Searching the Web for Pandemics

Using search terms to track emerging influenza pandemics. When a handful of engineers can track the daily...

Using search terms to track emerging influenza pandemics.When a handful of engineers can track the daily online searches of tens of millions of people (and protect their privacy) all for the betterment of humanity, one of the internet's great potentials has been fulfilled. And that's what, the search engine giant's philanthropic arm, is accomplishing through its Google Flu Trends initiative, which launched last November. By identifying a correlation between spikes in the number of queries for certain terms such as "flu," "cough," and "chills, and upticks in the influenza cases reported by public health outlets, Google has invented a sort of cyber-epidemiology.Billed as an early detection system for pandemics, GFT was put to the test in April as news spread worldwide about the H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak. Public health officials asked GFT to look at its search data from Mexico retroactively. While Google identified an increase in flu-related searches, Mexico doesn't have the public health infrastructure that would have allowed it to confirm that swine flu cases were indeed piling up. "There is certainly a bump in the April time period," says Google spokesperson Jamie Yood, "so we definitely picked something up."So far, GFT has detected flu trends up to two weeks sooner than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such success has encouraged to expand the program to Australia and New Zealand and to set its sights on other countries as well-Yood wouldn't name names, but Europe's high rates of internet usage make it a good bet. It's also considering how the technique might be used to track other diseases affecting large portions of the public-another initiative about which Google officials remain mum on specifics. "If it's successful, if it's accurate, and that's helpful, that's our goal," says Yood, "to supply health officials with more information."Photo courtesy of GoogleReturn to interactive site

WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

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Good News

Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Coal mining is on the decline, leaving many coal miners in West Virginia without jobs. The Mine Safety and Health Administration says there are about 55,000 positions, and just 13,000 of those jobs are in West Virginia. The dwindling amount of work is leaving some struggling to make a living, but the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective is giving those coal miners a way to find new jobs and make a supplemental income as coal mining diminishes.

The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective trains coal miners and other low-income residents in mining communities to keep bees. Some coal miners are getting retrained to work in the tech industry, however beekeeping allows coal miners to continue to work in a job that requires a similar skill set. "The older folks want to get back to work, but mining is never going to be like it was in the '60s and '70s, and there is nothing to fall back on, no other big industries here, so all of these folks need retraining," former coal miner James Scyphers told NPR. "Beekeeping is hands-on work, like mining, and requires on-the-job training. You need a good work ethic for both."

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Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash

There was once a time in Florida where you could park your boat in your front lawn, but you were SOL if you wanted to grow squash and lettuce there. However, thanks to one Miami Shores couple, that's about to change.

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll had been growing a front yard garden for 17 years, but in 2013, Miami Shores changed its city ordinance, making the activity illegal. The new city ordinance said that backyard vegetable gardens were a-OK, but Ricketts and Carroll couldn't keep a garden in their backyard because it didn't get enough sun. So the couple could either dig up their garden or face $50 in daily fines for letting it continue to grow. The couple opted to do neither and instead, they sued the city.

Ricketts and Carroll took their case to the Florida Supreme Court. Initially, the courts sided with Miami Shores, but the fight wasn't over. Florida State Senator Rob Bradley introduced legislation preventing "a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties." Earlier this year, the Senate passed the bill 35-5.

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