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Deaf Toddler Has Second Brainstem Device Surgery to Help Him Hear

Deaf Toddler Has Second Brainstem Device Surgery to Help Him Hear

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A deaf toddler who underwent surgery to have a radical auditory device implanted into his brainstem to help him hear is showing vast improvement after undergoing the surgery a second time, his doctors said, giving new hope that the device could one day be a common treatment option for deaf children.
Alex Frederick, a 2-year-old boy from Washington Township, Mich., was just 17 months old when Dr. Daniel Lee from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a team of specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, implanted an Auditory Brainstem Implant or ABI, into Alex’s brain last year.
Alex was born with little to no hearing and the ABI acts as a kind of “digital ear.” It’s made up of a small antenna that is implanted on the brainstem so that it can pick up signals from a tiny microphone worn on the ear and relay them back inside as electrical signals that reach the area of the brain associated with interpreting sound.
An Italian surgeon named Dr. Vittorio Colletti pioneered the use of the device and implanting procedure in children — previously the device had been used as a common approach for treating adults with brain tumors. The device is currently not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but is undergoing a series of clinical trials to win approval. Alex was selected as a participant in one of these trials last year and Nightline has followed him and his parents on their journey.
Alex’s first surgery was a success, but a few weeks ago, the toddler fell and hit his head on a table. The impact broke the speech processor and damaged the surgically implanted plate in his skull that holds the device in place, doctors said.
On July 2, Alex underwent a five-hour “revision” surgery at Massachusetts General to have the entire device re-implanted. His team of doctors successfully replaced the broken ABI with a new one, in the same location on the left side of his brainstem, and Alex seems to be improving quickly.
“The responses looked encouraging. That could be associated with stimulation of the first brainstem implant,” Dr. Lee told Nightline. “In order for brain development to continue it needs to be stimulated whether it is through sight or through hearing, through sound. In the case of the ABI, the device is electrically stimulating the path of sound in the brain, which means that the neural network can continue to mature. A mature network of the auditory pathway is associated with better responses.”
Alex returned home just four days after the second surgery and his parents remain optimistic.
He is “alert and playing with toys less than 48 hours after surgery completion,” Alex’s father Phil Frederick told Nightline over email. “Not trying to jinx things but he is healing faster than last time.”
“We are just so happy right now and excited things are looking up,” he added.
At the time of Alex’s first surgery in Nov. 2013, he was the youngest person in the U.S. to receive the ABI device and is one of a very few pediatric patients in the world to undergo ABI revision surgery. Worldwide, about 10 children are known to have had the device re-implanted.
Since the procedure on children is still new, Dr. Lee said he and the rest of Alex’s surgical team discussed whether to re-implant Alex’s device in the same location, or try to place it around his other ear.
“The decision was not so clear, as far as whether you implant the same ear and encounter scarring, which would make the surgery difficult, or consider doing an ABI on the other ear, which has not been implanted yet,” Dr. Lee said. “In the end we decided to attempt replacing the first ABI because it was working well and because the experience of one particular ABI surgeon, Dr. Colletti, was that revising these ABI’s is possible if done carefully. We went ahead after much deliberation to do the ABI on the same side.”
Alex was born two months prematurely, weighing just four pounds and four ounces at birth. He spent the first month of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit of St. John Hospital in Detroit. Scans later showed that Alex had a heart condition, his vision was compromised and he was deaf.
When Alex was 1, his parents tried for a cochlear implant, a 40-year-old technology that uses electrodes to stimulate auditory nerves. The surgery commenced, but was halted mid-operation when it became evident it would not work due to the irregular structure of Alex’s inner ear. The scar from that failure is still evident behind his right ear.
Alex’s parents kept looking for an answer, for some other technology that would help their son hear. In the course his research, Phil Frederick learned about Dr. Colletti’s approach for placing ABIs in children, and that the device was about to undergo a series of clinical trials in the U.S. to win FDA approval.
After finding out about the ABI surgery, Frederick looked up which U.S. hospitals where hosting the clinical trials and emailed them all individually to get Alex on the list. In August 2013, the family got word there was an opening in a trial being conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, under the direction of Dr. Lee.
“ABI surgery in the child … who cannot get a cochlear implant can result in meaningful sound awareness and speech perception with time, but it takes work,” Dr. Lee told Nightline in a previous interview.
On Oct. 5, 2013, the Fredericks traveled from Michigan to Boston for Alex to undergo the initial surgery, for which Dr. Colletti flew in from Italy to observe. Alex’s surgery cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but was paid for by the family’s insurance company.
Several weeks after the first surgery, Alex and his family returned to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in November 2013 to have his ABI switched on for the first time. Wires connected the device inside his head to a sound generator controlled from a computer, where a doctor could manipulate the sound level on the device. Nightline was there when the device was first switched on.
Alex’s parents decided that they wanted the first sound their son to hear to be his older sisters’ voices, so after the device was turned on, Evelyn, 6, and Izabella, 3, started talking, but it didn’t elicit a reaction from Alex. Others in the room tried raising the sound level, but still nothing at first.
Then, to everyone’s surprise, a doctor in the room slammed her keys into the side of a desk, and Alex turned towards the sound. With that little turn of his head, Alex had made the connection to sound for the first time.
Alex and his parents are eager to get back to the long process of Alex learning what sound actually is and how it has meaning, even meaning as words. They will return to Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary next month, where an audiologist will activate the newly implanted device, and the family will continue to travel back and forth to Boston every month, so that doctors can test Alex’s hearing response as they fine-tune the software that interacts with the electronics inside his skull.
Since Alex’s surgery, Dr. Lee has implanted the device in an 11-month-old girl from Austin, Texas, and on Wednesday, the teams at Massachusetts General and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary will meet again to perform the same surgery on a 15-month-old girl from Oregon.
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Mysterious White Flags Fly over NY’s Brooklyn Bridge

Mysterious White Flags Fly over NY’s Brooklyn Bridge

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The mystery surrounding two white flags that appeared on top of the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday deepened as the New York City Police Department admitted they don’t know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.White flags, which are symbols of surrender, flew from poles on the stone supports atop the famed bridge that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.”I’m not particularly happy about the event,” said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.Police officials said Tuesday afternoon that they have surveillance video of a group of four or five individuals walking onto the bridge shortly after 3 a.m.Authorities said that at around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that two seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.When police investigated the scene, they found that the two American flags had been apparently bleached and large aluminum tins had been tied to cover the lights that illuminate the flags.”At this time there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism. “It could be someone’s art project or a statement, but it’s not clear what that statement is.”Miller said authorities think the perpetrators may have had some experience “climbing in construction or bridgework” or have previously been up to the flag platforms on the Brooklyn Bridge.”When [the NYPD's] Emergency Services went up this morning, the gates were still up and locked,” he said. “For someone to go around it and go up to the tower and have right size cover to put over the light, there’s some indication of pre-operational planning.”The Brooklyn Bridge — operated by the city’s Department of Transportation — is one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges. The span, which was completed in 1883, is also a National Historic Landmark.
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Chipotle Stock Reaches Record High

Chipotle Stock Reaches Record High

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Chipotle shares hit an all time high on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with prices closing up more than 12%.
The Mexican fast-food chain reported robust second quarter earnings after the close Monday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61 points on Tuesday, ending the day at 17,113.54, and the Nasdaq climbed more than 31 points, closing at 4,456.02.
The S&P 500 closed at a record high, up almost 10 points at 1,983.53.
Sales of previously owned homes were up again in June, to the highest level in 8 months. The National Association of Realtors says it was the first time they topped the 5 million mark since October.
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West Virginia Clinic Caught Reusing Needles

West Virginia Clinic Caught Reusing Needles

iStock/Thinkstock(MCMECHAN, W.Va.) — Medical officials in Ohio and West Virginia are warning patients from a pain management clinic in West Virginia that they need to be tested after the clinic was allegedly caught reusing needles.
Ohio Deputy Health Commissioner Rob Sproul says patients at Valley Pain Management could have been exposed to HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C.
“They need to get in contact with their primary physician,” Sproul said. “If they have insurance, go see the doctor and get tested.”
The clinic is located in McMechan, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.
Some residents are considering legal action while some are urging a criminal investigation.
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Beef Production Is More Harmful than Pork, Poultry, and Eggs, Study Finds

Beef Production Is More Harmful than Pork, Poultry, and Eggs, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study says beef production is much more harmful to the earth than the production of other animal proteins.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compared to pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy, the production of beef is responsible for six times more nitrogen, which pollutes water and comes from the fertilizer used to grow the corn fed to cows.
The author of the study suggests eating other proteins instead.
The beef industry says this a “gross oversimplification” of the beef production process.
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Why Jessica Alba Had a ‘Freak-Out’ Moment When She Turned 30

Why Jessica Alba Had a ‘Freak-Out’ Moment When She Turned 30

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — Jessica Alba looks as good at 33 years old as she did back when she was 20, maybe even better. But the Sin City: A Dame to Kill For actress said when she hit the big 3-0, she had a bit of a moment.
“I had this ‘Aaagh!’ I’m not in my 20s anymore! What does it all mean?’ kind of freak-out,” she told SELF magazine for its August cover, which hits newsstands on July 29. “[But] I feel much better at 33 than I did at 23, even than I did at 30.”
The next obvious question is how does she look so good at 33 after two daughters Honor, 6, and Haven, 2.
“I hate working out. It’s boring!” she told the magazine. “I really only did it when I had a job that was physically demanding. But from age 17 until I was 27, all I did were movies that were physically demanding — so all I did was work out all the time!”
The Sin City star also revealed how she is passing down her healthy philosophy to her kids.
“We eat mostly lean protein and fresh fruit and vegetables, nothing processed or from a box, if we can,” she said. “For me, when I don’t eat a ton of carbs, I have more energy. But I’ll for sure have a piece of chocolate. I will mow through a bowl of guacamole. If I’m not going to have dessert, I’ll have a martini.”
Finally, the actress dished on her secret to happy marriage with her husband Cash Warren.
“You’ve got to have the girls’ night out to complain about your husband or whatever it is,” she said. “You have some fun, then you can go and enjoy the work, and you can take pride in it instead of it depleting you and being a burden.”
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Overusing Antibiotics May Make Fixable Problems Incurable, CDC Warns

Overusing Antibiotics May Make Fixable Problems Incurable, CDC Warns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While many people worry about deadly headline diseases like MERS and Ebola, Americans are ignoring an everyday threat that could be far more deadly. 
Overusing antibiotics may make fixable problems incurable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Antibiotics are being used for a “quick fix” to cure everything from a cold to an earache, says CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.
Frieden is urging the government to invest in better antibiotic monitoring and control to make sure the drugs work when patients really need them.
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Kate Hudson Says She May Never Legally Marry Her Fiance

Kate Hudson Says She May Never Legally Marry Her Fiance

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Kate Hudson doesn’t need a piece of paper or a wedding to feel married to fiance Matt Bellamy.
The Wish I Was Here actress stopped by The View on Monday to talk about her unconventional family and why it works.
“I’m happy, we’re married,” she said basically of her relationship of more than four years. “We’ve got kids and a family. …We are in it. I think if we do get married it will be for the kids really.”
She continued, “We’re happy and…we’ll get there when we get there.”
Hudson also talked about raising her two children — Ryder, born with her ex Chris Robinson, and Bingham, who she had with Bellamy.
“I’ve got two different children from two different fathers, that’s definitely unconventional,” she said. “I’m actually a strict parent, I’m very strict when it comes to manners. I think kids get too much too fast, so Ryder of course wants a cell phone like every 10-year-old kid now. …He can get a pager, he can get a pager when he’s 12.”
As for her body at 35 years old after two kids, Hudson said: “I work out, you got to eat right. I dance, I just jump around, jumping around makes me happy.”
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Kerry Says Egyptian Cease-Fire Plan Still Workable

Kerry Says Egyptian Cease-Fire Plan Still Workable

State Department photo/ Public Domain(CAIRO) — Secretary of State John Kerry said his first full day of meetings in Cairo to discuss a resolution to the Israeli-Hamas violence was “constructive,” but there were no immediate signs of any progress towards a cease-fire.As he has for the past few days, Kerry reiterated that the United States believes that a proposal released by Egypt for an immediate end to hostilities is the best way forward, and that only Hamas is left to sign on to that plan.“While we still obviously have work to do, it’s also clear to me from each of the parties that I’ve met with that there is a framework available to end the violence. And that framework is the Egyptian initiative that has been put forward,” Kerry said on Tuesday.The secretary made those remarks while addressing reporters at the Egyptian presidential palace, where he met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.Kerry, dispatched there by President Obama, also spoke in more urgent and descriptive language than he has in recent days about the humanitarian crisis facing residents of Gaza, many of whom cannot move out of danger, despite Israeli warnings to do so.“We have watched the humanitarian crisis in Gaza grow worse day after day: people losing their homes, all of their possessions, their access to food and water, their entire way of life,” Kerry said.He added that the loss of lives on both sides of the border was unacceptable and that he would be working for the “next days” to help Egypt, a key broker in the talks between Israel and Hamas, achieve a lasting cease-fire agreement.“For the sake of thousands of innocent families whose lives have been shaken and destroyed by this conflict on all sides, we hope we can get there as soon as possible,” Kerry said.
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Malaysia Airlines Wreckage ‘Significantly Altered’

Malaysia Airlines Wreckage ‘Significantly Altered’

(KHARKIV, Ukraine) — Wreckage from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine has been “significantly altered,” international monitors told ABC News, as remains of the victims arrived in territory held by the Ukrainian government.Major pieces of the front of the plane appear to have been cut away, said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group observing the crash site. Earlier, investigators observed someone using power tools to cut into the wreckage.Rebels have said they had to move and alter big pieces to get at bodies and body parts. But the OSCE said what they saw was a “very invasive” altering of the wreckage.In a field in pro-Russian separatist territory, the crash site has remained completely unguarded. A train full of victims of Malaysia Flight MH17 arrived Tuesday at an interim destination on its way west.  A Soviet-made locomotive pulled windowless, refrigerated box cars into Kharkiv, where a C-130 was waiting to transport the human remains to the Netherlands. The black boxes from the downed plane were handed over to Malaysian officials Monday.

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How Wedding Gowns Can Bring Solace to Grieving Parents

How Wedding Gowns Can Bring Solace to Grieving Parents

iStock/Thinkstock(FORTH WORTH, Texas) — After the last piece of cake has been eaten and the last remnants of a tan have faded away from the honeymoon, one wedding element is often left hanging in limbo or, at least, in the back of a closet — the bride’s dress.For those who don’t plan to preserve their garment, options for “What to do with it?” can range from resale to recycling. But a Texas nonprofit now offers a dress donation alternative with a higher purpose: “angel gowns,” beautiful white burial clothing for stillborn children.
NICU Helping Hands, in Fort Worth, Texas, is an organization offering support to families with premature newborns and stillborns. Their Angel Gowns program, founded by Lisa Stubbs in 2013, collects donated bridal gowns from across the country to be transformed by volunteer seamstresses into tiny precious designs.”I watched so many families who had lost a baby sorting through donated clothing at the hospital, some of which was appropriate for final burial and pictures, some of it not,” said Stubbs. “But what really bothered me was watching them dig through those bins. It just seemed so disrespectful. So I thought we should provide something to families that is respectful, and that would fit their child.”Stubbs’ mother and mother-in-law became the first two volunteer seamstresses for NICU Helping Hands, turning a wedding dress into multiple dressing gowns in several sizes.”Each wedding gown, depending upon the size and the style, will make between 12 and 20 angel gowns,” a spokeswoman for NICU Helping Hands told ABC News.As of March, more than 12,000 angel gowns could be created after the donation of roughly 3,000 wedding dresses from across the nation.”And the gowns are still coming in,” said the spokeswoman. “Thankfully we have a pretty big warehouse space in Fort Worth. Local volunteers can come by to pick up gowns and start sewing, and that’s also where volunteer seamstresses around the country get shipped dresses from.”The need is great. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11 percent of babies are born preterm each year, putting them at higher risk for infant mortality. And the most recent CDC figures indicate that more than 24,000 infant deaths occurred in 2010.”People don’t like to talk about this. There’s nothing normal about a child dying,” said Stubbs. “But what’s also heartwarming about this program is what it has done in bringing a voice to families who have lost a baby across generations. Many of them lost them in the NICU, many in stillbirths, many were early miscarriages, and it’s given so many of them an opportunity to express their grief.”It has also given brides a way to imbue an ephemeral investment with new value.”After I got married in 2010, I knew I wanted to donate my wedding gown to a worthwhile cause,” said Aimee Dars Ellis. “It’s taken me almost four years to find a meaningful charity. Right now, I am cleaning my gown and getting ready to send it to NICU Helping Hands.”
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FX Picks Up “Fargo” for Another Season

FX Picks Up “Fargo” for Another Season

FX/Matthias Clamer(NEW YORK) — FX is sticking with Fargo.The cable network has picked up a second installment of the series, which will feature an all-new cast, a new time period and a new “true crime” story covering 10 episodes.  The first season of the series received 18 Emmy nominations. Fargo is inspired by the Oscar-winning film of the same name.
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ESPN: Donald Sterling Meets with Steve Ballmer

ESPN: Donald Sterling Meets with Steve Ballmer

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) –  Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday in Los Angeles to discuss the pending sale of the team, according to ESPN.
Sterling and Ballmer met for about 90 minutes at Sterling’s house in Beverly Hills in their first face-to-face meeting since Ballmer negotiated the record-setting sale with Shelly Sterling on May 29.  Sources say it was a “friendly conversation.”
A settlement has yet to be reached, but the sale of the team will reportedly be worth $2 billion. 
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that he wasn’t sure a new owner of the Clippers would be in place by the start of next season. 
The original agreement called for the sale to close by July 15, with a possible extension to Aug. 15, but Donald Sterling has vowed to fight his termination and the sale of the team.
Ballmer is ready to buy the Clippers, but an issue in that case is whether Shelly Sterling was authorized to sell the franchise to him without the authorization of her husband.
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Obama Meets with Apollo 11 Crew 45 Years After Lunar Landing

Obama Meets with Apollo 11 Crew 45 Years After Lunar Landing

NASA/Bill Ingalls(WASHINGTON) — Legendary moonwalker Buzz Aldrin may have been “out of town” when the world celebrated Apollo 11′s lunar landing, but he marked the anniversary on Tuesday with a presidential handshake and a meeting in the Oval Office — the same spot from whence President Nixon made that famous interplanetary telephone call to the moon 45 years ago.Nixon called July 20, 1969 — the day Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo 11 lunar module and onto the moon — the “proudest day of our lives.”“For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this Earth are truly one — one in their pride in what you have done and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth,” Nixon said during his satellite conversation with Armstrong.Four months later — following a 21-day quarantine procedure designed to shield Earth from possible lunar pathogens and a 24-country “good will tour” meant to demonstrate the United States’ willingness to share its lunar expertise — the Apollo 11 team visited the president at the White House.Since then, the astronauts have met with Presidents Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush — and now Obama.Aldrin and Michael Collins (who remained in the orbiter during the moon walk) — along with Neil Armstrong’s wife, Carol, and current NASA administrator Charles Bolden — returned to the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their moon landing.It’s not known what the group discussed.Before his death, Armstrong lambasted Obama for cancelling NASA’s moon return project “Constellation,” calling the U.S. spaceflight program “lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.”“A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain,” the astronaut told Congress.
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Labor Officials Promise to Fix Program for Coal Miners with Black Lung

Labor Officials Promise to Fix Program for Coal Miners with Black Lung

Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins examines lung X-rays. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) — Federal labor officials told lawmakers Tuesday that they have notified dozens of coal workers they should re-apply for black lung benefits because their claims were denied in part based on medical reviews by a controversial Johns Hopkins physician.Letters and calls to 83 miners in recent weeks were part of a raft of remedies lawmakers said would help “level the playing field” for miners suffering from black lung disease.“Let me reassure you, the Department of Labor is committed to improving the effectiveness of these programs,” said Chris Lu, Deputy Secretary of Labor, at a Senate hearing convened to look at reforms to the government’s black lung benefit program.The hearings and the Labor Department action came after troubling questions about the federal black lung program were raised in a year-long ABC News investigation with the Center for Public Integrity. The reports focused on the difficulties coal miners faced collecting benefits from coal companies that were intended to help miners and their families if they contracted the deadly and debilitating lung disease.Sen. Robert Casey said at the hearing that he was appalled to learn that sick miners were being turned down for those benefits based in part on the medical opinions of a leading Johns Hopkins doctor. He noted that the news reports demonstrated examples of miners who were denied benefits based on doctors’ conclusions that they did not have severe black lung, only to have autopsies prove — after their deaths — that they had the disease.“I am pleased with the Department of Labor’s efforts to begin leveling the playing field for black lung claimants, but there is still more that needs to be done,” Casey said.Labor officials said they would begin to address an enormous backlog of unresolved black lung cases — believed to be more than 14,000 of them — by adding more than $2.7 million to the program’s budget. Casey urged them to seek a $10 million increase in the next federal budget “to not only stop the backlog from growing, but to actually begin reducing the number of backlogged cases.”Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also attended the hearing, and described the pain he experienced watching coal miners, including his father, suffering from what then was only known as the “miners’ cough.”“After years of hard, dirty work powering our country, the least we can do in return is make sure that we give the miners a fair shot at accessing earned benefits,” Harkin said in a prepared statement. “But that fair shot has been out of reach for many of those miners.”The most significant moves described by Labor Department officials Tuesday involved actions they had taken to address the possibility that X-ray readings by Dr. Paul S. Wheeler of Johns Hopkins — who was hired by coal companies to read films in black lung cases — had skewed hundreds of cases against the miners.
The ABC News/CPI report found that Wheeler had not reported a single instance of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 claims that the news outlets reviewed going back to the year 2000. Labor department officials said they were unaware of Wheeler’s record until the ABC News report was broadcast.In court testimony in 2009, Wheeler said the last time he recalled finding a case of severe black lung, a finding that would automatically qualify a miner for benefits under a special federal program, was in “the 1970′s or the early 80′s.”Labor Department Solicitor Patricia Smith called those findings “shocking.”At the hearing, Lu told the lawmakers that his department had identified 83 claims that had been denied within the past year and sent a letter to those claimants alerting them to the “new guidance on Dr. Wheeler’s X-ray readings.”“The letter informed the claimants that they could request reopening of their claims, included the date by which they had to make the request, and told them that the request could be made either by telephoning or writing,” Lu said in testimony he submitted to the senate committee. “In four instances, the one-year modification deadline was quickly approaching, so [the department] telephoned the claimants in addition to sending the letter. To date, 13 claimants have sought modification in response to OWCP’s letter.”Lu added that the department had identified approximately 1,000 claims filed by miners between 2001 and 2013 that contained Wheeler X-ray interpretations. In those cases, miners were encouraged to file a new claim.Hopkins suspended Wheeler’s black lung unit a few days after the ABC News/CPI report was broadcast and posted online. Hopkins said it would conduct its own internal investigation, which a spokesperson said remains ongoing.”We take these allegations very seriously and are still conducting the investigation into the [black lung] program,” Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a June email. “While our investigation is ongoing, nobody at Hopkins — including Dr. Wheeler — is performing” black lung X-ray readings.Reached by phone in June, Wheeler said he hopes to be cleared by the internal Hopkins investigation — which he said is being conducted by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs.
“The hospital still believes in my approach,” he said.Wheeler told ABC News then he was unmoved by the Labor Department bulletin.
“They’re not doctors,” he said. “If they were from qualified medical institutions, I would be very unhappy.”
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Primary Season Continues: Georgia Votes in Run-Off

Primary Season Continues: Georgia Votes in Run-Off

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — WHO’S ON THE BALLOT?Voters in Georgia will cast ballots in primary run-offs Tuesday. One race, the GOP run-off for the open Georgia Senate seat, will set up a  2014 fight between Tuesday night’s victor and a Democrat with a familiar name in the Peach State. No incumbents face the chopping block Tuesday night and while the Senate face off is the marquee race, it’s not the only one to watch. ABC News’ friends at FiveThirtyEight.com have joined us again to explain the importance of Tuesday’s big race. Look for FiveThirtyEight.com senior political writer Harry Enten’s take below.Here are three races to watch Tuesday: GEORGIA’S GOP FEUD: Two months of nonstop Republican-on-Republican badmouthing will finally end in Georgia on Tuesday. With a merciful runoff vote, Georgia Republicans will choose either former Dollar General CEO David Perdue or Rep. Jack Kingston as their candidate for the state’s open Senate seat to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. WHY IT MATTERS: The top two finishers in a seven-way May 20 primary were Perdue, who received 30.6 percent of the vote, and Kingston, who came in second with 25.8 percent. Perdue has assailed Kingston’s 21-year record of earmarks, while Kingston has pointed to layoffs, offshoring, and a government bailout among companies with which Perdue was involved, with fact checkers tweaking parts of his claims. Both candidates are vying, as one would expect, for the mantle of “true conservative.”  This isn’t a traditional Tea Party vs. establishment GOP fight as we’ve seen in primaries all over the country, most notably the Mississippi Senate primary. Rep. Jack Kingston has collected a wide array of endorsements, from former primary foe Karen Handel — the Sarah Palin-endorsed tea partier in the multi-way first-round primary — to conservative blogger Erick Erickson, the NRA and even the Chamber of Commerce. Perdue is backed by former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who called him his “brother from another mother,” because they’re so similar politically. No Democrat has won a Georgia Senate seat since 2000, but the GOP infighting has left some breathing room for Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, as Democrats have made good on their intentions to make the 2014 race competitive. After Republicans choose between two seemingly strong candidates, look for the attacks on Nunn to intensify and for a tough general election to get underway.538′s Take: Key CountiesPerdue will likely need to over-perform in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Perdue led Kingston by 17 to 18 points in Cobb (a traditional swing county in Republican primaries), Gwinnett, and Fulton counties in the first round. Handel came in first or second in all of these counties. If Perdue is to win the runoff, he’ll need to fight off Handel’s influence and win these counties by potentially upwards of 10 percentage points. He’ll be building on his base anchored by Bibb and Houston counties around Macon in the middle of the state. Kingston, meanwhile, needs another strong performance around his Savannah (Chatham County) centered congressional district in the southeast. Kingston regularly won 75 percent or more of the vote and no less than 64 percent of the vote in 30 southeastern counties. More than that, turnout was up in these southeast counties, while it was down in most of the state. In Chatham, for example, turnout was up 7 percent from the competitive gubernatorial primary four years ago. It was down 11 percent statewide. Swing County: Augusta (Richmond County) in the center-eastern part of the state could be telling. It’s just outside Kingston’s sphere of influence in the southeast and Perdue’s core support in the center of the state. Both candidates finished within a point of their statewide performance in Richmond in the first round.THE OTHERS:GEORGIA’S GOP RUN-OFF FOR THE 10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Trucking company executive Mike Collins and pastor and conservative radio talk show host Jody Hice are facing off again Tuesday after the initial primary separated the two by less than one percent of the vote, with Hice leading by just a few hundred votes. Hice received 33.50 percent to Collins’ 32.99 percent.  WHY IT MATTERS: This seat is to replace the retiring Rep. Paul Broun, who ran unsuccessfully in the May primary for the U.S. Senate seat. Broun made a late endorsement of Hice, backing him just later this month. Collins is the son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins who represented Georgia in the House from 1993 to 2005.  Mike Collins’ father actually defeated Broun in the 1992 Republican primary congressional election, making it no surprise Broun backed Hice, although he said he waited because he did not want to anoint his successor. Collins has received the backing of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and unsuccessful Georgia Senate candidate Karen Handel. The race hasn’t been without its odd moment. A Vanilla Ice parody even popped up titled “Hice Hice Crazy,” teasing Hice for some controversial comments he has made about women and gays. Collins has described himself as a successful businessman pushing that he can create jobs in the district, while Hice has been working the tea party vote, and cast himself as more of a cultural warrior. Eyebrow-raising comments Hice has made not only about women and gays, but also Muslims have been raised on the campaign trail. The winner will face Democrat Ken Dious, an attorney, but it’s likely Tuesday’s winner will also be the November victory in this bright red district.GEORGIA’S GOP RUN-OFF FOR THE 11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Former Congressman Bob Barr is trying to get back to Washington, facing off against former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk to replace the retiring Rep. Phil Gingrey, who also ran unsuccessfully for the Georgia Senate race. WHY IT MATTERS: Barr who served in the House from 1995 to 2003 is most well-known for helping lead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and he’s seeking a comeback in this seat north of Atlanta. Tea party-backed Loudermilk beat Barr, coming in the initial primary 6,000 votes ahead of Barr. Barr — who was the Libertarian candidate for president in 2008 — was seen as the favorite thanks to his higher name recognition, but Loudermilk surprised with his initial victory and has even outraised Barr. Loudermilk went after Barr for writing a letter of recommendation six years ago for Attorney General Eric Holder. Barr says now he has called for his resignation. Barr has the backing of two of his primary opponents, while Loudermilk was backed by Sarah Palin.  There is no Democratic candidate for the seat, so the winner of this primary is guaranteed to fill this district’s congressional seat.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

New Alison Lundergan Grimes Ad Hits Mitch McConnell on ‘Not My Job’ Comment

New Alison Lundergan Grimes Ad Hits Mitch McConnell on ‘Not My Job’ Comment

State of Kentucky(NEW YORK) — Alison Lundergan Grimes’ is out with a new television ad hitting her opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on comments he made about his role in job creation in April.ABC News got a sneak peak of Grimes’ second television ad, featuring Kentuckians asking questions to McConnell. The ad — titled “Question from David” — begins with Grimes sitting next to David Stanley from Putney, Kentucky outside of a gas station.

“I’m Alison Lundergan Grimes and David Stanley lost his coal mining job in Letcher County, and he has this question for Senator McConnell,” Grimes says.“Mr. McConnell, in the last two years, we’ve lost almost half of our coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky. Why’d you say it’s not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky?” Stanley said, before taking a long pause.There is no answer, but Grimes then says, “I couldn’t believe he said that either.”“I approved this message because, Senator, that’ll be my number one job,” she says, while looking directly into the camera.The ad refers to McConnell being asked by the Beattyville Enterprise in April what he would do to bring jobs to the county.“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said then, according to the paper. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”Grimes has been consistently hitting McConnell over the comments, but his campaign says he was taken out of context.The Grimes’ campaign did not say how much money is behind the ad, but describe it as a significant, six-figure, statewide buy that begins airing Tuesday.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pre-Teens Account for Sharpest Spike in Unaccompanied Child Migrants

Pre-Teens Account for Sharpest Spike in Unaccompanied Child Migrants

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents are increasingly younger, according to newly released figures by the Pew Research Center.Sixteen percent of the minors who’ve crossed unaccompanied in fiscal year 2014, ending Sept. 30, were 12 and younger, compared with 9 percent in the same nine-month period for the previous year, Pew found. The remaining 84 percent of unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed this year were teenagers.The change from last year so far represents a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied kids 12 and younger making the dangerous trek.“The big message here is that when looking at who is crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and being apprehended, a growing number are young children,” Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research, told ABC News.The data, which look at Customs and Border Patrol number released to Pew through a Freedom of Information Act request, provide the first publicly available detailed portrait of the children surging at the southwest U.S. border in the past few months.Over 57,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border so far this fiscal year, more than double the number last year during the same nine-month period.The majority of children this year have come from Honduras, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico, which normally leads, comes in fourth.The largest share of children 12 and younger comes from Honduras (27 percent), representing a 20 percent uptick in actual numbers from the previous year, according to Pew. El Salvador follows with an increased to 22 percent from 17 percent, followed by Guatemala, which has seen the share of minors 12 and younger double to 10 percent of all unaccompanied minors.Comparatively, Mexico only had 3 percent of its unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under the age of 1, the same amount seen last year.“While this data does not tell us why [Honduras is sending more youth], one possible reason, according to Department of Homeland Security, is the growing level of violence in Honduras,” Lopez said. “Today, Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate, and San Pedro Sula, where the single largest contingent of kids from Honduras are from, is the world’s murder capital.”Family apprehensions — parents traveling with children — have also seen a huge spike this year, according to Customs and Border Patrol numbers, with more than 55,000 apprehensions so far, compared with only 9,300 during the same time last year.In analyzing the data, Pew also found children traveling with a parent were younger than those who travel without one, 81 percent 12 and younger.“One pattern in the data is that younger children are more likely to be accompanied by a parent or guardian,” Lopez said. “Older children, say age 16, may have left on their own for the U.S. Perhaps to reunite with a family member in the U.S. or possibly to find work.”White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday at a briefing that “preliminary data” from the first two weeks of June show apprehensions of unaccompanied children down by nearly half in the Rio Grande Valley sector, going from around 350 per day to 150 per day.“Now, while the reasons for the reduction in the number of unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children apprehended by CBP cannot be attributed to any one factor,” he said, “we do believe that the administration’s response and efforts to work with Central American leaders to publicize the dangers of the journey and reinforce that apprehended migrants are ultimately returned to their home countries, in keeping with the law, as well as seasonal flows, have all played a part.”President Obama on Monday met with the Homeland Security Council to discuss the unaccompanied children crossing the border.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Existing Home Sales Jump 2.6% in June

Existing Home Sales Jump 2.6% in June

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sales of existing U.S. homes rose for a third straight month in June, a new report out Tuesday shows.The National Association of Realtors says sales climbed 2.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million.”I think its a good month. We’re certainly headed in the right direction. We pulled up after a pretty weak spring market and we’re anticipating a stronger second half of the year,” says Ken Fears, a senior economist at the National Association of Realtors.In another good sign, sales are at the highest pace in eight months. But, as Fears points out, they are still down from June 2013.”We’re still down about 2.3 percent from last year, but that year over year gap continues to contract,” he says.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

What Apple Likely Won’t Talk About After Tuesday’s Close

What Apple Likely Won’t Talk About After Tuesday’s Close

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely Tuesday afternoon to again promise that exciting new products are on the way. But that’s probably all he’ll say about the topic when he speaks after the company releases its earnings.Here are the things Apple fans really want to know but probably won’t hear about in the earnings announcement:
1. Bigger, Badder iPhone 6?
In Tuesday’s conference call with analysts, Apple’s CEO and CFO may get pelted with questions about reportedly large manufacturing volume ahead of a potential iPhone 6. The company reportedly asked suppliers to manufacture 70 million to 80 million units of two large-screen iPhones, the Wall Street Journal noted Tuesday, according to unnamed sources. The next iPhones may have a larger screen of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches diagonally, the newspaper said, as opposed to the latest iPhone 5S and cheaper 5C that measure 4 inches. Apple did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
2. The Unicorn: iWatch
Apple has never used the word iWatch, but reports have consistently referred to this mystical gadget. The only thing media and analysts have been told is that multiple product categories will be announced this year.
3. The Stepsister: iPhone 5C Success/Failure
While Apple announces how many iPhones the company sells, the company does not provide details of which iPhone models were the most popular. The company won’t reveal how many iPhone 5C models were sold, as opposed to the 5S. The general number of iPhones sold, however, typically gives clues about whether customers may be waiting for the “next” model.
4. Cheaper Macs Paying Off?
In April, the company introduced an updated Macbook Air starting at $899 for an 11-inch model and $999 for a 13-inch one — $100 cheaper than the previous prices. The company will announce how many Mac computers it sold, but it won’t provide specific numbers on the Macbook Air or iMac. Last month, the company introduced a cheaper version of the all-in-one iMac desktop at $1,099.
5. iPad: Is Smaller Better?
Apple iPad sales have been relatively slow over the past year, so any signs of growth will be encouraging. But we may not necessarily hear if the iPad mini is beating the larger model, or vice versa. In March, Apple replaced the entry-level $399 iPad 2 with a 9.7-inch Retina display. Back in November, the 7.9-inch iPad mini with Retina display was introduced.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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