While You Were Sleeping—October 2015 | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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While You Were Sleeping—October 2015 

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An annual tradition for West Point freshman took a violent turn on August 20 when 30 cadets suffered injuries of varying severity, including but not limited to a broken nose, a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder, and 24 concussions. Upperclassmen arrange the melee as a release from the intense summer training regimen. While they require the "plebes" (West Point freshmen) to wear helmets, online videos and images show many cadets without any kind of head protection. "West Point applauds the cadets' desire to build esprit and regrets the injuries," West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker told the New York Times. Thus far, no cadets have been punished.

Sources: Associated Press, New York Times

Danes have reduced their food waste by 25 percent over the last five years, according to a recent report from the Danish government. While Americans throw out an estimated 273 pounds per person every year, Danes only toss an average of 104 pounds. The recent development is attributed to a number of factors, including the Danish organization Stop Wasting Food, the country's largest nonprofit consumer movement against food waste. In addition, a spokeswoman with Dansk Supermarket, Denmark's largest retailer, says that the chain has sold food near expiration at reduced prices for decades. In Denmark, individual consumers are responsible for 36 percent of food waste, much more than the other contributors: retailers (23 percent), food processors (19 percent), and primary producers (14 percent).

Source: NPR

Gun laws have received increased media attention over the past few years following an alarming number of mass shootings and spikes in gun violence. However, a lot of discussion fails to include two-thirds of gun deaths: suicide. A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that legislation that requires background checks for those purchasing firearms may prevent gun suicides. "Contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide," study author and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Daniel Webster stated in a press release.

Source: Slate

Amazon surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States in July at the cost of a psychologically supportive workplace. The conditions Amazon employees work under are stressful at best—tearing apart of workers' ideas, e-mails expecting prompt response well past midnight, and "unreasonably high" expectations have been reported by past and present employees in an article published by the New York Times. Amazon encourages sabotaging fellow employees, sending confidential feedback to their higher-ups, and an annual reaping of workers who don't come up with innovative leaps and bounds guarantees a constant push to the top of the economy. Workers who suffered from personal crises said they'd been evaluated unfairly. The system of competition and elimination is attributed to the lack of gender diversity—the top leadership team is entirely male. The retail giant accrued a market valuation of $250 billion at the cost of its employees' sanity.

Source: New York Times

According to a study published in Nature last month, it's possible to transmit Alzheimer's disease through direct exposure to brain tissue. Eight children were given human growth hormone injections more than 30 years ago, extracted from human pituitary glands, a practice discontinued in the `80s. Autopsies found that four of the eight patients had a significant number of Alzheimer amyloid protein in their brains, concluding that the growth hormone had been tainted with a protein that causes amyloid to quickly accumulate—the patients had shown rapidly progressed stages of the Alzheimer protein for their ages. This could mean that contaminated surgical instruments could spread Alzheimer's between patients, though safety regulations ensure it's a remote possibility.

Source: NPR

Samuel "J-Rock" Harrell, 30, was an inmate at Fishkill Correctional Facility when he died of cardiac arrhythmia following a physical altercation with corrections officers. A rogue crew of Dutchess County prison guards known as the "Beat Up Squad" reportedly punched, kicked, and threw Harrell down a staircase before he died, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the victim's family last month. Harrell suffered from bipolar disorder, and had a history of erratic behavior. He was serving an eight-year sentence for one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance after being convicted in 2014. When he died on April 21, he was acting delusional, telling people he was going home and packing his bags before a dozen white correctional officers beat him unconscious. An inmate reported that Harrell, who was black, was "bent in an impossible position," while a second inmate claimed a guard grabbed him and told him, "You better forget what you saw here if you want to make it home."

Source: Daily Freeman

A thunderstorm in Clermont, Kentucky, gave residents a terrifying look at the combination of severe weather and unlikely combustion. A Jim Beam factory was struck by lightning, which caused 800,000 liters of flaming whisky to flow into a retention pond, killing many fish. The whisky caught fire and was kicked up by forceful winds into a "firenado," or a tornado of fire—a weather-related phenomena caused by severe winds and ignited liquid floating on a body of water. The whirlwind inferno was caught on camera by The Weather Channel and has since gone viral.

Sources: USA Today, I Fucking Love Science

European scientists at the University of Edinburgh discovered a protein that causes ice cream to melt significantly slower. The protein BslA is produced by the Bacillus subtilis bacterium, which is naturally present in foods like fermented soybeans and attached to the roots of certain plants. Cait MacPhee, who has been experimenting with the protein while making ice cream in her lab, explains that the bacteria has a special "extremely cool" quality. "Anything trying to attack the bacteria couldn't get through because it's protected by this surface, water-repellant mechanism." The extracted protein floats to the surface to create a waterproof seal, keeping the ice cream contained in its original shape.

Source: NPR

Compiled by Kelly Seiz

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