The Edge at Union Station settles tenants’ class action lawsuit for $550,000

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The Edge Apartment Building and Union Station in Worcester Christine Peterson

Telegram.com | by Brad Petrishen | September 18, 2019

WORCESTER – The Edge at Union Station, the upscale off-campus student housing complex behind Union Station, has agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it improperly handled security deposits and built illegal stipulations into leases.

Among the provisions the owners agreed to not enforce going forward was one that allowed them to fine tenants $100 for not answering the door for a law enforcement officer, as well as a clause stating the complex was not liable for property losses attributed to bedbugs.

“The Edge did a good job recognizing the issues and working with us to help resolve them,” Josh Gardner, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday.

About 535 people who lived in the building between June 2016 and June 2019 are expected to be eligible to file a claim, court documents show, and claims are due Oct. 25.

Mr. Gardner filed the lawsuit in Worcester Superior Court in October 2017 on behalf of Douglas Schaffer, a three-month tenant of the building at 8 Grafton St., who alleged his security deposit was returned late after he departed in June 2017.

The suit alleged that The Edge did not properly account for the security deposits it collected, did not always return them quickly enough and improperly charged a $50 application fee.

It also alleged The Edge billed tenants on estimates of their electricity usage rather than using dedicated meters, and violated sanitary code by not cleaning common bathroom areas.

Opened in June 2016 in the former Osgood Bradley building, The Edge was specifically built with students in mind. According to court records, it features one-, two- and four-bedroom suites, and tenants pay for bed space within a unit rather than for a whole suite.

Each tenant pays a pro-rated portion of the electricity, court papers show, while the multi-unit suites have bathrooms in each bedroom as well as a half-bathroom in the common area.

Noting that each bedroom had its own bathroom, it argued it also was not legally required to clean the common half-bathroom once every day.

In a joint motion filed Aug. 13 urging a judge to certify the class and preliminarily approve the settlement, lawyers on both sides agreed the bathroom and electricity claims faced “significant legal obstacles” for the plaintiffs and had “the least likelihood of success.”

The Edge did concede that it “did not properly handle the security deposits in some respects in the past.”

The lawsuit had alleged the complex broke a law governing security deposits by collecting application fees, failing to hold deposits in separate interest-bearing accounts, failing to providing notice to tenants of which bank accounts held their security deposits, failing to pay interest on the security deposits and failing to properly withhold or return the deposits within 30 days of the end of tenancy.

According to the joint Aug. 13 motion, The Edge has stopped charging application fees and has “placed security deposits into a compliant account.”

It also states The Edge has “agreed to amend (its) standard lease to take out the provisions plaintiff believes do not comport with Massachusetts law.”

Also removed was language allowing The Edge to charge up to two months of rent as security deposit, allowing it to terminate utilities “at any time,” and language pertaining to certain fees and procedures relative to lease enforcement.

As for the electricity bills, The Edge will determine those charges by dividing the number of bedrooms in each unit rather than dividing the number of tenants in each unit.

Mr. Gardner, of Gardner & Rosenberg in Boston, said it is “not often the case” in a class action lawsuit that the defendants recognize and work to solve issues, but that is what happened here.

“It’s a good settlement, and it’s a credit to them and their attorney that we were able to reach it,” he said.

The bulk of the settlement – $500,000 – will be covered by an insurer, court records show, while the remaining $50,000 will be paid by The Edge.

“The defendants themselves have significant financial constraints,” the joint motion reads. “For this reason, the remaining $50,000 will be paid by defendants, with a personal guarantee from two individuals.”

Mr. Shaffer and Mary Shaffer are listed in the settlement as the two people guaranteeing the extra $50,000.

Karen Friedman, the lawyer for The Edge, did not immediately return phone and email messages left Tuesday afternoon. A voicemail left at the office number for The Edge late Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The amount individual claimants receive from the settlement will depend on how many of the estimated 535 eligible tenants file a claim.

The $550,000 – minus about $182,000 in lawyers’ fees, and some other expenses – will be spread among the people who file claims by Oct. 25.

Mr. Gardner said he anticipated everyone who files a claim will get at least $500, and likely more than that.

Mr. Schaffer, who now lives in Ohio, will get $5,000 for being the lead plaintiff.

The settlement will not technically become official until after the claims are submitted and the judge gives a final approval. The agreement notes that The Edge is not admitting any wrongdoing by agreeing to settle.

Bedbugs found in student-issued iPads in Minnesota

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School districts said bedbugs have been found in five of the iPads.  (golibo/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New York Daily News | by David Matthews | September 17, 2019

These tablets have a few bugs. Literally.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, students in the St. Paul Public School District had the opportunity to be issued an iPad to improve their learning experience. This year’s iteration of the program has gotten off to a rocky start after students reported their devices being infested with bedbugs.

CBS 4 reports that the creeps have been found in district-issued iPads, necessitating a letter be sent to parents asking their help in keeping the devices clean. The district said that high school and middle school students can bring their iPads home, but did not clarify what year the students with the affected devices were enrolled.

The school system said that the bedbugs had only been found in five of the 17,000 iPads it had issued.

“There is no indication of the presence of any additional pests in any other iPads,” the district told CBS 4. “However, as the health and safety of our students are our highest priorities, we felt it was responsible and prudent to ask families to maintain the cleanliness of the devices.”

Research links chicken consumption to prostate cancer, others

The Guardian | by Femi Ibirogba | September 17, 2019

A new research outcome from the University of Oxford has linked the consumption of poultry, especially chicken, to an increased risk of prostate and blood cancer.

Thousands of cancer cases were associated with chicken intake in the study. Although several other studies had liked red meat consumption to increased risks of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer on the account of how blood from the meat is digested,
no study had linked chicken intake to cancer until now.

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Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the research found that “Poultry intake was positively associated with risk for malignant melanoma, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

Exactly 475,000 people living in Britain were tracked from 2006 to 2014, and their diets were analysed in comparison to their health conditions.

During the research time frame, 23,000 new cancer cases were recorded among the individuals. Hence, it was found that higher rates of chicken consumption corresponded with malignant skin, lymphoma and prostate cancer.

The researchers identified a number of factors that might contribute to this link, such as that chicken meat itself might contain a carcinogen, or cancer risk might be elevated depending on how the chicken is cooked.

However, health scientists pointed out that the positive link between intake of chickens and prostate cancer, lymphoma as well as melanoma requires additional research.

Meanwhile, Mr Olusola Olunowo, Managing Director of AgroPark, while explaining the possibility of the link, said: “There is bio-accumulation of chemicals in the human body from the food we consume. These chemicals originate from antibiotics and growth hormones that are used to raise the chickens.

“Also, the effect of pesticides sprayed on crops that chickens feed on is a major source of concern.”

As a way forward, he advocated the consumption of organic chickens, “as the use of herbs and spices are used as treatment and multivitamins for organic chickens and this totally eliminates the use of chemicals.”

He added that the herbs and spices used are also beneficial to humans’ health when the chicken is consumed.

Turmeric and basil are anti-cancer and anti-oxidant herbs respectively, and they are used in raising chickens as antibiotics, he added.

NC – Recent bed bug infestation marks growing trend in Asheville’s housing developments

Asheville Citizen Times | by Brian Gordon and Joel Burgess | Aug. 29, 2019

An apartment complex for the city’s low-income and disabled seniors is struggling with a bedbug infestation.

About 50 of the 248 units at the Asheville Terrace public housing development have been infested with bedbugs in recent weeks, according to the Asheville Housing Authority. This infestation represents a growing prevalence of bedbugs infestations across public housing in Asheville.

“Bedbugs have become something we deal with on a regular basis, all around our properties,” said David Nash, executive director at the Asheville Housing Authority. “It’s a trend.”

Asheville Terrace, off Tunnel Road, is designed specifically for tenants age 55 and older. Pest control costs at Asheville Terrace, which includes bedbug exterminations, have risen from nearly $14,000 in 2016 to over $30,000 last year. So far in 2019, the housing authority has dedicated $27,815 to pest control at the development.

“We have a full-time staff member dedicated to it,” Nash said. The housing authority contracts with Orkin Pest and Termite Control to handle bedbug situations.

While bedbugs are gently inserted into night-time nursery rhymes, infestations are serious matters.

The tiny, round insects sustain themselves on the blood of humans and animals. They seek out crevices that provide easy access to their food source, and their bites leave red marks on exposed skin. According to WebMD, female bedbugs can lay hundreds of eggs over a lifespan.

Nash said bedbugs are often carried into units on used furniture. Tenants with impacted apartments must exit the room as spray is applied. Infested clothes must be washed, and any furniture exposed to bedbugs must be thrown away. Tenants are not financially compensated for any furniture lost to bedbugs, including any chairs or beds with special features for disabled tenants.

The housing authority provides tenants tips on how to avoid bringing bedbugs into apartments after each infestation, but not before.

Several tenants at Asheville Terrace expressed concern about voicing their complaints over bedbugs or other facility issues, saying they feared eviction. Asheville Terrace is categorized as a project-based property, meaning the public voucher that subsidizes rent stays with the apartment if a tenant were to leave. To relocate to another public housing development, tenants would have to reapply and be put on a waiting list. The main waiting list for the housing authority has 1,518 applicants.

Nash said tenants are not evicted for voicing concerns. “Speaking with the press is not a lease violation,” Nash stated in an email. “They just need to be sure they pay their rent and comply with the other terms of their lease.”

South Carolina – Two dogs dead from pesticide poisoning, owner searching for answers

After playing around a popular Upstate creek on the Laurens County/Newberry County line, two yellow Labs fell ill and die.

Two dogs dead from pesticide poisoning, owner searching for answers

Two yellow Labrador retrievers died after being poisoned with pesticides.

“They went from healthy to dead in 30 minutes,” said Wishert.

Max died on the way to the vet, and Ellie had to be put down.

A Laurens County sheriff’s deputy went to the scene on the 14th, and noted in their report that the water was ‘stagnant and green.’

At first, Wishert wondered if blue-green algae was to blame, but the toxicology report shows carbamate and carbofuran — insecticides that can be deadly to pups and people. “There’s someone here every day,” said Wishert “The children come down here and swim. And then would swim with my dogs down here.”

Wishert is hoping someone will come forward, or that investigators will figure out why this poison was in an area where dogs and children play.

“Right now, I can’t tell you who did this, but I would hate for this to happen to somebody else!” she said.

Newberry County sheriff Lee Foster tells WYFF News 4 that his office spoke with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on this matter, and that it is not uncommon for farmers or deer hunters to bait coyotes during this time of year.

Sheriff Foster tells WYFF News his office has no evidence, but it is reasonable to believe that the dogs could have accidentally come across poison meant for a coyote.

Both Newberry County and Laurens County sheriff’s offices do not have suspects at this time.

There is a $1,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.

Clemson Regulatory Services Criminal Investigative Unit oversees the sale, use and distribution of pesticides, as well as their illegal misuse within the state of South Carolina.

A day after this story aired on WYFF News 4, deputy director Mike Weyman told reporter Renée Wunderlich that the agency has opened up a parallel criminal investigation.

Weyman said that this particular product is an extremely toxic agricultural pesticide. He said, had it been in the water, any fish, bugs or other living things would have been killed.

He told Wunderlich that there is reason to believe the pesticide that killed Max and Ellie was put there on purpose – perhaps as a bait for a predator like a coyote or a fox – but that that the investigation is just beginning.

Weyman said this pesticide is highly regulated, and that placing it in an area like this without the proper permission is a both a state and federal violation of the law.

The person or persons responsible for this crime could face both state and federal charges.

Study: South Dade Plant Nursery Workers Earn Low Pay, Susceptible To Heat Illnesses

WLRN |by Nadege Green | July 30, 2019

“They put me in a shower to get all the chemicals off me,” she reported. “I kept falling down. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t, my body got weaker…I felt like my throat was awful, as if it were cut on the inside.”

A new study that looks at the working conditions of ornamental plant nursery workers in South Miami-Dade found that low wages, harmful exposure to pesticides and inadequate access to drinking water and shade are among the top complaints from workers in the industry.

Miami-Dade County is home to more than 1,500 ornamental nurseries that provide flowering plants, shrubs and trees used for commercial and residential landscaping projects. WeCount, a farmer workers rights group in Homestead, surveyed 300 workers in a workforce largely dominated by immigrant women for the study called “The Human Landscape.”

An ornamental plant nursery in South Miami-Dade.

Workers, largely from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, complete a range of jobs such as potting plants, weeding, driving tractors, digging up trees, loading pallets and customer assitance. They provide a portrait of working long hours outside in intense heat with little reprieve and low pay.

Nearly 70 percent said they experienced heat related illnesses including fainting and headaches due to a lack of shade breaks.

“Folks are under pressure to work fast. They have their order they have to get out and so they don’t want them to take breaks, they want them to produce and that’s that’s a big issue,” said Jonathan Fried, executive director of WeCount.

Miami-Dade recently recorded record-breaking heat and as it gets hotter because of climate change, Fried says farm workers are on the frontline of serious health risks with little protections.

The study also found many workers did not receive proper training to handle pesticides as required by law and industry regulations.

Of the workers surveyed who used pesticides for work, 64 percent said they did not receive any safety training.

Miguel Bernal, a nursery plant worker and member of WeCount, told WLRN when he worked with pesticides, his employer instructed him to lie and say he had proper training if an inspector visited the nursery.

“She told me to spray, but to not tell them that she told me to do it,” he said.

Other workers who didn’t handle pesticides said they were still exposed because spraying would happen in close proximity to where they were working, according to the surveys. Sixty two percent of the workers reported symptoms of pesticide exposure—dizziness, vomiting and skin rashes.

Nora, one of the women who responded to the survey, described symptoms of pesticide poisoning after another worker was allowed to spray near where she and several other people were working. He had practically sprayed it in our faces, she said. Nora ended up in the hospital shortly after.

“They put me in a shower to get all the chemicals off me,” she reported. “I kept falling down. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t, my body got weaker…I felt like my throat was awful, as if it were cut on the inside.”

Miami-Dade County is consistently ranked as one of the most unaffordable metro areas in the country when it comes to housing. That reality is especially stark for farmwokers. According to the people surveyed, most earn the Florida minimum wage of $8.05 or slightly above.

A smaller percentage of workers reported earning less than minimum wage.

As is the case in most other industries, there is a pay gap for women. On average women earn 36 cents less than men. Workers also reported a pay gap for speakers of indigenous Mayan languages. Speakers of Mayan languages earned 34 cents less on average than Spanish and English speakers.

And across the industry, workers reported little room for economic advancement. Workers with more than 15 years of experience working in South Dade ornamental plant nurseries earned about 45 cents more than someone with one year of experience, according to the study.

WLRN intern Aaron Sanchez-Guerra contributed to this report. 

Woman claims son was bit by bed bugs at local hotel

WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — by Ryan Trowbridge and Audrey Russo

A woman who stayed for a night in a West Springfield hotel is speaking out after she says her son got bit by bed bugs.

Czhanell McCray doesn’t live in western Massachusetts, but she wanted to warn travelers locally and spoke exclusively with Western Mass News about how a few small bugs caused bigger problems for her family.

“On our way home, early afternoon, he really started profusely scratching really bad,” McCray said.

After a day of shooting hoops in a local basketball tournament, McCray’s 14-year-old son was taking home more than a trophy.

McCray told us over video chat that the night before, something had bitten her son.

“I just said mosquitoes must have, you know, gotten a hold of you,” McCray added.

However. the scratching got worse and after taking her son to urgent care, McCray noted, “the doctor didn’t even want to touch him. She just, you know, looked at him and said well, this is the bed bug situation here.”

McCray showed Western Mass News the doctor’s note with the diagnosis. She said she called the hotel where she and her son stayed – the Hampton Inn in West Springfield – to report the issue.

“Just want to make people aware to, when they’re coming to any hotel, just to make sure that they, which I found out they, strip down the bed, check the bed boards, look up under the mattresses,” McCray said.

We went to the West Springfield Health Department. Their records show two bed bugs were found by a pest management company a few days after McCray and her son checked out.

The report showed the bugs were likely introduced recently to the room and that it was treated and ventilated.

Western Mass News reached out to the Hampton Inn and they said “The hotel employs a comprehensive detection program which maintains the highest levels of vigilance.” They went on to say that they refunded McCray’s stay, but McCray said the issue will end up costing her more in extermination fees.

“Now we have to, out of inconvenience, have to get my home bombed,” McCray said.

Health department officials said they’ve seen increase in community bed bug reports in the last five years.

“The fact that people travel so much has increased the likelihood of being exposed,” said West Springfield public health nurse Mary Allen.

Health officials said the best thing you can do is check your hotel bed before sleeping in it, along mattress seams, headboards, and baseboards.

“They’re not as small as a tick, they’re a little bit bigger…like an adult would probably be the size of a normal house fly,” said Lauren Kennedy with the West Springfield Health Department.

Something, the size of a fly has caused much bigger problems for McCray’s family.

“The uncomfortability that he’s saying, the pain that he’s saying. How many showers that he has to take, he’s home from school. I’m taking half days from work just to come check on him to make sure he’s all right. The doctors tell him that’s going to take awhile for this thing to go away,” McCray said.

Poisoned for Profit: We Are Not the Agrochemical Industry’s Guinea Pigs

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by Colin Todhunter / July 27th, 2019

Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Chemicals Regulation Division (HSE) in the UK claiming that the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup has poisoned her nature reserve in South Wales and is also poisoning people across the UK (she includes herself here, as she struggles with a neurodegenerative condition). She notes that the widespread spraying of glyphosate went against the advice of directive 2009/128/EC of the European parliament but was carried out at the behest of the agrochemicals industry.

Mason has sent a 24-page fully referenced document with her letter in support of her claims. It can be accessed in full here. What follows is a brief summary of just a few of the take-home points. There is a lot more in Mason’s document, much of which touches on issues she has previously covered but which nonetheless remain relevant.

The thrust of her open letter to these agencies is that glyphosate is a major contributory factor in spiralling rates of disease and conditions affecting the UK population. She also makes it clear that official narratives — pushed by the pesticides industry, the media and various key agencies — have deliberately downplayed or ignored the role of agrochemicals in this. Instead, the focus has been on the role of alcohol use and obesity, conveniently placing the blame on individual behaviour and the failure of people to opt for ‘healthy lifestyle’ choices.

Mason argues that Monsanto emails released into the public domain have revealed that Roundup was kept on the market by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud. In addition, she notes that documents show that the European Commission bowed to the demands of pesticide lobbies. Former PM David Cameron, Defra, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency all ignored the warnings that GM crops and Roundup were hazardous to human health and the environment.

In the run-up to the relicensing of glyphosate in the EU, Mason states that in its analysis the Glyphosate Task Force omitted key studies from South America (where herbicide-tolerant GM crops are grown) that associate Roundup with cancer, birth defects, infertility, DNA damage and neurotoxicity. She refers to many studies in support of her claim that glyphosate is deleterious to human health and the environment. It is worth noting that the European Chemicals Agency has classified glyphosate as a substance causing serious eye damage and toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

Mason reserves a special place for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in her letter, saying that the agency has been hi-jacked by the pesticides industry and has persuaded key figures in the medical establishment to repeat certain claims: that alcohol, cigarette smoking and obesity are the main causes of cancer. She argues that Monsanto and the US EPA have known for a long time that Roundup is carcinogenic.

CRUK recently made a bold statement about its vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. However, Mason asserts this is fantasy for public consumption. She argues there are a huge number of cancers in the UK and their prevalence is increasing each year in tandem with the rising use of glyphosate and other agrochemicals.

Mason provides the statistics:

In the UK, there were 13,605 new cases of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2015 (and 4,920 deaths in 2016): there were 41,804 new cases of bowel cancer in 2015 (and 16,384 deaths in 2016); 12,547 new cases of kidney cancer in 2015 (and 4,619 deaths in 2016); 5,736 new cases of liver cancer in 2015 (5,417 deaths in 2016); 15,906 new cases of melanoma in 2015 (2,285 deaths in 2016); 3,528 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2015 (382 deaths in 2016); 10,171 new cases of bladder cancer in 2015 (5,383 deaths in 2016); 8,984 new cases of uterine cancer in 2015 (2,360 deaths in 2016); 7,270 cases of ovarian cancer in 2015 (4,227 deaths in 2016); 9,900 new cases of leukaemia in 2015 (4,712 deaths in 2016); 55,122 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015 (11,563 deaths in 2016); 47,151 new cases of prostate cancer in 2015 (11,631 deaths in 2016); 9,211 new cases of oesophageal cancer in 2015 (8,004 deaths in 2016); and 5,540 new cases of myeloma in 2015 (3,079 deaths in 2016); 2,288 new cases of testicular cancer in 2015 (57 deaths in 2016); 9,921 new cases of pancreatic cancer in 2015 (9,263 deaths in 2016); 11,432 new cases of brain cancer in 2015 (5,250 deaths in 2016); 46,388 new cases of lung cancer in 2015 (and 35,620 deaths in 2016). In the US in 2014 there were 24,050 new cases of myeloma.

Arguing that UK farmers are “drowning” their crops in pesticides, Mason notes that it is therefore not surprising that Pesticide Action Network UK’s analysis of the last 12 years of residue data (published by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food) shows there are unacceptable levels of pesticides present in the food provided through the Department of Health’s (DoH) School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).

Residues of 123 different pesticides were found, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer and disruption of the hormone system. Moreover, residues contained on SFVS produce were higher than those in produce tested under the national residue testing scheme (mainstream produce found on supermarket shelves). However, Mason says that when PAN-UK sent its findings to the DOH, the agency was told that pesticides are not the concern of the DoH.

Perhaps they should be, given what Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, stated in 2017:

Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weed killers, insecticides and fungicides. It’s on their food and in their water, and it’s even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people’s fundamental rights, I beg to differ.

He added:

Paediatricians have referred to childhood exposure to pesticides as creating a ‘silent pandemic’ of disease and disability. Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes, and cancer. Because a child’s developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals. Increasing evidence shows that even at ‘low’ doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result.

Tuncak says that most victims cannot prove the cause of their disability or disease and this limits our ability to hold those responsible to account. But this is changing. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the industry’s criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market, thanks to the various high-profile litigations in the US. Maybe it’s time for the (taxpayer-funded) agencies Rosemary Mason has continually written to over the years to finally act in the public interest. Or would that be too much to expect?

In finishing, we should take note of the current orchestrated campaign (cheer-led by those outside of India with industry links) to get herbicide-tolerant seeds planted in India. Aside from Bt cotton, GM crops are not allowed in the country. This cynical campaign is aimed at increasing GM seed, glyphosate and other toxic agrochemical sales. Given increasingly saturated markets elsewhere, the global GM seed and herbicide industry regards India as a massive potential money spinner.

However, Punjab took the lead in 2018 and banned glyphosate. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have since followed. But there is still no nationwide ban. With this in mind, author and academic Ashwani Mahajan has started a petition campaign (here) to stop the use of glyphosate in India.

He says that pesticide companies are taking advantage of farmers’ ignorance about the deadly risks associated with glyphosate. Mahajan notes that industry is sending its agents to approach farmers directly and trap them with attractive promotional offers. This is part of a wider strategy to get farmers to break with effective traditional practices and lure them onto agrochemical (and GMO) treadmills as described in the 2017 paper The Ox Fall Down: Path Breaking and Technology Treadmills in Indian Cotton Agriculture (Glenn Stone and Andrew Flachs).

Farmers are being subjected to slick PR and lured because they are told this herbicide is a cost-effective method to kill weeds quickly. What they are not told is that its effectiveness is limited, that it’s a health and environmental hazard and that it’s a risk to their lives. But it’s not just farmers’ lives that are at risk. We just need to look at the statistics provided earlier in this article to realise the risk to the wider public health.

Battling bed bugs? They’re spreading around Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. – Maher Kawash – July 26, 2019 – You may want to check your home and office for bed bugs.

Did we mention your favorite coffee shop isn’t safe either?

Bed bugs are popping up in homes, offices, and even stores around Spokane in larger than usual numbers.

Buying pest spray from the story may not cut it. Instead, you’ll need a couple thousand dollars to get rid of those bed bugs.

4 News Now spoke to a family in Medical Lake, whose home was infested with bed bugs which they believe came home with their daughter from Downtown Spokane.

“The bugs are downtown though I’m 99 percent sure they came home on my daughter,” Gail Vanamburg said.

VanAmburg says her daughter works at the Spokane Public Library four days a week and always comes home directly after that on the bus.

4 News Now reached out to the library but hasn’t heard back.

When we spoke to the Spokane Transit Authority, they told us they inspect and clean their buses every night.

Pest control expert Raymond VanderLouw said it’s really a matter of more people carrying their stuff around with them when they travel.  He said those bed bugs can get in backpacks, sleeping bags, and blankets before moving onto your body or other belongings.

A majority of what we end up treating are multi-family units, we do some hospitality spots, we have treated coffee shops, clinics, imaging centers. There are a lot of places that we’re seeing them that I honestly didn’t think we would end up seeing them.” VanderLouw said.

He also says the most common place for bed bugs is used furniture.
It’s easier than you’d think for bed bugs to move around in public, sitting in people’s bags, purses, or strollers.

So how do you know if you’re at risk? Well, it’s all about awareness.

“You got to assume there’s bed bugs in everything. I assume there’s bed bugs everywhere I go, and because I’m aware and I take those steps, I protect myself and my family,” VanderLouw said.

Bedbugs a growing problem in Vermont

WCAX3 | By Kiernan Brisson 

WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) An invasive species may be more of a pest in our area than you think. We are talking about bedbugs and their presence in Vermont has grown since their sudden reappearance in 2005.

But as our Kiernan Brisson reports, many people are reluctant to talk about infestations because of the stigma attached to bedbugs.

A bedbug infestation was recently reported in an apartment building on Follett Street in Winooski.

“Currently the city is aware of an infestation in a unit. We had been alerted to the infestation through someone who didn’t want to be identified,” said John Audy, the city’s director of code enforcement.

The bugs were first detected in one apartment before spreading to three others.

But this isn’t an isolated incident. Since 2005, the state of Vermont has seen constant growth in the number of bedbug cases and exterminations.

“So bedbugs are hard to get rid of… And I also know because I’ve talked to friends who work in the housing industry in Burlington and they’ve also seen a huge increase in the number of bedbugs,” Vt. State Entomologist Judy Rosovsky said.

“So just from a percentage standpoint of how much bedbug work we’ve grown in a sense, I mean in the last five years about 105% increase in the bedbug work that we’re doing,” said Brandon Hier, the district manager of pest control company Ehrlich.

Bedbug cases in the state range from apartment complexes to hotels to family homes, but contrary to popular belief, the infestations have nothing to do with cleanliness.

“Really I wish that stigma would go away. It’s absolutely nothing to do with people’s lifestyle or standard of living. They’re not attracted to dirt, they want us; they want our blood,” Rosovsky explained.

“They are very intrusive and it doesn’t matter if you’re clean or not clean, they are hitchhikers,” Audy said.

The best way to stay bedbug free is to eliminate the possibility that they are tracked into your residence. Bedbugs are hitchhikers, often brought home by travelers.

“So you need to watch what’s coming through your front door, it’s the best thing you can do,” Hier advised. “Anything you can put in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes is going to come out bedbug-free. If you have items like, I don’t know, a hard-shell suitcase, you could simply clean that, a good scrubbing with some soap, not taking in used furniture, that’s the biggest thing we’ve seen.”

The Burlington Housing Authority would not comment on the case in Winooski. They did say they are working with the tenant and the landlord to resolve the infestation issue.