Twin Panda Cubs Born From Artificial Insemination
Jul31

Twin Panda Cubs Born From Artificial Insemination

This week, a set of twin panda girls was born in Chengdu, China. A recent report from The Guardian details their arrival, all starting with the artificial insemination in January. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are fewer than 1,900 pandas still living in the wild. Captive breeding programs have been essential to continue the survival of the species, and this was the first set of giant panda twins born this year. Trying to make pandas mate in captivity is extremely difficult, so sometimes, artificial insemination is the only option — just like it may be for the 6.7 million women with fertility issues. It’s also an arduous process to know if a panda is pregnant for sure, Pandas International says on its website. “Neither artificial insemination nor natural mating will guarantee a pregnancy, and veterinarians must simply wait (and wait….and wait) before they know for certain that a panda is truly pregnant.” “Everyone is enormously excited about baby pandas because they are undeniably attractive,” Stuart Pimm, Duke University professor of conservation ecology, commented. “So by having pandas in zoos it really engages people – it really is about getting people to care, and that’s important.” Drawing attention for the pandas is extremely important, because the more people are interested and invested in the pandas, the more likely they will be to look into protection and conservation of the species and their habitat. The panda twins weren’t the only little ones born from artificial insemination this week. Brother and sister clouded leopard cubs made their debut in Chon Buri in Thailand. Like the pandas, there is a steadily decreasing number of these leopards in the wild — currently, only around...

Read More
Connecticut Now Requires Ignition Breathalyzers for First-Time DUI Offenders
Jul31

Connecticut Now Requires Ignition Breathalyzers for First-Time DUI Offenders

Punishment for first-time drunken driving offenders in Connecticut became even more stringent this summer. As of July 1, Connecticut now requires all residents who have been convicted of drunk driving to install a breathalyzer device on the ignition of their vehicles, the Fairfield Daily Voice reported. Additionally, first-time DUI offenders will face a 45-day license suspension. Connecticut State Police explained that the breathalyzer, known as an ignition interlock device (IID), requires the driver to blow a sample of their breath into a tube in order for the car to start. If the driver’s blood alcohol content is over the legal limit, the IID will prevent the car from starting. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the law in June, extending the IID requirement to all DUI offenders, even those who agree to attend alcohol education programs and those who fail or refuse to take a chemical sobriety test. First-time DUI offenders would have to use the device for six months, the Insurance Journal reported. Offenders must also front the cost of installing the ignition interlock device, which can be as much as $1,000. This law makes Connecticut the 25th state to adopt such a requirement for first-time offenders. Previously, Connecticut simply served DUI offenders with lengthy license suspensions, ranging anywhere from nine months to three years. Some have criticized the law, saying it’s too harsh on first-time DUI offenders. However, more than 1.4 million Americans are arrested annually on first-time DUI charges — and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has found that the average drunken driver will have driven drunk an average of 80 times before his or her first arrest. “When someone says it’s their first time driving drunk, that’s not true,” Skip Church, the policy liaison for MADD, said. “It’s just the first time they’ve been arrested.” Given the prevalence of drunk driving, requiring ignition interlock devices is a necessary step in preventing drunk driving deaths in Connecticut, said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “This closes a loophole that allowed some offenders to avoid an ignition interlock,” Sheehey-Church said in a statement. “This law will now fulfill the commitment to Connecticut residents that the Legislature made back in...

Read More
Greenpeace Protesters Create an Aerial Barricade Against Shell Arctic Icebreaker
Jul30

Greenpeace Protesters Create an Aerial Barricade Against Shell Arctic Icebreaker

Preventing a major oil corporation from drilling in the Arctic is no small feat, but Greenpeace protesters are proving that, with a little bit of creativity, anything is possible. On July 29, 13 Greenpeace protesters set up camp on the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon. According to local news station KATU, the protesters suspended themselves on the edge of the bridge in an “aerial blockade” in order to prevent a Shell oil ship from passing through. It was around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning when the protesters rappelled over Portland’s tallest bridge, which stretches over the Willamette River. Thirteen additional protesters have remained stationed on the bridge as lookouts for those dangling over the river. According to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, the protesters have enough food and water to remain suspended over the river for about a week. Their harnesses allow the protesters to raise themselves to let other ships pass through, but for Shell oil, they’re saying #ShellNo. The ship, named the Fennica, is an icebreaker and is part of the Shell Oil Arctic fleet which received presidential approval earlier this year from the Obama administration to begin exploring Arctic drilling off the coast of Alaska. The Fennica had been damaged earlier in July, according to TIME, when the hull collided with an underwater object in the Aleutian Islands. The icebreaker arrived in Portland last week for repairs and was scheduled to depart on Wednesday but was forced to remain docked indefinitely in the Swan Island port, which is an important location for ships, like the Fennica, that need repairs in order to transport around 95% of the world’s cargo. As the Washington Post reported, the Fennica is transporting critical cargo for Shell’s operations in the north; without the safety equipment aboard the icebreaker, Shell workers do not have emergency response equipment that would be necessary in the event of a spill. No charges have been filed against the protesters yet, but local law enforcement agents have stated that criminal charges might be filed if...

Read More
Why Are Health Insurers Making Huge Investments In Urgent Care?
Jul29

Why Are Health Insurers Making Huge Investments In Urgent Care?

The Urgent Care industry is set for rapid expansion in coming years, according to a new report issued this July. Major health insurers are acquiring or working with large urgent care chains, and investors are taking notice of the growing relationship. UnitedHealth Group (UNH) will expand its recently acquired chain of urgent care centers, while other urgent care centers and companies have gained the financial backing of other large health insurers, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield. After a health insurance plan buys or invests in an urgent care center, they usually cover visits to such clinics by plan holders. “Urgent care shows steady growth, predictable margins and private investment from all sectors: private equity, angel investors, health insurers and health systems,” said Tom Charland of Merchant Medicine. Urgent care centers provide routine, non-emergency medical services, and are bridging the gap between costly emergency room visits and traditional primary care physicians, who might not be available on short notice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48% of adult emergency room visitors who were not sick enough to be admitted said they only came to the ER after they failed to contact their physician, often because of after-hours medical problems. And while results may vary, patients usually trust urgent care centers to cost less than emergency room visits. So far this year, the number of urgent care centers in the United States has grown 4.4% to 1,562. Urgent care centers can include single-site neighborhood clinics to large, hospital or insurance company-backed chains of clinics. UnitedHealth Vice Chairman Larry Renfro pointed out this July that after a recent merge, UnitedHealth is now the country’s largest provider of urgent care clinics. “We are committed to growing as a leading provider of ambulatory care services, recognizing this capability will be increasingly valuable to the consumer and healthcare system overall,” Renfro...

Read More
The Best Time to Get Married Is Between Age 28 and 32, Says New Study
Jul29

The Best Time to Get Married Is Between Age 28 and 32, Says New Study

If a couple wants to minimize their risk of getting divorced in the first five years of their marriage, a new study suggests that they get married between the ages of 28 and 32. University of Utah sociologist Nick Wolfinger conducted the study, which was published by the Institute of Family Studies. He analyzed data from 2006 to 2010, and from the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. Wolfinger found that those who got married between the ages of 28 and 32 had the lowest incidence of divorce in the ensuing years. For each year after the age of 32, the chance of divorce increases by about 5%, according to the study. What’s interesting about the study is the fact that it challenges what sociologists have previously thought — that the longer a couple waited to get married, the more likely they were to stay together. “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties,” Wolfinger writes. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.” On a more depressing note, analysis previous statistical data not found from Wolfinger’s study has found factors that increase the risk of divorce. For example, if you’re American, your marriage is 40-50% more likely to end in divorce. If you live in a state that predominantly votes for the Republican Party, you’re 27% more likely to get divorced. If you fight about finances once a week, your marriage is 30% more likely to end in divorce. If you have a daughter, you’re almost 5% more likely to divorce than if you have a son. Also, if you’re a woman, you’re more likely to be the one who files for divorce, as about two-thirds of all divorces are filed by women. Although such findings might be disheartening, it’s important to remember that it’s all just statistical evidence. The study is only an analysis based on general trends. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the individual personal experience. It’s also important to note, too, that the divorce rate in the United States has continued to decline since its peak in the late 1970s and early...

Read More