For-Profit Charity Groups Hurt Non-Profits, Local Charities Say

May 30, 15 For-Profit Charity Groups Hurt Non-Profits, Local Charities Say

Posted by in Featured, Lifestyle

Some charities are concerned that for-profit clothing donation organizations are doing more harm than good in their quest to purchase clothing. The Daily Item reports that many charity organizations that specialize in collecting and re-purposing used clothing claim that for-profit donation companies are funneling off much needed funds and resources from them, using the money instead for corporate gain. Doug Diven, the founder and president of the HandUp Foundation in Milton, Pennsylvania, says his organization lost nearly $50,000 over the last two years due to a lack of clothing donations, which he attributes to for-profit companies. “We rely tremendously on clothing donations,” Diven said. “We’re losing more to other organizations.” The HandUp Foundation helps the poor, unemployed, victims of fires and accidents, and other less-fortunate people by offering them financial assistance and resources. They rely heavily on clothing donations, which they resell to clothing and textile companies and use the profits to help those in need. The HandUp store gets roughly half of the organization’s total revenue. The store, which sells clothing, furniture, and household products, used to generate 10% of its sales from clothing. However, clothing now only generates 5%. “I’m not trying to knock them, but I think it’s real important for the community to know these for-profits are draining resources,” Diven said. Bob Hauer, the director of public relations at CommunityAid, a Harrisburg-based non-profit, is not bothered as much by for-profit companies as he is by the idea many people have when they donate their clothing to them. He feels that the patrons are under the false impression that their donations will benefit the poor and needy in the local area. “It doesn’t stay in the area,” Hauer said. “It’s driven to New York for the international rag market. Nobody wants to donate their clothing so somebody could become a millionaire.” He also believes that one problem with non-profits is that they do not give enough information about where and to whom the clothing will go. “People donate and walk away...

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Study: Steroids No More Effective Than a Placebo in Treating Sciatica

May 29, 15 Study: Steroids No More Effective Than a Placebo in Treating Sciatica

Posted by in Featured, Health

A new clinical trial has found that steroids treat sciatica pain no better than a placebo, and that taking oral steroids leads to only a moderate improvement in function for sciatica patients. “When we compared the [oral steroid] prednisone to placebo, there was a modest improvement in function,” researcher Dr. Harley Goldberg, director of spine care services at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in California, told the medical news site HealthDay. “[However] when we compared the pain [between the two groups], there was actually no difference.” Sciatica refers to lower back and leg pain that is usually caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. The condition affects about 10% of people at some point in their lives, according to the researchers — and, indeed, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability for Americans younger than 45. Doctors often prescribe oral steroids to ameliorate sciatica pain, but Goldberg and his colleagues realized that course of action had never been tested in a clinical setting. The team recruited 269 adults, all of whom had sciatica caused by herniated discs (confirmed by MRI). The participants were randomly assigned to take either oral steroids or a placebo. The researchers then followed up with both groups for up to a year, asking about pain and ability to perform daily tasks. Not only were those who took the oral steroid no better off in terms of pain levels, they were also more likely to report side effects early on, such as insomnia, nervousness or increased appetite. After a full year, however, both groups reported side effects at similar levels. Though the trial’s findings don’t “slam the door” on steroid treatment for sciatica, according to Goldberg, they do call into question whether it should be a routine treatment. The more information doctors and patients have at their disposal when making a treatment decision, the better, he said. “Some people could still choose to use it,” he commented. The full study was published in the Journal of...

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Don’t Try This At Home, Kids — Why People Are Suddenly Trying Do-It-Yourself Dentistry, Despite Many Risks

May 28, 15 Don’t Try This At Home, Kids — Why People Are Suddenly Trying Do-It-Yourself Dentistry, Despite Many Risks

Posted by in Featured, Health

Ranging from home repairs to colorful manicures, the Do-It-Yourself trend has fully made its way off Pinterest and into the average American home. And, apparently, it’s already taking over the dental industry. That’s right — DIY dentistry is now a trend. For example: just a couple weeks ago, a boy named Anton Androshchuk posted a video on YouTube of himself and his pet parakeet. The short video starts out normally, but then Anton opens his mouth and allows the bird to pull out one of his teeth. According to Fox News, the parakeet has now successfully performed five tooth-pullings on Anton. It takes about 30 seconds and a bit of persistence on the bird’s part; even though Anton doesn’t hint that it hurts at all (likely because the tooth was a baby tooth and was ready to fall out anyway), the cameraman’s reaction sums up the general feeling well: “That’s disgusting.” If you keep perusing YouTube, you’ll find a plethora of DIY dental videos — perhaps none as interesting as a parakeet dentist — that provide instructions on how to fix certain dental problems that would normally require orthodonture (or, at the very least, professional dental help). The concept of DIY dentistry doesn’t have to be dangerous; it can be as simple as using at-home whitening strips rather than paying for a professional treatment. But as CBS News has noted, the most popular and recent videos on DIY dentistry are much more invasive: using simple items like elastic bands and metal wires, people are trying to straighten their teeth at home, and without the oversight of a dentist. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this form of DIY dentistry has caused some pretty serious damage, and dentists are warning their patients to abstain from it. But perhaps the popularity of DIY dentistry has a very real — and very preventable — cause: the cost of dental services today means that countless people all over the world are not able to see a dentist...

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Governor’s New Energy Efficiency Law Is Simply Not Enough, According to Environmental Experts

May 27, 15 Governor’s New Energy Efficiency Law Is Simply Not Enough, According to Environmental Experts

Posted by in Featured, Legal

Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law that will help the state increase its energy efficiency, along with reducing oversight by the state of any major utilities’ energy efficiency programs. Under the new law, utility companies can now develop their own energy efficiency programs, which are then approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. However, those programs often cost customers money, and although they should save money as they decrease their power consumption, critics are calling the new law “worse than doing nothing” when it comes to savings. Rebecca Stanfield, the Midwest deputy director for policy from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that Indiana’s plan was lacking in “two really critical elements.” The state should have adopted solid goals that the utility companies must accomplish through the law; these companies should also come up with programs that are more cost effective than building another plant would be. The new law has already taken effect, and environmental activists are also arguing against it, saying that the state won’t be able to meet federal requirements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, either. Pence says that the law should help consumers spend less on their energy bills. “Well, I just think energy efficiency lowers the cost of energy for every Hoosier,” he said to the press. But many companies will likely raise their rates in order to make up for the decreases in energy consumption by Indiana residents. Pence, however, disagrees and said that the state should “take advantage of all the resources that we have.” Officials in the Pence administration also said that rates will go up no matter what, and consumers shouldn’t worry because increases must be approved through the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The state may need to hold those companies more accountable, though, warn critics. They point to states like Arizona, Kansas and Utah, which have stricter standards that their utilities providers must meet. There are plenty of ways that homeowners in Indiana and throughout the rest of the United...

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British Inventor Rolls Out “Smart-Floor” Technology

May 27, 15 British Inventor Rolls Out “Smart-Floor” Technology

Posted by in Featured, Technology

A British entrepreneur wants to turn your footsteps into electricity, and he claims the technology already works. The U.K. startup Pavegen is raising money for the high-tech flooring on a website called Crowdcube, a British crowdfunding service similar to KickStarter. “Pavegen’s technology converts footsteps into electricity to power services in high-footfall locations and provide real-time data for analytics,” writes founder and CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook on Crowdcube. “Founded in 2009, the company has delivered over 100 projects, including Heathrow Airport and Harrods, across 30 countries generating a cumulative revenue of over £2.5 million. With a global distribution network in place and internationally granted patents, the next step is scale.” But do consumers really want “smartfloors”? Kemball-Cook is betting yes, and imagines a world run by the kinetic energy produced by human footsteps. Pavegen hopes to raise £750,000 to scale the business. The green energy smartfloor uses an electromagnetic induction process to generate electricity, and the company claims it can power lights and even entire buildings. Kemball-Cook says the product will work best in high-traffic areas like transit stations and stadiums. Pavegen even installed its kinetic flooring in a soccer field in a Rio de Janiro neighborhood, generating enough electricity to help power the field’s lights. “We’ve got operations set up in nine different regions in the world,” Kemball-Cook told TechCrunch. “And we’ve deployed [the product] in 30 countries so we’ve got a bit of scale already.” The company’s ultimate plan is to mass produce the flooring until it costs the same as “normal flooring.” In the United States, the flooring industry has already grown by 1.1% annually over the past five years. And with Silicon Valley constantly on the lookout for the next high-tech, hot-ticket item, American investors might want to get in on the ground floor of this emerging technology. The flooring produces seven watts of power for every pedestrian that walks across its surface. However, Kemball-Cook warns customers interested in carpeting a house with the product (since 70% of flooring in the U.S....

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