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Amazon Live is the retailers latest effort to take on QVC with live-streamed video

Amazon is taking on QVC with the launch of Amazon Live, which features live-streamed video shows from Amazon talent as well as those from brands that broadcast their own live streams through a new app, Amazon Live Creator. On the live shows, hosts talk about and demonstrate products available for sale on Amazon, much like they do on QVC. Beneath that sits a carousel where shoppers can browse product details and make purchases.

More than one video streams on Amazon Live at the same time, so shoppers can tune to the one that most interests them.

For example, Amazon Live is currently streaming a Valentine’s Day Gift Shop show, a cooking-focused show (In the Kitchen with @EdenEats) and Back to Business Live, which is showing off products aimed at daycare centers and schools.

You can tap on the different videos to change streams, scroll down to watch recordings of those videos that were recently live or view which live shows are coming up next.

On the web, the live-streaming site is available at Amazon.com/Live, but it’s not listed yet in Amazon’s main navigation menus so it remains hard to find. On mobile, there’s now a section labeled “Amazon Live” that’s appearing on both the iOS and Android app’s main navigation menu as of a recent app update.

We’ve confirmed the page Amazon.com/Live is newly added, though this is not the first time Amazon has offered live streams.

The retailer has dabbled in live streaming in the past, with mixed results.

Two years ago, it pulled the plug on its short-lived effort, Style Code Live, which also offered a QVC-like home shopping experience. The live show featured hosts with TV and broadcast backgrounds, and brought in experts to talk about beauty and style tips.

But Style Code Live focused only on fashion and beauty.

Amazon Live, on the other hand, covers all sorts of products, ranging from smart home to games to toys to kitchen items to home goods to electronics to kitchen items and much more. It’s also positioned differently. Instead of being a single live video show featuring only Amazon talent and guests, live streaming is something Amazon is opening up to brands that want to reach a wider audience and get their products discovered.

Above: Amazon Live hosts – according to LinkedIn, they are not Amazon employees

You may have seen some of these live-streamed videos from brands in the past.

On Prime Day 2017 and again in 2018, Amazon aired live video streams promoting some of the Prime Day deals. These videos were produced by the brands, very much like some you’ll now find on Amazon Live.

The company has also aired live-streamed content on its Today’s Deals page, and has allowed brands to stream to their product pages, their Store and on Amazon.com/Live before today.

Amazon now aims to make it easier for brands to participate on Amazon Live, too.

On a website detailing Amazon Live, Amazon touts how live-streaming video can drive sales, allow a brand to interact with their customers in real time — including through chat during the live stream — and reach more shoppers. One early tester, card game maker “Watch Ya’ Mouth,” is quoted saying that live streaming had helped to increase daily visits to its product detail page by 5x and “significantly grew our sales.”

The informational site also points brands to Amazon’s new app for live streaming, Amazon Live Creator.

Available only on iOS, the app allows a brand to stream its video content directly to Amazon.com on desktop, mobile and within the Amazon mobile app. The app supports streaming directly from the smartphone itself or through an encoder using a professional camera.

It also includes built-in analytics so brands can determine how well their stream performed, including things like how much of their budget they’ve spent on “boosting” (a way to pay to reach more shoppers), total views, unmuted views and other metrics.

According to data from Sensor Tower, Amazon Live Creator was released yesterday, on February 7, 2019, and is currently unranked on the App Store. It has no reviews, but has a five-star rating.

Currently, the live-streaming feature is open to U.S. Professional Sellers registered in the Amazon Brand Registry, Amazon’s website says, and live streaming from China and Hong Kong is not supported.

Amazon has been interested in live streaming for some time. The company patented its idea around live video shopping last year and was spotted hiring for its Amazon Live efforts before that.

However, Amazon had claimed at the time that its live-stream shopping experiences were “not new.”

That’s true, given that live streams that would sometimes appear around big sales, like Prime Day, for instance. But Amazon has promoted its live video directly to online shoppers since Style Code Live.

This week’s launch of the Amazon Live app for brands and Amazon’s move to create a dedicated link to the Amazon Live streams on its mobile app indicates that live video is becoming a much bigger effort for the retailer, despite its attempt to shoo this away as “old news.”

This increased focus on live video also comes at a time when Instagram is being rumored to be working on a standalone shopping app, and is heavily pushing its creator-focused IGTV product into users’ home feeds. QVC itself just announced its new identity, plans to venture deeper into e-commerce, and shoppable video app. And, of course, YouTube has capitalized on how both live and pre-recorded video demos from brands and influencers can help to sell products like makeup, electronics, toys and more.

Amazon formallydeclined to comment.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/08/amazon-live-is-the-retailers-latest-effort-to-take-on-qvc-with-live-streamed-video/

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Why Americans love the Great British Bake Off

Image copyright Love Productions

It’s the most British of shows, yet this world of Victoria sponges and Bakewell tarts has Americans transfixed. What’s the recipe for its success in the US?

It was a Bedfordshire clanger that did it.

Laura Sampson was in her farmhouse in rural Alaska, watching the Great British Bake Off (known as the Great British Baking Show), when the hosts unveiled the contestants’ latest task. It was a stuffed suet pastry – half-savoury, half-sweet – a recipe long forgotten by almost everyone in the UK and certainly unknown on the other side of the Atlantic.

“For some reason, that was the bake that got me worked up. I wanted to be in the tent,” she says. “That’s when I decided to start my own bake-a-long.”

Since September, Laura has been running a Facebook group for fans of the series based in the US.

“The Official Steamed School Pudding Thread!” is a sample post in the group, which now has more than 200 members. Laura gives tips on converting measurements in the show to the US equivalents, and then posts a weekly challenge, allowing fans across the country to come back with pictures of their creations.

At first she thought about sourcing a big prize, but then she realised this was not in keeping with the ethos. What Americans often praise about the show is the lack of cut-throat competition or monetary incentives.

As the LA Times once wrote: “Contestants never say things like ‘I didn’t come here to make friends.’ There are no irritating product placements and – perhaps most incomprehensibly to American audiences – no material riches to be won.”

Incredulously, it continued: “That’s right: The winner of The Great British Baking Show wins a title and an engraved cake stand, and that’s it.”

A tricky start

The show’s introduction into American life has not been straightforward. First, the name had to change, because the Pilsbury company have trademarked “bake off”. It was also shown out of sequence, via the PBS network.

And then there was the controversy of the third series of the American version – called The Great American Baking Show and running on ABC – when host Johnny Iuzzini was accused of sexual harassment and the series was pulled midway through its run. Nobody saw winner New York lawyer Vallery Lomas take her prize and she has recently been calling on the channel to air the missing episodes.

To attempt to reboot the American version, Spice Girl Emma Bunton took over as host at the end of last year, but it is the original show that has got the most attention.

In August, it was acquired by Netflix, bringing it to an even wider audience, which has been bingeing it over the winter months.

Many US viewers have said that they decompress watching the show, and they like that it is the antithesis of the nation’s fraught politics.

Laura says her baking group is a politics-free zone. “That was the biggest surprise for me. After the first round I felt I had truly found a place on social media that was kind,” she says.

Lisa Gorski, a federally-employed microbiologist from San Francisco, can also relate. She has been baking recipes from the show while off work during the government shutdown. “I’ve been so inspired by the show that I’ve just been using my time off in the kitchen to try new things,” she says. “It is a total escape.”‘

And if you really want a sense of how people are finding solace in the show, look to former UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. Last year, he gave the most unexpected twist to a hard news story, when he told Reuters that the Great British Bake Off was his release after dealing with world horrors.

“This man pulls out a soufflé just before the competition ends and the thing collapses,” he said, recalling an episode. “I burst into tears and I couldn’t stop.”

“I watch them all,” says Charles Skinner, a government auditor and drag racer from Maryland, who is a member of the Facebook bake-along group. “The Great British Bake Off, the Great American Baking Show, Zumbo’s Just Desserts [an Australian desserts competition].”

He likes the American version, but not as much. “It’s less technical. You wouldn’t get a bread lion,” he says. And he was a big fan of Mary Berry, who presented the original BBC run of the show. “I would love to meet her. She seems so witty.”

Image copyright Charles Skinner
Image caption Charles Skinner has been inspired by the bread week challenges; this is his cinnamon star bread

He has expanded his own kitchen repertoire through the show. “I live in a remote area and I never know if what I am making is turning out right, so that’s why I like watching the judges’ reactions.” And that’s why he joined the Facebook group.

Chrystina Cappello, an engineer from Philadelphia, also wanted to try out the show’s recipes alongside others, and she decided to create her own “baking tent” atmosphere by running themed parties.

She started getting a group of friends together – those who bake and those who want to judge. “There was a score card, and the judges would deliberate and talk about why each item deserved its score in each of the categories: level of difficulty, originality, presentation, and taste,” she says.

She says it was the camaraderie of the show that won her over. “The producers focus on the moments that the team are working together – when someone helps someone take something out of a pan, when someone has a suggestion on how to fix something, or just gives a much-needed hug. It’s endearing, and it’s exactly what the world needs right now – more feel-good television.”

The original presenters – Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins – are often credited with helping set the tone of the show. They reportedly stormed off set during the first series, accusing a producer of trying to manufacture X-Factor-style drama when a contestant was reduced to tears over a personal issue.

No one ever cried again,” Perkins told the Telegraph. “Maybe they cry because their soufflé collapsed, but nobody’s crying because someone’s going ‘Does this mean a lot about your grandmother?'”

Image copyright Chrystina Cappello
Image caption Entries for “cake week” at Chrystina Cappello’s Bake Off party

The Great British Baking Show is now part of US culture. The New York Times has run a translation guide. “Stodgy is bad, scrummy is good, gutted is bad,” it explained.

Saturday Night Live has spoofed it; The Late Late Show has broadcast its staff bake-off; The Daily Show has used it to explain Brexit, calling it the Great British Break-Off.

The hosts and contestants are becoming household names.

Great British Bake Off contestant Val Stones is a regular visitor to the US, but says she started to get recognised a lot more this year, after the show went up on Netflix.

The retired headteacher from Doncaster has had fans approach her while doing a charity fun run in New Jersey, during a wine tasting in New York State and at a Waffle House in Memphis, among other places.

Image copyright Love Productions
Image caption Val Stones on the 2016 series of The Great British Bake Off

“My husband says that as we walk through places, such as Tennessee and Kentucky, folk would give me a second glance on hearing my distinct voice, but then think they were wrong,” she told the BBC. Lots of people start the conversation with “Do I know you? Do you live on my street?”.

And it is that neighbourly familiarity combined with an across-the-pond sweetness – which even the British find unusual – that has made it so popular.

The New York-based Fansided website recently summed up the appeal of the “cheerful little series” following a spat of difficult news worldwide.

“Nobody shared their views on Brexit or gave their opinion on Theresa May. Hardly anyone even mentioned personal hardships […] All that outside noise, is left where it belongs – outside,” it wrote.

“The Great British Baking Show,” it concluded, has become “the perfect set of arms to run into”.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46846771

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Scientists Are Revealing The Weirdest Thing They’ve Done For Science, And They’re Brilliant

Social media often gets a bad rap, but it does have its uses – mainly sharing cute, weird or hilarious animal videos – but also offering people a glimpse into the lives of others, people whose careers, vocations, and interests are perhaps different from our own.

Asking an open question on social media can be dangerous territory, but one Twitter user offered up one this week that not only cracked open the weird world of science experiments but also provided an insight into the daily life of being a scientist.

“What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done for science?” Jason Rasgon asked on Twitter.

It turns out, “weird” is a sliding scale, and one person’s weird is another person’s whatever.

As is so often the case, when it comes to weird, slightly squeamish, and downright gross acts of exploration in the name of science, biologists took the lead and ran.

Unsurprisingly, animal sex, whether that’s watching from afar, interrupting, or even assisting, featured prominently, as did getting up close and personal with some interesting parts of their anatomy.

Not all experiments take place in the lab. Apparently using homegrown equipment – or whatever you have in the kitchen – is suffice. Think of that the next time you have dinner at a scientist’s house.

Some had some exciting mishaps with human bones.

Some are just… what? And why… WHY? (In some of these cases we suspect it is best not to know why).

Although some really do warrant some clarification.

So there you have it. A little glimpse into the everyday work life of a scientist. If you are one, you’re probably thinking, “Pffft, those are nothing, wait until you hear about the time I…” (Seriously, please do share in the comments, we WANT to know what you’ve done).   

If you’re not one (yet) and are considering it as a career path, let me just share with you what my colleague, a zoology graduate, said on learning about this thread: “Did I ever tell you about the bee disco we made at university?”

Why wouldn’t you want to be a scientist?

Read more: https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/scientists-are-revealing-the-weirdest-things-theyve-done-for-science-and-theyre-brilliant/

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Cardi B speaks out on government shutdown

Image: Mel Evans/AP/Shutterstock

As Donald Trump’s partial shutdown of the U.S. government approaches the end of its first (and hopefully last) month, every little bit helps. Jon Bon Jovi is doing his part.

The ’80s rocker — he’s had quite an accomplished career, but memories of Slippery When Wet will never fade — owns and operates New Jersey’s JBJ Soul Kitchen with his wife and business partner, Dorothea. The two have offered to treat any furloughed federal employees to a free lunch on Monday.

“Since founding the Soul Kitchen, we wanted to ensure that anyone struggling with food insecurity had a place to go,” the pair said in a statement, via NBC Philadelphia. “This Monday, we will be open for lunch as a way to create a place of support and resources for furloughed federal workers, many of whom are our friends and neighbors.”

The meals will be offered in partnership with the Murphy Family Foundation, a charitable organization founded by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy. Monday, January 21, marks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The statement went on to add that additional free meals for federal employees “will be determined by turnout, feedback and demand, and will be announced at a later date.” Federal employees should bring proof of employment if they want to get in on this.

JBJ Soul Kitchen isn’t your typical restaurant. Founded in 2011, the self-described “community restaurant” serves three-course meals paid for by a suggested $20 donation. According to its website, the restaurant will still serve those who can’t afford the donation. 

The partial U.S. government shutdown that began on Dec. 22 has left roughly 800,000 federal employees temporarily out of work or working without pay. It’s the longest shutdown in U.S. history and the second of Trump’s troubled tenure as president.

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/bon-jovi-restaurant-us-government-shutdown-free-lunch/

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Couple sat on knife-wielding burglar

Image copyright Media Lincs
Image caption Robert Barnes was jailed for two years and four months

A rail enthusiast and his wife tackled a butter knife-wielding burglar who tried to steal a prized collection of model trains, a court heard.

John Headington, 85, and his 57-year-old wife Susan sat on Robert Barnes to restrain him after the break-in.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Barnes used a brick to smash his way into the house while the couple slept on 20 November.

Barnes, 28, admitted burglary and possession of a bladed article and was jailed for two years and four months.

The court heard Mrs Headington was woken by the sound of Barnes, of no fixed address, breaking in through the kitchen door of the Lincolnshire home.

Two hip replacements

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said she saw a light on in an upstairs room where her husband kept his model railway collection and decided to ring the police.

Former railway worker Mr Headington, who has had two hip replacements, managed to get Barnes in a bear hug as he emerged from the room carrying some of his most valuable model trains.

Mr Scott said: “Barnes barged past Mr Headington who fell backwards against the landing wall.

“As Barnes continued down the stairs he ripped the phone from Mrs Headington but then fell down and rolled on to the floor.

“Mrs Headington sat on Barnes and was joined by her husband.”

Judge Simon Hirst described the couple’s bravery as “remarkable”, while the court heard Barnes had no memory of events after drinking heavily.

The judge said Barnes “took highly sentimental items and damaged them beyond repair”, and condemned him for “barging past an 85-year-old man”.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-47198502

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Asian food delivery startup Chowbus raises $4M

When one food delivery startup fails, another gets funded.

Chowbus, an Asian food ordering platform headquartered in Chicago, has brought in a $4 million “seed” funding led by Greycroft Partners and FJ Labs, with participation from Hyde Park Angels and Fika Ventures. The startup, aware of the challenges that plague startups in this space, says offering exclusive access to restaurants and eliminating service fees sets it apart from big-name competitors like Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.

The Chowbus platform focuses on meals rather than restaurants. While scrolling through the mobile app, a user is connected to various independent restaurants depending on what particular dish they’re seeking. Chowbus says only a small portion of the restaurants on its platform, 15 percent, are also available on Grubhub and Uber Eats. 

The app is currently available in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Champaign, Ill. and Lansing, Mich. With the new investment, which brings Chowbus’ total raised to just over $5 million, the startup will launch in up to 20 additional markets. Eventually, Chowbus says it will expand into other cuisines, too, beginning with Mexican and Italian. 

Chowbus was founded in 2016 by chief executive officer Linxin Wen and chief technology officer Suyu Zhang.

“When I first came to the U.S. five years ago, I found most restaurants I really liked [weren’t] on Grubhub nor other major delivery platforms and the delivery fees were quite high,” Wen told TechCrunch. “So I thought, maybe I can build a platform to support these restaurants,”

TechCrunch chatted with Wen and Zhang on Tuesday, the day after Munchery announced it was shutting down its prepared meal delivery business. Naturally, I asked the founders what made them think Chowbus can survive in an already crowded market, dominated by the likes of Uber.

“The central kitchen model doesn’t work; the cost is too high,” Zhang said, referring to Munchery’s business model, which prepared food for its meal service in-house rather than sourcing through local restaurants.

“We don’t own the kitchen or the chef, we just take advantage of the resources and help restaurants make more money,” Wen added. “The food delivery space is really huge and growing so quick.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/24/asian-food-delivery-startup-chowbus-raises-4m/

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I Threw Blankets And Leftover Christmas Decorations On My Friends And Family In A Series I Call Budget Renaissance

Recently I’ve been in love with old Renaissance and Dutch Master portraits. There’s something about that old-timey surreal style – soft lighting, random animals, longing stares into the distance — that I needed to try for myself.

I had no idea where to begin until I got a small battery-powered light wand for Christmas this year. My brother (pictured below) and I started playing around on Christmas morning, brainstorming in the dining room with a dark sheet clamped to a shelf on the wall for a backdrop. We started pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree, a garland from the kitchen, a blanket from the couch, and BAM! In 10 minutes we had traveled back 400 years.

It cracked us up. Seriously, we could not stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. We started adding anything else we could find around the house, from babies and pets to candles and parents.

For the grand finale, I wanted to take a stab at recreating the Last Supper during a Friendsgiving potluck at my brother’s house a few days later. I think this one turned out to be one of my all-time favorite pictures and one that the baby (my niece) will definitely get a kick out of when she’s older. I call it First Supper.

Brother of Christmas Present

Brother of Scholarly Articles

Brother of Fur

Mom with Grandchild

Justin the Wise

First Supper


Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/budget-renaissance-photography-lee-mora/

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Suspect charged in fatal shooting of Milwaukee officer

This undated image provided by the Milwaukee County Jail shows Jordan Fricke. On Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, Fricke was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and other crimes in the fatal shooting Wednesday of Officer Matthew Rittner, who was serving a search warrant. (Milwaukee County Jail via AP)

A man who was charged Sunday with killing a Milwaukee officer during a drug raid on his home told investigators that he didn’t realize it was police trying to break down his door, authorities said.

Jordan P. Fricke, 26, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and other crimes in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Officer Matthew Rittner, who was part of a tactical unit trying to serve a warrant to search the home for illegal drugs and weapons on Wednesday morning.

According to the criminal complaint, police announced their presence several times and said they had a search warrant, and an officer yelled “police” right before Fricke fired four rounds through a hole in the door that Rittner had made with a battering ram. Rittner died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Fricke was in bed with his girlfriend when they were awakened by loud noise and yelling. He told investigators that he never heard anyone yell “search warrant.” He said he thought he heard someone say “police” but didn’t think it was actually the police trying to break into his home, the complaint states.

Fricke’s girlfriend said she saw him shoot at the kitchen door and that she knew police were at the door because she heard them identify themselves, according to the complaint.

Fricke, who also faces reckless endangerment and drug charges, remained jailed on Sunday with preliminary bail set at $500,000. Court records do not list an attorney who could speak for him.

Rittner, a 17-year veteran of the force, was the third Milwaukee officer killed in the line of duty in eight months. The department had previously gone more than two decades without such a death.

Rittner’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at Oak Creek Assembly of God Church in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/suspect-charged-in-fatal-shooting-of-milwaukee-officer

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NHS treats 1,000 young stab victims in a year

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionPC Rob Pedley: “You’re carrying the county’s number one murder weapon”

More than 1,000 10 to 19-year-olds were admitted to hospital with knife wounds in 2017/18.

The figure, from NHS England, reveal a 54% rise in the number of children and teenagers treated for injuries from knives over five years.

It comes as a leading consultant warns that she is seeing increasing numbers of girls involved in knife crime.

Doctors also said that injuries were becoming more severe and victims getting younger.

‘Severe injuries are the norm’

The figures record the number of people admitted to hospital for an overnight stay or longer, for knife crime injuries between 2012-13 and 2017-18.

Among victims aged between 10 and 19, the numbers went up from 656 to 1,012 last year. Admissions have also grown by 30% across all ages, from 3,849 in 2012-13, to 4,986 last year.

Doctors said the numbers could be even higher, as victims who received treatment in A&E for minor knife crime injuries were not recorded.

Dr Martin Griffiths, consultant trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital, said: “We are seeing a lot more adolescents and young people with severe injuries. That used to be an occasional occurrence, now it is the norm.

“This week I expect to see someone of school age as a matter of course.

“I see the wasted opportunities of young people stuck on hospital wards with life-changing injuries.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionKnife crime: What’s it like to be stabbed?

‘Filming attacks’

Dr Gayle Hann, the lead for paediatric A&E at North Middlesex Hospital, pointed to the rising numbers of girls becoming involved.

“It used to be that we rarely saw girls and young women, but now we are seeing increasing numbers as both victims and aggressors.

“Young women are coming in who have had their mobile phones taken off them in an attack, then had their attack filmed as part of their humiliation.

“They are then told that if they say anything their attackers will put the video on the internet.”

Dr Hann said knives are also getting bigger: “I used to take kitchen knives off people, now we are seeing zombie knives.”

‘Care in the community’

Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, a charity which campaigns against knife crime, said: “This is a crisis. Many young people see no other alternative for them than to carry knives in their environment.

“Youth workers in hospitals who are providing ongoing support to young people are making a big difference.

“But we need to prevent them getting there in the first place, and educate them to make better choices.”

Dr Griffiths said the Royal London Hospital had done work with the charity St Giles Trust to reduce the numbers of young victims of knife attacks returning to hospital with further injuries.

“We’ve dramatically reduced readmissions by giving our victims of injury a case worker who will meet them in the hospital, and give them a further six months of bespoke care in the community” he said.

“The best results are obtained by consistent, nurturing bonds.

“Knife violence is endemic. We all have a responsibility to engage with supporting youth to address this.”

In January, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced new knife crime prevention orders which can be issued by police to anyone aged 12 or over who is believed to be carrying a blade.

The Asbo-style orders would give police more power to impose curfews, send young people caught with knives to educational courses and – in some cases – restrict their social media use to prevent rival disputes escalating.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47159808

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“It Stopped My Heart. I Landed on a Glass I Was Carrying. A Voice Told Me I Was Dying. Oh God No! I Didnt Want to Die.”

An energy drink stopped my heart. I landed on a glass I was carrying, and a chunk of it punctured my jugular. My blood pressure was 70/40 when paramedics arrived and it kept dropping lower each time they raised my arm to take it, and I’d pass out. I fractured my cheek and jaw in that fall and got a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a bonus.

I had an out of town funeral to attend the following day. The drive was going to take about [six] hours. I was gassing up my car, and at the last minute, I decided to get an energy drink because I was driving at night. I get sleepy, and I since I had our son Trevor with me, I wanted to be sure I’d stay awake. So I went in the store and got myself a drink. I remember having second thoughts as I grabbed the can from the cooler, like that deep gut ‘oh I’m going to get busted’ feeling, but I went against it and grabbed a biggie… the biggest mistake of my life.

I had arranged to stay with a girlfriend, and as I was getting off the freeway, I called my husband Chuck. He stayed home with our oldest son because of work and school. Chuck teaches Marine Corps JROTC and he couldn’t take the time off work. I told Chuck I’d call him when I got there but since it was after midnight, I called as I was getting off the freeway instead. I said I’d call him the next morning and told him I loved him, not knowing that was almost the last time I’d get to say it.

Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

I got to my friend’s house and made myself at home while I waited for her to get home from work. I went out on the patio and suddenly began feeling a little nauseous, immediately feeling like something was seriously wrong. I didn’t want to collapse on concrete, so I went inside. I had a glass of water in one hand and my big ‘ol large diet coke, like 64 oz big, in the other. I had gotten it later on the drive. I had a lot of caffeine. I remember standing at the corner of the kitchen counter and the next memory is me opening my eyes and I’m lying on something red. My head was between the legs of a butcher block table and a vintage cast iron stove and my head was touching each of them — table on the left and stove on the right. I sat up and felt stuff falling on my chest from my face and something was in my mouth and on my lips. It was shattered glass. I started spitting it out and wiping my chin. As I continue to wipe it off, I ran my hand down my chin and under my jaw where I felt something snag my finger. I was so out of it, I grabbed around the glass and squeezed it out. I was an X-ray tech and medical assistant and I also taught CPR/First Aid. I know not to pull objects from the body, ESPECIALLY THE NECK!

Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

I remember looking at the claw-shaped glass now in my palm and telling my friend’s son I need to wash my neck. My friend’s kids were home, and when I fell, they heard the glass shatter and came running. Her son [Colton] came up from behind me and saw the glass in my hand and blood running down my chest, and her daughter and son’s friend came in from the other direction and saw me from the front. Between these three, one got me up, one called 911 and the other got towels. My head was starting to hurt and so was my face. I leaned over the sink to wash my neck, and everything goes white. No pain, no speech, no sight, and my legs buckled. I collapsed into Colton’s arms and what I could hear sounded like kids playing at the end of the block. A male voice came to me and told me I was dying. Oh God no! I didn’t want to die. Trevor was with me and I didn’t want to tell him I loved him because I didn’t want my last words to be in that moment, but I wanted him to know I loved him. And poor Trevor — he was in the next room listening to me moaning and repeating that I loved him when the paramedics were taking me. I don’t remember that, but it has traumatized him. He has Autism. I remember thinking I was having this internal pull and a second man’s voice came to me and told me to keep my eye open and if I closed them, I’d never wake up. So I began to fight.

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Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

The sounds I heard was my friend’s son Colton screaming next to my head, and her daughter Jesse frantically trying to get the Paramedics to her house. Colton was holding me while trying to keep pressure on my neck. Can you imagine being him, having to hold dead weight up because you can’t let go of the towel? When the paramedics got there, I was set down on a chair and each time the paramedics raised my arm to take my blood pressure, I’d collapse. I remember hearing the paramedic saying I was lucky because I nicked my jugular. My BP was unstable and I was fighting to keep my eyes open like a 3-year-old not wanting to take a nap. It was the longest ride to the hospital and every bump along the way, I’d bottom out.

When the emergency room doctor walked up to my gurney, I told him, ‘Listen doc, I need to be out of here by 6:30 a.m. because I have a funeral to be at by 9.’ He said, ‘Just be glad it isn’t yours.’ He also said it would’ve happened while I was driving if I had further to go. I went down for a funeral. Oh, the irony. I was being wheeled in, and morphine was mentioned but I didn’t know why. Apparently, I bounced off the butcher block table with my left cheek and hit the cast iron stove before my head got nestled between the two.

The ER doctor said the combo of the energy drink mixed with the extra fluid from the Diet Coke, and both being a diuretic, caused the problems in my heart, because of my having to use the restroom [six] times on the trip down there. Using the restroom caused me to lose critical electrolytes we need for our heart to function. He told me, ‘Next time, leave earlier and drink coffee instead. No more energy drinks for you!’ I received a couple more shots while there, and boy I was hurting, but I was eventually discharged.

I made it to the funeral after all, but ended up driving the wrong way on a one-way street in front of the cemetery. You’re probably thinking I was determined to be buried that day. After that little fiasco, I was refused the right to drive home for [three] days. That drive home was difficult and long. I kept getting sleepy, and that kept up for quite a while. It’s been [seven] years and I can just now drive [three] hours by myself without anyone else in the car. I suffered a traumatic brain injury with that concussion.

Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

The effects of a TBI are devastating. I lost a part of my life I’ll never get back. My memory. I can’t recall my children’s milestones and when the doctor asks about them, I feel like a failure for not knowing. A common phrase in our house is, ‘Mom, we already watched that.’ The most treasured part of us is our mind/memory and mine has forever been altered, and when they’re ripped out from under you, it’s a disheartening feeling. It angers me most. Probably because I didn’t listen to my gut when I reached in the cooler.

Memorizing phone numbers is a thing of the past. I can’t do it. Three digits in and I’ve already forgotten the first two. I forgot how to write a check. I forgot how to sign my name, let alone know what my signature looked like. I‘ve forgotten how to hold a pen. I’ve forgotten how to do many things and had to relearn them, and that is maddening. This energy drink accident changed the lives of everyone in my home. When someone grabs for that can, they’re only thinking of themselves and the instant gratification they’ll get in that first sip, and not about who’s left to pick up the pieces. It makes me so mad my life changed so drastically because of that choice I made.

If I can change one person’s energy drink habit, I’ll be pleased. It would mean the world to me if I can save at least one person’s life. Sadly, Colton lost his life a year after my accident as well. It was said he had [two] of those energy drink beers a few hours before his heart stopped. He died because his heart was enlarged, and it just wore out.

These drinks are like liquid heroin because of the addiction for the energy. One sip and you’re hooked because the extra energy is easily accessible. These energy drinks don’t have to be consumed on a regular basis to cause an injury. I drank maybe two energy drinks a year if that. I’ve probably had [eight] in total over a six-year period. I stopped [six] times to use the restroom on that drive and that caused me to lose critical electrolytes we need for our heart to function. I don’t know if the rapid heart rate is worse than electrolyte depletion, but the combo can be dangerous. Our heart muscle is constructed like a net, unlike our long muscles. Each of those tiny branches [has] a lifespan, unlike the long muscles. They’re like a rubber band and wear out like an overused rubber band does. That’s what people don’t understand.

We take 50 of my husband’s cadets to a Marine Corps Base during spring break and whenever I see our servicemen carrying one, I’m diligent about walking up to them and telling them what happened to me. My husband incorporates my accident into his instruction too. They’re more than just bad, they’re destructive.

My goals of becoming a sign language interpreter ended that day. I couldn’t remember my signs and I struggled for [two] years until I resigned to the fact I couldn’t do it. I call myself a housewife now, but my husband says I’m not, I’m the boss of our home. I like the ring of that. I now just dedicate myself to educating others about the energy drink dangers every opportunity I can. My husband and boys have been incredibly supportive… even sitting through the same movie for me. We just say I’m forgetful now. It’s less hurtful.

Courtesy of Tara Mundorff

“I was too stubborn to die and here I am, and I hope my photos and story impacts others to quit.”

**This story was written by Tara Mundorff and originally appeared on Love What Matters. Used with permission. 

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