GLAAD Notes Decline in Gay Characters on TV

ABC/James Minchin(LOS ANGELES) -- Out of 796 regularly appearing characters on primetime broadcast scripted series this season, 26 are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a new study by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

GLAAD says 3.3 percent of the characters on TV this year are LGBT, down from 4.4 percent last year, but still up from 2.9 percent at the beginning of the 2011-2012 TV season.

The advocacy group’s 18th annual “Where We Are on TV” report also finds 20 recurring LGBT characters on primetime broadcast dramas and comedies, down from 25 last year.

Of the 46 total LGBT regular and recurring characters on broadcast networks, the report finds half are women and 28 percent are people of color. There were no regular transgender characters on broadcast television last year but there is one this season, the character Unique on Fox’s Glee.

GLAAD says ABC and FOX are the only broadcast networks to show increases in the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters this year and have the highest percentage of LGBT characters at 5.4 percent each. The CW is in third place at 3 percent. On CBS, 1.9 percent of its regular characters are LGBT.  For NBC, the ratio is just one percent, according to the report.

On the cable side, the report noted 42 regular LGBT characters in scripted programs, up from 35 last season. Twenty-four recurring characters were noted.  GLAAD says HBO has the most LGBT characters, 11, followed by Showtime with eight.

The report also finds that of the 796 overall regular characters on primetime, 43 percent are female, down from 45 percent last year.  GLAAD says minority characters remain the same at 23, and just one percent of all regular characters have a disability.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Baseball Fans Prefer Players with 'Natural' Talent, Researchers Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Robert Redford played the lead in the movie, The Natural. It was about an old-time, fictional baseball star whose goal was to be the best player there ever was.

Although today’s players might not have such lofty ambitions, Yale University psychologists say that fans are definitely attracted to “naturals” rather than players without the same amount of innate talent or those who boost their numbers with PEDs.

Researcher Kristi Lockhart says a good example of that theory is the 1961 home run race between New York Yankees teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

While Maris wound up breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record, it was Mantle who fans favored more because he was a naturally gifted ballplayer, compared to Maris, who was very good but never came close again to achieving such a monumental feat.

Lockhart says the same premise can be applied to personality traits. We are drawn to naturally optimistic people as opposed to those who might have to medicate to make themselves happy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


No Sex on Wedding Night? Here's Why...

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The wedding reception’s over and now the honeymoon has begun for the happy newlyweds. But the wedding night isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of, according to Voucher Codes Pro.

In a survey commissioned by the British online discounter, most couples don’t get around to having sex because one or both of the newlyweds has had too much to drink or they’re just too tired to consummate the marriage.

But there are a bunch of other reasons why the wedding night doesn’t turn out quite the way people plan it, or at least, what they’re made to believe how it should wind up.

Here are the top ten reasons for not having wedding night sex:

  1. The groom was too drunk (24 percent)
  2. The bride was too tired and fell asleep (16 percent)
  3. The bride was too drunk (13 percent)
  4. Had to look after our children (11 percent)
  5. We had an argument before wedding reception ended (9 percent)
  6. Needed to leave for our honeymoon (9 percent)
  7. Stayed up all night partying/celebrating with guests (7 percent)
  8. The groom was too tired and fell asleep (4 percent)
  9. Neither of us felt like having sex (4 percent)
  10. Other (3 percent)

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mom Bathes Baby Once a Week, Unleashing Online Firestorm

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Bath time for babies is a cherished ritual for many parents, but one mother has set off a firestorm of debate with her confession that she bathes her 3-month-old son only once a week.

At least, that’s her goal, but Claire Goss said she doesn’t always achieve it.

“I aim for once a week. It might not happen. I will confess, it has gone longer than a week,” Goss, 32, told ABC News’ Paula Faris.

When asked how long she’d gone between baths for her baby, Charlie, she said, “It can be a good 10 days, but if you met my baby and held him, you’d probably think he smells as amazing as I do.”

The Ashland, Mass., mother of three says her bedtime routine for her son includes changing his diaper, washing his face and washing his hands.

Goss, a part-time blogger and stay-at-home mom, says nightly baths were once a routine for her, but five years later, she simply doesn’t have the time.

“My first baby got her daily baths sometimes, two bathes a day,” she said.

Now, with a full schedule that includes having to be home to meet the bus, getting her other son, Peter, to pre-school, going grocery shopping and getting dinner ready -- she says she realized she couldn’t do it all.

“What I realized now after five years of parenting children is, he’s not a dirty kid, he’s a baby,” she said.

Goss wrote about her baby-bathing mindset on Babble, a parenting website. (Babble and ABC News are both owned by The Walt Disney Co.)

The Oct. 3 post, titled “Do You Actually Need to Bathe Baby,” started a furor online.

Some readers viewed her approach as “lazy” and “gross,” but others agreed with her, saying babies probably shouldn’t be bathed with soap and water every day.

Asked how she’d feel if she didn’t take a shower for two weeks, Goss acknowledged that it was different for adults.

“I would feel gross because I’m an adult and I have hormones. But I have to go back to, mothers know their babies,” she said. “They have gut feelings about their babies, and I would never presume to tell you how often to bathe your baby.”

Her take isn’t just a matter of convenience. She also believes it’s healthier.

“In my gut I don’t think he needs it,” Goss said. “He is a happy baby, he is a healthy baby. My pediatrician told me, with my second, that I was bathing him too frequently because his skin was dried out.”

Too much bathing can decrease babies’ natural bacteria count and make them more susceptible to infections and rash, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP advises, however, that it’s best to bathe babies at least three times a week.

“We’ve learned now that baby skin is very different then adult skin,” Dr. Alan Greene, a California pediatrician, told ABC News. “Really, you want to watch your baby more than watching the calendar when deciding to give a bath.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Children’s Hospital’s ‘Brave’ Music Video Goes Viral

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Cancer can be a scary thing for children to endure, but judging by the bright smiles and infectious laughter coming from these young patients at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, you wouldn’t know it.

“We had to give something back to these patients, because they inspire us so much,” Brittany Bloemke, a nurse at the children’s hospital, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “We wanted to give them a great moment, and we were waiting for the perfect song to come along.”

And once Sara Barielles’ hit song “Brave” was released, the nurses in the hospital’s hematology and oncology departments “jumped all over it,” to create their version of the music video, and the result was pure magic.

About 20 former and current patients, along with 60 to 70 doctors and nurses, were involved in making the children hospital’s an inspirational version of Barielles’ music video, all to exemplify just how “brave” these young cancer patients truly are.

In the video, which already has more than 154,000 YouTube views since it was originally posted on Oct. 7, you get a glimpse into the daily lives of these children struggling to fight cancer, yet making the most of their current situation. Nerf gun fights, riding tricycles down the halls and jumping on the hospital beds are just a few of the fun activities that help pass the time.

“All the people you see in the video are your biggest supporters, and they’re the ones you’re with on a daily basis,” Sarah Ewald, a former patient of the hospital, explained of the staff. “They all become your family. The stuff in the video, you actually do see kids riding their trikes around. They actually do have fun. The nurses try to turn it into a good experience as much as possible.”

Natalie Snyder, another nurse involved with organizing the music video, was blown away by the amount of interest they received from everyone, including former patients, wanting to take part.

“We didn’t anticipate how many kids contacted us to participate,” Snyder said on GMA Live! on Friday. “It’s so awesome for them to look back on. This is a really dark time for them, and hopefully this will provide them with some happiness, to see this video they were a part of. That’s our biggest thing. It’s not all sad and tears here, it’s a children’s hospital. We do have fun.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Family Hoping For Deal in Daughter's Heart Surgery

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- A California family is hoping a last minute deal will help their young daughter get vital heart surgery after their insurance company denied the procedure just days before it was scheduled.

Briggette Schilling's said her daughter, Aria, was born with a hole in her heart and valve deformity that will need open heart surgery to fix.

Since January, the Schilling family has been taking Aria, now 14 months, to be treated at the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland and Aria's surgery was scheduled to take place there Friday. But a week before the surgery was scheduled, the Aria's health insurance provider, Western Health Advantage, denied the procedure since it was out of network.

"I will say this, that the pain and suffering is horrendous. I've never had so much anxiety in my life," said Schilling. "[It's one thing if it's me,] it's another thing if it's about my child."

Melinda Krigel, a spokeswoman for Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, confirmed that the insurance company had denied the procedure the week before the surgery was scheduled.

Krigel said that Aria's cardiologist, Dr. Alok Bose, worked with the hospital to offer an in-network price for Western Health Advantage for the surgery, but that the insurance company still wanted the family to take Aria to an in-network specialist.

Schilling said she was shocked about the denial since Aria's case manager, assigned to her by Western Health Advantage, had never mentioned that her cardiologist or hospital was out of network.

According to Schilling, the case manager was aware for months that Aria was undergoing testing at the Oakland hospital in preparation for the surgery.

"When you have a child that's been sick and you're trying to manage day by day, you think the doctors, nurses and case managers are doing their job," said Schilling.
Schilling has not signed a release form that would authorize the insurance company to talk about her case in public. A spokesman for Western Health Advantage said without the family signing a release they were unable even to confirm that Aria is on their health plan.

A spokesman for Western Health Advantage said that the company has a network of over 3,000 physicians and 14 hospitals and medical centers. In addition, they said they have 6 cardiothoracic surgeons at UC Davis but it was unclear how many of them would take pediatric cases.

Although Schilling said Western Health Advantage wanted Aria to be treated at the University of California Davis Medical Center, the Schillings were concerned about the level of care she would receive.

According to Schilling, Aria had initially been treated at UC Davis when her heart problems started, but they disliked the medical unit and transferred to the Oakland hospital.

"It would be putting us back in the same unit that we were [initially] referred to, that we got away from," said Schilling.

Schilling said she will meet with the one cardiothoracic surgeon in network later this week. Schilling is concerned that the doctor would not know her daughter's case and that she would not have other options in case she did not like the recommended surgeon.

"[They said] They're going to fast-track this. I don't know any mom that wants to fast track their daughter's open heart surgery," said Schilling.

Requests for a comment from the University of California Davis Medical Center were not immediately answered.

An additional problem is timing Schilling said. It could take a month to reschedule the surgery. However if Aria gets sick with a cold or flu the surgery will be delayed at least six weeks as a best case scenario, her mother said.

Schilling said the family is hoping the surgery will be rescheduled soon, since she thinks Aria's condition will deteriorate more severely in the next six months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fitbit Force Combines Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker

Fitbit(NEW YORK) -- There is about to be a big battle for your wrist, and Fitbit, one of the major pioneers in the fitness tracker space, is ready with a brand new product. This week, the company has introduced the $129.95 Fitbit Force, a bracelet that combines the company's expertise in digital fitness tracking with some basic smartwatch functionality.

The Force looks a lot like the company's Fitbit Flex bracelet, but has a new small OLED screen right on the band so you can easily tell the time and how many steps you have taken or how many miles you've gone. Like Fitbit's Flex bracelet and its Zip and One trackers, which you can clip to a pair of pants, the device tracks the steps you've taken, the distance you've gone, the calories you've burned, the floors or stairs you've climbed, and even how long you have slept.

It can show most of that information on the screen or you can view it through the Fitbit app, which pairs with the tracker via Bluetooth 4.0.

But now, Fitbit is tapping into that Bluetooth capability even more, sending information from the phone to your wrist. When paired with an iPhone running iOS 7, you see incoming call notifications right on the display. While that feature isn't available yet for Android mobile devices, those phones have their own trick. With any NFC-equipped Android phone, you can tap the Force to the phone and it will automatically launch the Fitbit app.

The Force joins a crowded market of other fitness devices and new smartwatches, including Fitbit's family of devices. Fitbit says "one size doesn't fit all," and many other companies including Nike, Jawbone and now Samsung would likely agree. Nike's Fuelband has been one of the most popular trackers and Jawbone's Up is a very stylish option.

But considering that our biggest complaint about the Fitbit Flex was that there was no easy way to see our progress without looking at the phone's screen, the Force might just be the best gadget to have on your wrist right now.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Miss Arizona Hopeful Diagnosed with Rare Cancer

Kristina Anderson(PHOENIX) -- A beauty queen hopeful diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer is fighting for her life as she vies for the title of Miss Arizona USA.

Kristina Anderson, 25, said she decided to enter the state preliminary Miss USA Pageant after she was diagnosed with the rare blue cell cancer in July. She had competed in beauty pageants at county fairs in her hometown of Atwood, Ill., in the past.

"I thought it would be a good distraction to focus on something else," Anderson said. "Especially when I'm having chemo for eight hours a day, I'm able to get on the Internet and shop for dresses."

Anderson, who wears headscarves to cover her hair loss, spent hours finding just the right beaded ivory gown to cover the permanent port above her heart feeding her life-saving chemotherapy.

She is now preparing for her fourth round of chemotherapy, which she says leaves her feeling weak and exhausted.

"I have good days and bad days," said Anderson. "I try to stay positive and just be at peace with myself because it is challenging to know what's in front of me."

Anderson is also having trouble covering her medical expenses. Her insurance has not covered the first six months of her treatment, leaving Anderson and her family struggling with hefty doctors' bills.

Despite the hurdles ahead, Anderson says that remaining "positive is the most important thing."

"She has such a rare positive outlook on everything," said Britt Boyse, executive director of Miss Arizona USA. "She's fighting for her life, but no matter how poorly she feels, she's just happy, outwardly, and appreciative."

Anderson, who is also currently pursuing an MBA at Grand Canyon University, says that she is just trying to live life as "normal as possible," although she hopes that by running for Miss Arizona USA, she can inspire other young people with debilitating illnesses to pursue their dreams.

"We all face challenges, but don't let it get you down," she said.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Feds May Shut Down Farm over Salmonella Outbreak

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A California poultry farm at the center of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 300 people in 18 states has until Thursday to come up with a plan to improve food safety or federal inspectors will effectively shut it down.

The United States Department of Agriculture sent a letter to Foster Farms in Fresno, Calif., on Oct. 7, explaining that 25.33 percent of the farm’s poultry tested positive for salmonella, and many of those salmonella strains matched the recent outbreak.

USDA inspectors ultimately concluded that Foster Farms’ food safety system was inadequate and said if the farm didn’t respond to the USDA with a plan to address the problems within three business days, the USDA would either refuse to inspect its products or mark them as “adulterated.”

During their investigation, food safety inspectors found that Foster Farms had “poor sanitary dressing practices,” unsanitary surfaces and “direct product contamination,” according to the letter.

Inspectors also discovered that the farm has had 12 noncompliance records for “findings of fecal material on carcasses” since January 2013.

Foster Farms issued a statement yesterday to assure consumers that it is cooperating with the USDA “despite the challenges of working with the federal government during the shutdown.” It also said it has not recalled its poultry, but has implemented additional safety measures over the last several months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Erin Brockovich Leads Fight Against Birth Control Procedure

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A popular and permanent form of birth control that hundreds of women say is causing severe adverse reactions has now become the latest cause of famed consumer advocate Erin Brockovich, who has launched a grassroots campaign against the procedure.

Brockovich, who in 1993 led a multimillion-dollar groundwater contamination case against Pacific Gas and Electric Co., has launched a campaign to have the Essure procedure taken off the market of birth control options. 

Brockovich told ABC News that she first heard of the product about a year ago and after hearing an increasing number of horror stories, launched the campaign and online petition for women to share their stories about Essure, inform each other and initiate change.

"There's something wrong with the device, in my opinion," Brockovich said.  "It's a form of permanent birth control, and women's organs are being perforated...It's ridiculous that at any level we try to defend this.  If 30 women did suffer harm for unknown reason, we'd investigate.  We have thousands injured.  I don't think it's safe."

Brockovich said she has no financial stake in the outcome of this campaign.

Essure is a non-surgical transcervical sterilization procedure that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, and is meant as a cheaper, easier and safer alternative to tubal ligation.

During the outpatient procedure, bendable coils are placed into the fallopian tubes, passed from the vagina through the cervix and uterus.  Scar tissue then forms around the coils and blocks the tubes from insemination, according to marketing literature provided by the manufacturer.

Brockovich is calling for Essure to be taken off of the market by Bayer, who owns Essure, and is seeking a complete investigation into injury claims.

"[Bayer] should care about the health and welfare of all people," she said.  "Especially women and children in this country.  If this many are reporting injuries, take it off the market.  It's not working.  These women were misled.  They feel they were scammed."

Brockovich also points to the fight against so-called contentious preemption laws, which exempt product manufacturers from tort claims for products that the FDA has approved.  When the FDA approved Essure in 2002, it gave the device preemption status.

"Preemption is not about the Essure women -- it affects all consumers," she said.  "If someone had a medical device installed, there's no recourse for victims, and the company is protected.  If there's a problem, the company gets a pass, because they have preemption.  It dawned on me the consumer didn't know. The women didn't know that this existed."

More than 700,000 women have undergone the procedure, according to Conceptus, which originally designed and manufactured Essure.  Over 800 women have filed adverse event reports with the FDA about Essure birth control since 2004, according to the FDA website.

In August, a woman who was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain after having the Essure procedure died from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, though the attending physician ruled that the cause of death was not directly related to the Essure inserts or procedure.

In addition to Brockovich's site, a number of groups have popped up on social media dedicated to sharing experiences with Essure.  The unverified reports include claims of extreme abdominal pain, excess bleeding, rashes and bloating, to having to have internal organs removed.

According to Bayer, Essure has a well-documented benefit-risk profile, with over 400 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts supporting Essure's safety, efficacy and cost-effect.

The summary of safety and effectiveness for Essure states that 745 women participated in a clinical study for the product.  According to the summary, 2.9 percent of participants experienced perforation of the uterus and 0.5 percent experienced expulsion of the device.  The study states that the most common claims were moderate pain, cramping and vomiting "during the procedure."

The summary stated that 3.9 percent of participants experienced abdominal pain and cramps within the first year, while 9 percent reported back pain and 1.3 percent experienced gas or bloating.  The summary also states that pregnancy and perforation of internal bodily structures other than the uterus and fallopian tube are all potential adverse events that weren't observed during the study.

Essure was originally designed and manufactured by Conceptus, but pharmaceutical giant Bayer paid $1 billion to acquire the company earlier this year.

In a statement released to ABC News, Bayer's spokeswoman Rosemarie Yancosek said that the company cares about patients and takes the safety of our products very seriously, and said that women should discuss the risks and benefits of any birth control option with their physicians.

"We are saddened to hear of any serious health condition affecting a patient using one of our products, irrespective of the cause," she said in a statement.  "No form of birth control is without risk or should be considered appropriate for every woman."

Bayer notes in its statement that a recent practice bulletin issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recognized that hysteroscopic tubal occlusion for sterilization has high efficacy and low procedure-related risk, cost and resource requirements.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, senior health contributor for ABC News, was trained in the procedure when Essure hit the market in 2002.  She says that she has opted not to perform the procedure on her patients because there are other forms of permanent birth control that are lower risk and higher benefit.

"Whenever there is the permanent placement of a foreign body -- in this case, metal coils -- inside the body, there is the potential for chronic pain," Ashton said.  "Because Essure does not offer any known benefit towards risk reduction of ovarian cancer, as a tubal ligation does, I feel that other forms of permanent birth control are better and safer, including male vasectomy."

"Women considering permanent birth control should be offered all options including tubal ligation and male vasectomy, not only the procedure that a woman's doctor is able to perform personally," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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