Archives July 2018

How Chickens Are Helping UK Nursing Homes Battle Loneliness

There are millions of different types of therapy. Some are tried and true, others the jury is still out on. Like, 22% of people who have hot tubs use them for injury recovery. It’s fabulous. Also, tried and true. What about an emotional support duck? Or any range of support animals? One thing we do know is that animals being used therapeutically is popularly en-vogue and it works.

In the UK, nursing homes have been battling a very common late-life plague: loneliness. They’ve been successfully battling it with chickens. The charity Equal Arts strives to improve the lives of elderly people by engaging them with creativity. In 2011, they started the HenPower movement aiming to reduce isolation, loneliness, depression, and dependency upon antipsychotic medication. And they would do so with chickens.

What started as a way for elderly residents to enjoy and be responsible for the curious creatures has blossomed into a widely funded movement with 40 sites and counting.

“HenPower is innovative because it is not just brief ‘petting’ of the hens, but also taking responsibility for them. There’s a huge range of roles with shared responsibilities, with diverse ways to interact with the project,” said nursing professor Glenda Cook, who led the research evaluation of the project.

Needing consistent care, the chickens from HenPower helped residents get active in the process of caring for — and hanging out with — their chickens. It has been successful and the movement shows no sign of stopping. Seeing the day-to-day difference in the quality of the lives of people affected by the simple creatures is proof in itself.

Test cases have seen drops in medication needs, depression, and loneliness. Ossie Cresswell, 87 years old, noted the difference a few feathered friends can make:

“Next to blindness loneliness is the worst thing you can have, it is a big affliction. It can destroy a lot of people. I know because I have been through it. At 87, hens are the biggest thing in our lives.”

One person who helps HenPower notes that chickens are just funny animals and that merely watching them bop around is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. We tend to agree. Whatever is going on, HenPowerment is remarkably successful and certainly nothing to ba-gok at.

Skilled Welders Are Needed From Franklin County to Uganda

The construction industry is growing every year. Over a 10-year period, from 2016 to 2026, the construction equipment industry is expected to grow a total of 12%. As the industry rises, there will be a growing need for skilled workers as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for welders, cutters, brazers, and solderers is on the rise, projected to reach 412,300 by the year 2024.

According to East African Business Week, there is a need for skilled international welders, as well.

A total of 220 students have attained internationally recognized certificates in vocational studies through the Youth Employment Enhancement Project (YEEP). Of the 220 students, 120 studied scaffolding erection and inspection, 50 were trained in welding, fabrication, and pipework, and 20 are artisans trained in 3G coded welding.

The training was held at the Vocational Training Center in Uganda and was supported by Skills for Eastern Africa Program in partnership with Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

“Equipping younger people with vocational skills can prepare them to become job creators, without vocational skills, majority of Ugandan youth may fail to penetrate into the job market the country’s oil and gas sector can offer in the Albertine region,” said Adrian Green, head of Growth and Economy at the British High Commission in Uganda.

The graduates are being encouraged to utilize they skills they have acquired to create careers for themselves throughout the private sector — all across the globe.

“The skills you have achieved through these trainings can support you to start up your own businesses,” added Reverand Fr. Joseph Bigirwa, director of the training center. “Currently there’s high demand for fabricated metallic doors and windows, venture into such businesses, this will help some of you to progress in future.”

Back in the states, students across the country have recently graduates from accelerated welding programs, setting them up for successful futures. But certain areas of the country still have a dire need for skilled welders.

According to Public Opinion, there are hundreds of good-paying jobs going unfilled across Franklin County because there aren’t enough trained workers to fill them, which is especially true for welders.

Thankfully, a new facility opened up with the goal of promoting welding as a profession, offering global opportunities to students hoping to pursue a career in welding and related work.

Phenomenal Industries offers a variety of training programs, allowing students to work throughout the U.S., as well as receive international certifications to work in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East. Additionally, the program helps students network and find work with local employers.

“Our goal is to get them trained and employed, because that’s what they need in the area,” said James Muto, of Phenomenal Industries.

The current starting rate for beginner welders is between $18 and $22 an hour, or more than $40,000 a year. From there, workers can increase their pay depending on their skill set and work ethic. Approximately 90% of the students who finish the training program at Phenomenal go into welding or additional training.

Tesla Announces Plans to Open a Factory in Shanghai

Vehicle manufacturers are continuously trying to make improvements to their vehicles. Innovations are often made to improve things like design and speed to keep up with consumer demands. And with about 5.4 million non-fatal car accidents occurring in the U.S. each year, manufacturers often put a heavy focus on better safety features too. One vehicle manufacturer, in particular, taking on a new challenge is Tesla.

The automaker recently announced its plans to open a new plant and development center in China. After reaching an agreement with Chinese authorities, Tesla has begun making plans to build its first overseas batter and automobile factory.

The factory is set to open in Shanghai and Tesla plans on eventually producing 500,000 electric vehicles each year at the new plant. This is quite a high number, especially with PwC predicting that there will be about 107 million vehicles manufactured around the world in 2020.

While Tesla hasn’t said how much it plans to put into this new challenge, the automaker will be the only owner of the new factory. In the past, other automakers like General Motors and Volkswagen have had to work with local companies when producing vehicles in China. But under new regulations, China is making that requirement less strict. Already, China is one of the most popular markets for global automakers, with Shanghai being one of the top places in China for the automotive industry.

China is a very competitive market for automakers. While manufacturers contribute about $2.17 trillion to the economy in the U.S. each year, annual auto sales in China are forecasted to pass 35 million by 2025. And with China’s new goal of having 100% electric vehicles by 2030, Tesla is outreaching to the country for electric vehicle production at just the right time.

Two years ago, Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, made the prediction that their Fremont, Calif. plant would produce about 500,000 cars by the end of 2018 — but at the end of June, only 40,000 were in transit or had been delivered. The automaker ran into issues to do a heavy reliance on automated machinery and production bottlenecks. Because of these setbacks, the company needs to be productive at their new plant.

Back in 2013, Tesla began selling cars in China, with about 35 sales centers and 1,200 charging stations throughout the country. And according to LMC Automotive, the automaker sold about 15,000 cars in China last year alone. So along with the new factory serving as a manufacturing plant, it will also include a research and development center and a retail operation. The local Chinese government said that the new factory will be the largest manufacturing project supported by overseas investment Shanghai has ever seen.

The automaker claims that new Shanghai productions won’t affect American operations. So while the factory is still a few years from being up and running, both American and Chinese populations can expect big things from Tesla in the upcoming years.

Disney Announces Dates for Haunted Halloween Cruise

Americans have been enjoying Halloween festivities since the 1800s, thanks to Irish and Scottish immigrants. From braving haunted houses to going trick-or-treating, there are tons of ways to celebrate this holiday. But if you’re looking for an even more spooktacular way to celebrate Halloween this year, the Disney Cruise Line has officially announced its Halloween-themed events for this fall.

From September through October this year, cruise attendees can experience all the wonders of Halloween on the High Seas. Disney’s cruise ships will feature Halloween-themed events, decorations, parties, and even special menu items.

The spooky, but still sweet, Disney cruise will also feature interactive special appearances like:

  • “Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party”, featuring candy, games, and, of course, dancing
  • “Haunted Stories of the Sea”, where attendees can hear tales of the sea
  • “Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids”, which allows adults to get in on the spooky fun (with a costume contest)
  • “Creepy Cabaret”, which will consist of live Halloween-themed music

People who are interested in this spooky edition of Disney’s cruises can choose from a variety of departure points and cruise lengths.

The Disney Dream will take cruisers to the Bahamas from September 3 to October 29.

The Disney Wonders will offer four- and five-night Baja cruises, a 14-night Panama Canal cruise, and a seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise.

The Disney Fantasy is going to offer Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, both for seven nights.

And the Disney Magic is going to take cruisers on five- and six-night Bermuda cruises as well as four- and seven-night Canada cruises.

Departure locations will include New York City, San Diego, And Port Canaveral, offering passengers a variety of options.

Disney is already well-known for its Halloween festivities, with its annual Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party featured at its park locations. But for those Disney and Halloween-lovers who are looking for an even more magical Halloween this year, Halloween on the High Seas is sure to be a scary good time. So buy your tickets, pack your bags, and don’t forget your costumes!

FDA Develops First Smallpox Drug to Combat Bioterrorism

It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years to develop a successful medicine or vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first-ever drug in order to treat the smallpox disease, specifically for combating bioterrorist attacks.

According to CBS News, U.S. regulators approved the first treatment for smallpox, a deadly viral disease that was wiped out nearly four decades ago. Though the average individual should not have to worry about contracting smallpox and similar diseases, terrorists have the capability to administer large-scale attacks involving smallpox, causing catastrophic damages.

The World Health Organization estimated that the variola virus — which causes smallpox — killed about 30% of the people who were infected throughout the years. Complications of smallpox could include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), corneal ulcerations, and blindness. If you believe you have been unintentionally infected by any kind of virus, it’s recommended to immediately seek medical attention. Approximately 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week, the majority of those facilities can assist with certain viruses and similar conditions.

The drug is called TPOXX and 2 million treatments are currently being manufactured and stockpiled by the U.S. government.

“This new treatment affords us an additional option should smallpox ever be used as a bioweapon,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, head of the FDA. “Today’s action reflects the FDA’s commitment to ensuring that the U.S. is prepared for any public health emergency with timely, safe and effective medical products.”

As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, in order to test the drug’s effectiveness, rabbits and monkeys were infected with a similar virus and then given TPOXX. More than 90% of the animals survived. The drug was also administered to a few hundred humans who volunteered to test symptoms without being infected with smallpox. Researchers noted that side effects included headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea, though all were relatively mild.

TPOXX comes in the form of a capsule, and should be administered twice a day for 14 days once infected with the smallpox virus.

Forbes adds that the efforts and funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) helped make TPOXX a reality.

“To address the risk of bio-terrorism, Congress has taken steps to enable the development and approval of countermeasures to thwart pathogens that could be employed as weapons,” added Dr. Gottlieb.

Research on treatment for smallpox-related bioterrorism began at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Scientists worked to safely dilute the U.S. national stockpile of smallpox vaccines. SIGA currently has a $472 million procurement and development contract with the agency.

Aggressive and Exotic Tick Moves to Carolinas

An aggressive species of tick has been confirmed in Polk County, North Carolina. After the East Asian longhorned tick first ravaged farms in New Jersey in the fall of 2017, the exotic tick species has now been confirmed in the Carolinas.

The tick species is aggressive had not existed in the United States before last fall. Now that they have been confirmed, their rapidly spreading numbers have become a major pest for agricultural workers and farm animals across the east coast.

The species was found on a possum through the efforts of the North Carolina Department of Public Health.

What makes this tick so pervasive? While humans only move an average of 12 times throughout the course of their lives, the East Asian tick has invaded multiple states in under a year. This tick can populate without the presence of a male, meaning a single female tick can establish an aggressive population bent on biting wildlife, domestic animals, and humans alike.

There is hope, however.

Citizen scientists across the country have been collecting ticks from the bodies of humans and animals in order to get a better idea of tick prevalence across the country. Through Northern Arizona University, microbiologist Nathan Nieto aims to study how climate change has impacted the spread of ticks and what risk levels humans have in regard to tick predation.

Between 2016 and 2017, tick bite sufferers could have been sent their ticks and received a free analysis by Nieto and his team. This was an attempt to include the public for the first time in tick research. After the individual sent in their tick sample, the lab would send back a pathology report on the tick along with other information regarding your specimen.

Unfortunately, the study was limited by a lack of information regarding where people were before tick extraction. Ticks can live on the body for days before detection due to their size.
Though the researchers received hundreds of samples at a time, it was difficult to track where the ticks were more prevalent. Future iterations of the experiment may be needed in order to form conclusive answers regarding the geographic distribution of ticks in the United States.

However, scientists were able to map surprising evidence regarding this experiment. Certain tick species, akin to the discovery of the longhorned tick in North Carolina, were found in unexpected locations. This experiment mapped the Lone Star tick of the southeast all the way to Maine, an unprecedented move by the species. Additionally, 83 counties across the country were found to contain ticks with the Lyme disease pathogen that have never been seen there before.

Prevent tick infection through the use of bug sprays, DEET, and insecticides if you live in a tick-prone area.

Idaho: An Unlikely Place For Billionaires, Yet Here They Are

Perhaps “here they come” is more accurate. Situated in the very heart of Idaho, the picturesque resort city of Sun Valley will be welcoming the world’s most innovative and financially successful minds for a business conference focusing on finance, media, and technology. Dozens of self-made millionaires and billionaires — from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO — will be arriving in style in the coming week, as the local fixed-base operator prepares for a chaotic influx of private jets. There are more than 11,000 private jets currently registered in the US — and nearly 500 of them will be pulling into Atlantic Aviation’s base for the conference.

Sun Valley has made a name for itself as a celebrity haven, boasting guests such as Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway (and proudly displaying their pictures in the lodge), but the kind of luxury its become known for seems to exist in contrast with rest of the state. Boise, Idaho conjures the image of potatoes, especially as the origin of your most recent order of Five Guys french fries — it certainly doesn’t make you think of the beauty and brains associated with Sun Valley, yet they’re barely two and a half hours away from each other.

It would seem that Sun Valley is simply the diamond in the center of the Gem State, considering the affordability of the rest of Idaho — it has the fourth-cheapest cost of living in the nation, and seems to be growing as a result. Combining bustling, booming cities with a low cost of living pulls young people to the state as much as the idyllic views and seemingly endless pleasures of Sun Valley.

The juxtaposition of lifestyles in the two nearby cities just serves to show how much the state has to offer: possessing a truly dazzling array of landscapes — lava flows, hot springs, sand dunes, and mountains — you can enjoy the sights regardless of your humble beginnings or profound successes.

Match-Makers on a Plane: Woman Goes Viral For Love Connection at 10,000 Feet

Usually, the highlight of a plane ride consists of a soda and a package of pretzels. But for Rosey Blair, one small request on a recent flight might very well have changed the course of events for two complete strangers.

Although commercial airlines carried more than 3.8 billion passengers to their destinations in 2016, most flights are fairly uneventful — aside from delays and the occasional mishap with a service animal. Rosey Blair’s flight back to Dallas looked to be pretty ordinary too, other than the fact that she and her boyfriend didn’t have seats next to each other. When the young woman asked another passenger whether they wouldn’t mind switching seats so the couple could sit together, Blair and the female passenger joked that perhaps her new seatmate could end up being the love of her life.

From her view behind the two strangers, Blair discovered that her quip might actually end up coming true. Blair started posting regularly on her social media accounts with updates in real time about the pair, both of whom turned out to be vegetarian personal trainers. Blair — along with thousands of social media users — detailed all of the action in a thread that quickly went viral.

It seems that in these troubling times, a lot of people just want some reassurance that love is, in fact, out there — as is evidenced by the thread’s 250,000 shares and 637,000 likes. And it’s not surprising, given that 93% of recruiters view a candidate’s social media profile, that Blair and her boyfriend were even able to find the lovebirds’ social media profiles.

Former pro soccer player Euan Holder, the male in question, dubbed “hunky plane guy” and “plane bae” by Blair and other social media users, reached out to Blair after her posts took off. While the woman wishes to remain out of the limelight, she’s expressed she feels positively about the situation as a whole. It’s not yet clear whether the match will outlast the flight, though the two do appear to live in the same city. But if nothing else, the story gives singles a bit of hope that their next great love could be just an exit row away.

Taking Care of Your Teeth Can Help Prevent a Number of Major Health Concerns

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, periodontal disease (or gum disease) affects about 50% of Americans age 30 and older. It’s a result of gum inflammation and/or infection. But why does it matter so much?

Unfortunately, this disease can impact your body in more ways than one.

According to The Independent your lousy gum health can actually lead to many different health concerns. For example, heart disease is a major issue that has been linked to gum disease. Several studies have shown a direct link between heart disease and periodontists. The bacteria that cause gum disease symptoms like bleeding and bone loss around your teeth can travel to your arteries. That bacteria can latch onto the walls of your arteries and cause blood clots. When blood clots form, you’re at an increased risk for restricted blood flow to your heart.

Another concern that The Independent says is linked to periodontal disease is a stroke. A study called “Impacts of Periodontitis on Nonfatal Ischemic Stroke” revealed that people who suffered a stroke also had evidence or a history of oral infection. The research from the study showed that gum disease is pretty similar to high blood pressure as a cause of strokes.

Cancer is another health concern that may be partly caused by gum disease. Since we know that bacteria swells in your gums, it can cause similar reactions to other places within your body. A study showed that some of the bacteria that trigger gum disease might be linked to a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Another study found that men who have an advanced form of periodontal disease were 45% more likely to be diagnosed with a type of cancer.

Gum disease is nothing to mess around with, yet it’s extremely common. In fact, 74% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease. By brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis, you’re helping to keep your teeth in good shape. As an added bonus, you’re helping to prevent other diseases within your body.

Weekend Flooding in Baltimore Washes Away Part of Bridge

This weekend, the Laurel area of Baltimore suffered the consequences of severe rainfall and flooding on Route 198. Part of a bridge was washed away in the wake of the flood, leaving residents and commuters to find different routes on Monday, June 4.

This flooding event rode the heels of the detrimental flood that hit Ellicott City just a week earlier. In the wake of the floods, so far one person has died in the Ellicott City flood on May 27.

Over the course of the first weekend of June, Baltimore was hit with flood warnings and road closures, many of which are still in effect on Monday, June 4. The warnings are set to last until Monday night after some areas of Greater Baltimore received 4.5 inches of rainfall on Sunday. Though many roads were still closed Monday morning, some are expected to reopen following the nicer weather that is on its way.

In response to the flooding that has occurred over the weekend, Baltimore County opened a recovery center in Catonsville aimed at helping the victims of this weekend’s floods. State officials, local officials, and relief groups including Baltimore County Emergency Management worked with the community in order to offer resources to the victims, clean up damage, and rebuild. While 40% of car and home losses occur because of hail and windstorms, the floods in Baltimore resulted in firefighter pumping water from 450 flooded basements over the weekend.

Residents from all walks of life came together to discuss insurance coverage, receive emergency supplies, and discuss efforts for rebuilding over the weekend. While flooding is still a threat, especially for individuals living near large rivers like the Potomac through Monday, the weather forecast is sunny and dry for the next few days.

Drivers that usually take Route 198 are still advised to find an alternate route while the flood damage is being handled. Keep an eye on local weather and flood conditions before traveling.