TODAY

– July 30, 2014

Valley hospitals get nod for maternity care

Fresno's Saint Agnes Medical Center recently received an honor from Healthgrades for its maternity care — the seventh straight year to receive the recognition.

Saint Agnes received the Healthgrades Maternity Care Excellence award. It was the only Fresno hospital to receive the award, which was also given to Madera Community Hospital and Tulare Regional Medical Center.

Healthgrades is an online resource for information about physicians and hospitals viewed by more than 224 million visitors.

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Written on 07/30/2014, 10:58 am by Business Journal Staff
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce will present “Eggs & Issues,” an informative breakfast with guest speaker Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, at...
Written on 07/30/2014, 10:52 am by Business Journal staff
Three Fresno State faculty members have been selected for a special fellowship to integrate entrepreneurship into their existing course work or develop curriculum for a new class. Wei Wu, Ph.D.; Hongwei Dong, Ph.D. and Richard Wanjema, M.F.A. are recipients of the Coleman Foundation's fellowship program, winning a two-semester stipend and joining 19 other Fresno State faculty members since 2005 to win the fellowship, presented in partnership with the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Coleman Foundation, based in Chicago, adopted the model in 2010, making it a nationally-recognized program. Wu is an assistant professor with the Construction Management Program at Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering. Wu will develop a new course, Construction IT and Entrepreneurship, with plans to offer it in spring 2015. Dong, Ph.D., is an assistant professor with Fresno State’s College of Social Science in the Department of Geography and City and Regional Planning. With the addition of entrepreneurship to his Introduction to Urban Planning course, Dong said he plans to "use it as a lens to help his students understand post-modern urban economic development policies and politics in American cities.” Wanjema, M.F.A., is an assistant professor of art and design with Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities. Wanjema said he will redevelop the Internet Design course to examine entrepreneurial components. He added that he feels “really honored to be selected for the award.” Courses taught by Coleman Fellows serve as electives to more than 150 students currently pursuing entrepreneurship degrees through the Craig School of Business.
Written on 07/30/2014, 10:40 am by Business Journal staff
A new line of Girl Scout-inspired Barbie dolls is available for sale in Fresno by the Girl Scouts of Central California South. The three dolls — Barbie, Teresa and Nikki — feature the Girl Scout's green beret and sash complete with insignia and badges. They are available for $12.99 plus tax at the Girl Scout's Gold Mine Store at 1377 W. Shaw Ave. in Fresno. The dolls are the result of a partnership last year between the Girl Scouts of America and Mattel that included a special Barbie "Be Anything, Do Everything" badge, a website as well as the dolls. The partnership has encountered some controversy. An anti-advertising nonprofit in Boston called the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood called on Girl Scouts to end the partnership, saying that the Barbie brand promotes harmful stereotypes to young girls. A press release from Girl Scouts of Central California South — which serves Fresno, Kings, Madera, Tulare and Kern counties — said the opposite is true: "According to Girl Scouts of the USA, 83 percent of moms believe the Girl Scout Barbie dolls will encourage their daughters to explore new opportunities and careers. This is because girls associate the doll with hiking and the outdoors, selling cookies, and helping others, which are all opportunities open to Girl Scouts."
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:51 am by Kimberly Hefling, AP education writer
(AP) — Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have flocked to for-profit colleges, including a troubled chain that is closing or selling its campuses amid a series of federal and state investigations. A report to be released Wednesday from the office of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a critic of the for-profit education industry who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, finds that for-profit colleges received $1.7 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits in the 2012-2013 school term. About a quarter of benefits paid under the program went to the for-profit sector. Among the top 10 recipient schools in terms of GI Bill funds, eight were from the for-profit sector. One of them was Corinthian Colleges, a chain based in Santa Ana, Calif., that recently reached an agreement with the Education Department to sell or close its more than 90 U.S. campuses. The Education Department has said it has concerns about the chain's operations that included allegations of falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students, and allegations of altered grades and attendance. Since the new GI Bill rolled out in 2009, Corinthian has received $186 million in the new GI Bill funds, the report said. Last week, the advocacy group Student Veterans of America placed the schools under the Corinthian umbrella — Everest College, Heald College and WyoTech schools — on its "not recommended" list. Including Corinthian, the report finds that seven of the eight companies face investigations by states attorneys general or federal agencies for "deceptive and misleading recruiting" or other possible federal violations. Even as overall enrollment decreased at the eight schools since 2009, it says the number of veterans enrolled at these schools increased. The new GI Bill program provides the most generous school benefits paid to warfighters since the original bill was enacted in 1944. It can be used by a veteran or a member of the immediate family — and more than a million people have used it so far. For-profit colleges have been popular among veterans, in part, because of offerings in skilled trades and flexibility such as online classes. Michael Dakduk, the vice president for military and veterans affairs with the Association of Private Sector Colleges, said in a statement: "It is no surprise that members of the military choose our institutions because we provide them with career-focused programs, important support services and flexibility they need to complete their education. "But, the for-profit sector has among the highest student loan default rates and lowest graduation rates in higher education and has been a target of Democrats. The Obama administration has pushed "gainful employment" regulations that would penalize career-oriented programs that produce graduates without the training needed to find a job with a salary that will allow them to pay off their debt. Harkin's report finds that the average cost for a veteran to attend a for-profit college is $7,972, compared to $3,914 for a public college — about twice the price. The two top recipients of GI Bill money not in the for-profit sector were the public University of Maryland system and the non-profit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, according to the report. Earlier this year, the Student Veterans of America issued a report that said a little more than half of the veterans who got college money under the GI Bill since 2009 eventually graduated. The rate was lower than the graduation rate for traditional students, who generally enroll out of high school, but higher than for veterans' non-traditional peers — those students who also tend to be older and have families and jobs. It found that about three-quarters of the student veterans who graduated did so from public institutions. Another 15.5 percent attended private universities, while about 13 percent attended for-profit schools. Another group, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has lobbied against what is known as the "90/10" rule that requires colleges to receive at least 10 percent of their revenue from sources other than the federal government. Students using the new GI Bill don't count toward the limit, so the veterans said they are aggressively targeted by the for-profit industry.
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:40 am by Sue Manning, Associated Press
(AP) — The popular push for locally produced food has spawned flocks of backyard chickens in urban neighborhoods nationwide, but people may not realize that feasting on fresh eggs can mean subjecting their more typical household pets to pain from a new pest that hitches a ride on hens. The poultry flea has been added to a list of parasites, venomous insects and other bothersome pests that take a bite out of dogs and cats every summer, veterinarians said. These bloodsucking pests are different from the most common fleas in the U.S. because they embed their tiny bodies into an animal's flesh. Poultry fleas aren't known to transmit disease but can cause infection when they sink into skin. "You see them on pets that are around environments with chickens, which are becoming more common now that so many people have backyard flocks," said Dr. Julie Meadows from the Community Practice Service at University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Meadows helped The Associated Press compile a list of other summertime pet enemies and how to combat the creepy crawlers: TRADITIONAL FLEAS These bloodsuckers will spend their lifetime — a couple of weeks to nearly two years — feeding off your furry friends and making them itch. The insects also lay their young on the animal, unlike poultry fleas. They become a medical problem instead of a nuisance when a pooch is allergic to flea saliva.Some products will kill the adult fleas, and insect growth regulators or birth control products will kill larvae, interrupting the flea life cycle. Cats don't have too much trouble with fleas unless they are allergic. If so, cats will develop tiny scabs all over their bodies, lose coat density and sometimes develop sores. TICKS Four or five species of ticks hop on dogs from bushes and long grasses where people go backpacking, camping and hiking. Ticks spread diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, some of which can be life-threatening and some that can be passed to humans. Tick products are often combined with flea products, including topical and oral products, making ticks easier to kill. FLIES Flies are a problem for horses and for dogs with ears that stand straight up, like German shepherds and chows. Flies will swarm the top of the ear, where a hard black crust will form that can break open and bleed. Ointments can treat the wounds. MOSQUITOES The typical itchy bites can be dangerous because mosquitoes can transfer heartworm larvae from an infected dog to a healthy pet. The larvae can grow into worms up to 12 inches long in a dog's blood vessels and lungs. An arsenic treatment can save the dog if the condition is caught early enough.Many vets recommend monthly heartworm medicine for all dogs and cats, as well as monthly checks for parasites that can latch on to people. SPIDERS Black widow, brown recluse and other poisonous spiders live in dark, cool corners of garages or sheds that dogs and cats might crawl through. You probably won't see the bite, but the pet will start feeling the effects quickly, so it's important to get to a vet as soon as possible. SNAKES Forget the popular myth about sucking the venom out of a rattlesnake bite — just head for a vet. The venom alters blood clotting, blood pressure and kidney function, and without medical help, organs will fail one by one. There is anti-venom but it is in short supply and very expensive. A dog's survival depends on the age of the snake, where the dog was bitten and the size and health of the dog.
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:33 am by Fenit Nirappil, Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press
(AP) — Fire crews have gained ground on two of the largest wildfires in California, lifting evacuation orders for about half the homes in the path of a blaze in Yosemite National Park and redeploying firefighters battling another fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. The fire in the foothills, which forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes, was 85 percent contained Tuesday after burning 6 ½ square miles. Crews discovered six more homes destroyed by the fire, bringing the total to 19, state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said. The fire, which began Friday, also has claimed 48 outbuildings. Some firefighters were released Monday and more were expected to be taken off the blaze Tuesday. The total fire force was down to around 1,600, about 300 fewer firefighters than Sunday. The Yosemite fire about 100 miles away, had burned through 5 ½ square miles and was 34 percent contained. It forced the evacuation of about 100 homes after it began on Saturday. Residents of Old El Portal were permitted to return home Tuesday. About 45 homes in the community of Foresta remained evacuated, park fire information spokeswoman Jennifer Wuchner said. Both fires grew rapidly over the weekend before being brought under control. Their spread underscored the tinder-dry conditions resulting from California's third year of drought. Residents of the Sierra foothills fire said they were forced to evacuate quickly, and some vowed to keep a list of items to take with them in case of another blaze. Laurel Fulton, a 66-year-old evacuee, had to leave behind an obstinate horse. "When the sheriff is banging on your window yelling, 'Get out now, get out now,' you don't have much of a choice," Fulton said. Fulton said the fire was so hot and so fast, the sand along a nearby river burned to glass. She managed to rescue four dogs, a cat and her other horse. She said her neighbor stayed behind and has been reporting that her horse is OK. Fire crews also were battling a 3-square-mile blaze in the Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that shut down some campgrounds and was threatening 28 structures, some of them homes.
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:25 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Microsoft is spreading its Cortana digital assistant abroad, starting with China and the U.K. The company's corporate vice president of operating systems, Joe Belfiore, said Wednesday in Beijing that Chinese and British users of Windows Phones will get the voice-recognizing app in an update to Windows Phone 8.1 that will begin rolling out to developers next week and to users in the coming months. In China, the app nicknamed "Xiao Na," will speak Mandarin and include locally relevant information, like air quality reports in weather updates and information on local TV shows and celebrities. In Britain, users will get an app that has a British accent and be up to date about English Premier League soccer and other local matters. Users in Australia, Canada and India will also be allowed to use a version of Cortana, although the Redmond, Washington-based company said that would be an earlier test mode and tailored to U.S. and U.K. audiences. The update, described in April at Microsoft Corp.'s developer conference, will also introduce new hardware capabilities as the software giant seeks hardware partners beyond Nokia, whose device unit it purchased in April. Although Nokia has accounted for most of the Windows Phone shipments today, Microsoft has signed up 14 new manufacturing partners in the last six months, including heavyweights like Samsung, HTC, Huawei and ZTE. The update allows for phones to use two SIM cards, supports a better screen resolution for lower-end phones and adds support for so-called "smart covers" that give users brief notifications through a small window in the cover like on Samsung's S4 and S5. Additionally, the update adds support for faster charging and improves support for Bluetooth accessories like fitness tracker wristbands. On the software side, the update will now allow so-called "live tile" icons to be grouped into folders, a functionality that has long been available on Apple iPhones and devices that run Google Inc.'s Android operating system. In Windows Phone, however, the tiles show snippets of information from the apps. The folders will show snippets from four to 18 apps in the folder at once.
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:13 am by Martin Crutsinger, AP economics writer
(AP) — After a dismal winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April-June quarter, growing at a fast 4 percent annual rate on the strength of higher consumer and business spending. The rebound reported Wednesday by the Commerce Department followed a sharp 2.1 percent annualized drop in economic activity in the January-March quarter. That figure was revised up from a previous estimate of a 2.9 percent drop. But it was still the biggest contraction since early 2009 in the depths of the Great Recession. Last quarter's bounce-back was broad-based, with consumers, businesses, the housing industry and state and local governments all combining to fuel growth. The robust expansion will reinforce analysts' view that the economy's momentum is extending into the second half of the year, when they forecast an annual growth rate of around 3 percent. The government on Wednesday also updated its estimates of growth leading into this year. They show the economy expanded in the second half of 2013 at the fastest pace in a decade and more than previously estimated. The revised data also show that the economy grew faster in 2013 than previously estimated, though more slowly in 2011 and 2012 than earlier thought. The second quarter's 4 percent growth in the gross domestic product — the economy's total output of goods and services — was the best showing since a 4.5 percent increase in July-September quarter of 2013. At the same time, a higher trade deficit slowed growth as imports outpaced a solid increase in exports. Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said that given the solid rebound last quarter, he's boosting his estimate for growth this year to a 2 percent annual rate, up from a previous 1.7 percent forecast. Ashworth said the rebound also supported his view that the Federal Reserve, which is ending a two-day meeting Wednesday, will be inclined to start raising interest rates early next year. Most economists have been predicting that the Fed would wait until mid-2015 to start raising rates. "At the margin, this GDP report supports our view that an improving economy will persuade the Fed to begin raising rates in March next year," Ashcroft wrote in a research note. Ashcroft is among a group of economists who think growing strength in the job market and the overall economy will prod the Fed to move faster to raise rates to make sure inflation doesn't get out of hand. Stock prices turned generally negative Wednesday in the wake of the GDP report because some investors saw a greater likelihood that the Fed would raise rates sooner than expected. "We're at the point where we're not sure if good news is good news or bad news," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. The GDP report showed that one measure of inflation rose 2 percent last quarter, up from a 1.3 percent rise in the first quarter. The Fed's inflation target is 2 percent, and for two years the GDP measure of inflation has been running below that level. Low inflation has given the Fed leeway to focus on boosting growth to fight high unemployment. The economy's sudden contraction in the first quarter of this year had resulted from several factors. A severe winter disrupted activity across many industries and kept consumers away from shopping malls and auto dealerships. Consumer spending slowed to an annual growth rate of just 1.2 percent, the weakest showing in nearly three years. Last quarter, consumer spending, powered by pent-up demand, accelerated to a growth rate of 2.5 percent. That was double the pace of the first quarter. Spending on durable goods such as autos surged at a 14 percent annual rate, the biggest quarterly gain since 2009. Analysts said that was an encouraging sign of consumers' growing willingness to increase purchases of big-ticket items like cars. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity. In the April-June quarter, business investment in new equipment jumped at a 7 percent rate after having fallen 1 percent in the first quarter. That setback had reflected the expiration of business tax breaks at the end of 2013. Those tax breaks led companies to boost equipment spending at the end of last year.Businesses, optimistic about future demand, increased their stockpiling last quarter. The increase in inventories contributed two-fifths of the growth in the quarter after having subtracted 1 percentage point from first-quarter activity. Housing, which had been falling for two straight quarters, rebounded in the spring, growing at a 7.5 percent annual rate. Government spending also recovered after two consecutive declines. The strength came from state and local governments, which offset the seventh quarterly decline in federal government spending. The government's revised estimates of growth going back to 2011 show the economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.5 percent in last year's third quarter, up from a previous 4.1 percent estimate. The growth rate was 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter, up from an earlier 2.6 percent estimate. For 2013 as a whole, the government said the economy grew 2.2 percent, up from its earlier 1.9 percent estimate. But growth was weaker in 2011 and 2012 than previously estimated. It grew 2.3 percent in 2012, down from 2.8 percent. And growth in 2011 was downgraded to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent.
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:00 am by Matt Hamilton, Krysta Fauria, Associated Press
(AP) — The quiet summer campus of UCLA suddenly was steeped in water and chaos after a major water pipe burst and spewed some 8 million gallons, stranding people in parking garages and flooding the school's storied basketball court less than two years after a major renovation. The 30-inch, nearly century old pipe burst Tuesday afternoon under nearby Sunset Boulevard, sending water 30 feet into the air, opening a 15-foot hole in the street and inundating part of the campus that soon was swarmed with police and firefighters. "Unfortunately UCLA was the sink for this water source," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. The break came amid a historic drought when California residents are being threatened with $500 fines for overuse. "We lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history," City Councilman Paul Koretz said. Repairing the pipe could take several days, Department of Water and Power official Jeff Bray said at a Wednesday morning briefing. A number of valves were still leaking water into the ruptured pipe, and the complex repair operation cannot begin until it is drained, Bray said. Despite the rupture, no utility customers were without water. UCLA officials said six facilities were damaged. The flooding hit the part of campus that is home to its athletic facilities, with the greatest danger coming in a pair of parking structures that quickly began filling with water. Firefighters, some using inflatable boats, saved at least five people who were stranded in the structures where more than 100 cars were stuck, city fire officials said. No injuries were reported. Water cascaded to the entrance of Pauley Pavilion, considered one of college basketball's shrines since it was built in 1965, then poured on to the court named for legendary coach John Wooden and his wife Nell. The arena — where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred — underwent a $132 million renovation that was completed in October 2012. At least an inch of water covered the floor Tuesday night, and its locker rooms also were flooded. "It's painful. It's painful," Block said. "We just refurbished Pauley just a few years ago. And it's a beautiful structure. It's of course, a symbolic structure for this entire campus." Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said the floor would be cleared of water overnight and the damage assessed Wednesday. The school may need to make contingency plans, but "luckily we're not in the middle of basketball season," Administrative Vice Chancellor Jack Powazek said. The other two campus buildings damaged were the Wooden Center, which has training facilities for students, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses the school's sports trophies, hall of fame and athletics offices. Many students took the flooding in stride, walking calmly across campus with their backpacks in ankle-deep water. Paul Phootrakul of the UCLA Alumni Association, who was in business attire for an evening event, took off his dress shoes and dress socks, and rolled up his slacks in an attempt to wade to his car, which was on the bottom floor of one of the flooded structures. Firefighters stopped him, saying the structure was unsteady because of the weight of all the water." I don't have much hope for my car," Phootrakul said. Some saw a chance for fun, pulling out body boards and attempting to ride down the flowing water. Patrick Huggins and Matthew Bamberger, two 18-year-olds who live in nearby Westwood, said they were having a dull summer day until Huggins' mother told them about the water. "It was about up to my thigh, and I thought, 'This is a good day for a little dip,'" Huggins said. The two shot video of themselves diving and splashing in the badly flooded practice putting green used by the golf team. The 93-year-old high-pressure line of riveted steel pipe spewed a geyser of water for about 3 ½ hours before it could safely be shut down without causing more damage, said Jim McDaniel of the DWP. Crews struggled to get to the area at rush hour and they had to research which valves to shut off without affecting service, McDaniel said. Some water service was briefly interrupted but quickly restored.There was no immediate word on the cause. McDaniel said there was no "magic technology" to determine when a new line is needed and the city is on a replacement cycle of over 300 years for main lines. "Every city that has aging infrastructure has issues like this, and we're no exception."
Written on 07/30/2014, 8:55 am by Erica Werner, Associated Press
(AP) — A bill to deal with the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has won a temporary reprieve in the Senate.Senators voted 63-33 Wednesday to advance the $3.5 billion emergency spending bill over a procedural hurdle. But with Congress adjourning for the summer within days and Republicans opposed, there was little expectation that the legislation would ultimately prevail. The bill includes $2.7 billion for more immigration judges, detention facilities and other measures to deal with the tens and thousands of youths who've been arriving illegally in South Texas without their parents. Republicans say it's a blank check and they're demanding policy changes that would send the migrants back home more quickly.

Latest State News

Written on 07/30/2014, 9:40 am by Sue Manning, Associated Press
(AP) — The popular push for locally...
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:33 am by Fenit Nirappil, Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press
(AP) — Fire crews have gained ground on...
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:25 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Microsoft is spreading its...
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:00 am by Matt Hamilton, Krysta Fauria, Associated Press
(AP) — The quiet summer campus of UCLA...

Latest National News

Written on 07/30/2014, 9:51 am by Kimberly Hefling, AP education writer
(AP) — Iraq and Afghanistan veterans...
Written on 07/30/2014, 9:13 am by Martin Crutsinger, AP economics writer
(AP) — After a dismal winter, the U.S....
Written on 07/30/2014, 8:55 am by Erica Werner, Associated Press
(AP) — A bill to deal with the...
Written on 07/30/2014, 8:42 am by Jennifer Agiesta, Elliot Spagat, associated press
(AP) — Americans are wary of granting...