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Mayor’s walk promotes healthy living, animal adoptions

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Flowers, fitness, and furry animals all come together Wednesday evening for the Healthy Huntsville Mayor’s Walk.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden will be open for you and your pet for free at 6:00 p.m. to walk with Mayor Tommy Battle and check out adoptable furry friends who need a home.

The event aims to promote a healthy lifestyle and keep the animal shelter from becoming overcrowded.

“The garden is set up for the scarecrow trail and all their fall decor so it’s gonna be a beautiful and fun event,” said Ashley Polesak with Huntsville Parks and Recreation.

“People can meet and do a meet and greet with the animals and hey, you never know, they might find a dog they wanna adopt,” said Karen Buchanan with Huntsville Animal Services.


Healthier Somerset: Access to transportation options crucial to healthy living


Rutgers public health expert Christopher Ackerman teams up with a frog puppet to improve nutrition education in the South Bronx
~Courtesy ofRutgers Today

SOMERVILLE – As the Healthier Somerset Coalition strives to make Somerset County the healthiest county in New Jersey, an area of focus is access to care.

Specifically, one of the coalition’s goals is to improve the access to health care services for those living and working in Somerset County. This can be especially true for certain populations within the community.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, transportation is the third most commonly cited barrier for accessing health services among older adults. In 2017, The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) took a closer look at existing transportation barriers within the Northern New Jersey region and identified awareness of services as one of those barriers with an unmet need.

READ: Healthier Somerset: Addressing school safety through community resource partnerships

READ: Gardener State: Farming in the Millstone Valley

Specifically, that “consumers are either not aware of the services that are available or don’t know how to use them.”

Coupling this data with the access to care needs identified through Healthier Somerset, RideWise recognized a need to fill the transportation awareness gap within Somerset County.

Through its mission, RideWise connects people and businesses to safe and sustainable travel options that enhance quality of life and create a vibrant economy.

Providing education on navigating the transportation system is one way that RideWise helps to connect those travel options to the people who live and work in the county. Specifically, RideWise launched the TransitConnect program as a way to provide real-life training on how to utilize the many transportation options available within the county.

As Donna Allison, RideWise Executive Director, explained, “Sometimes, the availability of transportation is not the barrier to accessing care.

The barrier can also come from not knowing how to find or use existing services. With transportation being a vital component for so many needed services, it becomes critical for people to understand what transportation options are available and how to use them.”

The network of transportation options available in Somerset County is extensive and is comprised of seven state transit bus and rail lines, ten county public transit bus lines, and three regional transit bus lines.

Additionally, para-transit services are also available to county residents by offering older adults or people with disabilities on demand services to locations within Somerset County and up to five miles outside the county border.

Together, the availability of transportation services, combined with education on availability and ease of use, can help those who live and work in Somerset County to reduce the inability to access needed health care services.

To learn more about Healthier Somerset, RideWise and the Somerset County transportation services, visit the following websites:,, or

Melissa Feltmann is project manager for Healthier Somerset

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Healthy Living: Game-day snacks that score big points with health experts

Healthy football foods are possible, says nutritionist Deborah Enos.  Below are her 4 fan favorite recipes that pack a punch without busting your diet.


QUICK BLACK BEAN GAME DAY CHILI (from stove to table in 15 minutes!)

3 cans of S W Savory Sides SW Black Beans (this product is already seasoned so it’s got great flavor and ready in minutes!)

1 pound of ground bison or beef

1 chopped yellow onion

1 packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 small container of low sodium salsa

1 quart of low sodium chicken broth

In a big sauce pan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the beef and cook together until the onions are translucent. Then add in the tomatoes, beans, broth and ½ the packet of seasoning. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and it’s ready, seriously, it’s that fast. As with most chili it will taste better the longer you let it simmer, so 30 minutes is ideal.


SHEETPAN NACHOS (secret ingredient, BELL PEPPERS!)

I adore nachos. Bad day? I make nachos. Celebrate a good day? I make nachos. Since there are only so many days in a row I can make nachos, I had to create a healthier version. I swapped bell peppers in for the chips and BOOM; I get my veggies in along with a big dose of fiber and vitamins.

* Slice 5-6 bell peppers so they look like a chip

* Place hollow side up in your oven, heated at 400

* Drop a little shredded cheese into each “chip” and then top with the game day chili

* Bake for about 7 minutes

* When they are ready, you can top with salsa, sour cream or guacamole


Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Avocado Dip

A healthy vegetarian spin on classic Buffalo wings, these Cauliflower Buffalo Wings are lightly battered then baked for an easy, addictive appetizer.

YIELD: Serves 4-6

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

COOK TIME: 25 minutes


* 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or swap additional all-purpose flour)

* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons garlic powder

* 7 cups cauliflower florets (about 24 ounces)

* 3/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* 1 medium ripe Hass avocado, pitted and diced

* 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

* 1 clove minced garlic

* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

* 2-4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil, then coat with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and garlic powder. Pour in 1 cup of water, and then stir until smooth. Add the cauliflower to the bowl, and then toss to coat.

3. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, shaking off any excess batter. Spread the cauliflower out so that the florets do not touch. Bake until lightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the Buffalo sauce and butter over medium low heat. Stir until the butter melts, and then set aside.

5. Once the cauliflower has finished baking, remove it from the oven and pour the buffalo sauce over the top, using the entire saucepan. Toss to coat, using a spatula if the cauliflower is too hot so that you don’t burn your fingers. Return the cauliflower to the oven, and then bake for 5 additional minutes, watching carefully so that the sauce does not brown too much on the outside. Serve hot with the Blue Cheese Avocado Dip.

6. For the Blue Cheese Avocado Dip: mash the avocados in a medium bowl with the Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons blue cheese and stir to incorporate, the taste, adding extra blue cheese as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Recipe from the website, Well Plated


CROSTINI for all of your carb loving guests!

If you’re going to eat bread, eat the best tasting bread you can find with the cleanest label (no extra junk or high fructose corn syrup). This is my favorite, Kirkland Signature, made by a bakery in Montreal Canada, called Boulart Bakery.

I can honestly say this is the best bread I have ever tasted. Don’t waste your carb calories on junk bread made with junk ingredients!

On game day, I slice the roll in half, toast it up in my toaster oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes. I then add a layer of the blue cheese dip (recipe above) a little sliced protein and chopped tomato.

It’s a simple and delicious way to enjoy your bread without indulging in a huge sandwich.

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Protecting Your Vocal Health – Tips from a Voice Coach

As a seasoned voice actor, you need to make sure that you are protecting your voice at all times. This means that you have to do the right kinds of vocal warm ups in order to protect your vocal health and ensure the longevity of your voice acting career, as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Voice Actor and Coach, Susan Berkley, has been in the industry for over 30 years and is the author of the book Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice. She shares the techniques, health tips and vocal warm ups that you should build into your everyday work life, to ensure that you are treating your voice in the best possible way while still being productive and successful.

Understanding Vocal Health

Here are the 5 main tips and aspects of your vocal health that Susan recommends you should focus on in order to take your vocal health seriously:

  1. Diet
  2. Work Hours vs. Downtime
  3. Overall Health
  4. Vocal Placement
  5. Vocal Warm Ups

Vocal health is something that needs to be tailored on an individual by individual basis.

“People need to understand their own instrument – they need to be warmed up and they need to understand how to speak in a healthy manner for 50 minutes at a time, and not everybody has that ability. But I take this very seriously,” says Susan.

Vocal Health Tip #1: Eat a Balanced Diet

Susan acknowledges that diet is going to vary from individual to individual but when you get to the professional level, voice actors need to start taking vocal health seriously.  When you have to do 4 hours of voice over work each day, you have to understand that your voice is a part of your body – and to treat it in a healthy way.

“Some people think ‘Oh I talk all the time, I’ll be fine’ but that’s not how it works,’ explains Susan. “You’re like an athlete in the sense that you’ve got to be ready for the long haul”

So what are somethings you can do to protect your instrument?

Foods to Avoid Before Recording Your Voice

First off, watch what you put into your body.

Top 3 foods to avoid  before your recording session:

  1. Fried foods
  2. Dairy products
  3. Caffeine

Dairy and fried food tend to produce more phlegm, which is obviously not good for recording. And although it may be extremely tempting to reach for the caffeine, Susan recommends not having caffeine right before a session. “Tea and coffee are very drying to the voice. You certainly should not be drinking these things during a session. Give some time before speaking and when you have your caffeine,” says Susan.

Pro Tip: Susan puts matcha in smoothies that she drinks in the morning so that she gets the benefit of tea and caffeine, without having it actually pass over your throat.  

Foods that Strengthen Your Voice

What types of foods should you be eating in a day to maintain your optimal vocal strength?

In order to keep her voice in top shape, Susan tries to maintain a plant-based diet as much as possible in order to keep her voice in top shape.

“If it’s in the morning you might have oatmeal, but don’t put cream on it. [Instead], you can have some protein or some nuts and fruit. If it’s around lunch you eat a lean piece of meat or tofu on a salad and vegetables, just around recording and there will be less phlegm and it will tend to keep your voice clearer,” advises Susan. “And again everybody’s different. You have to address [these aspects of your health] to be not just a successful voice talent but a successful business owner. You must maintain your health.”

It also goes without saying that you should also be paying attention to the amount of water you are consuming in a day – staying hydrated is extremely important in protecting your voice. When Susan wakes up in the morning the first thing she does is drink a big glass of lemon water.

Vocal Health Tip  #2 – Work Less Hours a Day

Once you have your diet sorted out, the next thing to consider is how long you should actually be working in one day.

A common occurrence that Susan has run into in her career is that voice actors – whether they are new or seasoned talent – don’t rest their voices enough. It can be tempting to work many hours a day, especially when working from your home recording studio, however, downtime and rest is equally as important as working hard.

“If you don’t understand what you limits are and how to protect your voice health, you can do a lot of damage, says Susan. “The rule of thumb is [work for a total of] 4 hours each day, with a regular break. Spend 50 minutes ‘on’ and then take 10 minutes off, plus a lunch break in the middle. So you’re really not going strong for more than 50 minutes at a time, but you’re taking a lengthy break in between those two hour blocks of time,” she recommends.

Vocal Health Tip  #3 – Do Your Vocal Warm Ups!

Vocal warm ups are an important part in maintaining your productivity throughout the day.

“Think about your vocal warm ups, those are muscles just like the rest of your body,” says Susan.

Here is an audio clip of some of Susan’s favorite vocal warm ups to get your day off to a great start:

Along with the exercises above, there are other exercises you can do to warm up your voice before stepping in front of the microphone.

Lip Flutters

Susan recommends using the time in the shower to start your warm ups. The warm, moist air from the shower is the perfect time to start lip flutters.

“Lip fluttering is a strengthening exercise for the vocal folds – speech pathologists use it, it helps for breath support as well,” Susan advises.


Fricatives are consonants that are formed by impeding the flow of air so that a friction sound is produced. Common consonants are p’s, b’s and t’s. You can learn more about how to produce fricatives from vocal coaches or from videos online.

No matter the vocal warm ups you use, lip flutters, fricatives or others, they are a critical way to start your voice acting day. If you are not properly warming up your vocal folds each day, you can do serious damage to your voice and potentially ruin your voice acting career.

“I met a gentleman who does a lot of teaching and speaking. He didn’t pay attention to this and he did permanent damage to his vocal folds. That would be a tragedy for any of us as voice talent, so don’t mess around. If you’re hoarse, go to a specialist. That’s what they’re there for and they’re used to working with voice talent and singers and performers like us,” Susan cautions.

Susan recalls a time about a year ago when she realized her voice was becoming a bit hoarse. “This is something a normal person wouldn’t even pay attention to, but for me, because it’s my instrument, it’s my livelihood – I instantly went to the ENT (ear, nose, throat doctor) and had my voice scoped,” Susan says.

Susan ended up learning that she had acid reflux. The cause? She was not breathing properly, which came as a shock to her. “I realized I’d gotten into a bad habit of not breathing in between thoughts in normal conversation, and that was putting undue strain on my voice,” she says.

Susan recovered from acid reflux by changing her diet to exclude certain foods that were just too acidic for her and decided to consume a mostly plant-based diet. She was also instructed to do certain exercises by her doctor to get her back on track.

The main takeaway: If you are experiencing any differences in your voice, seek out the help of a specialist right away.

Vocal Health Tip #4 – Be Aware of Your Vocal Placement

Being aware of how you are speaking can really help to reduce the amount of strain on your voice. The good news about being a voice actor is you are not a public speaker – for the most part you are not projecting your voice – you are up close to the microphone so you don’t have to worry about too much vocal strain. But on the other hand, you also have to be aware of whispering too much or being too breathy, which could also cause a vocal strain.

Susan instructs on the proper way to speak – and it has to do with the vocal mask, also known as the facial mask.

The facial mask area is the area that stretches between the sinuses, throat and larynx. It’s a forward placement of the voice and the way you do that is by humming and speaking at the same time. For more voice placement tips, check out the best vocal warm ups. 

Vocal Health Tip #5 – Take Care of Your Whole Body

Working out your body is equally as important as taking care of and warming up your voice.

“Everybody, first of all, should be working out. Even if it’s just a walk everyday – that’s fine – but everyone should be getting physical activity first thing in the morning for at least 20-30 minutes a day,” says Susan.

You can also use your downtime during the day to get in some exercise. However, it’s starting your day on the right foot that sets you up for success and productivity throughout your whole day.

Susan is a creative professional who doesn’t need to take too much downtime during the day, and the reason is because she starts her day on the right foot. It’s starting your day correctly that sets you up for success and productivity throughout your whole day – and what starting your day properly means to you is something that you can learn from trial and error.

“I’m starting the day in good physical and mental health. I’m getting behind the mic in good shape and I’m mindful of my posture and how my script is hanging in the booth so that I’m not straining,” says Susan. “I stop when I’m tired and I keep myself hydrated. So in my downtime I’m marketing. I don’t need long periods of relaxation – I think work is energizing,” says Susan.

Taking care of your whole body also means starting your day at a time that is suitable for you. If you are a night person, then save any strenuous work for a time of day when you are most energized – there is no ‘right’ time of day for your voice – it’s whatever time you feel most energized. Take it from Susan, an early bird.  

“I’m a morning person, so if I were speaking near the end of the day and I’ve left all my recordings until 10 o’clock at night, I would be at my physical weakest and also exhausted, so it’s up to the person,” she says.

Other Do’s and Don’ts From Susan

  • Do take plenty of breaks.
  • Don’t take aspirin before a screaming session. If you are voicing a video game character, for example, where your might be screaming or grunting for longer periods of time, avoid aspirin as it will thin your blood and make you more susceptible to damaging your vocal folds.
  • Do work with a vocal coach if you are going to be trying out a new gig or new voice strategy (screaming, yelling, learning a dialect, etc). Susan had a friend who hired a singing coach who is used to working with rock singers and he learned how to yell and scream and still protect his voice.

Ultimately, every person is different. At first it may take you a bit of time to discover the habits and routines that work best for you and your lifestyle. Once you find those things that work best for you, be sure to stick to the routine and listen to your body.

About Susan Berkley

A Photo of Susan BerkleyThe Great Voice Company was founded in 1987 by Susan Berkley, a voice talent, former radio personality and author of “Speak To Influence: How To Unlock The Hidden Power Of Your Voice”. Susan is a former cast member on the Howard Stern Show and left radio to pursue her voice over career and start her own business. She quickly became a sought after voice talent, becoming the signature voice of ATT and the branded telephone voice of Citibank.

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HEALTH TIPS: Feel pretty good? Here’s how to feel better – Sarasota Herald

We all know we shouldn’t smoke. That we should swap our sugared soda for water. That we should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.

Good suggestions. But what if you don’t smoke? If you don’t even like carbonated drinks? If 30 minutes might as well be 300?

There are ways to be healthier right now. Just take a deep breath, tie your shoes and go.

• Keep chewing: Are you eating as you’re reading this? We’ll wait if you want to answer.

“Put down your fork or spoon and just chew for what feels like the longest time,” says yoga instructor Veleisa Patton Burrell. By doing that, you’re not wolfing your food, which can lead to eating more than you need, she says. Added bonus: It helps you pay attention.

• Schedule an eye appointment: Even if you never squint or hold menus at arm’s length, you still need to see an ophthalmologist (physician specializing in the eyes) or optometrist (doctor of optometry).

“Most people don’t realize that signs of serious systemic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even cancer can be detected through eye exams,” says Dr. Robert Chu, an optometrist.

When eye professionals give an eye exam, they’re looking at blood vessels and nerves in the eye, which are connected to others throughout the body. That’s how they can detect those early signs.

• Pick up the phone: Not to check email or watch a video, but to actually do what a phone is designed to do — call someone whose company you cherish.

Having healthy emotional connections with others is life-enhancing, says Ron Stein, a psychology instructor and practicing psychologist at Mountain View College. “It has been documented how human connections, where there is positive emotional support, can actually repair the ends of chromosomes that have been damaged through stressful lifestyles and events.”

• Tell yourself, “For five minutes, I will …”: Then do it, right this very second. Maybe run in place or do jumping jacks during commercials. Or do bicep curls using canned goods. Five minutes will likely lead to more, says Kellie Rodriguez, a registered nurse and director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland Health Hospital System. The key for many of us is just getting started.

• Stand up: “Studies clearly show sitting associated with worse heart health regardless of how much exercise one does,” says Anand Rohatgi, a cardiologist at Parkland and associate professor of cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Aim for 15 minutes of standing every hour while you’re at work, he says.

If you’re standing now, sit down. Then stand up. Then sit down. It’s all about moving, says Dallas-area personal trainer Melissa Spoonts. “The more you can move, not only in your workouts but in everyday life, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, the faster you will reach your goals.”

— Leslie Barker, The Dallas Morning News

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Andrea Constand’s impact statement: Bill Cosby "robbed me" of my health, vitality and trust

The following victim impact statement was submitted in writing by Andrea Constand, the former Temple University employee whom Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting in 2004, and released by prosecutors at Cosby’s sentencing Tuesday in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison.

To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.

At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was one of the top three female high school basketball players in Canada. Dozens of American colleges lined up to offer me basketball scholarships, and I chose the University of Arizona.

For four years, I was a shooting guard on the women’s basketball team, scoring up to 30 points a game. It was an amazing time in my life, and I learned a lot, developed a circle of really good friends, many of them teammates, and travelled around the U.S. to compete.

The only downside was that I missed my family and developed severe homesickness. When it started to affect my studies and my training, my Dad came up with the idea to move his own father and mother to Tucson.

My grandparents were in their late 60s when they gamely agreed to move more than 2,000 miles to help me adjust to life away from home. They were retired after selling their Toronto restaurant business, and figured the warm, dry climate would suit them anyway. I had always enjoyed a special relationship with my grandparents. Not only had I grown up in their home, but I spoke Greek before I spoke English. They got an apartment close to mine, and I was there most days, talking and laughing over my favourite home-cooked meals. The homesickness quickly evaporated.

After I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications, I signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball for Italy. Going pro took my athletic training to a whole new level. Once again, I thrived in the team atmosphere, and enjoyed travelling Europe although we rarely saw more than the basketball venues and the hotel rooms where we slept.

When my contract ended, my former coach from the University of Arizona encouraged me to apply for a job as Director of Operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was a busy, challenging position that required me to manage a lot of logistical details so that others could focus on training the team for competition. I also made all the travel arrangements and went to tournaments with the team and support staff.

It was a great job but after a few years, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healing arts, my other passion. I also wanted to work closer to home, where I would be reunited with my large, extended family, and many friends.

I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead.

How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.

I had just given my two-month notice at Temple when the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, jump and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn’t speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself.

After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.

I made it through the next few weeks by focusing on work. The women’s basketball team was in the middle of the Atlantic 10 tournament and was travelling a lot. It was an extremely busy time for me, and the distraction helped take my mind off what had happened.

When the team wasn’t on the road, however, I was in the basketball office at Temple, and was required to interact with Mr. Cosby, who was on the Board of Trustees. The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts. The sight of the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me coming into the basketball office filled me with dread. I did everything my job required of me but kept my head down, counting the days until I could return to Canada. I trusted that once I left, things would get back to normal.

Instead, the pain and anguish came with me. At my parent’s house, where I was staying until I got settled, I couldn’t talk, eat, sleep or socialize. Instead of feeling less alone because I was back home with my family, I felt more isolated than ever. Instead of my legendary big appetite and “hollow leg” – a running joke in my family – I picked at my food, looking more like a scarecrow with each passing week. I was always a sound sleeper but now I couldn’t sleep for more than two or three hours. I felt exhausted all the time.

I used the demands of my new courses to opt out of family gatherings and events, and to avoid going out with friends. As far as anyone could tell, I was pre-occupied with my studies. But the terrible truth about what had happened to me – at the hands of a man my family and friends admired and respected – was swirling around inside me.

Then the nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. In the dream, I was consumed with guilt, and pretty soon, that agonizing feeling spilled over into my waking hours too. I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn’t speak out.

Then one morning I called my mother on the telephone to tell her what had happened to me. She had heard me cry out in my sleep. She wouldn’t let me put her off, and insisted that I tell her what was wrong. She wouldn’t settle for anything less than a complete and truthful explanation.


Reporting the assault to the Durham Regional police in Toronto only intensified the fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever. When the Montgomery County District Attorney outside Philadelphia decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence, we were left with no sense of validation or justice. After we launched civil claims, the response from Mr. Cosby’s legal team was swift and furious. It was meant to frighten and intimidate and it worked.

The psychological, emotional and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief. Instead of being praised as a straight-shooter, I was called a gold-digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.

At the deposition during the civil trial, I had to relive every moment of the sexual assault in horrifying detail in front of Mr. Cosby and his lawyers. I felt traumatized all over again and was often in tears. I had to watch Cosby make jokes and attempt to degrade and diminish me, while his lawyers belittled and sneered at me. It deepened my sense of shame and helplessness, and at the end of each day, I left emotionally drained and exhausted.

When the case closed with a settlement, sealed testimony and a nondisclosure agreement, I thought that finally – finally – I could get on with my life, that this awful chapter in my life was over at last. These exact same feelings followed me throughout both criminal trials. The attacks on my character continued, spilling over outside the courtroom steps attempting to discredit me, and cast me in false light. These character assassinations have caused me to suffer insurmountable stress and anxiety, which I still experience today.

I still didn’t know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, more than 60 other women have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.

I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me. The pressure was -enormous. I knew that how my testimony was perceived – that how I was perceived – would have an impact on every member of the jury and on the future mental and emotional well-being of every sexual assault victim who came before me. But I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn’t hesitate to step up again.


I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Now, almost 15 years later, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.

Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.

I’ve never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.

My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I’ve also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too – people with Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.

I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that it helps heal me too.

I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.

It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from a very dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all this happened.

Instead of looking back, I am looking forward to looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.

I know that I still have room to grow.


I would like to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me get here today. I will always be grateful for their counsel, friendship and support.

First of all, my lawyers Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz. These two smart, courageous women have been there for me since the beginning. Without them, I would never have been able to navigate this legal and emotional minefield.

I will also be eternally grateful to Kevin Steele, the District Attorney of Montgomery County, who had the guts to believe in me, in the truth, and for trusting that the justice system could get things right- even if the process had to be repeated.

I also want to thank Mr. Steele’s incredible team of professionals. including assistant district attorneys Kristen Feden and Stewart Ryan, detectives Richard Schaffer, Mike Shade, Harry Hall, Jim Reape, Erin Slight, Kiersten McDonald, victims services, and many others, for their passion for justice, their skill, and their hard work and perseverance despite the odds.

Thank you to the jurors for their civic duty and great sacrifices.

Thank you to all of the friends, old and new, who have stood by me. You know who you are, and each and every one of you has made a huge difference. Please know that.

Last but not least, I want to thank my incredible family: my mother, Gianna, and my father, Andrew, my sister Diana, her husband Stuart, and their beautiful daughters – my nieces Andrea and Melanie. Thank you for proving over and over again that if there’s one thing in life you can always count on, it’s family.

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Aspire Health hacked by phishing scheme, lost ‘protected health information’


Your clever password may not be as safe as you think. Buzz60′s Sean Dowling has more.

Aspire Health, a large Nashville health care company that offers in-home treatment in 25 states, was hacked earlier this month and lost at least some patient information to an unknown cyberattacker.

The hack, disclosed for the first time in federal court records filed on Tuesday, occurred after a phishing attack gained access to Aspire’s internal email system on Sept. 3. The hacker then forwarded 124 emails to an external email account, including emails that contained “confidential and proprietary information and files” and “protected health information,” according to the court records.

No other information about the contents of the hacked emails have been made public, so it is unclear how many patients have been exposed and what kind of information was leaked. Aspire has issued a statement saying it has already alerted a “small handful” of patients who “may have been impacted” by the email breach.

Other patients who are concerned about the breach have been asked to contact the company’s 24-hour help number at 615-346-8468.

Cory Brown, a chief compliance officer for Apsire, wrote in an email to The Tennessean that the company immediately locked the compromised email account after discovering the phishing attack.

Brown added that it is unknown if the stolen emails were actually opened by the hacker.

“Aspire takes the security of its data and the personal information of its patients very seriously,” Brown said in the email statement. “Aspire is now working through the legal process to determine if any Aspire information was ultimately accessed by a third-party.”

Aspire Health was founded in 2013 by former Sen. Bill Frist and current CEO Brad Smith. The company offers house-call physicians offering palliative care for advanced cancer and other serious illnesses.

Aspire trying to ID the hacker

In the court records filed on Tuesday, Aspire has said it has tried to identify the hacker but so far has been unable to do so. The phishing attack originated from a website with an IP address in Eastern Europe for which Google is the registrar. The hacked emails were also forwarded to a Google email address –

Since the phishing attack was discovered, Google has flagged the Eastern European website as “deceptive.” Anyone who now visits the site is now met with a bright red warning sign saying they may be tricked until revealing personal information.

DATA BREACH: Identities of thousands of Tennesseans with HIV made vulnerable by government error

The hacking attack was revealed Tuesday as Aspire filed a federal court motion seeking to subpoena Google for more information on the unknown hacker. Aspire attorney James Haltom said in the court motion that Google’s internal records should be able to identify the culprit – currently known only as John Doe 1.

Haltom wrote in court records that Aspire has requested the information from Google “informally,” but Google said Aspire would need to get a subpoena.

“The proposed subpoena to Google should provide information showing who has accessed and/or maintains the phishing website and the subscriber of the e-mail account that John Doe 1 used in the phishing attack,” Haltom wrote. “This information will likely allow Aspire to uncover and locate John Doe 1.”

A phishing attack, one of the most basic forms of corporate hacking, involves fraudulent email that uses false pretenses in an effort to obtain private information, including computer passwords.

Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at Follow him on Twitter at @brettkelman.

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31% of Beneficiaries Face Social Isolation, More Health Risks

By Thomas Beaton

September 25, 2018 - A new survey of Humana’s commercial population has found that almost one-third of members over 65 years old experience social isolation. The survey reveals that payers could benefit by addressing social isolation among their elderly members because reducing loneliness enhances member satisfaction as well as overall health.

Seniors recognize the importance of creating strong social bonds, but often struggle to find opportunities to develop friendships and spend time in social settings.

Eighty-five percent of survey respondents said it is important to establish friendships and 61 percent said establishing companionships was also important. In addition, 22 percent of respondents said that building romantic relationships with others was important as well.

Humana suggested that combining physical activity with opportunities for social engagement could improve both physical and emotional health.

“Healthy aging is a group activity,” said Dr. Meredith Williams, Lead Medical Director at Humana. “Social isolation and loneliness can often impact health as much as physical attributes, which is why we want to inspire seniors to focus on whole-person health. Going to the gym is great but going with a friend can have even larger health benefits, given the social impact.”

Twenty-two percent of survey respondents currently go to the gym for physical activity, the survey found. Only 13 percent of senior members going to the gym use their time as an opportunity to meet new people, but 54 percent of single beneficiaries expressed interest in building social connections at the gym.  

The interest among senior citizens in expanding their social relationships reiterates the importance of social engagement as a means to improve health.

Humana’s previous research in the Bold Goal Progress Report found that Humana Medicare members living in social isolation had a 22 percent higher chance of dying prematurely than members who had adequate social support. Additionally, socially isolated Medicare beneficiaries have a two times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than members with healthy social relationships.

Humana announced plans to launch public events for their senior beneficiaries and partnered with SilverSneakers, a wellness vendor, in order to address social isolation and beneficiary well-being.

The events include outdoor social events, fitness classes, cooking classes, and other lifestyle improvement activities. Humana will offer these events to beneficiaries across the US during Active Aging Week, a week-long campaign that promotes an active lifestyle.

“Social isolation has a measurable impact on physical and mental health, and older adults are often uniquely affected due to the loss of a spouse, adult children moving away, lack of transportation and a host of other reasons,” said Steve Janicak, Chief Growth Officer at Tivity Health.

“Our SilverSneakers members thrive on the social connections they make through the program. We’re excited to partner with Humana during Active Aging Week to promote the social and physical benefits of exercise to more seniors.”

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Palestinian schools, health centers at risk if funding gap not plugged: UNRWA

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees said schools and health centers are at risk if it is unable to plug a $185 million funding gap needed to keep operating until the end of the year, the agency’s head said on Monday.

“Currently we have money in the bank … will last I presume somewhere into … mid October,” said Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in New York, where world leaders are attending the annual U.N. General Assembly.

“But it’s clear that we still need approximately $185 million to be able to ensure that all of our services, education system, health care, relief and social services and our emergency work in Syria and Gaza in particular can continue until the end of the year,” Krahenbuhl said.

The United States last month announced a halt in its aid to UNRWA, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation”, a decision that further heightened tensions between the Palestinian leadership and the Trump administration.

UNRWA provides services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza. Most are descendants of some 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

The growing refugee count was cited by Washington, UNRWA’s biggest donor, in its decision to withhold funding.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has been critical of the U.N.’s count of Palestinian refugees. She has also questioned the “right of return” to Israel, claimed by the Palestinians as part of any eventual peace settlement.

“When you don’t tackle the underlying causes of conflict, that’s when you get 70 years of UNRWA, it’s not UNRWA that perpetuates itself, it’s because the refugee community is still there waiting for a political solution to address its situation,” Krahenbuhl said on Monday.

Under Trump, Washington has taken a number of actions that have alienated the Palestinians, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a reversal of longtime U.S. policy. It led to the Palestinian leadership boycotting Washington’s peace efforts being led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Krahenbuhl compared the Palestinian refugee “right of return” issue with those of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar who have fled into Bangladesh and the return of Bosnian Muslim refugees to areas under Serb control in the 1990s.

“So the only question one should ask is why should Palestine refugees be the one community where this question is not a justified question,” Krahenbuhl said.

Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; editing by Grant McCool

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