The Texas Senate gave final passage on Friday to one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, legislation championed by Gov. Rick Perry, who rallied the Republican-controlled Legislature late last month after a Democratic filibuster blocked the bill and intensified already passionate resistance by abortion-rights supporters.
The bill, which Mr. Perry is expected to sign, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and holds abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers, among other requirements. Its supporters say that the strengthened requirements for the structures and doctors will protect women’s health; opponents argue that the restrictions are actually intended to put financial pressure on the clinics that perform abortions and will force many of them to shut their doors.
Debate over the bill has ignited fierce exchanges between lawmakers, and tense confrontations between opponents of the bill, who have worn orange, and supporters of the bill wearing blue. Signs and slogans have been everywhere, bearing long, impassioned arguments or the simple scrawl on a young man’s orange shirt, a Twitter-esque “@TXLEGE: U R dumb.”
The bill had come nearly this far before: a version had been brought to the Senate in the previous session of the Legislature, in June, and was killed by State Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, with an 11-hour filibuster that stalled the bill until after the deadline for ending the session. The filibuster became an overnight sensation on Twitter and other forms of social media, with more than 180,000 people viewing the filibuster live online.
Almost immediately, however, Governor Perry called for another special session to reconsider the bill. When the bill passed the House of Representatives after a contentious day and a half of proposed amendments and floor debate, Mr. Perry said he looked forward to the next step of the process, as “the Senate continues its important work in support of women’s health and protecting the lives of our most vulnerable Texans.”
The fight has been heavy with symbols. The House bill’s author, Representative Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican from Parker, dangled a pair of baby shoes before her as she spoke on Tuesday; Representative Senfronia Thompson, who offered an early amendment to the bill, was flanked by colleagues holding wire hangers, representing the brutal abortion methods they said would return if legitimate clinics were run out of business.
Ms. Laubenberg has said that the bill would close no facilities, adding, “It is time these clinics put patients ahead of profits.”
Supporters of the bill in the Legislature have been angered by the language of their opponents. During floor debate on Tuesday, Representative Jason Villalba, a Republican of Dallas, said that “I shall stand with Texas women, but I shall stand here no longer and be accused of conducting a ‘war on women.’ ” He said “we care for and we fight for human baby lives,” and he showed a sonogram of his own child at 13 weeks. “I will fight, and I will fight, and I will fight to protect my baby,” he said.
The bill is opposed by many doctors, including leaders of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Texas Medical Association; the gynecologists’ group has run advertisements locally that question the scientific underpinnings of the legislation and tell legislators to “Get out of our exam rooms.”
The Senate took up the bill on Friday afternoon, but people had begun lining up for seats in the third-floor Senate gallery early in the morning, a line that stretched from that floor into the basement of the Capitol. Department of Public Safety officers, their numbers swelled in anticipation of crowds and tumult, searched every bag and confiscated anything that could be thrown — including, for part of the day and until the practice became an object of derision online, tampons. But Department of Public Safety officials stated that the searches had turned up jars “suspected to contain” urine, feces and paint, along with glitter and confetti.
Senators worked through the evening surrounded by tumult and ruckus. Shouts, chants and singing could be heard outside of the chamber, and as the final amendment was voted down protesters tried to chain themselves to the railing of the Senate gallery and were taken out.
Though defeated in the Legislature, State Senator Royce West, a Democrat who represents Dallas, said the next step was clear: the ink from Mr. Perry’s signature on the bill is not likely to be dry for long before a lawsuit is filed.
“I’m a lawyer,” Mr. West said. “The reality is, I’m used to being in court. We believe the whole thing is unconstitutional.”
Mr. West would not comment on any specific legal strategy, but the many amendments and discussion of them during deliberations over the bill were clearly intended to build a record that could eventually be reviewed by the courts.
The Democrats who opposed the bill never had the votes to defeat it — Mr. West, during discussion of proposed amendments, said, “We know the bill is going to pass.” But State Senator Kirk Watson, the chairman of the Senate Democratic caucus, posted a Facebook photo on Wednesday of an orange T-shirt with a slogan about why the fight has continued. It read: “A foregone conclusion has never stopped a group of citizens committed to ideals of democracy and liberty from taking a stand and fighting with everything they’ve got. This is Texas, baby. Remember the Alamo.”
A former soap actor has told how he transformed his body in just twelve weeks, losing 34lbs in weight and nine inches from his waist.
Scott Wright – who played stripper Sam Kingston in Coronation Street – went from being a ‘gut bucket’ to having his dream Men’s Health body by following a strict diet and doing short-burst, high-intensity workouts.
He documented his weight loss in a series of pictures taken weekly as his body got more and more toned.
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Scott Wright – who played stripper Sam Kingston in Coronation Street – went from being a ‘gut bucket’ to having his dream Men’s Health body by following a strict diet and doing short-burst, high-intensity workouts
The pictures show how he started off with a pot belly and transformed into a muscle man.
Before getting into shape, Mr Wright would eat up to eight Kit Kat Chunky bars a day – with 218 calories in each bar, this meant he was eating 1,744 calories of chocolate a day.
He decided to make changes to his lifestyle but even as he was pumping iron and working out daily at the gym, he admits there was the occasional lapse.
Early on, he says that he cracked and ate two family-sized packs of McVities Chocolate Digestives in one 4,300 calorie binge.
However, after that he knuckled down and lost 34lbs – going down from 14st 6lb to 12st – and his waist measurement went down from 37in to just 28in.
Perhaps most startling of all was his reduction in body fat – from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.
He documented his weight loss in a series of pictures taken weekly as his body got more and more toned
The 38-year-old said: ‘I looked awful before I lost the weight. I was incredibly lethargic and completely ashamed of my man boobs and pot belly.
‘I had always been proud of my body and had worked as a fitness trainer keeping stars like Kerry Katona in shape.
‘But I had let myself go big-time. Chocolate was my big weakness and I would not think twice about scoffing eight Kit Kat Chunkys in a day.
‘I’d just eat one after another, nibbling off the chocolate first before scoffing the wafer.
‘It took its toll on my body and I ended up in the worst shape of my life.’
As a result, at Easter, Mr Wright set himself task – get a body like a model by the start of the summer and record the whole painful process in a series of photographs.
Mr Wright believes a key factor in his body transformation was his daily use of Forza Supplements’ fat burning and recovery pills – Garcinia-C diet capsules in particular.
Now he has achieved his goal – and proudly showed off his new body.
Mr Wright is pictured (left) just before he started his diet and exercise regime. He is pictured (right) at the end of the first month of the programme
He is pictured (left) after dieting for six weeks. He is also seen (right) at the end of the second month
He said: ‘I didn’t just want to look good, I wanted to look amazing.
‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw the pictures. I’d achieved all my goals and vowed that I would never get out of shape again.
‘I would have lost more weight but I’d bulked up with lots more muscle, which is heavier than fat.’
However, he admitted that it was tough cutting back on his chocolate intake.
He said: ‘I started off determined to stick rigidly to an ultra-low sugar and low fat diet.
‘I tried this approach for five days after which I caved in and smashed two family-sized packs of McVities Chocolate Digestives.
Mr Wright (pictured in Coronation Street in 2000) has now lost 34lbs – going down from 14st 6lb to 12st – and reduced his waist measurement from 37in to just 28in. He believes in that taking daily fat burning and recovery pills by Forza supplements also helped
‘It was a case of going straight back to the drawing board.
‘I can be incredibly weak-willed. My mind plays tricks on me and I have a constant devil on my shoulder telling me to do the wrong thing, “Eat this, drink that”.’
After this setback, Mr Wright stuck rigidly to a diet regime – he did two 20 minutes high intensity workouts during the week, before and after work, and ate carefully before taking a more relaxed approach at weekends.
He explained: ‘I knew I needed a slightly more realistic regime.
‘I have literally had to nurse myself through this whole thing and treat myself like an adult teaching a naughty child.
Before getting into shape, Mr Wright would eat up to eight Kit Kat Chunky bars a day – with 218 calories in each bar, this meant he was eating 1,744 calories of chocolate a day
‘I would eat a fairly strict diet throughout the week and then not put pressure on myself at weekends. If I wanted to eat crap, I would. If I did eat crap, I had to go to the gym or a run afterwards.
‘The key point for me was not to feel hungry. That is when I would reach for the chocolate in the past.
‘What worked for me was cutting my carbohydrate intake right down after noon and replacing it with a slightly higher fat intake – whole eggs and fattier cuts of meat.
‘I made sure I had my fruit and natural sugars in the mornings and I always ate greens a few times a day.
‘Added to this, I drank as much water as possible – between three and four litres daily, and I didn’t leave more than three hours between meals.’
My grandmother clutched the insulated lunch bag with her name written in black marker and looked through the van window at the small brick house where she has lived for over 50 years in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
It was around 7 on a Friday evening, when my family got a call from the van dispatcher. The driver had picked up my grandmother at the senior center she attends each weekday, as usual, but when the van arrived at her house she refused to get off. The home care aide waiting for her couldn’t persuade her to come inside, either. My grandmother Mary, 83, was getting agitated, and so were the other elderly passengers.
My grandmother is one of more than five million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes these patients experience sun-downing, a period of increased confusion and restlessness toward the end of the day, and my grandmother was having one of these episodes. It is hard to know how to handle these situations, but it is best to have family around because patients can say upsetting things or even become physical.
My father is 57, my grandmother’s eldest child, and the first person called when she starts to have an episode. That evening he was at work and wouldn’t have been able to make it to my grandmother’s for another hour. My mother and I were close by and were able to get there quickly — luckily, because if we didn’t, the van company would have called the police. (This has happened before.)
When we arrived that Friday evening, I told my mother to stay in the car while I tried to persuade Grandma to come off the bus. I silently prayed that when my grandmother saw my face, her mood would change.
Alzheimer’s has stolen her recollection of the people closest to her, but the face she always seems to remember is my father’s. His olive complexion, deep brown eyes and wide grin bear a striking resemblance to Grandma’s brother, Joe, who died at the age of 43, decades ago. She will often refer to my father as her brother, but will always call him by his name, Jimmy. I look similar to my father, so I was hoping this would play to my advantage.
When I was younger, my parents would take me to my grandparents’ almost every Sunday, alternating between our maternal and paternal grandparents’ houses. There was always a big Italian dinner with our cousins, all girls on both sides of the family. At Grandma Mary’s and Grandpa Rocky’s, after we all had emptied our plates per Grandma’s orders, my cousins and I would dance along to the music in their jukebox, a rotating mix of old Italian songs, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett along with soundtracks from their favorite mob movies.
On Christmas my father was Santa and even now, though the cousins are all over 18, we make him dress up, because the tradition has become very important to us. My father is a bridge between generations. During family dinners, he would take out old photos of his grandparents and tell us all about them. Even though I never met them, my father has told their stories so many times I can repeat them verbatim. If I drove with you down the stretch of Flatbush Avenue from Kings Plaza to the Brooklyn Bridge, I could probably tell you a story about a milestone in one of my grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ lives by passing certain landmark buildings (thanks, Dad).
On certain holidays we all make a trip to the cemetery. We usually have two cars full of family members, and visit three generations of deceased love ones, all buried in different areas of the cemetery. Dad knows the way to each gravesite. With his storytelling and insistence on family outings, he has taught me and my two sisters that family is a gift as well as a responsibility.
Through the years, we went on a few small weekend trips with my grandparents, parents, aunt, uncle and cousins, but there was one time when my grandfather, Rocky, insisted we all take a cruise. The next year, he died, just a month shy of his 50th wedding anniversary, and after that, my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s grew more apparent. My father and aunt had hard decisions to make about her care. She couldn’t be alone, yet she wasn’t ready (our family wasn’t ready) to put her in a nursing home. It took a while to find home aides who clicked with Grandma, so in between college and part-time jobs, each of the seven granddaughters took a day with Grandma. My father didn’t have to force us; we knew from the way we had been raised that it was our generation’s turn to do our part.
Grandma and I are similar in features, small women with olive skin, deep brown eyes and dark hair. Looking at photos of her as a girl can be haunting, as if I am staring at myself from decades past. My grandmother no longer knows my name, but when she sees me on a good day, she smiles because she knows I belong to her.
Today was not a good day.
The van door stood wide open and the driver was waiting nearby. The lighting onboard was dim; the van smelled like a nursing home or hospital. Some of the other seniors sat quietly; others were starting to complain that they needed to use the restroom and that their families were waiting for them.
I tried to entice Grandma to leave with promises of a big pasta dinner or pizza. I told her that her dog, Crystal, was waiting inside and needed food. Nothing worked and I didn’t know what else to do.
By this time, my mother had suggested to the dispatcher that the driver drop the rest of the passengers off; he had three more stops, all fairly close by. The bus company agreed, but said someone had to stay on the bus with my grandmother. So I sat next to Grandma and stayed quiet as the driver closed the door and hopped back in his seat.
After the first passenger was dropped off, I turned to my grandmother and said hello with a big smile. She smiled back and started talking to me. I asked her about her day and what she had done and saw her mood start to shift. She loves to sing and dance and my family has found this is a great strategy to divert her when she gets agitated. Sometimes it works.
This evening, I was lucky: It was a clear evening and the moon was big and bright. I grabbed Grandma’s hand and pointed it out to her. By the time we drove back around to her house, we were on our second chorus of “That’s Amore.” We were able to get her off the bus with ease; she even thanked the driver. Poor guy, it was his first night on the job.
Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease. It is hard to explain to others, especially to people my own age, because we are visual people, and the dementia’s destruction can’t always be seen physically. I am an advocate for Alzheimer’s treatment, serving as the co-chairwoman for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Brooklyn in September, because I fear the day that someone else I love becomes affected by this disease, for which there is no effective treatment and no cure.
I always wonder how my grandmother would fare if she had no family or if we lived far away. My parents, aunt, uncle, cousins and sisters all know that taking care of Grandma is hard, but we give her the best quality of life we can. Some days are still fun and rewarding and others are incredibly tough but we are all working together. I know my grandfather Rocky would have been pleased.
That night, by the time my father arrived home from work, Grandma was calm and safe at home with her aide. My father often thanks me when I help in these difficult situations. I feel silly being thanked; as he has taught me, this is what family does. My parents have demonstrated over the years how to bring a family together during the best and worst of times. I hope my actions show that I have been listening.
Put on your fishing hat, grab your rod, and get your tackle box ready because it’s time to go fishing for the truth about omega-3 fatty acids. These acids, commonly found in fish, have shown benefits for heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and breast cancer, but scientists have now also found a link between fish oil supplements, childhood allergies, and prostate cancer, according to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and another study from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden published in the journal PLOS ONE.
In 2011, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle discovered that men with high levels of DPA — an anti-inflammatory acid found in fatty acids and fish-oil supplements — were twice as likely to have prostate cancer than men with lower levels. The same researchers now report that they have successfully replicated this finding.
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“We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful,” said Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., the paper’s senior author and member of the Fred Hutch Public Health Sciences Division, in a press release.
The current study observed 834 men with prostate cancer and a control group of 1,393 randomly selected men.
In addition to the previous discovered link with DPA, Dr. Kristal and his team found a link between prostate cancer and two other anti-inflammatory acids found in fish-oil supplements: EPA and DHA. These fatty acids were associated with a 71 percent increase in risk of high grade prostate cancer and a 44 percent increase in risk of low-grade prostate cancer. The overall increase for prostate cancer was 43 percent.
The confirmation of previous results is important, but researchers admit that further research is needed to identify the mechanisms that link fish oil and prostate cancer.
“These studies find correlations, but not always causations,” warned Ashley Barrient MEd, LPC, RD, LDN, at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., who was not affiliated with the study. “More research is needed [to show causation].”
Fish Oils and Childhood Allergies
Similar to the connection between fish oils and prostate cancer, a connection has been found between fish oils and allergies in children, although the mechanism is once again unknown, according to the study from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.
Researchers used a sample of birth records for 129 13-year old children to test the impact of fatty acids in cord blood at birth on allergy risk later in childhood.
Of the 129 children used, 44 had been diagnosed with respiratory allergies, and another 36 had chronic skin rashes. These children had higher proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid levels in the blood samples taken at birth than the 48 children who did not report any allergies.
Researchers theorized that the mechanism for this connection could be due to a weakened development of the infant’s immune system caused by the omega-3 and omega-6 lipids. Future research will need to confirm the link and mechanism for this reaction.
Are Omega-3′s Worth the Risk?
Depending on your risk factors for certain conditions, omega-3′s might still be an important part of your diet. But a few types of people shouldn’t rush to load up on fish oil supplements, like men who are already at a high risk for prostate cancer.
“We [also] don’t want pregnant women and children to eat a lot of fish because of mercury,” Barrient added.
“[Supplement therapy] is very individualized,” said Barrient. “A supplement should be given under doctor supervision because doctors can look at your risk factors for prostate cancer or heart disease before recommending anything.”
Barrient warns that taking supplements or eating fish in excess could cause problems in areas other than the one patients are trying to address.
On the other hand, individuals at high risk for heart disease should certainly consider adding supplements to their diet. Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart and can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
But supplements aren’t always the answer. Some people will benefit more from eating the fish itself than just omega-3 supplements.
“For the average person with a family history of cardiovascular disease, I strictly recommend the whole food source, not just supplements,” said Barrient. “The American Heart Association recommends 2-3 servings of fish a week. [But] someone with really high triglycerides and more severe coronary artery disease might need supplementation.”
“Omega-3 Fatty Acids Might Offer More Risk Than Reward” originally appeared on Everyday Health.