Archives September 2015

South Carolina Thieves Steal Landscaping Trailer Worth Over $30,000

Hedge Trimmer WorksPolice in South Carolina are mowing through calls after asking the public for tips on a serious crime committed against a landscaping company on Friday morning.

According to local news affiliate WISTV, police in Forest Acres, SC are on the hunt for thieves who stole over $30,000 worth of landscaping equipment being stored in a trailer.

To make matters worse, the criminals didn’t just steal the equipment; they stole the entire trailer, as well as the truck it was attached to.

The stolen goods in question belong to Superior Southern Landscaping. Among the items inside the trailer were mowers, lumber, and trimmers, as well as thousands of dollars’ worth of personal tools belonging to employees.

An employee of Superior Southern Landscaping, Dustin Westmoreland, says that the trailer was being kept at a home the company was renting. When employees arrived, ready to start work for the day, their Dodge Ram truck and trailer were nowhere to be found.

“My major concern ever was that somebody would break into the trailer,” said Westmoreland. “It never crossed my mind that they would take the trailer not to mention the truck it was attached to.”

The U.S. landscaping industry generates an estimated $74 billion of revenue annually and involves some expensive equipment, so it’s no surprise that it is often a target of thieves.

According to the Darien Daily Voice, a landscaping truck with a loaded gun inside of it was recently stolen. The perps took the truck while an employee was landscaping at a client’s home — in broad daylight.

The truck was found the next day, but police are still searching for the person responsible for the theft, and neither the gun or equipment has been recovered.

In the case of Superior Southern Landscaping, the company says they do have insurance to cover the losses, but say that it will take weeks for their claim to be processed.

They add that the theft will result in lost work time as they now only have one truck to take to jobs. Locals are being encouraged to contact Crimestoppers with any information on the truck’s whereabouts.

The Broken Healthcare System That Caters to the Wealthy is Becoming More Apparent and More Scrutinized

Medical teamDebate has surged recently over the effects of the nation’s healthcare plans. As more and more people find themselves unable to afford the medical attention they need, the pleas of the public for reform have only amplified.

But perhaps predictably, according to, a study recently found that many people who are considered to be wealthy have no problem paying top dollar for the best possible treatments as well as a little extra to be treated like royalty.

With average healthcare costs rising 7% a year, hospital care is becoming harder for the average American to afford even without adding any extra amenities. As of 2013, an estimated two million people were forced to file for bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills.

While the vast majority of people must sit in emergency rooms for hours on end to receive medical attention, the wealthy bypass all average medical processes to receive the best of care immediately. Some even reserve entire hospital floors for what is to them a measly $2,400 a night.

Because hospital administrators are mostly focused on money above anything else, doctors are aware that special treatment given to wealthy patients who carry more weight in the eyes of administrators will also put them in a good light.

With all of the outcry for health reform, some have decided to take matters into their own hands, such as FairCare.

According to PR Newswire, FairCare recently released an app for iOS that allows consumers to compare prices in their area for any medical procedure available in the United States.

By simply typing in the name of a medical procedure, the FairCare app will show the lowest, highest, and average cost of the operation in the user’s vicinity.

“We must shine a light on healthcare costs, so that all healthcare consumers can begin making informed decisions,” said Eric Duprat, CEO and Co-Founder of FairCare.

The costs of medical procedures are so effectively kept under wraps that 57% of patients are completely unaware that physicians can charge different prices for the same service. By offering the public transparency into the inner-workings of the financial systems behind healthcare, FairCare hopes to bring even more attention to this discrimination.

New Epic Electronic Health Record System For Michigan Hospital

e-health information.

According to a recent report from ABC 10 News Michigan, an Iron River hospital is beginning to make some “epic” changes to its health system by employing electronic health records. Between 2012 and 2013, office-based physicians increased their use of EHR systems by 21%, and Northstar Health System is looking to join the tally. The system they’re introducing goes by the name Epic, and was initiated because of a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

“So Epic is known for it’s customer satisfaction, and it’s a very responsive and fast program. It allows providers to be more efficient,” says Jennifer Skarlupka-Reetz, Project Manager of the system’s introduction. Having medical records in electronic form will free up more time for staff to spend with their patients, instead of having to sort through the accompanying paperwork. Epic will also allow patients to have access to their own medical records, as well as giving them the ability to make their own appointments, allowing them full control of their medical information and scheduling. Becky Krause, a Clinical Informatics Nurse Specialist, explains:

“Patients involvement will increase greatly, as they start to use MyAspirus, or MyChart, which is what the Epic terminology is for it. They’ll be able to schedule appointments, see what the medical record is that the providers are in fact using themselves.”

Northstar Health System’s CEO, Connie Koutouzos, thanked the hospital staff for putting on more than 66,000 hours of budgeted time preparing for the system’s launch on August 23. The new system will be able to offer both patients and providers the seamless care that allows them to transfer information quickly, with additional security and guaranteed updated material. EHR systems help to make it easier for patients with multiple specialists to stay in communication, and prevent documentation-related errors.

Student Movers Help Domestic Violence Victims Get Into Shelters For Free

Movers unloading a moving vanThe name of California moving company Meathead Movers might call to mind muscle-bound jocks, but there’s more to this moving company than the name suggests.

Meathead Movers employs student athletes from Central and Southern California, and now those muscle-bound jocks are helping victims of domestic violence find better lives.

Ever since 2001, when the company first partnered with the Women’s Shelter Program in San Luis Obispo, Meathead Movers has helped victims get settled into a women’s shelter. So far, the company has forged relationships with seven domestic violence shelters, including Good Shepherd, one of the oldest such shelters in Southern California.

When women need to escape a violent, abusive living situation, the company provides free moving services. And by partnering with local shelters, they can ensure the victims end up in a safe space where they can get the support and protection they deserve.

Brothers Aaron and Evan Steed launched their business in 1997, and they say they began their domestic violence program after witnessing the effects of abuse firsthand. Sadly, victims of domestic violence often lack the financial independence they would need to hire a moving company. And because 26% of movers have no family members living within an hour’s drive to help them move, victims are often stuck in dangerous situations.

The Steed brothers say women would desperately plead with them for help, and they would often have only hours to complete a move while an abuser was away from the home.

“One day, the situation turned volatile when the abuser came home in the middle of the move,” the brothers write. “It was then that Meathead Movers made the decision to partner with a local shelter to make sure that not only were the victims safe and supported through their transition, but the moving crew was safe, too.”

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in three women and one in four men will suffer physical violence in their lifetime.

Energy Efficient Home Remodelers are Using New Technologies to Cut Down Utilities and Improve User Functionality

energia pulita

Having to walk around an entire house multiple times a day in order to open and close window shades according to the temperature and position of the sun can be time-consuming and tedious. Unfortunately, by ignoring this chore, one risks unnecessary energy costs.

In order to remove some of the hassle, window makers are implementing the ability to control window tint through portable devices. reports that new smart windows are available with a coating of metal oxide which reacts to volts of electricity that darken the windows. These windows can decrease energy costs by up to 20%.

By controlling individual windows, users can darken the windows to keep heat from the sun out to cool one part of a house, while simultaneously letting light into a room by clearing the windows in a separate location.

By 2020, it is predicted that the market for energy efficient windows will increase by 19% — an estimated $5 million. And by instituting remote access to functionality, companies plan to reach those numbers by riding the technology wave.

“Every window has an IP address and [is] controllable through the internet. Everything is at your fingertips, and then it can tie a number of other things together. The windows can now talk to the lighting and HVAC system, and on a more global level it could connect to the future smart city and smart grid,” Rao Mulphuri, CEO of a startup window company called View, told Forbes.

While lowering energy costs and and increasing user-friendly functionality are an important function of low-e windows, the environmental conservation benefits are just as appealing.

According to, energy efficient windows can prevent between 1,106 to 6,072 pounds of carbon dioxide from seeping into the atmosphere. This amounts to about 51 to 310 gallons of gasoline emissions.

A big part of encouraging energy efficient practices is to cater to consumer benefits. Between cutting down utility bills, helping the environment, and especially offering the laziness to do all of this while sitting down, could bring a huge upswing of energy conscious homeowners in the coming years.

#BlackLivesMatter T-Shirts Causing Controversy in Houston, Baltimore

White t-shirt on hanger

The latest battle over police brutality and #BlackLivesMatter is being waged on… T-shirts?

In Baltimore, some residents are furious over a T-shirt featuring a large brick and the slogan, “The Baltimore Riot 2015, The Battle of Mondawmin.” Baltimore became the center of #BlackLivesMatter protests following the death of Freddie Gray, and a riot began this summer after police cornered black teenagers at Mondawmin Mall. The group selling the controversial T-shirts say that all proceeds will be used to support the six police officers charged in Gray’s death, which has only further antagonized local residents.

And that’s not the only T-shirt causing controversy this September. In Houston, Fatimah Bouderdaben, 17, designed a light blue T-shirt with the words “#BlackLivesMatter” on the front, while the back included the names of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and 23 more victims of alleged police brutality. When Bouderdaben wore the custom designed T-shirt to the Harmony School for Advancement, she says the Dean of Students criticized her shirt and sent her home.

Many students in Houston were paying tribute to Texas Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at the time, who was tragically executed at a gas station. According to a school spokesperson, students related to police officers complained about the teen’s #BlackLivesMatter shirt.

“We were told by the administration to either cover it up, take it off or be pulled from class and sent home,” Bouderdaben said. “My friends chose to change but I refused to because I was not breaking dress code.”

The article of clothing might seem like a strange battleground for activists, but there are legitimate free speech concerns in the drama. Nine out of 10 Americans say that they own at least one T-shirt they refuse to throw away for sentimental reasons. And in the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, SCOTUS ruled that high school students don’t “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

However, the court also said that students’ free speech rights must be balanced with school administrators’ obligation to maintain order. That’s exactly what the Harmony School claims the Dean of students was trying to accomplish by sending Bouderdaben home.

“We don’t want fights in the school. We were trying to contain and handle her as delicately as possible,” said the spokesperson.

For her part, Bouderdaben says she would rather “speak than stay silent.”

Super-Lice Creating Hairy Situation

Children And Teacher Playing With Musical Instruments

Most men and women trim, clip, and cut their hair for aesthetic reasons. After all, a survey of 303 female students from Wayne State University found that the overwhelming majority (96%) remove their body hair. What’s more, a survey from Remington Products found that 71% of women prefer men to shave their back hair, 44% of women find it troublesome when this hair is left untouched, and that 40% women think men should shave their chests.

However, if you’re not careful, you may have to wind up getting rid of the hair on your head for a far, far grosser reason: so-called super-lice.
According to a new report, which was presented at the 250th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the lice populations of at least 25 states have developed resistances to the over-the-counter treatments doctors and schools widely recommend.

“We are the first group to collect lice samples from a large number of populations across the U.S.,” said Kyong Yoon, Ph.D., who was one of the first to report the phenomenon in the U.S., in 2000. “What we found was that 104 out of the 109 lice populations we tested had high levels of gene mutations, which have been linked to resistance to pyrethroids.”

Fortunately, lice do not carry disease, according to health experts, which is just one of a myriad of different myths still perpetuated. Lice also do not live in the environment, either — just on heads. This means that there’s no need to wash a child’s clothes, sheets, and stuffed toys, as most think.

The most important myth to debunk is that lice are a sign of poor hygiene. Having lice does not mean a person is dirty. The irony of the situation is that it’s actually quite the opposite — the critters actually prefer clean hair. What’s more, since lice can only be spread from head-to-head contact, such as when two people lean together for a selfie, those with lice are often the ones who are popular and well-liked.

According to Yoon, lice can still be treated with a special fine-toothed comb. Unfortunately, though, combing out lice isn’t easy.

New York Aims to Mandate Healthier Happy Meals Across Fast Food Chains

Children Diet Problems

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that one in three children were considered overweight. Now, the CDC has released a shocking new statistic, stating that one in six children in the United States are actually obese.

To combat this issue, New York legislators are now seeking to regulate the kids menus of fast food chains.

The bill, called the Healthy Happy Meals Bill, aims to set restrictions and regulations on the kids’ menus of fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King. Under this bill, the restaurants would be mandated to provide a whole grain, a vegetable, a fruit, no more than 35% calories from fat, more more than 600 milligrams sodium, and no more than 10% calories from saturated fat or added sugar, for every meal served with a kid’s toy.

According to researchers from New York University, these regulations would help these young fast foodies consume as much as 9% fewer calories, 10% fewer calories from fat, and 10% less sodium.

While this decrease may seem paltry when it comes to combating America’s staggering rates of childhood obesity, even small nutritional changes could help to create a better picture of health for children across the country.

However, this potential bill should not be considered the cure to childhood obesity; rather, a small step of many towards a healthier generation of individuals.

After all, this isn’t the first time legislators have tried to solve America’s rapidly escalating obesity problem. Think back to the failed attempt of then-mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban oversized sodas in New York City, which was met with massive criticism and which ultimately failed.

In California, regulators attempted to regulate the healthiness of kid’s meals by setting regulations on meals distributed with toys. To get around it, fast food chains only marketed their toys differently.

While it seems that capitalism and the health of future generations at odds, perhaps the Healthy Happy Meal Bill will go through, marking an important change in the way convenience and health intersect in America.

Marijuana Pipe Sparks Tragic Fire, Leaves 2 Dead

Cannabis plant at early flowering stageOverdosing on marijuana may not be possible, but apparently the drug can still cause tragedy, according to recent events.

Last week a 69-year-old man, Sheldon Bare, and his 15-year-old grandson, Ryan Bare, were both fatally injured in an apartment fire in Altoona, PA, believed to be caused by a marijuana pipe.

Local NBC affiliate reported that the elder Bare had been smoking the pipe and left it in the living room. Improperly discarded cigarettes are known to be one of the leading causes of fire deaths in this country.

Proponents of recreational and medicinal marijuana use have long touted the statistical evidence that supports the notion weed is a relatively harmless drug. It may be possible to overdose on, but no one has ever been reported to up to this point in history.

In most cases, smokers may experience hunger or become tired, and over time they can develop a raspy cough. House fires, however, are a side effect that most don’t consider in a conversation about cannabis usage.

Sheldon Bare was a disabled Vietnam War veteran. His sister, Holly Spatafora, believed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the things he witnessed during the conflict. She claims that her brother probably turned to marijuana as a way to self-medicate.

“The man that came home was no longer my brother,” Spatafora said. “He was just never happy again. He was one of the walking wounded.”

Firefighters and first-responders were quick to the scene around 3:30 a.m. when the call was made, but sadly it was to late.

Local Fire Chief Tim Hileman summarized the mix of emotions telling local CBS affiliate WTAJ, “These people really do put themselves out to try to help, and unfortunately, the outcome’s not always what we want.”

Convicted Murder Conspirator Sues Legal Team for Malpractice

Justice scale on blue backgroundWhen most people hear the term malpractice, the first thing they tend to think of is medical. That makes sense considering it is one of the most common and potentially serious versions. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 225,000 deaths occur annually from medical malpractice.

There are, however, other types of malpractice, though most times they are not quite as serious as life and death. Unless, of course, it’s a person’s lifetime of liberty that’s in question. Some would argue that holds a similar level of importance, and such are the stakes in a recent case stemming from a murder conspiracy verdict.

The in Ohio reported Tuesday that Kevin Knoefel, the man convicted of manipulating his teenage foster daughter to kill his wife with a knife in 2012, is suing his defense lawyers from that case for legal malpractice.

“Attorneys need to be held to a higher standard of professionalism, and they have to be held to a higher standard when it hurts the client,” said Joseph Patituce, the attorney Knoefel hired to represent him in this case.

According to the News-Herald, points of contention Knoefel is claiming in the lawsuit include:

  • His lead lawyer in the case, Michael Connick, lied to him about his experience (and lack thereof) with murder cases,
  • the legal team never hired an investigator as promised,
  • and multiple attorneys charged him for the same work, but Connick was really the only person who worked on the case.

The suit also states that Connick’s “unprofessional behavior angered the judge to Kevin Knoefel’s detriment.”

The court records go on to state that, “During the criminal trial, Defendant Connick did not display the proper degree of skill required by a criminal defense attorney in a murder case.”

In addition to objecting to his own question, Connick is also accused of “unprofessional behavior [that] angered the trial judge” at Knoefel’s sentencing.

Losing a life based on medical negligence, or accidental missteps is always a tragedy. But a man that’s sentenced to life in prison, as is the case here, also has the right to ensure he got a fair and just trial. Whether you’re a lawyer or the person hiring one, legal malpractice is a real thing and should not be taken lightly.