May 31, 2012

By JENNIFER KAY |

Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — A homeless man whose face was mostly chewed off in a bizarre, vicious attack faces a bigger threat from infection than from the injuries themselves, according to experts on facial reconstruction. He will require months of treatment to rebuild his features and be permanently disfigured.

Though gruesome, such severe facial injuries are generally not life threatening. The most serious risk to Ronald Poppo as he remained hospitalized Wednesday were germs that may have been introduced by the bites of the naked man who attacked him. One of the 65-year-old's eyes was also gouged out.

“The human mouth is basically filthy,” said Dr. Seth Thaller, the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

It’s not clear why Poppo was attacked Saturday afternoon by 31-year-old Rudy Eugene alongside a busy highway. Police have released few details about the attack, but surveillance video from a nearby building shows Eugene pulling Poppo from the shade, stripping and pummeling him before appearing to hunch over and then lie on top of him.

A witness described Eugene ripping at Poppo’s face with his mouth and growling at a Miami police officer who ordered him to get off the homeless man. The officer shot and killed Eugene.

Eugene’s younger brother said that he was a sweet person who didn’t drink much or use hard drugs.

“I wish they didn’t kill him so he could tell us exactly what happened. This is very uncharacteristic of him,” said the brother, who asked for anonymity to protect his family from harassment.

Police union officials representing the officer said the scene on the MacArthur Causeway was one of the goriest they had ever seen.

“He had his face eaten down to his goatee. The forehead was just bone. No nose, no mouth,” said Sgt. Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.

Poppo has been in critical condition in recent days, but police didn’t give an update on his condition Wednesday.

Thaller, who is not treating Poppo, and other plastic surgeons said the rebuilding of Poppo's face would happen in stages after doctors try to keep his wounds clean, salvage viable tissue and determine a plan for skin grafts. Protecting his remaining eye and maintaining an airway are priorities.

To keep the wounds clean, doctors use grafts of the patient’s skin, cadaver skin or synthetic skin to cover the exposed bone or cartilage, said Dr. Blane Shatkin, a plastic surgeon and director of the wound healing center at Memorial Hospital Pembroke in South Florida. The coverage would act like a dressing, protecting the wound as it heals.

Poppo’s lifestyle and health before the attack could determine how doctors proceed and whether they eventually consider a facial transplant, plastic surgeons said. Poppo had been homeless for more than 30 years, previously survived a gunshot wound and faced multiple charges of public intoxication, among other arrests.

“You would not just take this guy to the OR for a face transplant — you really have to go in a staged fashion. You save what you can and use what you have available first, don't burn any bridges and move forward slowly,” Shatkin said. “And you have to see what he wants.”

Psychological care is important to the recovery, and patients need to participate in the decision-making process, said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He performed a facial transplant on a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a friend's pet chimpanzee in 2009.

“I think the patient has to be able to cope with the injury and the trauma and needs to figure out what has happened. It often takes them weeks to understand what has happened,” Pomahac said.

The will to live is as important for Poppo’s survival as medical technology, said Ara Chekmayan, spokesman for Pomahac's patient, Charla Nash. Nash lost her nose, lips eyelids and hands.

The chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, Ron Book, said the last time Poppo sought help from the agency finding someplace to sleep was in 2004. However, on Thursday the Jungle Island zoo on the MacArthur Causeway called for an outreach team to deal with Poppo, who had been living on the roof of the attraction’s parking garage.

Poppo was belligerent and aggressive, but he was not arrested, Book said.

The nearly 18-minute attack Saturday in the shadow of The Miami Herald headquarters was captured by the building’s security cameras.

The newspaper posted the uncensored video online late Tuesday.

In the Herald video (http://hrld.us/N9GlGB), a naked Eugene walks west on the sidewalk alongside an off-ramp of the causeway. A bicyclist speeds past Eugene just as he turns to something in the shade, in an area obscured by the tops of palm trees.

After a couple minutes, Eugene rolls Poppo’s body into the sun and begins stripping off his pants and pummeling him. Later, the footage shows Eugene pull Poppo farther up the sidewalk. Though the view is partially obstructed by the mass transit rail above,Eugeneappears to hunch over and lie on top of Poppo.

The footage shows a bicyclist slowly pedaling past the men about halfway through the attack, followed by a car slowly driving on the shoulder of the ramp. Cars regularly pass by the scene from the beginning of the attack, but their view was likely obstructed by a waist-high concrete barrier.

Two more bicyclists cross the scene before a police car drives the wrong way up the ramp nearly 18 minutes into the attack.

An officer gets out of the car and appears to do a double-take at the scene before pulling out his gun. He fatally shot Eugene, apparently within a minute of arriving, but the shooting is obscured from view by the tracks.

Miami police have not released 911 calls. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner declined to discuss Eugene’s autopsy. It could be weeks before the results of toxicology tests are available.

Eugene left his girlfriend in Fort Lauderdale around 5 a.m. Saturday, then stopped at a friend’s in North Miami. He said he was on his way to Urban Beach Week, a series of outdoor concerts and parties on Miami Beach, according to his brother. No one knows what led to him walking naked on the causeway.

“Where’s the car, where are his clothes? We don’t know where his stuff is,” the brother said. “How did he get there naked in the middle of the daytime and nobody saw him?”

Eugene had a job detailing cars at a dealership and had been arrested a handful of times on marijuana-related charges, his brother said.

“I don’t understand any of this,” the brother said. “I know my brother, and anybody else who knows him knows he was a genuinely sweet person.”

 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 31, 2012

By MIKE SCHNEIDER | Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — New documents released in the case of a Florida A&M drum major who died after being beaten by fellow band members show that being ritually hazed was what it took to be accepted inimages/stories/05-31-2012/nu-famuhazing-scrollzz.jpgto the inner circle of the Marching 100's percussionist section.

The affidavits for arrest warrants released Wednesday by the State Attorney’s Office in Orlando say that it was common knowledge band members were required to go through hazing in order to earn the respect of other percussionists.

Eleven band members have been charged with felony hazing for Robert Champion’s death in November. Two others face misdemeanor charges.

Champion had opposed hazing. But he was also vying to be the band's top leader, and friends say he volunteered to be hazed in order to win respect from others.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24, 2012

Egyptians on Wednesday and Thursday vote to elect their first president since the fall of Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011, after 29 years of his authoritarian rule. A second round is likely to be held between the two top vote-getters on June 16-17. Here is a look at what's at stake in the election.

WILL EGYPT GO ISLAMIST?

A victory by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Morsi will likely mean a greater emphasis on religion in government. The group, which already dominates parliament, says it won’t mimic Saudi Arabia and force women to wear veils or implement harsh punishments like amputations. But it says it does want to implement a more moderate version of Islamic law, which liberals fear will mean limitations on many rights. Two secular front-runners in the race say they will prevent Islamization, but that will likely mean frictions with parliament if they win.

WILL EGYPT BECOME A DEMOCRACY?

The two secular front-runners, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and former foreign minister Amr Moussa, both are veterans of Mubarak’s regime and their opponents fear they will do little to change Mubarak’s autocratic system. The security forces and intelligence agencies that long prevented real change in Egypt remain in place, and there has been little move to end entrenched corruption and the intertwining of business interests and politics. The military, which took power after Mubarak’s fall, is due to hand over authority to the vote’s winner. But it is not clear how much power the generals will yield. Whoever wins, Egypt likely faces struggles between the different power centers.

WILL EGYPT’S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE U.S. AND ISRAEL CHANGE?

Many of the candidates in the race have called for amendments in Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which remains deeply unpopular. None is likely to dump it, but a victory by any of the Islamist or leftist candidates in the race could mean strained ties with Israel and a stronger stance in support of the Palestinians in the peace process. Shafiq and Moussa — and ironically the Brotherhood — are most likely to maintain the alliance with Washington.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24, 2012

By Rev. Eric Lee

LAWT Contributor

Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2−5 years and adolescents aged 12−19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6−11 years.

At present, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Statistics show that obese children and especially those in the teenage years have a 70% chance of being obese as adults. What is worse is that percentage increases to 80% if either one or both the parents are obese as well.

In 2009, Dawn Strozier founded The Fight Against Obesity Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization. Known as “the fitness queen,” Ms. Strozier is a celebrity trainer whose expertise as a nutritional consultant attracts a diverse clientele, including professional athletes, Hollywood executives, Fortune 500 corporations and high-profile celebrities. 

Actor/comedian/radio host/author Steve Harvey states, “It’s the best program ever.”

The foundation is committed to fighting the growing epidemic of obesity in our community. Since 2009 the Foundation has been an active participant in our local community promoting obesity awareness through a variety of fitness, health and educational services designed to create long-term health benefits. 

A child is considered obese when exceeding certain average height and weight parameters for their respective age. For example, a 2-year-old boy should have an average height of 31 inches and an average weight of 28.4 pounds; a 2-year-old girl, 30 inches and 28.4 pounds; a 6-year- old boy, 42 inches and 46.2 pounds; a 6-year-old girl, 41 inches and 46.2 pounds; a 12–13-year-old boy, 58–62 inches and 85–100 pounds; a 12–13-year-old girl, 60–63 inches and 95–105 pounds; and a 16–17-year-old boy, 67–70 inches and 130–150 pounds; and a 16–17-year-old girl, 64 inches and 115–120 pounds. 

On May 6, 2012, Dawn Strozier decided to run 26.2 miles in an effort to raise $26,000 on behalf of The Fight Against Obesity Foundation.  Joining her along the way were The Kids of the Foundation, their parents, sponsors and members of The Aerobics Room. Over 70 people ran or walked in support of the event. Of the 70-plus participants, 80% were families who walked and/or ran with Dawn Strozier along portions of the 26.2 mile trek. Families participated in groups of 3 to 10.  Each group/family ran one mile each.

The run mirrored the route of the L.A. Marathon from Dodgers Stadium to Santa Monica. Along the entire route, spectators inquired about the purpose of the run. They applauded the children, asked to take pictures and even donated toward the cause. 

Although it was Dawn’s first attempt to create such an event, the marathon was a huge success. It was well organized and creatively designed to allow people who would otherwise be unable to run 26.2 miles to contribute their own personal one-mile commitment and towards a greater cause. Participants were very excited about their contribution and rallied around Dawn as she pushed through muscle cramps and fatigue to complete her very first marathon. 

The Foundation offers a variety of classes including free kids’ fitness classes, adult zumba, boot camp, cardio step, kick boxing and aerobics groove. Located at 3820 Crenshaw Blvd., in Los Angeles, The Fight Against Obesity Foundation/Aerobics Room is centrally located to bring health and fitness into our community.

Dawn Strozier and The Fight Against Obesity Foundation can be contacted at 310-289-2169 or www.aerobicsroom.com.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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