The Polar Ice Caps are Melting and You Should Care

Whether or not you’re convinced climate change is a real thing, the fact remains that the polar ice caps are melting, shrinking, cracking to bits, and otherwise degrading into nothingness. This is major, but no one seems to care!

The global effect of melting polar ice caps is a serious cause for concern. The ice caps do a lot to maintain the globe’s climate. This is not a disputable comment; it is a fact. The ice caps reflect a significant amount of sunlight away from the ocean underneath. This helps maintain ocean temperatures. No polar ice caps means all that sunlight instead penetrates the oceans and increases their temperature, slowly over a long time.

This is in theory problematic because all that warm water can lead to more severe storms, which have been an ever-growing danger to coastal areas.

Regardless of how you feel about global warming or climate change, these photos from NASA show the evident reduction in the area of the planet’s northern polar caps.

ice caps melting

Won’t someone think of the polar bears?

BP Claim Appeals

Four years after the April 2010 BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, issues of claims settlement are still not over, as so many legitimate claimants, and applicants who say that their claims are legitimate, are still yet to be paid.

In 2012 British Petroleum (BP) made a commitment in helping restore the environmental condition through clean up plus financially assist those who have suffered economic losses, due to the spill, through payment of full and fair compensation.

In view of the settlement process, the court appointed a settlement claims office which would gather all claims and have each paid. The only big problem is, the office approved and paid many claims for financial losses not traceable to the oil spill tragedy (and hundreds of claims of the same cases are still to be paid) – an act that BP is making a protest against.

Where payment is the issue, BP has shown its intent to settle everything fairly, but with the condition that losses will have to be traced to the oil spill. The system of payments used by the claims office, however, has had many lawyers, individuals and businesses feasting on the fact that they have a chance to get financial bonuses for something that none of them are legally entitled to – and all at the expense of BP.

Despite the decision of the New Orleans’ Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to support a previous U.S. District ruling which allowed payment of claimants and which removed all injunctions that would prevent such payments, the US Chamber of Commerce made a bold announcement that those who receive payment from BP for losses not traceable to the oil spill are committing a great act on injustice. Despite the ire of its members over the logical and fair stand of the U.S. Chamber, the former seems to be committed to pursue its position.

The amount that BP has already shelled out has reached billions of dollars, the biggest amount, so far, released by any oil firm involved in an oil spill. Many legitimate claimants are angry due to the long wait for payment to be made (and they have a valid reason to be angry), but with proof that losses are really connected to the spill that BP in now re-requiring, who can blame the oil company? The only probable real issue is: legitimate payment for legitimate claims. And if a claimant has the necessary proofs, then surely, he/she will be paid.

On its BPClaimAppeal.com website, Williams Kherkher states that having a good and experienced lawyer can help expedite the processing of application for claims of legitimate claimants. He also states that if the settlement amount is immediately necessary, then claimants need not wait for so long; having a good lawyer can be the only factor missing in the legal negotiations.

Qualifications for the Social Security Disability Benefits


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWrm9lZTvNs

The introduction of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program in 1956was a momentous day for certain private employees in the US as this was intended to provide for them the financial benefits highly needed in the event of non-related work injuries (for job-related injuries and illnesses, workers can avail of the financial benefits offered through the Workers’ Compensation Insurance program).

Permanent disability, which is specifically covered by the Social Security Disability Insurance, refers to a condition that is serious enough that it can render a person incapable of performing his/her former work, or any kind of work, and can last for a year or more, or even result to the person’s death.

To be considered a qualified applicant for the Social Security disability benefits, an employee should have earned the necessary number of credits required by the SS Administration. These credits (a maximum of four are earned annually), are earned through payment of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) or SS taxes during one’s employment; these taxes are automatically deducted from the employee’s monthly paycheck.

The application for SSDI is a complicated process to many, however. This is why, despite being qualified to receive the benefit, many applicants are denied, often due to technical issues, such as lacking vital information, a missed signature, submission of documents beyond the required period, and so forth.

Even if an application has been denied (or if the amount of benefits approved is way below what has been expected by the disabled employee), SSA gives the applicant a 60-day period, wherein he/she could appeal the arrived at decision.

Some applicants decide to go through the whole application process on their own, not realizing how complex the whole process really is, besides all the documents that need to be prepared. Many, however, make the wise decision of acquiring the services of a qualified attorney to help them have their applications approved, as well as get the amount they legally deserve.

Factors that Make Trucks Greater Threats on the Road

One of the worst mistakes committed by a number of drivers of smaller motor vehicles, when sharing the road with an 18-wheeler truck, is tailgate or drive too closely behind the huge vehicle. First, in the event that the truck makes an emergency brake, the tailgating  driver can end up in a fatal accident; second, by tailgating, the other vehicle puts itself in a “no zone” area or at the truck driver’s blind side – this could, likewise, result in a fatal road accident.

The huge size of a truck alone is enough to make it a threat on the road. It usually weighs about 40 tons and extends up to 70 feet long; thus, when breaking, a truck needs extra road length before it can make a full stop.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), one of the most dangerous causes of truck accidents is defective truck parts. These include poorly manufactured or very low quality brake parts and truck tires that will never pass the standards set by the FMCSA. Despite this, these parts are still able to find their way in stores.

The FMCSA, though, also holds trucking companies responsible in making sure that regular maintenance and repair on trucks are made and that all parts are in good condition before making a long delivery drive. Besides checking the parts, trucking firms should also observe safe loading of cargo and equal distribution of weight of cargo. Over-loading can cause the brakes to fail, while unequally distributed weight can cause the cargo to fall off to one side; either of which is a grave threat to the safety of other vehicles, especially smaller ones.

Trucking firm owners and/or manufacturers of truck parts can be held accountable in the event of a truck accident. Other than damage to property, personal injury (that is, injury resulting from the negligent, careless or reckless act of the manufacturer, who produces poor quality truck parts, or of the trucking firm owner, who fails to replace defective parts) or the untimely death of an accident victim will have to be faced legally by the liable party.

The information given in an article posted in the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, a firm based in Madison, states that the compensation truck accident victims are legally entitled to receive from the individual or party at fault should cover lost income, cost of medical treatment and all other present and future costs associated with the injury.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services Stipulations on Immigrating Foreign-born Family Members

For so many individuals, being reunited with their families in the US is a very important matter. Even being able to get in touch with them every day through the use of the latest in communication technology is not enough to totally eliminate the worry regarding their actual condition. Well, the very good news is, the U.S. immigration law can be requested to allow the foreign-born members of a person’s family to come to the US . . . but under certain conditions. The person will either have to be a citizen of the United States or a green card holder, that is, a permanent resident of the US.

The whole process required in having one’s family immigrate to the US, which starts with having to prove familial relationship, can take years, though. The number of years is also actually affected by the sponsor specific relationship with the members of his/her family. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that:

A -  For US citizens and their immediate family/relatives [By immediate relatives, this means spouse, parents and children below 21 years old (minors) who are unmarried.]:

  • A.1 - Citizens of the United States at least 18 years old can sponsor their parents, who are their immediate relatives.
  • A.2 - Citizens of the United States aged 21 years old or older can sponsor their spouse and minor, unmarried children. Due to the closeness of family ties, the processing of visa for immediate relatives is much quicker than for members of the Family Preference categories.
  • A.3 – First Preference relatives or First Family preference of U.S. citizens is for their adult children (above 21 years old) who are unmarried. The visa processing usually takes six to seven years.
  • A.4 - Third Preference relatives or Third Family Preference of U.S. citizens is for their brothers and sisters. The waiting period for the visa to be processed can take nine to ten years.
  • A.5 – Fourth Preference relatives or Fourth Family Preference of U.S. citizens is for their married children. The waiting period is usually more than 12 years.

B – Second Preference relatives or Second Family reference, is for U. S. permanent residents or green card holders. This has two divisions: 2a and 2b.

  • 2A Category - This is for the green card holder’s spouse and minor, unmarried children. Visa processing may take four to five years.
  • 2B Category – This is for the green card holder’s unmarried children (any age). The waiting period for the visa to be processed is usually seven to eight years.

The Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, a firm based in Austin, says on its website that the US immigration laws have a humanitarian nature, allowing families to be reunited through the granting of green cards. However, the firm also knows that an application for a green card, despite family ties, can never really be given approval certainties. Seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer, though, may make a difference, as he/she can help make sure that all necessary legal requirements imposed by the USCIS are correctly in place. He/She also has the legal capability to defend the sponsor’s (and his/her family’s) interests and rights to merit the approval that he/she so desires.

Why Concealment of Criminal Records Matters

A criminal record is one factor that can alter the course of lives of people. It can deter them from active participation in civic activities, cause them to lose their job or be denied employment, make finding an apartment to rent difficult, limit their international travel opportunities, negatively affect the outcome of a divorce and child custody case, and so forth. This is because in almost any professional (and sometimes, even personal) undertaking the question of a possible criminal record is always asked.

Officials in both state and federal governments know how difficult it is for those who have been arrested (regardless of the type and severity of the crime committed) to reintegrate in the society; some even suffer ostracism, especially those who have spent a long time behind bars.

To enable those who have been arrested or convicted in the past to legally say, “No,” to any inquiry pertaining to criminal records, the ability to seek an expungement was passed into law. Though expungement laws vary from state to state, its purpose is common: to hide past arrests or convictions from the public.

The concealment or expungement of a criminal record (for non-violent offenses) was part of the proposed amendment of the federal criminal code made in 2011. The proposal, called the Second Chance Act, was intended to help bring back to those with past records all the wonderful opportunities in life. This also means that they can legally deny ever having been arrested or convicted of anything.

The expungement law, however, is not recognized by all 50 states and in those that recognize it, the stipulations are state dependent. Thus, there are states that: allow many types of crimes to be concealed; allow concealment of any criminal record; allow only arrest records to be concealed; or, allow only the concealment of a conviction (severity of the crime, though, will still greatly determine the possibility or non-possibility of expungement).

Having a past criminal record expunged requires paper work, knowledge and understanding of the state’s specific guidelines, court procedures, and, sometimes, a waiting period (for some types of crimes). Being represented by a strong and well-informed lawyer, whose experience in expungement procedures is extensive, can truly bring in lots of benefits, especially since the matter of concern is the rebuilding of a person’s present and future life.

Transvaginal Mesh and Low T Side Effects

Since the 1950s, women suffering from a condition called abdominal hernia were treated through the use of surgical mesh (also called screen or patch), a very thin, yet extremely strong and sturdy synthetic plastic-like woven material. The mesh, which is used to keep an organ from pushing through the tissue or muscle that keeps it in place, is flexible and soft to enable it to adjust to the body’s size and movement easily.

In 2002, a product called surgical or transvaginal mesh (TVM) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat Pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a condition wherein a pelvic organ, such as the bladder, vagina, uterus, cervix or rectum, falls out of place and pushes against the vaginal wall.POP is common in women, especially after childbearing. It could also be due to aging, repetitive intense physical activities, menopause, increased pressure in the abdomen or, in a few cases, heredity.

The very close similarity between the transvaginal mesh of 2002 and the surgical mesh that has been used since the 1950s made the former the “substantial equivalent” of the latter.  In the US, “substantially equivalent” products can resort to using the 510(k) process of the FDA. This means that since the imitated product has already been tested and made available on the market, the new product can, therefore, be exempt from the required safety tests and be made readily available for use – a great risk that was manifested in the use of TVM not long after its introduction.

Between 2005 and 2010 close to 4,000 reports of malfunction, various injuries and deaths, involving the use of TVM were sent to the FDA. The more common vaginal mesh defects included recurrent prolapse, urinary problems, mesh erosion, infection, vaginal shrinking, vaginal scarring, organ perforation, bleeding, pain, and so forth. These injuries resulted to hospitalization, surgical treatment or, sometimes, death of the patient. But the adverse effects of TVM comprise only a small percentage of the total number defective medical products and devices. So many other types of medication have proven to be more dangerous to patients, causing more harm rather than the one cure that patients seek.

One further example of a harmful drug is the testosterone supplement, which was intended to increase testosterone production. Testosterone is actually a male hormone that enhances the growth of male hair, sex drive and other sexual functions. Testosterone supplement was supposed to be an effective solution for males suffering from Hypogonadism, also called low testosterone or low T. It was, however, linked to dangerous side-effects, such as heart attack, stroke or worse, death.

Low T supplement side effects and injuries caused by the use of TVM products definitely only make the lives of patients more miserable. Doctors should observe the greatest precaution when recommending these to their patients; they should also face accountability if ever these products prove to be more harmful than curative of patients’ illness.