Minnesota firefighters die from an unexpected heart attack

In a small town in Minnesota, a firefighter died on a Tuesday morning from a unexpected heart attack after his training session. Captain Jeff Vollmer died hours after the Mayor Fire Department was practicing a scenario. He was only 40 years old, and he leaves behind his wife and two children. According to Maetzold, a Channel 9 reporter, Jeff seemed fine and he was fit, from what they could see, meaning he wasn’t sick.

Apparently, Vollmer isn’t the only firefighter who has died from an undiagnosed condition. The last four firefighters, in Minnesota, all died from heart attacks in their late 30s to early 40s. Half of the time, firefighters die from falling off ladders, smoke inhalation or burns, but heart attacks happen most of the time after their shift.

Shane Clifton, a firefighter in Minnesota, died of cardiac arrest at a station house when he was 38 years old. Also, 42-year old Matt Frantz, who was Fire Chief in Rice Lake, died a few hours after a late night fire call.

 

Vollmer died 6 hours after his training, and it is still considered a in the line of duty death under the Survivor Benefit Act of 2003. The act recognized heart attacks as being a in the line of duty event if they are within 24-hours of the shift.

 

What is happening with the stock market?

Financial data on a monitor, Stock market data on LED image taken from: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/stock-market

On Monday, February 5, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,597 points, the most it had ever dropped in the middle of a single trading day. The Dow had recently hit a record high of 26,616 points on January 26. According to The Wall Street Journal, as of Friday, February 9, the Dow had dipped 2426 points from that high, a 9% decrease, dangerously close to what is known as a stock market “correction,” a 10% decrease after an extended time of growth. This sounds very bad, but what does it even mean?

Investopedia gives information about the stock market, including how the stock market itself, describes the trading of shares (put simply, an investment in a corporation). The Dow Jones Industrial Average, as well as the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Stock Market, are measures of the average trading value of stocks based on the stock prices of several major corporations. When they decline, that means stocks are less valuable. For people with money invested in the market, this is bad. But, it is not necessarily bad for most Americans, and it could even be good for new investors.

According to Slate, the reason for the downturn in the stock market actually has to do with recent news that is good for Americans. On February 2, the U.S. Labor Department announced that workers were being paid more than economists predicted they would be. To stock traders, this meant that the Federal Reserve would probably raise interest rates on stocks to compensate, meaning they would have to pay more money to their investors. Thus, they sold many stocks quickly and for decreased value, creating the downturn. This downturn had knock-on effects around the world, most noticeably in markets in Japan and Hong Kong.

As reported by CNN, this does not mean the US, or the world, is going through an economic recession, as it did in 2008. Most economists say that this downturn was bound to happen; the stock market had grown consistently since the Great Recession, and especially so since the election of President Donald Trump. Economists advise people with stocks not to sell, but to hold their stocks until better conditions come about. As for new investors, now is as good a time as any to invest.

President Trump had been claiming, before the decline, the tremendous stock market growth seen during his presidency as one of his greatest achievements. When the downturn occurred, Trump commented on Twitter, “In the ‘old days,’ when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up. Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!” This is not historically accurate according to the Huffington Post. News of wage increases has sent the stock market into a panic before.

MarketWatch reports that the stock market decline is nothing to worry about for the average American; its most recent fluctuation is totally natural. The Dow Jones is still up (24,609 points, as of February 12), and gaining more-and-more of its lost ground each day. CNN Money predicts that the incoming corporate tax cuts, part of the Republican Senate tax bill, will only help increase stock values, also.

Teachers vote to possibly go on strike

The teachers of St. Paul have spoken. The St. Paul school district will be attempting to prevent, or potentially endure a teacher strike. The teachers are asking for a 2.5 percent pay raise, along with more non-teacher staff, and smaller class sizes. SPPS (St. Paul Public School District) has had a hard time coming to meet the needs of our teachers.

On Wednesday, Jan 31st, our teachers voted to authorize a strike. This means that we have ten days before the strike possibly begins. This “cooling off” period ends Monday the 12th, and the potential strike will begin on Tuesday the 13th. If the strike has not ended after four school days, then we will have to add more days to the end of the school year.

Some teachers and non-teacher staff in the district do not believe that this argument will result in a strike; however, their opinion is becoming less and less likely every second that ticks by. The clock has started, and it seems to most that this clock will run out well before the teachers and school district come to an agreement. The thought of adding more days to the end of the year could be difficult for students and families, as some may have vacation plans, or plans for their children to work over the summer. It could be time consuming and potentially expensive for some families to shift their plans back farther into the summer.

One thing is for sure, the teachers, staff, and (most) students do not want to take a couple weeks off, and push their plans back into summer. This strike could shorten our summer break, were most of us relax, enjoy some free time, and work to make some money. With any luck, our teachers and school board can come to an agreement that would make a strike unnecessary. We all know how bad a strike could be for our students and staff.

*UPDATE: It was announced Monday morning, Feb 12th, that the union and district had come to a tentative agreement, thus preventing a strike.

The 2018 Winter Olympics and North Korean involvement

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang County, South Korea. The Winter Olympics are an international multi-sport competition held once every four years in a different country. They are staggered with the Summer Olympics, which are also held once every four years, so that an Olympic Games occurs once every two years. It was first announced that South Korea would host in 2011. It will be the country’s second time hosting the Olympics. It hosted the Summer Games in 1988 (Olympic.org).

As reported by CNN, the 2018 Winter Olympics has brought about great controversy for North Korea’s involvement in it. North Korea (officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) and South Korea separated in 1945. Shortly after the separation, the Korean War occurred (1950-1953), which ended in stalemate. Since then, the two Koreas have been separated by a demilitarized zone (DMZ). According to Sky News, relations between the countries has been tense, to say the least. North Korea is a communist dictatorship and South Korea is a liberal democracy, diametrically opposed types of government, but both claim rightful leadership of Korea in totality.

North Korea has been performing nuclear weapons tests since 2006 (most recently on September 3, 2017, “a perfect success,” according to the North Koreans), much to the consternation of South Korea and many Western democracies, including the United States, as noted by the BBC. Delegates from North and South Korea met for peace talks on September, 9, but North Korea continued to test its ballistic missiles afterwards. CNN has even reported that South Korea claims to have a plan to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un if they feel too threatened.

So, with the threat of nuclear war looming, many wondered how South Korea would handle the 2018 Winter Olympics, and what North Korea’s involvement in them would be. Fortunately, it appears that the Olympics have only helped to bring the two countries closer together.

In his 2017 New Year address, Kim Jong Un wished the South Koreans luck in hosting the Games, offered to send a North Korean delegation, and said he wished for a “peaceful resolution with our Southern border [DMZ]” (CNN). Two North Korean figure skaters, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik, qualified for the Olympics on September, 29, but were not entered by the deadline of December, 21. According to an NRP report, after negotiations between the two Koreas on January 9, it was announced that North Korea would send a delegation of 22 athletes, including the two aforementioned figure skaters. In addition, there will be a united Korean squad playing in women’s ice hockey. North Korea’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics could be a sign of more diplomacy to come between the two Koreas and the rest of the world.

But, not everyone is happy with North Korea’s involvement in the Olympics. According to The Telegraph, some human rights groups think that allowing North Korea to hold any events, as the South Korean minister of sports has gone so far as to recommend, would be an immoral endorsement of authoritarianism, similar to the 1936 Berlin Olympics held in Nazi Germany. The Wall Street Journal has also reported that some see North Korea’s participation as unsafe. France said they would not compete if safety could not be ensured according to Reuters. The Trump-appointed, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said, “it’s an open question.” Later, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on December, 7, “no official decision has been made” on US involvement in the Games, though she, quite contradictory, also said the US “looks forward to participating” as reported by USA Today.

Whether the US will boycott the 2018 Winter Olympics remains to be seen, but it now appears quite unlikely, with the announcement, reported by ABC News, on January, 10, that Vice President Mike Pence and his wife will attend the opening ceremony of the Games. Still, the Trump administration’s messages are mixed. Is North Korea’s newfound sense of diplomacy genuine, or just a ploy?

Flu spreads across MN

The flu is spreading all over Minnesota according to WCCO news. According to Doctor Bjorn Peterson, people are coming to the hospital with body aches, headaches, high fevers, and sore throats. Emergency rooms are dealing with many people with these symptoms.

The doctors from Regions hospital, in St. Paul, are saying that they see 30 people a day who have the flu. The high numbers are why the Minnesota Department of Health is declaring influenza and respiratory illness, which means hospitals are putting restrictions on visitors to protect other patients and staff.

Dr. Frank Rhame, a disease doctor, from Allina Health, suggests that you should stay at home if you can. Rhame also suggests to keep kids under the age of five altogether. He also said they may look healthy but they could actually be infected. To prevent the spread of the flu, Dr. Rhame suggests to wash your hands thoroughly and cover your coughs.

These past weeks, Allina Health has admitted 120 people and 870 people have tested positive for influenza. Laboratory tests show that this year, the flu has hit the elderly and younger people hard.

According to the Star Tribune, the best way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated, but it can’t provide protection against all possible disease. If you experience any flu symptoms like high fevers, chills, muscle aches, continuous coughs, sore throat, headaches, or fatigue, make sure to go see a doctor. The flu is very contagious and can infect you without you even knowing, so make sure to keep clean and make sure to not make physical contact with someone who is already infected.

Exciting year for the royal family

KINGHAM, OXFORDSHIRE – AUGUST 28: Mike Tindall, Zara Tindell and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James’ Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

On Friday January 5th, officials announced that Zara Tindall, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, is pregnant again. Mrs. Tindall is also the daughter of Princess Anne. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said, “The Queen and members of the royal family were very pleased to hear this news.”

The baby will the second child of Zara and her husband, Mike Tindall, a rugby star. The couple already have a 3 year old daughter, Mia Tindall. Mia is known for stealing the spotlight, and getting cuddles and kisses from Prince Harry at polo events. Many times, she had happily shown off Queen Elizabeth II’s purse during official photo shoots.

ABERFELDY, SCOTLAND – JULY 11: Zara Phillips and daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph after husband Ex England rugby star Mike Tindall finished the grueling Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon in Loch Tay Scotland on July 11, 2015 in Aberfeldy, Scotland. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for Artemis Quadrathlon)

Mia was also there to help her parents’ difficult time when Zara had a miscarriage days before Christmas 2016. Mike Tindall told The Sunday Times, “The saving grace for us was Mia, our daughter who is now 3.” Mike also talked about how he was able to spend more time with Mia now, since he retired from rugby. The spokesperson also stated that the child will be due this summer, arriving a few months after Duchess Kate’s baby, who is due to arrive in April.

Back in October, Kensington Palace made the announcement that Duchess Kate was expecting another baby after the 12-week scan. Duchess Kate Middleton has had hyperemesis gravid arum (severe morning sickness) during her last two pregnancies, which is why the pregnancy was announced early. The pregnancy was initially announced on September 4, when Duchess Kate cancelled a visit to the London’s Children Centre because of severe morning sickness.

This is an exciting year for the royal family as Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding is due to be happening around May, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be welcoming their third child in April, and in the summer, Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter, Zara, will be adding another member to the royal family.

“Help Wanted”- How teens are not being able to get a job

During the school year, teenagers love to be busy, whether it’s with sports, activities, or a job. People who don’t like to be involved in school all the time tend to pick up a job so that they are occupied while earning money. A job comes in handy during high school because it’s a way to earn pocket money and save for college, but for some reason, a certain group of people tend to be more unemployed then the rest.

With tons of help wanted signs up, and teens ready to start a job, what’s the problem? It’s a weird thought, because according to the Minnesota Employment and Economic Development, as of November 2017, 10.6% of teenagers are unemployed. They believe that this has to do with the minimum wage increase to $9.50. The Minnesota Employment and Economic Development website says that this percentage is due to employers being more skeptical when hiring new teenage workers. The good part about this, is that the minimum wage has increased the teen participation in the labor force.

When you think about it, our employment system is flawed for teens. If all jobs expect previous experience, how do they have the opportunity to get started. Nowadays, it’s hard to find jobs that require little to no previous experience. This leaves teens, who are new to the idea of employment, unemployed.

There are also experienced adults who are left with part time jobs that are normally occupied by teens. If these adults can’t find jobs in their designated area, they are left with the part time jobs. This is considered involuntary part time.

Even though you might not have a job, there are easier ways to earn money. You could cut a neighbor’s lawn, walk a dog, or even do chores. Getting hired is a hard process and may take a while until you hear something back, but do not give up.

For more information, please go to: https://mn.gov/deed/data/current-econ-highlights/alternative-unemployment.jsp

 

Chocolate is going extinct

Scientists have recently had theories that support the idea that chocolate will go extinct in the next 30 years. Right now, the main producers of cacao plants (chocolate) are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Unfortunately, the arable land in both of those places is a being greatly affected due to climate change. The air and soil temperatures are changing, and the way the beans are growing has changed.

The next biggest reason the plants may go extinct, is because of an insect-spread fungal diseases called “witch’s broom” and “frosty pod.” These diseases have already destroyed many of the cacao trees in Central America; their original natural home. Scientists, and farmers alike, are currently trying to find ways to keep those diseases contained, and not let them spread to the new chocolate empires.

800,000, out of the 25 million people, in Ghana, farm chocolate as their main crop. If these plants go extinct, not only would those people lose their biggest crop, and therefore their biggest source of income, the economy would be greatly affected. Most of Ghana’s economy comes from chocolate. Without that crop being exported, they would lose out on billions of dollars.

For more information, please visit:

“Chocolate Is a Bittersweet Way of Life in Ghana.” NBCNews.com https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/chocolate-bittersweet-way-life-ghana-n212741.

Lee, Bruce Y. “Could Chocolate Actually Go Extinct In 40 Years?” Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2018/01/01/is-chocolate-going-extinct-whats-being-done-to-prevent-this-disaster/#37c65561540f.

Freelanceqz. “The world’s two largest cocoa producers want you to buy their chocolate, not just their beans.” Quartz https://qz.com/981562/ghana-ivory-coast-are-marketing-more-chocolate-to-the-world/.

California wildfires

In Southern California, many are being forced to flee because of the wildfires. Officials refer to the wildfires as the “Thomas Fire.” The “Thomas Fire” started on Dec. 4th, about 69 miles from Los Angeles. According to Fox News, about 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate.

Officials had not yet figure out what caused the “Thomas Fire” to start in the first place. On Dec. 6th, another wildfire erupted known as the “Skirball Fire.” It burned about 422 acres and was around in the area of Bel-Air neighborhood. The “Skirball Fire” started because of an illegal cooking fire under the San Diego Freeway.

Scott McLean, an information officer at the California Department Of Forestry and Fire explained that the wildfires have been so destructive recently because of the drought that California has had for the last 5 years, which created a lot of dead vegetation. This year, California had a good amount of rainfall during the spring, but the summer heat dried out the growth of the vegetation.

Firefighters monitor the Thomas fire as it burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The autumn winds is also something to worry about. It is fueling the wildfires, causing the wildfires to spread faster and cover more area. This year, primarily, it is the Santa Ana winds that are fueling a lot of the wildfires. Usually, most winds will blow off to the Pacific Ocean, but the Santa Ana winds blow off into the desert of Arizona, then move west toward California. The millions of dead trees also allows wildfires to move quicker, scorching more land.

On Dec. 11th, the Santa Ana winds begin cooperating by pushing the fire away from the nearby communities, which allowed firefighters to see and help people. The “Thomas Fire” has destroyed around 1,000 structures. There has been only one death so far, 70-year-old Virginia Pesola died in a car crash while trying to evacuate from the “Thomas Fire.” A firefighter was injured while 3 other people were burned trying to retrieve the woman’s body.

Later, a firefighter was killed by the “Thomas Fire.” According to CNN, Lynne Tolmachoff, the spokesperson for The California Department Of Forestry and Fire Protection, the firefighter was driving on a fire engine on the east flank of the “Thomas Fire.” The man had not been identified at the time of this article, but he was pronounced dead on the scene by a medical team.

CNN meteorologist, Brandon Miller, reported that the winds had been picking up again and would make the job tougher for the 8,000 firefighters. CalFire had reported that about 1,000 fire engines, and 27 helicopters are involved in dealing with the “Thomas Fire” alone. The winds continue to be fierce, with the wind going 60 mph in the mountains, and about 35-50 mph in the valley-coastal areas.

 

 

The brief history of Christmas

Christmas is a time for families, whether related or not, to come together and celebrate the holiday spirit with some hot cocoa and your favorite Christmas movie that you watch every year! As someone who really likes Christmas, I thought it’d be fun to learn the history, and origin, of Christmas.

In most areas of Europe, December was a perfect time to celebrate, as most cattle were slaughtered so they wouldn’t have to be fed durning winter. During this time, they had the largest supply of fresh meat, and most beer and wine being fermented would be ready to drink by this time. In Germany, they celebrated the pagan god Odin during mid-winter. Germans believed Odin would make flights through the sky during the night to observe his people. He would then decide who prospered and who perished.

In the early stages of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday, and Jesus’ birthday was not celebrated. However, in the 4th century, the Church decided a date to celebrate his birthday since the Bible doesn’t mention the date. There is evidence to suggest that his birth took place during the spring, but Pope Julius I chose December 25th so that they could absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. By having Christmas at the same time as other traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be embraced.

In the early 17th century, religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans took over England, and they vowed to get rid of decadence and thus cancelled Christmas. However, due to popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne, and Christmas came back with him.

In 1620, the pilgrims came to America, and didn’t bring Christmas with them because their beliefs were more orthodox than Cromwell. Christmas was not a holiday in early America. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. However, after the American Revolution, Americans had rejected English customs and Christmas became a federal holiday in June of 1870.

Washington Irving wrote a book called The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, which was a series of stories depicting the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. All the traditions he wrote about in his 1819 book were nothing he actually had attended, but were things he had imagined. Many historians say that Irving had invented the traditions. Around the same time, Charles Dickens created A Christmas Carol. The story had a poignant message of the importance of charity and good will towards everyone, which struck a chord with Americans and Englishmen. Also, families were becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotions of children.

For more information go to http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas