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Monday
Sep252017

Protesters in wheelchairs removed by police after disrupting Graham-Cassidy bill hearing

@bdaviskc/Twitter(WASHINGTON) -- Protesters in wheelchairs were removed from a hearing on the Republican health care bill Monday afternoon after disrupting the session with chants of "No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!"

The disruption prompted Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to adjourn the session until the protesters could be cleared out.

"If you want a hearing -- if you want a hearing, you better shut up," Hatch said.

Capitol Police officers struggled to remove people, with some sliding out of their wheelchairs and onto the floor.

Eva Malecki, a spokesperson for Capitol Police, told ABC News they are still "processing the arrests."

People from all over the country and all of walks of life lined up as early as 5 a.m. ET, to urge lawmakers to oppose the latest Republican health care bill, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill.

The chambers of Finance Committee is set to consider health care legislation proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

This is the one and only open hearing scheduled on the Graham-Cassidy bill, an unusual process that opponents of the bill, like Sen. John McCain, have objected to.

An army veteran who came all the way from Atlanta called the hearing a “fake" and a "facade," accusing lawmakers of not listening to real Americans.

Through tears, Pam Willis of Wyoming told ABC News’ Mary Bruce that this is a matter of “life and death.”

“My daughter’s coming in a wheelchair and it means her life, the insurance. And my daughter in law has cancer, her fourth cancer and it means her life too,” Willis said. “It means a lot.”

Graham and Cassidy will speak in favor of their bill and are expected to discuss the latest revised version of their health care legislation. The newest draft rearranges how changes in federal funding provided to the states for health care would be phased in over time.

Republicans are hoping to push the Graham-Cassidy bill quickly through the Senate as the Sept. 30 deadline that allows them pass health care on a party-line simple majority vote is rapidly nearing.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Sep252017

What to know about the 'clever gut diet'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The author of a new book argues that what you feed your gut, which he calls your "second brain," can have an effect on your mood, your weight and your immune system.

"The 'clever gut diet' basically is what I describe as a Mediterranean-style diet," Dr. Michael Mosley, author of "The Clever Gut Diet: How to Revolutionize Your Body From the Inside Out," told ABC News.

His diet includes staples such as fruits and vegetables, as well as dark chocolate, turmeric and fermented foods.

"Fermented foods are absolutely packed with good bacteria," Mosley said. "So every single teaspoon of that stuff has got tens of billions of living bacteria."

Recommended fermented foods to add to your diet include kombucha, kefir, and "smelly cheeses," according to Mosley.

Mosley recommends thinking of your gut as a garden, where prebiotics and fiber act as a fertilizer. The crop is the more than 20 trillion bacteria growing in your gut.

Prebiotics are "nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics," according to Mayo Clinic, a health system with locations across the country.

"The number of microbes down there and the sort of shape that they are in largely depends on what you eat and what you drink," Mosley said. "Because everything you don't digest, feeds them."

Mosley adds that many Americans have ruined their gut with junk food and excessive use of antibiotics, but he said new scientific research is looking at how a change in diet may be able to reprogram your physical and psychological well-being.

"Can we, for example, reduce anxiety and depression by giving people either different foods ... foods rich in fiber, or probiotics, or prebiotics?" Mosley said.

While many questions still remain in the medical community about the connection between your gut and mind, some new studies indicate a link between the gut and immune system health.

"We do know anecdotally people who eat better and have healthier guts tend to get sicker less, they tend to have less systemic inflammation," Maya Feller, a New York-based registered dietitian, said on "Good Morning America." "And they also have better weight management and also [are better at] being aware of [whether] they’re hungry or not."

Feller recommends people try to increase their intake of fiber. Men should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day, while women should aim for 25 grams per day, she said.

On a daily basis, Feller advised adding vegetables to both breakfast and lunch and including non-starchy vegetables as three-quarters of your dinner plate.

"Any chance you get, snacks are vegetables," she said. "You want to push the fiber in there at any opportunity."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Sep242017

Florida bride-to-be donates food to needy after canceling wedding before Hurricane Irma

Jessica Jean Williamson(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys hard earlier this month, completely leveling one bride's wedding venue -- so she decided to take the food prepared for her reception to those most affected by the storm.

Jessica Jean Williamson told ABC News she had planned to wed her boyfriend of eight years, Alex Arteaga, on Sept. 9 -- just one day before Irma made landfall in the Keys. The couple had planned to wed in front of 75 guests at a friend's beachside home.

"We were watching the weather and we found out the weather was going to put a damper on our wedding," the bride recalled. "So we said, 'What do we do?'"

The two ended up canceling their wedding. Instead, they boarded up their home in West Palm Beach, Florida and waited out the storm.

Nearly two weeks later, Williamson, 27, wrote in a Facebook post that she decided to take the taco bar meant for her wedding reception to those most affected in Big Pine Key, Florida.

"It felt good bringing people who have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for over a week some REAL food," she wrote Friday. "To see the look on their faces as they lined up for literally anything and got authentic street tacos… this was so worth it."

The insurance agent tapped who was meant to be her "man of honor," Dominick Famularo, to take the nearly five hour trip -- thanks to traffic.

Famularo, 25, told ABC News the two have been serving those who really needed help. They've also been working with local relief organizations, such as Humanity Road.

"We've been serving food and handing out supplies and going around, making sure everyone's OK," he said. "Everyone is just happy to be alive, basically."

Although Famularo said their West Palm Beach community was also devastated, “it was nothing like this," he said, referencing the Keys.

The two hope that sharing their trip will encourage others to make the trek as well. Especially since Williamson said she has to return home to tend to Alice, her 6-year-old daughter with Arteaga.

Williamson added that it "feels weird" to even think about rescheduling her wedding.

"It feels selfish," she explained. "I want to do it, but the Keys is so close to my heart that I think we’d rather wait and help rebuild, and still try to do it here than just move it somewhere else."

"We’ve been together eight years. What’s another couple of months?" Williamson quipped, laughing.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Sep242017

New antibody targets 99 percent of HIV strains

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers have developed an antibody that attacks 99 percent of HIV strains.

The "tri-specific" antibody is a combination of three antibodies, which allows it to attack three parts of the virus.

As part of the study published in Science, 24 monkeys were injected with HIV. None developed the virus after being given the "tri-specific" antibody.

Human trials are expected to begin next year to see if it can prevent or treat the infection.

The study was a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Sep232017

Nikki Reed’s birth control drama: Experts weigh in on how to discuss family planning

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Critics took aim at Nikki Reed's husband, Ian Somerhalder, this week after the actor admitted in an interview to throwing out the actress' birth control pills.

Somerhalder, 38, recounted the ordeal, which took place when the couple was vacationing in Barcelona last year.

"Unbeknownst to poor Nikki, she didn't realize I was going to go into her purse" to grab her birth control pills, he said Wednesday on the Informed Pregnancy podcast. "It was the beginning of the pack, so I had to pop all those suckers out."

Although Reed, 29, was initially "freaking out" -- as Somerhalder acknowledged -- the two later decided to expand their family. Last July, they welcomed a daughter named Bodhi.

Reed, who wed Somerhalder wed in 2015, also took to Twitter to quell the criticism, writing that fans shouldn't be alarmed by the story.

Reed's experience raises the question -- what is the best way to start a family?

Genevieve Brown, author of The Happiest Mommy You Know, said the discussion should preferably happen "way prior to marriage."

"It's natural that one person may be more ready than the other," she said. "But you can't make a person be ready before their time. Even if they end up going along with your time table, they'll likely resent you for it later."

"Be understanding to the fact that there are some fears associated with having a child," Sonya Frazier, a licensed mental health counselor, told ABC News. "Your partner could’ve had a difficult childhood, or have fears about divorce and raising a child as a single parent. So really try to understand your partner and their thoughts and fears."

Frazier admits that having this tough conversation can be difficult but not impossible. She gave foolproof tips on how to discuss starting a family without starting a fight.

1. Timing is everything
"Get your timing together," she said. "Don’t do it while someone is half asleep, and don’t do it at half- time. And you don’t want to do it when someone just walked through the door. You really don’t want to have any distractions around you so perhaps you'll need to schedule a time to talk."

2. Pick a neutral space to talk
"Or go for a walk or even out to a public space like a coffee shop so you can go there and really connect," Frazier said.

3. Break out the rule book

"I always tell people to set rules for communicating. So before the conversation gets uncomfortable, let’s agree to take 10 minutes to cool off and then come back and finish the conversation," she said. "And you definitely want everyone to feel free to express themselves, so no talking over each other."

4. It's OK to ask for help
"You can always go to counseling to have difficult conversations as a couple. If you can’t do it on your own, have a neutral party that’s a professional to help facilitate this conversation," Frazier said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep222017

Facebook group members accuse paralyzed hiker of lying about completing Pacific Crest Trail

ABC News (ANZA, Calif.) --  Earlier this week, her story was featured on various news outlets, including ABC News' "World News Tonight," sparking interest within the Facebook group Pacific Crest Trail Class of 2017. Some members of the group raised questions among themselves, asking whether hikers who'd been on the trail during the same time period as Kozel remembered seeing her.

Kozel said she started receiving messages Wednesday, inquiring about details from the hike and accusing her of lying about completing the journey.

Donna L-Rod Saufley, who owns a hostel along the trail and was described by member and two-time Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker Mark Votapek as "the most famous trail angel on the PCT," started the group thread Wednesday, writing: "Did anyone in the Class of 2017 see Stacey Kozel on the trail this year?"

Saufley, responding to all the media attention the disabled hiker was getting, called Kozel's claim "unbelievable and frankly ridiculous."

Saufley and her husband have hosted Pacific Crest Trail hikers for more than 20 years at their Agua Dulce, California, home. Their home is situated at mile 454 and this year, she said, her two-acre hostel -- called Hiker Heaven -- had hosted more than 1,500 hikers on the trail.

She said the two are members of a "trail angels" group that communicates with each other and keeps tabs on the hikers. Saufley, who described herself as a trail section hiker, also completed the Pacific Crest Trail around the same time as Kozel. She said she had not heard of Kozel from other hikers and that had given her initial pause a few weeks ago.

"The trail grapevine is incredibly robust, so even if she didn't stay at Hiker Heaven, surely I would have heard about her. I spent time on the trail this season too, and saw many hikers on my journey. I finished the trail at the northern terminus around the same time that Stacey claims to have been there. No mention of her at all from anyone," she said.
Chatter about Kozel took over the Facebook group's conversation.

Saufley shared some of the information and speculation that members of the group had put forth to discredit Kozel's hiking claims.

According to Saufley, snow levels, flooding and fires made it "nearly impossible for able-bodied" hikers to complete the trail this year. She said that not one trail angel along the Pacific Crest Trail had reported seeing, hosting or helping Kozel. The group also took issue with Kozel's hiking dates.

"The dates Stacey has provided do not add up. She says she is 'slow' but claims to have done a contiguous northbound thru-hike in what would be considered an extremely fast pace," Saufley said. "The dates are all over the place; she says she started on several different dates, and the same is true about her finishing date. ... There is one fact that most thru-hikers remember: the dates they started and finish the trail. No one is ambiguous about their dates. Except Stacey, who can't seem to decide when she started or finished."

"Rather than respond with facts, photos, or people that Stacey met along her journey, she instead took all her accounts offline after questions about her began to surface. Not one shred of evidence has been put forth that validate Stacey actually being on the trail, by Stacey or anyone else," Saufley said.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association today told ABC News that while it was aware of the controversy surrounding Kozel, it did not get involved in disputes over hikers or whether they hiked the trail. It said completion of the trail was based on an honor system.

"There is no requirement for anyone to report their hikes to us. … We don't validate or verify hikes in any way," said Scott Wilkinson, the association's director of communications and marketing.

When contacted by ABC News about the accusations, Kozel told ABC News that she was "heartbroken" over what was being said about her online.

"This was never about doing a thru-hike for me," she said. "It was more about 'not giving up.'"

She told ABC News that she had taken two trips off the trail, flying to speaking events in Ohio and then West Virginia. She maintained, however, that she'd returned twice to complete the trail end to end. She said she doesn't have witnesses to vouch every step of the way.

Addressing those who say she finished the hike too quickly, Kozel told ABC News that she "pushed through much of Washington at night" because she couldn't sleep well due to the cold temperatures, which gave her muscle spasms.

Many nights, instead of setting up her tent, she said she would sleep outside without overhead protection for a few hours at a time and then push through with more hiking to keep herself warm and free from spasms. Near the emerging fires, she says she quickened her pace to avoid them.

Kozel said that many of the people raising questions were trolling her and leaving nasty messages so she'd closed her social media pages. She said she couldn't read the messages because they were so hurtful. She also said she didn't want to respond to them because she felt that would only "add fuel to the fire."

Kozel has since deactivated her social media accounts and taken down her website.

She released a statement late today, saying: "Earlier this year I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. I hiked it to challenge myself, to push myself to the limits. I did it for myself, for no monetary gain, or media attention. I did it because I needed to do it. ... I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail."

In 2016, Kozel says she hiked the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. She said that she had not faced any accusations about that hike. On the Appalachian Trail, she said people were looking for her along the route. On this trip, however, she said she wanted to be more low-key and not too noticeable.

"My reputation is on the line," she said about the accusations. "My integrity is on the line."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep222017

'Healthy Living for Summer': Alternatives to processed sugar

tyncho/iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Avoiding refined sugar may be a challenge for most Americans, but Byron Paidoussi and Whitney Cole, the owners of Fitness and Fuel LA, regularly look for alternatives. In the tenth and final episode of ABC News' "Healthy Living for Summer" series, we asked them for some tips.

"We try to avoid processed sugar as much as we can," said Paidoussi.

The couple has experimented with creating different recipes that exclude sugar. In the video above, they make spicy chocolate pumpkin squares with stevia, a sugar substitute, and dates.

"[It's] a really yummy thing we can have around the house, and it's a lot less sugary, a lot less impact on our blood sugar going up and down," Cole said.

Below is a list of advice Cole and Paidoussi gave ABC News.

Quick tips

•  Look at the ingredients to see how many grams of sugar the item contains

•  Check if sugar alternatives come in pure forms, which the couple recommends

•  You can use natural items like dates as alternatives to refined sugar

•  Experiment and get creative with recipes, such as the pumpkin squares pictured above

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep222017

Girl Scout honored for saving mom from overturned car

Girl Scouts of Central Indiana(NEW YORK) -- Last April Melina Lakey was riding home from a movie with her parents when their SUV clipped a drainage ditch and rolled over six times, landing on its roof.

The 9-year-old was pulled to safety by her dad, Jeff Lakey, who was driving. When Melina saw that her mom, Ashley McCollum-Lakey, was stuck in the passenger seat, she ran back to help.

“When the airbags deploy you can’t see any of the doors, so she lifted them up so I could find my way out,” McCollum-Lakey told ABC News. “She said, ‘Mommy I’m right here. Come to me.’”

She continued, “She lifted up five impact airbags to get me out, through glass and debris.”

Melina, a Girl Scout from Pendleton, Indiana, was honored Thursday for her heroism by the Girl Scouts of the USA.

She received the Medal of Honor, one of two Lifesaving Awards given by the Girl Scouts for “saving life or attempting to save life without risk to the candidate’s own life.”

The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, the 45-county council that represents Melina’s troop, has awarded only one other Lifesaving Award in the past decade, according to a council spokeswoman.

“It felt really good,” Melina, a fourth grader who has been a Girl Scout for the past five years, told ABC News. “It felt like everybody cared.”

Melina, who was 8 at the time of the accident, took control after rescuing her mom by calling 911 on her parents' cellphone. She and her mom, who is her troop leader, had spent that April day at a local fire department with fellow Girl Scouts learning first aid skills and what to do in an emergency.

“They said that if you’re ever in a big accident, always call 911,” Melina said.

She added, "Even though you think [an accident] is not going to happen to you, it still will. They taught me everything I needed."

Melina and her dad escaped the accident with no injuries. McCollum-Lakey suffered a shoulder injury and some bruising but credits her daughter with saving her life.

“Melina didn’t think twice,” she said. “She knew there was glass and debris and she just wanted to make sure that she knew mommy and daddy were OK.”

Melina, whose favorite Girl Scout activity is hiking, also received a congratulatory letter from Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo.

“Your extraordinary courage, incredible confidence, and your willingness to take decisive action in the midst of an emergency has not only saved a life, but also serves as a shining example for Girl Scouts everywhere of fortitude and dedication,” the letter read in part. “Your heroism and sound judgment have earned you a place in the pantheon of heroes who have come before you, and left an indelible mark on the Girl Scouts.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep222017

Dad pushes empty stroller through marathon to honor stillborn son

ABC News(QUEENSLAND, Australia) -- As if running a marathon weren't enough of a feat, one dad pushed a stroller the entire way.

For Troy Austin, an Australian man who is an Ironman competitor and triathlete as well as a marathon runner, the exertion of pushing the stroller wasn't so much physical as emotional. Because the stroller he pushed was empty.

Austin ran the Sunshine Coast Marathon with the empty stroller last month in honor of his late son, T.G. The boy was stillborn in 2016 at 27 weeks, three days after his parents had learned through a sonogram that he had no heartbeat.

"The day you find out about your child has passed isn't the day of labor -- well, not in our instance," Austin told ABC News. "The day after our devastating news, we had to go back and have a time of death recorded."

Following the terrible news on the sonogram, Austin said his wife was given medication to help prepare her body to give up the baby.

"After a few emotionally painful days, you go to the hospital to give birth, knowing that your bub isn't coming home to his room," he said.

T.G. would be more than 1 year old now.

"Three days after we heard those horrible words, 'No heartbeat,' we got to meet our boy. He is beautiful," Austin said.

"He is still and innocent. We smile through the heartache because we have our first child. We are a family. His grandparents came to meet our son and for a cuddle. We stayed with him all night. He was born too late for a photographer to come, so we held him 'til the sunrise only to have to say goodbye as a nurse wheeled him away."

"Next time we saw T.G was at the funeral home, wrapped so innocently," he said.

After the ordeal, Austin said he coped by throwing himself into physical fitness, which was already a major part of his life. His wife, Kelly, worked to handle the loss by preserving everything she could about T.G., he said.

The stroller was one of the first purchases the couple had made when Kelly was pregnant. Until this marathon, it had been sitting in the garage unused.

One of Austin's friends was running his first marathon to raise money and awareness for the Austin family charity Everyday Hero, which raises awareness and offers support to families who had a stillborn child.

Austin paced himself to run with his friend, but while the race wasn't terribly difficult physically, it took an emotional toll.

There were people along the route who joked about getting a ride in the stroller, and an announcer who said over the loudspeaker, "'Here comes old mate, and it looks like he has lost his kid,'" Austin said. He estimates there were a hundred comments made about the empty stroller through the course of the race.

"They weren't trying to be mean; it was just the Aussie humor. Stillbirth was the furthest from their mind, and I understood that," he said. "I kept answering the onslaught of questions and shout-outs with, 'That's the point,' and, 'Yes, I have lost my son and I'm not getting him back.' "

He said he got a mixed response from people who understood the point of his pushing the empty stroller. "A fair few didn't get it," he said. But he said he's glad the event raised awareness of the issue of stillbirths.

The couple now have another son, Samuel, but still deeply miss T.G., Austin said. They honor his memory at family functions with a small giraffe and give photos of him to his grandparents. And T.G.'s stroller will race again, bringing more awareness to the issue of stillbirth.

"I just want to help. I want T.G to play with the other kids in heaven and know we are helping their parents down here," Austin said. "I would like to let the community know it's OK to talk about stillbirth, to mention the children we have lost. Parents that have lost a child want to hear their children's name. They want to know that they are counted."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep212017

Tom Brady's claim that hydration prevents sunburns raises eyebrows

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tom Brady's claim that staying ultra-hydrated helps protect him from the sun's rays is raising eyebrows on social media.

"When I was growing up, and playing outside in the sun, I got sunburned a lot. I was a fair-skinned Irish boy, after all. These days, even if I get an adequate amount of sun, I won't get a sunburn, which I credit to the amount of water I drink," the New England Patriots quarterback writes in his new book "The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance."

Brady writes that he drinks more than 150 ounces of water a day. On "active days," he says, he drinks "close to twice that."

The NFL star's comments quickly garnered backlash on social media, with many questioning the science behind his claims.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seeking shade, wearing long-sleeved clothing, using a hat, wearing sunglasses, and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen on in order to protect yourself from sun exposure. The group does not mention on its sun safety website that drinking water can in any way help prevent a sunburn.

The CDC does state, however, that men are more likely than women to develop skin cancer, partly because men are less likely to apply sunscreen.

"When outside on a sunny day for more than an hour, only about 14 percent of men use sunscreen on both their face and other exposed skin," the CDC writes on its website.

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