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Archive for December 3rd, 2012

Restaurant owner splatters rat in front of health inspectors – WTF?

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chutney express

There’s a rat in the kitchen what am I going to do? It is the question no self-respecting take away owner ever wants to find themselves asking – not least during a food hygiene visit from the local environmental health inspector.

But unfortunately for the proprietor of the New Chutney Express in Tooting, south London, the decision to fix that rat left him with a £20,000 fine and costs as well as a pool of blood on the floor.

In shocking scenes inspectors from Wandsworth Council were left recoiling in horror as Rajakumar Rajalingam killed a rodent in front of them. And despite his best efforts to quell the untimely infestation, officers watched as more rats appeared…

Rajalingam admitted a string of food hygiene breaches and a trading standards offence at Kingston Crown Court last week. Passing sentence the judge described the takeaway owner’s actions as “disgraceful”…He added he had “brought the restaurant business into disrepute” and put the “public at risk of serious illness”…

Rajalingam, who had previously faced legal action from Wandsworth Council in 2007 for selling counterfeit champagne, was also fined £5,000 for selling fake Jacob’s Creek wine in his shop.

The council’s spokesman on consumer protection Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This was a shocking catalogue of hygiene and food safety breaches. These premises were in a truly appalling state and posed an unacceptable danger to public health.

This dude should be put out of business. At a minimum, if there’s an organization that represents residents and businesses in the community they should come together and make all aware of the dangers he represents.

One of the best things our local newspaper offers is a weekly listing of health inspections at restaurants.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Exploring other options for palliative care

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Paula Span…wrote last week about the poor choices facing patients, most very old and within six months of death, who need nursing home care after a hospitalization.

Medicare will pay for hospice, the acknowledged gold standard for those at the end of life and their families, and it will also pay for skilled nursing (known in this universe as the “sniff” benefit, for Skilled Nursing Facility or S.N.F.)…but only rarely will it cover both at the same time, which creates a financial bind.

Rather than pay hundreds of dollars a day out of pocket for room and board in a nursing home, most families opt for S.N.F. coverage. But they pay a price in other ways: they lose the visits by nurses and aides and social workers, the comfort care, the pain relief and the spiritual support that can make hospice such a godsend, whether patients are at home or in nursing homes.

The study I wrote about, by a team mostly based at the University of California, San Francisco, found ongoing repercussions from this forced decision. People were much more likely to die in hospitals or nursing homes when they used the S.N.F. benefit. Though studies repeatedly find that most people would prefer to die at home, only 11 percent did. But those who did not use S.N.F. were far more likely to be enrolled in hospice – and 40 percent of them died at home.

On the other coast, meanwhile, researchers in Providence, R.I., and Boston exploring some of the same issues have documented still other problems when people nearing death use nursing homes…

The whole purpose of Medicare’s paying for skilled nursing, recall, is to help patients get stronger and return home, or at least to improve their health. But physical therapy, for instance, may serve little purpose for those who are bed-bound, who are totally incontinent, who can’t feed themselves. “These are people who are on a decline,” Dr. Miller said. “They’re not going to get better.”

Yet they received a lot of medical interventions compared to those in hospice care. Those using S.N.F. were significantly more likely to receive feeding tubes, intravenous fluids, injections and medications — none of which can stop or slow dementia, of course, or are likely to increase quality of life…

People in palliative care and hospice have complained about this restriction for years, and they may want to keep complaining. The Affordable Care Act calls for a demonstration project of “concurrent care,” a three-year experiment allowing up to 15 hospice programs around the country to enroll patients who can also continue to receive all the other services that Medicare covers, including skilled nursing…

But the statute doesn’t set a target date, so who knows when or whether this experiment will happen? Too bad, because a lot of patients and families would like to know the answer.

I certainly would like to know. And I’m the kind of taxpayer, medicare client, who will ask.

I’m drafting an email to go to medicare.gov, my Congress critters, asking about this experiment, how and when it will be started? I suggest if you’re in the same demographic – or you have family members who are or will be – please do the same.

Yes, I feel very strongly about dying where I have lived – in my home.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm

The Zombies and the Outer Limits work so well together

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One of my favorite things about YouTube is being able to listen to almost any old song I can think of. But most of the time the video that accompanies the song is either a spinning record, some text against a black backdrop, or a montage of blurry pictures with that damn Ken Burns effect. Boring! Why not show an Outer Limits clip with Jill Haworth instead?

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

U.S. birth rate hits a record low

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SantorumPriest
Click to enlarge – but, remember, only the comic strip!

The U.S. birthrate plunged last year to a record low, with the decline being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, according to a study released…by the Pew Research Center.

The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. The overall birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The 2011 figures don’t have breakdowns for immigrants yet, but the preliminary findings indicate that they will follow the same trend…

The U.S. birthrate — 63.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age — has fallen to a little more than half of its peak, which was in 1957. The rate among foreign-born women, who have tended to have bigger families, has also been declining in recent decades, although more slowly, according to the report.

But after 2007, as the worst recession in decades dried up jobs and economic prospects across the nation, the birthrate for immigrant women plunged. One of the most dramatic drops was among Mexican immigrants — 23 percent.

The fall didn’t occur because there are fewer immigrant women of childbearing age but because of a change in their behavior, said D’Vera Cohn, an author of the report, which uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Cohn added that “the economic downturn seems to play a pretty large role in the drop in the fertility rate…”

Historically, once the economy rebounds after a recession, so does the birthrate, Cohn said…But other factors may also be affecting the decline and may not change much once the economy recovers.

Almost half of all immigrants to the United States are of Hispanic origin. But in recent years, immigration from Mexico, the biggest contributing country, has dried up; for the first time since the Great Depression, the net migration from Mexico has been zero…

The recent birthrate decline among Latino women may also be related to enhanced access to emergency contraception and better sex education in recent years, said Kimberly Inez McGuire, a senior policy analyst at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health…

Mindy Greenside, director of midwifery at Mary’s Center, said many more immigrant women are asking about contraception than did so five years ago.

No need to belabor the obvious – except to counter the know-nothings who think they have a mandate to set rules for women in America, trying to take away reproductive freedoms, rights won decades ago.

As immigrant women acquire sufficient education in the US, they realize they can step beyond the restrictions of religion and custom and manage the size of their family. A piece of knowledge that ain’t lost on very many husbands, either. The only fools in the equation are the politicians who think they have a role to play in maintaining backwards ideology.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

First same-sex wedding held at West Point Cadet Chapel

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Cadet Chapel, the landmark Gothic church that is a center for spiritual life at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, hosted its first same-sex wedding Saturday.

Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate, exchanged vows in the regal church in an afternoon ceremony, attended by about 250 guests and conducted by a senior Army chaplain.

The two have been together for 17 years. They had a civil commitment ceremony that didn’t carry any legal force in 1999 and had long hoped to formally tie the knot. The way was cleared last year, when New York legalized same-sex marriage and President Barack Obama lifted the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military.

The brides both live in New Jersey and would have preferred to have the wedding there, but the state doesn’t allow gay marriage…

The NJ legislature passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. Republican Governor Christie vetoed it.

“It has a tremendous history, and it is beautiful. That’s where I first heard and said the cadet prayer,” Fulton said, referring to the invocation that says, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”

The ceremony was the second same-sex wedding at West Point. Last weekend, two of Fulton’s friends, a young lieutenant and her partner, were married in another campus landmark, the small Old Cadet Chapel in West Point’s cemetery.

Fulton has campaigned against the ban on gays in the military as a member of two groups representing gay and lesbian servicemen and servicewomen. She graduated from West Point in 1980, a member of the first class to include women.

She served with the Army Signal Corps in Germany and rose to the rank of captain, but left the service in 1986 partly because she wanted to be open about her sexual orientation. President Obama appointed her last year to the U.S. Military Academy’s Board of Visitors.

Nice to see the US Military continue to march into the 21st Century at a faster pace than some political chickenhawks. For those of us who lived through the end of Jim Crow in our military, the result isn’t a complete surprise. Unlike some politicians, the Pentagon accepts the law of the land – instead of trying to slink back into the past.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 3, 2012 at 2:00 am

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