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How to eliminate cellphone use in classrooms

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Cell phones, cellphones.

I’ve been writing this column for three years and I always get a tidal wave of mail whenever I write about cellphones.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about how to reduce cellphone addiction in schools.

I suggested three ways to get students off their cellphones: zones, modelling, and fasting. Create cell-phone-free zones. Be a role model by locking your phone in a drawer all day. And run contests for who can take the longest fast from social media.

Joe, a retired Humber professor, wrote in to say:

“I really do feel for those teachers who have to deal with the menace these devices cause. There is ample proof to demonstrate how this technology facilitates an addiction. In addition, what about memory loss, effects on cognitive skills, increased stress, social isolation, effects on the brain when such devices are held close to one’s skull, loss of communications and social skills, etc.? Sadly, these devices affect social interactions in all environments and promote an over dependence on technology and the digital revolution such that it is almost impossible for people to turn the seductive technology off.”

Diana wrote in to say understands the concern folks like Joe and I have but points out that “in this increasingly crazy world we live in with school lockdowns and acts of terrorism around us daily, having access to your phone allows one to alert police, call for help or record an incident just to name a few advantages.”

I’m not sure about that, Diana. I mean, I get having a phone may help during an “act of terrorism” but where does that slippery slope end? In the States teachers are starting to pack heat and I think we both know that’s … how should I put it nicely … totally insane.

But, I hear the point. These distraction devices do have legitimate benefits. They are check-ins, escape valves, connective tissue.

What do you think, Anne? You’re a retired teacher.

“The cellphone has replaced newspapers, encyclopedias etc … I go nowhere without my phone. I listen to my music at the gym, I do my banking online, I communicate with my friends and family using my phone, I use it to make my grocery list, to remind myself of upcoming appointments etc. It’s a handy little gadget. However, here might be the issue: people, probably a lot of young people, have social media attached to their phones (I do not have social media at all) and they get their sense of self-worth from their social media feeds — how many people liked my latest post etc. So they become attached to their phones, not for useful purposes such as banking, but for their own sense of self-worth. It’s like Christmas every day of the week …”

Sing it, Anne! What should we do?

“That’s a tough one. It’s almost like a whole course at school should be taught on etiquette in general: table manners, cellphone use, the dangers of the overuse / inappropriate use of electronics. I think parents are anyone’s first teachers. So if parents are polite and put cellphones away at the dinner table, or over a face-to-face conversation, hopefully their children follow suit.”

Well, that’s fair. It comes back to modelling which we talked about last time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. As a father I try to stay off my phone when I’m with my family. Most weekends I’ll even ask my wife, Leslie, to hide my phone from me so I can’t use it.

What else can we do? Wade? What do you think?

“My spouse and I both have cellphones. When used thoughtfully they can be useful tools in our professional and personal lives. Having said that, a chainsaw is also a useful tool but I would never think of firing one up in a check out line at the grocery store or at my table in a restaurant. I think for many people the sound of a chainsaw and someone yammering away into their phone in a restaurant can be equally grating on some ears. The only place I have any influence over this scourge is in my own home. TTC, airports and restaurants may not have policies in place but thankfully I have a say about technology use in my own home. When my adult kids visit they very respectfully/willingly adhere to our wishes of keeping cellphones at the front door when visiting. I mean occasionally someone will want to show a picture or something like that which is fine but then the phone is returned to its place by the front door. At our front door we actually have a wall hanging pouch with individual cellphone sleeves built in.”

Yes! I love this, Wade. You sound like Jack White, the rock musician who has banned cellphones from his concerts. Concertgoers show up, drop their phone in a plastic sleeve which prevents it from working, and keep the sleeve on them to avoid any phantom limb pains. They can go back to the front door of the venue to get them working for emergencies.

I like this point, Wade. We can’t always build a wall between ourselves and technology but maybe we can create little pockets where we just get breaks from all the noise. And who else is thinking about installing some hanging pouches at their front door right now?

But, back to schools. Let’s check-in with Frank, another teacher who wrote in.

“I have seen many attempts at curbing this problem by my colleagues and also my own experience. Here are some of the strategies we used: Don’t bring your phone to school (doesn’t work), leave your phone in your locker (doesn’t work), turn your phone off (doesn’t work), put your phone in a box on the teacher’s desk and pick it up at the end of class (probably worked the best, but had some liability issues), take the phone away for the entire day if caught using it in class (sometimes worked, but not with the stronger, more determined students. They would rather leave the class than give up their phone).

“In short, none of the above worked effectively as a permanent solution. There is only one solution that I think would work but would be very unpopular with students and some of the younger teachers. Before I mention it, here is an example of another addiction that has been controlled effectively under certain circumstances. I am referring to smoking in prohibited places. For example, if you travel for business or vacation you could be on a flight for many hours … Can you smoke? If you attend church, visit a hospital, sit in a meeting … Can you smoke? Society has accepted “Smoke free environments “ where you cannot legally smoke.

We do not even give it a second thought because we know that it is not legal, so we put it out of our minds and accept it. Well, how do we get students to put it out of their minds? We do the same thing. Cellphone free environments!”

Right. So back to where we started: cellphone free zones. It’s hard to do! But perhaps one of the only working solutions these days. I like the way you think, Frank.

And I appreciate so many of you dropping me a line to share your thoughts.

Our battle wages on.

Neil Pasricha is the bestselling author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation. His new podcast 3 Books is a Top 100 Ranked iTunes Podcast where each chapter uncovers the three most formative books of inspiring individuals. Check it out at www.3books.co.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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