Black Woman Cast as Beloved Childhood Character

Social media went aflame when it was announced that Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress, Noma Dumawezni, Harry Potter Platformwas cast as the adult Hermione Granger in the upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley were also cast as Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, respectively. The play, adamantly stated as “not a prequel” to the septology, revolves around the hardships faced by overworked Ministry father and school-age son, Harry and Albus Severus.

Many people cited the films in justification for their vehemence against the casting of a black woman as Hermione Granger and even continually cites one line from the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (published in 1999), that supposedly states that the character in question was white.

Author of the series, J.K. Rowling, took to her own social media channels and went on to support the new casting. She said, “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione”. Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch (who played Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood in the films) have also expressed their support for Dumawezni. Emma Watson played the role for the film adaptations.

The play is set to premiere on the 30th of July 2016 at the West End’s Palace Theatre.

Volkswagen to give out $1,000 for customers involved in emission rigging scandal

With hopes of winning back their clientele’s trust, Volkswagen is giving away cash cards worth $1,000 to those affected by what was dubbed by some to be one of the scruffiest scandals in the automotive industry.

According to a report by the Independent, the German automaker is planning to dole out a pre-loaded Visa card with $500, and another cash card worth $500 to be spent on any Volkswagen dealership. The move, which hopes to regain trust and goodwill to its customers and the public, is estimated to cost the company $500 million.

However, some found Volkswagen’s move unappealing. According to Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, the compensation offered by the automaker giant is “insultingly inadequate.” The senators also challenged the company to buy back the affected cars, and to announce that every owner involved in the emission-rigging scandal should have the right to sue.

In September, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that some Volkswagen units are equipped with a device designed to rig emission tests. The software, which was installed in more than 400,000 diesel-powered, four-cylinder cars, works by switching the engine into a sort of test mode when it sense that the car is being tested for emission. But when on the road, this test mode switches off, resulting to an emission that is up to 40 times higher than what clean air regulation allows.

Ten years later: Obama visits New Orleans to remember ‘Katrina’

It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc to Louisiana, Florida, and other areas in the southeastern part of the United States. Leaving millions of people homeless and without livelihoods, the hurricane had since been known as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Now, President Obama asserts that the devastation caused by Katrina could have been avoided if not for government failure.

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In a visit to New Orleans—the state most hit hard by the disaster—last August 27, the president addressed a small crowd gathered to commemorate the 10th year since the hurricane first struck the area on August 29, 2005. According to a report by NPR’s Scott Neuman, Obama called Katrina a “man-made calamity,” saying that the devastating outcome it left in its wake is as much a result of structural economic inequalities as it was a result of the deadly forces of nature.

“New Orleans had long been plagued by structural inequality that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing…Too many kids grew up surrounded by violent crime, cycling through substandard schools where few had a shot to break out of poverty,” NPR quotes the president as saying.

In the years since Hurricane Katrina struck the nation, the White House has made plenty of efforts to help affected areas recover from the disaster. Aside from New Orleans and other surrounding areas in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi have all benefited from the billions spent in restoration efforts since Obama first took the presidency in 2009.

Pollutants Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Produced

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued new regulations to lower emissions from diesel vehicles. This stringent plan to lower emissions was specifically targeting nitrogen oxides, which are harmful greenhouse gasses and contribute to smog among other chemical-induced air pollution. Due to the significant amount of health problems that nitrogen oxides can cause, the EPA has readily constricted the levels of nitrogen oxide pollution allowable.

In a statement, the EPA highlighted the negative health effects of nitrogen oxides: “Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses that can be serious enough to send people to the hospital.” The chemical composition contributed to ground-level ozone and particular matter, both of which have been cited to cause premature death from respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

The U.S. has a long history of problems with diesel vehicles contributing unwanted and rampant pollution throughout its border. The new discovery of Volkswagen selling diesel vehicles that emit 10 to 40 times as many chemicals as the EPA allows is just one of many environmentally hazardous events the U.S. car industry has caused, according to The Driscoll Firm website. With the inception of passenger vehicles, the threat of unregulated, larger diesel vehicles spreading more hazardous emissions was a significant threat to the air quality of major cities. Fortunately, the popularity of diesel fuel was minimal and the incorporation of stricter emissions laws caused diesel vehicles to lose appeal for car manufacturers and purchasers alike.

Many countries have discussed or already instituted bans on diesel vehicles due to the decrease in air quality the cars cause. The French government discussed slowly phasing out diesel vehicles while promoting electric cars since the current ratio of diesel vehicles to non-diesel is 3 to 1. Legislation that effectively limits the use of diesel may be in short order after the fraudulent activities of Volkswagen.

Thousands Evacuated After California Wildfires

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) stated that over 19,300 have been displaced and evacuated following what has been reported to be the most devastating fire in the Western United States this year. Jeremy Brown, Governor of California, declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. Some of the areas that were affected include the western Sierras, Middletown, west of Sacramento, and Lake County.

It has been reported that at least 81 houses and 130 buildings were engulfed in the flames, though Cal Fire has said that affected structures are in the thousands with an estimated 6,400 at least. In the first 12 hours of the flames alone, over 40,000 acres of forest were set ablaze. The long-suffered drought as well as the heat wave that has since carried over from the week prior made the fire more difficult to contain than it already was, according to a spokesman of Cal Fire.

Communities have been leveled to the ground in ash and soot as the fire has lasted well onto Sunday, the 13th of September. In a posts on social media from a certain Laura Streblow (27), an evacuee from Hidden Valley Lake alongside her boyfriend, she says “Middleton is basically gone” as she fled from the flames.
(Source: Reuters)

C.R. Bard’s responsibility in the injuries caused by the IVC Filters

After a NBC Investigation was conducted, many questions began to arise about the company C.R. Bard. The company is behind the device the Bard G2 IVC Filter, designed to catch blood clots before they travel towards the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, according to Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®. Although the medical device was intended to help individuals looking to prevent the deadly disease, many side effects began to come to light. More than 900 cases of adverse effects caused by the implanting of the temporary device were reported to the FDA, including 27 deaths. Despite these disturbing figures, the company neglected to recall the product.

The failure of C.R. Bard to recall the device meant it was still being used on individuals unaware of the devastating risks associated with the IVC Filter. The device often became fractured inside the body or migrated to other areas of the body, leading to conditions such as cardiac tamponade and perforation of the heart. Not only were individuals put at risk of these conditions, but were not properly warned about these side effects. Numerous lawsuits have begun piling up against the Bard Company, who many suspect knew about the dangerous side effects and failed to warn patients about them. This is not the company’s first run-in with the FDA, as the Bard G2 IVC Filter was a replacement for the Bard Recovery Filter associated with many of the same side effects.

New dangers of the filters are still surfacing, thanks in part to NBC’s yearlong investigation of the company and the device. Individuals are still coming to the forefront reporting their nightmarish encounters after the implanting of the device, including many who narrowly escaped death after the device became lodged in their bodies. Regardless of the warning issued by the FDA, many individuals will continue to suffer from the filter as long as C.R. Bard does not properly handle the dangers associated with the device.

GM recalls thousands of cars

Honda recently recalled millions of their cars after discovering defective airbags in some on their models. This caused major safety concerns across America.  Now, another company has joined in recalling their vehicles just weeks after Honda. GM is recalling 200,000 older model Hummers, a majority being in America.

The recall comes after a problem was found in the connector module that controls the speed of air blown out of the air conditioning, causing it to overheat and catch fire.  This lead to 42 official reports of fires in Hummers, three of which caused burns to people.  None of the three were seriously injured but two of the Hummers were destroyed from the fires. The models being recalled include 2006-10 Hummer H3’s and 2009-10 Hummer H3T SUV’s.  Dealers are offering to replace the affected portion of the connector and harness.  GM is also recalling thousands of 2014-15 Chevrolet Sparks and Sonics because of a radio glitch. The glitch occurs when people use the OnStar system on the car, causing the computer screen to go blank and unable to warn drivers of potential safety hazards. GM reports it is doing all it can to help consumers who are being affected by the recall.

No crashes or fatalities have been reported due to the malfunctions.  Production of Hummers were ended in 2010.

Keeping Motorcycle Riders Safe

Records from the Department of Transportation (for 2014) show that the state of California has the highest number of registered motorcycles, at 801,803, followed by Florida, which has 574, 176, and then Texas, with 438,551.

Back in 2012, the number of motorcycles allowed on US roads and highways numbered close to 9 million – counting only those that were registered, of course. With the exception of light scooters or mopeds (a low-powered motorized bicycle with an engine smaller than 50cc), motorcycles, generally defined as any two- or three-wheel powered vehicle, should comply with state and federal certification standards and be registered or licensed to be used on public roadways.

While cars have now become the most common means of transport, the fame of motorcycles has also continuously risen in all 50 states, prompting state and local governments to pass and enforce laws that will keep motorcycle riders safe on public roads. Some of the directives required by these laws include:

  • The use of a helmet that complies with the standard required by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218), more commonly known as the “DOT helmet standard”
  • The installation of the “automatic-on headlamp” (or the daytime running lamp), which lights up as the motorcycle engine is started. Some states required this feature in 1973. Eventually, almost all street bikes sold in the nation got equipped with it.
  • This daytime running lamp is intended to make motorcycles more noticeable even during the daytime to significantly reduce incidences of right-of-way violations
  • Recognition of a motorcyclist’s right-of-way. Violations of this law definitely have different effects on drivers and riders. While accidentally or intentionally failing to yield or give way to a motorcyclist may severely injure a driver in the event of an accident, this accident’s effect on a rider is more likely to result to harm that is far worse, such as disability, amputated limb/s, disfigurement or death.

While the risk of an accident should never be a deterrent for one to enjoy and benefit from the experience of riding a motorcycle in Louisville, one should also not forget that, no matter how careful a rider he/she may be, it will only take one negligent or reckless driver to make his/her motorcycle experience a nightmarish one. And, since his/her ride lacks the protection offered by a seat belt, steel frames, an airbag and all other protective shields that a car can provide, a rider can easily be tossed violently from his/her bike and suffer injuries that can alter the rest of his/her life.

Wear at least a DOT standard helmet, a brightly-colored and padded upper-torso jacket or shirt, and the prescribed riding pants, shoes and other necessary gear and, most important of all, always ride safely. Though some of these safety apparels may run in total contrast with one’s concept of being fashionable, especially when riding a perfectly cool motorbike, the benefits of taking precaution will still greatly outweigh the possible consequences of an accident, a situation, which a personal injury lawyer will be very much interested about. This is because a motorcycle accident will leave a rider not only traumatized, with damaged property and physically injured, but also with costly medical bills to pay and lost income: damages a negligent driver will be required by law to pay. But for the motorcycle rider victim, what is necessary is the best legal representation that only a seasoned personal injury lawyer can provide.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of PCB Exposure?

The United States federal government imposed a ban on polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs in 1979. This nationwide ban came as a solution for the contamination and pollution caused by Monsanto, who was solely responsible for producing PCBs in the U.S. from the 1930s until the late 1970s.While PCBs had numerous utilitarian benefits, it soon came to light that PCBs are harmful to both human health and the environment. In fact, toxic Monsanto PCBs have been classified as probable human carcinogens and were found to have devastating ecological effects. According to scientific research conducted in the years since its ban, prolonged PCB exposure can be extremely harmful and dangerous.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cancer isn’t the only health risk associated with PCB exposure. PCBs have also been found to cause issues and complications in the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as liver damage and high blood pressure. These outcomes usually result from chronic or continuous exposure over a significant period of time. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, symptoms of chronic PCB exposure are not overt and will usually develop over time. Some signs at risk individuals can watch out for include abdominal pain, jaundice, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and uroporphyria.

On the other hand, signs and symptoms of acute or single, high-level exposure are a lot more evident. The most telling sign of acute PCB exposure is the development of an acne-like skin condition called chloracne. This condition shares several characteristics with normal adolescent acne, but it usually features more distinctive cystic skin lesions that may appear in the arms, back, face, legs, neck, and truck at any age. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine also points out that acute exposure might also lead to vomiting and respiratory issues. On the other hand, chronic PCB exposure can also be evident through the darkening of skin and nails over time.

Recent study debunks popular adage about apples

shutterstock_77442760You might remember your mother telling you that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. But does it really work? According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, it’ll take more than a single type of fruit to improve your general health.

Researchers from Dartmouth, University of Michigan, and Veterans Affairs sought to examine the relationship between apple consumption and physician visits. According to their findings, daily apple consumption is perhaps a better determinant of social status than a person’s health. As reported by Vox, the study found that “apple eaters did seem to visit doctors less but were also relatively well-educated and less likely to be smokers, both characteristics that are associated with better health.” When the researchers made adjustments to control for certain socioeconomic factors, they found no significant difference between apple eaters and non-apple eaters.

The study’s lighthearted tone owes to the fact that it was published for the journal’s April Fools issue. Perhaps even without testing, it’s easy to determine than eating an apple daily won’t be enough to significantly improve an individual’s health. What the researchers truly intended for the study was to bring scientific scrutiny to popular claims made about certain “super foods”.

Certain fruits and vegetables, such as apple and kale, typically receive a lot of hype in the media for being a cure-all. The researchers hoped to shed light on the fact that such claims might not always be completely scientifically reliable.

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