iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

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CDC Says Emergency Room Wait Time Averages an Hour

August 6, 2008

The average time that hospital emergency rooms patients wait to see a doctor has grown from about 38 minutes to almost an hour over the past decade, according to new federal statistics released Wednesday.

The increase is due to supply and demand, said Dr. Stephen Pitts, the lead author of the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are more people arriving at the ERs. And there are fewer ERs,” said Pitts, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Atlanta’s Emory University.

Overall, about 119 million visits were made to U.S. emergency rooms in 2006, up from 90 million in 1996 – a 32 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the number of hospital emergency departments dropped to fewer than 4,600, from nearly 4,900, according to American Hospital Association statistics.

Another reason for crowding is patients who are admitted to the hospital end up waiting in the ER because of the limited number of hospital beds, Pitts added.

A shortage of surgical specialists also contributes. So, too, does the difficulty many patients have in getting appointment to doctor’s offices – which causes some to turn to emergency departments, experts said.

“It takes me a month to get an appointment for my own doctor, and I’m a physician, for God’s sake,” said Dr. Ricardo Martinez, an Atlanta trauma physician. He is executive vice president of Schumacher Group, an organization that manages about 140 hospital emergency departments.

The amount of time a patient waited before seeing a physician in an ER has been rising steadily, from 38 minutes in 1997, to 47 minutes in 2004, to 56 minutes in 2006.

Pitts added that 56 minutes may be the average, but it’s not typical: The average was skewed to nearly an hour because of some very long waits.

“Half of people had waiting times of 31 minutes or less,” Pitts noted.

Researchers also found that there has not been any recent increases in the number of patients arriving by ambulance, or in the number of cases considered to be true emergencies.

Black patients visited emergency departments at twice the rate as whites in 2006. Among age groups, the highest visitation rates were for infants and elderly people aged 75 and older.

About 40 percent of ER patients had private insurance, about 25 percent were covered by state programs for children and about 17 percent were covered by Medicare, the report found. About 17 percent were uninsured.

Some more findings: Summer and winter were the busiest season in ERs, and the early evening – around 7 p.m. – tended to be the busiest time of day. There were geographic differences as well, with hospitals in the South having the highest ER visitation rates.

Also, half of hospital admissions in 2006 came through emergency departments, up from 36 percent in 1996.

“The ER has become the front door to the hospital,” said Pitts, a fellow at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Some doctors said the report supports a call for increased governmental funding for hospital emergency services.

“Millions more people each year are seeking emergency care, but emergency departments are continuing to close, often because so much care goes uncompensated,” Dr. Linda Lawrence, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in a statement.

“This report is very troubling, because it shows that care is being delayed for everyone, including people in pain and with heart attacks,” her statement added.

The results are based on a national survey of 362 hospital emergency departments.

Article by Mike Stobbe

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Obama Speaks Out Against Slavery Reparations

August 2, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama opposes offering reparations to the descendants of slaves, putting him at odds with some black groups and leaders.

The man with a serious chance to become the nation’s first black president argues that government should instead combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all.

“I have said in the past – and I’ll repeat again – that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed,” the Illinois Democrat said recently.

Some two dozen members of Congress are co-sponsors of legislation to create a commission that would study reparations – that is, payments and programs to make up for the damage done by slavery.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supports the legislation, too. Cities around the country, including Obama’s home of Chicago, have endorsed the idea, and so has a major union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Obama has worked to be seen as someone who will bring people together, not divide them into various interest groups with checklists of demands. Supporting reparations could undermine that image and make him appear to be pandering to black voters.

“Let’s not be naive. Sen. Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life,” said Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. “In light of the demographics of this country, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he’s done.”

But this is not a position Obama adopted just for the presidential campaign. He voiced the same concerns about reparations during his successful run for the Senate in 2004.

There’s enough flexibility in the term “reparations” that Obama can oppose them and still have plenty of common ground with supporters.

The NAACP says reparations could take the form of government programs to help struggling people of all races. Efforts to improve schools in the inner city could also aid students in the mountains of West Virginia, said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau.

“The solution could be broad and sweeping,” Shelton said.

The National Urban League – a group Obama is to address Saturday – avoids the word “reparations” as too vague and highly charged. But the group advocates government action to close the gaps between white America and black America.

Urban League President Marc Morial said he expects his members to press Obama on how he intends to close those gaps and what action he would take in the first 100 days of his presidency.

“What steps should we take as a nation to alleviate the effects of racial exclusion and racial discrimination?” Morial asked.

The House voted this week to apologize for slavery. The resolution, which was approved on a voice vote, does not mention reparations, but past opponents have argued that an apology would increase pressure for concrete action.

Obama says an apology would be appropriate but not particularly helpful in improving the lives of black Americans. Reparations could also be a distraction, he said.

In a 2004 questionnaire, he told the NAACP, “I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say, ‘We’ve paid our debt,’ and to avoid the much harder work.”

Taking questions Sunday at a conference of minority journalists, Obama said he would be willing to talk to American Indian leaders about an apology for the nation’s treatment of their people.

Pressed for his position on apologizing to blacks or offering reparations, Obama said he was more interested in taking action to help people struggling to get by. Because many of them are minorities, he said, that would help the same people who would stand to benefit from reparations.

“If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they’re disproportionately uninsured,” Obama said. “If we’ve got an agenda that says every child in America should get – should be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it’s oftentimes our children who can’t afford to go to college.”

One reparations advocate, Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton, bluntly responded: “I think he’s dead wrong.”

She said aid to the poor in general won’t close the gaps – poor blacks would still trail poor whites, and middle-class blacks would still lag behind middle-class whites. Instead, assistance must be aimed directly at the people facing the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws, she said.

“People say he can’t run and get elected if he says those kinds of things,” Randall said. “I’m like, well does that mean we’re really not ready for a black president?”

Article by Christopher Wills

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CDC Report Says Mississippi Is Most Obese

July 17, 2008

Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee lead the nation when it comes to obesity, a new government survey reported Thursday.

More than 30 percent of adults in each of the states tipped the scales enough to ensure the South remains the nation’s fattest region.

Colorado was the least obese, with about 19 percent fitting that category in a random telephone survey last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2007 findings are similar to results from the same survey the three previous years. Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate every year since 2004. But Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana have also clustered near the top of the list, often so close that the difference between their rates and Mississippi’s may not be statistically significant.

Why is the South so heavy? The traditional Southern diet – high in fat and fried food – may be part of the answer, said Dr. William Dietz, who heads CDC’s nutrition, physical activity and obesity division.

The South also has a large concentration of rural residents and black women – two groups that tend to have higher obesity rates, he said.

Colorado, meanwhile, is a state with a reputation for exercise. It has plentiful biking and hiking trails, and an elevation that causes the body to labor a bit more, Dietz said.

Obesity is based on the body mass index, a calculation using height and weight. A 5-foot, 9-inch adult who weighs 203 pounds would have a BMI of 30, which is considered the threshold for obesity.

CDC officials believe the telephone survey of 350,000 adults offers conservative estimates of obesity rates, because it’s based on what respondents said about their height and weight. Men commonly overstate their height and women often lowball their weight, health experts say.

“The heavier you are, the more you underestimate your weight, probably because you don’t weigh yourself as often,” Dietz said.

Overall, about 26 percent of the respondents were obese, according to the study, published this week in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A different CDC survey – a gold-standard project in which researchers actually weigh and measure survey respondents – put the adult obesity rate at 34 percent in 2005 and 2006, the most recent years for which there are data.

Article by Mike Stobbe

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


The Death of Bozo the Clown – Larry Harmon Dies at 83

July 3, 2008


Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died at his home Thursday of congestive heart failure at the age of 83.

Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular frizzy-haired clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of TV stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.

Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney’s Goofy, originated Bozo the Clown when Capitol Records introduced a series of children’s records in 1946. Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.

He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo’s distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume. The business, combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal appearances, made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

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Watermelons May Help In The Bedroom According To Research

July 3, 2008

Watermelons contain an ingredient called citrulline that can trigger production of a compound that helps relax the body’s blood vessels, similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra, according to researchers. Found in the flesh and rind of watermelons, citrulline reacts with the body’s enzymes when consumed in large quantities and is changed into arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and the circulatory and immune systems.

“Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it,” said Bhimu Patil, a researcher and director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center. “Watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra, but it’s a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side effects.”

The nitric oxide can also help with angina, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, according to the study paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More citrulline, about 60 percent, is found in watermelon rind than in the flesh, according to the research, but that can vary. Scientists may be able to find ways to boost the concentrations in the flesh. Citrulline is found in all colors of watermelon and is highest in the yellow-fleshed types, said Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a USDA researcher in Lane, Okla.

According to Perkins-Veazie, the research is valid, but with a caveat: One would need to eat about six cups of watermelon to get enough citrulline to boost the body’s arginine level. “The problem you have when you eat a lot of watermelon is you tend to run to the bathroom more,” Perkins-Veazie said. Watermelon is a diuretic and was a homeopathic treatment for kidney patients before dialysis became widespread.

Another issue is the amount of sugar that much watermelon would spill into the bloodstream – a jolt that could cause cramping, Perkins-Veazie said.

The relationship between citrulline and arginine might also prove helpful to those who are obese or suffer from type-2 diabetes. The beneficial effects are beginning to be revealed in research. Citrulline is present in other curcubits, like cucumbers and cantaloupe, at very low levels, and in the milk protein casein. The highest concentrations of citrulline are found in walnut seedlings, Perkins-Veazie said.

“But they’re bitter and most people don’t want to eat them,” she said.

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Bush Freezes Cuts in Medical Fees

June 30, 2008

The Bush administration said Monday it is freezing a scheduled 10 percent fee cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients, giving Congress time to act to prevent the cuts when lawmakers return from a July 4 recess.

Physicians have been running ads hinting that as a result of the cuts, patients may find doctors less willing to treat them. The administration’s delay in implementing the cuts, which had been scheduled to go into effect Tuesday, spares lawmakers from having to use the recess to explain to seniors why they didn’t do the job before leaving town.

Kevin Schweers, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold doctors’ Medicare claims for services delivered on or after July 1. Claims for services received on before June 30 will be processed as usual, he said.

Congress, not willing to face millions of angry seniors at the polls in November, will almost certainly act quickly when it returns to Washington the week of July 7 to prevent the cuts in payments for some 600,000 doctors who treat Medicare patients. The cuts were scheduled because of a formula that requires fee cuts when spending exceeds established goals.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt had promised Friday that his agency “will take all steps available to the department under the law to minimize the impact on providers and beneficiaries.” On Monday, the department used its administrative tools to delay implementing the scheduled 10.6 percent cuts.

“By holding claims for health care services that are delivered on or after July 1, CMS will not be making any payments on the 10.6 percent reduction until July 15 at the earliest,” Schweers said.

Almost every year, Congress finds a way to block such cuts. But last week the Senate fell just one vote short of the 60 needed to proceed to legislation that would have stopped the cut.

In a particularly vitriolic exchange, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for what Dr. Nancy H. Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, said has put the country “at the brink of a Medicare meltdown.”

“Seniors need continued access to the doctors they trust. It’s urgent that Congress make that happen,” the AMA said in ads taken out in Capitol Hill newspapers read by members of Congress and their aides.

Doctors have complained for years that Medicare payments have failed to cover rising costs.

This year majority Democrats homed in on cutting the Medicare Advantage program, which is an ideological issue for both parties. The Bush administration and Republicans like Medicare Advantage because it lets the elderly and disabled choose to get their health benefits through private insurers rather than through traditional Medicare. Democrats argued that government payments to the insurers are too generous.

The White House warned that President Bush would be urged to veto a bill that contained cuts to Medicare Advantage.

That didn’t stop the House last Tuesday from approving the legislation 355-59, well above the margin needed to override a veto. Every Democrat supported it, and Republicans, bucking their president, voted 129-59 for it.

Originally found @ AssociatedPress.com

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.