Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dealing with Veteran PTSD During the Holidays

Families of veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and California veterans benefits lawyers know that the symptoms of this condition are often aggravated during the holiday season. Holidays mean more entertaining and exposure to more people, placing veterans in a situation that they don't often feel equipped to handle well.

One of the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder is a gradual social alienation or withdrawal from social company. It is difficult to avoid company during the holidays, which makes this time a trying one for veterans as well as their families. Typically, symptoms of depression are aggravated during holidays, when everybody around you expects cheerfulness and joy.

Veterans also find that it's difficult for others to understand their condition during the holidays, when everybody is in high spirits and not willing to speak of depression, bad moods, or any of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, veterans who have not found a job after returning from combat duty may find the holidays especially stressful because of financial problems. This only aggravates the feelings of inadequacy and overall negativity that a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder struggles with.

Families of persons who suffer from PTSD must be especially careful around the holidays, and look out for a flare-up of symptoms. It's also important to be compassionate at this time, and to understand that the veteran wants to avoid social company. A person who suffers from PTSD may also want to avoid large crowds, and keep celebrations limited to small groups only.

Families also need to understand that small things can trigger symptoms of PTSD. For instance, a sudden greeting or a slap on the back can take the veteran right back to the scene of combat. Additionally, family members must also understand that drug and alcohol abuse risks for veterans with PTSD increase during the holidays. Think of other ways to celebrate the holidays with a veteran, like volunteering at a local homeless shelter.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Parents Often Miss Classic Signs of Sexual Predators

Parents of 3 girls who were molested by an Illinois school district and Peoria City employee have filed a $3 million claim against both the school and the city, alleging that officials failed to act on warning signs about the predator. The employee, Mark Johnstone who was convicted 2 years ago is currently in prison, serving a 19-year sentence for child molestation and attempted child molestation. This case illustrates how easy it can be for potential sexual predators to continue their abuse unchecked.

Johnstone worked as a groundskeeper at an elementary school, and also worked part-time to help run the city's summer recreation program. According to authorities, he had a clean background, and did well at both his jobs. His job reviews were very good. However, unknown to parents and school and city officials, he was also molesting young girls.

Questions about his behavior were first raised by young male students, who were aware of his preference for young girls. He often brought little girls gifts, and made them sit on his lap while he gave them candy. However, parents were only alerted to his behavior in June and August 2007, during the summer program when he allegedly molested a young girl in the copy room. Other incidents were reported during field trips with students. One of the parents reported these incidents to police in August 2007, and by then, parents had already raised concerns about his behavior with school officials.

Several city officials also had concerns about Johnstone’s behavior. Johnstone resigned from the school district in May 2007, but continued working with the city's summer program. He was placed on administrative leave from the city in September after the city received a complaint from a parent, alleging molestation of a child in August 2007. Now in their sexual abuse claim, the parents allege that the city and school district had enough information about the molestation, and took little action to prevent it.

Unfortunately, California sexual abuse lawyers often find examples of such behavior. A sexual predator takes a long time to ingratiate himself or herself into a community, and makes efforts to give people the impression that he/she is far from the type of person who would harm young children. Once predators have gained the trust of the community, they find it less likely that people will be inclined to believe complaints of sexual abuse against them. Parents, caregivers and schools however, must be quick to act on signs of inappropriate behavior as soon as these are reported.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Analysis of Dreams Suggests Help for Persons with PTSD

An intriguing new study conducted by researchers at the University Of California Berkeley indicates to California veterans benefits lawyers that people who spend more time in dream sleep, may be getting more than just a good night’s rest. These people could actually be triggering the process of healing of bad memories. The researchers are connecting this finding with nightmares in veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may suffer vivid nightmares that are also recurrent. According to the researchers, the dream stage of sleep allows a form of overnight therapy, helping heal some of the not-so-pleasant experiences that the person had the previous day. These are bound to be controversial studies because there isn't enough consensus on the link between sleep and mental well-being.

However, researchers are linking this dream analysis with the fact that people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffer from frequent nightmares. In these people, this form of dream therapy may not be working as well. Therefore, when these people suffer flashbacks in the daytime, they suffer from nightmares at night, because the experiences in the daytime have not been properly purged from memory during sleep. Other studies in the past have indicated that people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression also suffer from disrupted sleep patterns.

The researchers were alerted to the possibility of more dream-stage sleep helping veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, through a study on PTSD conducted in Seattle. The study was conducted at a US Department of Veterans Affairs facility. Researchers in that study used blood pressure drugs in order to prevent recurrent nightmares in patients with PTSD. What they ultimately found was that the blood pressure drug suppressed the norepinephrine in the brain, promoting better quality of sleep and dreams, thus reducing the possibility of nightmares.

Trucking Companies Try to Steer Drivers Towards Healthier Lifestyles

Spurred by rising trucker health insurance rates and medical costs, trucking companies are investing in initiatives to steer drivers towards healthier lives. The happy result of all this is likely to be a reduced risk of accidents caused by truckers who suffer medical conditions at the wheel.

Trucking isn't an occupation that allows workers to make safe and healthy lifestyle choices. A typical working day for a trucker involves driving long hours, with occasional breaks for food at a truck stop or a fast food outlet. Food in these places is unhealthy and high in calories. Los Angeles truck accident lawyers do not find it at all surprising that lifestyle diseases, like cardiovascular disease, are so widespread in the trucking industry.

When a truck driver is unhealthy, it's not just insurance rates and medical costs that suffer. There is also a high risk of accidents involving drivers who suffer a medical condition while driving. Motorists may be at a special risk of accidents that involve a trucker, who has a cardiac arrest or goes into diabetic shock while driving.
Fortunately, more and more trucking companies are waking up to the fact that investing in their drivers’ health can not only lower insurance premiums and cut down medical costs, but also reduce their liability in the event of accidents.

Across the country, trucking companies are investing in all kinds of initiatives aimed at encouraging truckers to follow a healthy lifestyle. These initiatives include hiring fitness trainers and nutritionists to encourage truckers to get fit and lose weight. Companies are investing in on-site gyms, and offering financial incentives to truck drivers who attain fitness goals.

The need for such initiatives is dire. In 2007, truck driver error accounted for more than 85% of all fatal truck accidents, and about 12% of these accidents were the result of the driver suffering some kind of medical condition at the wheel.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Study Finds People with Facial Scars Less Likely to be Hired

When a person walks into a California employment lawyer's office alleging looks- based employment discrimination, we know better than to brush those claims aside. Looks-based discrimination is widely prevalent in the workplace, and there are enough studies to show that persons with a pleasant appearance and symmetrical features have a greater chance of being hired compared to others. A new study confirms this fact. According to the study, people who have facial scars, birthmarks or acne scars, could stand a lower chance of acing a job interview.

The study conducted by researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston staged mock interviews, consisting of subjects with or without facial scars or acne. A total of 171 undergraduates participated in the mock interview. The interviews were conducted via computer screen. The interviewers’ eye movements were tracked during the interview. After the interview, the interviewers were asked questions about the candidate.

The researchers found that the interviewers were not blatantly discriminatory against persons with acne or birthmarks. However, they did tend to get distracted by applicants who suffered from acne and other facial scars. As a result of this distraction, they were less likely to focus on the positive aspects of the applicant's candidacy, and therefore the applicant was less likely to get the job.

When the researchers conducted another study using people who had experience in management and training instead of undergrad students, they found the same results. In this experiment, many of the interviewees suffered from acne or birthmarks. The researchers expected that these more experienced interviewers would be less likely to be distracted by the facial scars. However, they found that the trained persons were actually more likely to be distracted by facial scars, than the undergrad students.

This kind of looks-based discrimination seems to be subconscious, but the end result is the same.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Alabama A&M University Tops in College Crime Rates

An analysis of crime data reported by universities and colleges in Alabama finds some of the highest crime rates at Alabama A&M and Alabama State universities.

According to the analysis, which included data from between 2005 and 2010, there were 170 robberies at 11 schools in the state with the highest number of students. There were also reports of 119 aggravated assaults, and 97 reports of sexual offenses on these campuses.

Alabama A&M University leads with a total of 63 aggravated assaults on campus during this six-year period. At the same college, there were 29 robberies, 463 burglaries and 16 sexual offenses during the same period of time. Overall, the University of Alabama had the most drug and alcohol-related crimes. Students at the University of Alabama, the University of South Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College and A&M also reported the highest numbers of sexual offenses on campus. The other colleges that were studied in the analysis were Auburn, Auburn-Montgomery, Alabama State, Birmingham-Southern, Jacksonville-State, Miles, Samford, Troy, UAB, UAH, Montevallo, UNA and South Alabama.

The analysis found that one of the biggest factors in college campus crime rates is easy access to alcohol and drugs. Alabama criminal defense lawyers also believe that this is true. When access to alcohol and drugs on campus is lowered, the incidence of campus-related crimes also drops. Universities and colleges in Alabama could be doing more to restrict student access to alcohol, considering the serious consequence of crimes for these students.

The University of Alabama is experimenting with measures to lower drug and alcohol use and crimes rates on campus. This college had the highest alcohol-related arrests during this period of time with a total of 540 arrests. However, authorities have been trying to take steps to reduce the number of alcohol-related offenses. In 2009, the school began a program of referring alcohol offenders to a student services program, under which students undergo an alcohol and drug education program instead of being sent to a Municipal Court. These are the sort of measures that Alabama criminal defense attorneys believe can lower campus crime rates.

Sexual Abuse Tied to Higher Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack in Adulthood

Girls, who have suffered physical or sexual abuse in childhood, may have a much higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke in adulthood. According to the results of research presented at the American Heart Association's 2011 scientific sessions, women who reported abuse during their childhood had a 62% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood. The study found that severe physical abuse in childhood contributed to a 45% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

This is believed to be the first such study that comprehensively studies the association between sexual/physical abuse and cardiovascular disease. The researchers used data from a study conducted between 1989 and 2007. The study included more than 67,000 respondents. 9% of the women had suffered severe physical abuse, and 11% had suffered sexual abuse in their childhood.

So, what’s the link between physical/sexual abuse in childhood and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease? Researchers believe it has to do with stress brought on as a result of the abuse and increased weight gain. Girls who suffer from abuse-related trauma are more likely to gain weight, thereby increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease. Besides stress issues, smoking and alcohol use were also linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease among women who had been physically or sexually abused.

The study provides California sexual abuse lawyers more clues about the long-lasting impact of sexual abuse. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that sexual abuse can leave a victim with such devastating, long-term health effects. It is to be expected that the stresses and trauma brought on by abuse during childhood will affect an individual's health as she ages.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Stockton Man Faces Charges of Sexual Abuse

According to the Stockton Police Department, officers are likely to file charges of sexual abuse of a child against a man who was found outside a Stockton public school last week. The man has already been arrested on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.

The 28-year-old man was reportedly in the parking lot of the Washington Elementary School, when he was approached by school district police officers after officials received calls complaining about his presence. When officers arrived at the scene, they found that the man had a knife and drug paraphernalia in his possession. The man resisted arrest, but was taken into custody.

After his arrest, allegations that he sexually abused a child at the school came up. The Stockton Police Department’s Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Unit is investigating the incident. There is no information about the circumstances surrounding these allegations of abuse. The man is currently lodged in San Joaquin County Jail, on an $856,000 bond.

Most cases of sexual abuse that Los Angeles child sexual abuse attorneys come across involve persons who are known to the child. These persons may include schoolteachers, school employees, coaches, priests, scout leaders and other persons who are in a position of authority and trust. In other cases, the perpetrator may be a stranger who gains access to the child in the home, school, playground or other place.

Filing a criminal complaint of sexual abuse can help punish the perpetrator of the abuse. However, it does nothing to ensure that the school, daycare, church, or other organization involved takes measures to prevent such abuses from occurring again. Filing a sexual abuse lawsuit can help hold these organizations and persons responsible for their actions. It can also trigger better compliance with child safety laws.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

New Bill Prevents California Authorities from Banning Male Circumcision

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new bill that would prevent local authorities in California from banning the practice of male circumcision and making it a punishable offense. With this bill, male circumcision will remain legal in California, and will not be defined as a crime.

The bill gives a final blow to advocacy groups across California that had called for a statewide ban on the practice of male circumcision. These groups had launched efforts in San Francisco and Santa Monica, aimed at banning the practice of male circumcision for any male aged below eighteen in California.

In Santa Monica, supporters failed to get the measure placed on the ballot. In San Francisco, however, the ban gathered enough support to be placed in the ballot in November. Advocacy groups gathered more than 12,000 signatures, in an initiative to get the measure included on the ballot.

The measure would have made male child circumcision an issue not only to be dealt with by doctors and parents, but also Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers. It would have made it a misdemeanor for anyone to circumcise a boy below eighteen years of age. This offense would have been punishable by a $1000 fine and jail time of up to one year. The measure would not have considered any religious beliefs, banning child circumcisions outright. Circumcision is an important religious practice of Muslims and Jews, although most circumcisions performed in the U.S. are not religious in nature. However, in July, a judge struck the measure from the ballot, saying that the ban would constitute an infringement on religious freedom.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Governor Vetoes Bicycling Safety Bill

Governor Jerry Brown's veto of an important bicycle safety bill has come as a complete shock to cycling groups and Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers. Last week, the governor vetoed a bill that would have required motorists to keep a minimum distance of 3 feet between their vehicles and bicycles.

There had been plenty of hope for the signing of this bill, and those hopes were heightened with the kind of support the bill quickly attracted. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong have been vocal supporters of the bill.

The bill requires drivers to keep a “safe distance,” defined as a minimum of 3 feet, from bicycles, in order to prevent the danger to bicyclists when motorists drive too close to them. Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers see this situation all too often.

Governor Brown, however, decided to veto the bill, citing safety concerns. According to the Governor, drivers would have been required to drop speeds in order to maintain a minimum of 3 feet distance between their car and a bicycle, and this could increase their risk of being involved in a traffic accident. The Governor seems to have depended on inputs from the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation in his decision to veto the bill.

The California Highway Patrol had made clear its opposition to the 3-foot bicycle safety bill. This is in spite of the fact that such laws are already in place in several other states. At least twenty states have some version of the 3-foot law, and have seen great success in reducing the number of bicycle accidents and deaths. However, the California Highway Patrol reportedly advised the Governor that if the bill became law, it would cause a number of rear-end collisions, triggered by drivers who slam their brakes when they see a bicycle.

Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers
would have liked to see more protections for bicyclists and a safer environment for them, but it looks like that will not happen this year.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

IRS Tax Violation Crackdown on People with Dual Citizenship

The Internal Revenue Service has required American citizens living abroad to file income tax returns since the 1970s. However, many people who live in Canada and have both Canadian and U.S. citizenship have apparently been unaware of this rule. Now, the Internal Revenue Service is going after these people, in many cases taking them unawares.

The Internal Revenue Service has announced a major and growing effort to collect unpaid taxes from Americans living abroad. Many of these efforts are targeted at Americans living north of the border. For years, Canadians with dual citizenship have been able to travel freely to the United States, work, and study here. Now, they are also being asked to pay taxes here.

Not surprisingly, these demands by the Internal Revenue Service have not been welcomed. According to many Canadians with dual citizenship, they should not have to pay taxes, because they do not live here and are not availing themselves of the same services as domiciled Americans. They pay taxes in Canada, and many of them are simply unaware that they are required, as American passport-holders, to file income tax returns in the United States.

Many California tax attorneys would not blame them for not being aware of this rule, considering that the United States is virtually the only country in the world that requires all citizens living abroad to file income tax returns. Even Canadian politicians are weighing in on the debate, holding that Canadians with dual citizenship should not be hounded for tax returns like criminals. According to them, these are simply people who were not aware of the rule requiring them to report income, and deserve be treated differently.

There is no indication that the administration will react differently. The Obama administration has passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires all persons with American passports to file tax returns going back to at least 2003.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Why Motorcycling Is Not for Everyone

Most motorcyclists that Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers come across are well aware that their risk of being injured or dying in a motorcycle accident is too great to ignore. Motorcycling is not the right activity for people who do not have respect for safety rules.

According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a person who wants to begin riding a motorcycle should be someone who:

• Can ride a bicycle, because of the basic balance and coordination this activity requires
• Does not seek out dangerous thrills - if you are the kind of person who is prone to aggressive driving in a car, then a motorcycle may not be for you. Road rage, tailgating, and ignoring traffic lights are not safe practices in motorcycling.
• Can drive a stick shift car, because most motorcycles have manual transmissions
• Has good vision
• Has an appreciation for the basics of mechanics – since it helps if you are able to make minor adjustments to your motorcycle when you need to, to ensure a safe ride.
• Has an appreciation for safety - if you are prone to accidents in and outside the house, you may not be safe on a motorcycle.
• Can focus - a motorcyclist needs to be attentive, and filter out all distractions while riding
• Has strong and fine-tuned response abilities
• Is willing to spend some time to complete a motorcycle rider education program before riding
Motorcycling is not for everyone. If you find that your personality traits do not match some of those on this list, Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers suggest you may want to reevaluate how safe you may be on a motorcycle.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Former Gymnasts Make Sexual Abuse Charges against Olympic Coach

A former U.S. Olympic team coach, whose trainees include some of the biggest American female gymnasts of all time, is headed for disgrace after three women came forward to allege that he sexually abused them.

The coach, Don Peters, has some sterling achievements to his credit, including coaching the women's team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He is also credited with developing SCATS, a Huntington Beach gymnastics club with a reputation for producing champions. All of that glory hangs in the balance however, after three women came forward to make allegations of sexual abuse against him.

The three women include Doe Yamashiro, a former member of the U.S. National Team who trained under Peters at SCATS in the ‘80s. According to her, he began abusing her when she was 16, and the abuse ultimately resulted in sexual intercourse when she was 17 years old. The second accuser, an unidentified woman, was also a gymnast at SCATS, and she says that she had sexual intercourse with Peters when she was 18 years old. Both this woman and Yamashiro have signed a sworn declaration about the truth of the abuse.

According to Linda McNamara, who was a former assistant director at SCATS, Peters also confided in her about having sex with both of these women, and another third teenage gymnast. The women have already reported these allegations to USA Gymnastics, and an investigation could soon begin.

California sexual abuse lawyers are not so surprised that the gymnastics floor is as fertile an environment for sexual abuse as the swimming pool. USA Swimming has been rocked by a sexual abuse scandal, involving coaches who preyed on young swimmers.

In individual sports like gymnastics and swimming, there is a special relationship that exists between a coach and a young athlete. For coaches in these situations, taking advantage of a young charge is much easier than it would be for a coach in charge of a team of athletes. Some of these young athletes train for up to forty hours a week, beginning when they're in grade school. It's easy for a coach to assert absolute authority over a young girl, and ultimately take advantage of this trust.

Older Drivers Able to Self Regulate Driving to Avoid Accidents

San Fernando Valley car accident lawyers find that senior motorists have a much better safety record than teen drivers, but older drivers are more likely than middle-aged drivers to be involved in accidents. A new survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, indicates that older motorists are capable of regulating their driving in order to avoid traffic accidents.

The survey involved a single group of drivers aged 65 and above, who were surveyed every year between 2006 and 2008, and then again between 2009 and 2011. The surveyors were looking at how older motorists’ driving abilities changed with age, and how they responded to these diminishing abilities.

For instance, the surveyors asked the participants in the study about any medical impairment that they had suffered that year, including failing vision, hearing loss and mobility-related impairments like difficult in turning the head and slow responses. The researchers and San Fernando Valley car accident lawyers were pleasantly surprised to find that when older drivers found their driving abilities were being threatened by diminishing faculties, they tended to avoid certain driving situations. When impairment levels increased, the drivers responded by modifying their driving habits.

However, few motorists in the survey said that they gave up driving altogether when they found that their faculties were declining. Also, few motorists seemed to be in any hurry to cut back on their driving. In other words, older drivers were more likely to avoid certain situations, like driving at night or driving during rush hour when they noticed failing eyesight, than give up driving altogether.

That only signifies how precious driving privileges are for senior motorists, and the challenge that loved ones can expect to face if they believe that it's time for the senior driver to give up the car keys.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NTSB Increases Pressure for Cell Phone Ban on Commercial Drivers

A complete ban on the use of any kind of cell phones by commercial truck and bus drivers, as Los Angeles truck accident lawyers have been calling for, could soon be a reality. The National Transportation Safety Board is intensifying its calls for a complete ban on cell phone use while driving for all commercial truck and bus drivers.

The Board’s pressure is clear in its investigative report into a traffic accident in 2010 in Kentucky that killed eleven people. In that accident, the National Transportation Safety Board found that cell phone use by a truck driver had been a major contributing factor in the crash. The driver had been using a cell phone device while driving. His cell phone records showed that he had used his cell phone to make phone calls and send text messages at least sixty-nine times in the 24 hours before the deadly crash. In fact, at the very minute that his truck veered across the median and crashed into a minivan, the driver was busy on a call. The driver and ten people in the minivan were killed in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is basing its call for cell phone bans for all commercial truck and bus drivers on this very preventable disaster. As the National Transportation Safety Board notes, distracted driving by a motorist is bad enough, but when it is the driver of a vehicle that weighs up to 40 tons and is traveling at highway speeds, such behavior is even more dangerous.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s proposed ban would include both hand held cell phones as well as hands-free sets. The trucking industry has been ambiguous in its response to this call. The American Trucking Association says that it is in favor of a ban on the use of handheld cell phones for commercial truck and bus drivers, but does not believe that hands-free sets should be included in this ban.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Data Indicates Spike in Criminal Activity in San Francisco Bay Area

Experts are pointing to a number of reasons for a spike in criminal activity in some San Francisco Bay Area cities. In most other cases, police believe that cutbacks in law enforcement are to blame for this increase. However, in some of the cities, an increase in law enforcement has actually led to an increase in crime. For instance, In Richmond, the crime rates have increased even though the city has added to its police force.

In Oakland, there was an increase in firearms assaults by 31% to 361 incidents in the period ending September 1. That was an increase from 276 incidents during the same period of time last year. According to city records, the number of homicides in Oakland also increased to 74 incidents during the same time, a 25% increase.

In San Jose, there were 26 homicides, an increase of 70% through July. Robberies were up 9% to a total of 598 incidents this year. In Richmond, homicides increased to 21 incidents this year, a 75% increase.

The increase in crime in these San Francisco Bay Area cities has surprised law enforcement, because it comes after a three-year period of decline in reported crimes. In 2010, the number of violent crimes fell by 7.2% from the previous year.
However, not everything is as bleak as law enforcement would have you believe.

Overall crime rates in the cities of Richmond, Oakland and San Jose are actually down from 2007 and 2008. There has been a sharp decline in the certain crimes like property crimes, including auto theft and burglary. Additionally, the increase in crime is not consistent across the Bay Area. Many Bay Area cities including San Francisco have seen a decline in violent crime. In San Francisco, violent crime decreased by 5% to a total of 4,476 incidents this year.

This decline has mirrored the overall decline in crime rates in California. Violent crime rates in California fell 6% between 2009 and 2010. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are also aware of a drop in violent crime rates in Los Angeles this year, an estimated 18% decline.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Happiness Can Help Prevent Teen Crimes

A study by the University of California Davis shows that teenagers who report higher levels of happiness are less likely to be involved in criminal activity. Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are aware that juvenile crimes are often the result of a low sense of emotional well-being.

The study’s findings were presented at the American Sociological Association’s Annual meeting in Las Vegas. According to the researchers, teenagers in grades 7 through 9 have a much lower risk of being involved in criminal activity if they are “happy.”

The researchers focused on the link between juvenile crimes and emotions and depression. The teens self-reported their crimes. The researchers analyzed these crime rates with self-assessments of the teenagers’ sense of emotional well-being.

About 29% of the juveniles had been involved in at least one crime, and 18% had used at least one illegal drug. Researchers found that criminal activity and drug use was less frequent in those juveniles who reported a much higher sense of emotional well-being. Juveniles who reported being frequently down and low were much more likely to report criminal activity as well as drug use.

The researchers monitored these juveniles, and found that when they reported a drop from happiness to depression over a period of one year, the increase in criminal activity was sharp.

Persons accused of juvenile crimes, may be tried in separate courts, under separate criminal laws than those that govern adults. In most juvenile crimes, the focus of the court will be the rehabilitation of the child, and not incarceration. However, minors accused of serious crimes like murder may be charged as adults. Juveniles accused of crimes have the same rights as adults do, including Miranda rights and the right to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

Word Searches Can Help Locate Medical Errors Quicker Than Codes

A new study conducted by researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, has found that using simple text searches, like the ones that people use on Google, in electronic medical records systems could help identify medical errors quicker than the use of codes.

The researchers analyzed patient records at six Department of Veterans’ Affairs medical centers. They found that they were able to turn up at least 12 times as many cases of pneumonia and twice as many cases of kidney failure and severe blood infections simply by using single word searches, instead of using billing codes. These billing codes are used for reimbursement, and are also used as ratings for quality of care. Billing codes have been promoted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to evaluate the quality of care at American hospitals.

The researchers were so impressed with the results of the study that they now recommend configuring electronic medical record systems to enable text searches. They believe that this would allow hospitals to keep patients safer more easily than the use of traditional billing codes. Billing codes were devised for administrative purposes, and may not be best suited for patient safety objectives. Searches for English text were found to be more accurate and reliable in identifying medical errors.

Text searching is not available on all electronic medical record systems. However, some manufacturers have introduced semantic search in their systems. These systems allow doctors to search for patient records based on medical keywords.

However, Arizona medical malpractice lawyers would not recommend an immediate overhaul of the current medical record systems to include text searches. Health care professionals need to be trained to use text searches effectively in order to locate medical errors. Medical record systems in many hospitals are still fairly new, and need to stabilize.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

IRS Extends Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative Deadline to September 9

Anticipating delays due to Hurricane Irene, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for taxpayers to participate in the agency’s offshore voluntary disclosure initiative, to September 9. The earlier deadline was scheduled to expire on August 31.

Taxpayers who have undisclosed foreign bank accounts and have not yet submitted their documents are advised to take the following actions before September 9, 2011:

• Submit verification information to the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Office. This information must include the person’s name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The Internal Revenue Service also requires other details that are mentioned in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure letter.

• Taxpayers who are unable to file this information before the deadline may apply for a 90-day extension of the deadline. Individuals requiring a deadline extension should submit their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Individuals must also include a statement of all items that are missing, as well as the reasons why these are not being included in the statement.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning individuals who have income in undisclosed offshore accounts that the new deadline for disclosing this information is fast approaching. California tax lawyers also advise that taxpayers who voluntarily disclose information will receive a better deal from the IRS than those who wait for the agency to locate the undisclosed account.

The initiative is part of the Internal Revenue Services’ continued efforts to locate American citizens’ assets in banks and institutions. The Internal Revenue Service has already launched efforts against Credit Suisse and HSBC banks. In 2009, a similar initiative by the Internal Revenue Service to encourage individuals to voluntarily disclose information about foreign accounts resulted in approximately 15,000 disclosures of offshore bank accounts.

Motorcycle Helmets Could Increase Hearing Loss Risks

Motorcyclists who wear helmets while riding are definitely much better protected in an accident than those without helmets. A new study however, indicates that helmeted motorcyclists may be at a higher risk of suffering hearing loss.

Researchers used mannequins, and duplicated the kind of sound that a motorcyclist is exposed to when he is wearing a helmet and riding down a highway. They found that the sound of high velocity wind can enter through a point just below the helmet and reach the eardrums. The noise can be very loud, and can reach decibels of 150 or more. This is almost equal to the amount of noise that a worker using a power saw is exposed to without adequate ear protection. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, exposure to these levels of noise should limited to under fifteen minutes a day. This noise can damage the eardrums, and possibly cause hearing loss.

The effect of noise on a motorcyclist’s hearing has been explored before. Unfortunately, there are no noiseless helmets just like there are no noiseless motorcycles. Being exposed to high velocities of sound is a part of the motorcycling experience.

Some experts recommend that motorcyclists protect their hearing by wearing earplugs underneath their motorcycle helmets, as long as the earplugs you chose do not block out too much sound. Earplugs have always been recommended as a way of cutting out unnecessary or excessive noise while still allowing a motorcyclist to hear necessary sounds. For instance, earplugs will help block out the excessive sound of wind entering from underneath the helmet and into your ears. You will still be able to hear audio cues like the sound of other motorcycles or cars nearby.

Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers stress that under no circumstances should the results of the study be taken to mean that wearing motorcycle helmets is unsafe or dangerous in any way. There are still far too many benefits to wearing motorcycle helmets, compared to any perceived health hazards from wearing these.

Monday, 29 August 2011

In Spite of Benefits, Veterans with Brain Injury Not Eligible for Therapy Coverage

Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's brain injury after the shocking shooting in Arizona early this year, and her triumphant return to Congress last month, have underscored the progress made by doctors who used cognitive rehabilitation therapy to treat her injuries. These therapies have been made possible by research that doctors have conducted on veterans with brain injury returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.However, these very same veterans do not enjoy the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation therapy, because it is not a covered treatment.

It is estimated that one out of every five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from some kind of traumatic brain injury.Many of these injuries are concussions sustained as a result of impact from bomb explosions.The doctors studying brain injury treatment have based much of their research on returning service members.One of the therapies that have been found to have great benefits in the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injury is cognitive rehabilitation therapy.

Cognitive rehabilitation therapy includes a range of programs including speech and communication therapy and programs to boost a brain injury victim’s memory and social skills.This therapy is designed to help the patient to learn more than just how to walk and talk. Patients also need to learn how to perform routine tasks like dressing and feeding themselves, and cognitive rehabilitation therapy aims to accomplish the learning of these tasks.

However, cognitive rehabilitation therapy is not covered by health care insurance for veterans.Many veterans are covered under the TriCare Insurance Plan, and the program has refused to cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy on the basis that its benefits have not been conclusively proven.This is in spite of the fact that Department of Veterans Affairs,California veteran benefits lawyers and brain injury experts have found it to be an effective therapy for brain injury victims, and the fact that doctors have used it to great effect in a number of patients, like Gabrielle Gifford.Much of the reluctance to include cognitive rehabilitation therapy in insurance plans is the high cost of these treatments.

Prevent Sexual Abuse at Summer Camp

Every year, thousands of children in California head off to summer camp, filled with anticipation about midnight treats and sing-alongs, and endless days of freedom. For many children, summer camp is also where they are introduced to sexual abuse.

This summer, try to ensure that the camp that your child is attending has a safe environment. It’s not always easy to determine that a camp does not contain fertile conditions for abuse. In recent years, California sexual abuse attorneys have come across instances of abuse occurring at camps run by the Boy Scouts, or by conservative Christian groups. Simply put, there's no way you can be 100% sure that the threat of abuse in your child's life is completely eliminated at camp.

When you are checking out a camp, ask questions to ensure that personnel who are working at the camp have been put through a background verification and screening process. All camp staff members and volunteers must have been put through a complete criminal background check.
That includes a Megan's Law screening. Ask the camp operators whether and how they check a staff member’s references. Staff members at the camp must have been trained to watch out for signs of sexual abuse.

Ask questions about specifics. Ideally, more than one adult counselor should be assigned to sleep in a single cabin. No camp staff member should have the authority to take a child to an isolated place for any reason.

Before your child leaves for summer camp, make sure that he knows all the steps he needs to keep himself safe. If any staff member, older camper or any adult at the facility is trying to get your child alone or is making him uncomfortable or trying to touch him inappropriately, he needs to tell another adult immediately.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Santa Cruz Experiments with Predictive Policing

An experiment in law-enforcement in Santa Cruz, California is being watched closely not just by San Diego criminal defense lawyers, but also law-enforcement agencies across the country. The Santa Cruz Police Department is currently undertaking a “predictive policing” experiment, using a computer system that predicts crimes in certain areas before they occur, thereby leading police officers to the spot.

Such computerized predictive systems are in use in many cities across the country. However, those systems are older and calibrated less frequently. The system currently being used in Santa Cruz is calibrated on a daily basis which offers police officers fresh information about new crimes. The system generates predictions for which areas and times have the highest risk for crimes based on an analysis of past crimes.

Besides, predictive systems in other parts of the country rely more on human behavior than analysis. Additionally, most other systems that are currently used are based on past crime rates, and not any future projections.

According to the Santa Cruz Police Department, this is an innovative enforcement measure that has become necessary during a time of budget cuts. Around California, law enforcement agencies have been straining under increasingly limited resources. At the Santa Cruz Police Department, the numbers of personnel have declined by 20%, while the number of calls for service have increased by as much as 30%. In a situation like this, there was a need for a system that would ensure a more equitable distribution of the available resources.

The program in Santa Cruz began in July, and will be evaluated after a period of six months. According to police officers, there has already been a decline in the number of burglaries in July compared to the same month last year, suggesting that predictive policing has had some affect. However, it's too early to tell.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Court Rules Madoff Trustee Can Go Ahead with Clawbacks

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit district has handed a major victory to Irving H. Picard, the trustee who was given the unenviable task of overseeing the liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investment firm. The Court has ruled that Picard can go ahead with his original plan of "clawbacks," - requiring "net winners," those who withdrew more than they invested from the scheme, to give up their gains.

Under Picard's plan, investors will be treated differently depending on their gains. Those investors who invested more money than they withdrew from the scheme, would be eligible to file claims for reimbursement. However, those investors who took out more than they invested, will be sued to recover their gains. One of the biggest clawbacks that Picard has attempted is one against the New York Mets. That lawsuit claims approximately $300 million dollars in profit that was recovered from Madoff’s investment firm.

Some San Diego securities lawyers have found that Mr. Picard's plan to deal with different types of investors is more consistent with legal standards than any other methods that have been suggested by investor groups and lawyers. The Court agreed. However, a number of investors targeted by Picard as part of his clawbacks scheme have resisted and have challenged his actions. According to these investors, determining the eligibility of investors must be based on the final account statements that were sent out by Bernie Madoff. However, the Second Circuit has rejected that position, holding that the use of fictitious account statements that showed phantom profits would be absurd.

With this victory, Picard’s plans become stronger and his plans for recovering money from net winners become easier. It doesn't seem likely that the investors who are opposing him would take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, or that the country's highest court would get involved even if they did.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

No Reason Strong Enough to Avoid Wearing Bicycle Helmets

In any accident involving a bicycle and an automobile, it is always a bicyclist who is at risk of being seriously injured. The only protection that a bicyclist has against fatal or serious injuries is a bicycle helmet. A poll by the British Medical Journal points to a number of reasons why bicyclists put off or avoid wearing helmets.

Respondents in the British Medical Journal found a variety of reasons to oppose mandatory bicycle helmets for all adult bicyclists. For one, respondents felt that mandating bicycle helmets for all would discourage more people from taking to bicycling. Everything Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers have seen disputes this fact. In California, where we have mandatory bicycle helmet laws for bicyclists under 18 years old, the number of bicyclists has actually been increasing over the years.

Another reason that respondents gave for opposing bicycle helmet laws is that helmets have not been conclusively proven to reduce the risk of injuries to a bicyclist in an accident. A bicyclist or helmet doesn't offer 100% protection against traumatic brain injury in the event of an accident. However, it may be the only thing standing between a bicyclist and any kind of brain injury. A helmeted bicyclist is several degrees more protected than a non-helmeted one.

Other respondents believe that motorists are less likely to drive carefully around the helmeted cyclists, because they believe that cyclists are better protected in the event of an accident. There is precious little that a bicyclist can do to control motorist behavior. Wearing helmets doesn't affect the decision of a motorist to drive too close to you or make you turn in front of you.

You may find plenty of reasons why you don't need to wear a bicycle helmet, but Los Angeles brain injury lawyers can give you one why you should - they may be the only thing protecting you from serious or even fatal injuries in an accident. Helmets are an inconvenience. However, it would be foolish to risk your life on California's notoriously non-bicycle friendly streets without a helmet.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

History of Psychiatric Illness Predictive of Post Brain Injury Disorders

A new study indicates to Los Angeles brain injury lawyers that certain factors may be predictive of an increased risk of psychiatric illness after a traumatic brain injury. For one, a person with a history of psychiatric illness could be at an increased risk of suffering psychiatric disorders after a traumatic brain injury.

The findings of the study have been published in a report titled Predictive and Associated Factors of Psychiatric Disorders after Traumatic Brain Injury: a Prospective Study in the Journal of Neurotrauma. It suggests that depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric illness could be an indicator for the risk of developing psychiatric disorders after a TBI.

Researchers based their findings on a study involving 122 adults who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and 88 proxy informants. In all patients, psychiatric illnesses were present before the injury as well as one year after the injury. The results showed that individuals who did not have a psychiatric disorder before an injury were less likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders12 months after the injury.

There are other factors that can predict the later development of psychiatric illnesses, including symptoms of psychiatric illness soon after a brain injury, and a simultaneous limb injury.

Patients who suffered a limb injury along with a brain injury had their risk of developing a psychiatric disorder increase by 6.4 times at one year after the injury, compared to patients who had no limb injury. Additionally, the research found that patients who had suffered a concurrent limb injury were specifically predisposed to depression a year after the TBI.

Besides limb injury and pre-TBI psychiatric illness, there were other factors that also increased a person's risk of developing psychiatric disorders after an injury. Persons who were unemployed, had a poor quality of life, and poor coping skills, were more likely to develop psychiatric illnesses after a TBI.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Stay at Home Fathers More Likely to Divorce

Fathers who choose to stay at home while their spouses go to work, are part of a widespread trend. In fact, the number of such men is expected to increase over the next few years, while the number of stay-at-home mothers declines. However, such fathers may be at a much higher risk of divorce. A recent study that has just been published in the American Journal of Sociology indicates that stay-at-home dads may have a distinct disadvantage as far as matrimonial happiness is concerned.

The study analyzed data from more than 3,600 couples. These couples were analyzed in a National Surveys of Families and Households study. The researchers found that unemployed men, who choose to stay at home to raise the children while their spouses went out to work, were at a much higher risk of divorce, compared to men who were employed full time. In fact, these men were just as likely to be served with divorce papers, as to be the one filing for divorce. The study also confirms that it's not unhappiness that is a predictor of divorce for men, but unemployment.

Among other things, the study indicates that women who are the primary breadwinners of the family, are more likely to feel unhappy in a relationship than stay-at-home mothers. However, the researchers hasten to add that the results of the study don't indicate that women's employment is a major predictive factor in the risk of divorce.

Researchers and Pasadena divorce lawyers are a bit surprised by the results of the study. Going into the study, the researchers believed that unhappy, but employed men are much more likely to leave a marriage. The survey doesn't seem to indicate this at all. On the contrary, it seems to indicate that unemployment and not unhappiness is the deciding factor in whether men decide to file for divorce.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Study Finds Higher Stroke Risk after Brain Injury

Every year, an approximate 1.7 million people in the United States suffer a brain injury, most of these caused by falls and auto accidents. A new study indicates that people who have suffered a brain injury may be at a higher risk of suffering a stroke.

The association between traumatic brain injury and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has not been unknown to San Fernando Valley car accident lawyers. However, research that has just been published in the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association which indicates that patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury also have a much higher risk of stroke within three months after the injury. The stroke risk increases ten times during this period.

The researchers found that after a period of one year, the stroke risk drops to 4.6 times that of patients with no traumatic brain injury. After five years, the stroke risk drops to 2.3 times that of patients without a brain injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, 1.7 million brain injuries are reported in the United States. Out of these, the majority, or slightly more than 35%, occur in fall accidents. Motor vehicle and car accidents are the second biggest factor in traumatic brain injury, accounting for 17.3 % of injuries every year. Other causes of brain injury include sports accidents, and assaults.

Even a moderate brain injury can leave a person with significantly reduced cognitive and mental capabilities, and memory impairment. There may be dramatic behavioral changes like extreme mood swings, agitation, clinical depression and frustration. Long-term side effects may include problems with communication and speaking. Research into brain injury treatment has stagnated over the past decade, with little hope of a cure for sight for persons who have suffered severe brain injury.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Unusual Breathing Disorders Detected in Veterans Returning from Afghanistan, Iraq

A new study blames unverified chemical toxins in the Middle East for a rare new breathing disorder that is being detected in many veterans who are returning from duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study, which has just been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that many soldiers returning from combat zones are showing signs of breathing problems that are quite rare for otherwise healthy young adults.

The researchers evaluated about eighty soldiers who reported respiratory difficulties during exercise. The soldiers, who had returned from combat zones, were suddenly unable to meet the fitness standards that they easily met before their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Several of the soldiers confirmed to the researchers that they had been exposed to smoke from a sulfur mine in Mosul, Iraq in 2003. However, not all the soldiers had been exposed to the smoke.

The researchers put the soldiers through physical and lung examinations and high resolution CT scans. Forty-nine of the soldiers were put through additional lung biopsies. All 49 biopsies showed abnormal results, and out of the 49, 38 showed signs of constrictive bronchitis. CT scans found that the soldiers with constructive bronchitis had nodules in their lungs. However, all of these veterans had normal chest x-rays.

The researchers are concluding that exposure to a variety of toxins in the Middle East has led to the development of a respiratory disorder that doesn't show up during normal diagnostic tests.

California veterans’ lawyers
know that it’s not unusual for veterans returning from combat to suffer from breathing problems. However, researchers have been at a loss to explain an increase in respiratory disorder symptoms, like shortness of breath even when there are no other underlying conditions, like asthma or allergic rhinitis.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

AAI Asks Federal Agencies to Investigate Nortel Patent Sale

The American Antitrust Institute is asking federal regulators to investigate the purchase of Nortel patents by a group that includes Apple, Microsoft and Sony. The American Antitrust Institute believes that the sale of the patents possibly imply a collusion against Google’s Android operating system.

The group, calling itself Rockstar Bidco, comprises Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony and EMC. The group spent more than $4.5 billion, and outbid Google, to win the entire portfolio of Nortel patents. There are more than 6,000 patents included in the portfolio, most of them involving wireless technology, social networking and search technologies. It is a huge amount to spend on patents, and California patent infringement lawyers believe that it was the potential for insurance against future litigation, that was the driving force behind the group's bid.

Antitrust advocates have been concerned about the sale, because it is possible that improper business practices were at work here. The group, which consists solely of Google’s rivals, can use these patents to attack the Android operating system. There is also the fear that having access to the portfolio of Nortel patents also provides these companies a defense against potential patent infringement lawsuits in the future, giving them a possibly unfair advantage. None of the members of the group, with the exception of Sony, support the Android operating system.

Google is also concerned about the sale of the patent portfolio to the group. Google's initial bid for the patents was $900 million, and the patents ultimately sold for more than five times that amount. It indicates the high value of these patents for search and networking, 4G and other wireless technologies. The amount of money involved in this sale indicates their importance to Los Angeles patent litigation lawyers, especially in the volatile and litigious environment that currently exists in the tech industry.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Copper Surfaces Can Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections by 40%

Hospital-acquired infections are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Preventing these infections has become an emergency matter, and Arizona medical malpractice lawyers have been monitoring studies and trials into the best practices for preventing infections. The results of new clinical trials show that the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care units can help reduce hospital-infection rates by 40%. These copper surfaces can kill about 97% of bacteria that are responsible for these infections.

Those findings came from clinical trials conducted in the United States, and only confirmed recommendations by researchers at three American hospitals four years ago. Those recommendations had suggested that replacing surfaces in intensive care units with antimicrobial copper could substantially reduce bacterial growth on the surfaces, and reduce the risk of infections.

The new study, which has just been presented at the World Health Organization’s First International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control, was sponsored by the Department of Defense. It confirms that the benefits of preventing hospital-acquired infections through the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces are tremendous.

The hospitals involved in the study were required to replace items like bed rails, IV poles, nurse call buttons and other frequently used objects inside a patient's room, with antimicrobial copper surfaces. One particular site, the Medical University of South Carolina found a 97% reduction in surface bacteria. The researchers found that the use of copper objects substantially enhanced cleaning procedures.

According to the researchers, bacteria on intensive care unit surfaces are responsible for 80% of all infections contracted by patients in a hospital. Therefore, sterility of these surfaces is extremely important in reducing the risk of infections in a hospital. The usual procedures to sterilize hospital surfaces have limited efficacy in preventing the growth of bacteria and the spread of infections.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Antilock Brakes Would Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

It’s been no secret to Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys that motorcycle manufacturers have lagged behind the auto industry when it comes to making vehicles safer. This has contributed to disproportionately high numbers of motorcycle accidents every year, when compared to auto accidents.

The auto industry has invested heavily in safety technologies that can prevent car accidents and minimize injuries in an auto accident. This has contributed substantially to the lowering rates of auto accident fatalities over the past decade. Americans are driving cars that are safer than they were a decade ago. Seat belts, side airbags, electronic stability control systems - all of these have helped minimize the risk of serious injuries and helped prevent car accidents.

In contrast, the motorcycle industry has failed to keep pace with the growing need for safety devices. There are more motorcyclists on our roads now than they were a couple of decades ago, and that has increased the number of accidents involving motorcyclists. In this scenario, it makes sense for the motorcycle industry to invest in accident prevention technology.

One such technology is antilock braking systems for motorcycles. There are studies to indicate that anti-lock braking systems can help prevent certain types of motorcycle crashes, such as when a motorcycle rider applies the brakes at high speeds.

The National Transportation Safety Board has urged motorcycle manufacturers to do more to enhance the safety of their bikes. Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released the results of a study which showed that motorcycles equipped with anti-lock brakes were involved in 37% fewer fatal motorcycle accidents.

Some motorcycle manufacturers have heeded the call of the NTSB. BMW recently made anti-lock braking systems standard on motorcycles beginning with the 2012 model year. However, the difference between the auto industry and the motorcycle industry is stark when it comes to investing in safety. The difference needs to narrow if we are to see any reduction in motorcycle accident fatalities over the next few years.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Drug Offenders in Federal Prisons May Be Eligible for Release after Sentencing Decision

Thousands of crack offenders currently lodged in federal prisons may soon be released after a decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to apply a new law retroactively.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to retroactively apply the law that would reduce penalties for possession of crack cocaine. The decision by the panel which came after a 6-0 vote, would affect more than 12,000 prison inmates in the country. That makes it approximately one out of every 17 inmates in federal prisons in the United States.

Last year, Congress approved reduced sentences for crack cocaine offenses, by changing an earlier law. That law had been criticized because it allowed for stronger punishments for crack offenses, which are common in poor and predominantly black neighborhoods.

However, the question about whether the new change in the law would apply retroactively to people already locked up for crack offenses, was left unresolved. This week, the U.S. Sentencing Commission handed down its decision. The controversy over the decision has already begun. Some lawmakers are opposed to the decision to apply the law retroactively to people already in federal prison for these offenses.

Earlier, a person convicted of possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine, could face a sentence of five years, while possession of 50 grams of cocaine would result in a prison sentence of at least 10 years. However, over the years, San Diego criminal defense attorneys have found that these laws have been used exclusively to target members of the black community. Most people currently lodged in federal prisons after being convicted for crack cocaine offenses are African-American.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pickup Truck Driver in California Accident Was Distracted

The California Highway Patrol believes that the pickup truck driver involved in a bicycle accident in Modesto was distracted at the time. The victim was a 48-year-old man who was struck by the truck, as he was trying to cross the road. The bicyclist sustained fatal injuries. The California Highway Patrol does not believe that alcohol or drug use was involved in this crash. Investigations into the accident are still on.

There is little information about the kind of distractions that were involved here. Distracted driving however, can involve anything from snacking to texting while driving and a whole range of practices in between. There's plenty of heated debate about what kind of distracted driving actually increases the risks of an accident. Broadly however, the consensus is that any behavior that takes your eyes away from the road and your hands off the steering wheel increases your risks of being involved in a car accident. Changing CDs while driving, fiddling with radio stations, applying makeup while driving - all of this can be distracting behavior.

However, much of the focus on the accident risks from distracted driving has centered on texting while driving. Studies have shown that texting while driving increases the risk of an accident by as much as 23 times. While the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that proved the increased risks of texting while driving is widely quoted, Los Angeles car accident lawyers are aware of other studies that have shown a link between a distracted mind and an increased risk of accidents. In other words, having a conversation on a handset while driving can increase your risks of an accident because your mind is focused on the conversation that you're having on your cell phone. It is this lack of attention that increases your accident risks.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Report Blames Social Upheaval for Scandals

A report by the Catholic Church into the reasons for widespread sexual abuse involving clergy members during the ‘60s and ‘70s, blames the abuse on those tumultuous times. To Los Angeles sexual abuse attorneys, this seems like an attempt by church authorities to blame external factors for the shameful behavior of clergymen.

The report, which was paid for by bishops, was based on research by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. The report, which was released in May, concludes that many of the incidents involving sexual abuse of children that occurred in the ‘60s and ‘70s coincided with periods of social upheaval and changing sexual mores. According to the report, these dramatic changes confused clergymen, causing them to act in ways that were inappropriate.

Additionally, according to the report, there was an increase in the incidence of behaviors like drug use and premarital sex during these decades, and this confused priests, contributing to horrible crimes committed against kids. The report says that the increased incidences of sexual abuse involving priests in the ‘60s and ‘70s simply reflected the changing social and sexual mores of the day.

Much of the reason that clergy sexual abuse was so widespread in the past decades was the lack of information about the existence of such abuse. Not too many victims were willing to come forward with stories about what really happened in Sunday schools or after altar duties.

Additionally, many dioceses had well-established policies in place that simply shuffled pedophile priests from church to church when their deviant behaviors were exposed, instead of removing them from the priesthood altogether. This created an environment that fostered concealment of clergy abuse, and gave other priests the confidence to engage in similar practices, knowing that the Church would turn a blind eye.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

VA Lets down Vets with Mental Health Conditions

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ notorious inefficiencies have meant that veterans returning home from battle zones with severe post traumatic stress disorder and other mental conditions don't have access to the kind of professional mental services they need.

By some estimates, the veteran death toll from suicides is much greater than the toll from combat. However, gross inefficiencies, delays, and red tape deny vets the kind of mental health assistance they need.

In May, a federal appeals court judge ordered the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to undertake a complete overhaul of its mental health care system. The judge accused the Department of Veterans’ Affairs of incompetence, saying that the agency was violating vets’ constitutional rights of free health care benefits. The lawsuit had been filed by veterans groups that argued that that there are systemic delays in evaluating and treating vets returning from combat zones with mental health problems.

VA disability benefit lawyers have come across several cases involving veterans who did not receive the mental health care they needed, with tragic results. Many of these cases have ended in suicide. A service member returning from a battle zone is very likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition characterized by anxiety and depression.

When a veteran seeks help from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, he's introduced to a long and cumbersome process before his mental healthcare referral is approved. In some cases, vets have had to wait for months before they received a referral, and these delays have been critical for their health.

According to VA statistics, approximately 18 veterans commit suicide every day. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been aware of these horrible statistics, but has not streamlined the process of approving veterans' disability benefits.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Diabetes Drug Actos Linked to Bladder Cancer

An analysis of the Food and Drug Administration database indicates that people who take the anti-type II diabetes drug Actos may be at a higher risk of suffering bladder cancer.

According to the analysis, between 2004 and 2009, more than 500,000 adverse reactions were recorded among people who took the anti-diabetes drug. Out of these reports, there were at least 138 instances of bladder cancer. However, more than 1/5th of the cancer patients were on Actos. This suggests that patients who take Actos to contain their diabetes may have a disproportionately high risk of developing bladder cancer, compared to patients who take one of the other 15 different anti-diabetes drugs.

However, the researchers caution against reading too much into the study. Persons who are on certain medications may develop conditions as a result of the medication, but that does not necessarily mean that they are at a high risk of that condition. In other words, the statistics are not an authoritative indicator that Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer among users. However, the analysis does indicate the need for further research. While there is no confirmed link between an increased risk of bladder cancer and Actos, the disproportionate risk of developing cancer indicates a possible risk.

The Food and Drug Administration has been aware of this possible risk of developing cancer from Actos for a while now. Last year, the agency began a review of the drug after it received results from a study conducted by the manufacturer of Actos, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. The manufacturer’s study indicated that patients with the longest exposure to Actos, and those with who took cumulative dosages of the drug had an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

California pharmaceutical liability attorneys would advise patients on Actos not to stop taking the medicine immediately. Instead, consult with your doctor to evaluate the risks of taking the medication, compared to the benefits before making a decision.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Los Angeles Cop Awarded $1.1 Million in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case

An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department has been awarded $1.1 million by a jury in his gay bias lawsuit. Sgt. Ronald Crump alleged in his lawsuit that he was transferred from the Los Angeles Department Media Relations Section in 2009 after he complained about the way he was treated by his boss over his sexual orientation. The lawsuit alleged that this mistreatment left Sgt. Crump with the short end of the stick as far as pay increases and promotions were concerned.

The Los Angeles Police Department denied that there was any mistreatment of Sgt. Crump, and said that he had worked for several months in the Media Relations section before he complained about the ill-treatment. Further, according to the lawyers for the LAPD, Sgt. Crump did not lose any pay when he was transferred to the Media Relations Section, where he currently earns more than $100,000 annually.

Sgt. Crump, who has worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for over 16 years, said he needed to file the sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit to help other employees in the same position who may be treated badly because of their sexual orientation. According to Crump, he never made it a point to publicize his sexual orientation in the workplace.

California’s laws strongly protect persons from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. There are currently no federal laws that protect gays and lesbians from sexual orientation discrimination. However, California's laws under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ban discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation.

These laws are not just for gays and lesbians. These laws protect heterosexuals, homosexuals, gay and lesbian individuals as well as transgender persons and transsexuals. Employees who find that they are discriminated against in the workplace should contact a California employment discrimination lawyer who can bring a claim for sexual harassment or even gender discrimination. Employers who pay a gay or lesbian employee less than their straight coworkers, or refuse to hire a gay or lesbian employee, or fail to promote an employee because of sexual orientation may all be guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Feds Revise Motorcycle Helmet Labeling Requirements to Reduce Accident Deaths

While California motorcycle accident lawyers stress that wearing helmets can reduce a motorcyclist’s risk of being injured in an accident, the fact is that thousands of motorcyclists are injured in accidents every year even though they were wearing helmets at the time. Many of these injuries are caused because the helmets were less than effective in protecting the motorcyclist. The federal government is now targeting manufacturers of counterfeit helmets that come with labels that look similar to Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is targeting the makers of so-called novelty helmets. These helmets have become increasing popular over the past few years, and pose a huge risk to motorcycle riders who may be unaware that the helmets do little to protect them from injuries in an accident. These helmets do not meet safety standards for motorcycle helmets set by the Department of Transportation.

The helmets often come with labels that are very similar to the labels that appear on helmets approved by the Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation issues safety labels for helmets that meet the safety standards set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. This label indicates that the helmet has been tested for impact absorption, strap strength, resistance to penetration and other markers of safety. Often, manufacturers of novelty helmets simply stick on a label that claims that the helmet meets these standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found during testing that novelty motorcycle helmets fail almost all of the testing standards set down in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new rules will include the wording “DOT FMVSS 218 Certified,” the name of the manufacturer and model number on the label. The agency believes this will reduce the incidences of counterfeiting of helmets, protecting motorcyclists.

Many Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys would support the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's latest moves towards protecting motorcyclists. We would also like to see more initiatives aimed at cracking down on motorists who fail to look out for motorcyclists and indulge in other behaviors that are dangerous to motorcyclists.

Friday, 20 May 2011

How an Illegal Search and Seizure can Impact your Criminal Case

The solid defense of a criminal case in California can often depend on your San Diego criminal defense lawyer proving the illegality of the search and seizure that was conducted prior to an arrest.

A search warrant can be used by a law enforcement officer to search your property, including your home, your car, or your office. The search warrant has to be signed by a judge, and gives permission to law enforcement officers to enter a property to look for certain specific items. A search warrant cannot be issued unless there is probable cause, or reason to believe, that the person person committed a crime. A search warrant will be issued if a judge is convinced that it's likely that a crime has taken place, and that evidence connected with the crime is likely to be found on the property. The information that a judge uses to issue a search warrant must be reliable.

A search warrant is also addressed to the person whose house is being searched and informs him that a judge has given permission for his property to be searched for evidence of illegal activity. A search warrant is quite different from an arrest warrant.

The search warrant must specify the exact areas to be searched. However, in some cases, the search may be extended throughout the property in other areas that are not mentioned in the warrant. Police will also retain evidence discovered during the search.

However, there are very strict legal procedures that must be followed during every search and seizure. If the search and seizure is illegal, then any evidence that has been obtained during the search must be suppressed, even if it involves illegal activity. If you're facing criminal charges based on evidence that was obtained during an illegal search and seizure, then a California criminal defense lawyer can help prove that the search of the property and seizure of any items was illegal.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Can Better Early Education Programs Lower Crime Rates?

San Diego criminal defense attorneys are not surprised by a new study which found a link between better early childhood education and lower crime rates. The study, based on the results of an analysis conducted by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, is being used by prominent California lawmakers to promote early childhood education programs.

The results of the study were discussed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego’s police chief, and several other local law enforcement officers. According to the study report, investments in better early education can help authorities save time and money later down the line in reduced criminal justice costs.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids has a novel approach to crime fighting. According to the bipartisan organization, which consists of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and attorney generals, policymakers need to support the provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which encourages states to incorporate early learning into the educational structure. According to the promoters of the act, with preschool funding, state and local schools can have high quality early child education programs in place.

Investing in early childhood education is more important for this generation of Americans than ever before. The family continues to remain a child's number one bastion against future crime, but there are more single parent families in America now than there have ever been in the past. In a situation like this, schools must take over as guardians for growing children. With stronger funding for preschool systems, schools can implement developed and targeted early education programs that pay off. These programs can help children to be ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten. Children can learn social skills, and develop the strong literacy skills they need to avoid turning to criminal activities later.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

CHP DUI Warrant Task Force in Solano County

The California Highway Patrol is getting tougher on persons with outstanding DUI warrants in Solano County. The agency has announced a DUI warrant crackdown in the form of a task force. According to the California Highway Patrol, the taskforce will target those persons who did not complete necessary actions when charged with a DUI, such as failing violating parole or failure to appear in court.

The California Highway Patrol DUI task force will be after persons in Solano County who failed to appear before a judge or violated probation after being charged with DUI. The task force has quite a task ahead of it. It currently has more than 330,000 misdemeanor and felony warrants related to DUI to work on. The funding is courtesy a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The task force will continue working through September 30.

This is an aggressive approach to DUI, and Pasadena DUI defense attorneys believe that there will be more than a few persons in Solano County with pending DUI warrants on their record, who may a have nasty surprise when they're driving over the next few weeks.

However, it's not too late to set things right. The California Highway Patrol warns persons who have outstanding DUI warrants to turn themselves in at their local CHP office.

A DUI conviction in California is no laughing matter. The state has some of the toughest laws in the country against driving under the influence, and without an expert DUI lawyer on your side, you may end up being convicted for DUI. Punishment can include penalties, fines, and even a prison term. A DUI conviction on your record can interfere with your employment and future education prospects, as well as your social and professional lives.

Friday, 13 May 2011

New Version of Trucker Safety Bill Introduced in Congress

A new version of Jason’s Law, which would target the shortage of safe rest areas and truck stops for truck drivers, has been introduced in Congress. Representatives Paul Tonko, Democrat-New York and Erik Paulsen, Republican-Minnesota have introduced the revised version of the bill. The bill would enhance trucker access to rest areas and help truckers have a safe place to park when they need to rest.

Jason’s Law is named after Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was killed during an attempted robbery as he parked his tractor trailer at an abandoned gas station. He had found no other place to park his truck safely that night. His widow has spearheaded efforts to pass Jason’s Law, which would provide for the establishment of safe rest areas and truck stops for truck drivers.

Under the law, the federal government would provide $20 million annually for six years, and the money would be used for initiatives to improve the current network of truck stops around the country.

The funds would be used for:
  • Construction of new rest areas including safe parking areas
  • Construction of new parking facilities for commercial motor vehicles next to existing rest areas
  • Promoting the availability of safe truck parking on the National Highway System
  • Construction of turnouts along the National Highway System
  • Improving the state commercial motor vehicle parking facilities currently in existence
  • Enhancing the design of interchanges on the National Highway System so as to facilitate greater access to rest areas
  • Maintenance of existing rest areas and parking facilities for truckers

The bill has been supported not just by trucking industry groups, but also Los Angeles truck accident lawyers. The American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association have both voiced their support for the bill.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Darvocet and the Risk of Cardiac Injuries

It was only last November that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals recalled the painkiller Darvocet from the American market. Side effects associated with the use of the drug had been evident for a while, but the Food and Drug Administration for unknown reasons, chose to wait until 2010 before pressuring Xanodyne to recall the painkiller.

The most common side effects associated with the use of the drug are cardiac injuries. These injuries involve not just heart failure and heart attacks, but also other types of cardiac injuries, including
• Congestive heart failure
• Cardiac arrhythmia
• Cardiac depression
• Bradycardia
• Tachycardia

Besides cardiac injuries, Darvocet has also been linked to other kinds of side effects. For instance, there have been allegations that the use of the painkiller has caused gastrointestinal dysfunction and psychiatric disorders in patients, including suicidal tendencies and suicidal fantasies. Besides, Darvocet is also among a group of opiate drugs that has come under scrutiny for their addition risks. The Food and Drug Administration is currently involved in measures to reduce the risk of injury from the use of prescription drugs, including addiction and overdose risks.

Considering the popularity of Darvocet since the 1950s when it was first released on the American market, there may be people in the country who are at risk of Darvocet injuries, and don't even know it.

Considering the wide range of side effects and injuries that Darvocet is associated with, a patient who has been on Darvocet or Darvon painkillers for an extended period of time, would do well to consult with a Darvocet injury lawyer. Connecting your symptoms to the use of the medication can be difficult unless you have legal expertise on your side.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Study Suggests Antidepressants Can Help Treat TBI

A new study indicates to Los Angeles brain injury lawyers that the use of antidepressants, common after a brain injury because of the high risk of depression among these patients, may not only help treat these emotional problems, but also actually treat the brain injury itself.

Depression is a frequent side effect of a traumatic brain injury, and doctors have typically prescribed antidepressants to help patients with these symptoms. However, this study shows that antidepressants can not only help treat symptoms of depression, but also help brain cells survive and thrive, which is critical for the treatment of brain injury.

In the study, whose results have been published in the Journal of Neurotrauma this month, researchers found that mice with brain injuries showed substantially improved memory, and increased brain function after they were treated with antidepressants. The researchers induced traumatic brain injury in the mice, and treated them with antidepressants. They found that after about four weeks, the mice that had been treated with antidepressants showed 70% more brain cells than those mice that did not receive the antidepressant therapy.

The researchers also conducted an object recognition test to understand whether the antidepressants contributed to any enhanced brain functioning. The mice were shown new objects, and the researchers analyzed how long the mice stared at the objects. If the mice stared at a particular object for a long time, then it indicated enhanced memory, because of the novelty of the object. The researchers found that the mice that were given the antidepressant therapy spent an average of about 15% more time looking at the new objects. However, the researchers also found that the use of antidepressants didn't seem to help much with mobility and motor functions.

More research is needed to confirm the benefits of antidepressant therapy on the treatment of TBI. These initial findings look promising, and could possibly benefit patients with mild or moderate brain injury.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Poll Shows Most Americans Want Hospitals to Be Frank about Errors, Infections

When it comes to hospital safety, most Americans don't believe that ignorance is bliss. That information comes from a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, which shows that most Americans want hospitals to be upfront about errors and infection rates. The poll also suggests that Americans want to know how individual hospitals are faring when it comes to patient safety.

The poll, which was conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, had few surprises for Arizona medical malpractice attorneys. The poll found that more than three quarters of the respondents had high to moderate concerns about they or their family member being injured by a hospital-acquired infection. About 71% of respondents were also concerned about being injured or a family member being injured by a medication error. Approximately two thirds of respondents worried about surgical errors. 96% of the respondents believed that hospitals should be required to inform the state health department about medical errors that take place in their facilities. 82% believed that the public should have access to such information as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year in the U.S., there are approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections, and these cause approximately 90,000 deaths. Reducing hospital-acquired infections has posed an enormous challenge for hospitals. Many states have required hospitals to report their infection data. States like New Jersey have been proactive in making this information available to the public on a website.

A system that makes hospital error and infection data available to the public is a system that allows for more accountability by the hospital. In Arizona however, vested interests have succeeded in ensuring that safety information is not easily accessible to the public. The argument against open disclosure of hospital errors and infection numbers is that such open disclosure would place pressure on the hospital to deal with public perception of these numbers, rather than dealing with the problem itself.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Even William and Kate Need a Pre-Nup

Everyone loves a fairytale wedding, but the future king and queen of England would do well to remember that even fairytale weddings can go wrong. In fact, a royal wedding which involves a large amount of wealth, properties, and titles, would probably start off on a more solid footing if it included a prenuptial agreement.

There are enough warning signs to Pasedena family law lawyers in Prince William's own family to suggest that a prenuptial agreement would not just be advisable here, but absolutely necessary. The official terms of his parents’ divorce were not made public, but according to some financial advisors of his parents, his mother Diana, the late Princess of Wales, ended up with a 17 million pound settlement, which accounted for a large portion of his father's personal fortune.

In case of a divorce in the future, Catherine Middleton shouldn't be so sure that her interests will be protected as well. In the case of the divorce of Prince Andrew from his wife Sarah Ferguson, she was left with an 800,000 pounds settlement. Considering that she had been a royal bride and the financial status of the Windsors, it was a pitifully small settlement, and predictably enough, she was soon struggling financially.

The stiff British upper lip has meant that few people in that country accept the need for prenuptial agreements. The Royal family has not made an official comment about the presence of any prenuptial agreement. However, other European royals, most notably Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria who recently married her personal trainer, have been very sensible and signed solid prenuptial agreements. Under the terms of Victoria’s prenuptial agreement, in case of a divorce, her husband receives half of their private household possessions, but he has no claims on her inheritance or the throne.