Thursday, September 18, 2014

Math Teacher Is Third-Ever Contestant to Win $1 Million on Wheel of Fortune

Math Teacher Is Third-Ever Contestant to Win $1 Million on Wheel of Fortune

Math Teacher Is Third-Ever Contestant to Win $1 Million on Wheel of Fortune

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:49 AM PDT

A Maryland math teacher has a lot of arithmetic to do after Wednesday night’s Wheel of Fortune—how she’s going to spend the $1,017,500 she won on the game show.

In addition to winning the show’s biggest prize, Sarah Manchester won a trip to the Dominican Republic, and is “soaking in every minute” of her victory, the Associated Press reports. Manchester, who teaches at Takoma Park Middle School, filmed the show in May.

Manchester is the third-ever contestant to win the $1 million prize, according to WJLA-TV, following two contestants who won the prize in 2013 and 2008. Manchester told AP that she plans to use her winnings on her two kids’ education and to travel with her family.

The $1 million wedge was added to the wheel in 2008. To win the prize, the contestant must first collect the wedge, and make it to the Bonus Round without going bankrupt. There, one of the wedge’s envelopes that’d normally contain $100,000 is replaced with one containing $1 million. The contestant spins for a wedge, the host collects the envelope, the contestant must solve the challenge, and finally, the envelope’s content is revealed.

J.J. Abrams Mashes Up Star Wars and Batman in Episode VII Tease

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:26 AM PDT

J.J. Abrams made the internet very happy Thursday. The Star Wars director tweeted out a video that at first seems like Episode VII footage, but then becomes something even greater: A Star Wars/Batman mashup.

It’s the Millennium Falcon as you’ve never seen it before.

Abrams has been exchanging these mashups with Batman v. Superman director Zack Snyder:

Fan fiction enthusiasts, commence!

Obama Hasn’t Saved Our Rural Clinic

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:15 AM PDT

Thirty-eight years ago, a young nurse practitioner moved his family from Denver to Downieville, California, the Sierra County seat, to volunteer for the National Health Service Corps.

On my first night in town, I was hooking up the television for my children and by sheer coincidence received a fragmented radio signal through the TV receiver from the sheriff’s office: There was an emergency, and they needed medical help. I found the sheriff’s office and was whisked to the crisis—a car resting precariously on an embankment 150 feet below the road, with an unconscious person inside. I was lowered down by a tow truck cable, then secured the vehicle and started the patient on an IV. He was lifted back up on a Stokes rescue litter and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital—in Grass Valley, 50 miles away.

What had I gotten myself into?

When I arrived in Downieville—population 500—in 1976, there was virtually no consistent primary medical care or integrated emergency medical services response to trauma and medical emergencies. An emergency like the one I’d attended depended on well-intentioned citizens getting into cars and trying to help out. No one knew what a nurse practitioner was; I lacked any credibility except what I could demonstrate or do for the ill or injured.

Luckily, I loved what I was doing from the start, and my work became our family’s story.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which places health professionals in rural communities, had sent me to Downieville to open a health clinic. NHSC would pay my salary and clinical expenses for a couple years, then the operation would be taken over by the community.

I started by building the clinic’s infrastructure: buying equipment, hiring staff, developing integrated referral processes to make it easy for patients to see specialists, and creating an emergency response system. Because of Downieville’s geographic isolation, the clinic staff needed to be able to treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. We took classes at the UC Davis School of Medicine to fill in gaps, and I got licensed through the state to do things like dispense medication in the absence of a local pharmacy.

After the NHSC placement and funding ended, I decided to stay on in Downieville. The California State Rural Health Association funded my salary, and I wrote grants to foundations and nonprofits to build up the facility, though we still operated on a month-to-month basis.

In 2007, our peak year, the clinic offered access to a nutritionist, physical therapy, and home care, and had substantial savings in the bank. But then the recession hit, our grants started to dry up, and state funding levels dropped.

Over the past few years, Downieville has been caught up in changes for funding health clinics. Federal and state priorities have shifted from rural and frontier areas to underserved, urban population areas. When you do the math, the cost-per-patient equation will always come out in favor of a clinic in an urban area. As a result, a rural clinic must rely on the support of a larger, population-focused clinic.

In 2010, the number of patients we were seeing yearly decreased from 4-4,500 to 3-3,500, and we joined forces with a clinic in Grass Valley that sees 17,000 patients per year. Originally, the Downieville clinic was guaranteed continuing support for our 24 hour, 7 days per week medical care. But nutrition, physical therapy, and dental services were all cut. Behavioral health services are now accessed via telemedicine.

On October 1, Downieville’s medical care is scheduled to be reduced to three days per week. The integrated frontier healthcare delivery system I built over decades is being systematically dismantled; I worry that a patient will come into the clinic one day and be greeted by nothing more than an iPad.

The clinic is going to join forces with other community partners to develop an integrated 24 hour a day, seven days a week paramedic and clinic system. It won’t be ideal, but it is sustainable. And it will probably be paid for by the people it serves—with support from a western Sierra County health services fee for all landowners, increased user fees for community events, and higher ambulance fees.

Now, under the Affordable Care Act, everybody has insurance. Theoretically, this means people should have more access to healthcare. But that’s not true in Downieville. More insurance won’t help people if healthcare treatments are inconsistent or unavailable.

One of the changes expected to take place in this new healthcare landscape is more reimbursement for clinics. But such reimbursement is based on the number of people served. There are not enough patient encounters in frontier areas like ours to be sustainable without grant or government funding.

Frank Lang is a family nurse practitioner. He has a master’s degree from the University of Colorado School of Nursing and is a graduate of the University of California Davis School of Medicine Family Nurse Practitioner Program. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Your Doctor Should Reveal Biases and Pharma Ties, Says Group

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:01 AM PDT

Studies have reported that around 94% of doctors have some sort of relationship with pharmaceutical companies. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than one third of physician respondents received reimbursement from drug companies for costs associated with meetings or continuing education, and over a quarter received payments for enrolling patients in trials, or for consultations and lectures. Patients can already see if their doctor has received compensation from drug companies on ProPublica’s database, Dollars for Docs—but one physician wants to take that a step further.

Dr. Leana Wen, director of patient-centered care research at George Washington University recently launched “Who’s My Doctor,” a platform where doctors can sign a Total Transparency Manifesto and disclose what outside funding they receive, what proportion of their pay comes from where and, if they’re willing, details about their family, political affiliation and philosophy of practice. For instance, a woman may want to know how her doctor feels about contraception, or abortion, or early breast cancer screenings. Parents might want to know how a doctor feels about routine vaccination. They can also, of course, see which drug companies, if any, the doctor has ties to.

“Dozens of studies have shown that when docs receive money from drug companies—even a free lunch—it does affect prescription behavior,” she says. Indeed, despite doctors’ assurances that pharmaceutical relationships don’t interfere with patient care, other research and investigations has showed it does.

“As doctors we need to be able to establish and maintain that trust,” says Wen in an interview with TIME. “I think financial interest is a big problem. If we are ashamed to tell our patients about our financial conflicts of interest then we should question why we have them in the first place.” Wen spoke about her pledge at the TEDMed conference in early September. Part of her motivation came from watching her mother, who was battling breast cancer, discover that her physician was financially tied to the chemotherapy regimen he prescribed.

Not all doctors support the idea of asking physicians to declare personal preferences and background. Some posted criticisms about Wen’s platform when she launched it in spring 2014. “I devoted 12 years of my life to being a slave. I have loans and mortgages…. I depend on lunches from drug companies to serve patients,” wrote one doctor. Another commented: “I find it an invasion of my privacy to disclose where my income comes from. My patients don’t disclose their incomes to me.”

Other doctors are on-board, though. “I want doctors to see this as a positive thing for them and I want patients to be asking for it too,” says Wen. “This is the right thing to do.”

Musician Unfazed By Butterfly Landing on Face Mid-Performance

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:01 AM PDT

Chicago-based flutist Yukie Ota handled a challenging distraction during her performance like a true champion on Monday at the Carl Nielsen Flute Competiton in Odense, Denmark. A butterfly landed on her face and she barely looked up.

While most people would react to any critter (beautiful wings or no) landing smack atop their forehead by quickly melting down, Yukie Ota barely blinked, and finished out the piece with poise and grace, with an expression that said, “Butterfly? What butterfly?”

To top it all off, she evidently advanced to the next round.

In their report on the story, NPR enlisted the help of a Smithsonian Museum of Natural History curator to figure out what on earth drew the butterfly to the performer’s face at that moment. The expert’s answer: the bug likely was attracted to the saltiness of her sweat under the bright lights of the stage. Nope. No pressure at all.


California Declares a State of Emergency as Wildfires Spread

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:00 AM PDT

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Wednesday in two northern counties as wildfires spread with explosive speed.

A fire in El Dorado County east of Sacramento more than doubled in size Wednesday night, from 44 square miles to 111 square miles, the Los Angeles Times reports, and was just 5% contained by Thursday morning. A separate fire in the northern Siskiyou County that started late Monday has damaged more than 150 structures, including a churches, and was about 65% contained.

“It’s been an explosive couple of days,” CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant told the Associated Press. Thousands of firefighters are helping to tackle the blazes, which threaten some 4,000 homes.

Federal aid has been apportioned to cover the cost of fighting the fire that began Monday, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted a request Wednesday for additional aid to combat the fire in El Dorado.

[Los Angeles Times]

10 Years Later: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s Wedding Planner Reflects

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 10:00 AM PDT

In case you wanted proof of your waning youth, Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s wedding — a day when a promising young pop star and a dude nicknamed “Meat Pole” decided to throw caution to the wind and say “I do.”

“Ten years — it totally freaks me out,” says wedding planner Alyson Fox, reflecting on the September 18, 2004, nuptials. The day marked Fox’s first (and only) celebrity wedding. While it was originally planned as a big October wedding at the Bacara in Santa Barbara, things rapidly changed after the paparazzi figured out the date and location. Fox was left with about 10 days to organize a completely new, surprise wedding — and, not trusting any other venue to keep the secret, she held it at her own house.

Most Britney fans probably don’t celebrate her short-lived marriage’s anniversary; some even see it as a key moment in a downward spiral from which she has only recently recovered. Still, though Britney filed for divorce in 2006, Fox holds that marriage dear.

TIME spoke to Fox about the whirlwind wedding, young love and the groomsmens’ infamous white Juicy velour “pimp” tracksuits.

TIME: Britney and Kevin Federline’s engagement was huge. Did you think that this would be one of the biggest weddings-
Alyson Fox: —of my career? Yes, I mean, she is Britney Spears. I first interviewed with Felicia, her assistant for years, and I didn’t know who I was meeting with, just that it was a VIP… I met Britney and her mom the next day and they all couldn’t be nicer. The sweetest. I mean they’re from the South. Britney’s so polite, she kept calling me Miss Alyson, and I was like, ‘Oh my God don’t do that; that makes me feel old.’

And then you met Kevin.
They were like any young couple. Very much in love, very touchy feely.

What was the original wedding going to be like?
They came up with a list of 200 to 250 people, and we thought the Bacara would be great. We were designing the most beautiful but not over the top, elegant but shabby chic, gorgeous but fun event… It was a really fun experience. I have not one negative thing to say until we had to move the whole wedding.

So what happened?
A publication printed the location and date of the wedding. I got a call from a very unhappy Kevin. [Unhappy at the situation not her.] Even though I told them that we had the best security team and it could still go on without a hitch, they didn’t want 100 million people standing outside trying to take pictures, ruining the intimacy and privacy of that event. So we had to go to Plan B, and we had to do it fast.

You had a “Plan B”?
Well, we planned it in 10 days or less… Everything was already in the works, Monique Lhuillier was making all the gowns that were basically ready, all the vendors were in place for the big wedding — we just didn’t have a location. In that week we decided we can’t do it at a hotel, we can’t do a venue because people were going to know. We limited the guest list to the two families and the wedding party, and then we talked to Britney and Kevin about doing a surprise wedding. Nobody would know.

Not even Britney’s mom?
No. Nobody knew… We told everyone and our vendors we were having an engagement party. We tried to use every vendor we could who was going to help at the wedding.

And you would throw it at your house in Studio City?
Well, their place wasn’t ready yet… The vendors made the house look stunning. It was so beautiful. I only wish they could have had more people… Every person who walked in that night, we handed then an invitation, they opened it up and it said “surprise!” you are here for the wedding and not the engagement party. And we would direct them to the room where they would change into their gowns and tuxedos…

Tuxedos? I thought the men were wearing those white Juicy velour jumpsuits…
No! That’s what they left the house in. They were in tuxedos and gowns. Everybody made such a big deal about that, but that’s what Juicy did for every celebrity who got married. They’d send them the cute little tracksuits. I asked Britney and Kevin what they wanted printed on the back, and Britney said, “Maids! Maids will be cute!” And it was. It was cute! And he said “Pimps” which was adorable… People are closed-minded. It was a joke, it was for fun. It was Juicy tracksuits! 10 years ago people would have given anything for a Juicy tracksuit.

You must not have gotten a lot of sleep that week.
Oh I didn’t sleep that week. And I didn’t sleep the week after, because there were all these stories going on [at the time] that they weren’t really married, and all this B.S. People are going to think what they’re going to think, but I know the truth. They were wonderful people and I’ll say that until the day I die. To this day I don’t talk to a lot of people about it because I still feel protective over them. Unfortunately it didn’t work out — but what is it, 60% of marriages that don’t?

Read TIME’s 1999 profile of Britney Spears here, in the archives: A Sweet Sensation

ISIS Releases Video of ‘Message’ from British Hostage

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 09:56 AM PDT

A video posted on Youtube shows John Cantlie, a British press photographer, delivering a ‘message’ to the public as a captive of the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Cantlie, 43, has been held prisoner for almost two years by the same militants responsible for the beheading of two American journalists and one British aid worker since August. ISIS began posting videos online after the U.S. began launching airstrikes in northern Iraq.

The video runs for just over 3 minutes and is titled “Lend Me Your Ears, Messages from the British Detainee John Cantlie”.

The journalist, who appears in an orange shirt sitting behind a desk, speaks calmly but makes it clear he is under duress. “Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking: ‘he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner. He’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this,’ right?” he says. “Well it’s true I am a prisoner. That I cannot deny. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of Islamic State I have nothing to lose.”

Cantlie then promises to “convey some facts” about ISIS in a series of “programmes” he will be filming; about the “truth” behind the group, and about how the Western media is being “manipulated.” He notes that many European hostages have been released after their governments negotiated with the extremists, but that British and American authorities refuse to do so.

This is not the first time Cantlie has been captured by Syrian militants, The Guardian reports. In 2012 he was rescued from kidnappers after a seven-day ordeal but returned to Syria four months later, where he was abducted again and sold on to ISIS.

Cantlie has worked for British newspapers including the Sunday Times, the Sun and the Sunday Telegraph. It is thought that he was abducted as he attempted to leave the country along with James Foley, the first U.S. journalist to be beheaded in the video posted online on Aug. 19. Alan Henning, a 47-year-old British taxi driver who went to Syria as a volunteer on an aid convoy, has also been threatened with death by ISIS militants.

Health Experts Urge Flu Vaccination

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 09:39 AM PDT

“We can’t predict what this year’s flu season will be like,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden at a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases press conference Thursday. “But we can predict that the best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get a flu vaccination.”

More than 90 percent of doctors and nurses receive a flu vaccination, experts said. They stressed that pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable and should prioritize taking the vaccine. Flu-related complications can lead to early labor in pregnant women, said Laura Riley, director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A lack of understanding of the risks of the and a belief in “scientifically unfounded views” were the most common reasons people decided against taking the vaccine, according to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia infectious disease expert Paul A. Offit.

“The riskiest thing about vaccines is driving to the office to get them,” he said.

Last year 10 million people in the United States caught the flu, causing thousands of deaths. More than 100 children died, 90 percent of whom didn’t take a flu shot.

Obamacare Enrollment Tops 7 Million

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 09:37 AM PDT

About 7.3 million Americans have completed enrollment in health insurance plans through the health care reform law’s insurance exchanges, a top Obama Administration health official said Thursday.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, provided the latest Obamacare enrollment figures to Congress. Tavenner said the figure includes those who had paid their premiums by Aug. 15 and that the number is subject to change slightly as consumers move in and out of coverage.

“We are encouraged by the numbers of consumers who have paid their premiums and continue to enroll in the marketplace coverage every day through special enrollment periods,” Tavenner said.

The Obama Administration said in March that the insurance exchanges had signed up a little more than eight million people, but the federal government did not release data at the time on the percentage of enrollees who completed enrollment by paying premiums. Despite the downtick in the final number, it still reflects an enrollment process that exceeded expectations following the disastrous launch of the website last year.

The latest figures also don’t include millions who have gained health insurance from the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.


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