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.