Monday Edition: Cause of Bloom’s Death

NBC’s David Bloom died in Iraq from what NBC says is a pulmonary embolism.

The cause of death is worth a story on its own. We often hear of people who have sudden life-threatening attacks caused by blocked arteries, such as heart attacks and strokes, but we may not be as familiar with pulmonary embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in an artery in the lungs caused by an embolus (a free-floating blood clot) that travels through the blood vessels (usually from a vein in a leg or in the pelvic area) to the lungs. Pulmonary embolism causes damage to lung tissue, disrupts the proper functioning of the damaged lung, and can cause death. Here is Mayo Clinic’s page on Pulmonary Embolisms.

The Start of HIPAA

It is about to get much more difficult to get patient information from hospitals. Photojournalist Bob Gould at WZZM Grand Rapids sent Al’s Morning Meeting an idea: “A new federal law is going into effect April 14 that will give patients more privacy. It’s called the health portability and accountability act, or HIPAA.” The law is designed to protect patients against fraud and abuse.

An educational tape is being distributed to hospitals and other medical facilities across the nation explaining what the law is and what they need to do.

Protected health information under this new law includes: your name, address, phone number, medical, and account numbers, any photographs, diagnosis, and test results. In addition, the media will no longer be able to check conditions of patients without authorization from the victim. If a patient’s privacy is violated, civil complaints and criminal charges can be filed. Violation of one’s privacy can result in a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.

How Filthy Can Radio Get?

An Infinity-owned radio station in Detroit faces a $27,000 fine for an absolutely filthy morning radio program. One FCC regulator calls it “some of the most vulgar and disgusting indecency” he had ever heard.

Infinity Broadcasting Corp. is one of the largest radio broadcasting companies in the United States. The company, headquartered in New York City, owns some 180 radio stations in 22 states in the nation’s largest markets.

What does a station have to do to lose a license anymore? How do these huge broadcast corporations that are repeatedly found in violation of FCC regulations keep their licenses?

Military Recruiting in Wartime

A week ago I was teaching a TV storytelling seminar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent a few minutes talking to a military recruiter who was at the same event. He told me that in the weeks just before the first shot was fired in Iraq, the number of people coming by his office jumped considerably. When the first Americans started dying in the war, the interest dried up.

AP says, “The vivid images of firefights and American POWs in Iraq may be turning off some potential military recruits, but battlefield heroics and the threat of terrorism are driving others to enlist, evening the score, officials say.”

Military recruiters are keeping count but say they don’t expect major changes in recruitment numbers as a result of the war. Young people are still drawn to the military for other reasons, they say, chiefly jobs, training, and money for college.

“You can have all kind of ideals and political positions on what ought to be done (about Iraq). But at the end of the day, the question is: Can you pay your bills?” said Master Sgt. Rodney Williams, a regional spokesman for Air Force recruitment in Arlington, Texas.

Twelve years ago, the Army saw a slight hesitation in enlistments in the months leading up to the first Gulf War and after it began. Then, as the end neared, there was a surge of recruits, said Doug Smith, a spokesman for Army recruiting.

SARS Collection: Latest Developments Tracked

One of my favorite sites,, now has a special SARS section to track minute to minute developments in the spread of the virus.

One interesting story idea: How are families who are adopting in places like China reacting to the warnings?

Also, Asian college students in the U.S. who normally would go home for the summer or for spring vacations now are postponing plans to travel.

Healthy Happy Meals

The AJC says, “Troubled hamburger giant McDonald’s is getting ready to serve up a novel order: healthy food for kids.”

The company is considering adding sliced apples and perhaps other fruits, vegetables, and low-fat yogurt as options in children’s Happy Meals. It also rolled out a new line of premium salads earlier this month and is testing an all-white-meat chicken nugget.

Independent Restaurants Under Strain: Chain Invasion

A friend of mine who runs a locally owned restaurant told me last week that the business’ days are numbered. He told me that the “spring break season” was very soft and that people are not traveling or spending money. Then Sam Sodos, a reporter at WFLA, sent me a story that says the smaller restaurants are being overcome by chains. “In 2001, the nation’s top 100 largest chain restaurants captured the biggest share ever of the $269 billion restaurant industry, or 51 percent, according to Technomic Inc., a food consulting firm based in Chicago. Twenty years ago, the figure was 40 percent. Many restaurateurs say the future for independents lies in smaller restaurants where fixed costs can be controlled.”

“What we have to do is limit our overhead and keep better quality food,” said Michael Chulikavit, owner of Circles restaurants in south Tampa and Carrollwood.

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