Fathers Lag Behind Moms in Reading to Their Children
Jun23

Fathers Lag Behind Moms in Reading to Their Children

Although many reports show that up to 79% of Americans read in bed, a new study finds that fathers do not read to their kids enough. A poll conducted by British organization Book Trust found that while 42% of mothers reported reading to infants every day, only 29% of fathers were. In addition, for three year olds, 71% of mothers read and 62% of fathers read. By the time they turn five, mothers stay at 75% while fathers fall to 60%. As the child grows older, the number of fathers reading continues to fall, and by 15 only one quarter of fathers read to their children. These kind of disparities were alarming to researchers, who believe that children benefit from the inclusion of both parents in learning. In the United States, where English test scores are in free-fall, and many graduate college without being able to adequately write, it is more important than ever to bolster kids’ literacy by fostering in them a love of books and of learning in general. The importance of reading and writing needs to be emphasized, and with the inclusion of both parents, that message can be amplified. The rule shouldn’t only apply to fathers, either — researchers encourage anyone who spends time with children to read with them. This means that grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and caregivers should also be in the equation. It only takes 10 minutes of your day to keep reading a constant. Reading to kids at bedtime in a time-honored tradition. The benefits of reading of your child are immense and can continue to grow as they get older. Through reading, they will develop language skills, remember tunes and rhymes, and gain the skills necessary to develop their writing. The study also found that parents who read to their children every day sent their children to school with a 12-month lead on the rest of their class. Reading to your children can build lifelong skills, and is also quality bonding time. Take advantage of the time with your children, and help them get...

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Victims of Federal Government Hack May Be Able to Sue, Experts Say
Jun23

Victims of Federal Government Hack May Be Able to Sue, Experts Say

A few weeks after the massive breach of private data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), some legal experts claim that federal employees affected by the breach can take action against the United States government. The Washington Post reports that despite the notifications the OPM is sending out to current and former employees who might be affected, some of the employees feel the action doesn’t go far enough. The breach, which some people believe was perpetrated by the Chinese government, exposed the Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and other personal information of nearly four million federal employees. The OPM is providing victims with 18 months of credit monitoring and identity theft safeguards but many worry that once those protections expire, the victims will still be vulnerable to fraud. As a result, legal experts and even some of the victims are talking about the possibility of filing lawsuits against the agency or the federal government in general. Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, claims that there are laws in place that uphold a victim’s right to take the OPM to court. “The Privacy Act of 1974 clearly placed an obligation on federal agencies to protect information they collected,” Rotenberg said. “It also created a mechanism for people to bring lawsuits against agencies that failed to safeguard information in their protection.” However, there are a few problems with Rotenberg’s interpretation. First, the OPM took initial precautions against litigation in a letter it sent out to federal employees affected by the hack. “[N]othing in this letter should be construed as OPM or the U.S. Government accepting liability for any of the matters covered by this letter or for any other purpose,” the letter said. “Any alleged issues of liability concerning OPM or the United States for the matters covered by this letter or for any other purpose are determined solely in conformance with appropriate Federal law.” Second, the Privacy Act does not include anything about cyberattacks (which makes sense given when the law was passed), making any potential lawsuit against the government problematic. Still, Rotenberg is convinced that victims could argue in court that the government was so negligent in protecting the data of its employees that its actions were tantamount to “willful disclosure.” The agency, after all, reviewed internal documents from its Inspector General that warned it about lapses in cyber protection. “The agency was on notice that it had a security problem and failed to rectify it,” he said. There are already several laws on the books that protect victims against digital fraud. Any CEO or CFO who makes false certifications in...

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How Massachusetts Cut Its Rate of Teen Driving Accidents
Jun22

How Massachusetts Cut Its Rate of Teen Driving Accidents

Approximately six million car accidents take place in the United States each year, and teen drivers are three times as likely, per mile driven, to be in fatal car accidents than drivers aged 20 and older. But a new study in Massachusetts suggests that setting tougher rules for night driving can reduce teens’ risk of being involved in serious or fatal crashes. “Our research shows that restricting unsupervised nighttime driving until age 18 years, with significant penalties for violating the law, contributed to a significant reduction in the crash rate in junior operators and, importantly, reduced crashes that occurred at night and those that caused serious injury,” study author Shantha Rajaratnam said in a news release. After a high-profile incident in which a drowsy teen driver hit and killed soon-to-be-married Army Reserve major Robert Raneri in 2007, Massachusetts implemented several new regulations for drivers under 18, including stiff penalties for driving unsupervised at night — involving license suspensions, instead of nominal fines — and mandatory education on the dangers of driving while fatigued. Hoping to assess the efficacy of those measures, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospitals analyzed data from crashes reported to the police between March 31, 2006, and March 30, 2012. They found that serious and fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers fell by a full 40% after the implementation of the new rules. Car crashes involving drivers in that age group fell 19% overall, and nighttime crashes fell by 29%. While drivers of all ages should be wary of driving fatigued, teens are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation and are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel, according to the researchers. They’re also less likely to pull over for a nap when they need one. The full study has been published in the June issue of the journal Health...

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This Restaurant Was Forced to Close Its Patio for a Reason You Won’t Believe
Jun22

This Restaurant Was Forced to Close Its Patio for a Reason You Won’t Believe

For many restaurants, bars and cafes, adding an outdoor deck or patio is a great way to keep customers happy, especially when the weather warms up. It’s also an excellent financial choice, typically boasting a 72% return on investment. But if your restaurant’s patio doesn’t have enough plants, beware of the “plant police” — they’re out there, and they’re watching. According to a June 17 Eater article, Blue Bricks, a restaurant in Mankato, MN, closed its sidewalk patio space after the city’s “plant police” cited its failure to meet the minimum foliage requirement. Last summer, the city instated a rule that requires all businesses with sidewalk decks and patios to cover at least 25% of their patio space with live plants. Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges explained this rule was put in place to liven up the downtown area and prevent these areas from turning into “drinking corrals.” In May, Blue Bricks received a notice from the city that said the restaurant had until May 25 to increase its plant count. On May 28, three days after the restaurant’s deadline, its foliage count hadn’t changed — so the police ordered the restaurant to shut down the patio. While Hentges called this a “harsh decision” for the city, it was a necessary one. Because this sidewalk patio space is technically city property and “public right of way,” Mankato’s leaders have the right to regulate this space. Since the plant requirement went into effect, Blue Bricks has been the only business the city has cited for a plant shortage. Luckily, Blue Bricks was permitted to re-open its deck a day later after owner Marty Lewis quickly ran out and purchased an array of plants and landscaping fixtures. It sounds like Mankato residents can breathe a little easier now. Lewis maintains that he never received the initial notice from the city, KARE 11...

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Why Does The CDOT Want A $300,000 Blimp?
Jun19

Why Does The CDOT Want A $300,000 Blimp?

On Tuesday, June 11, the Colorado Department of Transportation experimented with a peculiar new method of monitoring traffic. The CDOT completed a two-day test of a helium-filled traffic blimp over Interstate 25, the first such test in the nation. No other state department of transportation has attempted to use a camera-equipped blimp, also known as an aerostat, to observe traffic, but the CDOT says it will provide more data and hopefully even cut costs for taxpayers. Researchers at Texas AandM’s Transportation Institute found that traffic jams cost the U.S. economy a staggering $121 billion in 2011 — due to billions of lost man hours and shipping slowdowns. Not only that, but an estimated 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline were wasted by vehicles stuck in traffic as well. The CDOT hopes that improved data from the aerostat will help the state improve its response to traffic incidents in real time. “We are trying to be on the cutting edge of what is out there to best facilitate the information-gathering and incident management and detection and how do we manage our roads,” said CDOT Director of Communications Amy Ford. Ryan Rice, the director of the CDOT Transportation Systems Management and Operations, says that Denver roads see hundreds of traffic incidents every day. “In trying to detect those and know about them in a timely manner, the much bigger cost is in being able to detect an incident faster and know what type of response and resources are needed to clear it.” The state borrowed the aerostat from the Colorado Springs company Sky Sentry. Unlike stationary cameras, the blimp allows CDOT experts to analyze a view of up to 10 miles. The project was delayed last week after a hole was found in the blimp, but after repairs were made, Rice said, the test went “really well.” Now, officials are analyzing the results of the experimental pilot program to decide if purchasing an aerostat would ultimately be cost-effective for the...

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