Archives July 2016

Distracted Pokemon Go Player Crashes Into Parked Police Car, Gets Caught on Camera

A lot can happen in the 6,000 miles between tire alignments and oil changes, but crashing into a parked police vehicle usually isn’t one of those things.

Although the introductory screen of Pokemon Go explicitly tells users to “be alert at all times” and “stay aware of your surroundings,” some individuals, including one Baltimore man, elect to ignore the warning.

The man in question was driving and playing the augmented reality game at the same time, and then proceeded to speed through an intersection and sideswipe a parked Baltimore Police Department vehicle.

Fortunately, the two officers with the car were standing outside and nobody was injured during the incident.

In an even greater stroke of luck, one of the officers caught the entire incident on a body camera.

The footage is jaw-dropping. In the video, two officers can be seen speaking to one another, and the car can be seen coming through the intersection. After the collision, the police officers rush to the driver.

The driver then gets out of the car, holds out his phone to the officers and says, “That’s what I get for playing this dumb a** game.”

Though nobody was injured in this incident, it could have been much worse. Humans aren’t accident proof, after all.

However, that hasn’t stopped one Australian artist from imagining what a car crash-proof human would look like if they existed.

Developed as part of a new road safety campaign in Australia, a lifelike sculpture named Graham was “designed with bodily features that might be present in humans if they had evolved to withstand the forces involved in [car] crashes,” according to the Transport Accident Commission in the state of Victoria.

With help from road safety engineer Dr. David Logan and trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield, Melbourne based artist Patricia Piccinini brought the vision of Graham to fruition.

Some of the crash-proof qualities of Graham’s anatomy include a massive skull to protect the brain; a flat, fatty face capable of absorbing the energy of an impact; no neck, eliminating the possibility of it being broken; stronger, thicker skin; and ribs fortified with their own air bags.

Frankly, Graham would be able to walk away from a high-speed crash with little difficulty.

“Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes,” said TAC chief executive Joe Calafiore.

“We have to accept people will always make mistakes, but modern vehicle safety technology and safe road design can drastically reduce the forces involved when a crash happens, making them more survivable,” he added.

While people may make mistakes, the Baltimore Police Department has made it clear that playing Pokemon Go while driving should not be one of them.

“This is serious stuff. It’s a game, but it’s not a game when you’re behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound vehicle, driving down the roadway,” said Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith at a press conference.

Workers’ Comp Changes in Florida and New York

Workers’ compensation laws are changing around the country to better protect American workers.

The U.S. Supreme Court is now reviewing Florida’s workers’ comp system after permanent partial disability benefits were cut by the state in an effort to save money.

According to Insurance Business America, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in 2015 not to review the 2003 case of Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, in which Stahl injured his back while on the job, an injury leading to the end of his career because of his worsening conditions.

“It looks like it has become a very meager amount of compensation for an injured worker,” said Justice Barbara Pariente, “and it’s hard to deny that what’s happened over the last 50 years has not been a diminution in workers’ compensation benefits.”

The National Academy of Social Insurance reports that workers’ comp should pay 100% of the medical expenses for injured workers from the day of the injury. There should also be cash benefits for any lost wages after a three to seven day waiting period.

In Stahl’s case, he was forced to file a civil lawsuit against the hospital that alleged the medical facility had been negligent in causing his injury and that the state’s workers’ comp program was an “inadequate exclusive remedy” for workers who suffered injuries on the job.

In New York, the Workers’ Compensation Board agreed to enter into an alliance with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). reports that Wage and Hour Division, New York State’s workers’ comp board, entered into a collaborative alliance relationship with OSHA. The organizations expect the agreement to promote employers’ compliance with new and existing laws administrated by each administration.

Some elements of the new deal include providing employees and employers with information regarding compliance assistance, cross-training of both agencies’ staff, sharing valuable and appropriate information when necessary and working together to conduct joint investigations when needed.

“Our agencies share a common purpose of helping ensure proper working conditions and benefits for workers in New York,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA Regional Administrator. “Working together and sharing resources to achieve that common purpose makes sense.”

CDC and Utah Health Authorities Baffled by New Case of Zika Virus

Health authorities are bewildered by a case of Zika virus found in Utah as no one can explain how one patient became infected.

Zika virus is known to spread through bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito or through sexual transmission. However, one patient in Utah may have contracted the disease through a new, unknown channel of infection.

“This case is unusual. The individual does not have any of the known risk factors we’ve seen thus far with Zika virus,” said health officer Gary Edwards of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

The patient was the eighth resident of Utah to be diagnosed with Zika and he has since seen a full recovery.

What’s baffling to health officials is the lack of apparent risk factors. The patient hadn’t traveled to any areas in which Zika is common, nor did they have sexual contact with anyone who was infected. Moreover, no Aedes aegypti mosquitos have been found in Utah, so it is highly unlikely that the patient was infected through a bite.

However, the patient was acting as a caregiver to an elderly man who had contracted the disease during travel. The man is now deceased, though it has not been determined if his death was related to the Zika virus.

While the patient’s regular contact with a Zika carrier may be considered a clue in the case, it is still unclear as to how the virus could have been transmitted since the two did not have any sexual contact.

“We don’t have any evidence that suggests Zika can be passed from one person to another by sneezing or coughing or kissing or sharing utensils,” said Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the CDC.

Experts have insisted that sexual contact is required for the infection to spread; however, because the disease has been detected in blood, saliva, and urine, one has to wonder if in rare circumstances the virus might be transmitted through these fluids outside of sex.

Infectious disease specialist William Schaffner of Tennessee said, “This raises some interesting questions. Was there a needle stick or injury?”

Because the most recent patient was a caregiver, and more than half of all nurses will experience at least one needle stick incident during their career, it could be possible that the virus was transmitted by “shared” needle.

Even more curious is the fact that the deceased elderly patient showed unusually high levels of the virus. According to the CDC, his blood contained Zika levels 100,000 times higher than any other infected person thus far. Specialists are still not sure if this had any impact on his transmissibility, however.

Officials from the Salt Lake County Health Department are urging residents not to panic.

“At this time we don’t know if the contact between the new case and the deceased patient played any role in the transmission of the disease,” said Edwards. “There is an uncertainty about how this new case contracted Zika. But we do not believe that there is a risk of Zika transmission among the general population in Utah based on what we know so far.”

USDA Releases Biomass Wood Pellet Energy Report

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network recently released a report detailing Russia’s biofuels industry, offering some good news.

Biomass pellets are used as a heating source and the use of this fuel in industrial and residential applications including boilers, pellet stoves and other wood-fired equipment has increased significantly over the last few years.

Russia is one of the leading oil and gas exporters and producers in the world and biofuels make up five percent of its entire heating energy. BioMassMagazine reports that one of Russia’s main sources of energy, the burning of wood pellets, will continue to grow.

The wood pellet industry has significantly grown over the last few years and that trend looks like it will continue. In North America, the wood pellet demand is projected to exceed 5 million metric tons by 2025. In Russia, according to Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), wood pellet production is expected to increase by 8 million metric tons by 2025.

Along with the increased demand from Asian and European markets, Russia’s local consumption of wood pellets has contributed to the energy growth as well.

“Given the current economic situation,” read the USDA report, “the number of smaller-capacity facilities is forecast to increase because they have more mobility in sourcing ray materials and can easily market their production locally.”

According to WhaTech, biomass energy’s recent spike in popularity is because of the overall ease of use and unconstructed timeframe. Energy sources like wind and solar power are only available at certain times and are dependent on weather. The energy that’s extracted from wood pellets can be continuously available and is not affected by other external factors such as renewable energy and weather conditions.

Russia’s goal is to become 40% more energy efficient by 2020 and the overall value of the global pellet industry is expected to reach $8.3 billion USD by that time.

Facebook Partners With ABC News for 24-Hour Convention Coverage

In an effort to provide in depth and around-the-clock coverage of both the Republican National Convention (July 18-21 in Cleveland) and the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28 in Philadelphia), ABC News and Facebook have announced a partnership that promises audiences a revolutionary experience in social media news coverage.

The deal grants ABC News exclusive real-time data and user-generated content from Facebook to utilize as part of its 24-hour live convention coverage, which will be available for streaming on the news site’s Facebook page. Reporters covering everything from speeches to protests throughout the duration of each convention will be able to incorporate user comments or questions as part of the correspondence.

“Our livestream strategy is all about bringing users a wide variety of unique moments they may not otherwise see on television,” says vice president of digital for ABC News, Colby Smith. “For the conventions in particular, Facebook Live is the perfect platform to reach and engage with our audience, delivering a 360-degree perspective of what’s happening on the ground.”

For its part, Facebook describes the tactic as “innovative” and demonstrates the power of social media to circulate content at speeds previously unimaginable. As Todd Spangler writes for Variety, it “underscores how critical social media has become for traditional news orgs to reach audiences.” Companies of all types must increasingly use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to appeal to consumers, generate traffic, and increase brand awareness.

While other networks, including PBS, C-SPAN, and Fusion all plan to similarly use Facebook Live’s streaming capacity to deliver content, the official collaboration with Facebook gives ABC News a competitive advantage while bolstering the social media company’s profile as well.

“With this partnership,” says Andy Mitchell, Facebook’s director of news and global media partnerships, “Facebook will further solidify itself as the place where people across the political spectrum come to connect with their friends and family and watch democracy in action.”

Student Debt Rises As Home Ownership Falls

Home prices are rising, but student debt isn’t falling, and it’s having a very real effect on the housing market. Weaker traffic at open houses and reluctance to take on a mortgage is manifesting as millennials worry about their student debt burdens.

A new study from the National Association of REALTORS shows that while 75% of Americans still think it’s a good time to buy a house, about half of those surveyed who also had student loan debt said that they were uncomfortable taking on a mortgage.

In the survey, about 62% of current renters said that they thought that now was a good time to buy, which is down from 68% last quarter, in December 2015.

NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said that the survey highlights the ongoing gap in confidence between current homeowners and current renters: “Existing-home prices surpassed their all-time peak this spring and have climbed on average over 5 percent nationally through the first five months of the year and even faster in areas with severe supply shortages,” he said.

Yun went to explain that, “Most homeowners appear to realize that if they’re ready to sell, they’ll likely find a buyer rather quickly and be able to use the sizable equity they’ve accumulated in recent years towards their next home purchase. Meanwhile, renters interested in buying continue to face minimal choices, strong competition and home prices growing faster than their incomes.”

The national student loan burden doesn’t just affect potential home buyers — statistics have shown that about 15,000 of bankruptcies every year are caused by student loan burden. As millennials age and more of them enter the home market, the true price of their loans on the national housing economy may become apparent.

Forbes: Cincinnati is the Best City for Recent College Grads

College education is a key factor in the likelihood to move; at least 77% of college graduates have changed communities at least once since completing their education. According to Forbes, many of those grads may now be moving to Cincinnati.

The biggest questions college graduates face after graduation involve where to go next. Contrary to popular belief and modern cinema, the answer isn’t New York City, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C.

Forbes says the best place to go after graduation is Southwest Ohio.

Forbes recently named the Cincinnati-Middletown area of the Tristate as the top up-and-coming city for recent college graduates.

The magazine’s website reports that Cincinnati offers young professionals the secret to success in the real world: strong job opportunities and manageable living costs.

Despite the recent announcement in Forbes, studies show that more millennials are living at home now than ever.

A recent Pew Research Center report stated that, for the first time since 1880, young adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live with a parent than another arrangement.

The living arrangements reflect not only the growing trend of postponing marriage, but also larger economic factors that are keeping millennials at home.

Pew’s Richard Fry argues that a challenging job market is a major factor driving the trend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 5.7% of men ages 25 to 34 are unemployed, a full percentage point lower than older men.

The high cost of housing may play an additional role. With home ownership rates of those under 35 at a 20-year low, many more are looking to rent. But as rent prices rise faster than wages, the market may be keeping millennials from moving out of their parents’ homes.

However, Cincinnati seems to be crushing those statistics.

Job search site ZipRecruiter identified cities gaining traction based on low median rents, low competition, and a high percentage of open jobs for candidates with a college degree, as well as the concentration of residents ages 21 to 24 and entertainment. Cincinnati dominated every category.

The top three industries found in the ZipRecruiter study were retail, insurance, and customer service, with entry-level positions such as event specialists and bank tellers available in the area.

The cost of living also added to Cincinnati’s high ranking. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $698 per month, which ZipRecruiter called “very affordable living.”

More millennials may be living at home currently, but Forbes may have a hand in a growing Cincinnati population.

Facebook Threatens to Delete Photos if Users Don’t Download Another App

Only 13% of young adults — ages 18 to 24 — have ever owned a photo album. That doesn’t mean they aren’t taking photos, however, as nearly 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day. According to Zephoria, 50% of all 18 to 24 year olds go on Facebook as soon as they wake up in the morning, or more realistically, late afternoon.

These almost two billion Facebook users have seldom complained about the photo album features on Facebook, but that could all change.

The Verge reports that Facebook is threatening to delete photos that were synched to Facebook via mobile device and stored in a private photo album.

The only way to stop Facebook from deleting your photos? Download their app, Moments, Facebook’s own photo-sharing app. Here is Facebook’s recent statement on the matter:

“Photos you privately synced from your phone to Facebook will be deleted soon. Earlier this year, they were moved to Moments, a new app from Facebook. If you want to keep these photos, download and log into Moments before July 7. If you don’t want Moments, download these photos directly to your computer from your Facebook profile before July 7.”

According to The Guardian, this move should come as no surprise because of the similar action Facebook took with its Messenger app. Facebook removed chat from the main app and forced users to install the specific Messenger app — which increased the app to more than 900 million users.

KKTV reports that the Moments app has been around for one year and allows for users to send images to their Facebook friends. Despite the app being around for a year, Facebook has utilized the technology since 2012. Facebook could continue to seamlessly store these photos, like they could have continued to support Messenger on the Facebook app, but they are hoping to force people to downtown the app and turn Moments into another one of the most popular apps.

GOP Congressman’s Anti-Gay Stance Put On Blast Via Aerial Banner

Some densely packed beaches in New Jersey see more than 1.5 million visitors in a single day, which makes them an ideal spot for banner messages on airplanes. Yet over the holiday weekend, many of those beach-goers saw a different type of aerial advertisement — this one of a political nature.

Airplanes fly banners over beaches all the time, but rarely do they call out politicians on their social issues. According to The Huffington Post, a New Jersey congressman was the subject of the most recent aerial message over the Jersey Shore.

Republican congressman Scott Garrett has told his followers that his party will not support gay candidates. The Democratic group House Majority Political Action Committee’s rebuttal to the New Jersey congressman’s remarks was to fly a plane with a banner that read “SCOTT GARRETT: ANTI-GAY BIGOTRY WON’T FLY” over the state’s most popular beaches.

The banner also encouraged people to visit, a new anti-Garrett website.

Politico reports that Garrett told the rest of the Republican party that he will not pay his dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) because they support gay candidates.

“I’m not going to talk about who we’re going to support and who we’re not going to support,” said Greg Walde, chairman of the NRCC. “He’s [Garrett] been able to raise a lot of money, he’s got a lot of money in the bank, close to $3 million. My preference is we have members who pay their dues in full.”

Corporate donors and Wall Street have stopped donating to Garrett.

That’s pretty much the extent of Garrett’s own party taking shots at him, but the banner proves the Democratic party is more willing to push the envelope.

“I said I support anyone’s rights to run for public office and will support those people who support positions that’s in the Republican platform,” said Garrett.

Sarah Neibart, Garrett’s campaign manager, responded to the banner, saying, “Nancy Pelosi’s political hacks are spreading lies on lies in a mud-slinging attempt to paint Scott Garret as something that he’s simply not.”

The House Majority PAC is also sponsoring three billboards on Route 17 in Bergen County that will call attention to Garrett’s anti-LGBT views, and they are also running TV ads against him through the middle of July.

Viral Dress Code ‘Violation’ After Women Removed From Casino

Becky Paszkiewicz visited the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee last month, expecting that she would play some slots, have some drinks, and enjoy a fun evening. Instead, she was asked to leave the premises due to a dress code violation.

According to LegalUSPokerSites, Paszkiewicz’s denim shorts did not pass the casino’s “fingertip rule,” which stipulates that shorts or skirts need to reach the point where one’s fingertips fall when their hands are at their sides.

Paszkiewicz was wearing a tank top, a black hooded sweatshirt, and Converse shoes along with the denim shorts. She said that she was just minding her own business when casino security approached her — about 20 minutes into her visit — and removed her from the building.

“That sucked,” Becky said. “That sucked a lot.”

A photo of Becky’s attire has since gone viral, because many people were outraged over the seemingly appropriate outfit causing so many problems.

“They suggested we buy leggings from the gift shop,” said Becky, “and then at one point [the security officer] suggested I take off my hoodie and wrap it around my waist. I told him then I’d be in a tank top, wearing less clothing than I am now.”

Becky had been a regular gambler at the Potawatomi Casino, but after this incident she doesn’t plan on ever returning.

“Everyone is looking at you like, ‘What did they do? What’s going on here?” she said. “It was embarrassing to be treated like I did something wrong.”

Yahoo reports that after the outrage on social media, the Potawatomi Casino was forced to issue an official statement:

Potawatomi Hotel and Casino enforces a dress code as part of its security protocol. Unfortunately, what happened in this particular instance did not fall within the spirit of that dress code. We apologize for any embarrassment that this guest experienced as part of the incident. We will review the policy and take measures to make sure it is being appropriately enforced in the future.”

Appearance plays a major role in the workplace — as 75% of people believe having an unattractive smile could hard their career success — and dress codes are often enacted in schools, but it’s not often you hear about an outfit that’s too skimpy for the casino.