Thursday, March 29, 2012

New CDC Figures Show Alarming Increase in Autism-plus who makes drugs to treat it

New figures the CDC has derived from its autism surveillance network show a striking increase in diagnoses of the disorder.Now one in 88 children is believed to be autistic,a 23% increase from 2006-08.One in 54 boys are autistic.There has been a 78% increase in autism cases since 2002.
At least some of the growth is down to better awareness of autism-especially in minority communities such as the African American and Hispanic.Another reason may be the inclusion of cases that once would have been labeled mental retardation or something else.
Diagnosis of autism is pegged on the three criteria of social,communication and attention shifting deficits.Skills in these areas have not developed naturally in autistic children,and must be painstakingly taught them individually by a method called applied behavioral analysis,which drives the cost of treatment way up.
The etiology or cause of the disorder remains a mystery,but research is looking at environmental pollution,medication and nutrition as possibilities.There have been a lot of problems getting health insurers to cover full treatment programs for autism.A total of 34 states have put laws on the books requiring insurers to cover at least some of the costs.The Harvard School of Public Health estimates it costs 3.2 million dollars to treat an autistic person over a lifetime;the societal cost is 35 billion dollars a year-a huge burden that is only ballooning even more each year.
Insurers contend autism is a developmental disorder,so the education system should be picking up the tab.
Among those making drugs for treating autism symptoms are Shire Pharmaceuticals(SPHGY);Teva Pharmaceuticals(TEVA);Pfizer(PFE);Novartis(NVS);and Johnson and Johnson(JNJ).

Shop Talk

Dear Readers,
In one of his first major initiatives,Apple CEO Tim Cook has made an epic journey to China.Find out why and what he has promised the Chinese Vice Premier.Also consider whether the company can possibly grow even more than the current 600 dollar-plus share price indicates.You can do all this at International Daybook,a sister blog to this one that is accessible from the link list in the right hand column.Hope to see you there.
Thank you for visiting today,
Andrew Taylor

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who Sings On The Sandals Resorts Commercial

The song is a vintage one.It is called "My Blue Heaven."Dating from 1927,the lyrics are by George Whiting,with the music by Walter Donaldson.The performer is our comtemporary Lizann Warner.The song was included in the Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs.Hopefully Ms.Warner will get to record the whole number one day.
Lizann Warner is known as a vocal chameleon.An accomplished stylist who evokes everyone from Judy Garland to Barbra Streisand,she has opened for the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar.She also sings on video games such as Guitar Hero III by Activision.
Ms.Warner has performed in Las Vegas and has upcoming dates at Duke's Bar&Grill in Riverside,California(April 21)and State Street Winery in Redlands(April 28).You can listen to her on YouTube and ReverbNation.
Activision Blizzard,Inc.(ATVI)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Asia This Day:China Construction Bank Reports

China Construction Bank has released its Q4 earnings report.The bank posted a net income gain of 4.8 billion dollars.Profit for the quarter was up by 25%,missing estimates.
Those were considerable earnings,but,all the same,there continues to be deep-seated concern at the country's biggest mortgage lender.China Construction Bank has the most exposure to local government lending,real estate lending and consumer debt.Any problems in those areas could well crimp future earnings at this prominent institution.
Credit quality indeed declined there,with non-performing loans increasing from 1.02% in the previous quarter to 1.09% in Q4.The financial titan cited a more severe global economic environment and domestic economic restructuring as challenges it faces in 2012.
China Construction Bank is represented in a number of exchange traded funds with a Chinese or emerging market orientation,so its performance does affect the well-being of foreign investors.
On Monday morning,Asian markets opened higher,with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index up by 0.15%.
iShares Trust FTSE/Xinhua China 25 index(FXI)

Sierra Lamar: Missing California Teen | Video - ABC News

Sierra Lamar: Missing California Teen | Video - ABC News

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Missing Person:Silicon Valley Girl Disappears

Once again,the eye of truth is seeking answers.A Silicon Valley teenager,Sierra LaMar,15,has gone missing from her Morgan Hill,California home.A bag of her clothing and her cellphone were found tossed by the roadside.
As readers may know,we have been informed of the cases of two other young Hispanic women,who turned out to have been murdered in Los Angeles in the past 12 months.Los Angeles is 320 miles from the LaMar home in Santa Clara County.That doesn't mean there is any connection with Sierra's case.
Sierra could not be tracked by search dogs beyond the end of her driveway in Morgan Hill,raising the possiblity that someone drove off with her.Her bus driver didn't see her the day she went missing.We pray for her safe return as soon as possible.
The connection we do know is,our search for justice for all these women will go forward,no matter how busy it gets.

Mom of missing Calif. teen: 'Be strong — I know you can survive'

Mom of missing Calif. teen: 'Be strong — I know you can survive'

After Open Heart Surgery:The Holter Monitor Experience

If heart palpitations develop,you may be referred to your local hospital cardiology department for attachment of an ambulatory electrocardiogram,or Holter monitor.This ingenious device was developed by Norman Holter,MD in the late 1940s.It is the size of a deck of cards and originally was a tape recorder;today,it is commonly a digital recorder with a flash card.Usually worn for 24 hours,the little machine is powered by two AA batteries and is connected to the chest by a number of electrodes,or leads.
The Holter monitor is indicated when a patient is suspected of possibly having a cardiac arrhythmia.It gives the medical team an extended look at the patient's heart rate and rhythm.Even silent abnormalities,of which the patient is unaware,may be detected.
A few emergency situations are detected by the monitor and the patient must be hospitalised.Mostly,patients are found to have a condition either not requiring treatment or one that may be addressed at the standard pace.
The monitor is clipped to your belt,put in your shirt pocket,or worn around your neck.As well,the patient fills out a short but carefully timed diary of activities and symptoms to aid in the interpretation of the data,which are uploaded to a computer with analytical software when the monitor is removed.The software flags any irregularities for the technician and cardiologist to focus on along with the diary material.
Wearing the device is mildly stressful as you wonder whether it will remain properly attached for the whole period and so on,as well as what the results could portend for you.
What you and your family would do if it recorded a serious problem is something that occurs to you.Perhaps you will not be so eager to get that telephone call when the report is in.On the other hand,you are intrigued by the science and engineering and curious about what is going on internally.
Probably it is nothing,you think,or else it will lead to more testing.Among the undesirable scenarios,you may need an implantable medical device such as a pacemaker or defibrillator.Maybe they will put you back on the anticoagulant Warfarin.
It is all a part of being a heart patient,a role you didn't seek but you might as well excel at along with all else in your life,for the benefit of everyone concerned.
The British firm Cardionetics makes a Holter monitor which analyses the data on its own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NFIB:The Mood of Small Business-and what it means for jobs

The National Federation of Independent Business has released its February assessment of small business optimism.The index rose 0.4 to 94.3,still at a recessionary level.We've had six months of gains,and the number is still below where it was in February of 2011.The average going into the recession of 2008 was about 100.
We're way down,and we need to see it move up,according to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.Everybody's complaining about uncertainty on taxes,health care,regulations,and where the economy's gonna be.There's really not any confidence that we can solve the problems.Their biggest concern was taxes and red tape at 44%;followed by lagging sales at 20%.
The survey has a 39-year history and a big sample size.
Small business hiring was not as strong in the NFIB report as in the ADP gauge of private company employment.Overall,the NFIB result is a sign the recovery is likely to continue,albeit at a glacial pace.The report suggests cautious optimism,but shows no signs of significant economic improvement that is needed to encourage owners to invest their own money in growing their businesses,NFIB concluded.
Small business is considered the main job engine of the U.S. economy.If it isn't optimistic enough,jobs growth will be crimped until the mood has shifted and investment shows more promise.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Home Sales Career Fair

K.Hovnanian Homes is holding a career fair on Wednesday,March 28 at the
Bethesda Marriott
5151 Pooks Hill Road
Bethesda,MD 20814
They are seeking experienced New Home Sales Consultants and New Home Sales Trainees with a college degree.They have multiple openings throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland.Their homes live up to a high standard of craftsmanship and customer satisfaction.
You may apply online at for the VA Sales Positions #14537 and the MD Sales Positions #14523
If attending,please pre-register by sending your resume to the appropriate job posting on their Careers site by March 22.
K.Hovnanian Homes:The First Name in Lasting Value
Hovnanian Enterprises(HOV)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Outdoor Secondhand Smoke Also Harmful

At a recent check-up,I was asked by a nurse if I was exposed to passive smoke.I had to admit I was,as the neighbor's cigarette smoke often wafts over to me through their windows when I'm outdoors or they're smoking outdoors.It makes me wheeze a bit.
Indeed,a 2007 study at Stanford University showed that harmful substances were also being transmitted by secondhand smoke outdoors,as well as indoors.Obviously,if it irritates your lungs outdoors,it's doing some degree of harm.
Frankly,it appears that smoking isn't safe anywhere-indoors or out.That is the tragedy of recent reports that teens are still smoking avidly,in spite of the educational efforts of several decades.
A new TV campaign with graphic images of cancer patients is getting underway.Some teens responded with scepticism as to how effective they would be.People will still think it will never happen to them,one girl remarked.
Pfizer's Chantix habit-breaking medication is also being widely advertised.It may be worth looking into for those with prescription coverage or who can otherwise afford it.It is said to allow you to keep smoking in the early phase of treatment.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who Sings On The Citibank ThankYou Card Commercial

The Citibank ThankYou Card commercial joins soaring video with a breezy song.The song is called "Into the Wild."It is by the American singer songwriter known as LP(Laura Pergolizzi).
The video features professional climbers Katie Brown and Alex Honnold,not actors.They are shown climbing one of the Fisher Towers in the Utah desert,about 27 miles from Moab.The pinnacle Brown summits is not considered the most difficult climb at the Towers.Several other ascents there are regarded as being among the most challenging desert climbs.
LP has been prominent since 2006,although for some years she was better known for her songs written for or covered by other performers.Among those credits are recordings of her work by Backstreet Boys;Heidi Montag;Christina Aguilera;and Rihanna.
A New York native,LP now resides in Los Angeles.She's been touring very extensively over the years.You can sample her music on YouTube-including the Citibank track.
The commercial is quite an effective promotion for the credit card,perking groggy viewers up with an outdoor adventure.

Automotive Opportunity:CarMax Jobs

CarMax is hiring.They are looking for Detailers,Technicians and Sales Consultants.Among Fortune magazine's 100 Best Places to Work For,they are offering a generous benefits package.
CarMax:Join our team!
To apply online,visit

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Update:Two of Three Deceased Family Members Had Post-Flu MRSA Infections

Two of the three recently deceased family members who had contracted H3N2 influenza in Lusby,Maryland were found to also be infected with post-flu MRSA bacterial infection of the lungs,the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene indicated.Those who died were Lou Ruth Blake,81,and her children Lowell,58,and Vanessa,56.Another daughter,Elaine,51,who lived at home and was her mother's main caregiver,also fell ill and was hospitalized,as was Ruth Blake's sister.Elaine has since been released from hospital and her aunt is improving.
It is possible that the deceased children contracted both the flu and post-flu MRSA infections from their mother while visiting with her.Ruth Blake had been vaccinated with a flu shot;the children had not.Although generally effective,vaccination is not foolproof-especially among the elderly.MRSA,a variety of staphylococcus aureus,is called the flesh-eating bacterium because of its extreme toxicity.Amputations and even death are not uncommon from this dangerous,antibiotic-resistant organism.When lungs have been inflamed by the flu,they are more susceptible to infection by the MRSA bacteria.MRSA bacteria can live harmlessly on the skin for extended periods,apparently waiting for an opening.There have been many previous cases of post-flu infection with this antibiotic-resistant MRSA pneumonia.

Friday, March 9, 2012

FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards: Urban Ideas in Action

FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards: Urban Ideas in Action: FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards to recognize ingenious solutions to urban challenges in the fields of education, energy, healthcare and infrastructure. Submit your application today: For more information visit

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Americans Lax About Flu Shots-the cost to business

Influenza takes quite an annual toll on American business,a survey reveals.In 2010,for example,Americans missed 100 million work days because of having the flu.This cost their employers almost 7 billion dollars.Only 41% of Americans got vaccinated that year.
The flu may lazily be seen as just a bad cold that not enough people get to worry about,but such an attitude can have fatal consequences-even for those in middle age,as illustrated by the recent deaths of a brother and sister in their fifties,who apparently died of influenza and its complications,along with their elderly mother,in Lusby,Maryland.
There was plenty of vaccine made for this flu season.Since the season got off to a late start,it could well last into May,so it isn't too late to be vaccinated even now in March.

3 Members of Family Die From Respiratory Illnesses, 4th Sickened in Calvert County

3 Members of Family Die From Respiratory Illnesses, 4th Sickened in Calvert County

Monday, March 5, 2012

SunCoke Energy Gets Positive Reception

Since January 17,SunCoke Energy has been independent of its parent Sunoco.The coking coal miner and producer of metallurgical coke was viewed positively on Wall Street.Key Banc Capital Markets initiated coverage of the spinoff with a Buy rating, and Oppenheimer initiated with an Outperform.Both analysts gave SunCoke a 15 dollar a share price target.
SunCoke originated in Virginia in the early 1960s.Today it works two mines in Virginia and West Virginia with more than 100 million tons of proven and probable coking coal reserves.This coal is fed into five coke plants in Virginia,Indiana,Ohio,Illinois and Vitoria,Brazil,making SunCoke the largest independent producer of high quality metallurgical coke in the Americas,with a total U.S. cokemaking capacity of about 4.2 million tons a year,and a global capacity of more than 5 million tons a year.This solid state carbon product is provided to integrated steelmakers with blast furnace technology.For example,SunCoke's new Middletown,Ohio plant will be supplying AK Steel with its coke needs.
Besides producing metallurgical coke,the plants utilize heat recovery technology to make steam for electric power generation.All applicable environmental standards are being met or exceeded at its coke plants,the company says.
Frederick "Fritz" Henderson,an old General Motors hand,is CEO of SunCoke.Mr.Henderson has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Trustee of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
SunCoke Energy(SXC)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Asian Markets Open For Business-issue 3

Asian markets opened lower this morning,Monday.China has set 7.5% for its growth target as the European debt crisis continues.It's the lowest target in eight years.The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.88 % on the news.
The CNOOC Chairman sees the Chinese energy titan's 2012 oil and gas output being the same as in 2011.
Rising oil prices are being considered the principal threat to the global pocketbook today.It would be hard to have any further increses without damage to the world economy.For example,Airline profits are expected to drop 50% because of them.Singapore Air is already seeing weakness in forward bookings.
Oil futures rose on news of an Enbridge Inc. oil pipeline fire in Illinois.Enbridge says it will try to work around the mishap.The pipeline carries oil from Canada to the U.S. Meantime,China intends to increase retail sales by 14% in 2012.It will also keep pursuing its low birth rate policy,President Wen Jiabao said.
India's Nifty Fifty Index fell 0.80% this morning.The local election results in Utar Pradesh come out tomorrow,and there is fear of a possible change in government.
Enbridge Inc.(ENB)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Atrial Fibrillation:A Big Problem Getting Bigger

Atrial Fibrillation,or AFib,is a heart rhythm disorder which is sweeping through the growing ranks of the elderly.That's understandable,since age is one of the main predispositions for the disease.From a current patient population of about 5 million,the number of AFib patients is expected to triple by 2050.Many of them are already dealing with other chronic diseases-especially cardiovascular ones.
In AFib,the two upper chambers of the heart,or atria,beat erratically and out of sync with the two lower chambers,or ventricles.This can result in a number of symptoms such as heart palpitations;lightheadedness;fatigue;shortness of breath;disorientation;and even chest pain.During AFib,an electrical overload in the heart results in an irregular,rapid heartbeat.These erratic signals may be caused by factors such as damage to the heart's structure from hypertension;heart valve disease;heart attacks;congenital heart defects;metabolic disorders;lung disease;stimulants;heart surgery;viral infection;and sleep apnea.Age,alcoholism and heredity may predispose a patient for AFib.
AFib can lead to stroke and heart failure.Left untreated,it tends to become more severe and less amenable to treatment as time goes on.Recent studies point to a link between AFib and dementia.That stands to reason,since AFib can easily hinder blood flow to the brain.
AFib is typically diagnosed by means of various monitors attached to the body with electrodes.Treatment ranges from medication to electric shock therapy,as well as various catheter procedures.Blood thinners such as Warfarin and its branded form Coumadin,plus the newer Pradaxa are frequently prescribed to lesson the considerable risk of blood clot formation and stroke from AFib.
If your heart seems to be acting up,it's best to consult with your doctor about it.It could be AFib or another dangerous cardiac arrhythmia.
German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim,which is privately held,makes Pradaxa,while Coumadin is a product of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Bristol-Myers Squibb(BMY)