Conspiracy? Queen Elsa Arrested By Illinois Police Department In Midst Of Polar Vortex
Jan31

Conspiracy? Queen Elsa Arrested By Illinois Police Department In Midst Of Polar Vortex

This past week, people haven’t had much reason to leave their houses. Apart from seeing the coldest temperatures in a generation, parts of the Midwestern United States have declared states of emergency, travel bans, and the like, all in the face of the polar vortex that’s gripped areas with temperatures far below zero. Extra attention has been paid to Illinois, as Chicago has faced the brunt of the arctic blast that has since claimed at least 11 lives. Authorities are taking it very seriously and the city has put most operations on hold except for the necessities. Frozen train tracks were being literally set on fire to keep them operational. Police and emergency services are making sure people aren’t out and about unnecessarily, warning of conditions where frostbite and hypothermia can take hold in a matter of minutes. Still, some places haven’t entirely lost their sense of humor in the face of temperatures reportedly colder than Antarctica. The average woman changes her hairstyle 150 times in her life and one fictional Queen might’ve opted for a disguise over the past week. Queen Elsa of Frozen, with her unmistakable blonde braid, was pictured being arrested by an Illinois police department. “ATTENTION: Due to the EXTREME COLD weather, all criminal activity and acts of stupidity and foolishness have been canceled. Even Elsa has been placed under arrest with NO BOND until further notice. Thank you for your attention and understanding to this matter. Respectfully, the McLean Police Dept.,” the Facebook post read. Combining a little light-hearted humor with a warning against foolishness in the face of very real danger seems to have gotten the message across. Much to the chagrin of the arrested Ice Queen, who was detained without bail, she’ll have to wait out the storm and answer some questions about the extent of her involvement. The temperatures are expected to warm up over the weekend, but when temperatures still below freezing feel balmy in comparison, we can truly say the cold never bothered me anyway. Stay toasty out there. We all know this story ends happily with the Spring Thaw and the Queen on her...

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Tax Filing Season Has Officially Begun: Here’s What You Should Know

Tax season has officially begun as of January 28, but the historic 35-day partial government shutdown may cause some delays, according to Forbes. According to new reports, the IRS has an estimated backlog of more than five million pieces of mail to answer. At some parts during the shutdown, the IRS received an all-time high of 700,000 pieces of mail per day. This high volume is, in part, a result of the government shutdown. As taxpayers began looking for preparation assistance for the 2018 tax season, there were few people to answer their queries. Tax professionals couldn’t work to answer taxpayer questions and with the fax lines, phone lines, and assistance centers closed for the shutdown, all of these questions had to be sent to the Internal Revenue Service by mail. Forbes estimates that this backlog could take more than 25 days to handle, and that’s only if the IRS hires more people and increases their budget. Unfortunately, this option is unlikely. The IRS has already prompted taxpayers to reschedule appointments made before the shutdown. It’s far more likely that the backlog takes almost a year to be fully resolved. The government shutdown has created a hectic start for this year’s tax season, but the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might make it a little more difficult. This is the first year that the act is in place for taxpayers. It essentially doubles the standard deduction and limits itemized deductions, including a $10,000 cap on tax deductions at the local and state levels. As such, fewer people are expected to itemize when filing their taxes this year and more parents are expected to benefit from the increased child tax credit. It’s estimated that only 10% of households will itemize deductions. However, there may also be fewer audits. During the month-long government shutdown, the IRS was unable to conduct any new audits. By putting court hearings and collection activity on the backburner during the shutdown, this tax season is expected to be a long one. Just because the IRS hasn’t audited you, however, doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods just yet. The IRS can audit a business tax return within three years of filing and it can also collect on back taxes owed for up to 10 years. As the IRS picks itself up by the bootstraps, we’ll have to brace ourselves for a drawn-out...

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United States Slams Huawei With Indictments For Fraud, Stealing Trade Secrets
Jan29

United States Slams Huawei With Indictments For Fraud, Stealing Trade Secrets

The controversy concerning one of China’s largest telecommunication firms, Huawei, came to a head on Jan. 28 when the United States Department of Justice unleashed more than one criminal charge against the company. In show of obvious disapproval, the D.O.J. showered Huawei with 23 indictments. The multitude of indictments is partially made of a 10-count indictment alleging that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile starting in 2012. In connection to this indictment, Huawei allegedly offered bonuses to its employees for stealing confidential information from other companies, specifically T-Mobile. A 13-count indictment accounts for the rest of what the D.O.J. imposed against Huawei. This indictment charged four defendants, including Huawei and Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, with financial fraud. “The charges unsealed today clearly allege that Huawei intentionally conspired to steal the intellectual property of an American company in an attempt to undermine the free and fair global marketplace,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement regarding the charges. As the world’s largest supplier of telecom equipment and the second-largest smartphone maker, this denouncement indicates just how far Huawei has to fall in the eyes of the world. About 40% of consumers state that they would end their business with a company or brand if the business suffered a security breach in the past. The United States has been doing just the same in its relationship with Huawei. U.S. officials have banned the sale of Huawei’s networking equipment in the country. The Trump administration and lawmakers — from both sides of the political aisle — have denounced Huawei for allegedly having links to China’s communist leadership. Other countries around the world have started to follow suit. A number of nations are either considering a ban or have already enacted a ban against Huawei conducting commerce in their country. Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou in early December on charges of violating sanctions against Iran. The U.S. had requested that its northern neighbor make this arrest, further straining the already precarious relationship between the U.S. and China. In an attempt to hammer out an elusive trade agreement and bring an end to the long-standing tariff war between the two economic powerhouses, representatives of the Chinese government are meeting with U.S. officials later this...

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Number Of Volunteers On The Rise Amidst Government Shutdown
Jan28

Number Of Volunteers On The Rise Amidst Government Shutdown

The partial government shutdown has led to a number of problems throughout the country since its implementation more than four weeks ago. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted, from state employees to people who want to enjoy our national parks. Countless parks throughout the country have reported increasing levels of litter, vandalism, and illegal activities as a result. With the startlingly small number of employees available to keep the parks in good condition, many are getting worse without volunteer intervention. However, one national park isn’t following the national trend. The Rocky Mountain National Park had a line of more than 16 volunteers lined up at the park’s entrance to help clean up the area. But when they arrived, they were greeted with clean bathrooms, very little litter, and working facilities. There was a variety of contributing factors to the park’s cleanliness, but none so heart-warming as the efforts made by other volunteer groups. According to volunteer organizer Jason Moore, other groups have been cleaning the park throughout the shutdown. Another volunteer group that ventured to clean the Longs Peak trailhead was met with a similar scene: practically no litter and near-immaculate conditions. Young and old, busy or bored, volunteers from throughout the state have been helping in a number of ways during the government shutdown. Along with cleaning our national parks, restless employees affected by the shutdown have reached out to volunteer centers and food pantries to help people in need. It’s estimated that over 50% of adults aged 65 and older participate in volunteer work, but now it’s the furloughed government employees who are hoping to make a difference during the shutdown. Justin Wright was one of those people. A side-lined computer programmer for the U.S. Geological Survey, Wright grew tired of doing nothing. “I felt like I needed to get out and help do something. I googled places in Lakewood that have volunteer opportunities and sent an email,” he said in an interview with CBS. “Everyone else is just like me and you just wish you could go back to work. But we’re kind of stuck and there’s really not much we can do. I’m hoping to come in regularly until I hear something different about the whole shutdown.” As the government shutdown continues, CBS suggests that more volunteers will likely follow Wright’s...

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New Research Shows Outdoor Exercise Is Better For Your Health
Jan25

New Research Shows Outdoor Exercise Is Better For Your Health

The new year is officially in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you should throw your resolutions out the window just yet, especially if they’re health-related. In fact, a new study published on January 1revealed that engaging in outdoor activities and enjoying the fresh air is actually better for your health than working out inside. The study was performed by Ian Walker, a student at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador. As an environment and sustainability student, the soon-to-be graduate decided to research the mental and physical benefits of exercising outside rather than working out indoors through a survey. The survey says: everyone loves the outdoors. “People talked about fresh air, getting outside and the mental clarity that comes with exercising outdoors as opposed to indoors,” Walker noted. And if the cold is keeping you at bay, don’t hesitate to bundle up. Another recent study suggests that working out in the cold can make your workouts more effective. According to Healthline, mounting evidence from a variety of sources claims that cold weather helps our bodies burn calories more efficiently. This residual evolutionary trait engages brown fat, the insulating fat that keeps our bodies warm. In even mildly cold temperatures, your brown fat will work hard to keep you warm, burning energy in the process. On top of that, working out in the cold keeps your heart rate down. “Running with a lower heart rate will also make you feel less exhausted so distance running can actually feel easier in the cold weather,” claims trainer Meg Takacs. There’s no better time than the present to get engaged in outdoor activity, even if it is a little too chilly. Here are some healthy hobbies you can engage in to kickstart your new year. Brave the cold Don’t put off starting healthy hobbies until the weather warms up — as mentioned earlier, exercising in the cold is a great way to jumpstart your fitness journey. Whether that means you sign up for skiing lessons, buy a used pair of snowshoes, or simply try taking your dog for a walk in the winter, there are plenty of winter activities that can make you a fitness aficionado all year round. Get the whole family involved Unfortunately, far too many people have a tendency to stay indoors. According to a study performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American will spend the majority of their life looking out a window; nearly 93% of our time is spent indoors and this habit is only on the rise. One of the best aspects of outdoor exercise is the ability to get your whole family involved. While you might not tote...

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As Flu Cases Surge, Hospitals Begin To Restrict Visitors
Jan10

As Flu Cases Surge, Hospitals Begin To Restrict Visitors

According to new reports by the CDC, flu cases are on the rise. New York City and 19 states have reported high levels of flu activity, spurring some hospitals to restrict visitor access for sick individuals. So far, there have been 1,000 confirmed cases of flu-related hospitalizations, according to Web MD. But that’s not even the worst of it. The CDC also reports that 13 children have died as a result of the flu since Dec. 29 alone. The rising number of potentially fatal flu cases has caused concern among hospitals in these 19 states. Indiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, and more have begun to impose restrictions on visitor access in an effort to stop the flu from spreading. For the already ill patients at the hospital, a sudden case of the flu might end in disaster. “Many of our patients do have a compromised immune system because they’re fighting another illness and that’s why they’re in the hospital in the first place,” said Jennifer Burrows, the chief nursing officer for Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Oregon. Hospitals are asking that visitors who display any cold or flu symptoms stay away until the end of the flu season, which can be as late as February in some areas. The CDC claims that February has been the most common month for the peak of flu season for the past 36 years. Other hospitals are preventing anyone under the age of 18 from visiting hospital patients. Should you suffer from any flu or cold symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor or nearest urgent care location. Nearly 97% of patients who seek the help from immediate clinics are able to receive the help they needed while only 3% were escorted to emergency services. Some hospitals are combating flu season with additional fervor. For example, Scottsdale hospitals in Arizona have even begun to hand out surgical masks to prevent the bacteria from coughs and sneezes. Serious complications caused by the flu include pneumonia, heart inflammation, and organ failure, but those who have compromised immune systems are at even greater risks. Luckily, it’s never too late to receive your annual flu shot. While you might experience uncomfortable symptoms from the medicine, it’s far better than suffering the potentially fatal damage that influenza can...

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