Browsing articles from "January, 2015"

U.Va. Sorority Women Say Party Ban Is Patronizing

Jan 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on U.Va. Sorority Women Say Party Ban Is Patronizing

University of Virginia students walk to fraternities at the start of rush week. Sorority women are always invited to Boys' Bid Night, but this year national sororities have ordered women to stay clear.i

University of Virginia students walk to fraternities at the start of rush week. Sorority women are always invited to Boys’ Bid Night, but this year national sororities have ordered women to stay clear.

Steve Helber/AP


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University of Virginia students walk to fraternities at the start of rush week. Sorority women are always invited to Boys' Bid Night, but this year national sororities have ordered women to stay clear.

University of Virginia students walk to fraternities at the start of rush week. Sorority women are always invited to Boys’ Bid Night, but this year national sororities have ordered women to stay clear.

Steve Helber/AP

Saturday is Boys’ Bid Night at the University of Virginia, when fraternities welcome their new members.

Women from U.Va.’s sororities are always invited to join the Boys’ Bid Night party, but this year, they’re under strict orders from national sorority presidents to stay clear of frat houses. The orders come after a Rolling Stone article about a gang rape at U.Va. that was later discredited.

But the women at U.Va.’s sororities are outraged, calling the ban unnecessary and patronizing.

Students like Sara Surface say the controversy is about much more than a party.

“This is not an issue of we’re angry because we can’t go out and drink and party,” Surface says. “It’s an issue over whether or not we have the choice.”

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The fraternity was at the center of gang-rape allegations published in Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine said Friday that there were discrepancies in its reporting.

She admits that Boys’ Bid Night sounds risky, but Surface has been active in rape prevention programs on campus and says the progressive party, where women go from one frat house to the next, often drinking at every stop, is actually quite safe. Many women — and men — do take safety measures, she says.

“People are assigned buddies to have them look out for each other,” she says. “You stay in groups.”

Surface says she has helped to educate hundreds of sorority women about how to intervene in situations where friends are at risk, and thinks parties are safer if sorority members are there. Fellow U.Va. student Sofia McKewen Moreno adds that even the matching tops women wear on Bid Night help protect them.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The fraternity was at the center of a controversial Rolling Stone article describing an alleged gang rape at the school.

“They look like we’re just trying to show off that we’re in sororities, which to some degree I’m sure is true, but when you see a woman in a Tiffany-blue tank-top in the back of the room with a guy that she doesn’t know, too drunk, and you’re wearing that same shirt, you know to go to her,” Moreno says.

She and Surface declined to say which sororities they belong to, but did defy a ban on talking with reporters to express their objections. They doubt that older women who run national sororities share the values of their younger members.

“I think that a lot of these national organizations are not used to the university tradition of self-governance, but that’s something we hold very dear to our hearts here and that will continue to fight for,” Surface says.

“The whole idea of, ‘What was she wearing? What was she doing? Where was she and who with?’ is not a concept that’s even talked about in a serious manner,” Moreno says. “To have a policy that specifically addresses, ‘Who are you with, what are you wearing, and where are you going?’ That does come off as a slap in the face.”

She plans to observe the ban, but hopes officials will consult local chapters before taking future actions.

Meanwhile, U.Va.’s student council was deluged with complaints and voted unanimously against the restriction.

“They took a chaotic and emotional time in the University of Virginia’s history as an opportunity to pass something that they’ve been trying to do forever,” council representative Abraham Axler says.

National sororities have long complained that women have been used to lure new members to fraternities and should not be part of recruiting events, Axler says. He and other council leaders asked national sorority presidents to discuss the matter, he says, but they declined.

University President Teresa Sullivan did weigh in on Friday. She affirmed her belief in students’ right to self-governance, but said women looking for fun might consider skipping the fraternity functions in favor of Saturday’s basketball game, in which No. 2-ranked U.Va. faces its traditional rival, No. 4 Duke.

Four Years After Revolution, Libya Slides Into Chaos

Jan 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Four Years After Revolution, Libya Slides Into Chaos

Bullet holes from recent clashes riddle an apartment building in Tripoli.i

Bullet holes from recent clashes riddle an apartment building in Tripoli.

Bilal Hussein/AP


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Bullet holes from recent clashes riddle an apartment building in Tripoli.

Bullet holes from recent clashes riddle an apartment building in Tripoli.

Bilal Hussein/AP

There was hope in Libya and around the world for Libya after Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown four years ago.

But today, Libya is a country torn apart. There are now two competing governments, in different cities with their own parliaments and their own military.

A traveler first needs a visa from one government to land in Tripoli, then a so-called “landing permission” to fly east to the other government’s territory — and has to hopscotch around jihadist-controlled areas along the way.

Islamist fighters in the Libya Dawn coalition guard the entrance of the Tripoli International Airport on Sunday. After days of battles, they captured it from forces aligned with rogue general Khalifa Hifter.

In Tripoli, one of the capitols, an umbrella group called Libya Dawn is in charge, allied with a loose group of militias. This government wants to make its case to the world and project Libya as a safe place — but the country doesn’t feel safe, correspondent Leila Fadel tells NPR’s Scott Simon.

In a photo taken on Thursday, smoke rises from a residential area in Tripoli, Libya. Deadly clashes erupted between Islamist fighters and pro-secular militias earlier this month.

“The streets empty out completely at night,” Fadel says. “The main mall of the city is burned down, and honestly, you just feel scared that if something does happen, there’s no one to call.”

Very few diplomatic missions still operate in Tripoli, the U.S. presence is gone and the city has no centralized security force. Checkpoints are manned by masked gunmen with no clear identity, Fadel says.

In another sign of the city’s slide into chaos, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel Tuesday, killing 10 people, including one American. Libya’s representative to OPEC went missing Thursday; last week an Italian doctor in his 70s, who worked in a Tripoli hospital, was reported missing.

Fadel flew from Tripoli east to Baida, the unofficial second capitol, where a former general, Khalifa Hiftar, is in charge. Hiftar, who is followed by many former army officers, leads what he calls an anti-Islamist, anti-extremist operation.

Baida, a smaller city than Tripoli, feels more like a security state, with many more checkpoints.

“We were briefly taken in by the police because they didn’t understand why we had traveled from the west to the east, and we had to call a low-level government official to take us out.

“When he did get us out, he did say to us, ‘Listen, you have to understand: We’re two countries now, and you came from the enemy side,’ ” Fadel says.

Polarization between the sides is growing, feeding extremism and the so-called Islamic State, which is in control of pockets of the country, she says. People feel stuck in the middle as politicians vie for power and resources.

“Now, in this very wealthy country, now, electricity is scarce, water comes in and out, there’s a huge amount of displacement, huge fuel lines caused by the conflict,” she says.

In fact, the country is in a worse situation than it was under Gadhafi, Fadel says. Militias, divided by region, by ideology, by tribe, now divide Libya, controlling what are essentially a series of city-states.

“The men that picked up arms to fight Gadhafi four years ago never put them down,” she says.

Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A ‘Wallflower’

Jan 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Diana Krall: Liner Notes From A ‘Wallflower’

Diana Krall's latest album, a collection of jazz takes on rock and pop classics, is called Wallflower.i

Diana Krall’s latest album, a collection of jazz takes on rock and pop classics, is called Wallflower.

Bryan Adams/Courtesy of the artist


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Diana Krall's latest album, a collection of jazz takes on rock and pop classics, is called Wallflower.

Diana Krall’s latest album, a collection of jazz takes on rock and pop classics, is called Wallflower.

Bryan Adams/Courtesy of the artist

Diana Krall‘s new album is a collection of songs she first heard on vinyl, from The Mamas the Papas to Elton John to the Eagles — the album’s title cut is a lesser-known song by Bob Dylan, “Wallflower.” Krall spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon about getting to know the originals, and how her own tastes compare to those of the twin sons she’s raising with husband Elvis Costello. Hear the conversation at the audio link, and read a few highlights below.

Wallflower

Diana Krall

On Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower”

“I heard it on a bootleg series. I was driving around in British Columbia on a beautiful summer afternoon and I was listening to it with my children in the back, and I thought, ‘Well, this is a song we should all be singing together in the car.’ I loved it. There’s so much truth and beauty in it. Simple, but it speaks to a lot of people.”

On The Mamas The Papas’ “California Dreamin'”

“I started working on that song listening to José Feliciano, actually, not The Mamas the Papas; it’s been sort of sitting in the back of my mind since then. I think the really exquisite piece to the puzzle of finally recording it was having Graham Nash singing on it. I could never say that Graham Nash sings ‘background vocals,’ but to have Graham Nash singing with me still kind of hits me like, ‘Oh my gosh.'”

On Paul McCartney‘s “If I Take You Home Tonight”

“I had the great opportunity to work with Paul McCartney on a record he did called Kisses on the Bottom, which was a collection of songs he chose that meant a lot to him. In amongst these songs that he chosen, he had written a handful of romantic ballads and beautiful songs, like he does he so well. “If I Take You Home Tonight” was one of them and it just didn’t make it on the record. I had to muster up the courage to say, ‘Can I do this song?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ He told me he likes it, so that’s really — I hit the ceiling.”

Remembering ‘Thorn Birds’ Author Colleen McCullough

Jan 31, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Remembering ‘Thorn Birds’ Author Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough at home on Australia's remote Norfolk Island in 1990 — she told an interviewer she moved there to escape her difficult family.i

Colleen McCullough at home on Australia’s remote Norfolk Island in 1990 — she told an interviewer she moved there to escape her difficult family.

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Colleen McCullough at home on Australia's remote Norfolk Island in 1990 — she told an interviewer she moved there to escape her difficult family.

Colleen McCullough at home on Australia’s remote Norfolk Island in 1990 — she told an interviewer she moved there to escape her difficult family.

Getty Images

Australian writer Colleen McCullough died Thursday; she was 77 years old. McCullough was best known for her novel The Thorn Birds, a huge hugely popular romance which has sold 30 million copies around the world, and has never gone out of print.

By her own account, McCullough had a lousy childhood. Her father was abusive, and her relationship with her mother was so bad that as an adult she moved to Norfolk Island, a remote Australian territory, because — as she once told an interviewer — she could be “close enough to keep an eye on her family … without having to live on the same continent.” But as often happens in unhappy childhoods, McCullough found refuge in books. No doubt that planted the seeds that led to her life as writer.

But McCullough took a circuitous route to becoming a best selling author. She had hoped to be a doctor, but while in medical school in Sydney she developed an allergy that forced her to abandon that dream. Trained as a neuroscientist, she became a researcher, which led to a job at Yale University. And it was during that time that she wrote her first novel, Tim — followed by the book which would make her famous: The Thorn Birds.


The Thorn Birds

A sprawling romance which begins in the Australian outback and stretches over many years and many miles, The Thorn Birds is the story of a tortured love between a beautiful woman and a Roman Catholic priest. The book captured the imagination of millions when it was first published in 1977, and its popularity has never abated. In 1983, it was made into a hugely popular miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain. McCollough said her husband made her watch the TV adaptation — and she hated it.

McCollough is likely to be best remembered for The Thorn Birds, but she wrote some two dozen other books, including the “Masters of Rome” series, seven novels about ancient Rome. She even issued her own take on Pride and Prejudice, with 2008’s The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet. It was not well received by Jane Austen fans. In recent yrears, McCollough’s eyesight began to fail, and she suffered from debilitating arthritis — but she kept on writing. Her last book, Bittersweet, was published in 2013.

Read an excerpt of The Thorn Birds

KCRW Presents: The Decemberists

Jan 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on KCRW Presents: The Decemberists

After a four-year hiatus between albums, which singer Colin Meloy largely spent writing and parenting, The Decemberists recently returned with a new album called What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World. Last week, the folk-rock band made its way to Los Angeles to perform new songs on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, including the single “Make You Better.”

SET LIST
  • “Make You Better”

Watch The Decemberists’ full Morning Becomes Eclectic session at KCRW.com.

John Wilson On ‘Song Travels’

Jan 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on John Wilson On ‘Song Travels’

John Wilson.i

John Wilson.

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Courtesy of the artist

John Wilson.

John Wilson.

Courtesy of the artist

Playlist

  • Fred Astaire, “A Shine On Your Shoes” (Dietz, Schwartz, arr. Martin)
  • The John Wilson Orchestra, “Overture from High Society” (Porter)
  • The John Wilson Orchestra, vocalist Kim Criswell, “Love Of My Life” (Porter)
  • Gene Kelly, “I Like Myself” (Previn, Comden, Green)
  • Original Soundtrack to Brigadoon, “Heather On The Hill” (Lerner, Loewe, arr. Salinger)
  • Fred Astaire, “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” (Mercer, Warren, arr. Salinger)
  • Dick Haymes, Betty Grable, “For You For Me For Evermore” (Gershwin, arr. Spencer, Raksin)
  • Judy Garland, “Man That Got Away” (Gershwin, Arlen, Heindorf)
  • The John Wilson Orchestra, vocalist Matthew Ford, “Les Girls” (Porter)

British arranger and scholar John Wilson serves as conductor for numerous orchestras throughout the U.K., including his own.

On this episode of Song Travels, Wilson describes his project to reconstruct the lost scores of iconic MGM films, such as Singin’ In The Rain and The Wizard Of Oz. Musical selections include “Love Of My Life” and “Les Girls” from the John Wilson Orchestra’s album Cole Porter In Hollywood.

Subscribe to the Song Travels Express podcast.

Study Sheds Light On Benefits of Multi-Vitamins

Jan 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Study Sheds Light On Benefits of Multi-Vitamins

Lots of experts diss multivitamins- saying there’s not enough evidence that they’re beneficial. Nonetheless— many Americans buy them. A new study out this month suggest — at least for women— taking a multivitamin can help prevent death from CVD. And researchers say they’re a good option for the vast majority of Americans who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables

Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va, Explores Presidential Bid

Jan 30, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va, Explores Presidential Bid

In considering whether to launch a presidential campaign, former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia says his big challenge would be raising money to promote his ideas. Steve Inskeep talks to Webb, who is currently working on a cable TV series on Vietnam.

At Least 3 Dead, Dozens Injured In Explosion At Mexico City Maternity Hospital

Jan 29, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on At Least 3 Dead, Dozens Injured In Explosion At Mexico City Maternity Hospital

At least three people are dead, after a gas tank truck exploded near a maternity and children’s hospital in Mexico City on Thursday.

Television images showed the explosion caused the collapse of a big part of the hospital, the gas truck still smoldering as fighters tried to quell the blaze.

On Twitter, the Secretary of Public Safety said that 37 people were injured and emergency crews were working to find victims amid the rubble.

The Mexican newspaper El Universal reports that three parts of the hospital — the nursery, the emergency room and the administrative area — had collapsed.

Adrián Rubalvaca, the chief of government for that section of the city, said on Twitter that the situation was “grave.”

We’ll update this post once we know more.

Cleveland Hospitals Grapple With Readmission Fines

Jan 29, 2015   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Cleveland Hospitals Grapple With Readmission Fines

Cleveland Clinic Pharmacist Katie Greenlee talks with Morgan Clay about the correct way to take his prescriptions after being discharged.i

Cleveland Clinic Pharmacist Katie Greenlee talks with Morgan Clay about the correct way to take his prescriptions after being discharged.

Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN/Ideastream


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Cleveland Clinic Pharmacist Katie Greenlee talks with Morgan Clay about the correct way to take his prescriptions after being discharged.

Cleveland Clinic Pharmacist Katie Greenlee talks with Morgan Clay about the correct way to take his prescriptions after being discharged.

Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN/Ideastream

At the Cleveland Clinic’s sprawling main campus, Morgan Clay is being discharged early one Tuesday afternoon.

Clay arrived a couple of weeks earlier suffering from complications related to acute heart failure. He’s ready to go home. But before he can leave, clinic pharmacist Katie Greenlee stops by the room.

“What questions can I answer for you about the medicines?” Greenlee asks as she presents a folder of information about more than a dozen prescriptions Clay takes.

“I don’t have too many questions,” Clay says. “I’ve been on most of that stuff for a long time.”

Clay, 62, has been taking the medicines since he was in his 20s, when he developed heart problems.

Still, Greenlee wants to make sure Clay understands the importance of taking his pills at the right time and at their full dosage. Taking medicine incorrectly is a big reason patients return to the hospital, and research has found that as many as 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled.

Since it began sending pharmacists into the rooms of patients with heart problems when they are being discharged, the Cleveland Clinic has seen a big drop in the number of patients who need to be readmitted.

But it has proved hard for other Cleveland hospitals that serve many of the area’s poor patients to achieve the same results.

This month, the National Quality Forum began a two-year trial that adjusts Medicare’s metrics to account for poorer patient populations. NQF is a not-for-profit advisory group that works with federal regulators on the penalty metrics.

NQF’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Helen Burstin says there’s a big question that needs to be answered: “How much should these issues around socioeconomic status (and) poverty be considered as well for the readmission program?”

The NQF plans to analyze the readmissions data for signs of poverty affecting the outcomes and figure out how the measurement should be risk-adjusted to account for poverty’s influence, Burstin says.

“Socioeconomic status may be a proxy for some other really important factors, such as whether somebody has social support at home, whether somebody has the ability to come back and have a follow up appointment with their doctor after hospitalization,” Burstin says.

The key, she says, is to understand which factors hospitals can be held accountable for and which they can’t.

“So we would also like to begin to understand what’s underlying those differences, and, ultimately begin to understand which of those lend themselves towards improvement strategies, like making sure somebody does in fact have what they need to make sure they don’t bounce back into the hospital,” says Burstin.

Burstin says federal regulators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are taking part in the discussions and are “willing to participate in the trial going forward.”

For now, Cleveland may be the perfect place to help answer this question.

On the near west side of Cleveland, Dr. Alfred Connors is chief quality officer at county-owned MetroHealth System. About half of the hospital’s patients are uninsured or on Medicaid, which is government coverage for the poor and disabled.

“So we take care of people who are homeless, people who don’t have places to go when they leave, people who really don’t have family supports.” Connors says. “They are living by themselves on a very limited income.”

Unlike the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth has seen its Medicare fines increase since the program began. MetroHealth had a 0.83 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement for 2015, as compared with a 0.45 percent in 2013.

The clinic’s main hospital is more likely to have privately insured patients, like Clay. Since 2013, the clinic’s main campus has seen its penalty drop to 0.38 percent of Medicare payments from 0.74 percent.

There are several factors at play in the numbers.

First, the maximum Medicare penalties increased. A hospital could lose as much as 3 percent cut in Medicare funding starting in the fall of 2014, up from 1 percent when the program started in 2012.

In addition, federal regulators began tracking two new conditions. The penalties were originally based on readmissions of Medicare patients who went into the hospital with a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia and returned within 30 days.

Now, federal regulators are also including readmissions for hip and knee replacement surgery and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Still, the Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Quality Officer Dr. Michael Henderson says socioeconomic issues like poverty are an important factor. “One of the real benefits of some of these programs that have come in place is it’s really put coordination of care on the map for patients,” Henderson says.

Leaders at all three systems say that regardless of the amount of care and coaching a patient gets in the hospital, a patient’s home environment is critical.

University Hospitals — the city’s other big hospital system — also serves a high proportion of the region’s low-income patients at its main campuses. It reported a 0.59 percent penalty in Medicare reimbursements for 2015 up from a 0.11 percent hit in 2013.

Dr. William Annable, chief quality officer at University Hospitals, is skeptical about the measurement and penalties: “There are some people in the health care industry who see it as the government trying to solve society’s problems on the back of the hospitals.”

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WCPN and Kaiser Health News.

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