·South Loop AMLI apartments update [Chi Arch Blog]
·Why real estate investors just can't quit Chicago [Crain's]
·Five bad habits every agent should avoid [Chi Agent Mag]
·St. John church condo project moving forward [DNAinfo]
·Bed bugs spotted on the CTA [Chicagoist]
·Chicago Motor Club Building becoming a hotel [Chicago Tribune]
·A new Golden Age for Airstreams [NPR]
According to a tipster who sent a horrifying account of his morning commute to Business Insider on Wednesday, bedbugs have been spotted on New York City's 7 train. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs New York's subway system, told us it is investigating the report.
This would be the third subway line to have a bedbug sighting in the past week.
"I am a regular 7 line rider in New York. I take the line every morning from Woodside to Bryant Park. This morning, I noticed them coming out from under the seat to feed on people's legs," Kedem Deletis wrote in an email to Business Insider. "I was on the 7 express train, which arrived at Bryant Park at 10 a.m. The cart I was in was one or two carts behind the center operator cart."
Early last week, subway cars on the N line were fumigated after bedbugs were found on board. Days later, more bedbugs were found on the N and a rider reported seeing the creatures on a 5 train.
Deletis told Business Insider he called the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs New York's subway system, and "was treated pretty bad with the person on the line asking me what kind of proof I have."
"What exactly should I have done? Raised a panic on the train and have people screaming and hurt?" Deletis asked. "Maybe captured one of these bedbugs and risk bringing one home?"
Deletis said he was certain the insect he saw was a bedbug because he had an infestation in his building "about four years ago" and "that nightmare experience made every resident an expert."
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the MTA would "follow up" on Deletis' report. Deletis received an email from Art Kelly, an MTA email and customer correspondence manager, on Wednesday afternoon.
" This is in response to your call regarding bedbugs on subway trains," Kelly wrote. " Please be assured that pest-control personnel will continue to be dispatched to trains and employee crew rooms where bedbugs have been reported. They will inspect for bedbugs and fumigate as necessary."
Another MTA spokesman, Adam Lisberg, told Business Insider officials follow up on all reported bedbug sightings in the subway.
"It is impossible to check all 5.5 million daily subway customers for bedbugs before they enter the system, but when we get a report we investigate immediately and fumigate if necessary," said Lisberg.
According to Ortiz, the last time the MTA had multiple bedbug problems in the subway was 2008, soon after infestations began a resurgence in New York.
"We previously had an issue with bed bugs right around the time in 2008 when the city first noticed there was an issue. Bedbugs were sighted on wood benches in a couple of stations," Ortiz said.
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An 80-year-old man in Singapore has been living with bed bugs for over 20 years, AsiaOne has reported.
Over 10 volunteers spent eight hours cleaning the man's house to rid him off the parasites using chemicals and tools, such as adhesive tape and a sand chisel, one of the volunteers told AsiaOne.
Upon entering the man's house, located in Redhill, Singapore, bed bugs rained down on the volunteers as they cleaned the ceiling.
Another volunteer named Chen said there were maggots on the octogenarian's dining table which she cleaned out with hot water.
Dr. Cho, a specialist family doctor, said bed bugs do not cause illnesses but people with sensitive skins can develop an itchy rash. If the wound is scratched, the person might need to be hospitalised and given a jab.
To prevent bed bugs, Dr. Liu, a family doctor, says pillows and mattresses need to be exposed to the sun regularly and the house needs to be sprayed with insecticides.
Dodgy landlords are cramming backpackers and students into filthy apartments, in defiance of all regulations and laws.
Up to 14 people were living in one two-bedroom flat in central Sydney, with the slumlord charging up to $150 per person a week.
Italian traveller Ruben Cortese needed a cheap place to stay at the beginning of a 12-month working holiday, so he answered an ad on the online marketplace, Gumtree.
"[The apartments] were actually very cheap, like $150 per week," Mr Cortese told 7.30.
"I just arrived and I saw the apartments were with sauna, swimming pool," he said of the advertisements.
It looked too good to be true, and it was.
The flat he was shown was actually an illegal backpacker hostel, with four beds in each of three rooms in a small flat.
Mr Cortese moved in, paying $150 a week for one of the twelve beds.
Within weeks he was offered a job as an apartment manager – and it soon became apparent that he was part of a significant operation.
"I had 16 apartments and with an average of eight to twelve people inside each, so for a total of more than 160 people," he said.
"And they were not big apartments - they were all packed inside."
The apartments were not only crowded, they were also filthy.
"They were having bed bugs, dirty carpet, full of cockroaches - three quarters of my apartments were unbelievably full of cockroaches," Mr Cortese said.
Mr Cortese collected rent - always cash - and delivered it to a man he knew as Jack at the Banana Supermarket, a Korean shop below one of the apartment blocks.
"I found out his real name is Amr Hassan, he's a guy from Egypt," Mr Cortese said.
"He was running all this business, everything that happens in this business has to come through him ... every decision that is made about the apartments needs to get his approval. He's actually the boss of everything."
Illegal accommodation network runs more than 60 Sydney apartments
7.30 discovered that Banana Supermarket is the hub of an illegal accommodation network targeting backpackers and international students.
The network has more than 60 apartments in up to a dozen buildings in inner city Sydney.
Up to 14 tenants are crammed into apartments designed for four people.
"One of my units I had, I had 14 people," Mr Cortese said.
"They put a couple of fake walls inside so we had a total of three double rooms and two four-bed bedrooms without a living room, so without a table for dining."
Mr Cortese was one of around six apartment managers who were expected to fill beds by advertising online.
Ads were also placed by casuals working on commission - $50 for each bed they filled.
"They had 30 people that were working for him as casual workers because [Amr Hassan] just paid them with the money of the bond of the people that were moving in," Mr Cortese said.
He says most of the staff were tenants themselves and they were under immense pressure to deliver.
"Jack was always very angry with everyone ... he was shouting [at] all the managers that they didn't have all the beds full of people," he said.
"But it was impossible sometimes because the apartments were really crap.
"If an apartment has two or three empty beds, it's like an emergency for them, because they - Jack - will not earn money from the apartment.
"He earns from the difference between the actual rent of the apartment and what they pay to him."
Operators in the short-term bed-for-rent market are brazen – advertising widely on the street and online.
Slumlords are breaking the law: Backpackers Operators Association
But Kristy Carstairs, president of the Backpackers Operators Association, says what they are doing is illegal.
"There's tax evasion, rate evasion - they're paying residential rates on what is essentially commercial business ... you're breaking strata rules, upsetting neighbours," she told 7.30.
It can also be dangerous, and Australia has a grim record when it come to fires in backpacker accommodation.
Six backpackers died at the Downunder Hotel fire in Kings Cross in 1989.
The toll was even higher at the Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel fire in Queensland in 2000, when 15 young fruit pickers died.
On Wednesday night, firefighters fought a blaze at a backpacker's hostel in Sydney's inner west, where two people were injured.
One of the properties in the Banana Supermarket network was identified as a fire hazard in May this year.
The three-storey building in Ultimo originally had three bedrooms.
It had been converted into illegal backpacker accommodation with 22 bedrooms and 58 tenants.
The NSW Fire and Rescue Service found 27 separate breaches of fire and safety regulations, and issued an emergency order that the building be evacuated.
But the regulatory system is clumsy and operators are quick to find a way to work around local government regulations.
Cortese speaks out to prevent others from being ripped off
Mr Cortese described being asked by Jack to move several beds out of an apartment because council inspectors had been called to investigate reports of over-crowding.
"I go in the apartment with this guy, he disassembles the bed, we put all the beds in [a flat next to] the unit that is going to be inspected by the city council," he said.
"Later Jack takes a look at the apartments, and after all is done he checks if the apartment looks fine - valid for the city council.
"[Then] the city council arrives, all those guys dressed in suits and ties and everything, he brings those guys inside, so the city council comes out and if everything is fine Jack comes to me and usually he tells me, 'yeah, okay let's put everything back'."
But now Mr Cortese wants to speak out to prevent other backpackers and students being ripped off.
"What I really wanted to do... is after I've been working for him, was to stop this kind of thing and just make all those businesses... get destroyed.
"What I want to do is just to make sure that someone else who will come to Australia will not have to pass through this and maybe find the place that they deserve here."
TORONTO - You might want to use an elbow to push the elevator button the next time you are in a hospital.
A new study suggests that elevator buttons in hospitals have more bacteria on them than surfaces in public bathrooms in hospitals.
Analysis of the swabs taken in the study found most of the bugs were benign. But that might not always be the case, said senior author Dr. Donald Redelmeier.
And where people — hopefully — wash their hands after going to the bathroom, they might not think to take the same precaution after doing something as simple as pushing a button to call an elevator and another to select a floor.
"The motivation here is they" — elevator buttons — "are ubiquitous inside hospitals, they're active really every moment of the day and they're touched by multiple people and it's almost always with ungloved hands," said Redelmeier, who is director of clinical epidemiology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
"It's a theoretic risk. But the main point here is that it's also an avoidable risk through hand hygiene."
While elevator buttons are certainly among the surfaces hospital cleaners target, they are touched so often, by so many people, that it's a bit of a losing battle.
"They can't be cleaned again and again and again, every second of the day," Redelmeier said. "Once they're clean, they don't stay clean very long."
With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and outbreaks of C. difficile diarrhea, concern about infection control in hospitals has grown in recent years. As a result, numerous studies have been conducted to identify where bacteria hide in hospitals and how they are transmitted to patients.
Studies have found bacterial contamination on neckties worn by male doctors, lab coats, stethoscopes, curtains separating beds in multiple-bed rooms, computer keyboards as well as smart phones and digital tablets health-care workers use to enter and check patient data.
But equipment is generally in the hands of health-care workers. And hospital staff are regularly bombarded with messages about the need to observe good infection control practices such as washing hands between patients.
Hospital visitors and even patients themselves may have less of an idea that they could play a role in moving bacteria around hospitals, Redelmeier acknowledged.
For the study, swabs were taken from 120 different elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces in three different hospitals in Toronto. Swabbing was done on weekdays and weekends, and a variety of elevator buttons were tested. As well, the public washrooms closest to the elevators were also tested, with swabs taken of the door handles on the inside and outside of the main door, the latch used to close cubicle doors and the toilet flush handle or button.
Sixty-one per cent of the elevator buttons tested were colonized with bacteria, compared to 43 per cent of the toilet surfaces tested.
Redelmeier said people should consider using an elbow, a pen or some other item to push elevator buttons in hospitals, or make sure they use hand sanitizer after exiting an elevator. He and his co-authors suggested hospitals should put sanitizer dispensers in elevators.
When washing hands or using cleansing gel, people should remember to pay particular attention to fingertips — especially the forefinger of the dominant hand, he said.
"Often when people use a hand cleanser, they're very good at washing their palms, but not their fingertips. And yet most of the transmission does not occur in the middle of the hand, it occurs at the periphery of the hand."
The study was published in the journal Open Medicine.
KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 ― Do you think the homeless are lazy?
Some might be. The Malay Mail Online took to the city centre near the Kotaraya shopping complex and Segi College and spoke to several who have been making their beds on the five-foot-way and learnt that some have jobs, are articulate even, but are living on the streets for various reasons.
They came from all over the country hoping for a better life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s glittering capital city.
Some ended up being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers, or find it hard to work a typical nine-to-five job because of mental illness or physical ailments.
Others struggle with HIV, and a few say they prefer sleeping exposed to the elements in the companionship of friends as opposed to caged within four walls or alone in Australia.
One talks about feeding stray cats every day. A common thread of estranged family ties runs through their stories.
These are the tales of the homeless in Kuala Lumpur.
Roslan’s seven siblings kicked him out of the house in Malacca three years ago because he is HIV positive. He has been sleeping on the streets in Kuala Lumpur since and now makes his bed under a large tree near Kotaraya.
Though his mother said he could stay in their house, just seven days after she died, his youngest sister told the 52-year-old Malay man to leave.
“You sort yourself out,” Roslan remembers his sister telling him.
Roslan had moved back in with his mother when he got separated from his wife in 2005 after a 16-year marriage. Despite his HIV status, his wife had accepted him. Thankfully, neither his wife nor his two children have the virus.
But his wife could not take it when Roslan, who started injecting heroin at the age of 15, went back to drugs after being clean for six years during their marriage.
“I made a lot of mistakes. I don’t blame my ex-wife,” Roslan says, ruefully.
He gets angry, however, when he talks about his siblings.
“I have cut off ties with them. My siblings don’t want to accept me because I’m a drug addict,” he says.
But Roslan has been clean for four years since going on a methadone programme.
“I don’t even want to touch it anymore,” he says.
Sia Chin Siew
For Sia Chin Siew, home is now a pile of flattened cardboard boxes outside Bangkok Bank. For a pillow, she uses a bag. A white blanket completes her bed. She burns a mosquito coil at her feet to keep away the bugs.
The 58-year-old woman ran away from home two to three years ago after her husband refused to let their son marry the girl of his choice.
That wasn’t the first time Sia ran away.
It started when she was 18. Her father barred her from dating the man who eventually became her husband.
Sia returned home five years later, after which her father said she could marry whoever she wanted.
“I like freedom,” Sia says.
“I don’t want to rent a room. I can’t live within four walls because it’s very boring. It’s like being in a jail,” she adds.
She says she will consider returning home if her son gets married.
Yu Ching Hua
Yu Ching Hua, a 67-year-old man with a hoary beard, used to be a chef for 32 years and earned RM8,000 a month.
With his income, he managed to send his children overseas. His two daughters are now living in Switzerland, while his son resides in Australia.
In the 1990s, he stayed for six months in Australia. But he didn’t like it because he had no friends there.
“I felt like an idiot every day,” Yu says.
So he came back to Malaysia and now sleeps on the streets in Kuala Lumpur where he has “many friends”. His wife sleeps at her workplace, a childcare centre located in Petaling Jaya.
“I’m used to the outside,” Yu says.
Arinburagan sleeps in a field in Dataran Merdeka in the morning because he works as a car park attendant at night, and it’s too expensive to travel back to the shelter at a Hindu temple in Puchong.
The 61-year-old Indian man has a wife and two children in Ipoh, but declines to elaborate on whether his relationship with them is strained.
“I’ve been sleeping on the streets for three months,” says Arinburagan.
As we talk, a Sikh man passes by and gives Arinburagan a handful of coins. Arinburagan grins and thanks him.
Simon is from Sabah and sells recyclable cans for a living. He sleeps on the streets near the Maybank headquarters in the city centre. He says it is difficult to find work.
Then the 48-year-old man says he hears voices in his head. The voices have been around since he was 14.
“The voices are flying around. They say they don’t like me,” he says.
Simon’s stories are a jumble. He says he once won a Perodua car. And then he relates how his family was kidnapped. He remembers his mother used to collect gold.
Before Ah Fatt talks to me and my colleague Choo Choy May, he feeds an orange tabby leftovers from his Nando’s chicken meal.
A group of people wearing Nando’s T-shirts had passed by the noisy construction area near Bangkok Bank in the city centre, where he sleeps, and had given him chicken, rice and mineral water.
“Every day, I go to KFC and get bones for the six stray cats here,” Ah Fatt says, as he calls out “miaow, miaow” to the orange tabby.
The Chinese bachelor in his 60s has six siblings. He says he doesn’t want to live with them because he feels he would be imposing on them since he’s jobless.
“I don’t want many things; I’m happy with even just one drumstick. So I don’t need to work,” he says.
“There’s so much food here. Six packets of food will arrive at my doorstep every Saturday,” Ah Fatt adds
Nasar stopped working as a security guard 10 years ago because his employer didn’t pay him for three months.
Since then, the 33-year-old Malay man has resorted to begging at the Mydin hypermarket in the city centre, which earns him a tidy amount of RM50 a day. He does it by putting a plastic cup on the floor and holds out his hands.
“I’m forced to beg. Of course I don’t like living like this,” he says, lighting up a cigarette.
Nasar has been sleeping in the same spot under a large tree near Kotaraya for a decade.
S. Sathiumnarainah does odd jobs like fixing cables, but his employer recently stopped paying him.
The 44-year-old man says he prefers to sleep on the streets near Maybank in the city centre rather than stay in his sister’s house because he has friends here. If his friend Mani is not here, then he will go to his sister’s.
Sathiumnarainah talks a lot about his friend Mani.
“Mani likes to drink toddy. He got into a fight. But I don’t drink,” he says.
Beroner Bill works as a security guard and has hostel accommodation, but the 27-year-old Sarawakian prefers to sleep on the streets near Kotaraya because he has many friends here.
The young man, who earns between RM1,000 and RM1,400 monthly, speaks very softly. I have to lean in to hear him.
“I like staying in KL. I like watching people around me,” he says, with a pensive look on his face.
In the area under a large tree where he sleeps, several other people are lying on benches. A baby drinks from a milk bottle as it lies on a rug on the floor.
A shirtless white man works on a crossword puzzle in the dark, his head bent over in concentration. The street lamps are out.
When the FBI is not tracking down federal criminals, tapping phones or secretly hunting aliens, they're compiling an extensive list of how to interpret "leetspeak", or rather, internet slang abbreviations that are usually used on Twitter.
Jason Mathers made a request under the Freedom of Information Act, asking the FBI to disclose all documents that show how the agency defines leetspeak, citing public interest as the slang is commonly used by hackers, and could be useful to computer crimes investigators.
Although the 83-page document is entitled "Twitter shorthand", the FBI's Intelligence Research Support Unit (IRSU), which compiled the 3,000-term glossary, says that it is also to be used as a guide for social media.
The manual states: "With the advent of Twitter and other social media venues, the use of shorthand and acronyms has exploded. [IRSU] has put together an extensive—but far from exhaustive—list of shorthand and acronyms used on Twitter and other social media venues such as instant messages, Facebook, and MySpace."
However, if you were hoping the glossary refers to terms of a clandestine nature, you're going to be disappointed.
The list contains some rather odd acronyms, including common ones like LOL (laugh out loud), BRB (be right back) and YOLO (you only live once), as well as terms like AMOG (alpha male of the group), AWHFY (Are we having fun yet?), BFUT (best friends until tomorrow) or CMAR (cry me a river).
"This list has about 2,800 entries you should find useful in your work or for keeping up with your children and/or grandchildren," the IRSU suggests in the document.
Here are some of the funniest and weirdest terms we've seen on the FBI's list – bet you didn't know some of these:
NIFOC – Naked in front of computer
SHCOON – Shoot hot coffee out of nose
SKI – Spend kids' inheritance
BTDTGTTAWIO – Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore it out
J CAT – Category J – mentally unstable person
NFN – Normal for Norfolk (originally a derogatory term used by medical doctors in Norfolk and Norwich hospital in UK for intellectually challenged patients. Now may also mean something more endearing-like quaint)
ICBINB – I can't believe it's not butter
GNSTDLTBBB – Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite
GIYF – Google is your friend
MAP – Man-alien-predator
LOTR – Lord of the Rings
ITTET – In these tough economic times
Edmonton’s fierce rental boom is making it difficult for some people to afford suitable housing.
New statistics show Edmonton and Calgary have the lowest rental vacancy rates – and some of the highest rent increases – in Canada.
In Edmonton, that means the cost of a monthly rent is rising faster than inflation, leading to a highly competitive rental market, particularly when it comes to two-bedroom apartments.
Kristen Grenier said it took her four months to find a two-bedroom apartment she and her partner could afford for their family of four.
The Highlands apartment, which has bed bugs and a leaky bathroom ceiling, costs them $975 every month.
"My son's waking up in the middle of the night, ‘mom, I'm itchy, mom, my toes.’"
Now, Grenier said she wants to move, but has not been able to find anything else suitable in her price range.
"Everything goes fast. Everyone has a waiting list," she said of her house hunt.
“[It] makes us feel pretty, pretty low, right? Like we're not worth living in a bigger place or a better place. Like our family is, this is what we're worth, that's it. It's really hard.”
The Grenier family said they have applied for subsidized housing, but were told it could take up to three years before any aid comes through.
"It's a recipe for housing disaster,” acknowledged Mayor Don Iveson, who is now urging the federal government to step in.
This photo taken June 5, 2014 shows diagrams in a room where the Drake bug collection is held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington. When Dr. Carl J. Drake died in 1965 he left the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History $250,000 and his collection of thousands of bugs. Drake, an entomologist, spent his life studying insects, and he gave the Smithsonian a mission for his money: buy more bugs. After nearly half a century, however, the Smithsonian is having a hard time following the directives of Drake’s will. (AP Photo/Connor Radnovich)