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Check back for the latest articles about the law and other fascinating stories.

By oldhamdei76735407, Jan 18 2017 03:02PM

We’ve all seen a movie where a terrorist is going to contaminate a community’s water supply and the hero has to stop them. What happens though if the hero is too late? Thanks to University of Cincinnati scientist David Wendell, an associate professor at the University, we may not need to worry about contaminated water much longer. He has created a protein-based photocatalyst that uses light to generate hydrogen peroxide to eliminate E. coli, Listeria, and potentially protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium.

Wendell believes that if the protein (called StrepMiniSog) is mass produced, it could be used to “spike” public water supplies in the case of an outbreak. Explaining the protein, he said, “We designed this protein to attach to pathogens of interest using antibodies, so that when the attached photocatalyst is exposed to light it generates hydrogen peroxide and kills the pathogen.”

Wendell points out that his protein will neutralize viruses and bacteria in water without adding worrying contaminants, such as antibiotics or disinfection by-products, to the environment.

“In the environment or engineered water treatment systems there are many bacteria that you want to preserve. We need a disinfectant that can ignore helpful bacteria while neutralizing pathogens responsible for sporadic outbreaks. It is essentially a seek-and-destroy technology where it will only attach to the organisms of interest. By using a selective approach we can preserve existing microbiomes, which makes them more resistance to opportunistic pathogens.”

Currently, outbreaks are treated by increasing chlorine concentrations at water treatment plants. Too much chlorine however, can produce other types of water contamination, referred to as disinfection byproducts (which are regulated by the EPA). Certain bacteria, such as Legionella, are gaining resistance to Chlorine.

Wendell has received a $500,000 grant as part of an NSF CAREER Award earlier this year to develop a mass-production system for his protein-based photocatalyst. “I think it is feasible to have a mass-production technology in less than five years.”

Wendell also believes that his technology can be used as a personal disinfectant. Unlike the antibacterial products on the market now, which kill all types of bacteria, including the good ones, his would only target harmful pathogens. “The technology is also very useful for any sort of surface disinfection, including treating human skin.”

By oldhamdei76735407, Jan 18 2017 02:58PM

At Swansea University in Wales a team of researchers have developed a simple blood test that can potentially detect if a patient will develop cancer up to ten years before symptoms begin to show themselves. The minimally invasive test only takes a few hours to perform and can be completed at any standard hospital pathology department. Researchers look at the red blood cells and check for mutations. On average, healthy people have only a few mutated cells out of every million, but if the patient has cancer the number of mutated cells rises 1,000%.

Professor Gareth Jenkins, who led the study, said: “The test can be likened to a cancer smoke detector because a smoke detector does not detect the presence of fire in our homes but its by-product – smoke. This test detects cancer by detecting the ‘smoke’, the mutated blood cells. The old adage of no smoke without fire also applies to ‘no cancer without mutation’ as mutation is the driving force for cancer development.”

So far the test has only been used to look for cancer in the esophagus since it has a low survival rate due to victims not recognizing symptoms in time for treatment. The researchers are confident that the test will be successful for other forms of cancer too and have begun trials for pancreatic cancer.

The test costs $46 and should be available to the public in five years.

By oldhamdei76735407, Jan 18 2017 02:52PM

What happens when a registered sex offender needs to move into a care home? Most homes are reluctant to take on sex offenders, so the result is a higher concentration of them in a small number of facilities. There is a home in Columbus where 13% of its residents are registered sex offenders. They were cited in 2015 for failing to prevent an attempted rape by a resident. He was then left alone while the police were called, which gave him time to wash himself and resulted in him being convicted of the lesser charge of gross sexual imposition.

People are at a loss of how to prevent this from happening. Safeguards are in place to keep sex offenders in check, but they’re hard to enforce when the offenders are in a nursing home with so many other people and so little staff. Unfortunately, the homes with the highest number of offenders are also some of the worst staffed. The federal government has rated two of the five homes with the most sex offenders in Ohio as “much below” average when it comes to staffing. Of the remaining three homes, one is below average and the other two are average.

The Dayton Daily News found that the state sex offender registry is often unreliable, and for many offenders it doesn’t even include the nature of the crimes. If an individual is removed from a home for assaulting staff or residents they often move to a new home to get the care they need. Nursing homes are doing what they can to keep everyone safe and still give all of their residents the care that they need. When a sex offender moves in the staff lets all of the other residents know and share a safety plan with them. When the registry is lacking information about cases however, the nursing homes can’t adequately prepare, which was the case in a Stark County home when Scott Russell Cook moved in. His previous victim was a 92-year-old woman he attempted to rape while in a Cleveland nursing home, but his new nursing home had no knowledge about this.

A 2014 law requires that nursing homes and long-term care facilities check the state sex offender registry before admitting a new patient. According to former state Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, nursing homes are more motivated by money than safety. She says that “[Nursing homes] know they’re going to get their money, so they don’t care.”

In addition to potentially putting the other residents at risk, sex offenders moving into nursing homes offers a loophole in the law that requires they live at least 1,000 feet from a school. The Dayton Daily News found six homes with sex offenders that are near schools that are either within the 1,000 feet or else very close to it. In Mercer County, there is a home that houses two sex offenders across the street from a high school. One of these men was convicted of sexual battery against a juvenile in 1995. In Springfield, a sex offender that was convicted for touching girls as young as 10 has legally lived near Lagonda Elementary School for years.

In June of 2016, Oklahoma Governor Brad Harry signed the Sex Offenders Long-Term Care Facility Bill into law. What this essentially does is establish a long-term care facility for Level III (high risk) and Level II (moderate risk) Registered Sex Offenders. According to Wes Bledsoe, the nations’ leading advocator on Predators in America’s Nursing Homes, “Enactment of this bill will directly reduce the murders, rapes, sexual and physical assaults against vulnerable long-term care residents, as well it serves as a model for the federal government and state legislatures across America.”

The bill was part of Bledsoe’s four-year crusade, which uncovered almost sixty murders, rapes, sexual and physical assaults that were committed by sex offenders while living in long-term care facilities. Victims of these attacks include both male and female residents, staff, and even one report of a 3 year-old visitor.

This could be the answer to the problem of sex offenders in nursing homes, but only time will tell if the Sex Offenders Long-Term Care Facility Bill might be adopted by other states.

By oldhamdei76735407, Dec 28 2016 04:09PM

Are you happy in life? If not, what do you think would make you happy? We often think more money will make us happier, despite the old adage “Money can’t buy happiness.”

An unprecedented 75-year study conducted by Harvard University has concluded that our mothers were right when they passed down those words of wisdom. It would appear that people are happier when they have close friendships versus when they have more money.

The study began in 1938 and followed 700 men for the next three quarters of a century. As the researchers watched the men grow it became apparent that the happier men were the ones that has close bonds with other people, be it friends, family, or a spouse. The happiness of the men wasn’t affected by the number of friends either, in fact, men with only a few close friends were happier than men with many loose acquaintances.

Interestingly, these men with close relationships were not only happiest in their middle age, but they were the healthiest as they reached their 80’s. It’s almost as if being happy buffered them from the stress of life.

Of course having a close relationship with someone isn’t going to make your life perfect; there is a long list of factors that will affect how happy we are. The World Happiness report measures various elements of people’s lives to try to determine where people are the happiest. The report uses three aspects to try to measure each participant’s happiness: evaluation of their situations, positive feelings about their lives, and negative feelings about their lives.

The World Happiness Report was first published in 2012, and then updated in 2013 and 2015. In the 2016 version, released last March, the United States is at number 13 and the United Kingdom is 23. The happiest countries are all from Scandinavia, with number one being Denmark. So what makes the Danes so happy?

According to a Gallup poll, they have strong support systems with family and friends. The official website of the country states that money is not as important as social life. Professor of economics Christian Bjornskov has said that the citizens of Denmark feel very satisfied with the level of freedom in their life to make choices. He also said that Danish society doesn’t judge how others live their lives.

By oldhamdei76735407, Dec 28 2016 03:53PM

The Christmas season has come and gone and many of us likely overspent in an effort to make the holiday memorable. If you’ve overspent now, or at any point during the year, you may find it difficult to pay all of your bills. If you are struggling, here are some tips to help you decide which bills to prioritize.

- Pay family necessities first – This is typically food and any medical expenses that require pre-payment. This does not include old medical bills.

-Pay housing related bills – Keep up on your mortgage if possible. This includes real estate taxes and insurance, unless they’re included in your mortgage. Failure to pay these can result in the loss of your home.

- Pay the minimum to keep utility service – At least pay the minimum to keep your water and electricity running. There isn’t much point paying for a house or apartment if you can’t live in it.

- Pay car loans – If you can’t walk or take public transport and it’s necessary to keep your car that should be your next priority. This can even be moved up the list if it’s going to put your job in jeopardy if you lose your car. Remember that this includes insurance.

-Pay child support – If you don’t make these payments you can end up in jail.

- Pay Income tax – You must pay any income taxes that you owe and are not automatically taken from your wages. Income taxes must be filed as well, even if you can’t afford the balance due.

- Government student loans – These should be paid after the top priority debts but before low priority debts. The law allows special collection remedies to the government that are not available to other creditors. For more details on student loan repayment, see our three-part series about it.

-Loans without collateral – Most credit cards, doctor, or hospital bills are a low priority. There is rarely anything that these creditors can do to hurt you in the short term.

- Loans with household goods as collateral – Sometimes a creditor will require that you place some of your household goods as collateral on a loan. Treat this as a low priority debt as creditors will seldom seize household items since they have little market value.

Here are some more tips to remember when trying to pay you bills.

-Do not move a debt up in priority because the creditor threatens suit – Many threats are not carried out. Even if the creditor does sue, it will take a while before the collector will be able to seize your property, and much of your property is likely exempt from seizure. Non-payment on a house or car loan is much more serious.

-Find out if you have good legal defenses to repayment – Examples of good legal defenses are that the product you purchased was defective or the creditor is charging you more money than they are entitled to. If you have a legal defense you should obtain advice from a legal professional to determine if the defense will succeed.

- Court judgments against you move debts up in priority – If a collector obtains a court order against you that debt should move up in priority since the creditor can now ask the court to seize your property, wages, and bank account to cover what is owed.

-Don’t listen to debt collectors about what you pay first – Make your own choices about which debts you pay first, but be polite to collectors that might call. They are unlikely to give advice based on what’s best for you. You can simply tell them to stop calling. If they don’t, legal options are available if a debt collector is harassing you.

-Threats to ruin your credit should never move up a priority – A majority of the time the big creditors, such as mortgage and car creditors will report you to the credit bureau without warning. It’s unlikely that a debt collector will report you.

-Cosigned debts should be treated like other debts – If you cosigned a loan for someone else and put your home or car as collateral it’s important that you make sure the loan is current. If the other cosigner isn’t keeping the debt current, you need to make the repayment a high priority. If you haven’t put anything up as collateral then the loan can be moved to low priority.

-Refinancing is seldom the answer – Refinancing can be expensive and give creditors more opportunities to seize your important assets. It can also lead to long term problems.

If you can’t make your high-priority payments you should call the creditors. Sometimes people can’t afford their house payment but they can afford their credit card, so that’s what they pay. Negotiate with your creditor to see if you can work something out with them instead of not paying the bills completely. If you can’t work anything out with them save that money to use later for a down payment, to get caught up, or cover the costs of moving to a new residence. If you need to discuss your options, call Oldham and Deitering at 937-898-7673.

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