Health centers get $150 million to help uninsured

first_imgWASHINGTON | The Obama administration says community health centers around the country will get a $150 million injection to help tens of millions of uninsured Americans sign up for health insurance coverage under the new health care law.The money helps address concerns from lawmakers and advocacy groups that many consumers will have a hard time navigating the health coverage options available to them next year as a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance kicks in.Last month, the administration made $54 million available to states and private groups so that they could hire new health insurance “navigators.” The same concept is being applied to the nation’s 1,200 community health centers, which serve about 21 million patients each year, many of them without health insurance.last_img read more


Whispers, secrets and lies? Anonymity apps rise

first_imgNEW YORK | At a time when Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are pushing people to put forward their most polished, put-together selves, a new class of mobile applications aims for a bit more honesty.Among the latest is Secret, created by two former Google engineers who were looking for a way to let people deliver genuine feedback to co-workers. With the app, friends and friends of friends can share their deepest and darkest thoughts, along with gossip, criticism and even plans to propose marriage, under a cloak of near-anonymity.“This idea that you have to craft this perfect image online,” says Secret’s 30-year-old co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler. “That’s stressful. We want to remove that stress.”Secret joins a handful of apps such as Confide, Whisper and Yik Yak that have become popular — and in some cases, notorious — in recent months, by offering users a way to communicate while cloaking their identities.What happens when people are free to say what they want without a name and profile photo attached? It’s an experiment in human nature that harkens back to the early days of the Web, when faceless masses with made-up nicknames ruled chat rooms and online message boards.In the past decade, anonymity has been fading. As Facebook soared to dominate online social networks, the trend shifted toward profiles, real names and the melding of online and offline identities. But as people’s online social circles grew from friends to parents, grandparents, in-laws, colleagues and bosses, many became increasingly reluctant to share as openly as they once did.“People go on Facebook and say they just got engaged. But what you don’t see is ‘I am going to propose today,’” says Secret co-founder and CEO David Byttow, 32.Launched in 2012, Whisper is especially popular with teenagers and 20-somethings, with the bulk of its users under 24. Yik Yak, released late last year, made headlines recently when a California high school went into lockdown after someone used the app to post an anonymous bomb threat.Although anonymity apps are being criticized as platforms for bullying, supporters say they can be tools for preventing mischief. They also have a cathartic value for some users.“My baby boy passed away recently. I saw his picture today and cried. I cried because I love him and miss him. I’m a guy, so no one thinks to talk to me,” read a recent post on Secret.Another recent Secret message read: “Fact: It’s downright scary to hire your first woman onto an all-male team.”On Secret, users are told when a friend has posted a secret — they just don’t know which friend. Whisper, meanwhile does not tell users how, or if, they are connected to a person posting.“I am a closeted gay guy and the sheer number of hot fraternity guys on campus is a special kind of hell,” read a recent post on Whisper.Whisper CEO Michael Heyward, 26, says the company’s app does not allow people to “use anonymity to hurt anyone else.” Users, for instance, can’t put proper names into posts unless the names belong to public figures. So Justin Bieber is okay. Justin from Spanish class is not. Whisper also employs 120 human moderators to comb through posts in real time.“There is no safer space,” Heyward says of Whisper. The company announced a partnership with media site BuzzFeed on Monday, in which BuzzFeed writers will use content posted on Whisper as source material for articles. The deal, reported in the New York Times, does not have a financial component.Secret, meanwhile, has been especially popular in Silicon Valley and its satellite technology communities outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. Startup gossip — from personal attacks on company founders and venture capitalists to acquisition rumors that turned out to be false — has been a mainstay of Secret in the less than two months since its launch.Secret tries to add a layer of accountability to anonymous posts by showing users’ secrets to their friends and allowing only friends, or friends of friends, to comment on each shared post. Bader-Wechseler is quick to point out that the app is not exactly anonymous. Anonymish, maybe.To sign up, users can provide their mobile phone number, email address or both. When you post a secret, your phone and email contacts who are also on Secret will be able to see it. If they tap a heart icon indicating that they “love” your secret, then their friends will be able to see it too. You won’t know which of your friends is on Secret.Secret says it ensures security by encrypting posts and without uploading contact information to its servers. The app also offers a panic button of sorts, called “unlink my posts.” When a user clicks it, any link between them and all previous secrets they have posted is removed.Katy Nelson, an early user of the app who heard about it from a friend who works at Secret, says she finds herself commenting on posts more than sharing secrets herself. This is especially true “when I see secrets where people are being really vulnerable, asking for advice about a relationship, substance abuse,” she says.“The ease of honesty that anonymity gives you is really cool,” says Nelson, who works for a nonprofit group in Washington DC. She acknowledges that such honesty would not be possible on Twitter or Facebook.“The stakes on a public platform with your name attached are just higher,” she says. “It’s not safe to be brutally honest, or make yourself really vulnerable.”Online anonymity is often synonymous with bullying, harassment and nasty comments. That’s why sites from YouTube to the magazine Popular Science and Huffington Post have moved away from anonymity in recent months. But Heyward and Byttow argue that the new apps are different, filling a need for honesty that’s only possible when identity is stripped away.“Even though we are sharing more online than ever before, I think we have become more guarded,” Heyward says. “It’s like people are living their digital lives in front of a window. No one is not going to show their best self…Identity can feel sort of shackling, But if you remove that, it can lead to intimacy.”But Steve Jones, a professor who studies online culture and communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, believes there’s a “significant degree to which people want to be associated with their words,” get comments, likes and acknowledgements for them. Anonymity apps, he says, could have a difficult time maintaining a business model because they are exposing themselves to a lot of liability.“I don’t want to dismiss the optimistic view that the makers of these apps have,” he says. “But I don’t have that much evidence yet that these apps are appealing for a better nature.”last_img read more


Bucket list trip to Bora Bora: It’s not just for celebrities

first_img In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo, a moray eel and a variety of fish are pictured at the Turtle Center at Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) In this Oct. 30, 2015 photo, the sun rises over the lagoon in Bora Bora, as a kayaker passes by. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) In this Nov. 2, 2015 photo courtesy of Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press writer Jennifer McDermott holds an older, docile stingray with help from a tour guide in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (Courtesy of Jennifer McDermott via AP) This Oct. 31, 2016 photo shows a view of the lagoon and bungalows at Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) In this Nov. 4, 2015 photo, kayakers head out on the water from Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) This Nov. 2, 2016 photo shows tourists snorkeling in the lagoon in Bora Bora as part of a tour. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott)center_img This Oct. 30, 2016 photo shows a view of the beach, lagoon and bungalows at Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) In this Nov. 1, 2016 photo a couple strolls along the sidewalk next to the beach at Le Meridien resort in Bora Bora. Bora Bora offers celebrity-style seclusion and has been a vacation destination for the likes of Justin Bieber, Jennifer Aniston and Usain Bolt. It’s located 160 miles from Tahiti with a balmy and relatively consistent temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) BORA BORA, French Polynesia | Somehow I convinced my husband that the fifth wedding anniversary is the Tahitian anniversary. The traditional gift, actually, is wood.For years, I had dreamed of going to Bora Bora in French Polynesia. The lagoon’s glimmering turquoise, jade and cobalt blue waters, the overwater bungalows, the seclusion— for me, it was the ultimate bucket list destination.Some of the world’s most famous celebrities vacation in Bora Bora. Jennifer Aniston honeymooned there. Pictures of Justin Bieber swimming naked in Bora Bora circulated far and wide online last year. Usain Bolt celebrated his Olympic victories there in September. That doesn’t mean normal couples can’t go too — if they can afford it, of course. Our trip for a week, including flights and our hotel stay (with breakfast), cost just under $10,000.My husband and I spent a week lounging on the deck of our bungalow at Le Meridien Bora Bora. We woke early to catch brilliant orange and pink sunrises. We got up close and personal with sea creatures, from moray eels and trumpetfish to sea turtles, sharks and stingrays. We discovered that the saying heard in pearl shops, “You don’t choose the pearl, the pearl chooses you” is surprisingly true. Most of all, we tried to relax and take it all in.Bora Bora, located about 160 miles (260 kilometers) northwest of Tahiti, was formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Mount Otemanu, a remnant of the volcano, rises nearly 2,400 feet (730 meters) on the island and serves as the backdrop of many photos.About 9,000 people live in Bora Bora. The temperature is a relatively consistent 80 F (27 C).The island is set in a lagoon and surrounded by a string of motus, or small islets, where luxury resorts are located. The colors are stunning. A friend said my photo looked like a watercolor painting.We flew to Los Angeles, where many U.S. flights to Tahiti converge. From Los Angeles, it’s about an eight-hour overnight flight to Papeete, Tahiti. It’s less than an hour by plane from there to Bora Bora. Then it’s a short boat ride to the main city, Vaitape, or to one of the luxury resorts. We didn’t need vaccinations or a visa.Our overwater bungalow faced outward to the lagoon, which we requested when booking. Others are turned in, toward the resort. It featured a glass floor for fish watching and a spiral staircase for climbing into the lagoon.We splurged on massages early in the week, before our pale skin turned a reddish hue, and we fed baby sea turtles at the Turtle Center established at Le Meridien. We took the hotel’s boat to The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort to dine at the exclusive Lagoon restaurant by acclaimed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and to check out the lavish bungalows with private swimming pools over the lagoon.We tried paddle boarding. Then we tried snorkeling to find the sunglasses we lost while paddle boarding. Adventurous couples buzzed around the island on jet skis.Feeling adventurous ourselves, we signed up for a snorkeling trip to swim with stingrays and sharks. There are so many stingrays there, you feel their slick, rubbery bodies hitting your legs. One is an older, docile stingray the guides call “grandma.” Our guide from Teiva Tours lifted grandma and kissed it— on the mouth!But when the guides started “chumming” the waters with fish parts to draw blacktip sharks, we climbed back into the boat. The sharks were much more interested in the fish than in us, but we weren’t taking any chances of a misdirected chomp. In deeper waters, we snorkeled at the surface as 9-foot (3-meter) lemon sharks glided along the bottom.We also spent a day in Vaitape. There’s a center where locals sell their crafts, a small marketplace to stock up on sunscreen, juice and inexpensive French wine, and a cafe. The mountainside is home to cannons left behind by U.S. forces during World War II.The main thing we did though, was shop for Tahitian pearls. We were leaving one of the stores when I caught a glimpse of a pair of green pearl earrings. I walked away but no other pearl could compare, so we returned at the end of the day to buy the pearl that chose me.There’s a must-visit spot along the coastline, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the city center: Bloody Mary’s, a funky restaurant known for its seafood and celebrity visits. I enjoyed the restaurant’s signature plate of teriyaki wahoo and the house drink, a Bloody Mary of course, while my husband loved trying meka, a broadbill swordfish found in the South Pacific. By the entrance there’s a long list of famous people who have dined there.At the hotel, we ended the week as we began. We lounged on the deck, telling each other how unbelievable it was that we got to see such beauty in person and check Bora Bora off the bucket list.last_img read more


Richard Marx says he’s no ‘big hero’ after plane incident

first_imgLOS ANGELES | Richard Marx says he wasn’t a hero for apparently intervening after an unruly passenger disrupted a Korean Air flight and had to be restrained.Marx and his wife, Daisy Fuentes, documented the incident on Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday. The “Right Here Waiting” singer and Fuentes, a former MTV VJ, were married last year.FILE- In this Sept. 30, 2013, file photo, Richard Marx arrives at the LA Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Marx wrote Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, that he is not a hero for apparently intervening after an unruly passenger had to be forcibly restrained on a Korean Air flight between Hanoi and Seoul. Marx and his wife, former MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes, documented efforts to restrain the passenger on social media, and Marx later wrote that they were home safe. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)Fuentes wrote that her husband was the first to help subdue the man, and Marx criticized the flight crew for failing to properly restrain the man.A Korean Air spokesman confirmed the incident aboard the flight from Hanoi to Seoul and that photos on Marx’s Facebook page were shot during the flight. Cho Hyun Mook said the matter was under investigation and that it appears that crew members responded in accordance with airline policies.Marx posted a later update saying he and Fuentes were home safe and saying he wasn’t a “big ‘hero’” but “just did what I would hope anyone would do in the same situation.”Citing Incheon police, the Yonhap News Agency reported that the passenger was a 34-year-old South Korean man who became drunk after having two and a half glasses of hard liquor on the flight. Incheon police officials could not be reached for comment.last_img read more


Breast implants reveal problems in tracking device safety

first_img A change in FDA reporting policies in 2017 meant that reports of injuries from silicone gel-filled and saline-filled breast implants skyrocketed in the past year. Injury reports used to be provided in a quarterly tally, with one report standing in for thousands of individual cases. Jamee Cook poses for a photo at Rayburn House Office Building after meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in Washington. Cook had breast implants that ruptured and which she believes caused her medical problems. She now is lobbying the FDA and congressional leaders to do a better job of tracking and regulating medical devices. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) WASHINGTON  |  To all the world, it looked like breast implants were safe. From 2008 to 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration publicly reported 200 or so complaints annually — a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of implant surgeries performed each year.Then last fall, something strange happened: Thousands of problems with breast implants flooded the FDA’s system. More than 4,000 injury reports filed in the last half of 2017. Another 8,000 in the first six months of 2018.Suddenly, women like Jamee Cook had evidence suggesting their suffering might be linked to their breast implants. An emergency room paramedic, Cook had quit her job because of a vague but persistent array of health problems that stretched over a decade, including exhaustion, migraines, trouble focusing and an autoimmune disorder diagnosis.Why had it taken so long for complaints like hers to see the light of day?Makers of breast implants were required to track patients and their health. But for more than a decade, manufacturers with high numbers of recurring problems — in the case of implants, ruptures that required surgery to remove — were allowed to report issues in bulk, with one report standing in for thousands of individual cases and no way for the public to discern the true volume of incidents.That agreement stood even as the FDA began closely monitoring a rare type of cancer and acknowledged in 2011 that it might be linked to breast implants.“It looked like these devices had become safer, but they hadn’t,” Cook told The Associated Press. “The data was hidden. It’s a deceptive practice.”Once Cook’s textured saline implants were removed, she said the majority of her symptoms disappeared. Her experiences prompted her to become a patient safety advocate, lobbying lawmakers and organizing groups of women online who have concerns about breast implants.Public health advocates who’ve watched the debate over breast implant safety rage for nearly three decades say summary reporting is yet another way that information about the devices has been elusive for patients.“They were told those devices were safe — the FDA would go back and say ‘We only have this many reports,’” said Madris Tomes, a former FDA staffer who founded a company to analyze medical device reports. “But data was coming in another way that wasn’t public. It leaves the patients demoralized — they don’t understand how many other people are suffering.”The data came to light after the FDA instructed manufacturers in mid-2017 to go back and file individual reports in each case of patient injury, in response to a lawyer’s discovery that reports from his clients weren’t represented in the agency’s data. Patient advocates took up the issue, complaining about a lack of transparency and voicing concerns about a host of autoimmune problems they believed stemmed from their implants.But even as the FDA was dealing with the problems of how breast implant manufacturers had used summary reporting, the agency was moving to expand device makers’ flexibility in how they report problems, saying it was trying to reduce the industry’s paperwork requirements.This August, the agency began allowing roughly 90 percent of all medical devices — including all breast implants and more than 160 types of other high-risk implanted devices like artificial hips and replacement heart valves — to report malfunctions in a quarterly tally, instead of individually. They will not be able to report cases involving deaths or injuries that way, however.The FDA rejected claims that expanding summary reporting could harm public health by making problems with devices less transparent, saying the plan “will also yield benefits . such as helping FDA process malfunction reports more efficiently and helping both FDA and the public more readily identify malfunction trends.”FDA officials also said that the agency has closely monitored the breast implant industry in the past decade and issued updates about potential risks.Two of the largest breast implant manufacturers, Mentor and Allergan, said they stood behind the safety of their products, citing years of studies that have led to inconclusive evidence that autoimmune problems are linked to breast implants.“Our medical devices undergo extensive laboratory testing before they are submitted to government health experts for a science-based review,” Mentor spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley said. “Many of our devices undergo careful reviews by not just one, but multiple regulatory bodies around the world.”Still, it can be hard for breast implant patients and advocates to track problems that do arise.Insurance claims make no mention of the specific device or model implanted in a patient, and patients’ electronic health records aren’t required to record that either. In addition, products sold overseas can be renamed or carry a different model number, making international recalls or tracking across borders nearly impossible.Meanwhile, the FDA’s main database on medical device problems, which requires manufacturers to report patient deaths and serious injuries to the government within 30 days, relies on hand-typed entries from a variety of people — from patients to device manufacturers — to help track troubled products. That can lead to underreporting, along with missing and flawed data.Tomes said accurate, complete and publicly accessible data is crucial to identifying problems quickly and making sure devices are safe. The FDA numbers, she said, offer the lowest possible count of reports about problems with breast implants.“You can assume that the numbers are probably much, much higher,” she said.A Duke University report funded by the FDA in 2016 found that even though the agency collected data on device malfunctions for more than two decades, “reliably and efficiently tracking the medical device safety and effectiveness outcomes of most interest to patients remains a generally unfulfilled promise” that “significantly affects the public health.”Insurers, auto buyers and regulators all use a car’s VIN number to track a vehicle’s history, down to the line it was manufactured on at a specific factory, and the FDA’s own pharmaceutical drug oversight works similarly. But medical devices didn’t have a similar unique identifier until 2015, and many of the least-risky devices won’t put an ID into use until 2020. On top of that, experts say it could be years before their use is required in patient records, on insurance claims and in the FDA’s own data.What are the most common makes and models of breast implants reported as having caused injury? The FDA’s answer is still quite often “Unknown.”___The FDA requires manufacturers and medical facilities to file a report when any kind of medical device causes serious injury, death or malfunctions.The resulting database — called MAUDE, for Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience — is available online to the public, so consumers can search for a device type, manufacturer, the details of an incident and the date on which it occurred. That is, if the forms are filled out properly.But categories often are left blank, with no indication of the model or who submitted the report. And device names and manufacturers also are often misspelled, making it nearly impossible for users to find all the reports of problems with a specific device or company. For example, the data contains roughly 2,000 variations of the name Medtronic plc, one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers.Overall, the MAUDE data contains reports of more than 1.7 million injuries and nearly 83,000 deaths over the past 10 years for all types of medical devices, according to an analysis of FDA data by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which collaborated with the AP on a global investigation of medical device safety.But in looking at problems with the MAUDE data, the investigation found an additional 2,100 cases in the past five years where people died but their deaths were misclassified as “malfunctions” or “injuries.” Of those, 220 deaths could be directly linked to medical device failure; the other reports did not include enough information to determine conclusively if the device played a role.Beyond the misclassified data, FDA inspections at 17 hospitals in 2015 and 2016 found that only a fraction of “adverse events” were even being reported anyway. The review —which included major facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Chicago — found more than half failed to report deaths of patients with medical devices, as required by the agency’s rules. Jeffrey Shuren, the head of the FDA’s device division, said at the time that underreporting problems from hospitals was widespread. The agency enhanced compliance training for hospital employees nationwide as a result.Part of the problem, advocates say, is that the FDA’s guidelines for reporting problem devices is vague — the agency states that reports are required from manufacturers within 30 days of an event when evidence “reasonably suggests” that a device was involved, allowing companies to make their own judgments.S. Lori Brown, now a retired FDA senior researcher, used MAUDE for years in her studies of breast implants, ruptures and possible links to rare forms of cancer and a host of autoimmune disorders.“It’s a difficult database to use, because there’s no good way to confirm what’s reported, and there’s no denominator — you don’t know how many people have received breast implants,” Brown said. “The MAUDE database was just not very helpful in finding out how frequently things happened or how severe the impact was.”Where it was helpful, she said, was in gathering patient stories and seeing general trends. In the 1990s, even as manufacturers claimed breast implants were durable enough to be run over by a car without breaking, MAUDE showed silicone implants leaking gel into thousands of women’s bodies.“As a signal, it was a burning bush, for sure,” Brown said. “Because there were so many reports of ruptured implants from every manufacturer.”After the FDA removed silicone breast implants from the market in 1992, the public attention around ruptures and leaks resulted in a huge spike in the number reports about problems. During the 1990s, silicone implants represented the third-highest number of adverse events reports in MAUDE. At the time, the data show patients also complained about other symptoms, with hundreds of reports about chronic fatigue, headaches, autoimmune problems and fibromyalgia.In 2006, silicone implants returned to the market, under the requirement that companies track patients for at least a decade. Although more than half the women dropped out of the studies within the first two years, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston released a study this September using the data the companies did collect and found that certain rare health problems — including immune system and connective tissue disorders — might be more common with silicone gel implants. The FDA, which mandated the original data collection, later criticized the study, citing “inconsistencies in the data.”Last year, the FDA did confirm a link between breast implants, particularly textured saline or silicone models, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma — a rare cancer documented in only a few hundred cases.On its website, the FDA also noted more common problems with implants, such as ruptures, which can send silicone gel throughout the body. And the agency warned that implants “are not lifetime devices,” but will likely need to be removed or replaced at some point.The return of silicone implants, which advocates say feel more natural, has fueled a surge in surgeries. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported 400,000 procedures took place in 2017, up nearly 40 percent since 2000.More than three-quarters of the implant surgeries were for cosmetic, not reconstructive, reasons. And there were about 20 percent fewer removals compared to 2000, the data show.The increase in implants worries Diana Zuckerman, a medical researcher who was a congressional staffer during the earliest contentious House hearings on breast implant safety. She said poorly performed studies, research funded directly by manufacturers and the lack of data have left most women in the dark about the risks involved.“Somehow, it’s the most studied device and we have almost no useful information about it,” said Zuckerman, the president of the National Center for Health Research, a nonprofit think tank that performs its own research, assesses the quality of others’ research and works with patients.Zuckerman’s center reviewed more than 20 studies it says has been used by the industry to claim there is no evidence breast implants cause connective tissue problems and other long-term illnesses. She said almost all the studies were too small to detect rare diseases and conditions, only one required that participants have a medical exam and most didn’t focus on patients who had implants long enough for problems to develop.In September, Cook and 19 other breast implant patients-turned-health-advocates visited Washington to lobby the FDA for more stringent regulation, testing and reporting on breast implants. Among their requests — that all types of textured implants, which are more closely associated with lymphoma, be banned from the market, and that manufacturers be required to disclose the chemicals in silicone implants’ shell and gel filling, which the makers claim is a trade secret.The FDA has scheduled an advisory committee hearing for early 2019 on breast implant safety to address some of the U.S. group’s concerns and determine whether additional actions are needed to protect public health. The agency did not rule out the possibility of including a “black box warning,” the notification it puts on its most dangerous devices to draw attention to serious risks.However, the FDA said in a statement: “The agency continues to believe that the weight of the currently available scientific evidence does not conclusively demonstrate an association between breast implants and connective tissue diseases.”Cook, who leads several breast implant groups on Facebook from her home near Dallas, said she chose to get her implants, but did so with almost no information on the potential dangers.“If you had sat down with me and said ‘this is the list of chemicals you’re about to put in your body and you could get lymphoma,’ no way in hell I would have done it,” she said.Her implants, a textured saline model made by Poly Implant Prothese of France, were used in the U.S. for four years before the FDA implemented more stringent standards for breast implant approval in 2000. Under the new rules, the FDA denied the company’s application to sell implants in the U.S. after officials toured the company’s French plant and cited 11 major deficiencies in quality control and manufacturing practices.Poly Implant went bankrupt in 2010 after doctors in France noted abnormally high rupture rates of the implants, which were found to be filled with industrial-grade gel. The company’s president was found guilty of aggravated fraud, and French authorities advised tens of thousands of women to get their implants removed as a precautionary measure.Cook, 41, said she and others who already had the saline implants never were warned of the FDA’s actions.“I’m not going to sit back and be embarrassed about my decision when I can try to change the way that the future is going to occur for women younger than me,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re giving that patient the most safe device we possibly can. And above that, we need to make sure she understands what the risks are before she makes that choice.”___The FDA may now require an identifying number on medical devices, but Zuckerman and other advocates note one big issue with the code associated with breast implants: The number is not actually stamped on the implant itself, but on the packaging.“For the most part, these devices don’t cause immediate problems — they cause problems later,” Zuckerman said. “What good does it do to have these numbers if they’re not in your medical records and they aren’t on the implant itself?”The unique device identifier, or UDI, is intended to help standardize device names and manufacturer information and make it easier to track devices to help in recall efforts and analyses of problems.But that doesn’t work if the codes aren’t in the FDA’s own database. Tomes, whose company Device Events analyzes MAUDE data, said UDIs are still rarely included in adverse event reports and, even when they are, often are removed from the public data so they can’t be used to identify specific devices.“The whole point of having a UDI is so that hospitals and providers and insurance companies and anyone else would be able to say ‘I’m seeing a pattern, it’s all this serial number,’” Tomes said. “But it’s redacted.”Similarly, Tomes and others say the FDA’s expansion of summary reporting and its use of device registries — databases funded and maintained by outside organizations to track a singular specific device — may ultimately make less data available to consumers.This fall, the agency announced a breast implant registry run through the Plastic Surgery Foundation that will collect patient and device data — including UDI numbers for breast implants — and allow surgeons to track patients’ medical history, complications and follow-up surgeries.The participation of plastic surgeons in the registry is voluntary, and patients also can opt out. Doctors and researchers will have access to the collected data, but the public will not.As the FDA weighed its expansion of the summary reporting program earlier this year, Cook and a dozen other patients with medical device problems, along with the patient-advocacy group Public Citizen, urged the agency to rethink its plan.But the FDA sided with manufacturers and industry organizations, which had asked for easier reporting requirements for malfunctions, freeing them in some cases from filing tens of thousands of individual reports a year. Under the new rules now in place, roughly 90 percent of devices can report malfunctions quarterly.“Thousands on thousands of consumers are harmed every single year by medical devices and we are discussing making it easier to hide the information that we need to make an informed decision,” Cook wrote in her dissent to the plan.“While the goal is not to ‘hide’ the data,” she wrote, “in essence that is what is happening.”___AP Health Writer Matthew Perrone contributed to this story.center_img 1 of 2last_img read more


Ancient site linked to Caesar’s murder to open to public

first_imgROME | A complex of ancient temples in Rome that are linked to the scene of Julius Caesar’s murder will be opened to the public.A view of the archeological site of Largo Argentina, in Rome, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. A complex of ancient temples linked to Julius Caesar’s murder will be opened to the public. The below-street-level temple ruins at Largo Argentina in the heart of downtown Rome is visible to pedestrians. But Rome’s mayor said Monday by late 2021, walkways will be constructed inside the site so that tourists can stroll through the ruins. Bulgari luxury goods maker is sponsoring the work. The area includes a stone podium that was part of the senate-meeting place where Caesar was slain in 44 B.C. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)The below-street-level temple ruins at Largo Argentina in downtown Rome is visible to pedestrians peering from above but closed to visitors. For decades, access was enjoyed only by a colony of cats, the cadre of volunteers fed them and, occasionally, archaeologists.But Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi announced Monday that by late 2021, walkways will be built inside the site so tourists can stroll through the ruins. Luxury Bulgari jewelry-maker, which also funded the restoration of Rome’s Spanish Steps, is sponsoring the work.The ruins include a stone pedestal from the Curia of Pompey, the meeting place of senators, where Caesar was slain in 44 B.C.last_img read more


14-year old boy wins Hua Hin Open golf tournament

first_imgA 14-year-old Thai lad became the youngest male to win a major professional golf tournament last weekend with a stunning display that left players twice his age trailing in his wake. Pachara Khongwatmai, who was given the week off school to play in the Singha Hua Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour, marched to a four-stroke victory with a final round four-under-par score of 67 at the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course.Pachara Khongwatmai (center) is flanked by his parents as he poses with the champion’s trophy following his victory in the Singha Hua Hin Open at Royal Hua Hin Golf Course, Sunday, July 21.The youngster, who led by two at the start of the day, finished with a four-round aggregate of 13-under to head a formidable field, which listed most of his country’s top players including Prom Meesawat and Prayad Marksaeng. Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa had previously held the record as youngest winner – he was 15 years old when he won the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation.Pachara began playing golf when he was nine and practices each day after class.  He said after his win, “The first thing I need to do is call my friends and catch up on my homework.”last_img read more


United turn on the style with 4-0 win at Sriracha

first_imgPattaya United moved further away from the threat of Division 1 relegation with a 4-0 rout of neighbours Sriracha Ban Bueng FC last Sunday, August 3 at the IPE Chonburi Stadium. Phitsanulok246711-1825 Sriracha240321-433 Thai Division 1 Standings – August 3 Krabi24969233 Nakhon Pathom244137-225 Roi Et248610230 Bangkok23101031240 Saraburi24111031343 Siam Navy2412841344 Phuket23869-230 Trat248412528 Ang Thong2410951639 Pattaya United2410311-933 Chiangmai241077837 United struggled to make a breakthrough in the opening exchanges but Sriracha’s leaky defence offered the promise of goals aplenty provided the Dolphins’ forwards could exercise patience.  The opening goal duly arrived in the 40th minute when Pattaya’s Cristiano Lopes latched onto a left wing cross from Huangprakone to powerfully head the ball home for the only goal of the half.Pattaya United’s Patipat Armatantri (right) evades the attentions of the Sriracha defence during their Thai League Division 1 fixture at the IPE Chonburi Stadium, Sunday, August 3. (Photo/Pattaya United FC) BBCU241068036 TTM Lopburi247125133 TeamPWDL+/-Pts. Nakhon Ratchasima2415722452 Khonkaen243813-2017 Ayutthaya249510-232 United came out with more purpose after the break and doubled their lead on the hour mark as Brazilian midfielder Leo cleverly evaded 2 defenders on the edge of the Sriracha area before calmly stroking the ball past the advancing keeper and in off the far post.The Dolphins didn’t have to wait too long to add a third and effectively wrap up all three points.  In the 64th minute, Patipat Armatantri ran onto a reverse pass from Narakorn to hammer the ball into the Sriracha net and just 10 minutes later the same two players combined again, but this time it was Narakorn who provided the finished touch to seal a comprehensive win for the visitors.Pattaya United are now sitting in a more secure mid-table position on 33 points while Sriracha Ban Bueng remain rooted to the foot of the standings with relegation all but a certainty.Pattaya’s next fixture is on Sunday, August 10, at home to Bangkok FC.  Kick-off at the Nongprue Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m.last_img read more


Steele shows mettle to win Syd LeBron Memorial

first_imgJack had booked the usual reliable hotels, the Thipurai and City Beach, both in the centre of the bar and restaurant area; leaving an easy stroll out at night negating the need for taxis or tuktuks.  First port of call for many was of course the Outback Golf Bar in Hua Hin before dispersing amongst all the excellent establishments to be found in this great little place. (from left) John Lawton & Andy Butterworth and Freddy Starbeck.Here, golf is No.1, as all the courses allow walking although on these trips, very few do.  Black Mountain’s reputation precedes it and never fails to appeal, even though they just don’t seem to be able to stop spending money but close behind is the spectacular Banyan which remains an excellent test of golf, although rated somewhat easier than perhaps it should be.Springfield was the chosen course for Day 1 on Monday and was in excellent condition throughout; carts were allowed the course with no real sign of the rain that had fallen prior to our arrival and it remained dry for us but the wind did get up a bit, making the eighteenth in particular, very tricky.  The white tees on paper are shortish and given an easy rating of 69.6/119 but in reality, it’s nothing like that at all and plays considerably harder.Player of the day had to be the ebullient Freddy Starbeck who is often heard but perhaps not so often seen, as he marked his best gross round ever (78) and I believe he’s only been playing for about six years, to amass 42pts, the day’s best and with it winning Div B playing off his reduced course handicap of 11.Hua Hin Tour top three: (from left) Paul Hack, Denis Steele and Greg Hill.Close behind Freddy, dressed in the most outrageous trousers that you’re ever likely clap your eyes on, was Brian Rought with an excellent 41pts, which won him Div C.  Chris Voller battled his way round for a very fine 36pts to take Div A, again off a reduced handicap due to the course rating and Jim Connelly, a very late entrant to the trip, recovered from an indifferent start to post an excellent back nine and win Div D on 33pts.Other notables included local Hua Hin resident and one of tournament favourites, Greg Hill, Murray Hart and Bernie Stafford, all of whom shot 36pts, playing in Div C.The three day ‘2’s accumulator got off to a great start with seven ‘2’s being chalked up, mostly on the 6th from Pat Regan, Mark Rossiter, Russell Gilroy, Colin Jenkins & Leslie Kertesz.  The other two came from Bernie Stafford (4th) and Greg Hill (10th), the latter holing out his second shot on the par-4 for a points haul of 5!Div A (0-9)1st Chris Voller (07) 36pts2nd Mike Missler (07) 34pts3rd George Gardner (07) 33ptsDiv B (10-12)1st Freddy Starbeck (11) 42pts2nd Kim Danboise (12) 35pts3rd Denis Steele (12) 34ptsDiv C (13-16)1st Bryan Rought (16) 41pts2nd Greg Hill (16) 36pts3rd Murray Hart (13) 36ptsDiv D (18+)1st Jim Connelly (20) 33pts2nd Patrick Carty (23) 33pts3rd Tim Knight (24) 32ptsTuesday, August 25 – Syd LeBron Putter (Day 1)Black Mountain really is a course that shouldn’t be missed; it’s an absolute must but on this occasion we decided to adjust the rating and slope, as in March when we played, 25% of the field played to handicap or better and nearly half of those got 40pts or more.  Arguably, this course is supposedly harder than Banyan but our statistics say otherwise hence the easing of the rating and the decrease in the slope.We were away on time at 10am with a cloudy start as rain threatened towards midday but never actually materialized.  66 players today as Jack declined to play through an injured hand after a terrible round at Springfield and Scott, one of our newcomers withdrew due to a bad back.  The par-3 third hole was still a temporary and although short, did not give up many ‘2’ as it was not receptive and difficult to get the ball to stay on the green.John Lawton, who was sick the day before and went to bed early dosed up with various drugs, emerged as fresh as a daisy and going out last in a three-ball he promptly recorded the day’s best score of 39pts to win Div D.  Maybe we should have given him a drugs test!Good to see Mike Padilla and Maurice Copan back on tour with us and Mike celebrated his return with an excellent 36pts to take second in Div D.There were three 38’s, from Denis Steele and Paul Hack taking first and second in Div B respectively and another from Greg Hill, which gave him Div C.  Div A went to Andy Butterworth, who was another player to welcome back to the tours, with 37pts.Other notables included Andre Coetzee, Pat Regan, Bob Poole and Kevin Blake, a first-timer on tour; all of whom recorded 36pts.There were fifteen ‘2’s from Barry Copestake, & Andy Makara (3rd). Stephen Mann, Kim Danboise, Pat Regan, Denis Steele & John Pegrum again on the 8th. Martin Grimoldby, Phil Mitchell, Chris Voller & Freddy Starbeck (11th) and Sakorn Pramoolchart and Pat Regan & Denis Steele both had repeats on the 14th.Div A (0-11)1st Andy Butterworth (11) 37pts2nd Kevin Blake (08) 36pts3rd Andre Coetzee (07) 36ptsDiv B (12-15)1st Denis Steele (13) 38pts2nd Paul Hack (13) 38pts3rd Pat Regan (12) 36ptsDiv C (16-20)1st Greg Hill (18) 38pts2nd Bob Poole (19) 36pts3rd John Fitzgerald (20) 33ptsDiv D (21+)1st John Lawton (21) 39pts2nd Michael Padilla (27) 36pts3rd Tim Knight (26) 33ptsThursday, August 27 – Syd LeBron Putter (Day 3)Following the rest day on Wednesday, Banyan was an early two-way start at 9am and we were away on time.  The course had been set up at around 6500 yards but many still thought it was a bit long.  When we return here next March, we actually play Banyan twice and I promise the first round will be from the whites!After the first two rounds, Freddy Starbeck (77) held a three shot lead over Brian Rought and Greg Hill both on 74 with Denis Steele in fourth with 72.  Going out in reverse order, the aforementioned were the last group out so it was to be sometime before we discovered whether Freddy would hang on.As the first groups returned, there was still no rain and this tricky course does not give up good scores easily – mid 20’s to low 30’s were generally the norm.  Marty Burbidge posted a 37 to win Div A from Andy Butterworth (36), Jim Brackett (34), Chris Voller (33) and a whole host on 31pts headed by J P Maffray on c/b.The best Div C could do was 35pts from Keith Buchanan with three more on 32, namely Paul Kaiser, Bob Mattes and Greg Hill, with Bob Poole 5th on 31.Andy Makara showed his liking for this course, as with previous visits, to score 38pts and take Div D from John Fitzgerald and Tony Aslett on 35pts apiece.  Paul Hack recorded the top score of the day of 40pts to take Div B ahead of Denis Steele (39) who was five clear of Pat Regan with 34.There were another eight ‘2’s bring the total ‘2’s pot to 30, the most we have ever had over three days!  Today they went to George Gardner, Stefan Hoge, Denis Steele & Sakorn (2nd), Paul Hack (4th), J P Maffray (15th) and Gordon Etheridge & JP again on the difficult 17th.Everybody was in by 2.30pm and Jack, ably assisted by Suzi and Tim worked hard to get the final results produced.  Jack preceded the presentation with a thanks to everyone for their support and a welcome to all the newcomers before assuring all that the tours would continue for the foreseeable future with the next being Chaing Rai & Chiang Mai in October.  He then handed the floor over to Andre, the new Outback Golf Bar owner to say a few words.  Andre spoke briefly about his plans for the Outback and also of a planned golf tour to South Africa in November 2016.Eventually the time came and after the daily result was the overall, with Paul Hack moving into third place after his brilliant 40 today on a total of 105, with Greg Hill second on 106 and the winner by five on 111 was Denis Steele, who has been knocking on the door of these events for a number of years.  So well done Denis and commiserations to Freddy who did so well to finish fourth on 103.  Jim Brackett and Pat Regan shared fifth spot on 101.Div A (0-11)1st Martin Burbidge (08) 37pts2nd Andy Butterworth (11) 36pts3rd Jim Brackett (07) 34ptsDiv B (12-14)1st Paul Hack (13) 40pts2nd Denis Steele (13) 39pts3rd Pat Regan (12) 34ptsDiv C (15-19)1st Keith Buchanan (15) 35pts2nd Paul Kaiser (18) 32pts3rd Bob Mattes (18) 32ptsDiv D (20+)1st Andy Makara (28) 38pts2nd John Fitzgerald (21) 35pts3rd Tony Aslett (26) 35ptsOverall Positions1st Denis Steele 111pts2nd Greg Hill 106pts3rd Paul Hack 105pts4th Freddy Starbeck 103pts5th Pat Regan 101ptsNote:  The Outback Golf Bar is situated about 6km from Sukhumvit Road along Soi Siam Country.  Call Andre on 092 167 4951. Golf for all at the Outback Golf BarMonday, August 24 – Syd LeBron Putter (Day 1)In one of the customary Hua Hin Tours from the Outback, 66 players and friends travelled down on an exceptionally quiet Sunday to contest the 5th Syd LeBron Memorial Putter.  Two other players, who flew in from Australia, were already in Hua Hin, arriving two days earlier, making a full field and a low season record, of 68.last_img read more


Inside Conditions…Quadruple Threats

first_imgAubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741Follow him on Twitter@ultrascribe Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) gets past Miami Dolphins free safety Bacarri Rambo (30) en route to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an AFC Wild Card NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Wright)Hip, hip, hooray.  Hip, hip, hooray.  The Pittsburgh Steelers put the Miami Dolphins in a stranglehold defeating the “fish” from the “Sunshine State” by the score of 30-12.  The score would have been far more lopsided than that if Steelers Quarterback “Big” Ben Roethlisberger had not again thrown two “questionable” interceptions.Aubrey BruceOne fan going by the name of John Johnson had this response on espn.com on Sunday afternoon/evening.  “Ben’s decision making will be the undoing of the Steelers next week. He has for the last 6 weeks made the most bone headed interceptions, he cannot do this next week, especially while Brady has a vacation in Hawaii.”Brian Miller who has himself listed as a: “Tax Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,” had this to say. “There will probably be many future comments referring to the game between the Steelers and Chiefs earlier this year. But just like this game against Miami, anything can happen the second time around. They need to come out with a fire just like they did today.”Okay, enough with the criticism.  The Steelers played as if they were the undertakers and the Miami Dolphins were the “stiffs.” The Dolphins were talking smack back in week 6 when the “Fish” beat the Steelers, 30-15 down in the balmy city of Miami.  They had no idea that they would have to duplicate that feat in a playoff game on the frozen tundra disguised a gridiron, named Heinz Field.Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi in week 6 ran for over 200 yards against the Black and Gold defense, looked as if he were a 200lb + ballerina performing in a Russian Ballet being performed at South Beach.  On Sunday he looked as if he were a hypothermic hiker just waiting to be rescued from the top of a mountain summit after being accidentally caught in a snowstorm.By the way, not all of the comments posted on espn.com were unfriendly concerning “Big” Ben.  Ulloa Familia came to Roethlisberger defense in a very adamant way. “Are you playing the game?” He asked and answered his own question. “I don’t think so.  You don’t know the kind of pressure he’s under.  Yes he made a mistake all quarterbacks do but he’s brought this team to the playoffs and he will continue to do his best for the team and that’s all we can ask for.. Now unless you’re the one getting sacked and having the pressure of winning an entire game on your shoulders I suggest you keep your comments and thoughts to yourself about this team or find another team to root for. If you’re a true fan then don’t talk crap about our own players.”  Way to go Se·ñor Familia: That’s right don’t be a fair weather fan because there will not be any fair weather, (maybe, maybe not) or fair weather fans in Kansas City waiting to embrace the Steelers when they roll into K.C.  There cannot afford to be any letdowns here.  (Espn.com was a source for this article)last_img read more