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A man in Brazil accidentally blew up his yard while trying to kill some cockroaches – INSIDER

October 23rd, 2019 by admin

A man in Brazil went to extreme lengths trying to kill some cockroaches in his backyard and ended up blowing up part of his lawn.

Cesar Schmitz told FocusOn News, translated by the New York Post, that his wife had complained about roaches invading their garden in the southern city of Enas Marques.

"She is scared of them and begged me to destroy their nest under the ground once and for all," he said.

In an attempt to kill the roaches, he poured gasoline into a hole that he believed led to the nest, and started tossing matches into it. It turns out that wasn't a great strategy.

Read more: 'You don't feel safe in your own home:' Bed bugs' biggest health threats are psychological, triggering flashbacks, extreme anxiety, and other symptoms of PTSD

At first, nothing happened. But then, after the third match was thrown, Schmitz's lawn exploded. No one was injured including the roaches.

Cockroaches, they say, will be here long after we're gone, and the roaches in Schmitz's yard are proof. In the clip of the explosion, one can be seen scurrying away.

Read more:

25 fascinating facts about animals that have gone extinct

Go here to read the rest:
A man in Brazil accidentally blew up his yard while trying to kill some cockroaches - INSIDER

Syracuse Slumlord Reaps $1M from Taxpayers, While City Fights Him – Governing

October 23rd, 2019 by admin

(TNS) One of Syracuses most notorious landlords has raked in nearly $1 million in taxpayer money, even while city lawyers have tried in vain to punish him for letting tenants live in squalor.

Endzone Properties, a company that hasfloutedhundreds of property code citations from the city in recent years, received $998,000 in public rent subsidies from Onondaga Countys Department of Social Services between 2016 and 2019.

At the same time, Endzone let more than 200 code violations go unfixed, including broken windows, missing smoke alarms, infestations and lack of heat.

Endzone is a symptom of a systemic failure that allows bad landlords to reap huge sums of public money intended to help struggling families and tenants.

Among the citys 10 worst property owners, half have received rent from Onondaga Countys public assistance program since 2016. Officials from the countys Department of Social Services said state law ultimately sets the terms for doling out public money. Theres nothing they can do unless there is an immediate health and safety hazard.

The disconnect highlights one of the many hurdles facing the city as it tries to crack down on blight and bad landlords. Even as city officers try to combat bad landlords, county taxpayers are padding those landlords wallets while allowing low-income people to live in shoddy conditions.

This may be fixable. In a neighboring city, the mayor drew up a one-page agreement to tighten the rules for landlords who collect county money. Officials in Onondaga County, however, dont think the solution would survive legal scrutiny, since state law dictates how public money is doled out.

Sarah Merrick, commissioner of social services for Onondaga County, said her department can only stop payments to a landlord once a city code inspector determines a property is unfit to live in. The county doesnt do code inspections.

A property can only be declared unfit if it is structurally unsound or has issues that put the immediate safety of the occupants at risk. Problems like broken windows or missing doors or even an infestation of cockroaches dont qualify, even if they are ignored for months.

An unfit notice from the city triggers the county to stop payments to the landlord for that property. Once the violation is corrected, money starts flowing again.

But the county cant stop payments for non-urgent code violations on the same building. Nor can it block money from going to a landlord who is delinquent on other properties. Those rules are set by the states Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

For example, if an apartment has 20 code violations, including one for lack of heat, it would be deemed unfit, since heat is a safety issue. If the landlord fixes the heat, but not the other 19 violations, it would be considered fit for occupancy and the landlord can once again receive public money. The city would be fighting the landlord to fix those other violations, but the county money couldnt be used as leverage.

Its likely landlords like Endzone have had county subsidies frozen at times, but hard to pinpoint for how long and how much. County officials said they could not release payment details on individual properties because it would compromise the privacy of DSS clients.

Endzone Properties is owned by John Kiggins, one of Syracuses most notorious landlords. He spent time in jail for mortgage fraud in the 1990s and again for flouting code violations in 2006. In 2016, a young girl died in a fire in one of his apartments, caused by candles the family was using to heat the house.

Endzone owns the two-family house at722 Pond St. on the North Side. Tawanda ONeal lived there for three years, until two weeks ago. For several of those years while ONeal was out of work, her rent was subsidized by public assistance.

During that time, Endzone ignored multiple code violations, including a hole in the roof that led to leaks in ONeals ceiling, an infestation of bedbugs and broken doors and windows.

Endzone owns 48 properties in Syracuse. The city has taken the company to court five times seeking payment of fines or the correction of violations.

Cleghorn Properties has received $221,400 in public assistance from Onondaga County since 2016. City records show that company had 80 code violations open past the comply-by date between 2016 and 2018. Many of those violations, however, were on vacant properties and more than half were there before Cleghorn bought the property.

Gregory Cleghorn, one of that companys owners, said his company buys properties, rehabilitates them, then rents them out. Many of the buildings he buys come with violations, which are fixed during the renovations.

He said he ensures all his properties are up to code before renting them. Sometimes violations go unfixed on vacant properties while theyre being fixed up, but he prides himself in addressing code concerns in occupied properties as soon as theyre identified.

Weve got a really good relationship with the code department, he said. If there are violations, he added, he wants to know about them so he can get them taken care of.

Some downstate landlords are less responsive.

Emmanuel Blum, a downstate landlord who was the citys second-biggest code scofflaw, has received $23,203 in county dollars since 2016. Blums properties had 126 outstanding code violations at the end of 2018.

A code violation is considered outstanding if its not fixed before a deadline given by the city. Those deadlines vary depending on the severity of the violation.

In Syracuse, landlords are required toapply to a rental registryeach year. To get approved for the registry, a property must be current on its taxes and have no outstanding code violations. It also must pass an inspection.

The registry is intended as a tool to hold landlords accountable to code inspectors and city lawyers. But there are no real repercussions for renting a property without first applying to the registry.

Unregistered rentals can still receive money from the county DSS, as long as they havent been deemed unfit. That means properties that get public subsidies arent forced to submit to a regular code inspection.

Both the city and county would like to be able to withhold public assistance to landlords not on the rental registry, but the state has previously determined thats not legal. In 2008, OTDA told lawmakers in Suffolk County that such withholding violated state law and couldnt be approved.

In Oswego, Mayor Billy Barlow faced a similar problem, but he said he found a way around it.

Last year Barlow did a ridealong with an Oswego city code inspector. He met a man living in wretched conditions, he said. There was no heat at the house and only one working electrical outlet. The bathroom was a bucket in the back yard.

According to Barlow, the man said he had been placed in the house by the Oswego County Department of Social Services after getting out of jail.

If youre a landlord you can go and put your name on a landlord list at DSS, Barlow said this summer. But there was no vetting at the time on the county side Thats where we saw there was a big issue.

The city and county wrote up a memorandum of understanding to fix the problem. Every time a landlord asked to be put on the list for public assistance, the county would first call the city codes department and ask if that landlord had a valid rental permit and if there were any outstanding code violations.

Oswego County is no longer doing business with landlords whose properties are delinquent or arent authorized to rent in Oswego. Barlow said hes gotten no push back from landlords.

It didnt take long, Barlow said, But the problem has virtually gone away.

2019 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y..Distributed byTribune Content Agency, LLC.

Continued here:
Syracuse Slumlord Reaps $1M from Taxpayers, While City Fights Him - Governing

Kansas Made This Sex Trafficking Survivor A Criminal She Wants Another Chance – KCUR

October 15th, 2019 by admin

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor.

It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month.

Zeferjohns parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownbacks efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

But Zeferjohn, 16, was in state custody in Salina, already under the violent control of a man who trafficked her for sex.

A year after the photograph was taken, Zeferjohn was charged in June 2016 with 10 felonies, including aggravated human trafficking. She was 17. Despite federal and state laws that bar prosecuting children for prostitution, Zeferjohn is serving a nearly six-year sentence in the Topeka Correctional Facility and will spend a lifetime on the state sex offender registry.

I deserve another chance, said Zeferjohn, now 21, who is seeking a pardon from Gov. Laura Kelly. As long as I get hope, I can give hope to people.

The Kansas Sentencing Commission says human trafficking charges, whether for men or women at any age, are rare and are often pleaded down to other lesser crimes.

But advocates for trafficking survivors say misguided criminal charging, and the resulting plea bargains reached in cases like Zeferjohns, are more common than state records indicate.

Along with Zeferjohn, a dozen other young women are facing criminal prosecutions after being placed in state custody, running away, and falling prey to sex traffickers while they were minors, said Karen Countryman-Roswurm, director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University.

Weve waged war on the very population that we said we were going to serve, she said.

Prosecutors defend their case against Zeferjohn, saying she victimized other girls.

How do you deal with somebody like Hope Zeferjohn? said Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay. If you give a pass to everyone who does the sort of things Miss Zeferjohn did? I dont know that society actually wants that to happen.

A freckle-faced tomboy

Hope Joy Mae Zeferjohn was the second child born to Terry and Melody Zeferjohn. It was Terrys third marriage, and he had two other children from previous relationships. He would eventually have six with Melody.

A Topeka cab driver for 20 years, Terry Zeferjohn died in September 2018. Obese and on disability, his home was violent and poor, and he was always looking for income, said Stacey Kelly, one of his ex-girlfriends and the mother of one of his children.

Kelly remained close to the family and is Hope Zeferjohns godmother. She remembers Terry telling his daughters: You bleed, you breed, meaning when they came of age they should start having children.

The only reason that they had children was so they could get more help, any sort of assistance, Kelly said.

Still, Hope Zeferjohn remains devoted to her parents.

It could be good sometimes, Zeferjohn said of the family home. Sometimes it can be hectic because of all of us kids. I feel like they raised us as best they can and they did a pretty good job of it.

As a child, Hope Joy lived up to her name, Kelly said, describing her as a sweet, freckle-faced tomboy who liked to be outside.

Zeferjohn was just 14 when her older sister brought 24-year-old Anthony Angel Long to the home. Long had a record, having been charged in 2013 with domestic battery, assault and criminal threat against an ex-girlfriend.

Terry Zeferjohn welcomed him as a friend, Kelly said, adding that Long often stayed overnight.

In January 2014, police arrived at the home in response to a call about a fight between Hope and another one of the children. Officers discovered neglect and a failure to send the kids to school.

When the police came into the home, it was full of feces, full of trash and clothes everywhere. Roaches were out in the daytime because they were so infested, Kelly said. And they had horrible, horrible, horrible bedbugs.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families arranged for Kelly to take three of the girls. Zeferjohn, then 15, was sent to an out-of-home placement in Salina, her sentence for a misdemeanor battery charge. She was sentenced in August 2014 to 16 months in the custody of the Department of Corrections, in the juvenile offender program.

It looks a lot like foster care, said Randy Bowman, a DOC spokesman.

Zeferjohn graduated from high school and bought her first car while in state custody. She also got pregnant and gave birth to her son, Tye, in March 2015.

The system failed me

Then Long showed up in Salina. He found Zeferjohn in early 2015 by tricking authorities into giving him her location.

For me, it failed me, thats how I feel, Zeferjohn said of the state system. It allowed Anthony to find out my address, where I was staying, by pretending like he was my father.

Zeferjohn and Long had a relationship that soon turned abusive. She uses his two different names to describe his two sides.

I loved Angel, OK, when he treated me good and everything, she said. And then when he became all rude I was like, Where is the one I love? Thats a different Anthony. Some people put up a different side for you to fall in love with, but its not the real them.

He began to take videos of them having sex, which he sold, Zeferjohn said. He controlled every detail in her life.

I was like the prisoner and he was like a warden, she said. Coming to prison, its not no big adjustment to me, which is pretty bad. I had no choice but to obey him."

Long brought Zeferjohn back to Topeka, where, according to court documents, he forced her to recruit other girls for his prostitution business, sometimes through Facebook. Long ran the operation from a family members home, Zeferjohn said.

Kelly remembers Zeferjohn saying she was the house mother, cleaning, cooking and keeping the other girls in line.

(Hope) started prostituting and bringing home money, Kelly said, and if she didnt give her money to him, it was going to be hell to pay.

The hell included beatings Zeferjohn said they were so severe that she miscarried twice. Long threatened to hurt her son and anyone close to her if she disobeyed, she said.

He destroyed my life, Zeferjohn said. He tried to kill me twice and I tried to think about it like I need to go, I need to get out, but Im stuck in this whole situation.

Ultimately, Zeferjohn and Long traveled to New York, where Long had family. There, she said, she was arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart. When police discovered that she was a runaway from Kansas, she was returned to the state.

In June 2016, Zeferjohn was charged as an adult with 10 felonies: aggravated human trafficking; conspiracy to commit rape; conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sodomy; indecent solicitation of a child; electronic solicitation of a child; aggravated intimidation and criminal threat. She was also charged with two misdemeanors: endangering a child and contributing to a childs misconduct or deprivation.

The charges stem from when Zeferjohn recruited a 14-year-old girl she met while in living in a foster home, court documents show. Hope introduced Long to the girl through Facebook, where Long was using a false identity. Long offered to let the girl live with them in exchange for sex, and threatened to kill her if she told police, court records say. The girl reached out to Zeferjohn, who ordered her to submit to Long, court documents say.

In another instance, Zeferjohn recruited a 15-year-old girl by offering her drugs, which Long then supplied, requiring both girls to have sex with him as payment, court documents show. Long took photos of the girl and told her they were for johns, according to court documents.

The 15-year-old girl reported this to police, said Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay, and Long was arrested. Later, Zeferjohn reached out to the girl and connected her back to Long, who was out of jail. Court documents say Long and Zeferjohn retaliated several times, including once forcing the girl to go to Junction City, where she was sold to a man and made to stay in a motel room for a weekend where she earned $6,000 for Long.

Victim or predator?

In April 2017, Long was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted aggravated human trafficking, indecent solicitation of a child, electronic solicitation of a child and four counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

As the right hand of the organization, Kagay said, Zeferjohn was responsible for recruiting, identifying targets, locating and trying to earn their trust for Longs sex business.

She had to be held accountable, Kagay said. She actively recruited and allowed minor children to be sexually abused, to be prostituted.

That sort of role is not uncommon, said Yazmin Vafa, co-founder and executive director of Rights4Girls, a human rights group that focuses on gender-based violence.

Vafa said Zeferjohn served as whats called a bottom girl, a term used to describe young women who ascend to a position of power and are at the top of the exploitation hierarchy, where they are often relied upon by the trafficker to assert order and authority among the other young women who are being victimized.

Kagay said the Shawnee County District Attorneys office was fair to Zeferjohn given that she victimized at least two other girls, minors who were not charged with crimes.

Prosecutors dropped nine of the 10 felonies and two misdemeanors she originally faced and Zeferjohn assisted in Longs prosecution. She ultimately pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated human trafficking. That helped reduce her sentence from a possible 15 years in prison to nearly six years, Kagay said.

Zeferjohn also was sentenced to prison time because one of the victims asked that she be incarcerated, Kagay said.

I have no doubt that between the two of them, Anthony Long is much more culpable and he also paid a much higher price, Kagay said.

If hes ever released from prison, Long must register as a sex offender for 25 years. As part of her sentence, Zeferjohn will spend a lifetime on the registry.

I think you started out as a victim in this case, District Judge David Debenham told Zeferjohn when he sentenced her in August 2017, just a few days after she turned 19.

You crossed the line, Debenham said, at some point in time.

You deserve what you get

Since 2000, federal and some state laws have specified that anyone under 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of sex trafficking. But advocates for sexually abused girls still face a cultural battle, Vafa said. Advocates rallying cry is: Theres no such thing as a child prostitute.

So many of the young girls that we deal with on a day-to-day basis are really seen as bad girls, or complicit in the exploitation theyre experiencing, Vafa said. Theres still a great amount of victim-blaming going on.

Thats the bias at play in Zeferjohns case and 12 other cases in Kansas, said Karen Countryman-Roswurm, director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking, which offers education, training and technical assistance to survivors. The girls were runaways from the Kansas Department for Children and Families or the juvenile justice system, wound up under the control of sex traffickers, then were charged as criminals when they were actually victims, she said.

In interviews with KCUR, three of those young women said their experiences were similar to Zeferjohns. At some point during their progression through the foster care and criminal systems, social workers and law enforcement officers turned on them, they said, speaking on the condition that they would not be identified.

Im still looked at as a perpetrator, said one, a 17-year-old girl who has been in and out of the juvenile justice system since she was 10. Im still looked at as my (criminal) charge. And its hard to put yourself in that victim setting when everybodys pushing you to Youre a perpetrator and you deserve what you get.

An analysis of the Kansas Public Offender Registry by APM Reports shows that convictions of girls in cases like Zeferjohns are extremely rare. A review of Shawnee County District Attorney data ranging from 2015 to March 2019 shows that Zeferjohn was the only person prosecuted and convicted for trafficking in that county.

But not all juvenile offenders appear on the sex offender registration website, because Kansas law allows a judge, in some instances, to keep a minors case from being made public. The Kansas Sentencing Commission says human trafficking charges, whether for men or women, whether minors or adults, are in the single digits and are often pleaded down to other crimes.

Countryman-Roswurm said girls like Zeferjohn struggle in the legal system because of stereotypes about victims of sex crimes. Rather than being beaten-down little girls who welcome rescue from law enforcement, she explained, the reality is that some girls grow up in tough environments and dont attach to anyone because of so much mistreatment. So these girls she prefers survivors take control of their situations and appear hardened. They have a streetness, she said, that makes them look to first-responders as if they are perpetrators.

In trafficking, part of that lifestyle as a whole, you dont just stay in the role of the misbranded perfect-worthy victim, Countryman-Roswurm said.

When those girls get processed through the criminal justice system, advocates said, prosecutors frequently offer plea bargains because they dont want to invest the time and expense of taking their cases to trial. Lawyers, family members or others convince survivors to plead guilty to lesser charges to avoid the risk of prison time if their cases do go to trial, Countryman-Roswurm said.

The greatest injustice in America is (being) poor, lower-class, she says. Youve been in custody and you take a plea.

Second shot at a pardon

In May 2015, then-Gov. Brownback, a Republican, was using his photo op with Hope Zeferjohns family to tout a 7% increase in reunification of families to a safe and loving home, as a DCF news release said.

KVC Kansas, the foster care contractor to DCF, also put out a news release with the Zeferjohns picture. The agency quoted one of its social workers saying reunification of the family promotes stability in the childs life and eases the burden on the state to care for them.

The request for a family for the event came from Brownbacks office, said Jenny Kutz, a spokeswoman for KVC Kansas, and KVC chose the Zeferjohn family.

We chose the family because they met the criteria of recently reunified and they were able to participate in the photo within the short notice given, she said.

But things quickly returned to the way they always had been at the Zeferjohn home, and within six months the children were back in foster care, Kelly said. Kutz would not comment, citing a federal privacy law.

Brownback resigned in 2018 to take a job in the Trump administration, serving as ambassador for religious freedom. He declined comment for this story. His successor, former Gov. Jeff Colyer, turned down Zeferjohns first request for clemency last year, Kansas Department of Corrections records show. Colyer also declined to comment.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said she is considering Zeferjohn's new request for a pardon.

The story of Hope Zeferjohn is a sad one, Kelly said in a statement to KCUR and The Topeka Capital-Journal. I will consider every clemency request I receive after a full process of developing facts and with input from those affected, but more importantly our state has a structural criminal justice problem that needs to be addressed."

Zeferjohn deserves a pardon because she was forced to do things that would otherwise be unimaginable to you and I, said her attorney, Vicki Smith. She was a child. She was a victim. This is just a matter of human justice.

Countryman-Roswurm, pro bono attorneys and other advocates are also trying to work within the legal system to resolve the legal problems for the 12 other women who have cases similar to Zeferjohns.

Efforts to change state laws are also underway at the Kansas Legislature. Last year, two bills were introduced that call for setting aside convictions and records in hopes of helping young survivors of the sex trade. The bills got stuck in committee, said Benet Magnuson of Kansas Appleseed, a nonprofit social justice group, but advocates hope to bring them up again this year.

Asked if the agency did enough to help girls like Hope, DCF Secretary Laura Howard said in a statement that continuous and improved efforts are needed to prevent and reduce human trafficking, recover runaway kids, connect families and keep children safe.

Clearly, there were significant breakdowns in the system under the prior administration, and we know more needs to be done to protect children like Hope, Howard said. The agency is currently ramping up its ability to learn and institute more effective strategies and partnerships needed to prevent and address human trafficking.

Kelly said she is ready to work with the Legislature to "revise our approach to incarceration so that we can be smarter about who we send to prison and for how long."

"My administration is determined to do more to change the focus from punitive to rehabilitative programs as a way to ease the pressure on our prisons," she said.

The earliest Zeferjohn could get out of prison is Aug. 26, 2021, when she will be 23. Shes lost custody of her son, Tye, who was adopted.

She says she feels the need to apologize for what Long did to all the families affected, including hers. She hopes speaking up and showing strength will help other victims in similar situations.

When she gets out of prison, Zeferjohn said, she wants to try to get her son back and she wants to open her own restaurant, a bakery, that she would dedicate to her mom and dad.

I really would like to see people have hope in doing something with their life and getting their life back in order, she said. When I got locked up, after that adjustment, I just started getting my life back together. It feels great that I can say that.

TOMORROW: In Day 2 of our series, we report on the growing number of runaways from the Kansas foster care system and what is being done to help these children.

This story is part of a partnership between KCUR and The Topeka Capital-Journal, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in collaboration with APM Reports, the investigative reporting unit of American Public Media.

Peggy Lowe is a reporter at KCUR. Shes on Twitter @peggyllowe.

Sherman Smith is a reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. Hes on Twitter at @sherman_news.

Geoff Hing of APM Reports contributed to this story. He's on Twitter at @geoffhing.

Read the rest here:
Kansas Made This Sex Trafficking Survivor A Criminal She Wants Another Chance - KCUR

What Causes Itching? – Scientific Reasons Behind Why We Itch –

October 8th, 2019 by admin

Whether youre dealing with dry skin, a mosquito bite, or a full-blown allergic reaction, youve likely experienced your fair share of itchiness. But if youve ever wondered exactly what causes an itch (which is called pruritus to dermatologists), it can be a really complicated thing, admits Alix J. Charles, MD, a dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

While were all intimately familiar with what an itch feels like, the sensation is one of the least understood and researched in the dermatology world, per a recent article in Dermatologic Therapy.

Sometimes, discovering what causes itching is easy and obvious (the poison ivy you accidentally touched while gardening). Other times, its difficult to figure out whats causing that must-scratch-now sensation, says Dr. Charles.

Here, we break down why we itch, common causes behind itching, the reason scratching feels so satisfying, and what to do if your itch just wont go away, with expert insight from dermatologists.

Put simply, you itch because your skin has receptors called pruriceptors (itch-sensing nerve endings) which get stimulated and, in turn, cause that itchy feeling, explains Melanie Grossman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. As part of the immune response, your body releases substances called histamines, triggering the itch.

Theres a deep-rooted evolutionary advantage to the itch: Its your bodys way of letting you know ASAP that something (an allergen, a parasite like bed bugs or ticks, or a would-be intruder) is irritating your skin, the protective barrier between you and the outside world. Here are a few more common culprits:

Sometimes, chemicals inside your body can cause itchy skin, says Dr. Grossman. For example, medications like opioids come with the common side effect of itchy skin (possibly because of shared pain-itch neurons), and illnesses like kidney and liver disease can cause itchiness due to a build-up of toxins.

This comes from the release of the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which can accompany anxiety, depression, and stress. If youre going through a period of stress like a death in the family or divorce, we will sometimes see people itching for that reason, explains Dr. Charles. Heat can make you itchy, too.

This rare cause of itching occurs when theres really nothing wrong with the skin at all, but the brain itself perceives itching somewhere, explains Dr. Charles. It happens when theres been damage to your nervous system (think: shingles, stroke, or even a burn injury).

Dry skin in need of some quality moisturizing can make you itch, says Dr. Charles. Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can also cause your skin to itch.

Essentially, scratching an itch feels good because it distracts you from the initial irritation with a new feeling. When you scratch an itch, youre actually creating a different sensation, which, depending on how hard you scratch it, could be severe or minimal pain, Dr. Grossman says. For a short period of time, this can also provide relief.

Of course, sometimes when you scratch an itch, you only exacerbate the need to itch due to the inflammation from scratching and the potential of creating new wounds on your skin. With more inflammation comes more itching.

The best treatment for itching is getting rid of the cause, says Dr. Grossman. After all: Its better to know what causes an itchwhether its your laundry detergent or dry skinthan simply scratching at its surface. Here, a few go-to home remedies and over-the-counter solutions for some of the most common itch triggers from the pros:

For dry skin: Avoid over-soaping itch-prone areas like your legs and lather up with a gentle moisturizing lotion, like this one from CeraVe.

For bug bites and other localized itching: Get rid of the source (as in, treat your dog for fleas or ditch your new detergent) and then try OTC solutions like 1 percent hydrocortisone anti-itch cream or calamine lotion for spot treatment.

For hives and allergy-induced itching: Take an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl. If that doesnt work, head for the dermatologist, says Dr. Charles.

For stress-induced itching: If you think your mental health could be at the root of your relentless itch, head to your doc for a proper ID. Along with stress management, medications for anxiety and depression could help relieve your itching.

For the mystery itch: If youve tried to address whats causing your itch (or you just cant figure it out), dont tackle your itch alone. Call your doctor or dermatologist for help, says Dr. Charles.

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Aveeno Max Strength 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream

Benadryl Ultratabs Antihistamine Allergy Relief

Stay updated on the latest science-backed health, fitness, and nutrition news by signing up for the newsletter here. For added fun, follow us on Instagram.

Excerpt from:
What Causes Itching? - Scientific Reasons Behind Why We Itch -

Big Country Chateau Renters protest for the gas to be turned back on and better living conditions – KLRT –

October 5th, 2019 by admin

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-People at the Big Country Chateau Apartments in Little Rock are living another night without gas at the entire complex.

Some people say they havent had a hot shower or a hot meal since September 16.

They held a protest on Thursday with workers from Arkansas Renters Untied demanding change.

This is the third time Fox 16s ReChelle Turner has been at the complex talking to people.

They say theyre not paying rent until theyre compensated for the weeks that they had no gas service.

Im calling you to leave this message because fight, fight, fight housing is a human right, people said.

Frustration continues to grow for renters at Big Country Chateau apartments.

Fight fight fight we want our deposit back, people yelled.

Im tired of taking cold showers come on out the door, one man said.

People stood outside the complex on Thursday protesting for change.

We just want a listening ear somebody sympathetic to listen to what we are going through, Nichole Cameron said.

Renters United said Arkansas sits at the bottom of the list when it comes to basic health and safety standards for renters and property owners.

And thats a damn shame, Neil Sealy said.

Tenants like Michael Ford are calling on lawmakers

Definitely need to push for more stricter laws, Ford said.

People even marched to the front office. The door was locked and the blinds were closed.

We deserve a response, people said.

Why is there no answer and you guys are in the middle of a crisis, one woman yelled.

If we are paying rent every month and the utilities are already paid then it needs to be paid and taken care off, Ford said.

Renters say the fight continues for gas at the complex and better living conditions.

We will be heard we will be heard, people said.

No matter how long it takes.

If it dont stop here we will take it to city hall and go down there and protest, Ford said.

People say theyre also dealing with mold, bed bugs and leaky pipes.

The Planning and Development Department with the City of Little Rock says that the property owners have to bring the gas lines up to code and pass inspection before the gas is turned back on.

The property was recently acquired by a company based in Brooklyn, New York. The management company, Integra Affordable Management, is based in Chicago.

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Big Country Chateau Renters protest for the gas to be turned back on and better living conditions - KLRT -

What to do if your NYC apartment is infested with bedbugs –

October 1st, 2019 by admin

It's one of those very stereotypically "New York" health concerns that comes with living in the city bedbugs. Earlier this year, pest control company Terminix released its annual report on the cities with the highest rates of bedbug infestations in the United States. Philadelphia came in at number 1, followed by New York City, according to AM New York.

What exactly are they? Bedbugs are small brown insects that are barely perceptible to the human eye about the size of a tiny apple seed. They subsist on the blood of humans and animals, with their bodies swelling to a reddish tinge after they've been fed, according to WebMD. While they are not thought to transmit diseases, these creatures, which are generally found in major urban centers like New York, leave behind red and itchy welts after they've been feasting.

If left unattended to, these infestations can spread

While the thought of these small insects living on comforters, mattresses and pieces of furniture like cloth-covered sofas doesn't necessarily sound like that pressing a health concern, if left unattended to, these infestations can spread. The bugs can hitch a ride to other rooms of your apartment by way of clothing or the linen you bring from one room to the other, proliferating throughout your home. While the bites they leave behind heal, some can stay for weeks on end, and your constant scratching at the bites could lead to infection.

Beyond all of this, the presence of bedbugs can have a serious negative psychological effect on a person, causing intense anxiety and stress that didn't exist before the infestation.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports that, despite misconceptions, these creatures do not solely thrive in dirty homes unsanitary conditions do not create them and they can be found in the dwellings of rich and poor alike. They are incredibly resilient, able to live for months at a time without feeding. If the idea makes your skin crawl, exactly how do you combat these small home invaders?

Hire a licensed pest control company

The department of health says you should hire a licensed pest control company that will inspect your living space and properly apply the right pesticides to get rid of the insects. They suggest you check out this site to ensure the company is properly credentialed. After the company inspects the home and distributes the pesticides, they will generally provide you with a written report on where the infestation was and how to prevent future ones from happening.

One key point to think about with bedbugs is to ensure you avoid an infestation to begin with. Here are some official tips from the city:

Richard Abrazi is a healthcare executive dedicated to sharing resources regarding the importance of preventive care in everyone's life. Check out his blog, visit him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @richabrazi.

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What to do if your NYC apartment is infested with bedbugs -

Inside Apple’s redesigned ‘cube’ store in New York City – Engadget

September 21st, 2019 by admin

On the outside, the tall, luminous glass of the cube is now complemented by a newly designed public plaza (pictured above) where people can enjoy views of sites like Central Park and The Plaza Hotel -- all while enjoying free WiFi from Apple. And although the glass cube at Apple Fifth Avenue was covered in rainbow colors recently, I'm sorry to tell you that was only temporary.

Apple says the store's re-opening means it will "resume its place at the heart of one of the world's most vibrant creative communities," in a space that's had more than 57 million visitors since it first opened. The company didn't say how many visitors it's expecting for the rest of the year, but considering the cube is one of NYC's most photographed locations, it's safe to say you'll never see the store as empty as in these pictures. (Except maybe the one day a year it's closed.)

As for the bed bugs that caused Apple to close the store for 24 hours earlier this year, well, an Apple representative told Engadget the issue "hasn't come up in a while." So, if you happen to be in New York City and want to check out the new cube, that probably means you can do so with peace of mind. Apple Fifth Avenue is opening tomorrow at 8AM ET, when over 900 employees will be waiting to cheer on customers who are picking up their shiny new iPhone.

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Inside Apple's redesigned 'cube' store in New York City - Engadget

Apartment-Seekers Asked to Front Extra Cash Despite Rent Law – THE CITY

September 20th, 2019 by admin

Rowhouses in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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New Yorks new rent law, signed in June, bars landlords from collecting more than one months security deposit from prospective tenants.

But that hasnt stopped brokers and property owners from demanding larger sums from apartment-hunters a good faith deposit that can cost applicants dearly if they have second thoughts.

Thats what THE CITY heard from some of the scores of readers who responded to a survey asking about experiences theyve had while looking to lease a New York City apartment under the new rent law including getting charged application fees above a new $20 limit.

One respondent, who recently moved into an apartment in Park Slope and declined to be named for fear that she would end up on a tenant blacklist, said she was asked by the broker to submit a good faith deposit with her application.

The deposit totalled $2,500, equivalent to one months rent, she said in an interview. But the request came with a caveat if she was offered the apartment but declined to sign the lease, she would lose her money.

Prior to submitting the deposit, she asked to see the recent bedbug infestation history on the building which landlords are required to provide new tenants under law along with information about lead paint. She said the broker rebuffed her.

They said no, that I would get that at the lease-signing, she told THE CITY. Obviously, that is like a high-stakes situation. If there was some sort of history disclosed recently and you wanted to walk away because you werent comfortable with it, that would mean you would be walking away from the apartment and losing the good faith deposit.

She took a deep breath and signed the lease on the two-bedroom unit anyway. The $2,500 good faith deposit was then subtracted from the brokers fee, which was negotiated down from 15% to 12% of the annual rent.

Good faith deposits arent a new concept: Prospective renters or buyers put money down on an application to show the landlord or seller that theyre serious about their intentions or to make their application more favorable.

But a transaction that was once a deal sweetener has become virtually obligatory in recent months, say tenants, with brokers and landlords frequently pressuring prospective renters to submit deposits.

Another respondent, who did not want to be named for fear of being sued or evicted by her landlord, shared a similar story.

The broker working on the Bushwick apartment the woman sought required that she submit a $2,150 good faith deposit with her application in August. The non-refundable payment amounted to one months rent and would transition to a brokers fee regardless of whether or not we decided to sign the lease, she told THE CITY.

If our application was accepted even if we didnt end up signing the lease or even if we backed out after we would still lose the broker fee and good faith deposit. That was really strange to me, she said.

The broker informed her the company would stop showing the unit in Bushwick once a good faith deposit was submitted. But she said she witnessed the brokerage firm accept another application for the same unit.

Less than a month into her lease, the woman said, the landlord is threatening legal action against her for filing a 311 complaint over bedbugs.

Samuel Himmelstein, a housing lawyer at Manhattan-based Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue and Joseph, said that good faith deposits are not allowed under his reading of the new Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act.

But, he noted, such a prohibition could be a very hard thing to enforce.

The recently enacted law states that no landlord, lessor, sublessor or grantor may demand payment, fee or charge for the processing, review or acceptance of an application or demand any other payment, fee or charge before or at the beginning of the tenancy, except for background checks and credit checks.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who has been pushing for stronger tenant protections for years, said good faith deposits are strictly illegal.

Its an attempt to circumvent the law, and anyone who has been told to pay a good faith deposit should report the company to the Department of State and to me, or their elected official, Rosenthal said.

If brokers collect a deposit to reserve a place in line and keep the money even after a tenant changes their mind before the landlord agrees to rent the apartment to them, then the deposit collected would be considered unearned and/or to have not been a legitimate charge for a service rendered, and therefore would be prohibited under state law, Department of State spokesperson Mercedes Padilla said in an email.

She said tenants who have had brokers retain deposits in situations should file a complaint with the department, which oversees the real estate profession.

As THE CITY previously reported, the sweeping housing measures state lawmakers passed in June also contained a $20 cap on application fees, including background or credit checks. Brokers charged many tenants larger sums, some into the hundreds of dollars, and asserted that the new restriction did not apply to them.

Last week, the Department of State declared that brokers, who had claimed the law implicitly exempted them from the $20 fee limit, also have to abide by the limit for rental apartments. Applicants seeking to buy or rent co-ops or condos, however, may be charged more.

We appreciate the Department of State providing further guidance on the manner in which the new rent regulations affect real estate licensees in New York State. said Carl Hum, the general counsel at the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade group that represents property owners and brokers.

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Apartment-Seekers Asked to Front Extra Cash Despite Rent Law - THE CITY

Pest Control NJ, Pest Control NYC, Bed Bug Exterminator NYC E

March 14th, 2019 by admin

When you call Titan Pest Control for exterminating, you are getting a full-service pest control company that is fully qualified to take care of creatures in New Jersey and the greater NYC area. Our reputation is solid and built upon a foundation of trust, reliability, and focused customer service. The entire army of Titan professionals have the knowledge and skills they need to eliminate your home of pests.

We abide by the highest standards in the industry, seamlessly combining expert exterminator techniques with stellar customer service. Our exterminating services go beyond ridding your New Jersey home of unwanted pests. We explore the problem and get right to the source.

Titan Pest Control takes training very seriously and goes to great lengths to make sure that each of our exterminating warriors has the right skills. We are up-to-date on the latest methods and techniques in pest exterminating so that we are able to provide New Jersey homeowners with the most advanced bug and critter control solutions. This puts us in a position to take on even the most tenacious of insect infestations.

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Do Bed Bugs Smell? | Arrow Exterminating

March 11th, 2019 by admin

arrowadmin | Posted on February 17, 2017

The scent gland of bed bugs produces a musty odor that is often described as smelling like coriander. The smell is not pleasant. If you have an infestation of bed bugs you may begin to notice your home smells like moldy shoes or wet moldy clothes.

If you are at a point where you notice a Bed Bug Smell, then it could be a good possibility that you may have a problem.

While many folks describe the smell of a bed bug infestation as smelling like spoiled raspberries, some may also describe it as similar to coriander. Although not all people smell the bed bugs similarly, coriander or cilantro seems to be a common description. You will sometimes also hear folks describe the Bed Bug Smell as similar to almonds or somewhat acidic marzipan (almonds). However, not everyone describes a smell when encountering bed bug infestations. It isnt always the same experience for everyone.

When those people that describe the smell of bed bugs as similar to coriander, they are in good company. Coriander is an herb and belongs to the carrot family. The Greek word for bug is at the root of the word koris. When the seeds of coriander are ripe, they emit a musty, sweetish aroma that has been compared to that of bedbugs. Its almost as though coriander smells like bed bugs versus bed bugs smell like coriander.

It is commonly thought that the smell originates from the droppings of the bug. Typically when there are larger populations it is more likely that bed bugs odors are often detected. It may be months of an infestation before a scent is detected. Sometimes after a very heavy infestation that has been around long term, a minty smell is detected also. Crushed bed bugs tend to give off a strong smell. Although it is not likely that a few bed bugs living in an area will be smelled, it is pretty common that a large infestation may be noticed by the smell it emanates. The musky smell is also based on pheromones produced by the bed bug. Bed Bug Detection Dogsare trained to sniff out and find bed bugs based on smell. Dogs have the ability to smell bud bugs and infestations that humans never could expect to detect. Dogs have been able to boast a 97% detection rate for bed bugs while humans visually inspecting have a much smaller success rate.

Dogs have been a very positive tool in the battle of the bed bug. Typically a dog can find a bed bug infestation within just a few minutes of searching. Because dogs are so successful in finding bed bugs, they have been used extensively in the last decade or so. As infestations increase in number and frequency, dogs who are experts at finding the Bed Bug Smell are being trained at a much higher rate than in years past. The majority of dog training facilities are based in Florida but more and more businesses are training dogs to employ in the bed bug industry. Mans best friend, may truly be the bed bugs worst enemy.

Mike Deutsch MS, BCE

Urban Entomologist

Arrow Exterminating Company, Inc.

Lynbrook, NY 11563

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Do Bed Bugs Smell? | Arrow Exterminating

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