Browsing articles from "December, 2017"

2018 World Cup Draw Is Complete, With No Obvious ‘Group Of Death’

Dec 1, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on 2018 World Cup Draw Is Complete, With No Obvious ‘Group Of Death’

Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona was one of several stars who took part in Friday’s draw for the 2018 World Cup. The widely watched draw was held at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Dmitri Lovetsky/AP


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Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona was one of several stars who took part in Friday’s draw for the 2018 World Cup. The widely watched draw was held at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Spain will play Portugal; France will play Peru; Brazil will play Switzerland. Those are among the results of the draw for the World Cup field, held Friday by soccer’s governing body, FIFA. The 2018 World Cup will begin with host Russia playing Saudi Arabia in Moscow on June 14.

The 32-team draw commonly produces a “group of death” — where there are more highly ranked teams than chances to advance to the next stage after group play. But the draw for the 2018 tournament has no obviously imposing group.

The main contender for the label is Group C, which pits France (No. 6 in the world) against Peru (No. 11) and Denmark (which recently rose to No. 12 in FIFA’s world rankings).

A similar dynamic is likely to play out in Group F, the only other group with more than two teams in the world’s top 20. There, defending champion Germany (currently No. 1) will contend with Mexico (No. 16) and Sweden (No. 18).

World No. 65 Russia was guaranteed a spot in the tournament due to its role as host; it’s in Group A — which has no teams ranked in the top 20. The class of the group is Uruguay (No. 21); Egypt (No. 31) and Saudi Arabia (No. 63) round out the hosts’ competition to advance.

The lack of a frighteningly strong group could be blamed on the absence of four normally competitive teams that failed to qualify. Missing from the picture are No. 14 Italy — which hadn’t missed a World Cup since 1958 — along with Chile (No. 10), the Netherlands (No. 20) and the U.S. (No. 24).

After the U.S. failed to qualify in an upset loss at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago, Bruce Arena resigned as the team’s coach. The Americans had played in seven consecutive World Cups, dating to 1990.

The situation prompted a number of Twitter users to joke that there is in fact an actual Group of Death this time around — and that it includes the U.S., Italy, Chile and the Netherlands.

What We’ve Learned Treating People With HIV Can Make Care Better For Us All

Dec 1, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on What We’ve Learned Treating People With HIV Can Make Care Better For Us All

A memorial honoring victims of the AIDS epidemic sits across the street from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in New York City, where many of the early victims of AIDS were diagnosed.

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A memorial honoring victims of the AIDS epidemic sits across the street from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in New York City, where many of the early victims of AIDS were diagnosed.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It’s been two decades since we established effective treatment against HIV, rendering what was nearly always a fatal infection to a chronic, manageable condition.

I remember one of the first AIDS patients I met as a medical student in the mid-90s: Harry, a young man losing his sight from an opportunistic infection called CMV retinitis. We had only one drug we could give him to try to stop him from going blind.

Ganciclovir was horrible. Given intravenously, it burned at the infusion site, made him severely nauseous, and caused his already-low blood count to fall. On top of all that, it didn’t work very well.

Days after we discharged him from the hospital, Harry was readmitted with pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis and died. He was 32 years old.

In those years, we saw many patients in the hospital with complications from HIV. They had unusual malignancies like Kaposi’s sarcoma, and other opportunistic infections like toxoplasmosis that we never see in patients with intact immune systems.

In extreme cases, patients simply wasted away, physically and mentally, from AIDS.

Then protease inhibitors were introduced in 1996, and almost overnight the death rate from AIDS plummeted. Now people could live with HIV rather than die from it. Patients with AIDS disappeared from our teaching hospital wards. HIV had become an “outpatient problem.”

Antiretroviral therapy keeps the viral load suppressed in patients infected with HIV. This means not only that they stay healthy, but also are much less likely to transmit the virus to others.

Fortunately, the cocktail of three different medications taken to keep HIV in check, which include a protease inhibitor like tenofovir and the newer integrase inhibitors like dolutegravir, have become better tolerated over the years. Today the life expectancy for someone who is HIV-positive is about the same as for someone without HIV — as long as they are able to stay on their medication.

A woman holds the 14 different AIDS medications that she takes three times a day. Antiretroviral drugs have turned HIV from a death sentence into a chronic illness.

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A woman holds the 14 different AIDS medications that she takes three times a day. Antiretroviral drugs have turned HIV from a death sentence into a chronic illness.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For many, though, there are still significant barriers to care that make the not-so-simple act of adhering to a medication regimen near impossible.

Chief among them is access to care. Especially in rural areas, it remains difficult to find practitioners up to date with the latest information in HIV care. In addition, stigma associated with HIV diagnosis and treatment continues to be a formidable barrier to getting care, regardless of location.

Carmel was a patient I cared for years after Harry. She’d been abused as a youngster, which understandably put her in a dark place emotionally. She was isolated from her family, and struggled with drug addiction over the years.

Her HIV eventually progressed to full-blown AIDS because of many fits and starts with her antiretroviral treatment. When I met her, she’d lost her ability to walk due to an opportunistic infection called cryptococcal meningitis.

After three years with numerous hospital admissions, Carmel died. To me, it seemed especially tragic because I knew we had the medical tools to nurse her toward health. But we were unable to cross the psychosocial chasm that Carmel lived beyond to effectively engage her in care.

Even with effective medications, only half of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV have an undetectable viral load. But this represents progress, as does the fact that 85 percent of Americans infected with HIV are aware of their status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These are all-time highs, but show that there is still work to be done.

It’s worth remembering that strong, sometimes militant advocacy is what pushed us forward in how we diagnose and treat HIV. Scientific, medical, and social progress occurred more rapidly with HIV than with any other condition before it.

Protestors carry signs at a rally in New York City on October 7, 1995 in New York City. Activists played a key role in speeding research that developed treatments for HIV.

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Protestors carry signs at a rally in New York City on October 7, 1995 in New York City. Activists played a key role in speeding research that developed treatments for HIV.

Evan Agostini/Liaison/Getty Images

AIDS activism pushed the research agenda forward, and brought truly holistic care to people diagnosed with HIV. The care model we use for HIV-positive persons is an ideal model for how we could care for everyone—thinking not just about the medical aspects per se, but also about nutrition, medication adherence, transportation, mental health and overall wellbeing.

In Oklahoma, where I practice, the stigma surrounding HIV is still palpable. Fortunately, an organization called Tulsa Cares has blossomed to provide case management and psychosocial and nutritional support to people with HIV and their loved ones. This vastly increases the likelihood that patients will get into treatment and stay with it.

Advocacy for HIV is what led to the dramatic improvements in our ability to care for the illness. On this 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, let’s remember what a difference holistic care has made for people with HIV and how amazing it would be if such a model spread to all corners of health care.

John Henning Schumann is an internal medicine doctor and serves as president of the University of Oklahoma’s Tulsa campus. He also hosts Studio Tulsa: Medical Monday on KWGS Public Radio Tulsa. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlassHospital.

Chris Stapleton Dives Into His Archives For ‘From A Room: Volume 2’

Dec 1, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Chris Stapleton Dives Into His Archives For ‘From A Room: Volume 2’

Chris Stapleton’s latest album, From A Room: Volume 2, is available now.

Andy Barron/Courtesy of the artist


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Chris Stapleton’s latest album, From A Room: Volume 2, is available now.

Andy Barron/Courtesy of the artist

For the longest time, people in Nashville knew Chris Stapleton as a songwriter who wrote hits for some of the biggest names in country music: Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley and more.

Then, in May 2015, Traveller, Stapleton’s debut solo album, was released and everything changed.

The record was received with critical acclaim, earned him two 2016 Grammys in the categories of best country solo performance and best country album and was nominated for album of the year. (Dave Cobb, Stapleton’s producer, also got a nod for non-classical producer of the year.) It also swept that year’s Country Music Association Awards, but the most notable moment from that night was Stapleton’s live performance of “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink Me Away” with Justin Timberlake and Morgane, Stapleton’s wife, that brought down the house and effectively shot Stapleton into the mainstream.

Review: Chris Stapleton, 'From A Room: Volume 2'

Now, he has a new album called From A Room: Volume 2, available Dec. 1. Stapleton spoke with NPR’s Ari Shapiro about the litmus test he has for old songs he has written and why his music is connecting with audiences now. Hear the full interview at the audio link and read on for the highlights.

Interview Highlights

On including songs that were written years ago on the album

I think anything you pull back out of the archives you’re gonna hear in a different way than the day you write it. It’s real easy to write a song in a day and think that you knocked it out of the park. It’s a whole different thing to sit down a decade later and listen to that song that you wrote on that day objectively. I prefer the ones that have been around for 10 years and I can still listen to them and go, “I still like to sing this. I still like to hear this.” And I think if it passes that litmus test, then I think it’s pretty safe to say that the song’s at least OK.

On re-recording “Midnight Train to Memphis,” an old SteelDrivers song

It was my old bluegrass band I used to be in. We recorded that song in that band, but I’ve always continued to play that song even when I’m not in that band, so it got time to be recorded again like, “Listen, I still play this song every night. We should record it.”

One’s got a banjo on it, and the other one’s got a little Bo Diddley drums underneath it. It’s still the same song at its core, it’s just a song I’ve always loved. I love to play it live, it always goes over live. It was originally written more in my head like we’re doing it now, than what we did back with the SteelDrivers. Richard Bailey is a master of being able to play a banjo on anything, so he was able to take that song and turn it to what it was with the SteelDrivers.

On why he thinks his music is connecting with audiences right now

I can’t really speak to why people like what we do. Hopefully, they know what we do is authentically us, and that goes over no matter what kind of music you’re playing. People will kind of hear that and connect with that in ways they wouldn’t if you were trying to be something that you think might be popular; I think that’s always a mistake in music, maybe even in life. Do something ’cause it’s in your heart, do something ’cause it’s what you’re supposed to be doing.

‘Bad Sex In Fiction’ Award Goes To Novelist Who Compared Skin To Stained Bathtub

Dec 1, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on ‘Bad Sex In Fiction’ Award Goes To Novelist Who Compared Skin To Stained Bathtub

Ah yes, the erotic color variation of an aged bathtub.



Robert Easton/Flickr

American novelist Christopher Bollen has been awarded this year’s “Bad Sex in Fiction” award, in recognition of a sex scene from his novel The Destroyers that read in part: “The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub.”

The following sentence is a little spicy for NPR, but suffice to say that the narrator compares his own anatomy to a “billiard rack.”

Those ill-advised analogies earned Bollen the dubious honor of being granted the Bad Sex in Fiction award by the Literary Review. The prize was announced on Thursday; Bollard “was unable to attend the ceremony,” the Literary Review writes.

Bollen beat out stiff competition for this year’s prize. Laurent Binet described a graphic action taken by a “mouth-machine”; Venetia Welby used the phrase “diabolical torso”; Wilbur Smith used blurred watercolors as a metaphor for sexual congress.

If Only All Bad Sex Were This Fictional

But Bollen’s beachside scene won out. The London-based Literary Review told The Guardian: “The judges felt that there are parts in the book where Bollen goes overboard in his attempts to describe the familiar in new terms, leading occasionally to confusion. In the line quoted … they were left unsure as to how many testicles the character in question has.”

The prize is a compliment, in a way — truly. It’s only given to an”outstandingly bad” sex scene “in an otherwise good novel.” Books that are meant to be primarily erotic or pornographic aren’t considered.

And Bollen is hardly alone. Previous winners of the award, now in its 25th year, include such notaries as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and John Updike (who received a special “lifetime achievement award”).

For the record: Bollen’s 2015 novel Orient was one of NPR’s recommended books of 2015. Critic Bethanne Patrick called the book “rich and suspenseful.”

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