Santas from all over the world meet to talk shop

With just five months until Christmas, Santas from around the world are gathering in Copenhagen for a mid-season break at the annual World Santa Claus Congress.

The annual conference gives them a chance to network, meet the public and get into shape for the busy days in December.

This year 140 Santas from 12 countries gathered in the Danish capital for the three-day event.

Santa Cherry from Canada, who is taking part for the fifth time, said there was much more to being a Santa than just the clothes.

“A successful Santa is not just about the costumes and the clothes. You have to have Christmas in your heart. You have to have the love of children and caring and giving in your hear to be a really successful Santa and it’s not something you can make up. It has to be in you and people know, they can see it,” she said.

The World Santa Claus Congress has taken place at the Bakken amusement park near Copenhagen since 1957 and always in the summer which is Santa’s off season.

“I think the congress was started as a way of bringing Santas from all over the world together and sharing ideas and sharing our love of Christmas and being Santa and it’s just joyous. It’s great to be here,” said Santa Ian from London in the United Kingdom.

During the congress they have the opportunity to discuss important issues concerning their trade, such as presents and weight regulations for Santa Clauses. One of the most hotly contested topics is the date for Christmas Eve.

For Santa Allan from Denmark, there is only one correct date.

“I think the main question will be when is it Christmas Eve. Because everyone is talking about have you decided when that Christmas Eve will be or are you disagreeing like you used to? But the Danish guild is saying we have to have Christmas Eve on December 24th,” he said.

The most important part of the meeting is for the professional Santas to meet the public. Apart from parades there is also some sightseeing, a foot bath in the sea, Christmas cake baking and storytelling for the children. On Wednesday (July 20), Santas had to complete an obstacle course.

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View From Texas: Did Cruz 'Hurt The Republican Party' Or Follow His Principles?

Delegates from Texas listen as Texas senator and former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz addresses Wednesday evening's session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Delegates from Texas listen as Texas senator and former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz addresses Wednesday evening’s session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the delegation from Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz’s home state, looked shellshocked in the concourse of the Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.

Cruz had just delivered a nighttime speech in which he did not endorse Donald Trump. Instead, he told the Republican National Convention to “vote your conscience.” As he walked off the stage, the crowd booed.

“I was very disappointed that he did not endorse Trump,” Gary Inmon, who lives near San Antonio, said. “We had a fair process and Donald Trump is the nominee.”

McShane O’Rourke, a Texas delegate from outside Fort Worth, said Cruz gave a “great speech based on the conservative values of the Republican Party.”

Nick Weidenkopf, an alternate delegate from Texas, had his credentials signed by Sen. Ted Cruz.

Nick Weidenkopf, an alternate delegate from Texas, had his credentials signed by Sen. Ted Cruz. Eyder Peralta/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Eyder Peralta/NPR

He said that he would have wanted an endorsement but no one should be booed. Still, his senator “hurt the Republican Party” today, he said.

Just down the hall, Nick Weidenkopf, an alternate delegate from Dallas, stood wearing a cowboy hat and a convention pass signed by Ted Cruz.

Weidenkopf liked Cruz’s speech, especially his call to “work together as human beings.” He has come around to Trump and thinks that Cruz did exactly what Trump would have wanted. One of Trump’s central themes in this campaign, said Weidenkopf, is to drop political correctness, and that’s what Trump got from Cruz Wednesday.

“We have the right to free speech,” Weidenkopf said. “Ted Cruz exercised that right.”

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Rehab Hospitals May Harm A Third Of Patients, Report Finds

The physical therapy workouts a rehabilitation facility offers can be a crucial part of healing, doctors say. But a government study finds preventable harm — including bedsores and medication errors — occurring in some of those facilities, too.

The physical therapy workouts a rehabilitation facility offers can be a crucial part of healing, doctors say. But a government study finds preventable harm — including bedsores and medication errors — occurring in some of those facilities, too. Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images

Patients may go to rehabilitation hospitals to recover from a stroke, injury or recent surgery. But sometimes the care makes things worse.

In a government report published Thursday, 29 percent of patients in rehab facilities suffered a medication error, bedsore, infection or some other type of harm as a result of the care they received.

Doctors who reviewed cases from a broad sampling of rehab facilities say that almost half of the 158 incidents they spotted among 417 patients were clearly or likely preventable.

“This is the latest study over a long time period now that says we still have high rates of harm,” says Dr. David Classen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah School of Medicine who developed the analytic tool used in the report to identify the harm to patients.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we say we have made improvement,” Classen says. “If the first rule of health care is ‘Do no harm,’ then we’re failing.”

The oversight study, from the office of the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focused on rehabilitation facilities that were not associated with hospitals. Rehab facilities generally require that patients be able to undergo at least three hours of physical and occupational therapy per day, five days a week. Patients at these facilities are presumed to be healthier than patients in a more typical hospital or a nursing home.

Still, the findings echoed those of previous studies that found that more than a quarter of patients in hospitals and a third in skilled nursing facilities suffered harm related to their care.

“It’s important to acknowledge that harm can occur in any type of inpatient setting,” says Amy Ashcraft, a team leader for the rehabilitation hospital study. “This is one of the settings that’s most likely to be underestimated in terms of what type of harm can occur.”

For the purposes of the study, doctors and nurses identified harm by reviewing the medical records of 417 randomly selected Medicare patients who stayed in U.S. rehabilitation facilities in March 2012. The events they identified varied in severity, ranging from a temporary injury to something that required a longer stay at the facility or that led to permanent disability or death.

Almost a quarter of the harmed patients had to be admitted to an acute care hospital, at a cost of about $7.7 million for the month analyzed, the study shows.

The physicians who reviewed the cases for the OIG say substandard treatment, inadequate monitoring, and failure to provide needed care caused most of the harm. Almost half the cases, 46 percent, were related to medication errors and included bleeding from gastric ulcers due to blood thinners and a loss of consciousness linked to narcotic painkillers.

That high number indicates there’s lots of room for improvement, says Dr. Eric Thomas, director of the UT Houston-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety.

“We know a lot about preventing medication errors,” Thomas says.

An additional 40 percent of the cases in which patients were harmed were traced to lapses in routine monitoring that led to bedsores, constipation or falls. These problems almost never contributed to a patient’s death but could mean extra days or weeks of recovery, a loss of independence or permanent disability, says Lisa McGiffert, director of the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project.

“It is a domino effect for any person who has had an adverse event,” says McGiffert, who was not involved in the study.

The inspector general is recommending that Medicare and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality work together to reduce harm to patients by creating a list of adverse events that occur in rehab hospitals. In their responses to the report, the agencies have pledged to follow that suggestion.

Officials from the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association, the trade group that represents rehab facilities, say they have not yet seen the report and decline to comment for now.

ProPublica is interested in hearing from patients who have been harmed while undergoing medical care, through its Patient Harm Questionnaire and Patient Safety Facebook Group.

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Will Dallas And Baton Rouge Set Back Police Reform Efforts?

President Obama speaks as Terry Cunningham International Association of Chiefs of Police listens July 13 during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.

President Obama speaks as Terry Cunningham International Association of Chiefs of Police listens July 13 during a conversation on community policing and criminal justice at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

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On Sunday, in the hours after the attack on officers in Baton Rouge, La., police reformers were quick to condemn the killings — and there were touching efforts to bridge the divide between the black community and police, such as a cookout in Wichita, Kan. Planned as a protest, it was repurposed as a community barbecue with local police.

“You see African-Americans hugging Hispanics, you see Hispanics hugging Caucasians, citizens hugging police, citizens hugging sheriffs. This is amazing,” says one of the organizers, an activist named A.J. Bohannan. “I think that what happened in Baton Rouge made this event that much more important, so that we can get on the same page — so that those things that are in Baton Rouge don’t trickle over into Wichita.”

But nationally, the tone has not always been so conciliatory. The recent murders of law enforcement officers have been deeply unsettling and have damaged the progress reformers say they’ve been making.

Many police are angry, and some think the attacks were triggered by what they see as the anti-police rhetoric of Black Lives Matter. They say angry words lead to violent deeds.

“You got one guy with a bullhorn who’s screaming, ‘kill the cops,’ what do those other six end up doing?’ says Keith Wenzel.

Most cops can’t say things like this publicly, but Keith Wenzel can because he’s now retired from the Dallas Police Department — though he’s still a reserve officer. He says police have been demoralized, and he singles out Hillary Clinton for recently talking about “systemic racism” in law enforcement.

“Every cop right now looks in a mirror and says, ‘Clinton’s talking about me — Clinton doesn’t even know me, or my friends, or my colleagues,’ and yet, systemic,” Wenzel says. “She has said we’re all that way — he didn’t say one or two, she said we’re all that way.”

Reformers are deeply worried that rank-and-file police will feel more justified in rejecting the basic political premise of the last couple of years: that law enforcement has a racism problem.

This worries police leaders, too — at least those who’ve bought into the reform process.

“What I’ve tried to tell officers that are just bitter and angry about what’s happened, I say to them: ‘Look, if we can’t move closer so that we can continue to have these conversations, it’s gonna mean that more police officers are gonna die out there,’ ” says Terry Cunningham is president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

But right now, it’s not easy keeping police in the room — figuratively, and literally. So President Obama has made that his mission: On Monday, he had police leaders over to the White House for several hours. And in the Oval Office afterwards, he made a point of saying supportive things.

“I strongly believe that there is no contradiction between us protecting our officers, honoring our officers, making sure that they have all the tools they need to do their job safely, and … building trust between police officers and departments and the communities that they serve,” Obama said.

According to Cunningham, that’s just what police have wanted for the last seven years — “that kind of support and acknowledgement.”

He is also pleased with the open letter that the president just sent to law enforcement, and one line in particular resonates with many police: “[W]e can no longer ask you to solve issues we refuse to address as a society.” Just as Black Lives Matter wants police to acknowledge the reality of racism, police want them to acknowledge that the system is about a lot more than just cops.

Charles Ramsey, the former chief of police in Philadelphia, and the co-chair of the police reform task force that Obama set up after Ferguson, says it can’t all fall on the shoulders of police.

“It’s like all the ills of society, we wind up somehow being looked at as the people that need to solve them,” he says. The president understands this, Ramsey says, and is reorienting his task force to take a broader look at the justice system as a whole.

“You know, this doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “No one has a light switch that they can turn on and suddenly everything is different.”

Ramsey thinks there has been some real progress over the past couple of years: More departments are adopting the recommendations of the task force, and training their officers in de-escalation techniques and how to control implicit bias.

Ramsey’s co-chair on the task force, law professor and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, agrees that there’s been progress.

“Of course these incidents will have an impact,” says Robinson. “But … persistence — and I would say stubbornness — in bringing change is essential.”

But that progress hasn’t been fast enough for many in the reform movement, including members of a group that protested last week outside the Minnesota governor’s mansion.

Police forces in riot gear keep watch on a demonstration in Omaha, Neb., on July 8. Participants were protesting the recent shooting death by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Police forces in riot gear keep watch on a demonstration in Omaha, Neb., on July 8. Participants were protesting the recent shooting death by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Nati Harnik/AP hide caption

toggle caption Nati Harnik/AP

Jacob Ladda says he’s willing to concede that the police have a tough job — but he wants police to concede certain realities, too.

“We hear a lot of police saying, or their wives saying, that ‘every day I work I risk my life,’ ” Ladda says. “Well, every time a black person steps out of their residence, they can lose their life, because that’s what’s happening.”

The question after Baton Rouge and Dallas is whether police officers are still willing to listen to this.

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Mali Extends State Of Emergency After Series Of Deadly Attacks

A soldier of the United Nations mission to Mali stands guard near a UN vehicle after it drove over an explosive device near Kidal, northern Mali, on July 14.

A soldier of the United Nations mission to Mali stands guard near a UN vehicle after it drove over an explosive device near Kidal, northern Mali, on July 14. Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP/Getty Images

Mali is extending a state of emergency after a series of deadly attacks — including an assault on an army camp on Tuesday that killed 17 soldiers.

The West African country is observing three days of mourning over that attack, NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

Around 35 people were wounded in the army camp assault, The Associated Press reports.

That attack has been claimed by two militant groups, Ofeibea says: “Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and another Al Qaeda-affiliated group claiming to support Peulh (Fulani) ethnic rights.”

Mali has been the site of conflict for the past four years, since violence erupted in 2012.

“Most of the north — including historic Timbuktu — was occupied by Tuareg separatists and extremists,” Ofeibea says. In 2013, “a French-led military offensive drove back the Islamists, but Mali has remained unstable ever since.”

Now that militant threat is resurgent, she says, and Malian authorities are wrestling with an increase in terrorism.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports increasing violence has hurt aid groups working in the region, impacting millions of people relying on aid.

“There has been a resurgence of violence against aid agencies in recent months, with 10 attacks recorded in April and May after just three in the first three months of this year, according to data from the United Nations,” the humanitarian news agency says.

Many attacks involve vehicle hijackings, the wire service reports. And while they may not be targeting aid workers specifically, they are “hindering the delivery of food, water and healthcare to millions,” Thomson Reuters says:

“Around three million people in Mali do not have enough to eat, and some 500,000 in conflict-hit areas in the north need urgent food aid, according to aid agencies in the region. …

“Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it was worried about a lack of health care in northern Mali, where few health centres are functioning and an outbreak of malaria has led to one in two people being infected in some villages.”

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WATCH: Pence, Cruz And Former Trump Rivals Take The RNC Stage On Night 3

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is the headliner on night three of the Republican National Convention, but the biggest question may be what Ted Cruz will say about his former rival.

The Texas senator still hasn’t endorsed the now-official GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump after their bitter primary fight, and there’s been little indication he intends to do so tonight.

Pence will officially accept the GOP nomination for vice president, and his speech will be important in laying out to the country who the governor and congressman.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another former presidential candidate, will also speak, but he is backing Trump. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, at home campaigning for re-election to the Senate, will also speak via video.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was a runner-up for Trump’s running mate, will also speak, along with his wife, Callista.

After two of Trump’s children — Donald Trump, Jr., and Tiffany Trump — talked about their father on Tuesday night, Eric Trump will address the convention tonight.

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