Thursday, February 25

Month: November 2015

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Peace Corps Volunteers Needed Over $40 Million in Workers Comp Over Five-Year Period

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has revealed that the Peace Corps spent over $40 million to provide 3,305 returned volunteers benefits through workers compensations programs over a five-year-period. Last month, the office released a report comparing the Peace Corps' workers comp benefits, which are provided under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, with U.S. Agency for International Development off-shore contractors' and subcontractors' employee benefits, which are provided under the Defense Base Act. According to the report, between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014, the Peace Corps paid about $41 million in medical expense reimbursement for some 3,305 volunteers who returned from their service with injuries and illnesses. The most common illnesses and injuries amongst...
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NYC Legislators Propose Bill to Enhance Mold Remediation Services in Local Public Housing Structures

A disturbing epidemic of mold growing in public housing apartments throughout New York City has prompted local legislators to take action and propose a bill that would impose new standards of mold remediation. According to the Observer, the bill is in response to a growing number of reports from public housing residents that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is hiring unlicensed parties to perform mold removal at low prices. The NYCHA is accused of sending in unskilled workers to deal with mold remediation, an important and complex task that can lead to a host of health effects if performed improperly. Experts say that the presence of mold has been linked to coughing, throat irritation, and the development of asthma in children. "Anytime building materials are affected b...
The Rise of Emoji Marketing and How to Use it
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The Rise of Emoji Marketing and How to Use it

UPDATED 8/4/2020 5 years ago there was a milestone in a social media marketing and emoji history. You might not think a new taco emoji is all that big of a deal now, but in 2015, it was a huge deal, especially to Taco Bell. The fast-food chain launched a social marketing blitz upon the little graphic's debut. Emoji Marketing Begins When the long-awaited taco emoji launched, Taco Bell announced that its creative agency had created 600 pieces of unique content, all of which would eventually be posted to ta.co, the chain's recently revamped site. In order to see the content, users had to tweet the taco emoji paired with another emoji and tag the brand's handle. They'd then automatically receive a picture or a GIF mashing the two together. For example, a combination of the taco a...
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War Over Giant Bleachers at Crystal Lake South High Could End in Complete Demolition

After more than two years of legal and community battles, the giant stadium bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School are starting to come back down. According to the McHenry County-area newspaper NWHerald.com, a crew of workers started the take-down process at the end of October. Now the only question left to be answered is if they're going to reduce the size of the outdoor seating structure or demolish the bleachers completely. Both the Community High School District 155 Board and neighboring property owners that initiated the legal proceedings against the school district over the obtrusive bleachers had previously agreed upon lowering it to the ninth row, but attorneys for both sides aren't ready to say the plan is finalized yet. The Illinois Supreme Court decided at the end of ...
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The Average Cutoff For What is Considered to be a Luxury Home is Steadily Increasing

As the real estate market has continued to heal since the financial crisis in 2008, homes on average have begun to increase in sales price due to higher demand. One demographic in particular that has experienced a substantial rise in price and popularity are luxury homes. According to dnainfo.com, one of the largest hubs of people in the world, New York City, has seen an increase in the cutoff of what is considered to be a luxury home. StreetEasy's new luxury price tier metric from their third quarter report found that one in every five Manhattan and Brooklyn homes on the market is considered to be a luxury property. The luxury tier cutoff price is derived from a 12-month average of the recorded sales price of the top 10% of properties in the area. In Manhattan, the current price ...
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Drunk Uber Passenger Facing Serious Penalties After Attacking Driver

People say drinking and driving is bad, but it turns out, so is drinking and riding. A driver for the popular ride-sharing app Uber uploaded a video of a drunken passenger attacking him to YouTube last week, where it quickly went viral. The driver had recorded the video using his GPS. The passenger in the video was identified by police as Benjamin Golden, a 32-year-old from Newport Beach, CA. Golden was seen in the video as being too drunk to give proper directions and then refusing to leave the vehicle when the driver, 23-year-old Edward Caban, asked. Golden then repeatedly hit Caban in the face while cursing at him. Caban defended himself with pepper spray, which finally got Golden to exit the car and, presumably, either walk home or find another ride. But the troubles for...
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Study: Which U.S. Cities Have the Most Affordable Rents?

The American Dream is evolving, and many people are rejecting the white picket fences of yesteryear. In 2015, there are more Americans renting their primary residence than at any other time in U.S. history. While the number of renting households rises year after year, homeownership rates fell from 69.2% in 2004 to 63.4% in 2015. Homeownership rates haven't been that low since 1967. That data comes from a joint report by researchers at Harvard University and Enterprise Community Partners. The researchers also projected that a majority of new households will rent over the next decade, leading to higher demand for apartments for rent. In big coastal cities, many renters are living paycheck-to-paycheck because the majority of their income goes toward that monthly rent check. A new survey...
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Ruling on Church Signs and Banners Affecting Anti-Panhandling Legislation Across the Country

A recent Supreme Court ruling on church signs in Gilbert, AZ, is having unintended consequences across the nation. The ruling even had an effect in nearby Colorado, which is one state facing increased legal difficulties over efforts to reduce panhandling in downtown and tourist areas, according to the business news source BusinessInsider.com. At least three separate judges in different states have cited the high court's ruling from this past June as precedent to overturn, or send back for lower court review, anti-panhandling laws. Except, the case these judges are citing had nothing to do with panhandling or asking for money at all. The case the Supreme Court ruled on in June had to do with the size of church signs and something known as content discrimination. The judges ruled that ...
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New Measuring Technologies Improve Accuracy

Two new measuring technologies have been introduced in the last two weeks. One is from Noliac and the other comes from HBM, Inc. The technology launched from Noliac is a strain gauge for piezoelectric actuators. Strain gauge technology, which is used in most load cells, has been around for 40 years and is well established and proven. Noliac's technology is actually an add-on which will help linearization of displacement response and compensate for creep and hysteresis. The add-on can fit to plate and ring actuators, with a bender version to follow soon. The technology will help to keep things level and accurate, which will be essential to nano and micropositioning. It can be used in several different applications to ensure accuracy. Add-ons are fit to each individual plate. Cedri...
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U.S. Is Becoming Less and Less Free Online

The U.S. might be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, but not in cyberspace. America's Internet freedom is in a terrifying decline, according to research from Freedom House. The advocacy group's annual study tracks international digital rights, and scores countries' digital rights on a scale of zero to 100, with zero being the most free and 100 being the least. Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. fell from a score of 13 to a score of 19. In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. ranked second out of 65 countries assessed, but slipped to fourth in 2013. Last year, it fell to sixth, where it stayed this year. U.S. News and World Report writes that such controversies as the United States' broad government surveillance calls by law enforcement to limit consumer data encryption have displaced ...