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Sunday
Nov122017

Jeff Sessions sued by 12-year-old girl with epilepsy who wants to legalize medical marijuana 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being sued by a 12-year-old Colorado girl suffering from epilepsy who aims to legalize medical marijuana nationwide.

Alexis Bortell, along with her father and other plaintiffs, including former NFL player Marvin Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of New York against the attorney general as well as the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Many states now allow use of marijuana for at least some medical reasons. The lawsuit filed in July seeks to make medical marijuana legal across the U.S.

"This lawsuit stands to benefit tens of millions of Americans who require, but are unable to safely obtain, cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses, diseases and medical conditions," the suit states.

Alexis, whose family moved to Colorado from Texas to take advantage of the state’s legalization of recreational and medical marijuana, had been suffering since she was 7 from a form of epilepsy that cannot be safely controlled with FDA-approved treatments and procedures, the lawsuit says.

As a result, she often had multiple seizures a day. "Nothing she tried worked," the suit states. When her family finally tried a form of marijuana, the girl found "immediate relief from her seizures."

"Since being on whole-plant medical cannabis, Alexis has gone more than two years seizure-free," the suit says.

The suit contends that Alexis won’t be able to return to her native Texas -- where she hopes to attend college -- because she would be subject to arrest if she continued to use marijuana to control her seizures.

ABC News reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the lawsuit but did not get an immediate response.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Nov112017

-- Father of twins 'fainted' when he discovered his wife is now expecting triplets

Courtesy Nia and Robert Tolbert(WALDORF, Md.) -- One couple, who welcomed a child in 2011, then twins in 2015, are now expecting triplets next year.

Nia and Robert Tolbert of Waldorf, Maryland, couldn't believe their luck when they discovered at a routine prenatal doctor's visit back in August that they were expecting three girls.

"When we were expecting twins, our technician that was doing the ultrasound asked if multiples ran in our family. So this time around, the technician asked the same thing and I thought, 'Oh, we must be having twins again,'" Nia Tolbert, 28, recalled to ABC News.

But when doctors eventually told her she was having triplets, she admitted "everything kind of spiraled out of control."

Nia Tolbert decided to share the big news with her husband of three years in a special way -- by leaving Robert Tolbert, 31, a giftbag coupled with a handwritten note.

Initially, he thought the gift bag contained a FitBit, since he'd been hinting at getting one for weeks, Robert Tolbert told ABC News. Instead, he found out just what would help keep him running around the house -- three more children.

On a handwritten card, Nia Tolbert wrote: "Please accept this gift from me and God."

"I opened the bag and I saw a very, very long sonogram," Robert Tolbert continued. "Then I saw three onesies in the bag ... and they were numbered 1, 2, and 3."

The now father of six admitted that he "fainted" when he realized what his wife was telling him. "I was just shocked," he added. "I just went straight to bed."

The growing family has since recovered from the shock, and now can't wait to expand their family.

"We’re already planning for our new our household. It's going to be equally balanced now -- with three little girls and three little boys," Nia Tolbert noted.

"But we're not too concerned," she added. "I know we’re not going to sleep for a couple years, our grocery bill is going to go up, and our house is not going to be quiet and that's OK."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Nov112017

How to feed 800 million: The battle over the future of US food aid

Patricia Garamendi(NEW YORK) -- Cornell economist Chris Barrett sometimes shows audiences a photo he took in 2003 of a mother in Kenya holding her thin child.

“He's so undernourished,” said Barrett, whose field research has spanned sub-Saharan Africa.

Roughly 815 million people around the world suffered from chronic malnourishment last year alone, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The way the U.S. helps the world’s hungry could be impacted by potential changes to provisions in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill, particularly those regarding international food assistance programs.

Food for Peace Title II aid connects farmers, truckers and others in the agricultural industry to programs that ship food to the world’s hungry.

Another effort, the Emergency Food Security Program, helps provide cash-based assistance for food to be bought in the region it will be consumed.

Because the 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire next year, lawmakers could soon debate which type of assistance the U.S. should best provide.

It is a disagreement that has roiled academics, lobbyists and politicians.

Same goal, different methods

The United States is by far the most generous contributor to international food aid. Every year for the past decade, the U.S. gave between two and five times more funding to the U.N.’s World Food Program than the next largest donor.

But American food aid is bound by restrictions that don’t apply to other major donor nations.

For example, at least 50 percent of food aid sent abroad must be delivered by U.S.-owned and -crewed vessels, even though they typically cost more than foreign alternatives.

In 2015, the Government Accountability Office found the added expense of this policy, known as cargo preference, was more than $107 million -- three times what the U.S. spent on food assistance to the African nation of Chad in 2017.

Barrett suggested that current maritime restrictions on shipping food aid should be eliminated.

Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat from California, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, disagrees.

"Well, I suspect that the opponents of cargo preference generally believe that if you send cash, it is better, cheaper and provides more support,” said Garamendi, the ranking member of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation subcommittee. “For the most part, those who advocate that have never spent much time in the chaos of a refugee or a famine camp.”

Hunger is an issue that has shaped his life’s work.

He has worked for decades on the issue, including a stint in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps in the early 1960s. In the late 1990s, he returned to Ethiopia with his wife, Patti, who then ran food programs across Africa for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An alternative model

Most countries have turned away from shipping home-grown commodities to afflicted regions, opting instead to provide funds for purchasing food locally.

In October, Barrett testified before the Senate Foreign Relations committee that Canada, which did away with a requirement that a percentage of food it donates must be domestically produced in 2008, is now twice as efficient as America at getting food to the needy.

Garamendi fears that replacing U.S. food aid sourced from American farms and delivered by U.S. ships with monetary aid would lead to abuse and undermine the nation’s commitment to feed the hungry.

“A cash program just will not have that support, and will quickly be subject to the inevitable audits, the inevitable questions of where did the cash go? Why did they use it to buy guns?” he said, adding that it wouldn’t be long until American food programs would diminish and possibly disappear.

The 2014 Farm Bill allowed more American food aid to be obtained outside the U.S. It was a change applauded by advocates who said shipping food from the U.S. to a nation in need is not always the most efficient way to feed people.

This method usually "ends up taking longer and costs significantly more," said Mary Olive, a policy adviser for the relief agency CARE, noting that modern e-vouchers used to purchase food locally are hard to abuse in the ways Garamendi suggested.

CARE is lobbying Congress for more flexibility in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the ability to locally source more food and offer an increase in cash-based aid beyond the current cap of 20 percent of total food aid.

But the organization does not want to eliminate the role of U.S. agriculture in global food aid altogether.

"There's always going to be a need for U.S. food in these programs,” Olive said. “We have a lot of pre-positioning sites around the world, which just brings U.S. food closer, so we have less of a wait time.”

She added that some countries, such as Yemen, don’t produce enough food to be purchased by aid groups, so it must be brought in from the outside.

High stakes

For Barrett, the debate boils down to a life-or-death proposition.

Last month, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “the $300 to $400 million wasted on these various restrictions effectively cost us something like 40,000 children’s lives every year.”

Similar to Barrett with his image of the thin child, Garamendi often refers to a photo his wife snapped of a petite woman hauling a 50 kilogram bag of wheat uphill to her family.

Three blue letters are stamped on the bag: U-S-A.

Garamendi said there is a benefit to food aid requirements that goes uncounted by critics: The bags and containers bearing the stamp of the United States, which sometimes get re-used and kept in villages for years, leave behind an abiding sense of goodwill toward the country.

“There is something extraordinarily powerful, and therefore extraordinarily important, to America when that charity -- the empathy of America -- is expressed in a 50-kilo bag of grain,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Nov102017

Mother of five delivers her own child on way to hospital

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- An Arizona woman unexpectedly gave birth Wednesday while en route to the hospital.

At 1:23 a.m. on November 8, Shannon Geise, 31, delivered her own son after pulling over her family SUV near 32nd Street and Union Hills in Phoenix.

Baby Sebastian arrived weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces.

"I could have never guessed that I was going to give birth in the car," Geise told ABC News. "Everybody's pretty surprised obviously, a little bit in shock just like me. [We're] happy he's here and that everyone's healthy and there's no complications. He's a great baby."

Geise is also mom to Devon, 11, Dominik, 9, Damen, 5 and Olivia, 1.

Geise said her water broke around midnight. She grabbed Olivia and headed to Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, formerly known as Paradise Valley Hospital. That night, Geise's three boys were with their father, Geise's former husband. Sebastian's father was at his own home at the time, Geise said.

"I got in the car and my biggest fear at that time was that I wasn't going to make it in time to get an epidural," Geise recalled. "As I started driving, it just became extremely intense and the hospital is only 15 to 20 minutes from my house. I got almost all the way there and I had a contraction that would not stop ... that's when I felt [the baby] actually move down."

Geise pulled her vehicle over and dialed 911. The recording was released by the Phoenix Fire Department to ABC News.

"What's wrong?" the dispatcher asked.

"I just delivered a baby in my car," Geise replied.

The dispatcher offered to send an ambulance, but Geise was already less than five minutes down the road.

"She called 911 where she was offered an ambulance and a firetruck with paramedics to assist her in safely getting to the hospital after delivering her child," the fire department wrote in a statement to ABC News. "The caller stated she was already on her way to the hospital and was approximately a half a mile away."

The department went on, "The alarm room then called the hospital to make them aware that a woman who had just given birth was roughly 3 minutes away from their hospital. Mom and baby are both doing great."

Geise drove herself the rest of the way to the hospital where she, her newborn son and 1-year-old daughter were greeted by emergency staff.

"The physicians, nurses and other caregivers in the Abrazo Scottsdale Campus emergency department are trained to handle uncommon emergent situations like this," the hospital wrote in a statement to ABC News. "We are proud of the care we gave Shannon and her baby when they arrived at our hospital, and we wish them both a happy and healthy future."

Geise said she and baby Sebastian are doing well.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Nov102017

Kitten named DOG rules the roost among 23 support dogs

Support Dogs Inc.(NEW YORK) -- This 6-month-old kitten holds his own among 23 support dogs.

DOG the cat, pronounced dee-OH-gee, isn’t just named after canines, he also thinks he is one.

The friendly feline lives at Support Dogs, Inc., in St. Louis, Missouri, and helps train the pups.

“He rules the roost. He is the boss,” owner Anne Klein told ABC News.

Klein said DOG has become a “training tool” for the assistance dogs as they through their two-year training process to be placed, free of charge, with people who have mobility issues, are deaf or hard of hearing. The dogs are also used in courtrooms during difficult situations for children.

“In our training, our dogs have to be so well-behaved and not be reactive in many situations, so when a cat goes scampering in front of them and they’re in a down-stay, the command, they don’t go running after him,” said Klein. “They have to be well-behaved and not get distracted. He’ll go scampering by and they have to be good, obedient.”

DOG certainly gives them a run for their money. Klein said he loves to pull at the pup’s tails and bat at their noses.

But mostly, “he’ll just snuggle up with them on their dog beds,” she said.

The kitten has a 5-foot-tall kitty condo in the middle of the office where he lives. Klein said when her staff returns in the morning, you can tell right away how rambunctious DOG has been overnight.

“Oftentimes when we come in the morning, he’s taken push pins off our bulletin boards and rearranged our papers,” she said with a laugh. “We’re not sure what he’s doing at night but he’s rearranging things to his liking.”

Despite his pesky behavior, “He’s certainly won the hearts of lots of dog lovers,” Klein said of everyone in their office.

“He’s definitely earned his keep, even though he’s cat,” she added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Nov102017

Army vet loses 125 pounds on yoga plan of former pro-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- After a 2011 semi-truck accident crushed his hip and legs, Buddy Rich's weight increased to over 300 pounds and he fell into a suicidal depression.

“The one thing that stopped me was my daughter,” the Florida military veteran said of his thoughts of suicide. His daughter was born just three weeks before the accident.

Rich had served in U.S. Army as a specialist in an engineering detachment from 2003 to 2008 and in the Army Reserves from 2008 to 2011. Afterward, he returned to school and worked for a delivery company. One of his closest friends in the military had committed suicide after they had both retired from service.

Rich was inspired to try yoga to cut his weight and strengthen his muscles after he stumbled across a viral video of another disabled vet named Arthur Boorman who lost weight following a yoga plan by former pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.

In the years that followed, Rich reduced his weight by 125 pounds and regained much of his mobility.

Just a few weeks ago, he taught his daughter how to ride a bike while running alongside her.

“I never thought I was going to get to wrestle with my kids, pick them up, anything. [Now] I can be a dad again,” said Rich.

He was surprised when Diamond Dallas Page showed up on the doorstep of his Apollo Beach, Florida, home to congratulate him on his successful training and to do a backyard workout with Rich.

“I can’t believe the dude who like changed my life is in front of me,” said Rich, “It’s unbelievable.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Nov102017

Woman uses year of maternity leave to travel the world with family

ABC News(LONDON) -- A London woman is using her maternity leave for her second child to travel the world with her family.

Karen Edwards, 33, is traveling through the U.S., Central America and South America with her husband, Shaun Bayes; their daughter, Esmé, 3; and 4-month-old son, Quinn. Edwards also took maternity leave after her daughter's birth in 2014 to travel the world.

The family left London on their monthslong adventure when Quinn was just 9 weeks old.

“It’s actually easier than being at home because at home you've got so much more things to do in just running a household,” Edwards told ABC News. “We’re really happy with what we're doing.”

The family visited Spain and Canada and drove down the West Coast of the U.S. before visiting Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador.

They’ve stayed in beach cabanas, camper vans, hotels and with local families along the way.

“I do believe that it's definitely character-building,” Edwards said, adding that Quinn “doesn't blink an eyelid” to being in a new bedroom almost nightly.

Quinn has already visited seven countries in his four months of life, while Esmé has visited nearly 30 countries at age 3.

Edwards and Bayes decided, after Edwards unexpectedly became pregnant with Esmé, they would keep traveling as they’d loved to do as a couple.

When Esmé was 10 weeks old, the family left London for Bayes’ native New Zealand and then traveled throughout Southeast Asia.

Edwards, a nurse manager at a London hospital, receives full or partial payment through nine months of maternity leave. The last three months of her leave are unpaid, but the family rents out their house in London to help cover expenses.

Bayes works in construction and has flexibility with his work schedule.

Edwards said the great experience spending a year traveling with Esmé inspired her and Bayes to do the same with Quinn.

“The most enjoyable bit was just having unlimited time for Esmé and seeing her developing without having many distractions,” she said. “We didn't have a house to maintain and we didn't have errands to run, so it was just her and us two parents being parents.”

Edwards and Bayes started a blog where they document their travels with their kids.

"Most of the [reaction] is positive and heartwarming, that we've inspired them to do something similar," Edwards said.

The family has faced criticisms for exposing their kids to foreign countries at such a young age. Edwards reminds critics that she is a nurse and they take “all necessary precautions.”

“This is the thing: we were already really into traveling,” Edwards said. “If it's something that you really enjoy anyway, you want to pass that onto your kid in some way.”

Traveling with young children and traveling on a budget are both easier than people might think, according to Edwards.

Here are Edwards' tips for other families:

How to travel on a budget:

1. "We use an airline credit card for all our spending and pay it off at the end of the month. We build up thousands of air miles from this and also get a companion flight voucher each month."

2. "Go for middle-of-the-road accommodation and maybe have one night as a treat in a luxurious place, if that’s something you like."

3. "Set up accounts as frequent flyers with every airline you use and try to collect points from hotels. Use the same booking platform to build up ‘genius’ status and get discounts in the future."

4. "Try out some of the various options for free accommodation. If you have a property, rent it out to have your mortgage covered while you are away."

5. "Save, save, save. The best way to travel is to have a location-independent role."

How to travel with a baby:

1. "You don’t need to bring the kitchen sink. One or two small toys, two outfits per day -- with access to a washing machine -- and a baby carrier are all you really need."

2. "Just buy enough baby products for the journey and get the rest on the go."

3. "Get baby used to sleeping on the go. ... We’ve never really had routines and just do what fits naturally for our kids. If they need a sleep, they can do it on the go and are not bothered. We instilled this early."

4. "Breastfeeding makes things so much easier. We don’t have to worry about sterilizing, water supply, etc. I also pass on immunity, which is really great when traveling. That said, we know formula-feeding moms manage just fine."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Nov092017

Real-life Iron Man breaks world record for fastest speed in a jet suit

(ABC News) ABC News' James Longman tries on Richard Browning's jet suit.(READING, England) -- British inventor Richard Browning is a real-life Iron Man.

Recently, Browning, the man behind the 1,050-horsepower, jet-engine flying Gravity suit, set a new world record for the "fastest speed in a body controlled jet engine powered suit."

He achieved a speed of 32.02 mph over a lake at Lagoona Park in Reading, England, according to Guinness World Records.

Browning told ABC News that in March 2016, he started tossing around an idea: "Could you approach the challenge of human flight in an entirely different way by augmenting the human body with power, with horsepower? ... Rather than putting the human being inside a flight machine."

That question was the starting point for his flying suit.

"This started out as, I suppose, an opportunity to go and try and achieve something that hadn't been done before," he said. "It was the challenge really. The sheer hell of the challenge. ... Learning from failure has been the fuel that's driven our journey."

At the time, Browning was working for an oil company, handling oil trading and implementing new technology. In his free time, though, he pursued several projects.

"I suppose that throughout my life, especially as a kid, I used to enjoy making things, taking things apart, visiting my father in a workshop," he told ABC News. "I suppose that I have always been quite technically minded in, at least, my day job career."

He described the jet-suit as a project that "got slightly out of hand."

First, he started with one small gas turbine attached to arm mounts. Eight months later, at a nearby farm, he had a breakthrough when he attached an engine to each leg and two turbines on each arm. He managed six seconds of controlled, stable flight. Later, he added two more turbines.

The current jet suit includes six turbines, a fuel system and an electronic control system.

"Core to this journey has been ... a very strong ethos, very close to my heart, around having an idea and spending less time agonizing over whether it's going to be possible and more time about finding some way of turning that idea, that concept into something tangible and go and test it," he said, "and learn from that testing."

His company, Gravity Industries, made a deal with its first investor in early 2017 and has already sold a copy of the original jet suit.

Browning said that while the Marvel character Iron Man had not been the original start point for the jet suit, he remains a fan and loved that people made that connection with it.

"It is wonderful, especially with kids," he said. "They draw this great parallel."

His goal, Browning added, is to make flying a reality for more people.

"I know we're only at the beginning of this journey," he said. "I can't help but be quite excited about the journey we're on. It's a pleasure."



Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov082017

Doctors replace boy’s skin using breakthrough gene therapy, stem cells

shironosov/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a breakthrough treatment, researchers at a burn unit in Germany found a way to replace 80 percent of a boy’s skin using a combination of gene therapy and stem cells. The grafted skin attached to his body has continued to replace itself, even months later.

The patient –- a boy who was 7 years old at the time of the treatment –- was born with a rare skin condition called junctional epidermolysis bullosa. The condition causes the outer layer of the skin to peel away easily from the lower skin layers, making it incredibly fragile and prone to injury.

“This is a very severe, devastating disease, where kids suffer a lot,” said Dr. Michele De Luca, one of the authors of the research.

Experts not involved in the research have said this successful grafting treatment is a big step for those suffering from genetic skin conditions like this one.

“This is really quite exciting, to have this translation for these patients,” said Dr. Dennis Orgill, medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Wound Center in Boston, who was not involved with the study. "That they can do these genetic manipulations and then have a long term result, which they’ve demonstrated here, is a major breakthrough."

In this case, the treatment may have been lifesaving. The patient arrived at the hospital with a life-threatening bacterial skin infection spread over much of his body. Over the following weeks, his doctors tried everything they could to treat him without success.

Out of options, his treatment team was preparing to start end-of-life care when his parents pleaded with them to try an experimental therapy.

Surgeons in Germany took a sample of the boy’s skin, less than one square inch in size, that was unharmed by the bacterial infection. In a lab, researchers infected the skin biopsy with a virus specially designed to alter the genetic code within the skin cells, “correcting” the mutation responsible for his fragile skin. The researchers "grew" the skin and used it to surgically replace the patient’s blistered and destroyed skin.

After 21 months, the new skin is regenerating itself without problems and has been resilient; it can hold up to normal wear much better than his original skin.

While this result only applies to one rare skin disorder right now, experts said the approach could be used more widely for other diseases in the future.

“We are running other clinical trials on other kinds of junctional epidermolysis bullosa," De Luca said. "In the future, it could be applied to other genetic diseases of the skin.”

Researchers hope that it could help other people with seriously damaged skin in the future, too.

“This technology could be extended into other patients with genetic conditions, or patients with extensive burns,” Orgill said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov082017

Man with four girls speechless after wife reveals sex of fifth baby

(Courtesy: Angel Taylor) Angel Taylor, 34, of Arlington, Texas, seen with her husband Mark Taylor, 34, and the couple's four children, Jordyn, 12, Juliyn, 9 Jaxsyn, 3 and Jestyn, 9 months.(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- A father's silent reaction was recorded on video as he learned the sex of his fifth child.

Mark Taylor, 34, stood shocked and speechless as he walked through the door to pink balloons on his living room floor -- revealing that he'd soon be a dad to five girls.

Angel Taylor, 34, said her husband, a father of four, was quiet for a whole two hours after learning the news.

“He just wouldn’t talk,” Angel Taylor of Arlington, Texas, told ABC News. “He busted out laughing a couple of times. I thought it was hilarious actually.”

Angel Taylor said that her husband thought that for sure, this child would be a boy -- especially after the couple had suffered a miscarriage.

"My husband's thinking, 'This is a miracle baby, so this has to be a boy,'” she added. “He always wanted to call the baby [boy] Tre. I already came to terms that this was a baby girl.”

On Oct. 25, Angel Taylor filmed her husband as she and their four daughters, Jordyn, 12, Juliyn, 9, Jaxsyn, 3, and Jestyn, 9 months, announced the news of girl No. 5.

Once the shock wore off, dad was excited that No. 5 would once again be a little girl. "Wow," he says in the video, as he took a sip of beer.

“Five is my favorite number, so five girls is fitting," Mark Taylor said in a statement to ABC News.

Baby Jazlyn is due to arrive May 3.



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