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Updated: 47 min 9 sec ago

Railway Emergency Training Keeps Responders on Track

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 3:10pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - A train rumbling down the tracks is an iconic part of America's landscape. For many, it represents economic empowerment -- a way for businesses to efficiently transport goods to market. America's increased energy production offers a good example of how rail is contributing to a growing economy. Though still a relatively small part of overall rail traffic, crude oil has increased as a percentage of rail cargo, and oil trains have become more common.

Though rail is one of the safest ways to transport crude oil, the addition of that cargo brings inherent risks.

This is a heightened concern for the Twin Cities, for instance, where six trains with 100 or more crude oil tank cars pass through every day. In the unlikely event of a derailment, local officials told the Minnesota Star-Tribune that "to fight a significant oil-train fire, local fire departments would need help from railroad emergency crews."

This is why BNSF Railway, a regional crude hauler, has created a free railroad hazmat-response training program. To date, the company has provided training to more than 65,000 emergency responders, or about 4,000 local emergency responders per year.

"It is in our interest to prevent any accident and injury, which is why we invest so much in safety," said BNSF Railway spokeswoman Amy McBeth.

While BNSF Railway's program has been in place for almost two decades, the railway understands that more can be done and the program can always be redefined and updated.

BNSF has specialized equipment and hazmat responders staged across its network to deal with hazmat and crude oil incidents, including firefighting and spill cleanup, more than 250 trained hazmat responders at 60 locations and a geographic information system for emergency incidents that enables the company to quickly identify emergency responders closest to any incident along one of its lines.

In addition, the company has developed and shared geographic response plans with state and local emergency response organizations in many areas and has also provided a computer-based emergency-response training program on hazardous materials to every fire department within two miles of its rail lines.

BNSF's desire to raise awareness about emergency response and to train first responders comes at a time when Congress, the Federal Railroad Administration, railways and tank car manufacturers are all studying rail safety to ensure transportation of crude by rail is as safe as possible.

For more information, visit www.bnsf.com.

Medical Cannabis Is Growing Like, Well, a Weed

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 12:45pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - United Cannabis Corporation was founded to advance the use of CBD's, or cannabidiols, in medicine through research, product development and education. The Company is dedicated to improving the lives of patients through the creation of products using only the highest quality genetics, purest extractions and most effective protocols possible. The Company's A.C.T. Now Program and patent pending Prana Bio Nutrient Medicinals provide a comprehensive solution, designed to enable physicians and patients to design, implement and monitor effective therapy protocols.

To provide patented and cutting-edge pharmaceutical CBD formulations, United Cannabis (UCANN) has entered into exclusive and long-term contracts with Dr. Brent Reynolds, currently a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, and Dr. Dennis Steindler Senior Scientist, director of the neuroscience and aging lab at Tufts University, as chief medical advisors to run and manage discovery, research and development for UCANN.

Its primary focus is to explore the medical applications of CBD's. UCANN entered into a consulting contract with doctors Brent A. Reynolds Ph.D. and Dennis A. Steindler Ph.D., pursuant to which they will act as UCANN's research and development team to establish evidence of CBD-based medical efficacy and creation of Intellectual Property (IP) on medically efficient CBD-based products. Both are employed by division-one universities and run their respective departments. UCANN will own all the inventions or discoveries coming from the contractual relationship.

Drs. Reynolds and Steindler have a record of patent protection and product development. Jointly, they have published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts in journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Reviews Cancer, Cell and Cancer Research. The Doctors hold 19 granted U.S. patents, have founded several biotechnology companies and have developed products that are currently in the marketplace. Their experience in basic discovery and translating this into protected technology will allow UCANN to leverage its existing technology platform with the objective of producing unique and effective cannabinoid medications.

As a result of the doctors' work so far, 14 unique provisional patents related to the unique combinations of pharmaceutically active CBD's used to treat disorders of the nervous system, immune system and cancer with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The doctors continue to work with United Cannabis to further development of CBD's designed to combat a wide range of ailments that plague humans and animals.

6 Myths About Pet Allergies

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:20am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - By gaining a better understanding of the allergies caused by pets, you may be able to find a healthier coexistence with your furry friend.

According to The Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. Yet, an estimated 31 million Americans are allergic to animals, including up to 30 percent of those who have asthma. Here's what you should know about pet allergies:

Myth 1: It's only pet hair that causes allergies to flare up.

Not true. Pet hair is a nuisance and causes allergies, as it contains saliva or other pet proteins. Allergic reactions to pets are actually caused by pet proteins contained in pet dander, such as microscopic skin flakes, saliva and urine. Overactive immune systems in those with allergies attack these otherwise harmless substances.

Myth 2: Continuous exposure to animals will eventually desensitize you to them.

Not only is this not true, but in some cases the opposite is true. If you have a confirmed allergy to animals, it usually will not get better through increasing exposure. In fact, it may get worse.

Myth 3: With the right pet breed, allergy problems go away.

Not true. All cat or dog breeds produce dander. However, some breeds are believed to be better for allergy sufferers than other breeds. Typically the best breeds are those that shed the least fur and/or are the most frequently bathed. Also, smaller dogs produce less saliva than do bigger dogs.

Myth 4: Small animals are not a problem for allergies.

Wrong. Hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and other warm-blooded mammals can also trigger asthma and allergies in people with allergies to animal dander, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Myth 5: Outside the home, you shouldn't have pet allergies.

Not necessarily. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to clothing and other fabrics and are carried to other locations. Animal dander -- in sufficient levels to cause allergies -- can be found in many public places such as the workplace, classrooms and hospitals, according to the American Lung Association.

Myth 6: An air purifier will help with pet allergies.

It depends on the air purifier. Only a high-performance air purifier can help. Some allergy sufferers report that small, low-quality air cleaners make little or no difference at all. However, many allergy sufferers report that their IQAir air purifier, in combination with improved cleaning methods, has reduced or completely eliminated their allergic reactions to pets in their homes.

For more information, visit the IQAir website at www.iqair.com.

6 Common Myths About Pet Allergies

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:50pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - By gaining a better understanding of the allergies caused by pets, you may be able to find a healthier coexistence with your furry friend.

According to The Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. Yet, an estimated 31 million Americans are allergic to animals, including up to 30 percent of those who have asthma. Here's what you should know about pet allergies:

Myth 1: It's only pet hair that causes allergies to flare up.

Not true. Pet hair is a nuisance and causes allergies, as it contains saliva or other pet proteins. Allergic reactions to pets are actually caused by pet proteins contained in pet dander, such as microscopic skin flakes, saliva and urine. Overactive immune systems in those with allergies attack these otherwise harmless substances.

Myth 2: Continuous exposure to animals will eventually desensitize you to them.

Not only is this not true, but in some cases the opposite is true. If you have a confirmed allergy to animals, it usually will not get better through increasing exposure. In fact, it may get worse.

Myth 3: With the right pet breed, allergy problems go away.

Not true. All cat or dog breeds produce dander. However, some breeds are believed to be better for allergy sufferers than other breeds. Typically the best breeds are those that shed the least fur and/or are the most frequently bathed. Also, smaller dogs produce less saliva than do bigger dogs.

Myth 4: Small animals are not a problem for allergies.

Wrong. Hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and other warm-blooded mammals can also trigger asthma and allergies in people with allergies to animal dander, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Myth 5: Outside the home, you shouldn't have pet allergies.

Not necessarily. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to clothing and other fabrics and are carried to other locations. Animal dander -- in sufficient levels to cause allergies -- can be found in many public places such as the workplace, classrooms and hospitals, according to the American Lung Association.

Myth 6: An air purifier will help with pet allergies.

It depends on the air purifier. Only a high-performance air purifier can help. Some allergy sufferers report that small, low-quality air cleaners make little or no difference at all. However, many allergy sufferers report that their IQAir air purifier, in combination with improved cleaning methods, has reduced or completely eliminated their allergic reactions to pets in their homes.

For more information, visit the IQAir website at www.iqair.com.

5 Things You Don't Know About Superbugs

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 3:47pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - The news is full of headlines about the flu, CRE and the measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infections have doubled in recent years. If you or a loved one needs to go to the hospital, how do you avoid contracting a deadly infection?

There's no disputing the facts -- infections are caused by microorganisms like C.diff, MRSA, VRE, CRE and norovirus. These antibiotic-resistant germs lurk on high-touch surfaces in hospitals and health care facilities -- and some, like C.diff, can live for months on bedrails and tray tables. With new and deadlier viruses and bacteria emerging everyday, what do you need to know to avoid getting sick?

1. Superbugs are everywhere inside hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and even surgery centers. Research shows that even after the most thorough manual cleaning, 50 percent of the surfaces in a room are still contaminated enough to cause infection.

2. Do you need that antibiotic? Is it the right one? Don't use antibiotics for viral ailments, and don't insist on them for children's viral infections. C.diff reproduction in a patient's intestines is aided by broad-spectrum antibiotics and proton-pump inhibitors.

3. Be prepared, and carefully research the hospital where you are being treated. Look at the hospital's patient safety record. A good resource is www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Look at its infection rates -- available at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

4. Hand hygiene may save your life. When you are in the hospital, follow hand-hygiene protocol carefully, and make sure every health care worker (such as doctors and nurses) washes their hands before they touch the patient.

5. Superbugs can be destroyed before they harm patients. Properly disinfecting a patient room with a Xenex germ-zapping robot adds only 10 minutes to room turnover time, and hospitals using Xenex UV light robots are reporting significant decreases in their hospital acquired infection rates. If you or a loved one is going to the hospital, make sure the room has been properly disinfected. Insist on only going to a hospital that uses Xenex germ-zapping robots to disinfect its rooms.

New antibiotics may be part of the solution for solving the superbug crisis, but getting the germs out of the patient environment before they make people sick is what can and should be done right now. It only takes a matter of minutes -- and it may save your life. Visit www.xenex.com to learn more.

4 Surprising Tips You Need to Know Before Buying or Selling a House

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 4:02pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Insider tips -- who doesn't love a good (legal) one?

And when it comes to buying or selling a house, it turns out some of the very best -- ones that can translate into big bucks -- are those maybe only someone with Brian Williams' imagination would think of.

Want to know why, for example, Starbucks may be the greatest predictor of home-value appreciation? Read on.

* March is the most profitable month. For sellers, that is. According to Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow.com, who mined his site's database of millions of homes in co-authoring the newly released "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate," properties listed then sold faster and fetched 2 percent higher than average.

Buyers, on the other hand, catch a break in December when even New York owners are apparently so demoralized by the cold that they're willing to part with their homes for 2.8 percent less during the second week of the month.

"You shouldn't list your house for sale before March Madness or after the Masters (in April)," says Rascoff.

* Your real estate agent's gender matters. Women, because they're "more willing to negotiate," tend to close deals faster, research suggests. But sellers take note: If you can hold out, men -- stubborn devils that they are -- are often better at getting the original asking price.

* A new roof is a sure-fire way to boost a home's resale value. Forget kitchen remodeling. "You could spend a fortune, and it still might not suit prospective buyers' tastes," explains Patsy O'Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby's in Montclair, New Jersey.

Replacing an unsightly roof with a spiffy new one -- better for that all-important "curb appeal" -- was one of the very few projects singled out in Remodeling magazine's new annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2015, rising a chart-topping 5.9 percent over even last year's double-digit increase.

In fact, says O'Neill -- and, sellers, pay close attention to the psychology here -- if your current roof really is an eyesore, buyers will be "predisposed" to find a zillion other things they hate about your place. Ergo, those craving the look of luxury at affordable prices should check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (www.gaf.com), North America's largest roofing manufacture.

* The Starbucks Effect. Don't laugh. When Rascoff was checking his data, he discovered that, lo and behold, homes within a quarter mile of a Starbucks had appreciated 31 percent more -; 96 percent vs. 65 percent -; over the last 17 years than others nationwide.

"Is it that Starbucks is really great at picking locations, or is that Starbucks is sort of an omen of gentrification?" he writes. "It's a little of each."

BrainStormers: Backyard DIY Inventors Tackle Weather, Test Ingenuity

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 3:59pm
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - For over 30 years, The Weather Channel has inspired viewers to explore, investigate and appreciate how it's amazing out there by providing the latest weather information for the modern era. The network continues to explore this connection with its newest original primetime series, "BrainStormers," where weather will be both the teacher and the enemy.

The series follows three backyard inventors, Rob "Poppy" Parker, Ryan Parker (a father, son duo) and Bill LeVasseur (Ryan's best friend), who channel their inner MacGyver by building and testing inventions that either fight inclement weather or harness its power for everyday use -- while on a budget.

From their Colorado-based workshop, the three men test their ingenuity and tackle weather issues by repurposing what some may consider junk. Sometimes the builds required our BrainStormers to start from scratch, and other times they were called upon to help other backyard inventors improve their projects. Every build comes with its own unique set of challenges, from creating a homemade mosquito trap or solar water heater to fixing a nearby town's wind generator.

Here are some of the creative inventions you can expect to see on "BrainStormers":

* A beer can heater. A Denver friend needs a low-cost fix to make her drafty bedroom warmer. So, the team decides a solar heater could work, but would require expensive aluminum tubes to transfer the sun's radiation to heat. What to do? Use beer cans, of course. By using rows of black-painted beer cans in a sealed wooden box, the team finds a solar heater can be built for pennies on the dollar.

* A snow maker. If you think living in Denver means enough snow for even the most die-hard snowboarder, think again. This is the issue for Seth Hill, a pro-snowboarder who wanted to make practice runs near his house when he's not on tour. He enlists the BrainStormers team to build an inexpensive snowmaking machine by using a junkyard power washer.

* A "swamp bucket cooler." An Arizona housewife can't take the high temperatures in her kitchen, and the family is tired of ordering takeout. They enlist the BrainStormers for a portable and low-cost way to cool the kitchen. The BrainStormers determine that an evaporative cooling system would work best for Arizona's high heat and low humidity, but how do you make it so it is small and inexpensive? Well, you'll just have to watch to find out.

For more information, visit www.weather.com/tv.

What Does It Mean to File a Tax Extension?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:55am
Five words or less

(NewsUSA) - Can't file your tax return by the April 15 deadline? Taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension of time to file the tax return. But, taxpayers beware, there is a catch. An extension is just an extension on the time to file the return -- it is not an extension on the time to pay.

Taxpayers are required to estimate the amount of tax that may be due with the tax return and remit payment with the extension to avoid failure-to-pay penalties. These penalties and interest could accrue from April 15 until the tax is paid, regardless of the extension. If a balance is still owed when the actual tax return is filed, at least the penalties and/or interest will have been minimized.

"If taxpayers are unable to file their tax return by April 15, there are several ways to request an automatic extension of time to file an individual return," says Twila Denton Midwood, EA, an enrolled agent with Advanced Tax Centre, Inc. of Rockledge, Florida and president of the Florida Society of Enrolled Agents.

"Most enrolled agents and other tax professionals can e-file the 'Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Tax Return' for taxpayers. Or the application can be found on the IRS website (look for Form 4868), which can be printed and then mailed to the IRS. Whether taxpayers use a tax professional or print the application themselves, all or part of the estimate of the income tax due can be paid with a check or credit/debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System."

Information regarding remitting payment can be found on Form 4868. The fee charged will depend on the amount of the payment. Be sure to record the confirmation number provided upon payment.

If a taxpayer estimates that he will owe taxes and is unable to pay, it is important that they file their returns timely. Failure-to-file penalties may be assessed in addition to failure-to-pay. So, to minimize penalties, it is always best to file the return or an extension and remit as much as possible with either. Payment plans may be established later.

If you receive a notice from the IRS at any time during the year, contact your tax preparer immediately. If you did not hire one to prepare your tax return, you should then contact a licensed tax professional. Only enrolled agents (EAs), CPAs and attorneys have unlimited rights to represent you before the IRS. The term "enrolled agent" reflects that an EA can act as your agent before administrative levels of the IRS -- meaning he or she can talk to or meet with the IRS in your stead.

To find an enrolled agent in your area, visit the searchable "Find an EA" directory at www.naea.org.

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