Blind Passenger Gets a Plane Full of Support

A US Airways Express flight from Philadelphia to Long Island was canceled Wednesday night after passengers rallied behind a blind man who was removed from the flight after his service dog became restless.

Albert Rizzi said the argument began when a crew member told him to put his service dog under the seat in front of him as they waited for the US Airways Express flight to leave Philadelphia International Airport for the airport in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

Rizzi, who is legally blind, told that the flight attendant became aggressive after noticing his service dog, Doxy, laying in the aisle. He said the dog became restless after 45 minutes on the tarmac.

“The flight attendant comes over and says, ‘I need you to get that dog stowed again,'” Rizzi told the station. “She comes back and gets in my face again. ‘I told you that dog needs to be under a seat or we are not taking off.'”

Flight attendants described the dog as agitated and expressed concern that Rizzi was not controlling it, airline spokeswoman Liz Landau told The Associated Press.

Rizzi became verbally abusive, and the crew decided to remove him, Landau said. That decision caused some of the other 33 travelers to become upset, she said, and the flight was canceled. US Airways then arranged for a bus to drive passengers to Long Island.

“My comfort level with my blindness was totally rocked,” Rizzi said. “I felt like a useless, unappreciated loser.”

One passenger told that he was so concerned about Rizzi that even before the protest took place, he was ready to offer to get off the plane, rent a car and drive Rizzi and Doxy to New York.

Fellow passenger Frank Ohlhorst told WPVI-TV, which first reported the encounter, that Rizzi wasn’t being disruptive.

“We were like, ‘Why is this happening? He’s not a problem. What is going on?'” said Ohlhorst.

Landau told the AP that crews are very familiar with the protocol for service animals, but that the airline is reviewing how the situation was handled.

Rizzi said he later learned there had been open seats on the plane. “She never tried to move me or anybody else to secure the aircraft the way she said needed to be secured,” Rizzi said of the flight attendant.

He told that he was grateful other passengers supported him.

“When I heard those people coming off the plane saying what they said, I felt like a million dollars and more humble than I have ever felt in my entire life,” Rizzi said.

read more
OnNovember 15, 2013, posted in: Latest News by

Ugly Secret of Nutrasweet.


Did you know there have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined?

In fact, there are over 10,000 official complaints, but by the FDA’s own admission, less than 1 percent of those who experience a reaction to a product ever report it. So in all likelihood, the toxic effects of aspartame may have affected roughly a million people already.

While a variety of symptoms have been reported, almost two-thirds of them fall into the neurological and behavioral category consisting mostly of headaches, mood alterations, and hallucinations. The remaining third is mostly gastrointestinal symptoms.

read more
OnNovember 12, 2013, posted in: Latest News by

Huge Increase in Lung Cancer Cases in Beijing

Cases of lung cancer in Beijing, China have increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, Medical Daily reported.

Though Chinese officials attribute the increase in cases to higher rates of smoking in the country, air pollution has also been identified as a major contributing factor to incidences of lung cancer.

Lung cancer cases in Beijing increased from 39.56 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 63.09 in 2011, according to reports from state-run news agency, Xinhua.

Levels of air pollution in China have garnered significant attention recently, particularly after reports last week claimed that an 8-year-old girl had been diagnosed with lung cancer, making her the country’s youngest lung cancer patient. The Chinese government was also recently forced to close roads, schools and airports in Harbin, China, after pollution levels escalated to 40 times higher than the safety limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO: “More than half of the lung cancer deaths attributable to ambient fine particles were projected to have been in China and other East Asian countries.” More than 3.2 million deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution, including 200,000 from lung cancer, WHO reported.

read more
OnNovember 11, 2013, posted in: Latest News by

New Stem Cell Technique May Improve Liver and Pancreatic Transplant Therapies

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a new technique for creating stem cells of the human liver and pancreas – a breakthrough that could significantly transform the future of transplant therapies.

The novel method involves altering the signal pathways of cells specific to the human foregut – the upper portion of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Through this manipulation, researchers were able to stop the cells from developing fully and push them into a state of constant self-renewal.

As a result, these “foregut stem cells” can then be further amplified by physicians, who can then form them into liver or pancreatic cells.  These cells could potentially be used to treat damaged organs or tissue, in addition to conditions such as type 1 diabetes or metabolic liver disease.

According to the researchers, their technique improves upon existing methods for creating liver or pancreatic stem cells, which sometimes do not yield enough cells for transplantation.

“We had identified that problem going forward: There is no process to amplify a population of cells that can be used for transplant therapy,” lead author Dr. Nicholas Hannan, from the University of Cambridge Wellcome Trust MRC Stem Cell Institute, told “We thought if we could develop a technique that would allow us to capture the progenitive population of cells, this would be the perfect cell type you would want to expand and have at the ready to differentiate into liver and pancreatic cells.”

Currently, most stem cells begin as human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs).  These types of stem cells sit at the top of the hierarchy for differentiation, as they have the potential to transform into any one of the three primary embryonic layers of human cells – the mesoderm, the ectoderm or the endoderm.  Since these kinds of stem cells are also self-renewing, they provide physicians with a potentially infinite source of viable cells for regeneration.

However, differentiating hPSCs into liver and pancreatic cells can be tricky.  To create these kinds of cells, hPSCs must be differentiated solely into the endoderm layer – the tissue primarily associated with organs of the digestive and respiratory system.

But since hPSCs have a lot of variability in terms of how they are derived and the kinds of cells they can become, cell cultures intended to create pancreatic or liver cells are often “contaminated” with the wrong cell types, rendering the precursor population unusable for further differentiation.

To address this problem, the researchers studied the conditions under which cells differentiate specifically into the human foregut. Hannan explained that at some point during development, all cells eventually move through the foregut state – when they are just part of the endoderm layer.

“As we do develop organs, we have to naturally move through the foregut state,” Hannan said.  “Everyone develops a foregut during development, and most of the techniques that produce cells actually transition through the foregut state, but isolating it is difficult.  Our natural tendency is to move down the developmental program.”

Hannan and his team discovered that in order to restrict these cells to the foregut state, a specific set of genes in the cells needed to be expressed.  When they developed their stem cell populations under these conditions, the non-endodermal cells eventually stopped growing while the endodermal cells flourished.

“We’ve basically taken pluripotent cells and induce them into the endoderm,” Hannan explained. “So these foregut cells can’t make mesoderm or ectoderm.  They’re restricted solely to the endoderm layer.”

The result of this gene manipulation was a “purer” population of human foregut stem cells (hFSCs), able to self-renew and differentiate into any cell in the human foregut.  The researchers also found that transplanting these cells did not form any tumors, making them a safe choice for physicians and patients.

According to Hannan, these cells have the potential to aid a variety of patients – such as those suffering from type 1 diabetes, individuals with inherited metabolic problems of the liver, and even patients who require a liver or pancreas transplantation.

“What we have now is a progenitive pool of cells that can make any cell type in the foregut,” Hannan said.  “Literally, the millions and millions of cells required (for transplantation) are difficult to amplify without the culture system we’ve developed.”

read more
OnOctober 10, 2013, posted in: Latest News by

Study Shows Music Keeps Your Mind Healthy

At 101, Frank Iacono still plays the violin. The concertmaster for the Providence Civic Orchestra of Senior Citizens in Rhode Island, he particularly enjoys playing polkas and jigs.

“It keeps my mind active, and it gives me a lot of pleasure,” Iacono said.

The orchestra’s executive director and co-founder, Vito Saritelli, said Iacono is extremely sharp for his age.

“Music has played a good part of his longevity,” said his wife, Mary Iacono, 94. “We’re blessed that we’re both in good health.”

As scientists race to figure out how to promote healthy aging of the brain, and prevent dementia, their preliminary advice for senior citizens has become a chorus of voices: “Stay active! Have hobbies! Be socially engaged!”

Playing music, for some people, is a natural answer to all of those recommendations. Frank Iacono, for instance, has been playing violin since he was 13 — just because he loves it.

But does music playing in particular stave off dementia? What about just listening to music? How many years do you need to engage in music before it benefits your brain?

Researchers are exploring these questions in the face of staggering statistics about the aging population. The number of Americans 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple nearly by 2050 — 13.8 million from 5 million now. The annual cost of dementia in the United States in 2050 will be $1.2 trillion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Early research suggests keeping the brain active — such as by speaking two languages — may hold back dementia symptoms by up to five years. Scientists are hoping to find that the same is true for music playing, said Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University, who studies cognitive functioning among musicians.

“If you can delay the presentation (of dementia) by five years, then you add an extra five years of functioning to an individual at the end of the life span,” she said. “In terms of fiscal cost and everything, that’s actually quite a lot.”

read more
OnSeptember 10, 2013, posted in: Latest News by

Use of Phony Service Animals on the Rise Nationally


Unfortunately this is an expanding phenomena and people additionally seek to elevate “companion dogs” to the same status as “service animal.”

(From NY Post)

I borrowed my mom’s wacky golden retriever/poodle mix “Hampton’’ for a day to check out The Post’s recent report that dog lovers are decking out their pooches with phony vests and fake ID tags to get them into fancy restaurants and shops.

The first stop for our party of five — Hampton and four human pals willing to lie for him — was Orsay on Lexington Avenue.

Hampton — showing off his phony “service dog’’ patch we had specially embroidered — happily slobbered as he wolfed down an 8-ounce salmon filet.

The 3-foot-tall, 70-pound pooch showed his appreciation of the cuisine by pawing nearby tables and jumping on their occupants — as a manager nervously looked on.

“Does he have papers?” a grossed-out patron asked while Hampton strutted through the dining room, sniffing around for scraps.

But the maitre d’ couldn’t ask, because the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits businesses from demanding a canine’s credentials. It also doesn’t allow managers to ask its human companions about their “disability.’’

We then took our act to a bakery, a grocery store and a Starbucks on Lexington. where Hampton blocked entrances and jumped on customers — but he was still welcomed in.

We also learned a lot depends on the dog’s personality.

A colleague and her phony “service dog,’’ Cyo, got a warm welcome at Le Cirque, where waiters even brought a bowl with water and ice cubes.

Cyo just sat quietly under the table wagging his tail. He was also welcomed at Calvin Klein’s and Barneys, where he charmed everyone.

No one batted an eye as Cyo checked out the shops’ offerings.

But at the Juice Press on Third Avenue, a clerk at first said that dogs were not welcome. But she quickly backed off when Cyo was identified as a service dog.

Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor, criticized owners who falsely claim they’re with a service or therapy dog as she unveiled a dog run in Tribeca last week.

“It’s going to ruin it for people that actually need service dogs,’’ she said.

“It’s unfair for people to take advantage of a system put in place to really help those who need it.’’


read more
OnAugust 12, 2013, posted in: Latest News by