Monthly Archives: December 2017

Criminal Activity Surging Around the Country During the Holidays

The holidays are over but that doesn’t mean new gifts, money, and homes are entirely safe from theft. A burglary is committed every 15 seconds across the United States, but criminals attempt even more burglaries in the days and weeks surrounding the holidays.

In cities across America, both large and small, burglars have been scouting out homes for weeks in hopes of finding homeowners who are easy targets for criminal theft.

According to ABC 11, in Raleigh, North Carolina, criminal break-ins have surged since Thanksgiving.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, in the city of Raleigh, a criminal was breaking into either a home or car an average of 16 times a day. There have been 222 home burglaries and 311 vehicle break-ins since the end of November.

One local homeowner, Carin Savel, lost nearly $50,000 worth of personal property during a break-in, including expensive electronics, jewelry, and family heirlooms.

“You can’t replace those memories,” she said. “That’s not coming back. I can replace some of the jewelry, I can buy it again. I can’t buy the reason behind it — the jewelry that were gifts, a necklace, a ring, something.”

Up north, in Brainerd, Minnesota, the city saw a significant jump in burglaries over the holiday weekend as well. Many of these burglaries weren’t just inside homes, either, but in cabins.

“A lot of these things didn’t happen [just] over the weekend,” said Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Meyer. “People are just coming up to the cabins and find them broken into. They’re being discovered. They haven’t been to the cabin for several weeks or a couple months and now it’s broken into.”

When it comes to holiday thievery, Little Rock, Arkansas is no exception — so the community is focusing on burglary prevention.

A great way to prevent criminal activity inside the home is to install quality security systems. There are an estimated 18 million residential security systems currently installed throughout the United States.

Another great prevention method is simply disposing of trash in a secretive way. The Little Rock Police Department has been educating city residents on the importance of keeping homes safe and protected from theft, especially during the holiday season.

“Let’s say you have a television, computer, gaming systems and things like that,” added officer Steve Moore. “If you just take all the boxes and put them out on the curb or in front of the house to be picked up, everyone gets to see what you’ve got inside the house now.”

Officers in Camden County, Missouri echo that sentiment, as well.

“Would be burglars love that. They love knowing what’s in your house,” added Captain Chris Twitchel of the Camden County Sheriff’s Department. “Many times you can take your boxes and break them down and put them in bags, or take them to the local recycler. I know many people that take them to their garage, and leave them in their garage until trash day, and right before the trash truck comes out, they go ahead and throw them up into the trash truck so they’re not a billboard for burglars.”

No matter what time of year it is, if you notice any suspicious activity in a neighborhood, notify the police right away.

Survey: Post-Grad Students Would Rather Receive Student Debt Payments Over Gifts This Holiday Season

With the holiday season in full swing, many people are starting to let their friends and family know what they may want this year as a gift. For some, it’s a new coffee pot or a gift card to their favorite restaurant. But for many others, it’s something a little different.

According to Business Insider, a new survey released by the Student Loan Report shows 69.3% of people that are in debt due to student loans would rather receive money to help pay them off rather than a new bike or a pair of shoes.

Just in the United States, there are 44 million people in debt due to their student loans. Collectively, they are carrying around $1.4 trillion in money that needs to be paid back.

In a survey separate to the one discussed above, the Student Loan Report asked what student debtors would do with the money they received as holiday gifts. Approximately 58% of them said they would put it toward their loans and debt. However, it is important to note that the surveys do not ask if individuals actually request money specifically for their debt for the holiday season, just if they would prefer loan money over gifts.

According to the Washington Post, the New York Times has once reported on the topic of student debt and how it can impact an individual’s future.

“Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers,” the New York Times reported. “But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts … Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.”

Student borrowing, as well as the number of students enrolled, has increased over the past few decades. Between 2000 and 2014, the total amount of outstanding federal student debt almost quadrupled to surpass $1.1 trillion. For those stressing over what to give the millennial in their family this year for a holiday gift, stress no more. Sometimes, the best gift is one that can put them in a good financial spot for the future, instead of a material item.

Need A Massage ASAP? This ‘Uber’-Like Startup Has Got You Covered

“It’s like Uber for massage therapy,” writes Carl Wilson on Greensboro.com — and he’s actually not too far off.

Zeel’s founder and CEO, Samer Hamadeh, launched Zeel back in 2012 after putting two years into efforts to streamline accessible wellness services.

With Zeel, you can request a visit from a licensed massage therapist, which includes a massage table and music, which will arrive in under an hour.

Zeel recently launched services in Guilford, Forsyth, and Alamance counties in North Carolina, but it’s also planning on expanding as far as New Mexico.

“Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham’s reception to Zeel’s massage service has been incredible,” said Hamadeh. “It became clear that we needed to provide in-home massages to even more cities in North Carolina, and so we made that happen fast.”

Zeel offers a number of different types of massage techniques, and users can also personalize their massage by selecting the time and length of the massage as well as the preferred gender of the massage therapist. Users can also add notes for special requests, which can include paying more attention to a specific injury, or reflexology.

As for certifications, Zeel’s employees have plenty. The vast majority of massage therapists (94%) have taken continuing education classes, and Zeel ensures adequate qualifications by making sure all its therapists are vetted, licensed, insured, and experienced.

As for Zeel’s emergence in New Mexico, Hamadeh said it simply makes sense.

“Zeel’s Santa Fe launch is a natural extension of our New Mexico coverage, after debuting in Albuquerque earlier this year,” he recently told BizJournals.com.

There’s actually been a surprising amount of demand for massage services in New Mexico, which is primarily attributed to the film industry activity. Massage companies near the area have seen spikes in demands from production companies for cast and crew massages, according to a report released by Business First last year.

Those interested in booking their own massage from Zeel can do so by visiting the website or mobile app. Massages can be scheduled from the hours of 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. year-round.

Americans Believe Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Marijuana

Driving, Text Messaging, Telephone.More Americans believe texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of marijuana, a new survey shows. According to a Harris Poll conducted by Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, up to 98% of Americans believe texting while driving is dangerous. However, in comparison, 91% of Americans believe driving under the influence of marijuana is unsafe.

The effects of marijuana use include delayed reaction time as well as dizziness. These side effects can be a hazard to a driver on the road as well as to vehicles around them.

Approximately 40,000 people died as the result of motor vehicle accidents in 2016 alone. And nearly 52% of personal injury cases are related to these motor vehicle accidents.

However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, few motor vehicle accidents have involved marijuana use despite increases in marijuana-related accidents. The reason for the lower percentage of perceived danger regarding driving under the influence could be due to these fewer accidents.

At any given daylight moment in the U.S., approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving. Texting while driving is the leading cause of one in four motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. alone. What’s more, a greater number of Americans own a phone and use social media compared to the number of those who use marijuana.

However, the use of marijuana on the roads is still worrisome. According to the Harris Poll, 6% of those who drive under the influence of marijuana were between the ages of 18 and 34. Additionally, 5% of that same age group were more likely to drive under the influence of marijuana than alcohol.

The growing legalization of marijuana across the U.S. shows the need for more research on the drug’s effects. Like alcohol, a level of impairment needs to be established to determine whether not a driver should be on the road.

“Public education and awareness at home and school are an important step to educating teens on the dangers of driving under the influence,” said senior vice president of policy development and research for PCI Robert Gordon.

“There have been extensive efforts to reduce crashes and deaths from driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving,” Gordon said to U.S. News. “We need to add driving under the influence of marijuana to the list of dangers on the road.”

Nearly 70% of parents have yet to discuss the effects of driving under the influence with their children, Gordon says. The increase in awareness about driving under the influence of alcohol has been an improvement. However, drivers need to know that the dangers of driving high are just as perilous as the dangers of driving drunk.

Thanks to Flies and Worms, Scientists Make Major Anti-Aging Breakthrough

RNA Polymerase III, when inhibited, has proven effective in extending the lifespan of flies and worms. Since this enzyme is common to all species, homo sapiens included, this could signal a coming breakthrough in reducing the rate of aging in adults.

While aging is a fact of life, scientists have been working hard to limit some of the most adverse effects of old age.

As it stands, about 92% of adults between ages 20 and 64 have seen some form of tooth decay, and 6.8 million Americans rely on assistive walking devices to get around. Then there are the diseases that affect us as we age, from dementia to cancer.

Cancer, as an umbrella term for a group of uncontrolled cell growth diseases, is certainly caused by environmental factors, but it is all but inevitable with aging. Roughly 50% of all cancers occur in individuals over 65.

As you age your body begins to break down like all organic matter. Though polymerase III plays a vital role in protein production and cell growth, this new study reveals that when the enzyme’s activity is partially inhibited during adulthood, yeast cells, and subsequently the lifespan of flies and worms, see an average of 10% lifespan extension.

Discussing the experiment’s optimistic longevity indicating results, Danny Flier, first author of the study is reported by Future saying in a press report “As Pol III has the same structure and function across species, we think its role in mammals and humans warrants investigation as it may lead to important therapies.”

The next steps for researchers are to broaden the scope of the study to include a wider array of animals and mammals and further isolate the mechanisms at play in polymerase III that cause accelerated aging. So, what does this all mean for humanity in the future?

A complete account of the causes of aging in humans would help push the tired sci-fi trope of an ‘anti-aging pill’ into the realm of actual possibility. Though this research is certainly a step toward that goal, we are far from seeing young 100-year-olds running down the street. Until that time the research on polymerase III will continue alongside other efforts to better understand why and specifically how we age.

Construction Company Under Fire From OSHA After Employee’s 19 Foot Fall

oshaThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a contractor in West Virginia for $86,000 for multiple safety hazards following a worker’s fall from a roof while on the job.

Benco Builders of the Virginias Inc. has been cited on several violations that could be contributing factors in the 19ft fall which resulted in serious injuries to an employee.

For Construction Pros reports Prentice Cline, OSHA’s Charleston Area Office Director as saying, “Falls remain the leading cause of injury and death in the construction industry. Employers must provide proper fall protection and follow all safety requirements to prevent incidents like this from occurring.”

Without proper safety equipment, a worker will fall up to seven feet in just two-thirds of a second, and OSHA has strict rules about the use of fall protection. This worker was roughly 19 feet off the ground, and no OSHA recommended precautions were taken. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for contractors to work on roofs without fall protection or fall arrest equipment, and OSHA can’t be on every job site at once.

When an OSHA inspector visited a Benco worksite, the problems became even more apparent. Aside from the blatant failure to provide workers with fall arrest gear, eight other citations were written for a variety of violations.

As for the victim of these violations, he will be entitled to workers’ compensation even though West Virginia isn’t one of the 74% of states that require all businesses to provide it. The exceptions from workers’ comp laws in West Virginia are for very small business, and this contracting firm is above the requisite size.

OSHA violations happen all the time. In fact, home department store chain Rural King in Jeffersonville, Indiana was fined $14,000 after an employee filed a complaint at the end of November.

Overall Rural King was fined for seven different violations, six of which were classified as severe. No one was hurt even though they were cited for having an untrained employee operate a forklift and a missing guardrail on an upper level with a drop of over eight feet. The lack of any injuries at this ware could be attributed to the mindful employee who filed the complaint.

Couple Hunts for Sea Glass Along Port Huron Beaches

Buried treasure of all kinds can be found on beaches all around the world, and for Amy and Brian Trimble, that treasure is in the form of beach glass.

“It’s just relaxing,” Brian Trimble told The Times Herald. “It gets us out of the house.”

Household items such as jars and glasses are dumped into the sea and water, and after a few years of tumbling around, you get something magical. Beach glass is frosted, smoothed, and polished from being tossed around in the sand and among stones.

Beach glass is also known as sea glass, but that’s only if it’s found on a saltwater beach. As a matter of fact, sea glass can actually be found all over the world. It has existed since before 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, which is before humans even started making glass. However, most sea glass today comes from the 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately, over the last 10 years seaglass hunting has become particularly popular, and many of the best sites to find sea glass are already picked clean.

“This has been a gold mine,” Amy Trimble said. “The other day we found close to 100 pieces, and the next day we found another 50.”

The couple waits for the perfect time to go out and search for their newest pieces of sea glass. They wait for the north and east winds to push waves onto their local beaches near Port Huron, Michigan, where the waves will bring the glass to land.

To dig for their precious findings, they use a trowel, which allows for them to dig into the rows and rows of stones and pebbles along the beach. Since beach glass is made from broken down household items, it tends to be brown and clear. They’re constantly on the hunt for red glass since it’s a color that is so rare.

“We’ve done this for a couple of months, and we’ve only found one red piece,” Brian said.

For the Trimble’s, it’s the discovery and mystery of the glass that is most exciting. The glass they find could have come from something as simple as a beer bottle that was thrown off of one’s boat, or it could have come from a shipwreck that occurred many, many years ago.

“It’s just always changing,” Amy said.

Millennials Are Showing An Increased Interest In Luxury Watch Brands

Everyone knows that millennials love technology. How could they not be infatuated with high-tech gadgets? After all, they developed and created the majority of tech out there. Along with social media and cool devices, there are a few other millennial stereotypes that some young people follow. But there is one aspect of millennial culture that isn’t as well known.

Apparently, millennials love luxury watches.

According to JCK, millennials actually favor traditional luxury watch brands like Rolex and Tiffany, despite not being the most affluent demographic.

Pre-owned Rolexes can range anywhere from $6,000 and up, but affluent millennials are spending top dollar on brand-new luxury items.

A new survey by MVI Marketing polled roughly 1,000 consumers between the ages of 25 and 40 years old (with a household income of $80,000 and higher) and found that high-end traditional watch brands were favored over the rest.

“The distance between Rolex and Tiffany and the rest of the brands was dramatic,” said Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI. “I’m not sure that would be the same for the baby boomers. With Tiffany, there was almost a 30-point spread. There is something more going on here, especially with the new nature of these consumers.”

Among Rolex and Tiffany, other jewelry brands involved with the survey were Cartier, Harry Winston, Bulgari, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Chopard, Omega, Piaget, Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, and even Apple.

The luxury market might still be dominated by older Americans, but millennials are certainly going to impact every high-end brand and industry over the next few years. As more and more millennials earn higher wages and accumulate more wealth, it’s likely that the entire outlook of the marketplace will drastically change.

“These kids have a 30-year spending cycle ahead of them and we are just at the beginning of it,” Hurwitz added. “They will be a bigger spending bloc than the boomers. But it will look different. It’s already looking different.”

Research Shows Possible New Link Between Bacteria and Esophageal Cancer

New research shows certain types of bacteria that lead to periodontal disease may be associated with a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer around the world, explained Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, an associate professor and associate director for population science at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Center at NYU Langone Health in New York in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Esophageal cancer is a highly fatal cancer, and there is an urgent need for new avenues of prevention, risk stratification, and early detection,” Ahn said.

Previous studies have found that periodontal disease caused by certain oral microbiota has been associated with multiple types of cancer. Common cancers associated with these oral microbiota include oral, head, and neck cancers.

This particular study looked at the relationship between oral microbiota and the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) or esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).

Ahn and colleagues collected oral wash samples from 122,000 participants. In the following ten years, 106 participants developed esophageal cancer. The researchers then compared the oral microbiomes of the esophageal cancer cases and the cancer-free cases.

The results showed that certain types of bacteria were associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. High levels of Tannerella forsythia bacteria were found to be associated with a 21% increased risk of EAC and Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria was associated with a higher risk of ESCC. Both of these types of bacteria are associated with common gum disease.

On the other hand, Neisseria bacteria was found to be associated with a lower risk of EAC.

While gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, an expert in esophageal cancer stressed that the researchers cannot prove a causal link yet.

Dr. Anthony Starpoli, associate director of esophageal endotherapy at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said, “What is not clear is whether the presence of these bacteria or the resultant periodontal disease is primarily responsible for the development of cancer.”

Due to the growing number of health conditions associated with poor oral health, researchers are continuously trying to find ways to diagnose and treat serious health conditions early on. Unfortunately, not everyone takes care of their teeth as well as they should. In fact, about one in four Americans over the age of 74 no longer have any of their natural teeth. While this may be due to a variety of reasons, dentists continue to remind patients of the importance of good oral health.

The study does confirm that good oral health is an important way to decrease the risk of periodontal disease as well as additional health risks. The researchers hope to continue this research and learn more about the bacterial communities living in the mouth.

Online Businesses Urge FCC To Keep Net Neutrality

Online businesses are urging the U.S. Government to keep Net Neutrality rules. A letter written to the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, November 27 noted several Internet businesses including Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, Reddit, AirBnb, and Shutterstock were advocating the FCC to abandon their plans to remove Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality was introduced in 2015 to guarantee an open Internet with websites free for public use. However, the FCC recently announced a plan to dismiss Net Neutrality rules.

This would allow broadband service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum, and others to have power over consumer access to the Internet. The FCC’s vote to dismiss Net Neutrality is set for December 14.

While many broadband service providers see the removal of Net Neutrality as a victory, online businesses that rely on free and open Internet are not as thrilled. According to Reuters, slowing access to Internet content may very well hurt the U.S. economy.

“This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground,” said the letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The FCC defended its pending decision to remove the Internet regulations. Up to 58% of businesses fear cyber attacks and the dismissal of the Net Neutrality rules, the FCC claims, may make the Internet a safer place.

FCC spokesperson Mark Wigfield said returning to the Internet framework prior to 2015’s Net Neutrality would increase the country’s investment in broadband networks. As a result, more Americans would be able to access the services broadband networks offer via the Internet.

However, news sources such as Forbes calls the FCC’s stance on net neutrality misguided. It isn’t enough for broadband networks to promise free consumer access if they still have the ability to limit consumer access.

This is why online businesses are so worried. However, Pai says online companies such as Twitter were thriving in the years prior to Net Neutrality and therefore will be able to do so again.

“There is nothing good for consumers and average users of the internet, or for the nation as a whole in repealing net neutrality,” said Forbes. “Returning to the way things were means that ISPs can act the way they did before net neutrality – which is why we needed net neutrality to begin with.”