Around The Country, Pool Inspectors Find Dangerous Swimming Water

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July is the peak of summer swim season, and around the country millions of Americans of all ages are heading to community pools to beat the summer heat. That means health and pool inspectors are working overtime, and they don’t always like what they find. Now, cities around the country are coming down hard on pool managers who neglect their water.

Andrew Burns works for the Florida Department of Health and inspects pools in the popular tourist destination of Orange County, Florida, where many pools are open year-round. According to state regulations, pool inspectors like Burns must inspect pools twice a year. So far this year, only 62% of pools received satisfactory ratings, with some pools requiring emergency closures.

“There are certain diseases you can get from pools if they’re not maintained properly,” said Burns. “[The owners] are responsible for making sure they’re keeping up that pool…It’s very important for them to do it, because it does affect public health.”

The most common pool violation is low chlorine levels, which are necessary to stop the spread of harmful bacteria. Equally important are intact drain covers, which prevent body parts from getting trapped in the water suction system. Residential pool owners must clean and maintain their pool regularly as well. In addition to checking chlorine levels, residential pool pumps should be set to turn over the pool once every 24 hours.

And in Memphis, where many residents have been filling up public and private swimming pools since June, pool inspectors only check pool conditions once a year. This July, a local TV news station stepped up to help double check the water levels, with often disappointing results. At one popular local pool they found “dirty water and floating debris.”

Lifeguards and pool managers are supposed to carefully monitor chlorine levels, pH levels, and keep safety equipment up to code. When local health departments find severe violations, they have the authority to shut down pools immediately. Fortunately for swimmers, often times pools simply require a little TLC, and can be reopened within hours.

California Raises Record Amount of Lottery Ticket Sales

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The state of California reached a milestone during the end of the fiscal year on June 30th by grossing the most amount of money in lottery sales in its history.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that the California Lottery earned more than $5.5 billion last fiscal year, which was more than 10% higher than its previous year’s earnings of $5.03 billion. Interestingly, the majority of its sales this year came from various scratch-off tickets. Californians bought more than $3.9 billion in scratch-offs last fiscal year.

Bobby Lee, the manager of Sam’s Liquor in South El Monte, believes the spike in scratch-off sales is due to the more expensive $20 tickets that offer jackpots as high as $5 million. These tickets were first introduced in September 2013.

“They’re getting popular,” Lee said.

The high rewards appear to be an underlying motivation. A man from West Covina, for example, won $1 million after buying a $20 “Million $$ Match” ticket at a Chevron Station.

In Tarzana, several customers of Spirits World got lucky over the past two weeks. Last weekend, $500 worth of lottery money was collected by its customers; $500 more last week; and $5,000 the week before that.

Spirits World’s manager Mousa Chehada is more than pleased with the ticket sales, perhaps due to the 0.5% of the prize money he collects from every winning ticket sold at his store.

“We are a lucky store; I’m the lucky guy,” Chehada said. “Just hoping to sell the ‘Big One’ soon.”

Khandoker Susana, the owner of the Bi-Way Market in Long Beach, also considers herself lucky.

“A lot of people win here,” Susana said. “It’s good business. Customers come in and buy other items when they get [lotto tickets]. We’ve got a lot of regulars.”

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the California lottery is expected to generate approximately $1.3 billion for its public schools this year, which is about 2% of the state’s current school budget. In addition, most lotto winnings are subject to state, local, and federal taxes that withhold up to 25% of the total winnings.

New Study Finds No Link Between Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Blood Clots

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A recent study has shown that there is no demonstrable link between testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and developing blood clots.

Newsmax reports that researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston have concluded there is no link between the popular therapy for low testosterone (or “low T”) and blood clots. The study, which was recently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, examined more than 30,000 adult men with low T from 2007 to 2012. Men receiving TRT were not at an increased risk for venous thromboembolism, the medical term for blood clots.

Dr. Jacques Baillargeon, Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at UTMB and the lead researcher of the study, discredits the label warnings the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) placed on TRT products last year warning patients about the potential risks of developing blood clots.

“In 2014, the Federal Drug Administration required manufacturers to add a warning about potential risks of VTE to the label of all approved testosterone products,” Baillargeon said. “The warning, however, is based primarily on post-marketing drug surveillance and case reports. To date, there have been no published comparative, large-scale studies examining the association of testosterone therapy and the risk of VTE.”

In addition to finding no link between the therapy and blood clots, the study found there is no difference between how the therapy is administered (topical creams, transdermal patches, intramuscular injections, etc.) and the risk of developing venous thromboembolism.

Overall, Baillargeon pointed out that not only is there no risk of developing blood clots, there are serious risks in leaving low T untreated.

“It is important to acknowledge, for a man who has medically-diagnosed low testosterone, that there are clear risks to not receiving testosterone therapy, including osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, increased amounts of fat tissue, decreased lean muscle mass, possible metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease,” he said. “It’s also important to note that further research needs to be conducted to rigorously assess the long-term risks of testosterone therapy.”

Low T is a serious medical condition that affects about 13 million men in the United States. Unfortunately, many of low T’s symptoms are brushed off as signs of “aging.”

Columbia Deck Collapse Leaves 5 Injured

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According to the Baltimore Sun, officials are investigating the collapse of a Columbia townhome’s backyard deck. It fell on Tuesday around 11:15 p.m, and five people were injured. The injuries were not life-threatening, but the injured people were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

Bob Francis, Director of Licenses and Permits for Howard County, went to the home to inspect the collapsed deck. He explained why the deck suddenly gave out.

“Where [the deck] was lagged into the house, it pulled out and it fell over. Not the ledger board, not the deck, not the beams of the deck, but the actual rim joints of the house itself appear to have rotted out and caused that to pull away. It’s like if you tried to screw a board into a sponge. It’s just not going to hold.”

On average, a deck should last for 20 years before needing to be replaced. This one, Francis said, was built in 1998.

The collapse left neighbors concerned about their decks, as well. One neighbor, Emily Shah, found herself regretting not having her deck looked at sooner. She recalls seeing a neighbor have his inspected.

“He said that he had somebody come out and look at his [deck] and they said it wasn’t structurally safe. I don’t know if the weight is supposed to be more on the posts, but the guy said the weight was on his house, so he had his reworked last summer. My husband and I were like, ‘We should do that, but whatever, we don’t spend too much time on our deck.’”

Because the house is a rental property, it appears that the home’s tenants are the ones who are going to have to foot the bill and the cleanup.

“Because there is a rental-housing license, we will be able to cite them for the property maintenance issue to get it cleaned up,” Francis said. “If it were a private homeowner, we wouldn’t have any authority to force them to do anything. Obviously, it would be in their best interest to get things cleaned and tightened up.”

No updates on the conditions of those who were injured.

Geraldo Rivera Seeking Medical Malpractice Payout

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Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera is seeking a medical malpractice settlement over what he alleges was a botched back surgery that crippled his right foot.

“I can’t jog anymore. I can’t play tennis, ski,” Rivera, 72, told the New York Post. Plus, he says, it’s now difficult to keep up with his 10-year-old daughter.

Settlement talks were held on July 23 at a Manhattan civil court regarding the surgery, which took place in 2010.

A lawyer representing the hospital, Bhalinder Rikhye, maintains that Rivera is responsible for injuring himself, saying he kicked a refrigerator door while rehabilitating at the hospital.

But Rivera says he’s still hopeful the hospital will decide to settle — even though he won’t be keeping the money. “I promise any settlement I get, I promise I’m donating 100% to charity,” he said, naming the College of Staten Island’s social work department as one potential beneficiary.

Damages paid in medical malpractice suits are always controversial, especially when it appears as if the alleged victim, as in this case, apparently does not need the money to cover medical costs. Many states have even instituted or considered capping damages based on the reasoning that doctors perform unnecessary tests and interventions to ward off medical malpractice suits, thereby driving up the overall cost of healthcare.

A new study examining five of those states, however, found that patient safety ratings decreased significantly after caps were put into effect. Moreover, research has shown that caps do little to reduce overall health spending.

But regardless of whether medical malpractice payments are indicative of people trying to game the system or are, rather, representative of less than ideal care given by medical personnel, the figures are staggering: Medical malpractice lawsuits resulted in approximately $3.6 billion being paid out in 2013; last year, that figure rose to almost $3.9 billion.

According to the latest figures from Diederich Healthcare, surgery sees the second-highest medical malpractice payouts, at 24%, coming in just behind misdiagnosis at 33%.

Surveys Show that Millennials Are Finally Starting To Invest — And They’re Investing Wisely

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Kids these days just don’t know the real value of a dollar… Or do they?

According to a recent Bankrate survey, Millennials are walking a fine line between “penny pinching” and investing their money wisely. In the past couple of years, Bankrate said, Millennials had a habit of “clutching their piggy banks” — a response that was expected after the financial crash of 2008.

The big question has been whether Millennials will continue holding onto their money for dear life, as their grandparents and great-grandparents did after the Great Depression — but luckily, it seems that 20- and 30-somethings paid attention in History class and know the importance of spending money after a financial crisis.

Despite the high student loan debt of this generation, Forbes recently reported that Millennials appear to be managing their money in a careful yet constructive way. Instead of refusing to invest in Wall Street, young adults are expressing more interest in learning about their options and then are willing to take risks when they are confident.

Yet another possible problem is coming forward, a recent TIME article stated. The majority of Millennials don’t consider their retirement savings plan to be “aggressive” — indeed, they’re having a hard time just paying this month’s bills, much less thinking 30 years into the future. Winning the lottery and receiving a lump sum payout isn’t on the horizon for most Millennials either.

Despite this, TIME noted one surprising trend: 52% of Millennials state that they’re considering purchasing fixed indexed annuities, making this generation more interested in fixed indexed annuities than any other generation.

Even though there are plenty of reasons why annuities aren’t good investments, it seems that Millennials are still willing to take that risk — perhaps because they know that their current retirement options are slim, or perhaps because they’re finally starting to feel more comfortable with taking financial risks.

Rapper Flavor Flav Officially Charged with DUI

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In a recent report from People magazine, rapper Flavor Flav was officially issued a DUI this week, following his May arrest in Las Vegas.

Flav, whose birth name is William Jonathan Drayton, was pulled over for going 87 mph in a 65 mph zone, and was arrested for the suspicion of marijuana possession, DUI with an open container, having a suspended vehicle registration and having a suspended license. He was charged officially with speeding, having an open container and driving under the influence. State laws dictate that any BAC level above .08 constitutes impaired driving.

While more than 1.4 million people are arrested every year for a DUI first offense, Drayton has been arrested on similar charges before. In January of 2014, he was charged with driving with a suspended license, speeding, and marijuana possession. While rumors are circulating that the rapper was also in possession of cocaine, there has been no confirmation by police.

After first gaining fame as part of the group Public Enemy, he rapper later developed a cult following with his early 2000s hit TV show Flavor of Love, which documented Drayton’s search to find his perfect girl.

The Associated Press reports that Drayton’s lawyers could not be reached for contact.

Drayton was not the only celebrity to make headlines for a DUI this month. US magazine described actor John Stamos’s decision to check himself into rehab following a DUI. They say that “Stamos, 51, was pulled over by the Beverly Hills Police Department. According to a media release at the time, officers suspected a ‘possible medical condition’ and transported him to a local hospital.”

Stamos reached out to his fans on Twitter, thanking them for their support. Stamos is supposed to be in production for Fuller House, the self-produced continuation series of the hit program Full House. The actor has stated that his choice to enter a rehab program was to focus on his health and ensure the continued success of the new show.

Heart Warming: Firefighters Build Garage For One Of Their Regulars

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In the Meridian Township just east of Lansing, Michigan, one firefighter is going above and beyond the call of duty to help one of his regulars.

Neal Langford, 52, is a quadriplegic who suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in a swimming accident at the age of 26. A few years ago Langford purchased a larger van that could better accommodate his wheelchair, but the new vehicle doesn’t fit in his garage and frequently got stuck in his driveway this winter. Meridian firefighter T.J. Booms responded to the calls, but after one incident in February he decided there was something more he could do for his neighbor.

“When I drove away from Neal’s house that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would have happened if he were stuck out in the driveway and couldn’t make a phone call to get help. What would he do?” Booms said.

This summer, Booms, his captain Bill Richardson, Battalion Chief Ken Phinney, and other members of the fire department are organizing a construction project to build Langford a new garage; they hope to finish the garage in August.

“So, most two car garages always go on a concrete slab which is usually flush with the ground,” says Mike McCort, Owner, Amish Mike. “When we sell a larger building we draw it on a 3D design program, showing it from 3 different angles. Once these pictures are approved, we then order drawings which usually consist of 9 pages. These pages will consist of elevations, foundation and more. Being this precise and thorough is important especially in a situation such as this.”

The 24×30-ft. garage will give Langford covered parking, ensuring that his van won’t get stuck in the snow when the winter comes back around.

“I think it’s pretty amazing, first that they are actually doing it. It’s going to be a big plus for my life, to be able to function a little easier,” Langford said. “I’ve never had the benefit of parking inside a structure, let alone having some cover.”

Captain Richardson is a licensed contractor, and the construction crew also benefited from an outpouring of support from the Meridian Township community. The Township waived all building fees, Home Depot donated the building materials, and other local businesses stepped up to provide additional labor and supplies.

The fire department helps township residents during emergencies, but the effort to help Langford is part of a department initiative to help their community in non-emergency situations, too. The ongoing project is called the Meridian Fire Community Outreach Fund.

Study Shows Opinion of the Elderly on Sharing Medical Information

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A new study shows that elderly patients would like to continue to have control of their health information. While most still agree on letting family members have access to their medical records and make decisions on their behalf, they would like to still have some form of control.

“Respecting and preserving the autonomy of the elder is critical,” said lead author Dr. Bradley Crotty. “Elders and families should have honest discussions about preferences for information sharing and decision-making, and share these conversations with healthcare providers.”

The study was conducted by Hebrew Senior Life, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, over the last two years. It looked at 30 elderly patients over the age of 75 and 23 caregivers, in order to understand the dynamics of how the two groups shared medical information. The patients’ living situations ranged from assisted living to higher levels of care. Caregivers were spouses, adult children, and other relatives.

If an elderly patient isn’t disclosing important symptoms to a caregiver, that could severely affect the progression or regression of their illness. For example, almost 65% of patients over 60 say they suffer from dizziness on a daily basis. This could be made worse by starting or discontinuing medications or treatments.

Most participants were white women who were well-educated; the majority were over the age of 81. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, and showed that there were numerous differences in opinion between the elderly and their caregivers.

Caregivers say that having access to the medical information not only would reduce their stress, but it would also make coordinating care and appointments easier, as well as helping keep other family members informed. However, the elderly felt that they should keep control of their own information, to prevent burdening their family and/or caregiver with their problems and illnesses. In addition to not wanting to rely on their children, they also said that sharing the information would increase anxiety.

The study, while very small, did point out the necessity of conversations and a portal for both patients and their caregivers. A medical portal may be the key to control the flow of medical information between doctors, patients, and their caregivers. This would help maintain autonomy for the patient while also giving the caregiver peace of mind.

“Hopefully what we learned will help inform future design of portals, giving seniors the ability to invite family members into their care,” wrote Crotty.

Prince William County to Have Police Officers Wear Body Cameras

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The Prince William County Police Department in Virginia is planning on outfitting its officers with body cameras by next summer.

The Washington Post reports that Prince William is just one of several local police departments in Virginia that is considering the adoption of body cameras. In order to evaluate if body cameras are truly worth it, Prince William teamed up with nearby Fairfax County last week to host an exposition on body camera technology. More than 35 vendors came to the expo in Chantilly, along with representatives from hundreds of police departments around the state and country, including those from Washington D.C. and Montgomery County.

“This is new technology. It’s evolving,” said Lt. Javid Elahi, the Prince William County Police Department’s information technology manager. “There’s a lot of pieces that go to this — it’s not just as simple as buying a camera and turning it on. You need to have policy, you need to have infrastructure, you need to have people to manage it.”

Sgt. Kim Chinn, a spokeswoman for the Prince William County Police Department, said the expo was meant to educate police departments about all the ramifications that come with acquiring body cameras.

“It’s new technology that we’re all going to have to get comfortable with, and I think there’s anxiety as well as the feeling that we may need this to protect ourselves, so there will be quite a learning curve,” Chinn said. “It’s not like you go out and just buy a new car. There’s so much that goes with it — all the backup, the storage, the retrieval, the managing, the randomly pulling tapes, pulling them for court, things like that. It’s a huge project.”

Last April, Prince William County allotted $3 million to the police department to buy 500 body cameras. Police Chief Stephan Hudson was supportive of the measure.

“My preference for body cameras is they go more places and see more interactions,” Hudson said.

Body cameras have been proposed as a solution in recent times after high-profile cases of police brutality — including those in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland — have lead many in the public as well as in law enforcement to call for better police tactics and equipment like body cameras to ensure safety for both the police and the citizens they serve.

“As a law enforcement officer myself, I believe that wearing body cameras in general is a win/win for departments and the public,” says Jubal Ragsdale, President, 10-8 Video LLC. “Similar to the in car cameras widely used today, they act as an observer of the citizen contact. A study by the San Diego Police Department just released in March of this year revealed that for officers wearing body cameras, complaints against officers fell over 40%, and use of force by officers fell over 46%. That is a very big difference that can only viewed as a tremendous positive for all involved. As more and more departments see the benefit of body cameras, demand has continued to increase.”