my emotions,’” he said. “They realize, ‘I don’t have to be so afraid of the fear anymore.’”

Other studies that might include veterans are pending in Colorado and Canada and are being planned in the United Kingdom, Israel and Australia, said Brad Burge, a spokesman for the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which funds the research efforts.

The Santa Cruz, California-based organization said the pure MDMA used in treatment is different from Ecstasy, which often contains other harmful substances. Ecstasy’s recreational use has caused deaths from heat exhaustion or over-hydration, Dr. Mithoefer said.

Medical use of recreational drugs has been taboo since the 1960s, but the nonprofit is investing $10 million over 15 years in an effort to win FDA approval for MDMA as a prescription medicine in the United States.

“The taboos are lifting, and people are getting practical about science,” Dr. Mithoefer said. “If we took away everything in medicine that is being abused outside of medicine, we wouldn’t have too much left.”

Roland Griffiths, a professor in the psychiatry and neuroscience departments at Johns Hopkins University, called the Mithoefers’ research “groundbreaking.”

“It’s a potentially important, new application of use for a set of compounds that have not been available for clinical research for decades now,” Griffiths said. “PTSD is an awful, awful disease … I don’t think we should stick our heads in the sand.”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/WJSlBm Journal of Psychopharmacology, online November 20, 2012.

Jeri Ryan Carla Bonner

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CORRECTION: Researchers say form of Ecstasy may heal combat trauma

Posted on Dec 15, 2012

[Corrects story posted Dec 5, 2012 as 20121205elin013. In 10th paragraph, corrects title of professor; in 11th paragragh, corrects percentage of patients who benefited to at least 74 percent from more than 80 percent.]

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A South Carolina psychiatrist and his wife, a nurse, have taken an uncommon, controversial approach to helping war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder by treating them with MDMA, a pure form of the party drug known as Ecstasy.

Their studies have found that the psychoactive stimulant decreases fear and defensiveness while increasing trust in those who take it as part of a therapy program, say Dr. Michael Mithoefer and Ann Mithoefer.

The MDMA-assisted therapy could eventually provide relief for thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who suffer from combat trauma, the Mithoefers say, noting that nearly 300 military personnel from around the country have contacted them seeking help.

Though concerns may arise about creating drug dependence or abuse by administering a tightly controlled substance, Dr. Mithoefer said he hasn’t seen that problem. The couple’s use of MDMA in studies has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, he said.

MDMA “does cause some euphoria. But for people with PTSD, it can be pretty intense anxiety as well,” he said. “You need to have the support there. This is not a take-home medicine.”

Not everyone is convinced the benefits outweigh the potential dangers.

Ron Acierno, director of the PTSD clinical team at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, said the Mithoefers’ results were interesting, but he remains skeptical of the treatment.

“I don’t think any VA is going to touch this with a 10-foot pole because of the type of drug it is,” Acierno said. “It’s hard to switch conceptual gears that it might actually be very useful for a relatively common emotional disorder.”

“Because the abuse potential is high, we have to be very careful about it,” he said.

SHIFTING CONSCIOUSNESS

Dr. Mithoefer, an assistant professor in the Medical University of South Carolina’s department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said he has long been interested in experiential techniques that help patients shift their consciousness to revisit their traumas.

He developed the protocol for MDMA-assisted therapy in 2001 and published the first completed study of its effect on patients with trauma in 2010. He found that after two months of treatment, at least 74 percent of the patients, including rape victims and a veteran, no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis.

A follow-up review of those patients, published last month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, showed more than 80 percent of them still had lasting benefits 3-1/2 years after treatment.

The Mithoefers currently are treating 24 veterans, firefighters, police officers or victims of military sexual trauma who have chronic PTSD that hasn’t been helped by other kinds of treatment. This three-year study will be completed in 2014.

The participants travel to Dr. Mithoefer’s private practice in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, for treatment over a period of five to eight months. After being screened to eliminate anyone with cardiovascular problems or a psychotic disorder, patients are given a series of doses of MDMA.

The Mithoefers are both present for the eight-hour drug-assisted sessions, which include therapy and support. The patients also participate in therapy before, in-between and after the medication sessions, they said.

Those who suffer from PTSD often can’t sleep, have nightmares, isolate themselves emotionally and avoid “anything that reminds them of Iraq,” including crowds, fireworks or overpasses, Ann Mithoefer said.

The use of MDMA seems to help the brain learn to process traumatic memories without becoming overwhelmed by emotion or fear, Dr. Mithoefer said.

“People have said things like, ‘It’s changed my relationship to my emotions,’” he said. “They realize, ‘I don’t have to be so afraid of the fear anymore.’”

Other studies that might include veterans are pending in Colorado and Canada and are being planned in the United Kingdom, Israel and Australia, said Brad Burge, a spokesman for the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which funds the research efforts.

The Santa Cruz, California-based organization said the pure MDMA used in treatment is different from Ecstasy, which often contains other harmful substances. Ecstasy’s recreational use has caused deaths from heat exhaustion or over-hydration, Dr. Mithoefer said.

Medical use of recreational drugs has been taboo since the 1960s, but the nonprofit is investing $10 million over 15 years in an effort to win FDA approval for MDMA as a prescription medicine in the United States.

“The taboos are lifting, and people are getting practical about science,” Dr. Mithoefer said. “If we took away everything in medicine that is being abused outside of medicine, we wouldn’t have too much left.”

Roland Griffiths, a professor in the psychiatry and neuroscience departments at Johns Hopkins University, called the Mithoefers’ research “groundbreaking.”

“It’s a potentially important, new application of use for a set of compounds that have not been available for clinical research for decades now,” Griffiths said. “PTSD is an awful, awful disease … I don’t think we should stick our heads in the sand.”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/WJSlBm Journal of Psychopharmacology, online November 20, 2012.

Zooey Deschanel Sara Cox

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26 dead in Connecticut school massacre

Posted on Dec 15, 2012

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 14 (UPI) – A young man went to his mother’s elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Friday and opened fire, killing 25 people, 20 of them children, authorities said.

Police said the suspected shooter, who they identified as Adam Lanza, 20, was found dead in Sandy Hook Elementary School and that an unidentified woman found shot to death at a home in town was also believed to have been killed by Lanza, MSNBC reported.

The network said officials had initially misidentified the shooter to NBC News as Lanza’s 24-year-old brother, Ryan. But a senior official later said Ryan Lanza was not believed to have been involved and has told police his brother had a history of mental illness.

“Evil visited this community today,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Friday evening. “We are all in this together.”

Two law enforcement officials said the guns used in the massacre were purchased legally and were registered to the gunman’s mother, MSNBC said.

State Police Lt. Paul Vance told reporters the gunman shot up two classrooms in one section of the school, which serves children in kindergarten through fourth grade.

“We heard, like, lots of bangs,” 9-year-old Brendan Murray told CNN.

School therapist Diane Day said she was sitting with the principal, other staff members and a parent when the shooting started, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We were there for about 5 minutes chatting and we heard, ‘pop pop pop,’” she said. “I went under the table.’

Day said Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was reported to have been among those shot, and a school psychologist immediately ran out of the room.

“They didn’t think twice about confronting or seeing what was going on,” she said.

“At first we heard a bunch of kids scream, and then it was just quiet and all you could hear was the shooting.”

The school’s lead teacher was shot through the door as she pressed her body against it to hold it shut, Day said.

“She was our hero,” Day said.

Vance said 18 children were dead at the school and two others were pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital. The bodies of six adults and the gunman also were found in the school. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the gunman killed himself or was killed by responding officers.

Vance said one adult was injured in the school shooting and survived.

The New York Times also reported Adam Lanza was the shooter and police were questioning Ryan Lanza, who an official told MSNBC was cooperating.

Vance said the shooter had been tentatively identified but the name was being withheld.

ABC said the gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest and had four weapons, including at least one semiautomatic. MSNBC said the shooter was wearing black and had two 9mm pistols.

Police escorted a second man out of nearby woods and took him into custody.

“I saw some of the bullets going past the hall … then the teacher pulled me into her classroom. … It sounded like someone was kicking the door,” one child told reporters.

“I saw policemen — lots of policemen in the hallway with guns,” 9-year-old fourth grader Vanessa Bajraliu told the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. “The police took us out of the school. We were told to hold each others’ hands and to close our eyes. We opened our eyes when we were outside.”

A shaken President Barack Obama, wiping away tears, said, “Our hearts are broken today.”

The president, who ordered the nation’s flags lowered to half-staff, went through a litany of such incidents.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” Obama said.

“We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a president but as anybody else would — as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

“The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers — men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

“Nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one.”

Vance said police were summoned to the school in the scenic community about 65 miles northeast of New York City shortly after 9:30 a.m. and began an “active shooter search” of the building.

Police “did search every nook and cranny and every portion of the school,” Vance said.

Newtown Police Lt. George Sinko said the shooting was “the worst thing we’ve experienced in town.” He said crisis intervention counselors were available to the community.

“We just have to think about the families right now and do what we can for them,” Sinko said.

WNBC-TV, New York, reported the gunman went to the school after first killing his father. Vance said search warrants had been executed for the shooter’s home.

Malloy issued his condolences after meeting with parents.

“You can never be prepared for this kind of incident,” he said, adding that it leaves a “mark on the community and every family impacted. … These were beautiful children who had their lives taken away from them.”

A first-grade teacher hid in the bathroom with her class and tried to keep them calm, ABC News reported. She said one of the children told her, “I just want Christmas. I don’t want to die.”

Alexis Wasik, 8, told ABC classmates were screaming and crying, and that she felt sick to her stomach. Her mother said she couldn’t believe something like this could happen in Newtown.

“You drop your kids off, say, ‘Have a good day,’ ‘I’ll see you later.’ You never expect anything like this. Not here,” the mother said.

Officers and teachers led children, many of them crying, single file to a staging area at a firehouse where parents picked them up, the Courant reported.

“We ran down to the firehouse and there was a man pinned down with handcuffs on,” a young boy told CNN.

“Who would do this? What kind of person would do this?” screamed a young man whose sister attended the school.

Another young man said his sister heard several loud booms, MSNBC reported.

The Newtown Bee reported numerous ambulance crews were on the scene, but a triage nurse told CNN they were sent away.

“We were told there was nothing for them to do,” she said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who head “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” called for action at the national level to deal with gun violence.

Bloomberg said Obama should send a bill to “fix this problem — and take immediate executive action.”

“Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough,” Bloomberg said. “We have heard that rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership — not from the president and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response.”

Lara Bingle Sophia Bush

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Girl, 8, with face tumour the size of a football to have life-saving surgery before it strangles her

Posted on Dec 14, 2012

  • Trinny suffers from a severe form of bone disease called Fibrous dysplasia
  • The tumour is benign but has grown so quickly it has blinded her in one eye and threatens to strangle her if no action is taken
  • Mother has praised her daughter who has bravely dealt with condition for half her lifetime

By Claire Bates

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An eight-year-old girl with a football-sized facial tumour is to have pioneering surgery before it strangles her.

The rare growth first appeared when Trinny Amuhirwe was four-and-a-half, and she twice underwent surgery in her home country of Uganda to remove it.

However, each time the bone tumour has grown back more quickly and it now weighs 4.4lbs.

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Trinny (aged three months left) has had two operations to tackle her facial tumour. She is pictured (right) after her second operation in September 2011 in Uganda

Since then Trinny has lost sight in one eye due to the swelling and her teeth are being pushed out of place.

THE RARE DISORDER THAT REPLACES BONE WITH SCAR TISSUE

Fibrous dysplasia is a rare bone disease that destroys and replaces normal bone with fibrous (scar-like) tissue.

As the bone grows, the softer, fibrous tissue expands, weakening the bone and making it more prone to fractures.

One or more bones can be affected and it can vary in severity.

Mild cases usually cause no signs or symptoms and develops during the teens.

More-serious cases of fibrous dysplasia may result in bone pain and deformity and are more common in under-10s.

There is no cure for fibrous dysplasia. Treatment focuses on treating signs and symptoms.

The bone lesions may stop when the child reaches puberty.

NIH/Mayo Clinic

Now she will undergo a pioneering surgery at the Cromwell Hospital in London. British experts will attempt to remove all of the benign tumour using the latest technology before reconstructing her face.

The 15-hour operation was made possible by UK charity Facing the World, who flew Trinny and her mother Sarah, 30, from Uganda to the UK for treatment.

Graham Banton, director of Facing the World, said: ‘This is a massive operation undertaken by some of the best surgeons in the world.

‘We hope to be able to remove all the infected bone tissue which will save Trinny’s life and give her back her sight.

‘Using advanced diagnostic and mapping techniques our doctors were able to pinpoint precisely the size and depth of the tumour.

‘Without treatment there would be no hope for Trinny, but thanks to the generosity of our patrons and the expertise of our surgeons, she has a chance.’

Trinny has Fibrous dysplasia – a bone disease that destroys and replaces normal bone with fibrous bone tissue.

Mrs Amuhirwe says over the years she has watched her daughter’s face become almost unrecognisible.

Trinny stands outside Buckingham Palace in London. She flew to London with her mother for surgery thanks to the charity Facing the World

Trinny stands outside Buckingham Palace in London. She flew to London with her mother for surgery thanks to the charity Facing the World

 Trinny Amuhirwe and Sarah

Trinny Amuhirwe and Sarah

The mother-of-three said: ‘In the beginning it was like a small piece of bone sticking out of her face.

‘I thought it would eventually disappear – but it continued to grow. After the first operation the tumour grew back in just two months.

‘Since then it’s taken over her face. I can’t bear to see her like this but she’s been so brave about it.’

Following surgery the schoolgirl will be sedated and moved into intensive care – estimated to cost around £65,000.

All surgeons involved are giving their time free of charge and Facing the World are paying for all of Trinny and Sarah’s living cost – but are entirely dependent on public donations.

Each year Facing the World help up to eight children with extreme facial disfigurements from all over the world. 

The charity was founded in 2002 by two craniofacial surgeons Martin Kelly and Norman Waterhouse after Mr Kelly met a young girl in need while volunteering in Afghanistan.

To donate visit www.facingtheworld.net

VIDEO: Girl with face tumour size of football comes to UK for life-saving surgery 

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