Archives June 2018

Florida Reef Suffering Damage From Hurricanes, Lionfish, and Mysterious Bacteria

The Florida Reef is one of the largest coral reefs in the entire world, boasting a length of 160 miles. Unfortunately, this beautiful underwater area has been significantly damaged over the years, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better. With hurricanes, lionfish, dangerous bacteria and more, the Florida Reef has endured all kinds of havoc over the years.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs between June 1 and November 30; thanks to these massive storms and the warming oceans, Florida’s coral reefs have been continually damaged — but this new bacterial danger has been especially pervasive.

According to WFSU, scientists have identified white marks showing up on corals across Florida’s coast, indicating that some of the tissue had died. Now, following last year’s damage suffered from Hurricane Irma, the coral bacteria has started spreading rapidly and causing even more damage.

This disease first appeared off Miami’s Virginia Key in 2014 and started spreading north, south, and west. But as of April 2018, the coral disease was discovered in the Lower Keys.

“It has encompassed now about two-thirds of the entire Florida reef track,” said Rob Ruzicka, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Research Institute. “And it is slowly making its way westward toward Key West. Hurricane Irma was a major issue with the spread of this disease because it stirred up the water and the mechanism for transporting the pathogen across became convoluted because it had followed this steady pattern of moving Westward through 2017 to the middle keys. But now it’s popping up on reefs in isolated areas.”

There are various groups of environmentalists and scientists focusing on addressing these reef bacterial issues. According to, the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), alongside the Georgia Aquarium, is taking one of the largest coral restoration efforts in the world: the Florida Reef Tract.

Sadly, the Florida Reef Tract has lost nearly 97% of its Elkhorn coral and its Staghorn coral, two coral species that previously dominated the area but are now critically endangered. The CRF has planted more than 66,000 healthy corals across the Florida Reef Tract in order to offset some of the damaged that has already occurred.

“With Staghorn and Elkhorn populations in such dire condition, natural spawning and recruitment is becoming increasingly rare, as the spawn cannot reach each in the ocean currents while still active,” said Steve Hartter, senior aquarist at the Georgia Aquarium. “By out planting corals with different genotypes in close proximity, this will increase successful natural spawning in the future.”

Additionally, Florida wildlife officials are providing $250,000 to environmental research in order to address some of the coral reef’s concerns.

The Sacramento Bee reports that an invasive species of fish, the lionfish, has been eating native fish that are important to maintaining healthy reefs.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided $50,000 each to the University of Florida, American Marine Research Company, R3 Digital Sciences, Atlantic Lionshare Ltd., and Reef Environmental Education Foundation. The contracts run through June 2019.

Lunch Breaks and New Technology: What Motivates Employees?

Employee satisfaction is something that is discussed and researched a lot. This is something that is important for all businesses to understand — especially with a Columbia University study showing that in companies with poor company cultures, the employee turnover rate is 48.4%. Employee satisfaction is important in keeping employees motivated and determined to do their best at work. And according to a new study, lunch breaks may play a big role in keeping employees productive and happy.

Unfortunately, many employees today don’t actually take their lunch break but rather continue working while eating. But without adequate breaks, employees can experience burnout quicker. A survey done by Tork shows that not only do employees not take their much-needed lunch breaks, but they feel as though they can’t. In fact, almost 20% of American employees agree that they worry their bosses won’t think of them as hardworking if they choose to take regular lunch breaks. Furthermore, 13% of American employees worry that their co-workers will judge them for taking a lunch break. And sadly, 22% of American employers say that they think of employees who take regular lunch breaks as less hardworking.

On the flip side, the survey shows that 90% of employees feel refreshed and ready to continue working after taking a lunch break. And they’re not wrong to feel this way — past studies have shown lunch breaks to be associated with increased productivity, mental health, creativity, and overall health. All in all, regular lunch breaks are associated with a higher job satisfaction and desire to be involved in the company.

And lunch breaks aren’t the only thing that help boost employee satisfaction. Employee benefits are another area where employees feel supported by their employers. Many employees need health benefits, like dental to help pay for procedures like wisdom teeth removal, which five million Americans have done every year.

But something that really motivates employees in the workplace? Technology. That’s right — a recent global study from Aruba, networking technology provider, shows that employees who work in digital workplaces are more productive, motivated, and happier with their job.

Of the 7,000 participants, 51% were more likely to have a higher job satisfaction when working in a workplace full of technology. Furthermore, 43% of the participants were more likely to have a positive attitude about their work-life balance than those who don’t have as much access to newer technologies.

It’s obvious that there are a lot of varying factors that can impact how motivated a person is at their job and their level of job satisfaction. But if employers are looking for a way to improve company morale, encouraging lunch breaks and providing new technology are good places to start.

DJ Calvin Harris Partners With Hakkasan Group to Eliminate Plastic Straws

Popular DJ Calvin Harris has partnered with Hakkasan Group in order to start a movement to get rid of single-use plastic straws. Hakkasan Group is a hospitality organization with restaurants and nightclubs all over the world. They have a popular location in Las Vegas where Harris has an exclusive residency.

The DJ just announced today that he decided to partner with Hakkasan to completely eliminate all single-use plastic straws in the group’s clubs. The group will start phasing out plastic straws immediately in an effort to reduce the 500 million straws that are tossed in the trash every single day in the United States. Additionally, more than 175 million straws make it into the waterways and oceans all the time, grossly polluting our water supplies and aquatic life.

As of today, the world makes and consumes more than 600 pounds of plastic every year, and the plastic market is still growing by an estimated 5% every year. Sadly, much of this plastic, including single-use straws, are not recycled and end up in the garbage and water. Because of this, many Fortune 500 companies are also pledging to eliminate plastic straws because “small actions can make a small difference.”

DJ Calvin Harris signed on with Hakkasan Group back in 2013, and his contract has been extended to 2020. The artist is very passionate about this project.

“My friend and tour photographer Conor McDonnell has been working closely with the World Wildlife Fund and has been sharing his first-hand experience of the damage plastic waste is doing to the environment. We want to reduce the impact of harmful plastics, so we decided to take action. I am grateful to Hakkasan Group for supporting us and helping us make a difference, I hope other venues in the city and around the world will do the same.”

Hakkasan Group CEO Nick McCabe also added, “In the fast-paced environment in which we operate, it’s easy to lose sight of wider social issues on which we have an impact. We’re incredibly proud to partner with Calvin on this initiative to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics.”

Facebook Takes Next Step In Protecting Online User Privacy From Advertisers

Facebook has released new safeguards as a way to control how its advertisers handle user data. According to NBC News, Facebook has installed new controls to inform its online users about how companies are targeting them with advertising.

Beginning July 2, advertisers will be required to inform Facebook users if they’re being shown an ad because their information was obtained by a data broker. A data broker is a firm that collects personal data about consumers to sell to businesses for marketing information.

Facebook’s new policies are meant to create a greater sense of transparency for its users. They’ll also require more accountability from the social media giant’s advertisers.

“We are not taking a position on whether third-party data is inherently good or bad,” said Graham Mudd, Facebook’s director of product marketing.

“We are taking a position on the importance of having the right to use the data and for it have been sourced responsibly,” Mudd said.

These new policies are Facebook’s latest push against data brokers in the shadow of the company’s major data breach. Facebook had initially moved to ban data brokers on March 28, but major marketers threatened to pull funding.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, the advertisers said restrictions on data brokers would hurt their ability to target ads at the 1.97 billion Facebook users that are active around the world every month.

Still, Facebook has had to make a series of moves against data brokers to repair its reputation after recent data scandals. The most recent scandal involved Cambridge Analytica’s theft of private information from 87 million people.

Prior to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Americans were unaware their data was being harvested by data brokers for marketing purposes. Since then, Facebook has attempted to find a balance between the public’s desire for greater privacy and its advertisers’ demands for access to consumer information.

“Facebook is caught between tremendous pressures from marketers and privacy demands from policymakers and the public,” said Kathryn Montgomery, a Communications professor specializing in media and privacy issues at American University.

Still, a recent Reuters poll of 1,780 people shows that advertisers may also need to find a balance when it comes to obtaining information from online consumers. Up to 59% of those in the survey report that they would use a social media website less often if they knew a tech firm was partnering with a data broker.

Hydroponic Gardeners Need to Focus On Sanitation and Beware of Damaging Pests

Newark, New Jersey isn’t necessarily known for its agricultural prowess, but after a $30 million investment, it’s now the home of the largest vertical farm operation in the world.

Hydroponic farming has grown tremendously over the years and not just in Newark. Across the world, small and large garden setups have ditched soil and conventional farming and are focused on planting using this innovative new approach. With hydroponic gardening, farmers can actually plant four times the amount of crops in the same space compared to traditional soil farming.

On a nationwide and even global scale, hydroponic gardening will likely continue to grow and assist communities with their agricultural production needs. As far as small gardening projects are concerned, as long as gardeners are remaining diligent about preventing pests from ruining these hydroponic setups, this style of agriculture will work great for crop production and indoor farming.

According to, Tim Carpenter, owner of VertiGro, even patented a system of hydroponic vertical gardening that is now used in small residential operations as well as commercial agricultural projects.

“The whole thing was to save space and energy,” said Carpenter, who was named the Florida Association of County Agriculture Agents’ Marion County outstanding agriculturist in 2017.

With Carpenter’s approach, as well as similar hydroponic setups, though bugs aren’t as big of a problem compared with traditional farming, they can still be an issue if the gardener isn’t careful.

Without focusing on proper sanitation, a hydroponic garden can turn into a garbage bin. The health of a garden relies heavily on the sanitation habits of the farmer. Gardeners should keep all floors dry and clean; sterilize and clean all system equipment, tools, and containers; and dispose of plant waste right away. Without proper sanitation, a hydroponic garden will also be very welcoming to all kinds of damaging pests.

Here are some of the most common damaging pests that hydroponic gardeners need to beware of throughout their agricultural production process:

  1. Termites — Termites have been estimated to cause approximately $30 billion in damages to man-made structures including commercial and residential buildings and crop gardens of all sizes. Be sure to regularly inspect your home for signs of termites, including damage to wooden structures, droppings, and most areas.
  2. Fungus Gnats — These flying insects are easy to identify but their larvae are much smaller and can spread diseases throughout a hydroponic garden setup.
  3. Whiteflies — Whiteflies quickly attach to hydroponic crops and will feed on all the nutrients within and leave mottled spots (similar to termite damage). Unfortunately, hydroponic gardens rarely see only a few whiteflies, as these pests travel in large numbers.
  4. Leaf miners — These tiny maggots are rarely seen on hydroponic plants until the damage is already done. They feed on leaf tissue between the upper and lower portions of the leaf and the mine tunnels inside the affected plant. Afterwards, the leaf will look like someone intentionally drew squiggly lines across it.
  5. Thrips — Thrips are extremely destructive due to their small size and fast-moving abilities. They are either brown, tan, or (most commonly) green. These pests congregate near the veins of leaves within a hydroponic garden. It can be difficult to identify these pests, however, but the damage that they cause is unmistakable. Thrips will cause small metallic black specks on top of the leaves inside the garden.

David Copperfield Not Liable For Magic Show Injuries

As of May 29, Gavin Cox will receive nothing in his civil case against the illusionist, David Copperfield, for injuries he sustained during a 2013 Las Vegas magic show. Copperfield was found not liable by the court, which ruled that the fan was responsible for his own injuries.

Cox’s case began when he sued Copperfield, a Las Vegas hotel, a construction company, and two other companies owned by Copperfield, after he tripped performing in one of Copperfield’s tricks. Cox’s attorneys claim that the fall resulted in a brain injury and shoulder injury, the latter of which he received medical attention.

Regardless of the injuries incurred at the time of Copperfield’s performance and the $400,000 Cox paid in medical expenses from the injuries, neither Copperfield nor the hotel were held financially liable.

The civil trial was not brought to federal court and was decided by a jury of Clark County residents. This is not surprising, given that only 1% of civil cases reach a federal court. Despite the sensational civil suit, this case gained popular attention because Copperfield’s trick was revealed during the case. It was revealed that the Lucky 13 trick relied on a maze of hallways the participant had to navigate before reappearing on the other side of the stage.

Cox claimed that construction debris got in the way, causing him to trip and injure himself.

Cox also claimed that he needed assistance to walk due to the severity of his injuries, as seen when he was helped into the courtroom by aids five years after the injury. However, other footage shows Cox completely independent of assistance outside the courtroom.

Copperfield and the hotel were ultimately not held financially liable for injuries Cox incurred during the show. The jury only deliberated for a surprisingly short two hours before reaching their verdict.