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Monday
Apr172017

More than half of American adults have tried marijuana, poll finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) A majority of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives, according to a new Marist poll that was conducted in partnership with Yahoo.

The poll found that 52 percent of U.S. adults have tried marijuana at least once and 56 percent of Americans find the drug "socially acceptable."

While eight out of 10 Americans strongly support legalizing medical marijuana, there is a clear divide over the legalization of recreational marijuana; Forty-nine percent of American adults support legalization while 47 percent oppose it.

Dr. Donald Abrams, an oncologist at University of California San Francisco who has studied marijuana, said the high percentage of people in favor of medicinal marijuana is not surprising.

Many "have had family members or friends who have benefited from the use medicinally," Abrams said. "I hear it all the time."

The poll comes as more states are legalizing both recreational and medicinal marijuana. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and today 29 states have laws providing for medicinal marijuana or cannabis and eight states have passed laws legalizing recreational use of the drug in some form.

Despite more people having access to the drug, just 14 percent of Americans over the age of 18 say they use marijuana regularly or at least once or twice a month. The poll also finds that a stigma is still associated with the drug.

Overall, 70 percent of poll respondents believe their parents would be unhappy to learn they were using marijuana recreationally.

In comparison, the poll found that 58 percent of parents think their children would disapprove if they found out their mother or father enjoyed marijuana recreationally.
Just 39 percent of parents say their children have tried or currently uses marijuana.

That number is almost true in reverse, with just 36 percent of Americans saying at least one parent has tried or regularly uses marijuana.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance, which focuses on drug policy reform, said some parents may hide recreational drug use over concerns they will set a bad example.

"You go to someone's house ... you have the parents share a joint and down the hall the teenager will share a joint and neither will know," he said.

Nadelmann said that changes in how marijuana is ingested may also contribute to how people view the drug.

"As marijuana has been accepted medically, it's less about the marijuana high," Nadelmann said, pointing out that people may now increasingly see elderly family members use the drug to help cope with a variety of ailments.

Americans do have concerns about the health risks of marijuana, but those concerns pale in comparison to concerns over cigarettes and alcohol. Fifty-one percent of Americans think consumption of marijuana is a health risk. However, far more Americans say drinking alcohol regularly (72 percent) is a threat to health over regular marijuana use (20 percent.)

More Americans also think that regular tobacco use (76 percent) is far more risky than regular marijuana use (18 percent.)

The poll was done by surveying 1,122 adults between March 1 through March 7 of this year. The Marist Poll was sponsored and funded in partnership with Yahoo. Results are statistically significant within ±2.9 percentage points.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Apr162017

Prince Harry says he 'shut down' his emotions after his mother's death

Joe Giddins - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Harry admitted in a podcast Sunday that he sought mental health counseling after his mother's death because he was unable to cope.

Prince Harry told the U.K. Telegraph's Bryon Gordon that he "shut down all [his] emotions” for almost two decades due to the grief over the death of his mother, Diana, the late Princess of Wales.

He also described feeling completely overwhelmed having to live his life so publicly.

"I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle,” Harry told Gordon.

He credits his brother, Prince William, with encouraging him to seek out mental health support to help him deal with his anger and his pain.

"For me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying, 'This is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK.'"

William and Harry rarely speak so candidly about their mother but have recently opened up in order to help others struggling with mental illness.

“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? It’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back," Harry said. “So I was a typical 20-, 25-, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it."

He also said he took up boxing to help channel his aggression. He described a period of two years that were total chaos while he reached out for help.

"And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with,” Harry said.

Harry said in the podcast that the counseling and support he received has changed his life

"Because of the process I have been through over the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else," Harry said.

On Sunday, the fifth in line also released a message of support that was broadcast over the Fenway Park Jumbotron for Iraq War heroes Ivan Castro and Karl Hinnett.

"Ivan and Karl are two American and British veterans wounded in battle that I've had the privilege of calling my friends," Harry told a cheering crowd at Fenway. "Tomorrow they will run the Boston Marathon for Heads Together, the campaign that Catherine, William, and I are leading to change the conversation on mental health."

 

 

Hinnett and Castro were at Fenway to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game ahead of the marathon Monday.

Castro lost his sight when a mortar landed a few feet from him causing injuries many thought he would never survive. The officer fought back and still serves in the Special Forces, inspiring active and injured service members in their own recovery. He accompanied Harry on the "Walking with the Wounded" trek to the South Pole and has been a huge supporter of Harry's Invictus Games. Hinnett, a British soldier, suffered burns over one-third of his body when his tank was set ablaze in Basra, Iraq. The soldier underwent more than fifty operations and has competed marathons of five continents including the North and South Poles.

A week later, the two Iraq heroes will attempt the London Marathon, running for Heads Together there.

"They're taking on the incredible challenge for one reason, to help us end the fear that stops people talking about mental health," Harry said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Apr162017

Idaho man pushes best friend in wheelchair as they trek 500 miles across Spain

Courtesy I'll Push You(NEW YORK) -- Imagine trekking 500 miles across mountains, rivers and even a Spanish desert. Now imagine doing that with your best friend who's in a wheelchair.

Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray have known each other since they were born. Their parents attended the same church and the two went to middle and high school together.

Gray, 41, was even there when Skeesuck, also 41, was diagnosed with multifocal acquired motor axonopathy, a neuromuscular disease that causes symptoms similar to ALS.

"I have to have my clothes put on. I have to be bathed in the bathroom. I can do some stuff on my own. I can get around on my own. I use a power wheelchair," Skeesuck told ABC News. "But my wife is my primary caregiver and then Patrick steps in and he’s kind of my No. 2. I call him the vice president of my inner circle."

So when Skeesuck, who lives in Eagle, Idaho, wanted to trek the 500 miles of Spain’s Camino de Santiago trail after watching a travel show, Gray didn't hesitate.

"I just knew I needed to do it," Skeesuck said of getting the idea in 2013.

After a year of training -- and convincing their spouses and families -- they hit the trail on June 3, 2014. They traversed mountains, rivers and desert terrains "with the helping hands and hearts of well over a 100 pilgrims," Gray said.

Although the two admit they were a bit nervous initially, they really just used the opportunity to have fun.

"We were going to try to make it, come hell or high water," Skeesuck said, adding that they were just "focused; trying to have fun throughout the process."

The two eventually documented their experience in a book, "I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends and One Wheelchair," out June 6. They also have a documentary about their trip due out this fall.

Gray said he stole a phrase from his best friend on why they're sharing their experience: "'It’s too much hope not to share it.'"

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Apr162017

Pregnant mom's ultrasound reveals twin babies 'kissing' inside womb

Carissa Gill/Fetal Vision Imaging(NEW YORK) -- A sonogram image that appears to show a pair of twins sharing a kiss inside the womb is melting their parents' hearts.

The moment was photographed during first-time mom Carissa Gill’s 24-week ultrasound.

"In the 2-D ultrasound that I see in the doctor's office, they're never that close together -- just seeing them face to face, it was a big shock," Gill told ABC News. "You can see their mouths open and closing. It started when Bella was kissing Callie's cheek. Two weeks before that they were kicking each other."

Gill 22, had the ultrasound done on April 4 at Fetal Vision Imaging in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

"Congratulations Carissa and Randy with your kissing twins!" the company wrote on Instagram. "Thank you for coming to Fetal Vision, we hope you enjoyed your experience with us!"

The facility offers parents an opportunity to see their baby in 3-D or 4-D.

"Seeing that ultrasound like that was priceless to me," dad Randy Good told ABC News.

Gill and Good's identical twin girls, who will be named Isabella and Callie, are due on July 26. Mom and dad said they are looking forward to sharing the photo with their daughters in the future.

"I don't know if they're going to love each other as much as they do when they are in the womb, but we can use it as blackmail later on," Gill joked.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Apr152017

Watch this elderly German couple get down on the dance floor

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Here is one German couple who love the dance floor. And although they've gotten up in age, they've still got the moves.

Nellia and Dietmar Ehrentraut are going viral online thanks to their stellar dance moves.

The two, married since 1970, told ABC News, "We still have a lot of fun."

According to the couple's website, Nellia, 64, and Deitmar, 70, have been dancing for more than 30 years.

They particularly love dances from the 40s and 50s, such as swing, the jitterbug and the Lindy.

And the Ehrentrauts don't just dance for fun. They've competed and won several dancing competitions, according to their site.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Apr152017

April the giraffe gives birth before online audience 

Animal Adventure Park/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- After months of waiting, April the giraffe finally gave birth Saturday morning.

The Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, has been live-streaming the 15-year-old pregnant giraffe on YouTube since late February, and millions of viewers have tuned in.

A zoo spokesperson announced Saturday morning that April, who has been pregnant for 16 months, was now in "active labor" and the zoo's team was assembling to assist in the long-awaited birth.

Well over a million people watched the zoo's live-stream as April gave birth to the baby giraffe.

The calf's front hooves appeared first followed by the snout Saturday morning, an indication that the birth was imminent. April pushed the baby out before 10 a.m. ET.

 The baby giraffe is expected to weigh about 150 pounds and be about 6 feet tall. Once the calf is born, the Animal Adventure Park plans to hold a contest to name it.

This is April's fourth calf. She has never lost a baby nor had a stillborn, according to the zoo.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr142017

10-year-old boy credited with saving grandmother in house fire

Rob Ruch(PLATTESVILLE, Wisc.) -- Tony Ruch was woken up to the sounds of his grandmother yelling for help and the sight of flames inside his family’s Platteville, Wisconsin, home last week.

Tony, 10, followed his instinct to run in search of his dad, Rob Ruch. When he discovered that his dad was not home (he was staying with a friend), Tony said he realized he had to save himself and his grandmother.

“It jumped in mind, ‘OK, no one is here to help me. I have to take control,” Tony told ABC News. “I remember being scared and once I realized that my dad wasn’t there, I had to man up and take control.”

Tony yelled out through the smoke and flames in his dad’s bedroom to Amazon Alexa to call 911. When the automated assistant replied she could not call authorities, Tony ran downstairs to the kitchen to help his grandmother, Joy Hentrich.

Hentrich, 75, has lived with the family for the past six years as she battles health issues, according to her son, Ruch. Hentrich was in the kitchen, where the fire started, trying to contain the flames with water.

“My first priority that was going through my mind was to get my grandmother out and get the fire department,” Tony said. “Just get out of the house and get a phone that I could get to.”

Tony, who burned his feet during the fire, ran to a neighbor's house and entered through an unlocked door. The neighbors, who were college students, were able to call 911 and help Tony and Hentrich.

“One of the students had worked for the fire department of his hometown so he had past experience with fires,” Platteville Fire Chief Ryan Simmons told ABC News. “When we got there it was not too far from being a really bad situation.”

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, according to Simmons. Both Tony and Hentrich were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries but are now at home recovering.

“He without a doubt saved my mother’s life,” Ruch said of Tony. “It blows my mind that at 10 years old … when he realized no one was at home and he had to take charge, he did just that.”

Tony credited fire training he learned at school with helping him in the emergency, saying the training “just kicked in.”

Tony recounted his grandmother's reaction to the scare.

“She just said, ‘I love you so much,’ and she started to cry,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr142017

Behind pioneering female runner’s return to Boston Marathon 50 years later

Hagen Hopkins(BOSTON) -- The year was 1967 and Kathrine Switzer was mentally preparing herself for the long road ahead as she pushed into the second mile of the Boston Marathon. She was just coming into view of the press trucks when she felt a race official’s hand on her sweatshirt.

“He came up from behind and surprised me and grabbed me. I was very terrified and afraid, there's no question about it," Switzer told ABC News Thursday.

As race official Jock Semple tried to rip Switzer’s bib off, cameras flashed. She had a split-second decision to make: Step off the course or keep running the 26.2-mile race.

Up until that moment, the Boston Marathon had only been officially run by men. Though there were no rules that outright banned women from the course, many assumed women were not capable of running that distance. In 1967, the longest track race for women at the Olympics was just 800 meters, while cross-country races for women maxed out at about 1.5 miles.

Other women before Switzer had run the Boston Marathon without a bib, but she was the first to do so with one, signing up with her initials and last name, K.V. Switzer, which no one questioned until race day.

"I knew I had to finish the race, because no one would believe women could do it unless I did,” Switzer said. “I had to finish the race no matter what."

Switzer broke free of Semple, who was shoved to the ground by her boyfriend, and she continued on.

That day, Switzer went from a 20-year-old runner to a feminist icon, becoming the first woman to officially finish the Boston Marathon, with a time of 4 hours and 20 minutes. Photos of her encounter with Semple made international headlines.

Now, 50 years later, Switzer is donning her historic bib number, 261, once again in Boston. She’ll be in good company: A total of 13,712 women have registered to run this year, the Boston Athletic Association told ABC News.

“I’ve always wanted to come back to Boston with a sense of gratitude,” Switzer said. “Even though it was a negative incident in 1967, it became positive -- one of the greatest positive social movements in women’s history. So I wanted to celebrate that if I could.”

Trish Trout, 42, is running her second Boston Marathon on Monday. She said she came across Switzer’s photo when she was preparing for her first in 2014.

“I look at Kathrine’s expression, and you could tell she was definitely in the zone,” Trout told ABC News. “He wasn’t able to stop her, and it just shows that if you’re a woman trying to be in the 'man’s world,' it can happen. It just takes a strong person to be able to do that and break through that.”

For Switzer, Monday’s marathon will be her 40th. Now 70, she said she also wanted to prove that women can keep running at any age. This time around, Switzer will be joined by 125 other runners who are helping raise awareness for her nonprofit organization, 261 Fearless, which helps empower women worldwide through running.

“It’s not just about athletic progress. This is a social revolution. Women are doing something that was considered very questionable and suspect even 50 years ago, and now it’s a joyful, free, empowering movement that changes their lives,” Switzer said.

Nancy Heydinger, 56, told ABC News that she is running the marathon because of Switzer. A lifelong runner who has competed in 25 marathons, she said she finished the 2013 Boston race just four minutes before the bombs went off that year. She has wanted to return to Boston ever since, but a cancer diagnosis and surgery to remove a brain tumor kept her off the course until now.

“Now I’m healthy enough to get back to Boston and run this marathon,” said Heydinger, who leads Girls on the Run Vermont, an after-school program that teaches girls confidence and life skills through running. Switzer, who started running at age 12, even visited Girls on the Run Vermont a few years ago.

“I’m so grateful for Kathrine, for who she is and the risks that she took that have paved the way for me and the young girls of the future,” Heydinger added.

Trout, who said she will be running more slowly with a group to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is excited to have Switzer literally pave the way in front of her.

“It is cool knowing that she is out there,” Trout said. “It’s kind of neat that she has helped pave the way and she’s running ahead of us, and she’s going to continue to run ahead of us.”

Switzer said that as a feminist, she’s proud of the progress that has been made for women on and off the course in the last 50 years, but believes there’s still more to be done.

“I’d like to see women believe themselves that they can have equality and that they should have equality,” Switzer said. “They’ve got to believe it in their hearts, they’ve got to feel it. And that’s why I keep pushing running.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr142017

Baby, mom and grandpa fight life-threatening illnesses at once

Lucy Eliopulos(CHICAGO) -- While undergoing cancer treatments, one mom of three has been coping with two family members fighting for their lives.

Lucy Eliopulos, 37, of Illinois, was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2016, just two months before her newborn son George developed a deadly respiratory infection. Months earlier, her father, Jim Mandros, received news that his brain cancer had returned after 10 years.

"[My dad and I] were at the appointment with Dr. Prabhu -- I was pregnant and he kept saying, 'I don't want to operate on your father because he has a grand-baby coming,'" Eliopulos told ABC News Friday. "He gave me so much attention and little did we know that three months later, he'd be operating on me."

Eliopulos said she experienced double vision prior to giving birth, prompting doctors to perform an MRI on Oct. 28 -- the day after George was born.

Eliopulos was diagnosed with astrocytoma -- a grade III brain tumor. She underwent removal surgery on Nov. 23, and completed chemotherapy and radiation Feb. 14. She is now undergoing maintenance chemo, she said.

While Eliopulos was receiving treatment, her son George, now 5 months old, was admitted to the same hospital for a cold turned bad. He was soon diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which nearly took his life three times.

George's doctor, Dr. Astha Sharma of the pediatric intensive care unit at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, told ABC News that the boy has recovered after two months in and out of the hospital.

"He finished his rehab and is now enjoying time with his family at home," Sharma said. "[ARDS], it's an infection that can affect both children and adults and it is an overwhelming infection of the lungs where the lungs fill with fluid. The lungs become inflamed and the inflammation does not allow the lungs to deliver oxygen to the body. Oxygen is key for the body to survive. If you are not able to get oxygen to the body then all of the organs can die."

With help from a ventilator and antibiotics, George was released from Loyola. And despite his once serious condition, Sharma said the Eliopulos did not give up on their child.

"I think that when you have a child that's this sick it can pull a lot of families apart," Sharma said. "This illness along the illness Lucy, George's mom, had, it actually drew them together. Their spirit is very inspiring to the core. No matter what happened to George, they always remained very positive."

Mandros, Eliopulos' father, agreed:

"I don't know where she's getting the strength from," Mandros told ABC News of his daughter. "She's been a rock star, I tell you. [I] cry still, but she stays strong. Lucy's tumor is much worse than mine. I wish I could take her tumor and put it in my head."

Mandros is fighting brain cancer like Eliopulos, for the second time in a decade. He received a biopsy in August, he said.

Mandros and his daughter share the same neurosurgeon, oncologist and radiologist.

"We have a good team that's taking care of them," neurosurgeon Dr. Vikram Prabhu told ABC News. "... There are not many families that can get through what they've been through. They are the true heroes and it's been a privilege to care for them."

Mandros, who has 19 grandchildren and No. 20 on the way, said he will not undergo surgery because now, he wants to be there for Eliopulos.

Mandros is currently going through chemo and has five more cycles left.

After father and daughter complete treatments, Eliopulos hopes to "be a family again."

"I'm very happy that George is home with us because that was the hardest part for us," she said. "As far as the cancer goes, my dad and I both have to get follow-up scans and I'm hoping we'll never have to go through this again. These last five months, we haven't been able to be a family. ... I'm hoping we move on from this and just live."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Apr142017

10 infants in California neonatal intensive care unit test positive for antibiotic resistant superbug 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  County and hospital health officials are investigating how 10 infants tested positive for a dangerous bacteria while they were being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of California Irvine Medical Center.

The 10 infants were reported to have tested positive for the same strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) between August 2016 and March 2017, according to a statement sent to ABC News by UC Irvine Medical Center. All infants were treated and none died after the bacteria was detected.

MRSA bacteria can occur naturally in nature and approximately 2 out of 100 people carry MRSA usually on the skin or in the nose, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control. The bacteria is notorious for being spread in healthcare settings, where it can travel from contaminated wounds to other patients via healthcare providers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In February, the World Health Organization declared MRSA one of the 12 families of bacteria that "pose the greatest threat to human health," calling for efforts to urgently produce new strains antibiotics that can rid patients of the so-called superbugs.

"Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time," Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation said in a statement.

Yesterday, the UC Irvine Medical Center reported that they worked with the Orange County Health Department to heighten their infection prevention measures after the department found that there was a common strain of MRSA in the patients in December, but no source has been found at this point.

"Its presence on a person does not necessarily cause illness and, as in this case, it’s not always possible to find the source," UC Irvine said in a statement to ABC News.

Although 220 staff underwent a process to pre-emptively kill any potential MRSA bacteria with antiseptic soap and ointemnt, the newest MRSA case was detected in March. Four staff members tested positive for MRSA in January but all are currently negative, according to the hospital statement.

"With the most recent MRSA case in March, we have repeated deep cleaning, continued attention to hand hygiene and repeated staff decolonization. We are currently testing staff to determine the effectiveness of this decolonization."

Dr. Amy Edwards, a physician specializing in pediatric infectious disease at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said that since MRSA can occur naturally on the skin it's virtually impossible to keep it out of all hospitals settings.

"Up to 10 percent of the population is colonized, you can't decontaminate the entire world," she said.

Additionally, she said completely decontaminating an area with patients can be a struggle as "it's hard to get every little bit of bacteria."

Edwards said doctors and nurses are generally extremely vigilant with infants in the NICU because they are more prone to all kinds of infections due to a weak immune system and invasive procedures.

"Their skin isn't always intact, they often need invasive surgery," she explained. "Anything that breaks the skin barrier is going to increase risk," of infection.

UC Irvine Medical Center has also launched multiple initiatives to prevent any further spread of the bacteria. These initiatives include screening all infants for MRSA during admission and on weekly intervals, using antibacterial noise ointments and antiseptic soaps on infants and ensuring staff and visitors clean mobile devices with alcohol wipes before putting them into plastic bags.

They also closed one of the two NICUs to new patients to better protect the newborns from possible infection.

"Our goal is to ensure the safety of our patients and eradicate the presence of any drug-resistant bacteria in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)," hospital officials said in a statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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