Whoopi Goldberg to Reprise Screen Turn in Reworked U.K. Staging of Sister Act Musical; Jennifer Saunders Will Co-Star

first_imgWhoopi Goldberg & Jennifer Saunders(Photo: Matthew Murphy & Oliver Rosser) Whoopi Goldberg is getting back in the habit. The beloved star who introduced filmgoers to the role of Deloris Van Cartier in the 1992 film Sister Act will return to the role for the upcoming London revival of the musical adaptation. The previously announced production, reworked to envision Deloris as older than was originally intended, will play the Eventim Apollo from July 29 through August 30, 2020. Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) will co-star as Mother Superior.In addition to playing the role of Deloris on screen, Goldberg is responsible for ushering the musical to the stage. She served as a producer on the Tony-nominated 2011 original Broadway production, which starred Patina Miller in a Tony-nominated turn as Deloris. Goldberg also briefly appeared as Mother Superior in Sister Act at the London Palladium in 2010.Sister Act tells the story of a disco diva (Goldberg) whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior (Saunders), Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.The musical features an original score by Alan Menken (music) and Glenn Slater (lyrics) with a book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner and additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane.Brenda Edwards, previously announced to play Deloris, will take on the role during Thursday matinees. View Commentslast_img read more

50 years later: Where were you when you heard the news about President Kennedy?

first_imgSt. Joseph native Walter Cronkite moments after reading the announcement that President Kennedy had died.Today marks 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr., an event that rocked the country to its foundation.Today, we’re asking northeast Johnson County residents to share their memories of Nov. 22, 1963 — where they were when they heard the news, and how they found out.Reader Sharon Higgins Hunzeker shared her recollections with us earlier this week:I was in my kitchen (on Juniper in Prairie Village) when my neighbor, Joanne, came to my back door. I could tell from her face that something really bad had just happened! She knew that I never turned on the TV or radio during the day and so she came to share the awful magnitude of that moment in Dallas.What do you remember about that day?last_img read more

State attorneys, PDs fear further budget reductions

first_img State attorneys, PDs fear further budget reductions November 15, 2009 Regular News State attorneys, PDs fear further budget reductionscenter_img A reduction of 250 to 260 assistant public defenders, plus 525 fewer assistant state attorneys. Around 2,000 fewer children represented by guardians ad litem.Those were some of the dire projections made November 3 at the House Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee. The committee was conducting the annual budget exercise of asking state agencies how they would meet a demand of reducing their budgets by a certain amount. The target for this year’s exercise was 10 percent. Chair Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Oviedo, noted that it’s unlikely the Legislature will seek 10 percent reductions, but likely that some cuts will be made. Initial projections have the state short by about $2.6 billion of its 2009-10 $66 billion budget.“The purpose of this. . . is to identify recurring budget reductions that can be made in fiscal years 2010-11 in the event they are needed,” Adams said at the start of the meeting.Court-related agencies left little doubt that after two years of rigorous cuts, further budget reductions would affect their ability to carry out their core functions. (The court system was excused from reporting how they would make the cuts until the committee’s December meeting.)Here’s a quick look at what the committee heard:• Guardian ad Litem Director Theresa Flury said a 10 percent reduction would cost her $2.9 million, of which $2.7 million would come from salaries. That would mean 67 people would have to be let go, and 2,000 fewer children would have representation.• Eighth Circuit State Attorney Bill Cervone, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said state attorneys have already cut their support staff, so the $34 million needed for a 10 percent reduction would eliminate 525 positions and virtually all of them would be assistant state attorneys. That would cause problems meeting speedy trial dictates and “there will almost inevitably be less attention paid to detail of what we are doing and that will lead to problems in the courtroom,” he said.A potentially sobering statistic, Cervone said, is state attorneys are reporting stable caseloads while police are seeing more crimes. That may mean, he said, that police, who have their own budget problems, are catching fewer criminals. In response to a question, Cervone said his misdemeanor prosecutors are handling 300 to 400 cases, while felony prosecutors have caseloads of 125 to 150.• Eighth Circuit Public Defender Rick Parker said a 10 percent cut would reduce defenders’ budgets by $19.9 million and 250 to 260 of their 2,800 positions. That might not leave them enough attorneys to handle all the cases they get.“I don’t have the option of saying, ‘No thanks, I’d rather not do this today.’ When the case comes in, I assign a lawyer and we get to work,” Parker said.• Jackson Flyte, criminal conflict and civil regional counsel for the Second District Court of Appeal jurisdiction, said a 10 percent reduction could cost the five CCCRCs about 46 of their 386 attorney positions. But the cuts probably won’t save the state any money, because the CCCRCs handle conflict cases from public defenders and represent parents in dependency cases — areas where those parties are guaranteed representation. If the CCCRCs don’t handle the cases, then the state will have to hire private counsel, and that’s likely to cost even more, he said.• Bill Jennings, who heads the Middle District Capital Collateral Regional Counsel office, said the 10 percent reductions would cost him and Southern District CCR Counsel Neal Dupree nearly $700,000, and Dupree would have to cut four attorneys and Jennings three. Jennings said that would mean he could handle 15 fewer cases, but that would only mean private counsel would have to be hired to do the work.The committee also heard presentations from the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Parole Commission.Adams thanked the presenters at the end of the meeting, noting the committee hasn’t been told yet how much money it will have to dole out to the operations under its purview. She added, “We will be working toward a budget goal once we have our numbers, but at least we have some idea of what the impact will be.”last_img read more

In social isolation, the brain begins to act in strange ways to preserve its sanity

first_imgShare on Twitter Share on Facebook Email Pinterest The importance of human connectionYes, other people can be irritating. But they are also our greatest source of comfort, and an impressive amount of psychological research underscores the importance of human contact.Rejection by others psychologically wounds us more deeply than almost anything else, and research by neuroscientists reveals that ostracism can lead to feeling actual physical pain. Other studies confirm that loneliness isn’t good for anyone’s health. It increases levels of stress hormones in the body while leading to poor sleep, a compromised immune system and, in the elderly, cognitive decline. The damage that solitary confinement inflicts on the mental health of prison inmates has also been well-documented.Alone in an unchanging environment, the sensory information available to us and the ways in which we process it can change in unpredictable ways. For example, we normally spend most of our time attending to and processing external stimuli from the physical world around us. However, monotonous stimulation from our surroundings may cause us to turn our attention inward – within ourselves – which most of us have much less experience handling.This can lead to a profoundly altered state of consciousness. We may begin to question what’s going on in our surroundings; Is that creaking sound upstairs just an old house pushing back against the wind, or is it something more sinister? This ambivalence leaves us frozen in place, wallowing in unease, especially if we’re alone. When we’re uncertain, the first thing we usually do is to look to the reactions of others to figure out what is going on. Without others with whom to share information and reactions, ambiguity becomes very hard to resolve. When this happens, our mind may quickly race to the darkest possible conclusions.Unpleasant things can also happen when small groups of people experience isolation together. Much of what we know about this phenomenon has been gathered from observing the experiences of volunteers at research stations in Antarctica, especially during the “wintering-over” period.The extreme temperatures, long periods of darkness, alien landscapes and severely reduced sensory input created a perfect natural laboratory for studying the effects of isolation and confinement. The volunteers experienced changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Some stopped being able to accurately track the passage of time and lost the ability to concentrate. The boredom from being around the same people, with limited sources of entertainment, ended up causing a lot of stress. Everyone else’s mannerisms became a grating, annoying and inescapable source of torment.Seeing ghostsBut perhaps the strangest thing that can happen to someone in isolation is the experience of the “sensed presence,” or the feeling that another person or even a supernatural being is with us.Sensed presences usually appear in environments with static physical and social stimulation – in other words, when you’re by yourself in a quiet, remote place, just like Naomi Watts’ character in “Shut In.” Low temperature and high levels of stress are also common ingredients.Some of the most compelling descriptions of sensed presences come from lone sailors, mountain climbers and arctic explorers who have experienced hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. In one amazing 1895 incident, Joshua Slocum, the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat singlehandedly, said he saw and spoke with the pilot of Christopher Columbus’ ship “The Pinta.” Slocum claimed that the pilot steered his boat through heavy weather as he lay ill with food poisoning.The vividness of a presence can range from a vague feeling of being watched to seeing a seemingly real person. It could be a god, a spirit, an ancestor or a personal acquaintance. A famous example occurred in 1933, when British explorer Frank Smythe attempted to climb Mt. Everest alone. He became so convinced that someone else was accompanying him on his climb that he even offered a piece of cake to his invisible climbing partner.Possible explanations for a sensed presence include the the movement of boats (if sailing solo) and atmospheric or geomagnetic activity. Stress, lack of oxygen, monotonous stimulation or a buildup of hormones can trigger changes in brain chemistry that induce altered states of consciousness. There’s actually exciting new evidence from a research group led by neuroscientist Olaf Blanke demonstrating that stimulating specific brain regions can trick people into feeling the “presence” of a ghostly apparition.Although sensed presences are most frequently reported by people in weird or dangerous places, it’s not unreasonable to assume that such experiences can happen in more mundane surroundings. For example, people who have lost a loved one may shut themselves off from the outside world and rarely leave their homes. The loneliness and isolation, coupled with high levels of stress and unchanging sensory stimulation, might very well produce the same biological conditions that could trigger a “visit” from the recently departed. Studies indicate that almost half of widowed elderly Americans will report having hallucinations of their dead spouse. These experiences seem to be a healthy coping mechanism and a normal part of grieving.What might all of this say about the way we’re hardwired?It’s clear that meaningful connection to other people is as essential to health as the air we breathe. Given that prolonged periods of social isolation can crack even the hardiest of individuals, perhaps in the absence of actual human contact our brains may manufacture social experiences – a last-ditch attempt to preserve our sanity.By Frank T. McAndrew, Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox CollegeThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.center_img Share Humans are hardwired to interact with others, especially during times of stress. On the other hand, when we go through a trying ordeal alone, a lack of emotional support and comradeship can increase our anxiety and hinder our ability to cope.This message is forcefully driven home in the newly released thriller “Shut In.” Naomi Watts plays a widowed child psychologist who lives in isolation in rural New England with her son, who is comatose and bedridden as the result of an automobile accident. Snowed in and withdrawn from the outside world, Watts’ character descends into a desperate existence. It soon becomes difficult for her to distinguish the phantasms of her imagination from the reality of the creepy goings-on in her apparently haunted house.“Shut In,” of course, isn’t the first movie to use isolation as a vehicle for madness. The characters played by Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” and Tom Hanks in “Castaway” found themselves in similar predicaments. Although movies like “Shut In” are fictional, the toll on the protagonist’s psyche from being so alone for so long is based on the science of social isolation. LinkedInlast_img read more

CDC sets sights on getting pandemic vaccine to adults

first_imgDec 22, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The nation’s supply of pandemic vaccine has grown to 111 million doses, enough so that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is turning part of its attention toward boosting the percentage of adults who get vaccinated.Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters that though the virus seems to be retreating in many states, nearly all of what’s circulating is the pandemic H1N1 strain, and it’s clear that the virus isn’t going away.The burgeoning supply of vaccine provides a good window of opportunity to be vaccinated, she said. “Now is the time to act. The flu virus is not taking off for the holiday.”Holiday gatherings provide a good setting to encourage friends and family members to be immunized. Schuchat said, advising, “Remind your loved ones to take care of their health and look for that vaccine.”New survey data from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that over the past few weeks, the percentage of children vaccinated has far surpassed that for adults. Schuchat said about half of Americans want to be vaccinated, but only one in three have done so. So far, about 60 million people have received the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, she said.The Harvard poll found that, as of last week, about three quarters of parents who had tried to get the pandemic vaccine for their children were able to do so. About a third of parents said they didn’t expect to have their children vaccinated, with about half of that group citing safety concerns.Though the poll found that over recent weeks more adults were getting the vaccine, 55% said they don’t intend to get vaccinated.In a press release that accompanied the poll’s findings, Dr. Robert Blendon, director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, said the results suggests that safety beliefs are hard to change for some member of the public and that public health officials will need to focus even more attention on convincing people that the pandemic vaccine is safe.Schuchat said the CDC has not seen any worrisome signs among the 60 million people who have received the vaccine. “This is very reassuring from a safety front,” she said.Over the next several weeks, the nation can expect to see more efforts to urge more people to get the vaccine, Schuchat said. She said National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national observance used over the past few years to foster greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season and past January, will start Jan 10. It was originally scheduled for the week of Dec 6 but was postponed because both pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines were in short supply at the time.She said more public service announcements will launch to encourage more vaccinations, and those in leadership positions will help spread the pandemic vaccine message. Yesterday President Barack Obama said he and his wife Michelle just got their pandemic vaccines, the Associated Press reported today. He also encouraged others to be immunized, now that the vaccine supply has been extended beyond priority groups that are at high risk of complications from the flu.Schuchat also reminded parents that children under age 10 who have already been vaccinated need to get a second dose of the pandemic vaccine. “It’s important to finish the series,” she said, adding that the CDC estimates that as of Dec 6 about 2 million children had received their second dose. She said officials are anticipating that schools will launch another round of vaccination clinics to ensure that kids who need it get their second dose.The CDC’s reminder for younger children to receive their recommended follow-up comes one day after researchers from Australia reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that one dose is probably enough to protect children younger than 9 years. The vaccine they evaluated was made by CSL Biotherapies, an Australian company that supplies H1N1 vaccine to both Australia and the United States.Two vaccine experts who wrote an editorial accompanying the report said it is too early to assume that one dose is enough to protect all young children, especially because the study didn’t include youngsters with chronic health conditions or compromised immunity.Schuchat said the study findings will prompt lots of scientific discussion, but she said that, based on research from the National Institutes of Health, the CDC strongly believes two doses are needed to protect children younger than 10. She added that researchers will want to find out why the JAMA findings were different and emphasized that the study evaluated one vaccine, in one population, at one point in time.See also:Dec 22 Harvard School of Public Health press releaseDec 21 CIDRAP News story “Study: One H1N1 vaccine dose may be OK for young children”CDC National Influenza Vaccination Week informationlast_img read more

US hits record for COVID-19 hospital cases

first_imgThe number of Americans hospitalized for COVID-19 is hitting new highs as coronavirus infections continue to spike across the country.The COVID Tracking Project reports that 61,964 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Nov 10. That’s the most hospitalizations recorded since the beginning of the pandemic in March. And with hospitalizations lagging a few weeks behind new cases, that number will continue to climb.As the COVID Exit Strategy website shows, 47 states are now seeing uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, and two are trending poorly. The rising number of cases across the country led governors in several states yesterday to impose new restrictions to try to curb the spread of the virus. Among them is Minnesota, which ordered bars and restaurants to end in-person service between 10pm and 4am and limited indoor and outdoor gathering to 10 people.In an online address, Gov. Tim Walz also urged the public to wear masks, practice physical distancing, wash their hands, and stay home if they don’t feel well.”This is not inevitable that we end up in a crisis,” Walz said. “But if we don’t do these things we certainly will be there.”        The US added 136,325 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, along with 1,415 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard. The total since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 10,353,604 confirmed cases and 240,688 deaths.Impact on hospitals in the West, MidwestAt a media briefing today held by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Andrew Pavia, MD, FIDSA, chief of the pediatric infectious disease division at the University of Utah School of Medicine, explained how the surge in infections and hospitalizations is affecting hospitals in the Upper Midwest and Western states, which were not as hard-hit during the earlier waves in the spring and summer.”The impact is just enormous,” Pavia said. “These are states in which medical resources tend to be concentrated in a few large cities.”Pavia said in states like Utah, where the care is so spread out, public health resources right now are overwhelmed, and hospitals are “extraordinarily stressed.” And it’s not just about bed capacity.”One of the things that many of the western states have in common is a relative shortage of the people that we need to take care of very sick people,” he said. “Throughout the region, people are facing a crisis in staffing…the situation really has to be described as dire.”Pavia explained that under normal circumstances, hospitals might have one dedicated nurse per patient in an intensive care unit (ICU). But at many hospitals in the region at the moment, the ratio is one nurse to four or five ICU patients. And many of the overflow ICUs that hospitals have created are being staffed by clinicians who haven’t worked in an ICU in a while.”To help somebody survive an illness like this requires a great deal of care from very skilled people,” he said. “And as we have to spread those resources thin, the care isn’t as good.”Utah, which instituted a statewide mask mandate and temporarily halted all school extracurricular activities earlier this week, reported 2,517 new coronavirus infections yesterday, continuing a streak of days of more than 2,500 new cases, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. There are currently 435 patients being hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state, and that number has been rising steadily since October.Soaring hospitalizations in Iowa, meanwhile, prompted Gov. Kim Reynolds to order a mask mandate for large public gatherings and to limit certain types of public gatherings yesterday. Reynolds has implemented very few coronavirus restrictions to date, but with the state reporting more than 4,000 new cases a day for several days and hospitalizations increasing by 84% over the past month, the governor relented.But University of Iowa infectious disease specialist Eli Perencevich, MD, MS, told the Des Moines Register that Reynolds’s order isn’t enough. “Anything less than a statewide mask mandate if you are out of your home with fines, closing bars and indoor restaurants, cancelling all after-school activities, closing schools, and banning gatherings outside your family will not be effective in bending the curve and saving our hospitals,” he said. “It is lipstick on a pig.”New CDC position on masksIn other US developments:The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday posted a new document stating that cloth face masks offer protection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, for both the person wearing them and those around them. The CDC’s previous position had been that masks mainly serve as “source control” by reducing the amount of virus particles exhaled by the wearer. “Experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC said. “The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer.”Biotechnology company Moderna announced today that it has accrued enough COVID-19 cases for a planned interim analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The company said that with the significant increase in case identification across its phase 3 trial sites in the last week, it expects the first interim analysis will include more than 53 cases. The phase 3 trial of the mRNA vaccine includes 30,000 participants.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that, starting Nov 13, private indoor and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and gyms, bars, and restaurants will have to close at 10pm, the New York Times reports. The move was made to help prevent a second wave in the state, which was the US epicenter of the pandemic in the spring but has had one the lowest infection rates in the country since then. New York’s 7-day average positivity rate hit 2.43 today, the highest it’s been since June.last_img read more

Casa Mesita Thrift Store Moves Into New Space On Central

first_imgInterior view of Casa Mesita at 1370 Central Ave., Suite B. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com Casa Mesita volunteer Susan Dryja sorts through donations Saturday. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.comBy KIRSTEN LASKEYLos Alamos Daily Postkirsten@ladailypost.comAfter 15 years serving the Los Alamos community from its location in Mari Mac Plaza, Casa Mesita has moved into a new space a few blocks down the street.Volunteer Susan Dryja said the organization began the move July 1 over to 1370 Central Ave., Suite B just across the street from the Bradbury Science Museum and next to Subway.“People are moving out of the (Mari Mac) complex and we were outgrowing our space and we needed to analyze how we could make ourselves healthier and the best thing was to get a new space,” Dryja said.She added that the move has been for the best.“Everyone is a happy camper,” Dryja said. “Our team is stronger.”While the space is new, Dryja said many of the procedures Casa Mesita used in its previous location are unchanged. However, she said the new space allows the organization to run more efficiently.For instance, Dryja said there is a drop-off and reclamation area behind the store. People can drop off donations as before but volunteers have more room to process the donations. She added that volunteers try to stay on top of the donations “so we can serve the community a little more efficiently”.Dryja encourages those interested in donating items but unsure what is acceptable to call Casa Mesita at 505.662.7235. “We encourage them to call ahead so we don’t discourage anyone when they come to donate,” she said.Not all donations stay in the store. Dryja said the organization, Clothes Helping Kids, makes regular stops to pick up items from Casa Mesita.Additionally, she said all the proceeds from sales go back to the community; Casa Mesita donates to entities such as Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos Retired Senior Organization.Dryja said all the volunteers appreciate the community’s support in shopping at the thrift store.“Thank you to all the loyal customers who continue to return and help us to meet our goals to our benefactors,” she said.Casa Mesita is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, 1-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call Casa Mesita at 505.662.7235 or visit its Facebook page.  Casa Mesita volunteer Elshan Akhadov checks out merchandise Saturday in the new location near Subway on Central Avenue. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.comlast_img read more

MWB cuts losses on Liberty sales rise

first_imgSales at Liberty were up 12% on the same time last year between mid-February and mid-April, following the launch of a ‘Renaissance of Liberty’ campaign fronted by Freida Pinto, a star of the film Slumdog Millionaire.Andrew Blurton, the finance director of MWB, said: ‘Both hotel chains have started 2009 very well in a tough climate, having retained occupancy well and are continuing 2008’s healthy trend.’In 2008, the company’s pretax loss fell by 28% to £9.9m on sales 10.2% higher at £278m. The Timeslast_img