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Hemera/Thinkstoc(ATLANTA) -- Two Americans who contracted Ebola will be released today from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, ABC News has learned.

Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, contracted the deadly virus while working in a Liberian Ebola ward with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse. He was evacuated to the U.S. earlier this month along with coworker Nancy Writebol.

Brantly is the first-ever Ebola patient to be treated in the U.S. and the first human to receive the experimental serum known as ZMapp.

According to reports, Brantly’s condition deteriorated so quickly that doctors in Africa decided to give him the drug in a last-ditch effort to save him.

Brantly’s condition started to improve dramatically within an hour after getting the serum, according to Samaritan’s Purse, but it’s unclear if the improvement was directly related to the medication. After his health stabilized, Brantly was evacuated on a specially outfitted plane to Atlanta in early August to the hospital isolation ward.

Writebol, 59, also survived after getting the serum.

The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases.


Watch more news videos | Latest from the US

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The World Health Organization provided another update on the spread of the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak on Wednesday, noting 221 new cases and 106 additional deaths between Aug. 17 and Aug. 18.

In total the WHO says, there have been 2,473 cases of Ebola reported. The disease has killed 1,350 people thus far in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Of the new cases, they remain contained to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with Liberia seeing the most new cases. Between Aug. 17 and 18, there were an additional 126 cases and 95 deaths reported in Liberia.

About 1,460 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the four countries, and 805 deaths confirmed related to the Ebola virus. The WHO also tallies "probable" and "suspected" cases of Ebola.

Also on Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health said that a possible Ebola patient in Sacramento is being considered a low-risk case, though blood samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of an abundance of caution.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association said on Wednesday that donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continue to flow in at a rapid pace, with over $31 million in donations in the last three weeks.

Since July 29, the ALS Association said that is has received charitable donations from 637,527 new donors. The donation total, which has reached approximately $31.5 million is far higher than the $1.9 million in donations received during the same time period last year.

The ALS Association, founded in 1985, said that it has its largest day of donations ever on Tuesday, taking in $8.6 million in donations.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  As news spread of yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar's death on Wednesday, disciples were quick to respond to the news via social media and other outlets with remembrances, gratitude and sorrow.

"As we mourn the passing of our great teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, we are filled with a sense of wonder and joy that one man could have touched so many lives for the better," the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the U.S. (IYNAUS) told ABC News in a statement. "Yesterday, Senior Iyengar teacher Manouso Manos told his students that he had once asked Mr. Iyengar about death and Iyengar replied that he did not know how he would die, but he knew that he would have given more to the world than he took from it. We are deeply moved by his example."

Iyengar, who died at age 95 in Pune, India, introduced his eponymous practice to the West when he first arrived in the United States in 1956. He continued at the center of the movement as yoga gained momentum here during the 1970s.

Students of Iyengar have ranged from novelist Aldous Huxley to Yoga Journal magazine co-founder Judith Lasater to pop star Madonna to domestic doyenne Martha Stewart, as well as myriad yoga instructors.

Iyengar classes are taught not only at official Institutes around the country but at chains, such as Yogaworks and Pure Yoga, as well as independent studios.

"I think it's impossible to underestimate his impact on the practice and the whole modern view of yoga," said Zubin Shroff, director of Piedmont Yoga in California, whose family studied with Iyengar. "He put an undeniable importance on the alignment approach and it is fundamental to any safe practice of yoga."

Iyengar is also credited for introducing the use of props, such as belts, blankets, benches, ropes and weights to yoga practice for accessibility.

"He had a particular talent for aiding people with different kinds of health problems, and there have been numerous medical studies of the effects of yoga based on his work," said IYNAUS Board of Directors President Janet Lilly.

Iyengar's legacy will continue to be upheld by his daughter Geeta and his son Prashant, both directors of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, stated representatives for the Institute. All over the world Iyengar Yoga centers will be sponsoring practice sessions in his memory in the coming days.

While the guri-ji, as he was honorably referred to, was known for inclusiveness, he also encouraged students to look past the material trappings of their practice.

"Students new to yoga might at first only be concerned with the physical performance of the asanas," said Lilly. "With time and practice they may come to agree with Mr. Iyengar’s statement from his 2005 publication, Light on Life:

“The yogic journey guides us from our periphery, the body, to the center of our being, the soul.”

Meanwhile, Shroff posited that Iyenger's transition may also open a door in the West for American yoga teachers to step forward as leaders in a more level playing field.

"We like to look from the West at teachers in India traditionally but [Iyengar] was a very creative, radical thinker," said Shroff. "And I think it's an exciting time for yoga in America when we're going to see some changes again."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tanya Prashad thought she was the perfect candidate for surrogacy. Having given birth to healthy children of her own, the 33-year-old wanted to give others the same joy she had known, and decided to be a surrogate for a same-sex couple.

“Hundred percent motivated just to help another couple,” Prashad said. “As far as compensation was concerned it really was just enough to cover health insurance, life insurance, missed work, that was it.”

Although she had signed away her legal rights to be a parent, Prashad, an accountant who lives in the Minneapolis area, used her own egg and said she had worked out a deal with the couple allowing her to still be involved in the child’s life.

“I chose to have the baby with a gay couple because there’s not another mom,” she said. “The plan was for me to still act within the capacity as her mom.”

Prashad gave birth to a baby girl, but immediately after, she said she felt she had made a mistake serving as a surrogate.

“When she was right there in my arms, all those little pieces of paper that we signed kind of just fell away,” she said. “I never for a second thought about what was right for her and what she deserved.”

Prashad eventually had to fight to have a continued relationship with the daughter she gave birth to.

“We ended up in court,” she said. “We actually didn’t fight it out in court. We agreed on a joint custody order together.”

Her daughter is now 10 years old, but Prashad said she is still haunted by her decision.

“I felt like someone that sold my child,” she said.

For thousands of parents unable to conceive, surrogacy has been a viable option to still have biological children. But some are speaking out against surrogacy, claiming that there are risks involved and breaking that mother-newborn bond can have consequences.

Jennifer Lahl is one such woman, and she is on a mission to ban surrogacy in the United States.

Lahl, a mother of three and a former neo-natal nurse, is the filmmaker behind the critical documentaries, Eggsploitation, about egg donation, and Anonymous Father’s Day, on sperm donation. Her new film, Breeders: A Subclass of Women? features women who have deep regrets about being surrogates. Prashad shared her story with ABC News' Nightline at a recent Breeders screening.

Through Breeders, Lahl accuses the multi-billion-dollar global industry of concealing the health risks for prospective surrogates and equates it to selling organs.

“If you want to be a kidney donor, we say that's wonderful, but you are not allowed to be paid… because what happens when commerce enters in is people will make decisions that are not in their best interest for their health,” Lahl said. “Women are not breeders. Children are not products and commodities. Women are not easy-bake ovens baking cupcakes for nice, other people.”

Lahl is also the president of the conservative-leaning Center for Bioethics and Culture. Though she holds a masters’ degree in bioethics from a well-known evangelical university and books speaking tours with conservative groups, Lahl said her personal religious beliefs do not inform her position on surrogacy.

“I tell people all the time, I’m against surrogacy, I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, single,” she said.

But Lahl’s anti-surrogacy position is controversial, especially since children born through gestational surrogacy, meaning the child’s parents’ egg and sperm are inserted into a surrogate’s womb through in-vitro, is on the rise. Children born through gestational surrogacy increased 150 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

“I’ve been threatened, I’ve been told I should have a bullet put to my head,” Lahl said. “The industry hates me because I’m not good for the bottom line and I might hurt business.”

In recent years, surrogacy has had some high-profile attention, from Nicole Kidman to Sarah Jessica Parker and Ricky Martin, all using the method to expand their families.

Traci Woolard, who gave birth to a child for a couple that wasn’t able to conceive on their own, has been protesting Lahl’s Breeders screening and publicly defends her right to be a surrogate mother.

“I have successfully carried for two families, delivering four babies, to help complete their families,” she said. “It is something that I can give back, and something that I can help another family achieve.”

But Lahl believes surrogacy is wrong, and says fracturing the bond between birth mother and newborn “can have significant damage, short and long term.”

“Just because somebody can’t have a child doesn’t mean that I have to say by all means, any way you can get a child is fine,” she said. “There’s a long step between I can’t have a child, and what are the ethical ways to fulfilling that need to getting a child.”

ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says that there are many ways for someone to be a parent, not just through giving birth to a child.

"I think one of the most important things for people to remember when they talk about unconventional ways to become parents today, is that a lot more goes into being a parent than biology," she said. "It's very important to remember that. People can get very, very emotional when they talk about these types of issues. The medical ones are straight forward, the social ones get a little trickier."

British researchers at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge recently released a study that followed surrogacy children from infancy to adolescence and found these children were very well-adjusted and had good relationships with their parents. However, surrogacy children showed slightly higher levels of psychological problems at age 7 in comparison with a group of non-surrogate children. The researchers found this difference usually disappeared by age 10.

However, Ashton cautions that more research is needed.

“They’re very small studies. They are very limited in number and any differences tend to disappear or resolve themselves by early adolescence or late childhood so I think we have to be careful in interpreting this data and literally not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak,” Ashton said.

The Cambridge researchers believe the raised levels of psychological problems for surrogate children happen at age 7 because that’s when they gain a better understanding of how they were born, and they have questions.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's a low tech way for smartphone addicts who suffer from nomophobia -- the fear of being without their mobile devices -- to cope with being away from their beloved electronics.

Introducing the noPhone.

The brainchild of a group of Dutch creatives, the noPhone is designed to ease owners' separation anxiety from their devices.

Everyone knows someone who texts at dinner, in a movie, sleeps with their phone next to their pillow and basically won't let it out of their grip until its pried from their cold, dead hands.

The noPhone looks like a smartphone and feels like a smartphone, but that's where similarities end, Ingmar Larsen, one of the designers of the project, told ABC News.

"What inspired us is the fact that a lot of people around us nowadays are focused on their mobile devices and not on the social environment anymore," he said. "We wanted to make people aware of their addiction by creating a product that can be used for their addiction. It works as a placebo."

Larsen said the group is still figuring out "the possibilities" for manufacturing and selling the noPhone and said it's something they hope to do in the future.

"It’s easy to take it and to play with it," Larsen said. "It helps [people who use it] to stay calm."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just one year ago, Tim Shaw was playing football with the Tennessee Titans. Now, he’s battling ALS, the fatal neurodegenerative disease at the center of the viral ice bucket challenge.

Shaw, 30, revealed his diagnosis in a video posted Tuesday to the Titans website.

“I'm here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease,” he said before dumping a Gatorade bucket full of ice water over his head. He then challenged the Titans organization, the Penn State football team and coach James Franklin, and his community in Clarenceville, Michigan, to follow suit.

Shaw is the latest NFL player to be diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, joining former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Kevin Turner, to name a few.

ALS is considered a rare disease, affecting an estimated two in every 100,000 Americans each year, according to the ALS Association. But some studies suggest football players have a higher risk, with one 2012 report finding NFLers were four times more likely to die from the disease. Some evidence points to a higher risk among soccer players, too.

“It remains unclear whether exercise is indeed a risk factor and what types of exercise may be of concern,” the ALS Association’s website reads, noting that “pesticides or some other chemical encountered on maintained playing fields” might also be involved. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE -- a neurodegenerative disorder linked to concussions -- also shares symptoms with ALS.

Pete Frates, the 29-year-old behind the ice bucket challenge, played baseball, like Lou Gehrig himself.

"The concept that this disease could be over-represented among athletes has been in the medical literature for a long time, and no one underscores that concept more than Lou Gehrig," Dr. Robert Brown, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and president of the ALS Therapy Alliance said in a 2012 story about Frates’ diagnosis. "But the interesting question is: Does athleticism set the stage for motor neuron degeneration, or does that same property that makes a person a great athlete also make them susceptible to the disease?"

Most people with ALS are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70, according to the ALS Association, and only 25 percent of them are alive five years later.

Brown said the “sense of tragedy looms even larger” for people diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, like Frates and Shaw.

"The irony is that at a time when their muscles are wasting away, we see extraordinary courage and motivation, and what can only be called strength,” he said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- American hospitals and state labs have handled at least 68 Ebola scares over the last three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals in 27 states alerted the CDC of the possible Ebola cases out of an abundance of caution amid the growing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fifty-eight cases were deemed false alarms after CDC officials spoke with medical professions about patient exposures and symptoms, but blood samples for the remaining 10 were sent to the CDC for testing, the agency told ABC News Wednesday.

Seven of the samples tested negative for the virus and results for the remaining three are pending, the agency said.

Once a hospital or state lab notifies the CDC of a possible Ebola case based on travel history and symptoms, CDC officials talk to someone familiar with the suspected patient’s history to determine whether blood testing for the virus is necessary, said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. They discuss symptoms and determine whether the patient may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure can happen if the patient is a health care worker, has buried someone with Ebola, has lived in a house with someone who had Ebola or has lived in a place where Ebola is spreading.

“If somebody had traveled to Guinea and came back and had a fever and has never been to a place where Ebola is transmitted, there’s no reason to suspect there’s Ebola just because Ebola is circulating in Guinea,” Nordlund said, explaining that the CDC takes suspected cases seriously but has to narrow them down.

The latest scare to make headlines involves a patient at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento who "may have been exposed to the Ebola virus," the hospital said in a statement. The patient has been isolated in a negative pressure room while awaiting blood test results from the CDC.

Earlier this week, a 30-year-old woman arrived at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque with a fever, sore throat, headache and muscle aches after returning from Sierra Leone, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Health. She is currently in isolation and awaiting test results from the CDC, according to the department.

Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland and an undisclosed hospital in Ohio have also tested patients for Ebola over the past several weeks.

The CDC has urged health care providers to ask patients about their travel history to help identify potential Ebola cases.

The death toll of the outbreak stands at 1,350, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. At least 2,473 people have been infected since March 2014.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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