Latest News Whiplash

Recent news given to you through a wild ride of good and bad stories


USA Today Journal

Miss Patty with her students.

Maya Sagett and Gabrielle Williams

Miss Patty the Hat-Maker

A Clarence Central School District bus driver named Patty Reitz has crocheted 7,083 hats for the students at her school. At first she worked for years in the elementary school cafeteria, and she began crocheting in 2005 as a way to pass time while she cared for her mother in the hospital. Later she continued the hobby, but while she waited for students to board her bus. A boy who rode her bus acknowledged one of the hats she was making and that’s when Reitz decided to make one specifically for the student. She buys the colorful yarn herself, but also receives gift cards and other presents during the holidays. Teachers who have worked close to Reitz claim that every student who rides her bus gets a hat, and a friend. Reitz has no plans to stop her hat-making and she says she is already planning her batch for the next school year.

Discover Technical Issues

On Monday, Feb. 6, many Discover card users reported having their cards declined, which the company attributed to “technical issues.” These issues lasted for several hours throughout the day, with customers first reporting problems with their cards, the website, and the customer service line around 1 p.m., according to Downdector. A Discover spokes- person reported on Twitter that the company was “experiencing sporadic technical difficulties” and then said on behalf of Discover, “We are aware of the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience. We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.” Gabrielle Williams, a distinguished Discover card user, found herself in a bind at Walgreens that day, unable to purchase razors and cotton pads, leaving her in despair (cried).

Good Karma After 13 Years

At 18-years-old, Juliette Lamour won northern Ontario’s second-largest lottery jackpot in history: $48 million. In 2010 the island nation of Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake. Organizations across the world rushed to help the people of Haiti stabilize and recover. At the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds hockey team ice rink, the Canadian Red Cross set up to help raise money for Haiti. Juliette and her sister Sophie were eager to help. They shared a large pink piggy bank and donated all of the money it contained, totaling $61.38. 13 years later, just after she turned 18, Juliette Lamour stepped forward to receive her $48 million prize. Her good karma at 5-years-old ended up bringing her the wealth her character deserved.

What Happens in Ohio…

Around 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, a train derailed in East Palestine, OH, a town of about 4,700 residents about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The 38 cars that were derailed and another 12 that were damaged had been carrying chemicals and combustible materials including vinyl chloride, a toxic flammable gas. The crash caused a huge fire to erupt, sending massive clouds of thick smoke over the East Palestine. Residents on both sides of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border were ordered to evacuate. On Feb. 6, the authorities performed a controlled release of these toxic materials from five tankers and the contents were diverted to a trench and burned off. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that they have not detected contaminants at “levels of concern” in the air in and around the city after screening the air inside 396 homes. The West Virginia subsidiary of American Water said on Feb. 12 that it had not detected any changes in the water at its Ohio River intake site, but the spill did affect about seven and a half miles of stream, and killed an estimated 3,500 fish as of Feb. 8. Over $1.2 million were sent to East Palestine families to help over evacuation costs and two Pennsylvania residents filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force Norfolk Southern to set up health monitoring, the Ohio EPA is working on a two-stage cleanup, beginning with the removal of materials from the site before moving to an assessment for a remediation plan.

Spending Time in Nature Can Change Your Nature

Researchers discovered lower use of drugs for anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma among urban residents who spend time in green spaces. The Finnish team said the key was frequent visits to urban green spaces. Previous studies have suggested that exposure to nature is good for health and well-being, however the evidence is inconsistent. The Finnish team looked at the number of green and blue spaces within a community and compared them to the frequency of visits to see if they were associated with the use of some prescription medication. They chose prescription medications as a proxy for ill health. They drew on the responses of 16,000 residents of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa. These three cities make up the largest urban areas in Finland. The survey gathered information about how these people over the age of 25 experience green and blue spaces close to their homes. Participants were asked to report their use of prescribed medication as well. They were also asked how often they spent time outside during the months of the year where weather is pleasant. The findings of the study were published recently in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. They showed that neither the number of green or blue spaces nearby or the views were associated with the use of the medication. However, the frequency of visiting the blue and green spaces was. Visiting the spaces three or four times a week was associated with 33 percent lower odds of using mental health medications, 36 percent lower odds of using blood pressure medications, and 26 percent odds of using asthma medications.

Glaciers on Thin Ice

Antarctica’s “Doomsday Glacier” is melting much faster than researchers expected, nicknamed as such because its eventual collapse could cause sea levels to rise in catastrophic ways. The Thwaites Glacier, roughly the size of the state of Florida, is highly vulnerable to the persistently rising ocean temperatures. Every year it sheds billions of tons of ice into the Southern Ocean, contributing about 4% of annual sea level rise. Particularly rapid melting happens at the point where the glacier meets the seafloor, which has retreated nearly nine miles since the late 1990s. The complete collapse of Thwaites could lead to sea level rise of more than two feet, which would be enough to devastate coastal communities around the world. However, the glacier is currently acting as a natural dam to the surrounding ice in Western Antarctica, which means the sea level could ultimately rise around 10 feet if everything around Thwaites additionally collapsed. Peter Davis, an oceanographer at the British Antarctic Survey reported, “The glacier is still in trouble. What we have found is that despite small amounts of melting there is still rapid glacier retreat, so it seems that it doesn’t take a lot to push the glacier out of balance.” A 2021 study found that the ice shelf could shatter within the next five years as the planet warms, with the potential for rapid retreat in the coming years. Scientists were also surprised to discover an underwater glacial landscape much more complex than they originally thought, full of huge cracks and crevasses through the ice shelf, where melting is particularly rapid. Melting along the sloped ice of the cracks and terraces may become the primary trigger for ice shelf collages, according to the studies’ authors.