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Despite Trump’s Policies, U.S. Energy Agreements With Canada and Mexico Aren’t Going Anywhere Soon

In the weeks following the presidential election, many things are up in the air. Between mortgage interest rates skyrocketing to immigration taking a dive, many Americans are wondering where their country stands.

Nevetheless, one thing is for sure: even if Trump has his way and changes some key policies, America’s energy reserves and partnerships aren’t going anywhere.

For the past decades, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have worked together to combine their energy sources in a way that benefits all three countries. Even though Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the results could end up being positive as the new administration seems friendly to the energy sector.

Take former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was just picked by Trump as the new energy secretary. This appointment is being seen as a plus for the oil and gas sector because Perry has been extremely vocal about using the U.S.’s nuclear energy as an energy power house for both Canada and Mexico.

Not only that, but there are talks of the Mexican government building more pipelines to take U.S. natural gas as far south as Mexico City. These enthusiastic plans come after several months of successful natural gas trade between the two countries.

American wood is also an important natural resource that consumers have been using for heating and electricity for hundred of years. It doesn’t look like it is going anywhere soon, as North America’s demand for wooden pellets is expected to rise to around five million metric tons by 2025, which goes to show how much in demand multiple energy sources are in American homes.

Worried about the new president-elect making yet another promise he cannot keep? Pundits are reminding Americans that Trump’s team promised that if change was to happen, it wouldn’t happen fast.

“It’s not so simple to say we’re going to renegotiate the trade deals. We set up the system to create those inter-linkages. You just can’t overnight legislate or executive order that away. If you try to do that, it’s going to have negative economic impacts, not just for the economies on the border but for these specific industries, like energy,” explains Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

DEA Cuts Opioid Production Quota, Ignores Evidence of Nontraditional Medicine to Treat Addiction

Opioid abuse has become increasingly problematic in recent years, especially heroin.

Heroin, otherwise known as diacetylmorphine or diamorphine, was first synthesized in 1874. Bayer created the drug as a painkiller, with purely medicinal intentions. Known for its euphoric effects, heroin has been abused by people worldwide, causing astronomical numbers of overdoses every year.

The DEA recently issued a statement saying that it would cut back the production quota of Schedule I and Schedule II opioids by at least 25% in 2017. The quota for hydrocodone, commonly known by the brand names Vicodin or Lortab, will be cut by one third.

This cut comes from their decreased demand in hospitals. The DEA is also hopeful that this cutback will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths and overdoses.

Current records show that more people died from drug overdose in 2014 than in any other year on record. A total of 18,893 people died as a result of prescription drug overdose, and heroin killed 10,574 people that year. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been blamed for killing many people as well, including musician Prince in April of this year.

DEA regulations encourage doctors to use non-opioid therapies over heavy narcotics to treat patients, minimizing the risk of medicinal drug addiction. These aggressive efforts, however, have been linked to increased drug-related deaths. When the U.S. government cracked down on prescription drug abuse, there was a surge in heroin use, leading us to where we are today.

“We always were concerned about heroin…We were always cognizant of the push-down, pop-up problem,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior drug policy official in the Obama administration. “But we weren’t about to let these pill mills flourish in the name of worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet. …When crooks are putting on white coats and handing out pills like candy, how could we expect a responsible administration not to act?”

Despite their proven benefits, the DEA has not approved the use of more nontraditional medicines to combat today’s drug addiction epidemic.

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug under DEA regulations. This means that it is considered as dangerous as heroin and LSD, and more dangerous than hydrocodone, oxycodone, and cocaine.

The organization refuses to reschedule cannabis, despite its proven abilities to reduce opioid overdose deaths and decrease narcotic dependence. Ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance, is also listed as a Schedule I drug, despite its promise in calming heroin addictions.

While Hundreds of Thousands are Evacuating Because of Hurricane Matthew, a Florida Couple Wants to Have Their Outside Wedding

Although Hurricane Matthew has forced evacuations all across the Southeast coast of the U.S., a Florida couple plans to continue with their October wedding.

A Florida couple wants to get married in early October on the beach, but it looks like Hurricane Matthew is going to disrupt their dream day.

According to ABC News, Ryan Gordon and Jamie Gurnavage plan on having their special day at the Ocean Landing Resort in Cocoa Beach.

They plan on having “some type of ceremony,” Gurnavage said, “whatever kind of ceremony that will be.”

A Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study shows that the average number of wedding guests is around 136 people. Unfortunately, it will probably be difficult for the couple to get that many people to commit to an outside wedding when such dangerous weather conditions are affecting the country and the world.

As of October 7, a state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

“I just want to emphasize to everybody that this is still a really dangerous hurricane,” said President Barack Obama. “That the potential for storm surge, flooding, loss of life, and severe property damage continues to exist. Pay attention to what your local officials are telling you. If they tell you to evacuate, you need to get out of there and move to higher ground.”

According to The New York Times, South Carolina Governor Nikki R Haley has already evacuated over 300,000 people with a goal of at least 500,000.

“It’s getting worse,” Haley said at a news conference Friday morning. “We are looking at major storm surges, we are looking at major winds. We need to encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to understand: It’s not worth risking your life to see if you can ride out a storm.”

In Haiti, as Independent reports, at least 572 people have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Airbnb Offering Free Rooms in Florida and South Carolina as Part of Disaster Response Tool

As part of its Disaster Response Tool that aims to connect people in need of shelter, Airbnb has sent out a call to action to those hosts who are willing to put up evacuees for no charge in their available spaces.

The storm has prompted multiple evacuations in parts of Florida, including in Brevard, Martin, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Indian River counties.

Voluntary evacuations have also been recommended in counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward, St. Lucie, and Flagler.

Airbnb said in a news release that it is still looking for hosts who are not impacted by the storm, “so that they can list their home for free and assist in sheltering those in need.”

In addition, they have announced that new users who have never hosted will also be allowed to offer up their spaces to those in need of shelter.

As hurricane Matthew draws closer to the U.S., Florida Gov. Rick Scott has pleaded with residents living on the east coast to evacuate the area.

Scott even mentioned Airbnb’s service during his most recent briefing about the impending storm.

He said that in addition to Airbnb making rooms available for free, sites like Visit Florida and Expedia were making efforts to help residents find shelter.

The governor’s office reported that approximately 1.5 million people were in evacuation zones, and said that tolls had been suspended on major routes to make the evacuation process run smoothly.

The storm has impacted other events, as well. Even the presidential candidates are experiencing delays as a result.

Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama were scheduled to make an appearance in Miami Gardens that was postponed due to the storm.

The Trump campaign was also affected, cancelling a fundraiser that was supposed to happen in Florida this week.

Officials ranging from county officials to the White House have urged citizens to evacuate and prepare for the storm, even resorting to fear tactics as motivators for stubborn residents.

Approximately 62% of vacationers reported they would rather stay in a vacation rental, and while the situation may not be ideal, they can at least get shelter from the storm with Airbnb’s help.

The company has previously used the disaster tool to aid people after a storm has hit, but this is the first time the company has activated it before a storm. With any luck, they’ll be able to provide people with shelter and some peace of mind during the storm.

President Obama Vacations As Flood Worsens In Baton Rouge

According to a survey, when Americans go on vacation, about 61% of them continue to work. And while this is somewhat true for President Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s not true enough for many people affected by the severe flooding in Louisiana.

After three days of heavy downpour, historic flooding has killed 13, and 30 parishes have been declared as disaster zones.

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other first responders, have rescued more than 20,000 people over the weekend. More than 70,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance, and 9,000 have already filed flood insurance claims.

Amid this disaster, President Obama has received heavy criticism for vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and for failing to cut that vacation short.

Earlier in the week, the President approved John Bel Edward’s request for federal disaster funding, and reportedly is being updated on new developments on Martha’s Vineyard by his officials and aids.

Lousiana’s largest daily newspaper, The Advocate, called the President out on his lack of action last week.

“A disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the President at ground zero,” read the editorial. “In coming here, the President can decisively demonstrate that Louisiana’s recovery is a priority for his administration — and the United States of America.”

The column continued to call on Obama, saying that “The President’s vacation is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday. But he should pack his bags now, and pay a call on communities who need to know that in a national catastrophe, they are not alone. The President’s presence is already late to this crisis, but it’s better later than never.”

Skytyping and Wing Walking Help Break Attendance Record at AirVenture Show

The AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, drew more people than last year’s convention.

“Our attendance was particularly outstanding, since we had some weather challenges mid-week compared to seven perfect days in 2015,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “Our grounds crew and our volunteers, who number more than 5,000, did a superb job keeping the site ready for visitors and campers who arrived by ground or air.”

According to Fox11News, over 10,000 aircrafts were featured during the convention.

CNN reports that the 2016 AirVenture show also featured skytyping, wing walking and plenty of extreme aerial maneuvering. Skytyping, which is used by advertisers to display messages for more than 2,800 square miles, is a way of mechanical and aeronautical maneuvering throughout the sky.

“My dad bought the airplanes and started this skytyping business when I was 17,” said Larry Arken, commanding officer and flight lead. “Later on, I got him to start into air shows, and I’ve been running it about 22 years.”

Consisting of more than 80 countries, a record 2,369 international visitors registered and attended the show this year. During the week-long convention, approximately 563,000 people entered the AirVenture show and enjoyed 2,855 showplaces, 1,124 homemade aircrafts, 1,032 vintage planes, 371 warbirds, 135 light-sport aircrafts, 101 seaplanes, 41 aerobatic aircrafts, 31 rotorcrafts and 20 non-categorized vehicles.

The wing walker, Ashley Key, drew some of the largest crowds at this year’s convention. She expects to be wing walking until her and her fiancé — who also happens to be her pilot — have their first child, although, she doesn’t consider her profession dangerous.

“The trick is doing it the same every time,” Key said. “When you step off of it, I know exactly where to step. I know how many steps when I’m up there. I know where my feet should go to get back into the cockpit. Do it the same every time, and there are no mistakes.”

Mobile Homes Are Moving Towards More Energy-Efficient Designs

More than 17 million individuals in the U.S. live in manufactured or mobile homes, and they just may be in for more energy-efficient designs in the future.

Manufacturers shipped 70,519 homes in 2015, more than the number of single-family homes built in any state except Texas. Because of the vast amount of homes being shipped to multiple states, the federal government, not the state government, is responsible for their energy regulations.

Unfortunately, the energy provisions of the “HUD Code” (set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) that governs manufactured housing have not been changed significantly since 1994.

What this means for mobile home owners is that a lot of their money is going towards energy bills. In fact, mobile home owners are paying more than twice what single homeowners pay per square foot.

After several failed attempts at re-drafting the legislation, lawmakers finally came to a decision this past year. DOE estimates the typical manufactured home will save 27% of energy use compared to a home that meets the current HUD Code.

However, energy-efficient homes are making changes in more areas than just mobile homes. Tiny houses are on the rise, and for good reason.

Living in small dwellings has always been popular on the fringes, but the movement has progressed as the average size of a new single family home in the U.S. has grown from 1,800 to nearly 2,700 square feet in the last 40 years.

Much of the movement is based on fiscal reasons, energy conservation, environmental responsibility, and an overall simplification of living situations to allow the owner freedom from heavy rent or mortgages. The movement has grown so large, in fact, that the Tiny House Jamboree has ironically moved to a bigger venue this year.

The Tiny House Jamboree is an annual gathering in Colorado Springs, CO where tiny home movement leaders and an estimated 40,000 enthusiasts come from far and wide to educate themselves and celebrate the art of living small.

“This year is really exciting,” says Tiny House Jamboree Event Coordinator, Cole Whalen, “We’re twice as big as last year with about 50 tiny homes on display and a greater variety than ever before. We’ll have everything from an airstream to tailgate homes, Petite Chateaus which are sort of Alice In Wonderland-style homes, eco-cabins, a mini chapel, and even an ‘Ohm Hom,’ which is a legal backyard dwelling.”

They’re no tiny homes, but mobile homes are about to get more energy-efficient designs, provided the federal government can assure manufacturers follow the guidelines.

DOE still needs to work out how to ensure manufacturers meet the new code without violating HUD’s health and safety requirements, but the fact remains that the new regulations will make life a little easier on the environment and on homeowners.

Consumers Are Partial to Automated Features in their Vehicles

According to a newly released survey from J.D. Power APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout), consumers like their cars with driver-assist technologies.

The study revealed that new vehicles with features like blind-spot monitoring and low-speed collision avoidance have overall higher APEAL scores than vehicles that don’t.

The features are appropriately dubbed “gateway technologies,” since they open the way to autonomous, self-driving cars. As consumers continue to gravitate toward these features, manufacturers will continue to produce more, and make them even more comprehensive.

Indeed, as Renee Stephens, the vice president of U.S. automotive quality for J.D. Power, says, “Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles.”

But the path towards complete automation won’t be without its challenges, as the recent fatal crash of a self-driving car in Florida proved. The Tesla Model S, which has an autopilot system, was functioning at the time of the accident, and may not have recognized the threat of a truck when it pulled up in front of the vehicle.

Some automakers highly doubt that full automation will ever be possible since there are too many factors for a machine to handle when driving, citing the Tesla incident to reinforce this pint.

However, automated technologies are obviously popular and can have wider implication. For example, the neglect of vehicles costs the economy over $2 billion a year, so perhaps automation technology will focus on the automated maintenance of vehicles instead. That would certainly be a headache that many consumers would be glad to be rid of.

The top five brands rated in the APEAL study were all high-end vehicles, all of which offered driver assist technologies. The brands were Porche, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar, and Mercedes- Benz.

Workplace Wellness Benefit Programs on the Decline

While the range of workplace benefits offered by employers to encourage health and wellness among office workers has skyrocketed since the turn of the 21st century, new data indicates that such programs are dropping off dramatically within the past few years, as employers fail to see their long-term financial justification.

The latest annual survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), now in its 20th year, compiled data from some 3,490 companies in regards to the kinds of perks and benefits offered to employees.

While the number of core employee benefits, such as health care coverage and retirement savings plans, has remained fairly constant since SHRM first began gathering data in 1996, other benefits — subsidized childcare, health coaching, on-site flu vaccinations, and on-call nursing assistance — are all on the decline.

Granted, the overall presence of wellness programs has witnessed a significant boom: 78% of surveyed businesses currently offer wellness benefits, such as healthcare premiums for weight loss or quitting tobacco, compared to just 54% two decades ago.

This “could be an indication that organizations are being more strategic in selecting effective wellness programs for their employees,” the study’s authors wrote. Still on the rise are benefits like gym memberships, standing desks, and nap rooms.

Wellness benefits aren’t necessarily just about employee health and productivity, though. Separate research indicates that 66% of workers who are offered benefits would recommend their employers to other people as a great place to work.

The cost-benefit trade-offs of such programs, however, seem to vary widely in their effectiveness and results. One analysis of a Fortune 100 company’s lifestyle-management wellness program was found to cost the company an additional 50 cents for every dollar spent.

After experimenting with various benefits for a few years, says Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM, employers “may be taking a step back” to analyze the return on investment of such programs. Only 37% of employers now offer health coaching, compared to nearly 50% last year. Similarly, there was a 7% decline in on-site flu vaccinations.

Overall, however, the large majority of companies with wellness programs — 77% — considered them to be “somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs,” and perks like telecommunication options, 401(k)s, educational assistance, and paid parental leave are all on the rise.

British Show Trains Dogs to Successfully Fly Airplanes

For the 8 million people who fly in an airplane a day, having a human pilot is pretty much a guarantee. A British TV show, however, is changing the way we think about that and has proven that dogs can be trained to fly airplanes.

U.K. television network Sky 1 sent a team of animal trainers and an animal psychologist to tour kennels throughout the U.K. and pick the smartest dogs they could find.

Twelve rescue dogs, mostly strays, made the cut and went through a series of rigorous tests to assess their communication skills, empathy, and tolerance for speed and heights.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that “Dogs Might Fly” show host Jamie Theakston said the purpose of this activity was to prove rescue dogs are just as trainable and friendly as any other dog.

He states, “People give up on them too easily and this series will show up why we shouldn’t.”

Three dogs, all under three years old, passed the test. Shadow, a Staffordshire bull terrier/collie mix, Reggie a German Shepherd/Labrador mix, and Alfie, a collie/lurche, went on to complete flight training.

They were seated with their front paws on the control yoke in front of a PC-grade flight simulator and were trained using lights and cues on when to turn left or right or to level out.

While aboard the plane, the dogs received treats from a trainer for correct behavior. A human pilot handled altitude.

After 10 weeks of flight school, the dogs were brought out to a grass airfield near London and were tested in a real Cessna 182.

With a human copilot sitting next to them for safety, all three dogs were able to show their skills off. Each completed a Figure-8 maneuver successfully, with their trainer in the back controlling the cue lights.

When the dogs landed and the show ended, all 12 dogs were rescued and went to their forever homes, including some with the show’s staff.