Archive | March, 2013

Autism risk not increased by early vaccines: study

31 Mar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – There is no link between receiving a number of vaccines early in life and autism, researchers said on Friday.

In a study slated to appear in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers said there is no association between receiving “too many vaccines too soon” and autism, despite some fears among parents around the number of vaccines given both on a single day and over the first 2 years of life.

As many as one in 50 U.S. school-age children have been diagnosed with autism, up 72 percent since 2007.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Abt Associates analyzed data from children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a statement from the journal.

Researchers examined each child’s cumulative exposure to antigens, the substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce antibodies to fight disease, and the maximum number of antigens each child received in a single day of vaccination, the journal’s statement said.

The antigen totals were the same for children with and without ASD, researchers found.

Autism runs a spectrum from a profound inability to communicate and mental retardation to milder symptoms seen in Asperger’s Syndrome.

While scientists believe genetics account for 80 to 90 percent of the risk for developing autism, a growing number of studies are beginning to suggest that a father’s age at the time of conception may play a role by increasing risks for genetic mistakes in the sperm that could be passed along to offspring.

Worries about a link between vaccines and autism have persisted for years, despite a growing body of scientific evidence disproving such an association.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Sandra Maler)


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Ki-Suck Han Family Sues MTA Over NYC Subway Shoving Death

31 Mar

NEW YORK — The family of a man who died after allegedly being pushed into the path of a New York City subway train has filed a lawsuit against the city’s transit authority.

The lawsuit filed Friday by the family of Ki-Suck Han seeks unspecified damages stemming from his December 3 death. It accuses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of negligence.

Police say a homeless man admitted pushing Han onto the tracks but said Han was drunk and instigated the confrontation.

Naeem Davis has been charged in Han’s death and is being held without bail. His attorney has said Han went after his client.

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Death toll in Tanzania building collapse rises to 19

31 Mar

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The death toll from the collapse of a building in Tanzania‘s commercial capital Dar es Salaam has climbed to 19, a senior official said on Saturday.

The building of more than 12 storeys, which had been under construction, collapsed on Friday morning near a mosque in the Kariakoo district around the city center. Several cars were crushed by falling masonry.

Tanzania’s buoyant economy has fuelled a building boom, especially in Kariakoo and the city center. But the speed of construction has raised concerns about standards.

“Nineteen people have been killed so far and 17 were rescued alive, so this accounts for 36 people who were trapped in the collapsed building,” Dar es Salaam Regional Police Commander Suleiman Kova told reporters at the scene.

“There is very little hope of finding any more people alive from under the rubble, but we are determined to recover all bodies so that they can be given a proper burial.”

Witnesses said they believed construction workers were inside the building when it collapsed. Rescue workers sifting through the rubble on Saturday said two boys were also still missing.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who visited the scene on Friday, ordered authorities to act against responsible parties.

Kova said police had arrested four suspects, including the building owner. Police had previously said the owner in custody was also the contractor, but later said they were still looking for the building contractor.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by Edmund Blair and Andrew Roche)


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NKorea says it’s in state of war with SKorea

31 Mar

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) ? North Korea issued its latest belligerent threat Saturday, saying it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea a day after its young leader threatened the United States because two American B-2 bombers flew a training mission in South Korea.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely and North Korea’s threats are instead aimed at drawing Washington into talks that could result in aid and boosting leader Kim Jong Un‘s image at home. But the harsh rhetoric from North Korea and rising animosity from the rivals that have followed U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang‘s Feb. 12 nuclear test have raised worries of a misjudgment leading to a clash.

In a joint statement by the government, political parties and organizations, North Korea said Saturday that it will deal with all matters involving South Korea according to “wartime regulations.” It also warned it will retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without “any prior notice.”

The divided Korean Peninsula is already in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. But Pyongyang said it was scrapping the war armistice earlier this month.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry released a statement saying the latest threat wasn’t new and was just a follow-up to Kim’s earlier order to put troops on a high alert in response to annual U.S-South Korean military drills. Pyongyang sees those drills as rehearsals for an invasion; the allies call them routine and defensive.

In an indication North Korea is not immediately considering starting a war, officials in Seoul said South Korean workers continued Saturday to cross the border to their jobs at a joint factory park in North Korea that’s funded by South Koreans

On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned his forces were ready “to settle accounts with the U.S.” after two nuclear-capable U.S. B-2 bombers dropped dummy munitions on a South Korean island range as part of joint drills and returned to its base in Missouri.

North Korean state media later released a photo of Kim and his senior generals huddled in front of a map showing routes for envisioned strikes against cities on both American coasts. The map bore the title “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan.”

At the main square in Pyongyang, tens of thousands of North Koreans turned out for a 90-minute mass rally in support of Kim’s call to arms. Small North Korean warships, including patrol boats, conducted maritime drills off both coasts of North Korea near the border with South Korea earlier this week, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing Friday. He didn’t provide details.

The spokesman said that South Korea’s military was mindful of the possibility that North Korean drills could lead to an actual provocation. He said that the South Korean and U.S. militaries are watching closely for any signs of missile launch preparations in North Korea. He didn’t elaborate.

Experts believe North Korea is years away from developing nuclear-tipped missiles that could strike the United States. Many say they’ve also seen no evidence that Pyongyang has long-range missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland.

Still, there are fears of a localized conflict, such as a naval skirmish in disputed Yellow Sea waters. Such naval clashes have happened three times since 1999. There’s also danger that such a clash could escalate. Seoul has vowed to hit back hard the next time it is attacked.

“The first strike of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will blow up the U.S. bases for aggression in its mainland and in the Pacific operational theatres including Hawaii and Guam,” the North said Saturday in the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

Pyongyang uses the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a justification for its own push for nuclear weapons. It says that U.S. nuclear firepower is a threat to its existence.


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Pat Riley to Danny Ainge: Shut up

31 Mar

NEW ORLEANS (AP) ? Miami Heat President Pat Riley has added another chapter to his rivalry with the Boston Celtics.

After LeBron James complained about calls and Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge chided him for it, Riley lashed back Friday night.

Riley’s response: “Danny Ainge needs to shut the (expletive) up and manage his own team.”

This saga started Wednesday after Miami’s 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago. James told reporters that night that he does not believe some of the hard fouls he takes are “basketball plays.” A day later, Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI that “it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”

Riley was clearly irked, calling Ainge “the biggest whiner going when he was a player.”

The Heat and Celtics play April 12 in Miami.


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Young baseball pitchers shouldn’t overdo it

31 Mar

Mar. 29, 2013 ? Baseball season has arrived, but no matter how eager young players are to get on the diamond they have to keep from overdoing it — especially if they’re pitchers.

Overhand pitching creates great forces, stresses and strains at both the elbow and shoulder. In most children up to age 16, bones, muscles and connective tissues are not fully developed, so it should come as no surprise that the pitching motion can lead to injury if it is performed too frequently.

“Parents may find it difficult to put limits on any activity that a child is good at and enjoys performing,” said Michael T. Freehill, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “But when it comes to pitching, the surest way to ruin a young athlete’s chances of success is to allow him or her to overdo it.”

Fortunately, overuse injuries are preventable. Following some basic guidelines can help young baseball pitchers stay healthy.

? Young pitchers should always warm up properly by stretching and running before throwing. Throwing should begin with easy tosses, with gradual increases in distance, then intensity.

? Youngsters should concentrate on age-appropriate pitching skills. The emphasis should be on control, accuracy and good mechanics, not curveballs and velocity.

? Tracking the number of pitches thrown is important. Staying within age-specific pitch-count limits, such as those established by Little League Baseball, is recommended.

? Proper rest periods between pitching sessions should be observed. Youngsters can still play during these rest periods, but only at positions other than pitcher and catcher.

? Children should not pitch for multiple teams with overlapping schedules or play baseball year-round.

? Children should never pitch when it hurts. They must understand that telling a parent or coach is the right thing to do if they experience discomfort while throwing.

“Following these guidelines may force a young pitcher to sit out a few innings or miss a few pitching opportunities during the season,” said Freehill, who pitched in the minor leagues before attending medical school, reaching the AAA level with two different organizations and making it onto the 40-man roster of the Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels. “However, that’s a small price to pay for keeping our kids healthy and giving them their best shot at success over the long run.”

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, via Newswise.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Restaurant Performance Index Fell Below 100 in February as Sales …

31 Mar

Friday, March 29th, 2013 ?

Restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about sales growth and the economy in the months ahead

Restaurant Performance Index Fell Below 100 in February as Sales and Traffic Levels DeclinedWashington, DC? ( Due in large part to softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association?s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) slipped below 100 in February. The RPI ? a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry ? stood at 99.9 in February, down 0.8 percent from January?s five-month high. February represented the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood below 100, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators.

?The Restaurant Performance Index decline was due largely to softer sales and traffic results, which fell in February amid higher gas prices and the impact of the payroll tax hike,? said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. ?In addition, sales and traffic comparisons were more difficult due to the extra day in February 2012 as a result of Leap Year.?

?Despite the sales and traffic declines in February, restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead, which suggests they feel the setbacks will be temporary,? Riehle added.

The RPI is constructed so that the health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The Index consists of two components ? the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 98.3 in February ? down 1.4 percent from January?s level. In addition, the Current Situation Index stood below 100 for the 6th consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators.

With sales comparisons more difficult in February due to Leap Year in 2012, restaurant operators reported a same-store sales decline for the first time in 21 months. Thirty-three percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between February 2012 and February 2013, while 48 percent of operators reported lower sales. In January, 44 percent of operators reported higher same-store sales, while 37 percent reported a sales decline.

Restaurant operators also reported a decline in customer traffic levels in February. Twenty-four percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between February 2012 and February 2013, while 53 percent of operators said their traffic declined. In January, 33 percent of operators reported an increase in customer traffic, while 40 percent reported lower traffic levels.

Capital spending activity also dipped along with the sales and traffic results. Forty-eight percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, down from 52 percent who reported similarly last month.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators? six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 101.4 in February ? down slightly from January?s level of 101.6. Each of the four expectations indicators stood above 100 for the second consecutive month, which suggests restaurant operators remain generally optimistic about business conditions in the months ahead.

Although restaurant operators? outlook for sales growth remains positive, their expectations are slightly less bullish compared to last month. Forty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 46 percent last month. Meanwhile, 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, compared to 17 percent last month.

Although restaurant operators have a net positive outlook for the overall economy for the second consecutive month, their confidence is tenuous. Twenty-five percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down from 30 percent who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, 20 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, unchanged from last month.

Restaurant operators continue to make plans for capital spending in the months ahead. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, down slightly from 59 percent who reported similarly last month.

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association?s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. The full report is available online at

The RPI is released on the last business day of each month, and a more detailed data and analysis can be found on Restaurant TrendMapper, the Association?s subscription-based web site that provides detailed analysis of restaurant industry trends.

Restaurant Performance Index Fell Below 100 in February as Sales and Traffic Levels Declined

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 980,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry?s largest trade show (NRA Show May 18-21, 2013, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF?s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 19-21, 2013, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids? menu options. For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.


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