This State Just Banned Carrying A Gun While Drinking A Single Can Of Beer

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Utah Bans Carrying A Gun While Drinking A Single Can Of Beer

Simply carrying a gun after drinking one beer or one glass of wine soon will be a crime in one American state.

That’s because a new law in Utah cracking down on drunk driving also might, by extension, restrict gun rights in the state.

A new law, HB 155, lowers the blood alcohol limit for driving in Utah from .08 percent to .05 percent,  making it the toughest such law in the nation, The Washington Post reported. The lowest threshold in other states is .08.

Governor Gary R. Herbert signed the measure into law on March 23 despite opposition from the restaurant, alcohol and tourism industries, as well as from some gun rights groups.

The new law, combined with another part of Utah criminal code, has a major impact on gun owners.

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Section 528 of Title 76 and Chapter 10 of the Utah Criminal Code states: “Any person who carries a dangerous weapon while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance … is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.”

“Under the influence” is now defined as .05 percent.

“To understand how low this limit is, consider that a 100-pound woman would most likely reach this level after one beer and as such would be unable to carry a hunting knife, firearm, or even a stun gun,” a statement from the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC) reads. The USSC urged Herbert to veto the law. “… The restrictions on carrying a dangerous weapon would apply at all times and everywhere including your home.”

USCC emphasized that it “is not good practice to be shooting while drinking, nor do we believe that one should be allowed to carry a firearm while drunk.”

“However, there is a big difference between actively shooting a firearm while drunk and simply carrying a firearm or hunting knife when one has had a beer,” USCC said. “We believe that a person should not lose the ability to exercise their right of self-defense for having a small amount of alcohol in their system.”

The American Beverage Institute ran an ad in some newspapers reading, “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation.”

Similar laws eventually may spread. The Post reported that bills lowering the blood alcohol level to .05 percent were proposed in Washington state and Hawaii but failed.

Herbert did not address the gun issue but pointed to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that found, “A large body of creditable research over many years has clearly shown that impairment of tasks necessary for safe driving begins at levels as low as 0.05 percent.”

France, Italy, Russia and Australia all have .05 limits.

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Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset

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Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset

Residents of one American city can thank an unlikely group of “masked superheroes” for road repairs.

The masked, self-described anarchists in Portland, Ore., are dressed as ninjas and filling potholes while winning popular gratitude, KGW-TV reported. Their efforts have earned the praise of residents and opposition from the Oregon city’s government.

“Successful preliminary action today. We patched five potholes on SE Salmon, between 37th and 39th,” the group, known as Portland Anarchist Road Care, posted on its Facebook page recently.

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Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset But city officials want the group to stop.

“It’s not safe for them because there is traffic on the streets and they can potentially put themselves at risk and the public at risk if the repair isn’t done properly,” Dylan Rivera of the Portland Bureau of Transportation said of the anarchists.

Some citizens, though, love what the vigilantes are doing. The anarchists post pictures of themselves, masked, repairing potholes.

“They don’t need to be masked,” resident Tom Satchell said of the anarchists. “They’re doing a great job.”

Rivera said the city has fixed more than 900 potholes so far this year and has crews out working on the problem on every sunny day. It is not clear how many potholes the anarchists have repaired.

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Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset

Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset

Residents of one American city can thank an unlikely group of “masked superheroes” for road repairs.

The masked, self-described anarchists in Portland, Ore., are dressed as ninjas and filling potholes while winning popular gratitude, KGW-TV reported. Their efforts have earned the praise of residents and opposition from the Oregon city’s government.

“Successful preliminary action today. We patched five potholes on SE Salmon, between 37th and 39th,” the group, known as Portland Anarchist Road Care, posted on its Facebook page recently.

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Masked Vigilantes Are Repairing A City’s Potholes – And Officials Are Upset But city officials want the group to stop.

“It’s not safe for them because there is traffic on the streets and they can potentially put themselves at risk and the public at risk if the repair isn’t done properly,” Dylan Rivera of the Portland Bureau of Transportation said of the anarchists.

Some citizens, though, love what the vigilantes are doing. The anarchists post pictures of themselves, masked, repairing potholes.

“They don’t need to be masked,” resident Tom Satchell said of the anarchists. “They’re doing a great job.”

Rivera said the city has fixed more than 900 potholes so far this year and has crews out working on the problem on every sunny day. It is not clear how many potholes the anarchists have repaired.

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Boy Takes Bullet CASING To Preschool. Officials Suspend Him …. And Call Child Services

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Boy Takes Bullet CASING To Preschool. Officials Suspend Him …. And Call Child Services

Source: Kristy Jackson / Facebook

 

TROY, Ill. — Anti-gun hysteria hit a disturbing new low this week in one Illinois town, when 4-year-old Hunter Jackson was suspended from preschool for bringing a harmless object — an empty shell casing — to school.

The boy had put it in his pocket without his mother knowing.

“He’s cried about it and he doesn’t understand why his school hates him,” Hunter’s mom, Kristy Jackson, told Fox 2. “It’s paranoia, and it’s something that’s become quite an epidemic where guns are automatically assumed that they’re bad.”

Hunter was suspended from A Place to Grow Preschool for seven days because he brought a spent .22 caliber bullet casing to school. The preschool had previously given Jackson a letter saying her son would be disciplined for pretending he was shooting things on the playground. The preschool also called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

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“I’m not sure how a seven-day suspension teaches my son anything about tolerance, anything about why he was wrong,” Jackson said. “It just means his school doesn’t want him there because of things he enjoys.”

Hunter apparently found the bullet in a field while visiting his grandfather, a police officer. The grandfather was teaching the boy about gun safety and hunting.

“I was handed a piece of paper,” Jackson wrote on Facebook. “No words, just eyebrows raised in disgust at my son, explaining that his behavior warranted a seven school day suspension. Which I still was expected to pay tuition for, of course. And a threat that if his enthusiasm for guns continued, he’d be permanently expelled.”

Officials at the school were unable to tell a bullet from a shotgun shell.

“I was met with a stone-faced teacher who said that my son had a shotgun bullet,” Jackson said. “I was horrified thinking, ‘Where could he have gotten this?’”

Hunter has been attending the daycare for about a year.

“This could literally happen to ANY CHILD who happened to find one on the ground and thought it was cool,” she wrote.

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DA Drops Case … But STILL Refuses To Return $100,000 It Seized From Family

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Image source: Institute for Justice

Image source: Institute for Justice

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County district attorney’s office is refusing to give a family back their life savings of more than $100,000, even though it has dropped a civil forfeiture case against them.

The DA dropped the case against James and Annette Slatic and their two daughters this month, more than a year after San Diego police and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided the Slatics’ business — Med-West Distribution – and seized everything, although no one was charged. Med-West, a medical marijuana business, paid federal and state taxes and was licensed by San Diego County to distribute marijuana and cannabis products, which is legal in California. The company even had a website.

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On March 13, the DA announced it was dropping a civil forfeiture case but then, a day later, claimed the seized money was the result of money laundering.

The Institute for Justice is representing the family and had filed two dismissal motions – one to get the money returned and the other to have the civil forfeiture case dropped.

“This money remains in the District Attorney’s bank account in open violation of California law,” Wesley Hottot, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, said. “Faced with having to answer for this unlawful seizure in court, the DA has invented an entirely new theory for why it seized the money in the first place. The story keeps changing to avoid admitting the obvious: that this is an abuse of power to take more than $100,000 from the family of an innocent small business owner.”

Police raided the business after one police officer alleged it was participating in unlawful chemical extraction. Apparently, the DA believes that allegation was false or could not be proven.

“In the 13 months since the seizure, no one associated with Med-West has been charged with unlawful extraction (or any other crime), the police appear not to have conducted any additional investigations, and no criminal allegations of any kind have been made against James’ family,” the Institute for Justice said in a news release.

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Following last year’s seizure, James Slatic had to close his business and lay off 35 employees.

“We feel newly violated,” James Slatic said. “These legal tactics are having a real and devastating effect on my family. First, we lost our money for more than a year, even though no one did anything wrong. Now the government won’t give the money back, even though there is no basis for keeping it.”

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Judge Orders Mom To Stop Homeschooling After Smart Girl Falsely Labeled Illiterate

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Judge Orders Mom To Stop Homeschooling After Smart Girl Falsely Labeled Illiterate

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A judge ordered a homeschooler placed in school and even scheduled a trial after an official falsely reported that the girl was illiterate.

To make matters worse, the judge refused to examine the girl’s test scores, which indicated she was reading and writing at the level of her grade, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported. The scores were from an independent agency.

The controversy started when the mom, named Vanessa, moved to a different county in Kentucky and enrolled her daughter in a private school. But she soon realized that homeschooling was a better option, so she pulled the girl, who until that short time had been homeschooled her entire life.

That’s when things went wrong.

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“The private school … contacted the local director of pupil personnel (DPP), who called Vanessa at night and told her that she needed to file her notice of intent [to homeschool] immediately,” HSLDA’s Darren Jones wrote. “But the very next day, the DPP filed charges in court, accusing her of neglecting her daughter’s education. He claimed that the daughter had only attended school 20 days in her entire life and that she could not say or write the alphabet.”

Directors of pupil personnel are employees of the public schools.

The judge ordered Vanessa to enroll her daughter in a school, and he scheduled a trial for six weeks later. HSLDA then hired an independent consultant, who evaluated the girl and found she was working above her capacity. The consultant reported he had “no idea why someone at the school would have said that the girl didn’t know the alphabet. She’s a good reader (with very good phonetic skills).” The consultant even added in an email, “The mom does a great job!”

Once that report was made public, the prosecutor dropped the case and the judge agreed that the mom could go back to homeschooling.

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6 Things You Better Know About North Korea & Potential War

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6 Things You Better Know About North Korea & Potential War

The United States and North Korea are far closer to war than most people realize. The two nations even might be on the verge of a conflict that would involve nuclear weapons.

Americans should be concerned because North Korea is believed to have several dozen nuclear weapons, according to Chinese estimates. (The U.S. count has it closer to 15.) North Korea has staged two dozen missile tests and might develop within the next year an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which could have the capacity to reach Hawaii.

If that was not bad enough, North Korea might have up to 12,000 tons of chemical weapons stored for the possibility of war, The New York Times reported.

Here are six reasons you should be concerned about a potential war:

1. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump are considering a preemptive strike to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson said in a press conference. Trump tweeted that North Korea has been “behaving badly.”

Yet such a strike might not be able to destroy every missile, such as ones hidden on mobile launchers or in the mountains.

2. North Korea has threatened nuclear retaliation if even a “single shot” is fired against it.

“The Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK,” a press release stated.

3. The United States and South Korea currently are conducting a massive military exercise, called Foal Eagle, involving 15,000 American and 290,000 South Korean troops, The Diplomat reported.

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, labeled Foal Eagle as a dress rehearsal for an attack on North Korea.

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This year’s exercise included mock attacks on nuclear facilities by U.S. and South Korea forces.

4. The U.S. is deploying high-tech weapons in the region.

These include the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, which is capable of destroying targets on the ground with Hellfire missiles and precision bombs. One use for the Gray Eagle would be to destroy missiles. Another potential threat is the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THADD), which has the capacity to shoot down ballistic missiles. It arrived at Osan Air Base in South Korea this month, CNBC reported.

5. North Korea is developing means of evading U.S. attacks and defenses.

This includes firing multiple missiles to get through THADD. It also includes the use of mobile missile launchers on all-terrain vehicles, which can be moved around to evade U.S. air attacks, Fitzpatrick reported.

6. Kim Jong-un is homicidal and potentially insane.

The North Korean leader’s estranged half-brother was murdered at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with VX nerve agent (a chemical weapon), Malaysian police told the press. Many experts believe the murder was committed by North Korean agents. Kim John-un, 33, may have feared that his brother would try and take control.

What do you think? Is North Korea a legitimate threat? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Police Falsely Told A Driver It Was Illegal To Record Them. He Was An Attorney.

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Police Told A Driver It Was Illegal To Record Them. He Was An Attorney ... Who Knew The Law

An attorney who moonlights as an Uber driver caught a police sergeant and a sheriff’s deputy lying about videoing law — on video.

The cops told Jesse Bright it was illegal to record them him, but a few days later the police chief admitted it was legal for Bright to tape law enforcement officers.

“Taking photographs and videos of people that are in plain sight including the police is your legal right,” Wilmington, N.C., Police Chief Ralph Evangelous told the media. “As a matter of fact we invite citizens to do so when they believe it is necessary. We believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”

Evangelous’s officers did not get the memo. A few days earlier, Wilmington Police Sergeant Kenneth Becker stopped Bright’s car and asked to search the passenger. Bright decided to record the incident, and he then turned the tape over to WECT TV.

“Hey bud, turn that off, OK,” Becker said.

“No, I’ll keep recording,” Bright responded. “Thank you. It’s my right.”

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“Don’t record me,” Becker said. “You got me? Be careful because there is a new law. Turn it off or I’ll take you to jail.”

“For recording you?” Bright asked. “What is the law?”

Unable to give Bright a specific law, Becker then began arresting him.

“Step out of the car,” Becker responded.

“What are you arresting me for?” Bright asked. “I’m sitting here in my car. I’m just recording in case anything happens. I’m surrounded by five police officers.”  

“You’re being a jerk,” Becker said.

Seconds later he said: “I know the law. I’m an attorney, so I would hope I know what the law is.”

Bright had picked up the passenger from a spot near a “drug house,” police said. Eventually, both men were let go without being charged.

Laws in 38 states allow citizens to record cops as long as they do not interfere with police operations, Gizmodo reported.

Bright said the police he encountered have a self-interest in not wanting anything recorded.

“It’s definitely in their best interest to have the only copy of the video, but it’s not within their rights to have the only copy in an incident,” Bright said of police. “If the only recording of an incident is on their camera, they kind of control if that gets released or sometimes there can be a malfunction with it.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has posted a list of rights for filming and photographing police.

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North Korea Warns Of Nuclear Strikes On U.S. If ‘Even A Single Bullet’ Is Fired

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North Korea Warns Of Nuclear Strikes On U.S. If ‘Even A Single Bullet’ Is Fired

 

LOS ANGELES — North Korea will launch a nuclear strike against U.S. forces and allies if even a “single bullet” is fired against it, the rogue state is warning in a press release.

“The Korean People’s Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people’s happiness in case the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea),” the statement, released this month, reads.

North Korea has carried out five successful nuclear tests and is believed to have 10 nuclear warheads, Yahoo News reported. The country has missiles capable of hitting U.S. bases in Japan and potentially Hawaii.

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The DPRK is trying to develop ballistic missiles that can hit North America. North Korea carried out 24 missile tests and two nuclear tests in 2016.

Military action against North Korea is on the table, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters.

“Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict,” Tillerson said. “But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response.”

The U.S. and South Korea are conducting a massive war game called Foal Eagle which some view as practice for an attack on North Korea.

Do you believe North Korea is a threat to the U.S.? What is your reaction to the nation’s latest threat? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Societal Collapse: They’re Now Jailing Bakers In This South American Country

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Societal Collapse: They’re Now Jailing Bakers In This South American Country

Operating a privately owned bakery at a profit is now a crime in one South American country. The nation’s government is seizing bakeries and jailing bakers who make anything but loaves of bread.

At least two bakeries in Venezuela have been seized and four people jailed as part of the “bread war” declared by President Nicolas Maduro, The Miami Herald reported. It is part of Maduro’s effort to end bread lines and shortages of baked goods in the country.

Maduro sent soldiers to more than 700 bakeries to enforce a rule that 90 percent of their production must be bread, not pastries or cakes, Reuters reported. A least one bakery will be run by the government for three months.

Bakeries in Venezuela can only produce French bread or white bread, with government supplied flour, under Maduro’s orders. They then must sell the bread at prices set by the government. It is also illegal to make items like brownies, sweet rolls and croissants.

Flour Shortage and Bread Shortage

The problem is that the government is not supplying the bakeries with any flour because it cannot pay for flour or wheat, said Juan Crespo of the Industrial Flour Union, a group that represents Venezuela’s bakers.

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“The government isn’t importing enough wheat,” Crespo said. “If you don’t have wheat, you don’t have flour, and if you don’t have flour, you don’t have bread.”

Around 80 percent of Venezuela’s bakeries are out of flour, Reuters reported.

“The bakeries are showing the authorities that they have no bread inventory,” Crespo said. “The government has to see the reality.”

Venezuela has to import 120 tons of wheat a month to supply demand, but that is not happening, Crespo said. Venezuela’s government has had trouble paying many of its bills. Some news reports indicate the country has not even been able to pay the company that prints its currency.

One result of the currency crunch is food lines in Venezuelan cities, where people stand in line for hours just to buy bread. Another is food rationing, food riots and empty supermarket shelves.

“Those behind the ‘bread war’ are going to pay, and don’t let them say later it is political persecution,” Maduro said in a statement.

Many of the bakeries will have to close if they are unable to sell pastries and other high priced products, Crespo said. That means the situation might soon get far worse because of Maduro’s “solution.”

What is your reaction? Do you think something like this every could happen in America? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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This U.S. City May Issue $1,000 Fines For ‘Bad Smells’

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This U.S. City May Issue $1,000 Fines For ‘Bad Smells’Property owners in one major American city soon might face a $1,000 fine for foul odors. The city is even planning to equip code inspectors with a smell measuring device called the Nasal Ranger to enforce the measure.

Officials in Las Vegas would use the device to test the air in neighborhoods, The Las Vegas Review Journal reported. If bad smells were detected, property owners would have the choice of clearing the air or paying a fine.

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No smell ordinance is on the books, but the city council is scheduled to discuss one. The main targets of the ordinance will be recreational marijuana growers.

The ‘Nasal Ranger’

“It comes up with a scientific reading, so if we had to go to court, we’re not standing there and going, ‘Yeah, it’s stinky,’” code enforcement supervisor Vicki Ozuna said of the Nasal Ranger.

The $2,000 device looks like a hair dryer. Officers would put the device up to their noise and take a reading. If the reading was high, property owners might face a fine. The officers also would get special training in detecting smells.

The city decided to crack down on odors because of a cat hoarder’s home that was so smelly the walls had to be ripped out to end the stink. City officials found they were powerless to do anything about the cathouse, even though residents could smell it from across the street.

What do you think? Should cities crack down on foul smells? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

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Supreme Court Will Decide If Family Can Sell ITS OWN PROPERTY

Image sourc: Flickr / Creative Commons

 

HUDSON, Wisc. — The U.S. Supreme Court will decide if a family can sell a piece of property that’s been in the family for 57 years.

The decision in a case called Murr v. Wisconsin could impact the rights of property owners all over the country.

William and Margaret Murr purchased a 1 ¼ acre lot in 1960 and built a cabin, and then three years later bought a similar-sized property adjacent to them, the Leader Telegram reported. Three decades later, the couple gave the land to their children. The family subsequently asked the county about selling the vacant lot, but the county blocked the sale because of a rule requiring lots to have one acre of buildable land. Even though the vacant lot is about 1 ¼ acres, its buildable space is much smaller – less than one acre — after deducting the slope and wetlands area, the newspaper reported.

The family had hoped to use the funds from the sale to pay for renovations to the cabin.

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“All along we were receiving a property tax statement for that land, land that the county assessed as buildable property,” their daughter, Donna Murr, told the newspaper. “It was assessed at $400,000 and we paid $4,000 to $6,000 a year on it and didn’t think twice about it, because that’s what we were told it was worth.”

The problem: When her parents bought the land, the vacant lot was considered acceptable for building, but county ordinances later changed.

“An assessor told us then that the extra land was basically worth about $40,000, meaning we lost $360,000 in value because of the ordinance change,” Murr said. “If you do the math, since we owned the property, we paid $78,000 more in taxes than we should have. It just seems so unfair. If we hadn’t gone in, they’d still be assessing us. They told us it was our job to know about the ordinance.”

A group called the Pacific Legal Foundation sued the county and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Murr’s behalf, claiming the government had violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by taking the Murrs’ property without offering reasonable compensation. Lower courts rejected that argument, prompting an appeal to the Supremes.

“We aren’t going to be allowed to sell the second parcel, unless we tore down the cabin next door,” Murr said on a conference call with reporters. “We were stunned. We couldn’t believe that the government would happily take our property tax dollars for 50 years, and then deny us the basic property rights here.”

If the Supreme Court rules in the favor of the Murrs, it could clear the way for hundreds of similar suits across the country.

“This case has broad implications, because the Murrs are far from alone in confronting this issue,” John Groen, an attorney for the Foundation, told Reason. “The problem of bureaucrats and courts defining the parcel as a whole to include adjoining lots in common ownership presents itself throughout the country.”

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School Bans Kids From Playing Tag – ‘They Touch Too Hard’

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School Bans Kids From Playing Tag – ‘They Touch Too Hard’

Image source: Pixabay.com

FOLSOM, Calif. — Tag, touch football and any sort of physical contact are now prohibited at California’s Gold Ridge Elementary School.

Principal David Frankel banned such activities to protect children from getting hurt.

“Today we implemented new procedures at school aimed at reducing physical contact and related problem behaviors,” Frankel wrote in a note to parents. “Student(s) were instructed that physical contact, including tag games, touch football, etc. were not allowed in the yard.”

Frankel emailed four parents with a warning and a description of the discipline their children will face for playing too rough, The Sacramento Bee reported.

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“Today your child received a warning for unsafe/physical play (i.e tag/pushing),” Frankel wrote. “They walked with the yard supervisor for the remainder of recess.”

One child interviewed by the CBS affiliate in Sacramento said some kids were playing too rough.

“My principal, he doesn’t want us to have tag at school because people, they touch too hard,” fourth-grader Mallory Giddens said. “I don’t really like it. I mean, I don’t really play tag but I don’t think it’s fair to everyone else that plays tag”

Students at the school in Folsom, a Sacramento suburb, face three levels of punishment for playing too hard, The Bee reported. The levels are:

  1. Warning and walk with yard supervisors.
  2. Referral to the principal’s office and removal from yard for a day.
  3. A “parent-teacher-principal disciplinary conference.”

The ban is only at Gold Ridge and not throughout the entire Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

What do you think? Should tag be banned if some kids are playing too rough? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Monsanto Finally Admits What We All Suspected About Roundup & Cancer

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Monsanto Finally Admits What We All Suspected About Roundup & Cancer

Image source: Pixabay.com

An EPA official bragged about helping Monsanto cover up cancer risks associated with Roundup, a new lawsuit is alleging.

Roundup is one of the best-selling herbicides in the world.

“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” former EPA official Jess Rowland allegedly said in a phone call, discussing a federal investigation into glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

At the time, Rowland was a deputy division director in the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide division.

The phone call was entered as evidence in a federal lawsuit alleging that glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, Bloomberg reported.

Just as significant, Monsanto’s Donna Farmer wrote in a now-public email that “you cannot say that Roundup does not cause cancer … we have not done carcinogenicity studies with Roundup.” The email is now part of the lawsuit.

Monsanto Finally Admits What We All Suspected About Roundup & CancerThe plaintiffs’ attorneys are alleging that Monsanto knew Roundup caused cancer but sold the herbicide anyway.

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Rowland’s relationship with Monsanto was suspicious, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at a hearing in San Francisco. Plaintiffs’ attorneys want Rowland to testify and explain his actions.

The attorneys are charging that Rowland leaked a report to the media that claimed there was insufficient evidence to say glyphosate caused cancer. It was written by a committee he chaired. Rowland quit his job at the EPA days after the study was leaked.

“My reaction is when you consider the relevance of the EPA’s reports, and you consider their relevance to this litigation, it seems appropriate to take Jess Rowland’s deposition,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said, according to Reuters.

Monsanto employees were the ghost writers for two reports on Roundup that the committee headed by Rowland relied on for its findings, plaintiffs’ attorneys charged. The reports concluded that glyphosate was not carcinogenic.

“I think it’s important that people hold Monsanto accountable when they say one thing and it’s completely contradicted by very frank internal documents,” plaintiffs’ attorney, Timothy Litzenburg, told The New York Times.

Around 220 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the United States in 2015, The Times reported. Monsanto makes much of its money from selling corn, cotton and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to resist glyphosate.

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North Korea Warns Of ‘Merciless’ Strikes As U.S. Conducts Drills In Region

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North Korea Warns Of ‘Merciless’ Strikes If U.S. Conducts Drills In Region

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s government is warning of “merciless” attacks ahead of the American aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson participating in wargames with South Korean forces.

“If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” a press release from the North Korea state news agency stated. DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea) is the country’s official name.

The press release added: “On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army.”

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The specific nature of the threatened attack is not clear, but North Korea possesses short-range and medium-range missiles, torpedoes and submarines that might be capable of sinking or damaging an aircraft carrier. Such an attack could provoke a devastating response from the U.S. and South Korea – and a war.

More than 300,000 South Korean soldiers and 17,000 U.S. military personnel participated in massive drills last year designed to repel a North Korean attack, and a similar number are expected this year, CNBC reported.

U.S. firepower deployed to Korea includes America’s newest attack drone, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. The Gray Eagle’s mission would be to knock out North Korea’s ballistic missiles, which might include rockets capable of hitting U.S. territory, The Drive reported. The Gray Eagle is capable of staying in the air for 24 hours.

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Rich Discover New Ways To Escape Societal Collapse

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Rich Discover New Ways To Escape Societal Collapse

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Escape plans and bugout bags are the latest fad for wealthy New Yorkers. Some Wall Street types even are paying $7,500 a month for an evacuation service to get them out of town fast during an emergency.

“It’s a marine evacuation service based in New York City,” co-owner Chris Dowhie said of Plan B Marine. “A boat is the fastest possible way out of Manhattan. A lot of people don’t wait in line to get on a ferry. They don’t want to worry about walking off of Manhattan as people had to do in the past. They know that a boat is the fastest way off.”

Evacuation for the Rich

Dowhie’s company, The New York Post reported, has a number of Coast Guard surplus Defender boats stashed around Manhattan Island. Wealthy customers pay between $4,500 and $7,500 per month for access to the boats, which would take them away from the city during, say, a terrorist attack.

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The rich, though, would have to pilot the boats themselves.

“It’s a sealed hull, unsinkable, and it provides rollover protection,” Dowhie said of the boats. “As long as your doors are shut, if the boat rolls over, the boat will right itself. So it’s about the safest boat you can find right now.”

“We plan out your evacuation route,” Dowhie told the newspaper, “and we plan for every customer differently depending on your needs.”

Getting out of Manhattan in an emergency can be nearly impossible. If the subways stop running, the only way to get off is by boat or walking over one of the bridges. Cars clog the bridges.

Dowhie and his time will train the customers to sail the craft themselves.

Survival Bunkers on Park Avenue?

But escape boats are not the only precaution that hedge fund managers, investment bankers and executives are taking. At least 25 New Yorkers spent between $25,000 and $30,000 to install bunkers with air-filtration systems in their homes to protect them from dirty bombs, Tom Gaffney told The Post.

Gaffney is CEO of Gaffco Ballistics, a company that installs bunkers and air-filtration systems for wealthy New Yorkers. Business has boomed since a bombing last year in Manhattan.

Another company, called Preppi, is selling $5,000 72-hour monogrammed bugout bags to the rich. Customers include Steven Spielberg and Modern Family star Julie Bowen. The bag contains night-vision scopes and a GPS satellite communicator.

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China Official Warns: U.S. & North Korea On ‘Collision’ Course For War

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China Official Warns: U.S. & North Korea On ‘Collision’ Course For War

BEIJING — China’s foreign minister says war between the United States and North Korea may be inevitable.

“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other,” Wang Yi said at a news conference this week. “The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?”

Wang’s remarks were prompted by North Korean ballistic missile tests and the U.S. beginning deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. Once functional, THAAD will be able to shoot down North Korean missiles. The Chinese government is afraid THAAD’s deployment will kick off an arms race in Asia.

Xinhua, China’s state media, warned of an “arms race.”

“More missile shields of one side inevitably bring more nuclear missiles of the opposing side that can break through the missile shield,” the Xinhua article said, according to CNN.

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Wang warned South Korea, a key U.S. ally, to cease and desist the deployment of THAAD because it undermines China’s security. China also believes the system could be used to spy on the country.

Wang’s frankness was unusual for a Chinese leader.

“They don’t usually use this kind of language but it’s not completely surprising given that they are not really effectively able to constrain or restrain what the North Koreans do and they’re deeply unhappy about the U.S. deployment of THAAD to South Korea,” Professor Steve Tsang of the SOAS China Institute told CNN.

U.S. Causing North Korean Missiles to Explode?

The US already is conducting cyberwarfare and electronic warfare against North Korea, and hacking may have caused a number of its missiles to explode, The New York Times reported. The effort was apparently so successful that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un ordered an investigation and may have had security officials executed.

Still, North Korea has managed three successful medium-range missile tests and Kim claims his military is in the final stage of preparation for the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could hit the United States.

“Senior [American] national security leaders have stated that the U.S. needs to work off the assumption that North Korea will have ICBM capabilities soon, and in this business ‘soon’ could mean five to 10 years, or earlier,” Ariel Cohen of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security told the Washington Free Beacon.

Cohen thinks North Korea soon may be able to launch an attack on U.S. military bases in Hawaii. The U.S. would have little defense against an attack because 56 percent of the anti-missiles deployed in Alaska and California failed in tests, The Times reported.

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China Official Warns: U.S. & North Korea On ‘Collision’ Course For War

China Official Warns: U.S. & North Korea On ‘Collision’ Course For War

BEIJING — China’s foreign minister says war between the United States and North Korea may be inevitable.

“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other,” Wang Yi said at a news conference this week. “The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?”

Wang’s remarks were prompted by North Korean ballistic missile tests and the U.S. beginning deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. Once functional, THAAD will be able to shoot down North Korean missiles. The Chinese government is afraid THAAD’s deployment will kick off an arms race in Asia.

Xinhua, China’s state media, warned of an “arms race.”

“More missile shields of one side inevitably bring more nuclear missiles of the opposing side that can break through the missile shield,” the Xinhua article said, according to CNN.

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Wang warned South Korea, a key U.S. ally, to cease and desist the deployment of THAAD because it undermines China’s security. China also believes the system could be used to spy on the country.

Wang’s frankness was unusual for a Chinese leader.

“They don’t usually use this kind of language but it’s not completely surprising given that they are not really effectively able to constrain or restrain what the North Koreans do and they’re deeply unhappy about the U.S. deployment of THAAD to South Korea,” Professor Steve Tsang of the SOAS China Institute told CNN.

U.S. Causing North Korean Missiles to Explode?

The US already is conducting cyberwarfare and electronic warfare against North Korea, and hacking may have caused a number of its missiles to explode, The New York Times reported. The effort was apparently so successful that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un ordered an investigation and may have had security officials executed.

Still, North Korea has managed three successful medium-range missile tests and Kim claims his military is in the final stage of preparation for the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could hit the United States.

“Senior [American] national security leaders have stated that the U.S. needs to work off the assumption that North Korea will have ICBM capabilities soon, and in this business ‘soon’ could mean five to 10 years, or earlier,” Ariel Cohen of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security told the Washington Free Beacon.

Cohen thinks North Korea soon may be able to launch an attack on U.S. military bases in Hawaii. The U.S. would have little defense against an attack because 56 percent of the anti-missiles deployed in Alaska and California failed in tests, The Times reported.

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U.S. Military Prepping For Migrant Crisis In Month-Long Drill

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U.S. Military Prepping For Migrant Crisis In Month-Long Drill

Stock photo. Image source: Wikimedia

MIAMI, Fla. — The U.S. military is preparing for a massive wave of migrants from the Caribbean as part of a multi-million dollar training drill at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The exercise this month, called Operation Integrated Advance, is scheduled to last all of March, cost around $2.5 million and involve 400 troops as well as personnel from the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, The Miami Herald reported. The military is keeping the operation secret and denying the media access to it.

The idea is to prep for a migrant crisis in which hundreds or thousands of Cubans or people from other nations cross the ocean to the United States.

“This year’s exercise scenario focuses on a potential mass migration in the Caribbean,” a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reads. “The primary objective is to protect the safety of life at sea and to deter mass migration using organic DHS forces reinforced by other federal, state, and local assets and capabilities.”

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During the operation, troops will practice rescuing, capturing, processing, housing and taking care of migrants.

US Expecting Refugee Crisis?

Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. Navy base that is technically on Cuban soil. In 1994 the Clinton administration interned hundreds of Cuban refugees at Guantanamo Bay, and more recently captured terrorists have been imprisoned there.

It is not known if the drill is tied to a potential increase in deportation of illegal immigrants during the Trump administration.

Another possibility is that the Pentagon expects a complete collapse in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s government is almost out of money, CNN reported. The South American nation has only $10.5 billion in foreign reserves, which are used to buy food and medicine. Venezuelans are already dealing with 800 percent hyperinflation, empty grocery shelves and food riots. Last year some Venezuelans got so desperate they started butchering zoo animals for meat. Earlier reports indicated that people in Caracas were eating cats and dogs.

Terrorists From Venezuela?

That might drive thousands of Venezuelans to get on boats and head to Florida. Caracas is on the northern coast of the country and just south of the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

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There is a good reason why the military wants to intercept such migrants. The Venezuelan government may have issued passports to people with ties to terrorism, CNN reported.

Venezuelan diplomats in Iraq sold large numbers of passports for cash, Misael Lopez – the former legal adviser to the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq — told CNN. Lopez is now living in Toledo, Spain, because he’s afraid for his family’s safety.

Lopez said that Venezuela’s Ambassador to Iraq, Jonathan Velasco, was one of those selling passports.

“He gave me an envelope full of visas and passports,” Lopez said of the ambassador. “He told me, ‘Get this, this is one million U.S. dollars.’ I thought it was like a joke. Then he told me here [in Iraq] people pay a lot of money to get a visa or a passport to leave this country.”

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America Now Ranks Behind These 16 Countries In Economic Freedom, New Study Says

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America Now Ranks Behind These 16 Countries In Economic Freedom, New Study Says

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WASHINGTON – The United States has less economic freedom than New Zealand, Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Chile, the United Kingdom and Lithuania. That’s the conclusion of the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom for 2017, which saw the United States rank 17th.

The total score of 75.1 for the U.S. was its lowest total ever.

The index ranks countries using a scoring system of one to 100. The freest place on the planet was Hong Kong, which had a score of 89.8. The least free was the Communist country of North Korea with a score of 4.9, which put it last at 180.

“The substantial expansion in the size and scope of the U.S. government, increased regulatory and tax burdens in many sectors, and the loss of trust and confidence that has accompanied a growing perception of cronyism have severely undermined America’s global competitiveness,” the report said.

The score is based on the Heritage Foundation’s “four pillars” of economic freedom: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets. It also examines other factors such as fiscal health, judicial effectiveness and government integrity.

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Some of the highlights of this year’s Index include:

  • Only five nations — Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia — are considered “truly free” by Heritage’s experts. That means they have an economic freedom score of more than 80.
  • The U.S. ranked better in economic freedom than some other major powers including Germany (26), Japan (40) and China (111).
  • The U.S. still has less economic freedom than Canada, which was ranked seventh. Mexico was No. 70.
  • Venezuela (179) now has less economic freedom than Cuba, which was ranked 178. Only North Koreans enjoy less economic freedom than Venezuelans.
  • Only one Islamic country – the United Arab Emirates — enjoyed a high level of economic freedom. The UAE was ranked No. 8.
America Now Ranks Behind These 16 Countries In Economic Freedom, New Study Says

Image source: Pixabay.com

All total, 73 countries fell in their rankings this year.

“Sixteen of these 73 countries, including notably the Bahamas, Bahrain, El Salvador, Pakistan, Venezuela, and the United States, recorded their lowest economic freedom scores ever,” the Index said.

It was the 23rd Index of Economic Freedom.

Following is the Top 20, including the 16 countries ranked ahead of the U.S.:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. New Zealand
  4. Switzerland
  5. Australia
  6. Estonia
  7. Canada
  8. Unite Arab Emirates
  9. Ireland
  10. Chile
  11. Taiwan
  12. United Kingdom
  13. Georgia
  14. Luxembourg
  15. Netherlands
  16. Lithuania
  17. United States
  18. Denmark
  19. Sweden
  20. Latvia

Despite the ranking of the U.S., economic freedom has “advanced in a majority of the world’s countries over the past year,” with 103 nations showing advances, according to the report. It looks as if economic freedom is increasing around the world, even as it declines in America. There is still a great deal of work to be done.

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Iranian Attack Boats Block U.S. Ship, Come Within 600 Yards

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Iranian Attack Boats Block U.S. Ship, Brush Within 600 Yards

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WASHINGTON — The Iranian government continues to take provocative actions aimed at the United States and its allies.

The Iranian military tested ballistic missiles and sent four fast attack boats close to American and British warships over the weekend.

Four attack boats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps intentionally blocked the path of the U.S. and British ships, coming within 600 words of them and forcing them to change their course, Fox News and CBS reported. The American ship was the USNS Invincible, a tracking ship which uses sonar to monitor submarines and missile tests. The incident took place in the Strait of Hormuz.

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The U.S. military labeled it “unsafe” and “unprofessional.”

This was the second time Iranian ships approached the Invincible; two days earlier a frigate from the Iranian Navy came within 150 yards of the surveillance vessel, CBS News reported. The Invincible was in the Gulf of Oman, south of Iran, when that incident occurred.

Missile Test

The Iranians also test fired two Fateh-110 Mod 3 short-range ballistic missiles, U.S. officials told Fox News. One the missiles destroyed a barge moored at sea 155 miles away.

“Between North Korea’s saber-rattling and Iran’s willful defiance, we certainly don’t lack for evidence of these rogue regime’s intentions,” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said in a statement. “This is why we need to develop a strong missile-defense system and to take a harder line toward these regimes. No amount of words, however clear or forceful, will prevent this kind of aggression; only firm action to defend America and our allies will stop them in their tracks.”

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Hog Apocalypse: This State’s Gonna Kill 2.5 Million Pigs With Poison

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Hog Apocalypse: This State Hopes To Kill 2.5 Million Wild Pigs With Poison

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A southwestern state is facing a feral hog apocalypse that threatens agriculture, and now the state’s agriculture commissioner thinks has an answer: poison.

Texas is being overrun by 2.5 million wild or feral hogs that cause at least $50 million a year in damage to agriculture, The Austin American Statesman reported. The hogs also destroy lawns, flower beds, vegetable gardens, livestock tanks and even Internet, television and phone cables.

Not even the killing of 750,000 wild pigs by hunters each year has been able to control the hog invasion. The hogs were brought to Texas centuries ago by Spanish pioneers who turned them loose to ensure a food supply.

The solution to the hog problem is a poison called Kaput Feral Hog Lure, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told the newspaper. The poison has a substance called warfarin, which acts as a blood thinner in humans. But it kills pigs.

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“This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like,” Miller told The American-Statesman. “If you want them gone, this will get them gone.”

The plan is to allow people to attract hogs with nontoxic food, and once the hogs keep coming back, replace the food with the poison.

One group not sold on Miller’s idea is the state’s hog hunters. They fear it will threaten their families and damage the environment.

“If this hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family?” Eydin Hansen, the vice president of the Texas Hog Hunters Association, asked.

“If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards…” Hansen told AP. “We’re gonna affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”

Some Texans use hog hunting to put food on the table.

“It’s a way to feed your family,” Hansen said.

Hogs who have eaten the poison have fat that is blue, Miller said.

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5 Good Reasons To Believe A Stock Market Crash Is Looming

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5 Good Reasons To Believe A Stock Market Crash Is Looming

Many investment experts believe that a major decline or even crash in the stock, real estate and bond markets is imminent – despite what the Dow Jones is telling us.

The Dow jumped more than 300 points Tuesday to finish above 21,000 – a record – but if you dig a little deeper you’ll discover that things aren’t all that rosy.

In fact, some of the smartest brains on Wall Street are convinced that a major fall is just around the corner.

Jim Rogers, George Soros’ partner in the Quantum Fund, believes a $68 trillion crash will occur in 2017 or 2018, Investopedia reported. Swiss economist Marc Faber has said the market will fall after the S&P 500 (an index of stocks in America’s 500 largest corporations) hits 2,300; the S&P was at 2,390 early Wednesday.

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“Get prepared,” Rogers said in an interview with MacroVoices. “We’re going to have the worst economic problems we’ve had in your lifetime or my lifetime and when that happens a lot of people are going to disappear.”

Here are five good reasons why you should be afraid of the current bull market:

1. The increase in stock prices is largely artificial. Stock prices are rising because corporations are using their own cash to buy back their own stocks. Companies spent $500 million on stock buybacks between 2014 and 2016, HSBC analysts determined. Since 2010, corporate America has spent $2.1 trillion on stock buybacks. Walmart alone has plans to repurchase $15 billion worth of its stock. When the buybacks end, stock prices will fall back to earth.

2. The increase in stock and real estate prices over the last seven years has been driven largely by the Federal Reserve’s printing of money. This is done by keeping interest rates artificially low, which spurs borrowing. If the fed raises interest rates, the boom will end and real estate and stock prices will collapse. The Fed started raising interest rates on Dec. 14, and many observers think it will keep doing so to prevent inflation.

3. Economic activity and the number of jobs are actually declining. Massive cutbacks are taking place in some industries, including retail. JC Penney last week announced plans to close 130 to 140 stores — 14 percent of its operations — and eliminate 6,000 jobs. Macy’s is closing 100 of its stores and Sears is closing 150 stores, including 108 Kmarts. Walmart eliminated 7,000 back office jobs last year and is laying off 1,000 people at its headquarters. And it’s not just retail; last year; Bank of America closed 112 branches, Citibank closed 116 locations and JPMorgan Chase shuttered 161 branches.

4. There are similarities between today’s market and 1987. That year, the Dow lost 30 percent of its value in a crash. Experts told CBS that the Dow hit 10 record highs in 1987, and then crashed after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. Another similarity: Some investors’ might have unrealistic expectations about President Trump and Congress. Back in 1987, the market was expecting tax cuts that did not occur for more than a year.

5. Some investors have quietly cashed out of the market or parts of it. Warren Buffett sold all of his Exxon Mobil stock last year and got rid of $900 million worth of Walmart stock this year. Nor is it just Buffett; prices in alternative investments that speculators use as a hedge or protection against market losses are going up. Gold prices soared to $1,250 an ounce on Feb. 24, and bitcoin reached a high of $1,204.77 on the same day. That’s a sure sign that investors are looking seriously at liquid investments.

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Historical: Movement To Call Constitutional Convention Nears Landmark Number

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Historical: Movement To Call Constitutional Convention Nears Landmark Number

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A convention to amend the U.S. Constitution is closer to reality than most people realize.

Tennessee soon might become the 29th state to pass a resolution calling for a convention to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Thirty-four states are required.

The Tennessee state senate passed the convention resolution in early February; it would need to pass the state house to become official. Idaho and Arizona also are considering such proposals and could becomes Nos. 30 and 31.

Article V of the Constitution gives states the power to call a constitutional convention provided that two-thirds – 34 – agree to it. Any amendment then would need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states – that is, 38.

It would not require congressional approval.

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The Constitution actually lays out two ways to amend it. The typical path involves Congress proposing amendments to the states. According to the National Archives, “none of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention” – the method Tennessee soon might favor.

Historical: Movement To Call Constitutional Convention Nears Landmark Number

Image source: Pixabay.com

“I give it a 60 percent chance in five years, because most people in Congress would like to see it happen, as well,” constitutional scholar Robert G. Natelson told The Tennessean newspaper.

Supporters of the proposal say it is needed to help solve Washington’s debt problem.

“It is time for states to step up and solve the problem with almost $20 trillion of national debt that has been amassed in Washington,” Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican, said in a press release. Kelsey authored the resolution, which calls for a “planning convention” that would draw up the rules for a new constitutional convention.

Rolling the Dice?

Critics fear that a constitutional convention could go rogue.

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“There’s nothing to keep our founding document to be actually thrown out,” Tennessee state Representative Craig Fitzhugh, a Democrat, said of the convention.

Opponents like Fitzhugh fear the convention could rewrite the entire constitution like the one in 1797 did, setting up a constitutional crisis.

“They were supposed to meet to make amendments to the Articles of Confederation but ended up with a whole new form of government,” Nathan Griffith, an associate professor of political science at Belmont University, told the newspaper. “Not just a new constitution, but a whole new form of government.”

Said Griffith: “You’re rolling the dice a little bit with this.”

Supporters believe that planning conventions would restrict the convention’s agenda to certain issues.

“Founding Fathers James Madison and George Mason insisted that states have a method for amending the Constitution because sometime in the future the federal government would grow to the point it would become deaf to states’ needs,” said Republican state Sen. Mike Bell.

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Former Reagan Official Warns: ‘Fiscal Bloodbath’ Imminent, Gov’t To Run ‘Out Of Cash’

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Former Reagan Official Warns: ‘Fiscal Bloodbath’ Imminent, Gov’t To Run ‘Out Of Cash’

Stockman, left, with Reagan, Image source: Reagan Library

WASHINGTON – The United States is on the brink of a “fiscal bloodbath” that will cause the government to run out of cash, according to former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

Stockman served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan and believes debt will bring the United States to its knees.

“I think we are likely to have more of a fiscal bloodbath rather than fiscal stimulus,” Stockman told USAWatchdog.com. “Unfortunately for Donald Trump, not only did the public vote the establishment out, they left on his doorstep the inheritance of 30 years of debt build-up and a fiscal policy that’s been really reckless in the extreme.

“People would like to think he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan and we are going to have morning in America.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it looks that promising because Trump is inheriting a mess that pales in significance what we had to deal with in January of 1981 when I joined the Reagan White House as budget director.”

Stockman’s belief is that the national debt is so high it will be impossible for America to pay it off.

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“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th, 2017. That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015. That holiday expires. The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion. It will then be law. It will be a hard stop. The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash. We are burning cash at a $75-billion-a-month rate.

“By summer, they will be out of cash. Then we will be in the mother of all debt-ceiling crises. Everything will grind to a halt. I think we will have a government shutdown. There will not be Obamacare repeal and replace. There will be no tax cut. There will be no infrastructure stimulus. There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

Stockman also believes the stock market rally is the “greatest suckers’ rally of all time.”

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“It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut,” he said. “Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106 percent of GDP. … Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built-in.

“Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion-dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books.”

Stockman served as a U.S. Representative from Michigan from 1977 to 1981 and director of OMB from 1981 to 1985. Stockman predicted a Trump victory last year in his book, “Trumped! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin.”

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Bill Gates Warns Of Imminent Threat That Could Rapidly ‘Kill More Than 30 Million’

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Image source: Wikimedia

Image source: Wikimedia

MUNICH — Recent advances in technology make bioterrorism a greater threat than nuclear warfare – one that could rapidly wipe out 30 million of even hundreds of millions of people around the world, billionaire Bill Gates says.

And the U.S. and other countries, he says, are not prepared.

Speaking to The Telegraph newspaper prior to a conference in German, Gates said it would be possible for terrorists to create a bioweapon that can kill more people than would nuclear weapons.

“It doesn’t take much biology expertise nowadays to assemble a smallpox virus,” Gates said. “Biology is making it way easier to create these things.”

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Developments in genetic engineering would make it possible for terrorists to engineer a virus capable of creating a pandemic, Gates said.

“With nuclear weapons, you’d think you would probably stop after killing 100 million. Smallpox won’t stop,” he said. “Because the population is naïve, and there are no real preparations. That, if it got out and spread, would be a larger number.”

Bioterrorism can kill far more people than natural epidemics, he said.

“Intentionally caused epidemics, bioterrorism, would be the largest of all,” he said.

It also is possible to reengineer the common flu virus to create a deadly influenza strain capable of causing a pandemic, Gates said. He believes that such a pandemic would spread like wildfire.

He told conference attendees, “Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.”

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AR-15s ‘Not Protected’ By 2nd Amendment & Can Be Banned, Court Rules

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AR-15s ‘Not Protected’ By 2nd Amendment & Can Be Banned, Court Rules

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RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ignored precedent and the Constitution in ruling this week that semi-automatic weapons don’t have Second Amendment protections, critics say.

In a 10-4 decision upholding Maryland’s ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, the judges went further than previous courts have in ruling that “assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment.”

The Maryland law, passed after a mass shooting, was called the Firearms Safety Act (FSA) of 2013, and it banned AR-15s and most magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles.

Second Amendment advocates and firearms dealers challenged the law in a case called Kolbe vs. Maryland.

Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote in a dissent that the Fourth Circuit has “gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.”

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The majority ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which dealt with handgun ownership and the right to self-defense, has no impact on semi-automatic rifles.

AR-15s ‘Not Protected’ By 2nd Amendment & Can Be Banned, Court Rules “We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in the majority opinion.

King’s opinion mentioned the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Newtown and Orlando. Maryland state legislators, he wrote, were justified in banning weapons with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Such weapons “enable shooters to inflict mass casualties while depriving victims and law enforcement officers of opportunities to escape or overwhelm the shooters while they reload their weapons,” King wrote.

Traxler disagreed, noting that such weapons are not “dangerous or unusual” and are used by millions of law-abiding citizens.

“As long as the weapon chosen is one commonly possessed by the American people for lawful purposes — and the rifles at issue here most certainly are,” Traxler wrote, “the state has very little say about whether its citizens should keep it in their homes for protection.”

Both King and Traxler were nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Three other judges — Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and G. Steven Agee — joined Traxler in the dissent.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) called it an “outrageous decision.”

“If, as the Fourth Circuit suggests, a firearm loses Second Amendment protection because it is specifically designed for ‘killing or disabling the enemy,’ then the whole idea of the Second Amendment protecting a defensive purpose (or applying to any well-designed firearm, for that matter) collapses. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns of any type can be equally ‘dangerous,’” the NRA-ILA wrote.

Maryland’s law is similar to bans in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states, The Washington Post noted.

The decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court.

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Deadly Defect? Popular Remington Rifle Can Fire On Its Own, Suit Claims

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Deadly Defect? Popular Remington Rifle Can Fire On Its Own, Suit Claims

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The popular Remington Model 700 rifle has a manufacturing defect that can cause it to fire without the trigger being pulled, experts told CBS’s “60 Minutes” during a Sunday broadcast.

Some owners of the iconic bolt-action rifle report that it can fire rounds on its own when the safety is off.

Thousands of owners have complained that the Remington 700 has gone off even though they did not pull the trigger, a class action lawsuit in federal court in Missouri alleges.

The attorneys general from 10 states wrote the judge, claiming “there are potentially as many as 7.5 million defective rifles at issue.” Additionally, the letter says, “Remington knows or should know … they are unreasonably dangerous.”

At least two people have been killed by potentially defective Remington 700s, “60 Minutes” reported. In 2011, 16-year-old Jasmine Thar died instantly when a round from a Model 700 hit her in her grandmother’s yard in Chadbourn, N.C.

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The rifle’s owner, ex-Marine and experienced hunter James Anthony Blackwell, testified under oath that the gun went off on its own. He was across the street.

“Do you, Anthony Blackwell, believe that you pulled the trigger?” he was asked.

“No, sir.”

“Do you think you touched it in any way?” he was asked.

“No, sir.”

Blackwell was not charged or convicted.

Story continues below video

But in another state, 15-year-old Zac Stringer of Enon, Miss., was convicted after he was holding a Remington 700 that fired and killed his brother, Justin. Stringer is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his brother’s murder, but his father, Roger Stringer, believes he is innocent. The dad testified against his son at the trial but changed his mind about the murder when he learned more about the rifle.

Zac Stringer said he only was trying to scare his brother.

“And I started to stand up off of the couch and when I — when I bent at the waist and started up, I heard a click,” Zac Stringer said during the broadcast. “And it went off. And I remember the fire leaping from the barrel. I remember seeing it hit. It was — half his head was gone.”

Roger Stringer did not know that Remington had gotten 200 complaints about Model 700s going off on their own. The alleged defect relates to a trigger mechanism, the X-Mark Pro.

The father now blames Remington for the death.

“I’d never heard of a gun going off without a trigger being pulled. It made no sense,” he said, explain why he testified against his son.

The controversy is not new. In 1994, attorney Roger Chaffin won $17 million in a lawsuit against Remington. He filed the suit on behalf of a man whose foot was hit by a round from the rifle. That rifle had a different trigger, the Walker.

Remington has received nearly 2,000 complaints about the Model 700 in the past four years.

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Teacher Reassigned After Pro-Trump, Immigration-Related Facebook Post

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Teacher Reassigned After Pro-Trump, Immigration-Related Facebook Post

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — An elementary school teacher was removed from her class this week for expressing her opinions on Facebook about President Trump’s immigration policies.

The teacher, Veronica Kochis Fleming at Parkside Elementary School in Naples Fla., was commenting about the Feb. 16 Day Without Immigrants protest, in which workers opposed to Trump’s policies stayed home from their jobs.

“The funny thing about immigrants staying home is the rest of us who pay for them are at work like we’ve always been,” Fleming wrote on her Facebook page. “Looks like less mouths to feed today. Have fun while you still can. So glad to hear about massive deportation. Let’s make America great again. Thanks Donald Trump!!”

Teacher Reassigned After Pro-Trump, Immigration-Related Facebook PostBut her comments were not very popular with some parents and staff.

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“The whole school was hurt about the comment,” Gabriela Marquez, the mother of two children at the school, told the Naples Daily News. “Most of the students are Latinos. No one understands why she would comment something like that.”

“I would consider it really to be racist,” Marquez added. “I was mad. Really, really mad.”

Another parent, Juana Perez, said she, too, was offended.

“I don’t ask for any, I pay for my school, my daughter’s lunch, I pay for her insurance,” Perez said. “How could she give, like, education to these kids, knowing that she has so much hate, I thought she was a good teacher but I guess she’s not.”

Around 70 percent of the students at Parkside are Latino and 20 percent are Haitian, NBC 2 News reported.

Parents created an online petition asking for Fleming to be fired. Around 1,600 people had signed the petition by Feb. 16, and administrators transferred her to administrative duties at the headquarters of the Collier County Public Schools, NBC 2 reported.

Fleming was a computer lab instructor and instructional review teacher at Parkside. She removed the post from her Facebook page and refused to comment to news media after the controversy broke.

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‘God Bless You’ After Sneeze Is Harassment, Public School Teacher Argues

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‘God Bless You’ After Sneeze Is Harassment, Public School Teacher Argues

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Saying the words “God bless you” apparently now can be construed as harassment. Susan Creamer, a teacher at Merritt Brown Middle School in Panama City, Fla., complained on Facebook about her students saying the phrase.

Her comments were made on the Atheists of Bay County Facebook page.

“There is a bevy of boys in one of my classes (middle school) who are taking turns either inviting me to their church or leaving (anonymously) flyers inviting me to church events. Today, I found one on the A/V cart I use for a podium,” she wrote, according to the Northwest Florida Daily Times.

“Every time any child sneezes, they loudly say ‘God bless you!’ and look in my direction. I have complained twice to my principal – one last month and once today,” she wrote. “She has spoken privately to one or two of the little cretins, but it seems to do NO GOOD.

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“I am feeling bullied and harassed. It has become intolerable,” Creamer concluded. “I don’t feel like talking with the parents will stop the inappropriate behaviors because, for all I know, the parents are encouraging them. Any suggestions?”

School authorities were concerned about Creamer’s description of students as “little cretins.” Dictionary.com describes a cretin as a “a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person.” School policy bars teachers from criticizing students, even if it is on a social media page.

At least one parent blamed Creamer herself for the situation.

“First and foremost she should not be discussing her religious preferences (or lack thereof) with any of these students,” Crystal Mosley wrote in a letter to the school superintendent. “Had she not been proudly boasting of her atheism these children would not know of her personal beliefs and I would not be addressing this situation.”

Jeromy Henderson, a member of the Atheists of Bay County Facebook page, defended Creamer.

“It was never meant for public consumption,” he told the newspaper. “She was just looking for advice from the group on how to deal with students she felt were harassing her. Yes, her terminology was off-putting, but she was just looking for advice about how to deal with them.”

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Inflation Is Back: Biggest Increase In 4 Years

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Inflation Is Back: Biggest Increase In 4 Years

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NEW YORK — Inflation is on the rise and driving the biggest price increases seen in four years.

Inflation rose .6 percent in January, the highest one-month increase since February 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. Over the previous 12 months, prices were up 2.5 percent.

“Consumer prices have gained momentum in recent months,” Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight, told CNBC. “This is not the best thing in the world for lower-income households living paycheck to paycheck.”

The price of gasoline has helped drive the increase. The gas index increased 7.8 percent in January and the overall energy index was up 4.0 percent.

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Among other highlights in the report:

  • Transportation prices rose by 2.2 percent.
  • Clothing prices rose by 1.4 percent.
  • Prices for nondurable consumer goods increased by 1.2 percent.
  • Prices for commodities (raw materials) increased by one percent.
  • Prices for all consumer goods increased by .6 percent.
  • Medical care prices increased by 3.2 percent.

The speed at which inflation is growing has more than doubled in the last year, rising from .3 percent to .7 percent, Market Mad House reported. Steen Jakobsen of Denmark’s Saxo Bank believes inflation could be much higher by the end of the year. He predicted that prices for Bitcoin, which many investors use to protect their assets from inflation, might increase by 165 percent by the end of 2017.

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Warren Buffett Just Sold $900 Million In Walmart Stock – What Does He Know That We Don’t?

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Warren Buffett Just Sold $900 Million In Walmart Stock – What Does He Know That We Don't?

NEW YORK — America’s most successful investor is among those who think the nation is on the verge of a “retail apocalypse” that might devastate hundreds of communities.

Warren Buffett has sold almost all of his Walmart stock, which was worth $900 million, Business Insider reported. Buffett had been a major investor in the world’s largest retailer.

Buffett seems to be among those who believe that traditional brick and mortar retailers cannot compete with Amazon. He started selling his Walmart shares last year after calling the ecommerce giant “a big, big force” that “has already disrupted plenty of people, and it will disrupt more.”

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Buffett has been investing in Amazon since 2003, when he bought $98.3 million worth of that company’s junk bonds.

Traders tend to watch Buffett’s financial moves. Twelve years ago he predicted the problems Sears and Kmart are now having. Sears, the owner of Kmart, is in the process of closing 196 stores because of massive losses. In 2005, Buffett told University of Kansas students that Sears’ acquisition of Kmart would fail.

He also predicted the problems that many department store operators are having. Macy’s is planning to close 68 stores, and retail analysts expect J.C. Penney to start closing stores soon because of poor sales.

Walmart eliminated 7,000 accounting and invoicing positions in its stores last year and will lay off around 1,000 people at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., this year.

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A Russian Spy Ship, Armed With Missiles, Sailed Just 30 Miles Off The U.S. Coast This Week

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A Russian Spy Ship, Armed With Missiles, Sailed Just 30 Miles Off The U.S. Coast This Week

WASHINGTON — A Russian spy ship armed with surface-to-air missiles patrolled just 30 miles off the coast of Groton, Conn., Tuesday morning, just days after Russian warplanes buzzed a U.S. warship in the Black Sea.

Such moves were common during the Cold War but have occurred more frequently in recent years.

The spy ship was a SSV-175 Viktor Leonov and was in international waters; the U.S. territory is at 12 nautical miles.

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Even more ominous was the buzzing of the destroyer USS Porter in the Black Sea by four Russian warplanes on Feb. 10. The planes, which included three SU-24 attack jets, came in “low and fast” and passed within 200 yards of the Porter, a military official told Fox News.

“There were several incidents involving multiple Russian aircraft,” Navy Captain Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for the European Command, told The Washington Free Beacon. “They were assessed by the commanding officer as unsafe and unprofessional.”

But Russia’s most aggressive move came at home, where it deployed nuclear-armed SSC-X-8 cruise missiles, in direct violation of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF Treaty, The New York Times reported.

A cruise missile can easily evade most defenses by flying low to the ground. After President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty, the U.S. and the USSR destroyed most of their cruise missiles.

That action might indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin feels he is no longer bound by Soviet-era treaties.

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Gov’t Pressures Doctors To Ask: ‘Do You Own A Gun?’

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Gov’t Pressures Doctors To Ask: ‘Do You Own A Gun?’

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BOSTON — Your doctor might ask if you own a gun and lecture you on firearm safety if the state attorney general and the Massachusetts Medical Society get their way.

“Gun violence is a major public health threat and physicians can play a key role in curbing the violence by educating patients about the risks of gun ownership and encouraging our colleagues to talk to their patients,” James Gessner, the president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, told reporters Monday. “We are honored to work with the Attorney General and law enforcement officials in efforts to make gun ownership safer and reduce deaths and injuries attributable to guns.”

Gessner and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, unveiled an initiative designed to have doctors ask patients about gun ownership. It is part of a partnership between Healey’s office and the Massachusetts Medical Society.

“While the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and deeply committed to gun safety, this remains a public health issue, and conversations between patients and health care providers are critically important to preventing gun-related injury and death,” Healey said.

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Gov’t Pressures Doctors To Ask: ‘Do You Own A Gun?’

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The program has the support of two groups representing the states’ police chiefs.

“Many households in our country have guns, but they can cause harm if not handled properly,” said Chief James DiGianvittorio, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “We require the bearer of a license to carry a permit to take required safety course, however, many times other family members have no formal training. This program will at the very least open the door to conversations between physicians and patients on the risk factors associated with firearms-related injuries.”

Under the proposed policy, doctors would not report gun owners to cops. Instead, they would simply talk to them about gun safety.

“That’s why Boston Medical Center is so pleased to participate in the development of this training to help physicians talk to their patients about the safe handling and storage of guns. As a health care community, we are fully committed to ending gun violence in Massachusetts, starting in every home, and in every doctor’s visit,” said Kate Walsh, the president and CEO of Boston Medical Center.

The first step in the program will be to distribute pamphlets telling doctors about gun safety, a press release from Healey’s office stated.

“Most medical professionals believe that they can have an important role in preventing gun-related injury and death, and yet screening and counseling about guns remain uncommon,” Healey said.

The goal, she said, is to prevent gun-related accidents, self-harm and violence.

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An American City Banned Gun Ranges. Guess Which One?

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An American City Banned Gun Ranges. Guess Which One?

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WASHINTON — Second Amendment advocates won a major victory in Chicago last month when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a city ordinance that restricted shooting ranges to industrial areas.

The city earlier had passed an outright ban on gun ranges, but that was struck down in 2010.

Chicago officials defended their new law by arguing that gun ranges attract gun thieves, cause airborne lead contamination and carry a risk of fire. The court disagreed.

“The city has provided no evidentiary support for these claims, nor has it established that limiting shooting ranges to manufacturing districts and distancing them from the multiple and various uses listed in the buffer-zone rule has any connection to reducing these risks,” the court ruled in its opinion.

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The court also ruled that a provision that prevented anyone under 18 from entering a shooting range was unconstitutional.

“The City’s primary defense of the age-18 limitation is to argue that minors have no Second Amendment rights at all,” the opinion in Rhonda Ezell v. City of Chicago stated. “To support this sweeping claim, the City points to some nineteenth-century state laws prohibiting firearm possession by minors and prohibiting firearm sales to minors.

“… Banning anyone under age 18 from entering a firing range prevents older adolescents and teens from accessing adult-supervised firearm instruction in the controlled setting of a range. There’s zero historical evidence that firearm training for this age group is categorically unprotected. At least the City hasn’t identified any, and we’ve found none ourselves.”

Earlier Case

The Ezell case arose after the Supreme Court struck down Chicago ordinances banning shooting ranges and criminalizing handguns in a 2010 case called McDonald v. City of Chicago. The city tried to do an end-run around that ruling with a complicated scheme of zoning regulations designed to make it unprofitable to run a shooting range.

Among other things, the regulations specified that ranges could only be in areas zoned for manufacturing and had to be a specific distance from homes, schools and places of worship. That meant ranges could only be constructed in 2.2 percent of the city, virtually making it impossible to open a new shooting range.

“This severely limits Chicagoans’ Second Amendment right to maintain proficiency in firearm use via target practice at a range,” the Seventh Circuit ruled.

The case is attracting attention because Diane Sykes, who wrote the majority opinion, was on President Trump’s short list for U.S. Supreme Court candidates, the Associated Press reported.

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6th-Graders Taught Islam; Told It ‘Is A Religion Of Peace’; Parents Upset At School Officials

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6th-Graders Taught That Islam ‘Is A Religion Of Peace’; Parents Upset At School Officials

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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. — Some parents of middle school students in a South Carolina school are upset with a social studies curriculum that requires sixth-graders to learn the Five Pillars of Islam and affirm that Islam “is a religion of peace.”

“Allah: There is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him,” was one of the passages listed on a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet, EAGnews.org reported.

The local TV station, WCSC, also covered the controversy at Alston Middle School in Summerville.

The lessons are part of a class called the Survey of Civilization.

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One fill-in-the-blank question included the statement “Islam is a religion of _____.” The correct answer was “peace.”

Among other fill-in-the-blanks:

  • “If I believe in Islam, I am called a _____.” (Muslim.)
  • “In the Islamic religion, we call God _____. (Allah.)
  • “I feel ___ that a few people of my religion committed terrorist acts. I do not believe in terrorists’ idea of a ‘holy war.’” (Bad.)

The Five Pillars of Islam are a basic expression of the Islamic faith. They include reciting the Muslim profession of faith, daily prayers (Salat), alms giving (Zakat), fasting during Ramadan, and a pilgrimage to Mecca.

A group of parents want the lessons stopped.

“Our concern is that if they need permission to teach sexual education, they should be getting permission to teach religious values,” an unidentified mother told WCSC.

The school is defending the lesson.

“Worksheets on all these features of a civilization are used as teaching tools, including all religions involved,” Patricia Raynor, a spokeswoman for the Dorchester District II Schools, said. “One of the next civilizations beings studied in the course will be ancient Rome that will include the study of Christianity. South Carolina curriculum standards specify the material covered in this study of civilizations. This curriculum is taught in all school districts in South Carolina.”

There have been complaints about similar curriculum in other school districts. In 2015, Pastor Greg Locke of Global Mission Bible Church alleged that students in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., were being subjected to “Islamic indoctrination.”

Among other things, Locke said that students were tested on Islam on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, EAGnews.org reported.

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Gorsuch Once Sided With A Student Arrested For Making Fake Burps. His Dissent Was Epic.

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A Student Was Arrested For Fake Burp Sounds ... And Gorsuch Sided With Him

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s first U.S. Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, has received high marks from conservatives and now is being applauded for demonstrating common sense in a 2016 ruling.

Gorsuch was the lone dissenter in a case that dealt with a 13-year-old boy who was arrested at a New Mexico school for making fake burb noises. Although two justices on the 10th Circuit ruled that the school was within its rights to do what it did, Gorsuch dissented and said the arrest never should have been made.

According to the court’s decision, the teacher reported that the student had “generated several fake burps, which made the other students laugh and hampered class proceedings.” She put him in the hallways, but he then “leaned into the classroom entranceway and continued to burp and laugh,” according to the teacher.

The teacher contacted a school police officer, who arrested the boy on interfering with the educational process.

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The mother sued, arguing the police officer had used excessive force and had made an unlawful arrest. Gorsuch sided with the mom.

“If a seventh grader starts trading fake burps for laughs in gym class, what’s a teacher to do?” he asked in his dissent. “Order extra laps? Detention? A trip to the principal’s office? Maybe. But then again, maybe that’s too old school. Maybe today you call a police officer. And maybe today the officer decides that, instead of just escorting the now compliant thirteen year old to the principal’s office, an arrest would be a better idea. So out come the handcuffs and off goes the child to juvenile detention. My colleagues suggest the law permits exactly this option and they offer ninety-four pages explaining why they think that’s so. Respectfully, I remain unpersuaded.”

Other courts, Gorsuch wrote, also ruled that it takes more than childish antics to spark an arrest.

“The simple fact is the New Mexico Court of Appeals long ago alerted law enforcement that the statutory language on which the officer relied for the arrest in this case does not criminalize ‘noise[s] or diversion[s]’ that merely ‘disturb the peace or good order’ of individual classes. … Instead, the court explained, the law requires ‘a more substantial, more physical invasion’ of the school’s operations — proof that the student more ‘substantially interfered’ with the ‘actual functioning’ of the school. … What’s more, other state courts have interpreted similar statutes similarly. They’ve sustained criminal convictions for students who created substantial disorders across an entire school. But they’ve also refused to hold students criminally liable for classroom antics that ‘momentarily divert[ed] attention from the planned classroom activity” and ‘require[d] some intervention by a school official.’”

The case is A.M. v. Holmes.

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Mom Arrested, Loses Children Because They’re Homeschooled

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Mom Arrested, Loses Children Because They're Homeschooled

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — A single mother claims she was arrested and lost custody of her children after she opted to homeschool them, even though she turned in the proper paperwork.

The controversy began in December when Kiarre Harris filed paperwork with the Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools, notifying officials that she would be homeschooling. She was concerned her two children – in elementary school – were in a failing system.

“I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school,” Harris told 7 Eyewitness News in Buffalo.

But a week later, someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) called and asked why her children were not in school.

“I told them that my kids were homeschooled now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them,” said Harris, who showed the documents to 7 Eyewitness News. The district stamped the paperwork on Dec. 7, indicating the district had received it.

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She thought everything was OK, but less than a month later, CPS, accompanied by police, showed up at her home.

“They said, ‘It’s too late now to show these papers. The judge has already made the order. We have to take your children.’”

Story continues below video

Harris demanded to see the judge’s order and told CPS officials and police that she would not allow them to take her children. She was then arrested for obstructing justice. The court summons was for child neglect.

She hasn’t seen her children in three weeks, the TV station reported.

Buffalo Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. called her arrest “utterly unacceptable.”

“Someone, somewhere messed up, and that someone needs to face the music,” he said at the council meeting Tuesday. “… Did anyone from the school reach out to the mother? We don’t know. It’s very important for us to look at the details and get all of the details.”

Franklin Redd, a representative of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said none of it “should have happened.” DPCC is the independent parent organization for Buffalo Public Schools.

“Someone along the way, anywhere in the process after Dec. 7, should have simply said, ‘Wait a minute, CPS should not be in here,’ the principal should have been circled back to and (told) these students were unenrolled,” Redd told the TV station.

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Californians Are Stockpiling Ammo; Sales Skyrocketing; Buyers Fear Shortage

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Californians Are Stockpiling Ammo; Sales Skyrocketing; Buyers Fear Shortage

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ammunition sales in California have exploded ahead of the state’s rigid new gun control laws – and they won’t take effect for at least a year.

“In the last quarter, we saw a 33 percent [rise] in our ammunition sales and that’s projected to go up,” Monique Hall of Poway Weapons and Gear Range told San Diego’s CW6 TV.

On Jan. 1, 2018, a new law will take effect that restricts online ammunition purchases by requiring that all ammo sales or transfers be shipped through a licensed dealer. Ammunition purchased from out-of-state companies also will have to go through a California dealer.

Then, on July 1, 2019, a new law will take effect requiring background checks for all ammunition purchases.

The concern among gun owners: Ammo will be scarce and more expensive, as people stockpile it and stores get out of the ammo business.

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“We’re selling a lot more ammunition right now,” Patrick Jones, owner of Jones’ Fort gun store in Redding, told The Sacramento Bee. “And we will continue to do so up until the time the registration kicks in.”

All total, about a dozen new gun-related laws are taking effect in California, either this year or in 2018 or 2019. Confusion over which law takes effect when has impacted sales.

“I’ve definitely been picking up a little more than I typically would,” target shooter Mark Ball told The Bee. “I do worry about – not so much about supply but prices. The fact California has these extra rules in place, what’s that going to be like?”

The new laws impose a $1 fee on each ammunition purchase to cover the cost of the background checks, and buyers will need an ammo license, which could cost as much as $50 under the law. (The price has yet to be finalized.)

Another fear is that large retailers like Walmart will stop selling ammunition in California, simply wanting to avoid the hassle, The Bee reported. It stopped selling guns in 2003 for a similar reason.

If large retailers get out of the ammunition business, prices likely would skyrocket due to a lack of competition. And if smaller stores decide not to sell ammo, it could force gun owners to drive long distances to buy it.

“It definitely makes it difficult for a guy or gal up, say, in the Susanville area, or Alturas, or someplace remote like that to get to a big-box store, and then especially if your big-box store is in Reno and you’ve got to cross the state line,” David Bess, the chief of enforcement at California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the newspaper.

Bess, too, is stocking up.

“I was just over at a place the other day, and I was in there with my boys,” he said. “I saw some (ammunition I needed), and I said, ‘Hey, grab as much of that stuff as they’ll allow us to buy.”

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Conservative Legend Warns: War ‘Quite Possible’ If Trump Doesn’t Stop Rattling ‘Saber’

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Conservative Legend Warns: War ‘Quite Possible’ If Trump Doesn’t Stop Rattling 'Saber'

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s administration is making a mistake in its interaction with Iran and potentially setting the stage for war, famed conservative pundit Patrick J. Buchanan is warning.

“[The] White House statement makes a collision with Iran almost unavoidable; and a war with Iran quite possible,” Buchanan wrote at WorldNetDaily, referencing a statement by National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn on Feb. 1.

Following Iran’s ballistic missile test launch, Flynn said during a White House press briefing he was “officially putting Iran on notice,” claiming Iran was violating a U.N. Security Council resolution.

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Flynn did not elaborate.

“Iran is playing with fire” Trump tweeted on Feb. 3, and “they don’t appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me!”

Wrote Buchanan, “A 2015 U.N. resolution ‘called upon’ Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was.”

Buchanan – a strong backer of Trump during the election – also was troubled by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments about China’s building of artificial islands in what an international court called international waters.

“We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed,” Tillerson said during his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing.

Buchanan predicted that the words and actions by the White House could lead to conflict.

“High among the reasons that many supported Trump was his understanding that George W. Bush blundered horribly in launching an unprovoked and unnecessary war on Iraq,” Buchanan wrote at WorldNetDaily.

“Unlike the other candidates, Trump seemed to recognize this. It was thought he would disengage us from these wars, not rattle a saber at an Iran that is three times the size of Iraq and has as its primary weapons supplier and partner Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“… Neither the Ayatollah Khamenei nor Trump appears to be in a mood to back away, especially now that the president has made the threat public.”

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His Driver’s License Had A Tear. So Police Fined Him $465

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His Driver’s License Had A Tear. So Police Fined Him $465

Image source: Dave Balay

An Alberta man is facing a $465 fine because there was a crack in his driver’s license.

An Edmonton police officer delivered the ticket and fine to Dave Balay during a routine traffic stop that was so shocking that Balay soon took to social media.

Like any responsible citizen, Balay gave the officer his driver’s license, car registration and insurance card after being pulled over on Feb. 1. The officer said Balay’s car matched the description of one that had been reported as swerving. Balay doesn’t drink and wasn’t worried about what might happen.

But minutes later, Balay got a very nasty surprise.

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“He came back, and the younger policeman said he was going to give me a ticket for my driver’s license being mutilated,” Balay told the CBC. “I said, ‘Mutilated? I didn’t even know there was such a thing.’ Then he gave me a ticket for $465.”

His Driver’s License Had A Tear. So Police Fined Him $465

Image source: Dave Balay

Under the current exchange rate, $465 in Canadian currency equals about $357 in U.S. currency. Balay was particularly upset because of the size of the crack.

“Maybe not even quite an inch long,” Balay said.

The driver was so surprised that he didn’t even get angry.

“I think I outright laughed, and said, ‘Seriously? Four-hundred-and-sixty-five bucks for this crack?’ [The officer] said, ‘It’s a mutilated license,” Balay said.

Edmonton Police claim that they actually gave Balay a break. A department press release noted that he could have been charged with careless driving. That offense carries a fine of $543 in Canadian currency and a potential of six demerit points on a license.

Balay’s predicament has gained him a lot of attention. A video he posted on Facebook was shared 7,000 times and attracted 400,000 views.

Balay said he’s not going to pay the fine and hopes the prosecutor will be lenient.

“I don’t have $465,” he said. “I’m on unemployment insurance and I do some part-time substitute teaching, supply teacher. It’s a week’s wage. … Common sense would say I would just go and get a new one and not get charged with anything. I’ll even pay for the cost of replacing the license myself.”

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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: 5 Things You Need To Know

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Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch: 5 Things You Need To Know

WASHINGTON — President Trump moved quickly to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, and in nominating Neil Gorsuch – currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver – Trump instantly appeased his base.

But who is Gorsuch, and what can we expect from him?

1. Gorsuch is a life-long conservative. He co-founded a magazine and a newspaper while attending Columbia University in the mid-1980s. The publications were designed to promote conservativism and combat liberal views on campus. Gorsuch has contributed $3,050 to Republican candidates and causes in the past, according to a biography prepared by the Alliance for Justice. Gorsuch is so conservative that CNBC writer Jake Novak described him as a “Scalia clone.”

2. Gorsuch is highly qualified for the job. He studied law at Harvard and earned a doctorate at England’s Oxford University. At Oxford, Gorsuch studied under John Finnis, one the world’s top legal philosophers. He clerked for two different Supreme Court Justices: the late Byron White and current Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before being nominated to the federal bench in 2007, Gorsuch served as principal deputy to the associate attorney general during the George W. Bush administration.

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3. He might be on the Supreme Court for a very long time. Gorsuch is just 49 years old and would have a lifetime appointment. The oldest active Supreme Court Justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 83.

4. Gun-control advocates are afraid of Gorsuch. “Neil Gorsuch’s record on gun-related cases indicates some willingness to make it easier for felons to own guns – something that puts our families and communities at risk,” Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America told The Guardian.

5. The National Rifle Association (NRA) strongly supports Gorsuch.

“We will be activating our members and tens of millions of supporters throughout the country in support of Judge Gorsuch,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said in a statement.

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It’s An Off-Grid ‘Hobbit Home’ Built Inside A 700-Year-Old Cave

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Man Builds Off-Grid ‘Hobbit Home’ In 700-Year-Old Cave

Turning a cave into a modern home is not easy or cheap, as homeowner Angelo Mastropietro discovered.

He invested £162,000 ($204,000) – and lots of physical labor — to transform an abandoned cave into a state-of-the-art off-grid home. But he says it was worth it.

“In the end I had spent somewhere around 1,000 hours basically breaking rock, cutting burrowing rock,” Mastropietro said. “… Somewhere about 70 or 80 tons of rubble that I excavated out of this rock house by hand.”

The finished home has wi-fi, forced air central heating and a wood stove. There’s an 80-foot terrace around the house, as well as modern windows.

Mastropietro’s house, located in the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire, England, is one of the oldest rock homes in Europe, Britain’s Daily Mail reported. Families lived in the caves for 800 years until the 1940s.

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The cave is located in 50-foot-high sandstone cliffs that reportedly inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

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Mastropietro stumbled upon the cave during a bike ride in 1999. Eleven years later, in 2010, he purchased it for £62,000 ($78,000) and went to work.

Transforming a cave into a home is far from easy. It took Mastropietro 11 days just to cut a door through five feet of rock. He also had to drill a 262-foot deep well through stone to get water. Other modern touches include ventilation channels cut into the floor, and skylights.

The most incredible aspect of the project: Mastropietro is battling multiple sclerosis (MS), which left him temporarily paralyzed in 2007. That disease forced Mastropietro to change his life; he quit his job as head of a successful recruitment company and returned to his native Worcestershire from Australia and bought the cave.

“I have literally been paralyzed before and it does put the fear of God into you really,” Mastropietro told the newspaper.

“I love a challenge,” Mastropietro said of his reason for taking on the project. “Coincidentally, my surname actually means master of the stones, so you know maybe it’s in my blood.”

The cave home, he says, is good for his health.

“MS was triggered by health and lifestyle and that was the catalyst I needed to remind me that I needed to be mindful of my health and be respectful of my lifestyle,” Mastropietro added. “I wanted to be in a place where I had a happier and healthier life.”

He hopes to live in the cave full-time sometime in the near future.

His cave home was featured on a popular British TV show, Grand Designs.

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China Warns: War With U.S. Now A ‘Practical Reality’

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China Warns: War With U.S. Now A ‘Practical Reality’

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

The People’s Republic of China is stepping up its military preparations for a possible war with the United States.

An official commentary from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in a Chinese newspaper states that chances of war are “more real” because of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

The fear in Beijing is that disputes over the South China Sea and arguments over Taiwan might lead to military conflict. China is in the midst of a major military buildup and also opposes a proposed U.S. missile defense system in South Korea. China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea, which it claims is not international waters despite what an international court ruled in 2016.

“‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” a PLA press release in January stated.

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China’s navy even is conducting exercises on the high seas in response to statements by incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, The China Morning Post reported.

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door — they both await Americans,” a Jan. 5 editorial in the Chinese Global Times warned. That paper is part of the People’s Daily, which is the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

Tillerson, during his confirmation hearing before senators, issued a warning to China about the artificial islands.

“Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. It’s taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Tillerson said. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

A commentary in the People’s Daily in January said that China would conduct military exercises in the South China Sea no matter what other countries say.

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LAPD Chief Will Defy Trump Immigration Order – ‘This Is Not Our Job’

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Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, right, says he'd rather lose federal funds than enforce President Obama's immigration orders. Image source: Wikipedia

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, right, says he’d rather lose federal funds than enforce President Obama’s immigration orders. Image source: Wikipedia

 

LOS ANGELES — The chief of police in America’s second largest city has vowed not to cooperate with President Trump’s immigration policies.

“That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told The Los Angeles Times.

Beck has promised not to cooperate with the Trump administration even if it means a loss of federal funds for his department. Beck’s position is that threatening deportation will make crime worse by deterring those people from cooperating with police during criminal investigations.

“In the mid-1990s, when the state cracked down [on] illegal immigration, all we did was drive people underground,” Beck said.

There are around 500,000 illegal immigrants living in Los Angeles, Beck estimated.

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a formal policy of not cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement efforts that dates back to 1979, Beck pointed out. The policy even has a name: Special Order 40.

“When you create a shadow population … that fears any interaction” with police, he said, “then you create a whole population of victims, because they become prey for human predators who extort them or abuse them because they know they won’t contact the police.”

Another problem Beck faces is that 47 percent of his police force is Latino, and many of them have “blended families” – that is, some relatives who are legal and others who are not, he told The Times.

“To think the fabric of Los Angeles is going to change [through a legal edict],” Beck said, “denies our history.”

“We couldn’t deport 500,000 people if we wanted to, and if we did, it would be at the expense of public safety,” Beck said.

The solution to the illegal immigration problem, Beck said, is to help boost Mexico’s economy.

“We have a very rich country with a lot of opportunity that is immediately adjacent to a poorer country with less opportunity,” he said.

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Frustrated Man Pays DMV Bill With 300,000 Pennies

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Frustrated Man Pays DMV Bill With 300,000 Pennies

Image source: Pixabay.com

LEBANON, Va. — It cost Nick Stafford $1,005 to pay a sales tax of around $3,000 on two new cars – but he says it was worth it.

That’s because Stafford paid the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with 300,000 pennies that weighed a total of 1,600 pounds.

The pennies filled five wheelbarrows, which Stafford rolled into the DMV office in Lebanon, Va., this month. He also paid 11 people around $10 an hour to help him with his stunt by breaking open rolls of pennies. Stafford’s full costs of $1,005 included the wheelbarrows, the laborers, and three lawsuits he filed.

“If they were going to inconvenience me, then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford said.

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Stafford was upset with the DMV because its employees would not give him the phone numbers to nine local offices. When he called with the request, Stafford’s call was repeatedly rerouted to a call center in Richmond.

Stafford simply wanted to know which of his four houses he should list when licensing his son’s new car, the Bristol Herald Courier reported. He called the Lebanon DMV but was routed to Richmond. After he filed a Freedom of Information Act to get the Lebanon DMV number and called it, he was told the number was not for public use. Frustrated, he kept calling the number until employees answered his question.

Stafford then decided he wanted the phone numbers of nine other DMV offices, and he filed suit to obtain them. The suit was dismissed by the judge when the state gave Stafford the phone numbers.

“The phone numbers are irrelevant to me,” Stafford said. “I don’t need them. I told the judge ‘I think I proved my point here.’”

“I think the backbone to our republic and our democracy is open government and transparency in government and it shocks me that a lot of people don’t know the power of FOIA,” he added.

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Newborn Seized After ‘Off-Grid’ Parents Refuse Social Security Number

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Newborn Seized After Parents Refuse Social Security Number

HEFLIN, Ala. — A couple is charging that social workers took their newborn the day after he was born because of their alternative lifestyle and religious beliefs.

“They said our view was dangerous,” Christian Holm said of social workers for the Cleburne County, Ala., Department of Human Resources (DHR). “We were just trying to follow the Bible as close as we could and speak for Jesus.”

Holm and his wife, Danielle, have no house and live off the grid. They gave away their possessions and decided to enjoy life by hiking and camping out. When the two wanted to see the country, they put their car in storage and walked from Alabama to New Hampshire and back.

They were camping out at Cheaha State Park in northeastern Alabama in October when Danielle went into labor. She went to the Regional Medical Center in Anniston, Ala., to give birth, and DHR social workers came to her room and started quizzing the couple about their lifestyle and where they lived.

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Christian said state officials opposed their religious beliefs about “man’s creation destroying God’s creation” and also had concerns that the couple didn’t want to give the baby a Social Security number, according to The Anniston Star.

Police and social workers took the baby and did not tell the couple where they could find it, The Star reported.

“They took the baby, said, ‘He’s ours and this is the court date. Be there.’” Danielle told the newspaper.

Two months later the baby still had not been returned and the Holms were still waiting for their day in court. A hearing in the case had been scheduled for Dec. 20, but it was cancelled after Judge Melody Walker recused herself, The Star reported.

The Holms have attracted a group of supporters in Anniston who picketed the courthouse after the hearing was cancelled. Supporters have organized under the tagline “#freebabyholm.”

Newborn Seized After Parents Refuse Social Security Number“You can see when you talk to them directly that they are very loving and caring people,” Jonathan Payton, a friend and supporter of the Holms, told The Star. “That’s what really hit home.”

Christine Holm posted on Facebook Jan. 15 that the couple is getting a single two-hour visit a week with the baby.

“They say well you can have another ISP and arrange more visits,” he wrote. “What? Another organized coercion and conversion meeting just to have more visits? This is nothing but psychological control tactics to force submission at the expense of our little baby boy. Where is his so-called attorney to protect his rights?”

On social media, the public is divided.

“The Indians did it hundreds of years ago and had plenty more than we do now these days, why couldn’t they [also do it?],” one woman named Sherry wrote.

But others argued that modern society is different.

“The Indians lived in groups and took care of each other, food and shelter,” a man named Vince wrote. “The couple needs a plan to take care of this baby, it can’t live like they do, it needs special care, shots and meds. … Moving from place to place, out in the weather isn’t the best for anyone.”

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Not Since 1953 Has The Doomsday Clock Been This Close To Midnight

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Not Since 1953 Has The Doomsday Clock Been This Close To Midnight

WASHINGTON — The world is 30 seconds closer to doomsday, according to a new report by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Scientists moved the hands of the famous Doomsday Clock ahead by half a minute Thursday, asserting the world is “more dangerous today than it was last year.” I

That means the world is just two and half minutes away from Armageddon and as close to midnight as it has been since 1953 at the height of the Cold War, when it was two minutes until midnight. Since ’53, the clock has varied between three minutes and 17 minutes until midnight.

This is the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock.

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“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon,” a statement from the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board reads. “In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 as an indicator of how close the planet was to nuclear war. Today it gauges a variety of threats, including climate change, biological weapons and cyber weapons.

“Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change,” the scientists said in the report.

The board was critical of President Trump, asserting in its report that even though he just took office, “the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.

Physicist Lawrence Krauss said much of the world’s security depends on Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin getting along.

“President Trump and President Putin, who claim great respect for each other, can choose to act together as statesmen, or act as petulant children, risking our future,” Krauss said.

Do you believe the world is closer to doomsday than it has been since 1953?

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Student Threw A Paper Airplane. He Now Faces 30 Days In Jail.

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Student Threw A Paper Airplane. He Now Faces 30 Days In Jail

Image source: Pixabay.com

ANDERSON, S.C. — A high school student was charged with assault and battery for throwing a paper airplane in class. If he is convicted of the charge, David Michael Elliott, 17, could be sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Elliott was arrested, booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center in South Carolina, and released on a $1,087.50 bond on Jan. 10, The South Strand News reported.

He was arrested and charged after throwing a paper airplane that struck teacher Edward McIver in the eye during class at Andrews High in Georgetown, S.C.

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“That’s the law enforcement side,” Andrews High School Principal Michelle Greene said. “That is a violation of school policy, but if law enforcement … deem it necessary to get a warrant for it, then that’s what happens. The school does not interfere with law enforcement business, and they don’t interfere with ours.”

School resource officer and Georgetown County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Glover decided to charge Elliott with third-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor, after the 17-year-old said he was trying to hit McIver in the head with the paper plane. McIver instead was hit in the eye, which appeared very red, The South Strand News reported. McIver recently had had ocular surgery.

“If any employee believes a crime has taken place, we report it,” said Alan Walters, the director of Safety and Risk Management for the Georgetown County School District. “Law enforcement makes a decision if a crime occurred or not and, if it did, whether they choose to file charges or not.”

The teacher apparently told Glover that he and the student had had past confrontations and “something needs to be done.”

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Trump Orders Construction Of Border Wall – ‘We Are Going To Restore The Rule Of Law’

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Trump Orders Construction Of Border Wall – ‘We Are Going To Restore The Rule Of Law’

WASHINGTON — President Trump is making good on his promise to build a wall along the United States/Mexico border and to get tougher on illegal immigration.

Trump signed executive orders Wednesday ordering the building of a wall along the border and also calling for 5,000 additional border patrol agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The latter is contingent upon congressional funding, but the wall may not require it. That’s because a 2006 law – signed by President George W. Bush — funded a wall that was never completed after Democrats took control of Congress.

“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Trump said in an address to the Department of Homeland Security. “Beginning today the United States gets control of its borders.”

The wall will cost a lot — $15 billion total, or $3 million to $10 million a mile, NPR reported. The Washington Post’s estimate was even higher: $20 billion.

“A nation without borders is not a nation,” he said.

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Trump still plans on having the Mexican government pay for the wall by reimbursing the U.S.

“All it is, is we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico,” Trump told ABC News. “I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. What I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico.”

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Trump contends the wall will benefit Mexico by cutting down on the number of people from Central America crossing through that country. Some of the wall’s costs might be covered by redirecting foreign aid money that is going to Mexico, CNN reported.

Construction on the wall, Trump added, will likely begin within months.

“Certainly, planning is starting immediately,” he said.

Around one-third of the US-Mexico border is already blocked by a fence.

The wall was just one of several actions on immigration in two executive orders Trump signed. Other actions included:

  • Withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities” where local governments refuse to support enforcement of federal immigration laws.
  • Stepping up prosecutions of people accused of committing crimes along the border.
  • Increasing detention of illegal immigrants.
  • Forcing other countries to take back criminal aliens by withholding U.S. Visas to their citizens.
  • Giving ICE more power to arrest, detain and deport illegal immigrants.

“The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on Federal resources and overwhelmed agencies charged with border security and immigration enforcement, as well as the local communities into which many of the aliens are placed,” one of the executive orders reads. “Transnational criminal organizations operate sophisticated drug- and human-trafficking networks and smuggling operations on both sides of the southern border, contributing to a significant increase in violent crime and United States deaths from dangerous drugs.  Among those who illegally enter are those who seek to harm Americans through acts of terror or criminal conduct.  Continued illegal immigration presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States.”

Read the executive orders here and here.

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50 Percent Of Silicon Valley Billionaires Are Prepping For ‘The Apocalypse’

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50 Percent Of Silicon Valley Billionaires Are Prepping For ‘The Apocalypse’

There is a new fad in Silicon Valley and Wall Street: Some of America’s richest and smartest people have become survivalists.

“Anyone who’s in this community knows people who are worried that America is heading toward something like the Russian Revolution,” hedge fund investor Robert H. Dugger told The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

Osnos profiled a wide variety of wealthy people who believe American civilization is about to crack up.

“When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” Facebook Executive Antonio García Martínez said. Martínez put his money where his mouth is: He bought five acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest for a survival retreat, stockpiled thousands of rounds of ammo and installed generators and solar panels.

“All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.”

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Martínez was surprised by how many of his colleagues shared his fears and interest in prepping.

50 Percent Of Silicon Valley Billionaires Are Prepping For ‘The Apocalypse’

Image source: Pixabay.com

“It runs the gamut, from a lot of people stocking up on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, to figuring out how to get second passports if they need it, to having vacation homes in other countries that could be escape havens,” Venture capitalist Tim Chang said of Silicon Valley survivalists.

One unnamed investment executive told Osnos, “I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system. A lot of my friends do the guns and the motorcycles and the gold coins. That’s not too rare anymore.”

Marvin Liao, a former Yahoo executive, admitted to stockpiling food and water and studying archery for self-defense. Reddit CEO and cofounder Steve Huffman got laser eye surgery to eliminate the need for glasses during survival.

“If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the a–,” Huffman said.

Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong told Osnos that “most people just assume improbable events don’t happen,” but “technical people tend to view risk very mathematically.”

“The tech preppers do not necessarily think a collapse is likely,” Wong said “They consider it a remote event, but one with a very severe downside, so, given how much money they have, spending a fraction of their net worth to hedge against this . . . is a logical thing to do.”

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Around 50 percent of Silicon Valley billionaires have some sort of “apocalypse insurance,” LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman said. The insurance can range from an elaborate bunker to a farm in New Zealand.

“I’ve heard this theme from a bunch of people,” Hoffman said. “Is the country going to turn against the wealthy? Is it going to turn against technological innovation? Is it going to turn into civil disorder?”

Like everyday preppers, wealthy survivalists face the stigma of being labeled crazy. Yet more and more of them are going public.

“They don’t put tinfoil on your head if you’re the President and you go to Camp David,” Tyler Allen, a Florida real-estate developer, said. “But they do put tinfoil on your head if you have the means and you take steps to protect your family should a problem occur.”

Allen recently paid $3 million for a “survival condo” in a hardened missile silo in Kansas.

Some of America’s best-informed people have become survivalists. Everyone else needs to ask: What do they know?

What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:

Are You Prepared For A Downed Grid? Read More Here.

Clever Californians Discover Way To Get Around New Gun Ban

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Clever Californians Discover Way To Get Around New Gun Ban

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Enterprising gunsmiths already have figured out how to get around California’s new gun control law that bans “bullet button” rifles.

When the law was signed last year, Darin Prince, the inventor of the original bullet button, said he had come up with a workaround he called the Patriot Mag Release, Vice reported. He also called it “bullet button reloaded.” Others quickly copied Prince’s idea and their inventions are now sold online.

The new workaround became necessary when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1664, which banned so-called assault weapons that have bullet buttons.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

“We have had the Patriot Mag Release in the wings for many years, and it has a full utility patent (United States Patent and Trademark Office – Patent # 9,182,186),” Prince wrote on Facebook. “This new Patriot Mag Release system will allow you to only drop the magazine on a rifle when the action has been disassembled. Complying with both bills signed.”

Story continues below video

Despite Prince’s assurances, it is not fully clear if the Patriot Mag Release is legal in California, Vice noted. Incoming California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has not released an opinion on whether the new devices are legal.

What do you think? Would you buy such a workaround if you lived in California? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns. Read More Here.

The 10 States Americans Fled From In 2016

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The 10 States Americans Fled From In 2016

Americans are migrating to rural regions and small towns and abandoning highly urbanized areas and the rustbelt.

Data from United Van Lines’ 40th Annual Movers Survey shows Americans mostly prefer the country and the West to the big city and the East.

The biggest trend United found was a continued migration out of the Northeast; four of the 10 “outbound” states – that is, states that Americans are fleeing — are in that region. New Jersey ranks No. 1, with 63 percent of United Van Lines traffic being outbound.

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Residents in 2016 also wanted out of New York (63 percent), Connecticut (60) and Pennsylvania (56).

The top inbound state was South Dakota (68 percent of moves being inbound). Following is United Van Lines’ list for top inbound states for 2016:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Vermont
  3. Oregon
  4. Idaho
  5. South Carolina
  6. Washington
  7. District of Columbia
  8. North Carolina
  9. Nevada
  10. Arizona

Following is United Van Lines’ list for top outbound states for 2016:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. New York
  4. Connecticut
  5. Kansas
  6. Kentucky
  7. West Virginia
  8. Ohio
  9. Utah
  10. Pennsylvania

United Van Lines has tracked migration patterns of Americans since 1977. The 2016 study included the 48 contiguous states.

Which states surprised you? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Looking For A Second Country? Read More Here.

How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw

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How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw & A Garbage Bag

Image source: Pixabay.com

Did you know that you can grow potatoes in a container with just a little bit of soil and a whole bunch of straw? You bet you can. Using straw has a couple of huge benefits: the container remains light and easy to move around, and it’s easy to harvest early potatoes without disturbing the plant and the rest of the tubers.

Preparing The Seed Potatoes

One of the most important steps is choosing the correct variety of seed potatoes. Late-season cultivars work best because they will continue to set tubers as the plants grow taller, unlike early-season potatoes, which set tubers only once. There are a lot of fantastic late-maturing varieties to choose from. Kennebec and German Butterball are popular late-season varieties, but you also can switch it up and try cultivars like Russian Blue or All Blue (which have blue flesh) or the Purple Peruvian, which is a purple-fleshed fingerling variety. Whichever kind you choose, it’s best to use seed potatoes. If you saved potatoes from last year’s crop for seed, you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t have your own seed, buy them from a reputable seed company to ensure that your own potato crop is disease-free. It’s not recommended to plant store-bought table potatoes.

Looking For Potato Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

When planting a potato, the most important part is the eye — the indentation on the surface of the potato skin where sprouts pop up. Larger potatoes have a number of eyes. While you can plant a whole potato of any size, it’s more cost-effective and productive to cut larger ones up, leaving one to two eyes on each piece. It’s possible to start potato plants from potato peels that have eyes, but for best results keep each cut piece to roughly the size of an ice cube or small egg.

If you plant freshly cut potatoes, they may rot. It’s best to let the cut parts “scab over” before planting. Just spread the cut pieces out and allow them to sit for a day or two. The flesh of the potato should dry up a bit. If they turn black or start to mold, you should cut up new seed pieces.

Preparing The Container For Planting

Tall containers work best for this project. Use things like tall tote boxes, garbage cans, bushel baskets, and five-gallon pails. Extremely soft bags probably won’t work since the straw won’t support the sides very well, but sturdy grow bags should do just fine.

Start with about an inch of small gravel at the bottom of the container. Cover that with about four inches of container soil that has been amended with a little bit of compost. Water the soil and let it drain before planting. It should be moist but not soaking wet.

How To Grow Potatoes Indoors, Using Straw & A Garbage Bag

Image source: Pixabay.com

Once you’re ready to plant, place your seed pieces on the soil, with the eye/sprout facing upwards. Aim for about eight inches between each seed piece. The seed pieces only need to be covered with about a half inch of soil. Once the soil is in place, cover it with about six inches of weed-free straw. Do not pack the straw in. Keep it loose.

The Growing Stage

While you wait for your potato plants to grow tall enough to poke out of the straw, keep the sunlight and moisture levels regulated. The container is nice and light, and easy to move around so that it gets as much sun as possible. The straw acts as mulch and keeps your soil from drying out. It’s important to not overwater potato plants or they will rot. Just stick your hand in through the straw to see how dry the soil is, and water right through the straw as needed.

It should take about three weeks for your potato plants to start showing. Once they start peeking through, add about another four inches of straw. This encourages the plants to keep growing taller, and as they grow taller, they will set out more tubers. Once the plants poke through this second layer, you can add another four to six inches of straw.

Harvesting

You can start checking for new or baby potatoes about eight weeks after planting. Potatoes are super-easy to locate and harvest when you grow them this way. Just stick your hand into the loose straw and gently feel around for potatoes that are large enough to pull out. If you are helping yourself to potatoes as the plant keeps producing, there probably won’t be a lot left when the plant dies back. But once the plant starts turning yellow and withering, it’s time to finish the harvest.

Potatoes are not fussy plants. They are generally easy to grow and it’s fun to try the different varieties. Growing them in a container with straw makes it easy to enjoy fresh homegrown food in the depths of winter. Wouldn’t fresh baby potatoes, steamed, and served with butter and dill, hit the spot right about now? I think so!

Have you ever grown potatoes indoors? Share your tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

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Court Applauds Homeschool Mom, But OKs Criminal Charges Anyway

Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons

 

CLEVELAND — A legal group representing a homeschool mom is filing an appeal after an Ohio magistrate and then a judge convicted her of a misdemeanor after she failed to file the proper paperwork.

“Can a mother whose son is not missing any school, learning eagerly, and even excelling academically still be considered criminally reckless when it comes to his education?” attorney Jim Mason of the Home School Legal Defense Association wrote at the HSLDA website.

The magistrate praised homeschool mom Valerie Bradley for “being so successful with the education aspect” of her homeschool program but then sentenced her to 180 days in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A common pleas judge changed the charge to failing to send her son to school and removed the jail sentence, but HSLDA said all charges should be dropped.

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As Off the Grid News reported in October, the controversy began shortly after Bradley and her husband, David, started homeschooling their son in January 2015.

“That summer the Bradleys received a form letter from school officials requesting that by August 1 they file a notice of intent for the coming year, as well as a student end-of-year assessment,” Mason wrote. “A short time later, Mrs. Bradley spoke with a school employee who told her, correctly, that there is no deadline for the student assessment.”

By late October, the Bradleys had filed their notice of intent, which the school system deemed too late.

“It was then that the state filed a criminal complaint against Mrs. Bradley, alleging that the delay in filing her homeschool paperwork had contributed to the delinquency of her child,” Mason wrote. “

But Valerie Bradley had been teaching her son the entire time and noted in court he was “doing better than when he was in public school.” In fact, on his end-of-year assessment, he scored in the 97th percentile.

HSDLA is appealing the judge’s ruling in an attempt to get the conviction overturned.

“In our brief, HSLDA is asking for the chance to demonstrate how state officials bungled Mrs. Bradley’s case in three fundamental areas: homeschool law, the procedure for dealing with truancy, and the determination of when a parent is reckless,” Mason wrote.

The Aug. 1 deadline is not in state law and is completely arbitrary, HSLDA says.

Further, Mason asserted, she was not acting recklessly, which is legally defined as acting “with indifference toward a known and obvious risk” to a child.

“Mrs. Bradley acted precisely as the legislature intended parents should act when questioned about truancy: promptly and decisively. That should have been the end of the matter,” Mason wrote.

Which side do you think was right? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Looking For Another Country? Read More Here.

Here’s How Crooks Steal Your Credit Card At The Gas Pump

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Here’s How Crooks Steal Your Credit Card At The Gas Pump

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Jan. 19, 2017

Crooks can steal your credit or debit card number anywhere you swipe your card. A simple gadget called a skimmer can let bad guys steal numbers from hundreds of people without the card owners even knowing it.

A skimmer is a device placed over a card reader. When you swipe your card, it reads the numbers but lets you complete the transaction normally. Some skimmers collect data for criminals to pick up later, while others transmit it to the bad guys via Bluetooth or a wireless phone call.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

The Northport, Ala., Police Department sent out a Tweet Jan. 13 with a short video of a skimmer and the warning, “Always tug on the credit card reader at the gas pumps, you never know when someone has slipped a reader on there.”

Crooks can steal your credit or debit card numbers at:

  • Gas pumps. This is the most common location for skimming, because people are often in a hurry to fill the tank. The Minnesota Commerce Commission found nine skimmers on pumps in the Minneapolis area during a sweep in April 2016, the local CBS affiliate reported.
  • Skimmers have been found on regular and self-service checkout lines at several supermarkets, including Safeway. The Consumerist reported that one looked like a normal card reader and even stole pin numbers. Skimmers also were found at the self-checkout lanes at Walmart stores in Virginia and Kentucky in April 2016, security expert Brian Krebs reported.
  • Train stations. In November 2014, police found skimmers on ticket machines at three Denver-area light rail stations.
  • Skimmers have been popping up on ATMs for several years now, Krebbs reported. Crooks also place false pin readers on ATMs to steal your data.

How To Spot A Skimmer

Here are some tips for spotting a skimmer and protecting your accounts:

  1. Grab the card reader, pull it hard and jiggle it around. If it is loose, it might be a skimmer, the Northport, Ala., Police Department said. Always tug on readers at gas pumps and ticket machines.
  2. Look for hidden cameras and cover the hand that is entering data. Thieves sometimes place cameras in discrete locations to steal PIN numbers. Any pinhole or clear area near the PIN reader might contain one.
  3. Look for signs of damage to the machine. This might include a recently drilled hole or spray paint.
  4. If you have a chip card, use the chip reader when available. It is more secure.
  5. Check your account balance regularly, online. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  6. Call the police if you think you have found a skimmer.
  7. Use other methods of payment, such as cash or phone payment apps like Apple Pay and Walmart Pay. Payment apps can be more secure than cards.

Thieves want your credit and debit card numbers — and they’ll do anything to get them.

Have you ever spotted a skimmer or had someone steal your credit card data? Share your advice in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

Here’s How Crooks Steal Your Credit Card At The Gas Pump

Here’s How Crooks Steal Your Credit Card At The Gas Pump

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Jan. 19, 2017

Crooks can steal your credit or debit card number anywhere you swipe your card. A simple gadget called a skimmer can let bad guys steal numbers from hundreds of people without the card owners even knowing it.

A skimmer is a device placed over a card reader. When you swipe your card, it reads the numbers but lets you complete the transaction normally. Some skimmers collect data for criminals to pick up later, while others transmit it to the bad guys via Bluetooth or a wireless phone call.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

The Northport, Ala., Police Department sent out a Tweet Jan. 13 with a short video of a skimmer and the warning, “Always tug on the credit card reader at the gas pumps, you never know when someone has slipped a reader on there.”

Crooks can steal your credit or debit card numbers at:

  • Gas pumps. This is the most common location for skimming, because people are often in a hurry to fill the tank. The Minnesota Commerce Commission found nine skimmers on pumps in the Minneapolis area during a sweep in April 2016, the local CBS affiliate reported.
  • Skimmers have been found on regular and self-service checkout lines at several supermarkets, including Safeway. The Consumerist reported that one looked like a normal card reader and even stole pin numbers. Skimmers also were found at the self-checkout lanes at Walmart stores in Virginia and Kentucky in April 2016, security expert Brian Krebs reported.
  • Train stations. In November 2014, police found skimmers on ticket machines at three Denver-area light rail stations.
  • Skimmers have been popping up on ATMs for several years now, Krebbs reported. Crooks also place false pin readers on ATMs to steal your data.

How To Spot A Skimmer

Here are some tips for spotting a skimmer and protecting your accounts:

  1. Grab the card reader, pull it hard and jiggle it around. If it is loose, it might be a skimmer, the Northport, Ala., Police Department said. Always tug on readers at gas pumps and ticket machines.
  2. Look for hidden cameras and cover the hand that is entering data. Thieves sometimes place cameras in discrete locations to steal PIN numbers. Any pinhole or clear area near the PIN reader might contain one.
  3. Look for signs of damage to the machine. This might include a recently drilled hole or spray paint.
  4. If you have a chip card, use the chip reader when available. It is more secure.
  5. Check your account balance regularly, online. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  6. Call the police if you think you have found a skimmer.
  7. Use other methods of payment, such as cash or phone payment apps like Apple Pay and Walmart Pay. Payment apps can be more secure than cards.

Thieves want your credit and debit card numbers — and they’ll do anything to get them.

Have you ever spotted a skimmer or had someone steal your credit card data? Share your advice in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

An Armed Citizen Just Saved The Life Of A State Trooper

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An Armed Citizen Just Saved The Life Of A State Trooper

PHOENIX — Even veteran cops sometimes need help from armed citizens. Arizona State Trooper Edward Andersson might have been beaten to death if a gun-wielding motorist had not come to his aid.

“My trooper would not be alive without his assistance,” Colonel Frank Milstead, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), said of an unidentified California resident.

The man was driving west on Interstate 10 on Jan. 12 when he saw a man slamming Andersson’s head into the pavement. Andersson had just been ambushed and shot by the man, Leonard Pennelas-Escobar.

The driver stopped and asked Andersson if he needed help. He said yes, and the driver then got his gun from the vehicle and shot Pennelas-Escobar. He then used Andersson’s radio to call for help, The Arizona Republic reported. The attacker died on the scene. Andersson was taken to a hospital in Goodyear, Ariz., by helicopter.

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Officials are still trying to determine why the man attacked Andersson.

It all started when Andersson saw a rollover wreck and stopped at around 4 a.m. That wreck resulted in a woman being ejected and dying. He had just put out flares when the suspect shot him and began beating him, The Republic reported.

Before the driver stopped to help, the suspect was “getting the better of” Andersson and slamming his head into the pavement, AP said.

Andersson is a 27-year veteran of the DPS.

“He’s incredibly fortunate to be here with us today,” Milstead said of Andersson.

Andersson has been released from the hospital.

“Thanks for the thoughts and prayers this morning for our Trooper that was shot,” Milstead tweeted, “looks like he will be okay after some recovery.”

The interstate had to be closed for 10 hours and traffic diverted while DPS investigated the shooting, The Republic reported.

Pennelas-Escobar was a former member of the Mexican federal police and was in the U.S. illegally, Milstead said. Pennelas-Escobar also used illegal drugs, he said.

What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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This New Creepy Website Knows Everything About Your Family – And It’s Free

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This New ‘Creepy’ Website Knows Everything About Your Family – And It’s FreeAnyone who knows your name can discover your home address and the addresses of every member of your extended family thanks to a new free genealogy website, FamilyTreeNow.com.

In less than five seconds, FamilyTreeNow.com accurately listed my age, my birthdate and eight of the last nine addresses where I received mail. It also accurately listed the names, birthdates and addresses of my parents and my brother – all tied to my name.

Disturbingly, FamilyTreeNow.com is totally free and does not even require registration. It gets all of its data from public records.

Nor is it just relatives who might be listed at FamilyTreeNow.com. Washington Post reporter Abby Ohlheiser discovered that the names of a former roommate and her ex-boyfriend were listed as “associates.”

“The site listed my 3- and 5-year-olds as ‘possible associates,’” Anna Brittain, a writer from Birmingham, Ala., told The Post. She said FamilyTreeNow “scared me to death.”

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

Ohlheiser’s description of FamilyTreeNow as “creepy” seems very accurate. There are other similar sites that scan public records available online, but most of them charge a fee for searches and require registration.

Who Is Behind FamilyTreeNow?

Ohlheiser  was not able to determine who was behind FamilyTreeNow.com. She located a company called Family Tree Now LLC, but was unable to find anyone willing to talk.

Opting out of FamilyTreeNow is fairly easy. All you have to do is follow these steps.

  1. Visit FamilyTreeNow.com/optout.
  2. Click on the “I’m not a robot” captcha at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click “begin.”
  4. Run a search for yourself by entering your name, state and city and age.
  5. Read the record carefully to make sure it is you.
  6. Click the big red “opt out” button.
  7. Visit the site 48 hours later to make sure the information has been deleted.

There is another low-tech way to keep your home address off of sites like FamilyTreeNow. Simply get a mailing address other than your home, such as a P.O. Box.

What is your reaction to FamilyTreeNow.com? Share your thoughts in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

She Corrected A Student’s Spelling. Then The School Fired Her

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She Corrected A Student’s Spelling. Then The School Fired Her

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FREDERICK, Md. — A school employee in Maryland apparently was fired after correcting a student’s spelling on Twitter.

Katie Nash lost her job as “web experience coordinator” at the Frederick County Public Schools after telling a student how to spell “tomorrow,” The Frederick Post-News reported.

On Jan. 5 and with bad weather threatening, a student directed a Tweet at the school system that read, “close school tamarrow PLEASE.”

Nash, who ran the school Twitter account, responded, “But then how would you learn how to spell ‘tomorrow?’ :)”

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Her response was certainly popular on Twitter, generating 1,000 likes and leading to the hashtag #KatiefromFCPS going viral.

Viral Tweet Gets Mom Fired

Even though the unidentified student did not mind the response, Nash’s superiors told her not to send out more Tweets. But she kept Tweeting calendar updates.

Then on Jan. 13, Nash was told she was being terminated from her $44,066-a-year job. Michael Doerrer, a spokesman for the Frederick Public Schools, would not say why she was terminated.

Nash is now tweeting from her personal account, @KatieNash. The mother of two is not ashamed of what she did.

“It was really positive and great to see so many students engaged with their school system,” Nash said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

She’s received lots of support on social media, with people inundating the @FCPSMaryland feed with words of criticism for the school. One wrote, “Rehire this lady if you want to save your reputation.” Another wrote, “No wonder kids today have so much trouble with grammar and spelling.” Still another wrote, “Will you explain why u fired someone for a spellcheck tweet? Story not going away. National laughingstock.”

Which side do you take – the school’s side or Katie’s side? Share your opinion in the section below:

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Surprise! Police Support Gun Rights Even MORE Than Americans Do, Poll Finds

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Surprise! Police Support Gun Rights, Survey Says

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WASHINGTON — Cops are more supportive of Second Amendment rights and more opposed to gun control than average Americans are, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.

Pew’s “Behind the Badge” survey on police and public views was released Jan. 11 and found that the majority of law enforcement officers strongly support the Second Amendment, with 74 percent saying it is more important to protect the rights of citizen to own guns than it is to control gun ownership. Among the general population, only 53 percent support gun rights over gun control.

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Police even support the rights of Americans to own so-called assault rifles, with only 32 percent favoring a ban on them, compared to 64 percent of Americans who answered that way.

The survey did find that police favor some gun control measures. A full 95 percent of police support laws preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns, and 88 percent favor background checks on people who buy firearms at gun shows or from individuals. Those numbers are similar to the beliefs of the general public.

On the question of whether a national database should be created to track gun sales, 61 percent of police and 71 percent of the general public support such an idea.

What is your reaction to police mostly backing gun rights? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Your Fingerprints Now Can Be Stolen From Selfie Pictures?

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Your Fingerprints Now Can Be Stolen From Selfie Pictures?

Image source: PSU.edu

WASHINGTON — Your fingerprints might be a major threat to your privacy.

That’s because the images taken by smartphone cameras are so full of detail that it is now possible to copy fingerprints from them, Professor Isao Echizen of Japan’s National Institute of Informatics told The Sankei Shimbun newspaper.

“Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available,” Echizen said.

Discover How To Become Invisible In Today’s Surveillance State!

The problem: An increasing number of new technologies, including iPhones, use fingerprints to unlock phones. Echizen said fingerprints can be stolen from pictures taken from up to 10 feet away – in other words, ever selfie you’ve taken where your fingerprints could be seen. Many people post such pictures on social media.

“Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture,” Echizen told Yomiuri TV.

Even worse, the professor said that advanced technology is not needed to steal fingerprints.

As Digital Trends reported, “The problem is compounded by photos being shared and stored online, creating a gallery of fingerprints for thieves to exploit. The professor points out that unlike a stolen password, which can be quickly changed, your fingerprints are with you forever.”

Echizen’s find has other privacy problems: Cops might be able to identify and locate protestors via a news photograph. All they would need to do is run the fingerprints from the picture through the database.

What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:

You’re Being Watched: 7 Sneaky Ways The Government Is Tracking Your Every Move. Read More Here.

Man Receives $128 Ticket For Warming Car IN HIS DRIVEWAY

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Man Receives $128 Ticket For Warming Car IN HIS DRIVEWAY

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ROSEVILLE, Mich. — Police this month gave a Michigan man a $128 ticket for something millions of people do every day – leaving his car running to warm up the interior on a cold day.

“This is purely a public safety issue,” Roseville, Mich., Police Chief James Berlin told a local TV station, Fox 8. “You see it all the time. People hop in a running car and steal them. Something bad happens when that occurs.”

Nick Taylor violated a Roseville ordinance against leaving keys in an empty car — even though it was a frigid morning, WDIV-4 reported. He left the vehicle running outside his girlfriend’s house on a very frigid morning.

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“Unattended car,” Taylor wrote on Facebook. “I’ve done this every day for seven years. Every person warms up their car. We live in Michigan.”

Taylor posted a picture of the ticket on Facebook. It had received more than 13,000 shares, 5,000 comments and 5,100 likes as of Jan. 10.

The ticket read, in part, “vehicle parked in drive … with keys in ignition. Motor running. No one around.”

One commenter on Facebook wrote that “everyone in a cold state would be getting tickets” if such a law existed everywhere and was enforced.

Another wrote, “I lived in Michigan for 40 years and now Wisconsin for 2. I always start my car on cold days before leaving. It’s only common sense. So one is supposed to stay in car when it is 21 below zero, freeze their butts off before car warms up, which could take up to 30 minutes?”

Still another wrote, “Frostbite or hypothermia could set in if people stay with the car before it is warmed up cause some take longer and in [negative-degree] degree weather it’s not practical or safe for people, either.”

But some people on Facebook supported the police. One person wrote, “He’s the idiot not the cop and for a number of reasons: Theft – he will not be covered on his insurance. Warming up the car is actually harmful to the engine and will shorten engine life. Waste of fuel. Pollution. And it is ILLEGAL.”

What do you think? Should the man have gotten a ticket? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The Most Isolated, Amazing, Off-Grid House In The World?

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The Most Isolated, Amazing, Off-Grid Home In The World?

The ultimate off-grid home also might be the world’s most isolated. It is a hunting lodge located on the island of Elliðaey, which is in the North Atlantic off the southern coast of Iceland.

The house has a 110-acre island to itself, with the only things being a few trees, grass, puffin birds, and a rocky coast that belongs on a postcard.

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Despite its’ remoteness, the house on Elliðaey is sort of famous as the center of a couple of urban legends. The strangest of those stores is that the island is the home or retreat of Iceland’s most famous resident — the eccentric alternative punk and rock singer, Björk.

The Most Isolated, Amazing, Off-Grid Home In The World?

A popular online legend is that the Icelandic government gave Elliðaey to Björk for her service to the nation. That is not true, though. Björk did once own an isolated home in Selfoss, which is on the southern tip of Iceland.

Also false is a story that the lodge belongs to an eccentric billionaire. Instead, the lodge belongs to a local hunting club. The club’s members use it to hunt puffin. The home even has a sauna.

The Most Isolated, Amazing, Off-Grid Home In The World?

 

Although no one lives in the home permanently, that was not always the case. Descendants of the Vikings actually lived on the island for around 300 years, settling there sometime in the 17th century. They left by the 1930s.

Despite its remote location, Elliðaey is not a practical survival location. Except for puffins, there is little food on the island.

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Elliðaey is part of the Vestmannaeyjar or Westman archipelago.

The Most Isolated, Amazing, Off-Grid Home In The World?

Iceland is an island nation in the North Atlantic that is home to the world’s oldest parliament, a fishing fleet and a number of Internet data centers for processing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The data centers are powered by Iceland’s most abundant resource: electricity generated by geothermal steam.

Iceland is perhaps best known as the location of several volcanoes. One of them, Eyjafjallajokull, disrupted air travel in the Atlantic with a huge dust cloud in 2010. The British tabloid The Sun reported that Eyjafjallajokull is rumbling again and might erupt this summer.

Would you want to visit or live in the lodge on Elliðaey? Share your thoughts in the section below:

CPS Seized Her Kids. She Got Them Back – And $700,000, Too

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CPS Seized Her Kids. She Got Them Back – And $700,000, Too

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Officials in Riverside County, Calif., have agreed to pay a family $700,000 as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed after Child Protective Services (CPS) seized a seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.

“CPS just took my children,” Vanessa Wilson told Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA) attorneys back in April 2013 after CPS investigator Francisca Russo alleged that the mom was not properly tending to the diabetes needs of her four-year-old daughter.

CPS, with the backing of police, seized both kids.

The son was in state custody for 29 days, the daughter for 50 days.

The controversy began after Wilson took her daughter to the hospital when she experienced flu-like symptoms and lethargy. It was at the hospital that doctors told her that her daughter was diabetic. The daughter was discharged five days later in the care of the mom.

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Wilson followed the treatment plan for her daughter, but three months later a case worker showed up at her door, accompanied by other CPS workers and a police officer. The case worker asked Wilson to administer a blood glucose meter test to the daughter, which the mom did. The reading of 261 was “within the acceptable blood glucose range” that the doctor had given Wilson, according to the lawsuit. And it was “significantly less” than the reading of 435 when the daughter was first administered to the hospital. But that didn’t matter to Russo.

“On her own authority, without asking a doctor about the readings and without seeking a court order, [Russo] took the girl into custody,” HSLDA said in a news release. “After learning that Vanessa homeschooled her seven-year-old son, Ms. Russo asked him a few math questions, asked him to recite the ABC’s, and to read from a book—all while the deputy would not let his visibly distraught mom come to him.

Other doctors, including the girl’s own physician, said her condition was fine.

“Russo made these determinations without any appropriate medical training, degree, or license,” the complaint stated. “… Russo made these determinations without consulting Daughter’s pediatrician, Dr. Swanston, or any other medical professional who possessed appropriate medical training, degree, or license to opine as to the normal blood sugar range of a four-year-old child with new-onset type 1 juvenile diabetes.”

The kids were returned after HSLDA uncovered evidence that CPS had hidden evidence from the courts and them. That evidence convinced a prosecutor to drop the legal case against Wilson.

HSLDA then filed a lawsuit, which included a video deposition of Russo.

“There was simply no better way to reproduce or accurately represent the investigator’s facial expressions, body language, or pregnant pauses,” HSLDA reported in a news release. “Watching her squirm while she tried to explain that a pediatric endocrinologist with 30 years’ experience was wrong—and that she was right—was considerably more effective than reading a transcript.”

Riverside County initially offered only $10,000, but during mediation – and after the video deposition was seen by everyone – agreed to a $700,000 settlement.

“Each of the children have an investment of $100,000 that they can start drawing on when they turn 18,” according to HSLDA. “Vanessa invested part of her money in a new traveling home so that she and the kids can cross the country visiting friends and family; learning while on an unforgettable adventure. Money can’t bring back the lost 50 days, or cure the trauma that all three are still dealing with from the unjustified seizure and separation. But Vanessa is doing her best.”

HSLDA said it acknowledges that CPS investigators “have an important and difficult job” – but asserts they must be held accountable.

“There are rules they have to follow for the safety and protection of those they investigate,” HSLDA said in its release. “And sadly, the CPS system is so wrapped in confidentiality that abuses by officials rarely come to light—except in civil-rights lawsuits like this one.”

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Smart Homesteaders Save Tons Of Money This Way (So Why Doesn’t Everyone Do It?)

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The Overlooked Way Smart Homesteaders Save Tons Of MoneyMost of the meat, dairy and egg production in this country comes from monocultures — confinement operations raising only one type of animal. This is said to be “efficient,” and maybe it does make it easier to maximize short-term profits. But polycultures — farms that raise many types of animals and plants — are more resource-efficient and more practical for homesteaders looking to raise healthy food in healthy soil.

Often, waste products from the garden or the animals can supply the needs of other parts of the farm system. Called “farm symbiosis,” this can save lots of money on the homestead – and reduce our waste, too.

I’ll start with the model I know best, the farm I’ve worked for the last 16 years. We grow a big garden and a small orchard as well as goats, chickens, rabbits and pigs. These are all raised in separate spaces, but they use each other’s waste products.

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The garden is mostly fertilized with compost, which is rich and quick to break down because it contains plenty of animal manure. Our other main fertilizer is rabbit manure, which we apply directly to the garden beds. Rabbit droppings provide a rich slow-release source of nitrogen and phosphorus, and they don’t burn plants the way other uncomposted manures might. The garden also helps to feed the animals who feed it.

The Overlooked Way Smart Homesteaders Save Tons Of MoneyWhen we have to pick bugs off the garden plants we collect them in a jar and feed them to our hens, who benefit from the protein boost. A substantial part of our rabbits’ diet comes from the garden. We grow carrots, radishes, turnips and kale for them. They also eat cover crops like clover, buckwheat and oats that we plant to keep the soil sheltered and active between crops, as well as nutritious weeds like dandelions, comfrey, purslane, pigweed, chicory, chickweed and prickly lettuce, which we have to clear out of the garden beds anyway.

We keep two goats for milk. During the winter we get just enough milk for our daily use. During the growing season we have a lot more than we need, and sometimes more than we can give away to neighbors. Excess milk goes to the pig. So does some of the vitamin- and protein-rich whey from our cheesemaking. The chickens drink the rest of the whey.

We raise rabbits for meat (and manure, of course). They eat small amounts of store-bought whole grains and large amounts of roots and greens from our garden and pastures. When we butcher rabbits, the offal goes to feed our chickens.

We raise one pig each year as our other meat source. The pig eats milk and whey, spoiled apples from the orchard, and cracked eggs from the chickens as well as store-bought grain. We don’t butcher our own pig, but we ask to have jowls and all organs sent to us; we don’t eat these ourselves but we cook them up and feed them to the chickens.

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The Overlooked Way Smart Homesteaders Save Tons Of MoneyThe chickens get extra protein from all the other animals, as described. They also have constant access to a pile which we start with half-finished compost and weeds from the garden. They tear these up, add nitrogen-rich manure, scratch it in, and produce very rich compost.

Other farmers combine several types of livestock in the same space, although not necessarily at the same time. Joel Salatin has popularized a rotational pasturing system. First, cows are rotated intensively through small segments of the pasture using portable fencing. Then, chickens or turkeys are moved across the same pasture in tractors. The birds break up the cowpats so they’re more of an effective fertilizer. They also eat parasites and eggs which might otherwise re-infest the cattle on their next visit; this provides protein for the chickens as well as protection for the cows.

Grazing multiple species in the same space at the same time also can improve land and animal health. Cows tend to prefer grasses and clover, sheep forbs and weeds, and goats brush and browse. Grazing all three animals on mixed pasture ensures that the different types of plants are eaten back at roughly the same rate so that nothing gets crowded out. (You may sill have to manually remove those plants that nobody wants to eat, like thistle and horse-nettle.)

By raising several different kinds of livestock as well as gardening, homesteaders can greatly reduce the waste we produce and the purchased inputs we need.

What do you raise? How have you learned to generate resources and reuse waste? Write your tips in the section below:

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Now Big Government Is Coming Down On … Raw Camel’s Milk

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Now Big Government Is Coming Down ... On Raw Camel’s Milk

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Shipping raw camel’s milk across state lines is apparently a crime in the United States, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) threatened a Missouri farmer because he did just that.

Sam Hostetler can sell raw camel’s milk to his neighbors in Southwest Missouri but he cannot ship it to out-of-state customers.

“We can sell all we want in Missouri and nobody cares,” Hostetler, who is Amish, told The Springfield News-Leader.

Raw camel’s milk isn’t cheap and sells for upwards of $8 a pint, although people who buy it in bulk get it a discount.

“There’s a lot of people in this country that will drive a ways and pay good money for raw milk,” Hostetler said.

Like raw cow’s milk, raw camel’s milk is valued because some people think it is healthier than regular milk. People in Saudi Arabia have been drinking camel’s milk for centuries, and true believers, like Walid Abdul-Wahab of a company called Desert Farms, believe it is a super food.

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“It has three times the amount of vitamin C, almost 10 times the amount of iron and almost half the amount of fat,” Abdul-Wahab told CNBC. Desert Farms has around 100,000 customers.

Another reason that people drink camel’s milk: They are unable to digest cow’s milk.

“The response that we get from most consumers is that they haven’t been able to drink milk for the last 10 years until they discovered camel’s milk,” Abdul-Wahab told CNBC.

Despite that, Hostetler received a letter in December from the FDA telling him that distributing raw camel’s milk across state lines was a violation of federal law, Food Safety News reported.

“Such distribution is a violation of the Public Health Service Act,” the letter stated.

Hostetler complied with their wishes. He can still sell it in Missouri — as long as it is directly to customers.

“They told us we gotta quit, so we’re gonna quit,” Hostetler said of the FDA.

What is your reaction? Do you believe the farmer should be able to sell raw camel’s milk across state lines? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Self-Driving Cars Already Are Deciding Who Lives & Dies

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Self-Driving Cars Already Are Deciding Who Lives & Dies

Image source: Wikimedia

 

DENVER — Computer algorithms that control self-driving cars are already making life-and-death decisions for human beings — so say ethicists and technology experts interviewed by Business Insider.

For example, an autonomous vehicle would decide who lives and who dies if it swerved to avoid a pedestrian but, by doing that, put its on-board passengers in danger. Or, it could keep its passengers safe by running over the pedestrian. The decision would be made by the computers and sensors in the vehicle – and by extension, the computer programmers.

“On one hand, the algorithms that control the car may have an explicit set of rules to make moral tradeoffs,” Iyad Rahwan, a scientist at MIT, told Business Insider.  “On the other hand, the decision made by a car in the case of unavoidable harm may emerge from the interaction of various software components, none of which has explicit programming to handle moral tradeoffs.”

Rahwan added, “Every time the car makes a complex maneuver, it is implicitly making trade-off in terms of risks to different parties.”

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Self-Driving Cars Already Are Deciding Who Lives & Dies

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Google X founder Sebastian Thrun in 2014 said the company’s automated car would hit the smallest object in the road if it could not find a clear path.

“If it happens that there is a situation where the car couldn’t escape, it would go for the smaller thing,” he said.

Self-driving vehicles might be cruising through your community, making life-and-death decisions, without you realizing it. Prominent examples include:

  • Uber subsidiary Otto Motors and Anheuser-Busch tested a self-driving semi-truck in Colorado on October 20. The truck drove for 120 miles on one of America’s busiest highways, Interstate 25, and passed right through the city of Denver. The truck delivered a full load of Budweiser to a store in Colorado Springs.
  • Uber tested self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco, even though it lacked the proper permits. The cars picked up paying passengers, and YouTube footage showed one running a red light. After the state of California cracked down, Uber moved the test and the cars to Arizona. Uber has been testing a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh for more than a year.
  • Google conducted a secret test of its self-driving car in which a blind man rode alone. The vehicle had no steering wheel or pedals and there was no driver. The test was conducted in October 2015 but Google’s parent Alphabet (NYSE: GOOG) kept it secret until December 2016, The Washington Post
  • Ford is planning to start selling the world’s first fully autonomous vehicle by 2021 – less than four years away. “Starting in 2021, if you want to get around the city without the hassle of driving or parking, Ford’s new fully autonomous vehicle will be there for you,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told reporters in August.
  • Elon Musk’s Tesla is already selling Model S Series sedans equipped with a self-driving feature called autopilot. One death has already been blamed on autopilot,.

“The public has a right to know when a robot car is barreling down the street whether it’s prioritizing the life of the passenger, the driver, or the pedestrian, and what factors it takes into consideration,” Wayne Simpson of Consumer Watchdog told the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in November testimony. “If these questions are not answered in full light of day … corporations will program these cars to limit their own liability, not to conform with social mores, ethical customs, or the rule of law.”

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Man Charged For Driving Under Influence … Of Caffeine

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Man Charged For Driving Under Influence … Of Caffeine

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FAIRFIELD, Calif. – A California man was charged with driving under the influence, even though the only “drug” detected in his blood was caffeine.

The Solano County (Calif.) District Attorney’s office sought for more than 16 months to prosecute Joseph Schwab after having sent his blood samples to two different labs and turning up nothing — except the stuff found in many sodas.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” forensic toxicologist and expert witness Jeffrey Zehnder told The Guardian. “It’s really stupid.”

Said Schwab’s attorney, Stacey Barrett, “I’ve never seen this before. I’ve never even heard of it.”

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Schwab’s troubles began on Aug. 5, 2015, when an agent from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, not a police officer, pulled him over. The agent alleged Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically. She also said his pupils were dilated. A breathalyzer test for alcohol showed a level of 0.00 percent.

After he was arrested, Schwab’s blood was drawn and sent to a laboratory, which came back negative for illegal drugs. It then was sent to a lab in Pennsylvania for testing. The only substance that lab was able to detect in Schwab’s blood was caffeine.

Eventually, the district attorney dropped the DUI charge – although the office said the reckless driving charge would remain.

“After further consideration, without a confirmatory test of the specific drug in the defendant’s system that impaired his ability to drive, we do not believe we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt,” District Attorney Krishna Abrams said in a late December news release.

Abrams maintains that Schwab had something in his system – even though two lab tests detected nothing

“Do we wish that it could test for more drugs?” Abrams said. “Absolutely, because then we would know what was in his system.”

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The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

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The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

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BURLINGTON, Vt. — Malware used by Russian hackers has been detected in a Vermont power company’s computer, and at least one cybersecurity expert says the incident is not “happenstance.”

The concern is that hackers could take down the power grid, either regionally or nationally, with the click of a mouse. Ted Koppel’s 2015 book Lights Out warned that a major cyberattack could leave the power grid down for weeks or months.

“We have been monitoring RIS (Russian civilian and military intelligence Services) activities for some time and what we know is that the Vermont utility hack is part of a sophisticated and ongoing advanced persistent threat campaign by Russian cyber operatives to profile vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid,” Darin Anderson, the chief executive of the trade group CyberTECH, told The San Diego Tribune.

The unidentified malware was detected in a laptop at the Burlington Electric Department on Dec. 29 following an alert by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to a press release by the utility department. The same malware code has been used by a group of hackers called Grizzly Steppe.

Grizzly Steppe was one of the groups accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign.

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“We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature,” said Mike Kanarick, director of customer care, community engagement and communications with the Burlington Electric Department. “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

The Russians Hacked A U.S. Power Grid During The Holidays, And Few Noticed

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The code was found just days after suspected Russian hackers managed to shut off one-fifth of the power in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev.

Todd O’Boyle, chief technology officer of the security firm Percipient Networks in Wakefield, Mass., told the Tribune that “organizations don’t just get targeted based upon happenstance.”

“If this was the Russians, they are there for a reason,” he said. “They want something. Maybe it’s how to build better power grids. Maybe it’s preparing for a catastrophic attack. Maybe the target is a hopping point to their real destination.”

Intelligence officials are so concerned about Russian hacking that they alerted executives from the financial, utility, transportation and other essential industries, The Washington Post reported. The hope was to help industry IT experts detect malware.

“As a security practitioner, one of the top concerns I have is a successful attack against our critical infrastructure such as power grids, water systems, transportation systems, etc.,” Gary Davis of the California-based Intel Security, told the Tribune. “Homeland Security has identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors. A successful attack on any one could have substantial and long-term consequences.”

“We’ve already seen successful cyber-attacks in some developing countries and the closer connected devices come in mass to critical infrastructure the greater the chance of a successful attack,” David said. “In fact, reading the article reminds me of a discussion I had with the United Nations earlier this year. After a presentation I had given there about the threat landscape especially as it relates to the Internet of Things or IoT, a couple of its representatives pulled me aside and told me that several of its member nations biggest concern is that a teenager could take down the country’s critical infrastructure.”

Mark Weatherford, the chief cybersecurity analyst for vArmour, told the newspaper that “if you did a 100-percent sampling of utilities, you would probably find a lot of this activity.”

What is your reaction? Do you believe the Russians are trying to take down the U.S. power grid? Is America prepared? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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He Built An Underground House For $50

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He Built An Underground House For $50

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As someone who lived for more than three decades in an underground house he designed and built for $50 and then later expanded for $500, Mike Oehler has a mission.

Now in his 70s, Oehler wants to convince other people of the advantages of living underground. In an interview with video journalist Kirsten Dirksen, Oehler shared his passion for underground living as he showed her around the homes he has built in Northern Idaho.

Mostly walking barefoot, which he called a lifelong habit, Oehler revealed the aboveground home he first built in 1968 after purchasing his property as a young San Franciscan involved in the back-to-the-land movement. After spending his first winter “freezing to death” in a cabin in the woods, however, he decided to use the earth as insulation.

In creating his first attempts, he fell into some of the mistakes others often make in designing an underground home — most of them centering on not having enough windows or with using basement types of windows only.

“An underground home has no more in common with a basement than a penthouse apartment has with a dark, dusty attic,” Oehler stressed. Explaining that an underground house can have many windows, he proved his point by showing Dirksen the many creative ways he incorporated patchworks of mostly used windows in his homes.

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‘We want a house that has windows on all four sides,” he explained. “Not everywhere on all four sides but enough so that each room has light coming in from two directions. That is very important.”

As he learned more and more about what worked and what doesn’t work in underground home design, Oehler began to find his own comfort zone. He called his inexpensive low-tech approach to building “PSP” for post/shoring/polyethylene, and he is particularly proud of what he calls his “uphill patio.” The uphill patio is a terraced space that allows for light, gardening space, outdoor grilling and water run-off.

Throughout the interview, Oehler mentioned the many advantages of living in an underground home, or what he prefers to call an earth-insulated home. Among the benefits:

  • Less property tax.
  • Warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • Serves as fall-out shelter with radiation protection.
  • No foundation needed.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Sound proof.
  • Increased growing space.
  • Fire-resistant.
  • Environmentally sound.
  • Weather resistant

Probably the most striking thing about Oehler’s designs is that they do not have the feeling of being underground. In fact, largely because of their use of natural light, the homes seem traditional from certain perspectives.

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“With an earth-integrated house, you are working with the earth, not overwhelming it,” Oehler said, adding that some Native American tribes saw the advantages of living underground centuries ago.

He finds home sites “by instinct.”

“I will sleep at the site for a while to get a feel for the space,” he said. Although he cannot do the construction of the homes he designs any longer due to health reasons, Oehler said his home sites are all hand dug. He enjoys digging and finds it to be good exercise.

One downside of his underground home in Northern Idaho? It is attractive to bears. Oehler has had more than one very close encounter with a bear who thought Oehler’s abode looked appealing.

Although Oehler thinks the soil in Northern Idaho – with its mixture of sand, silt and clay — is ideally suited to underground homes, he said you can build an underground home anywhere.

Would you live in an underground home? Share your tips in the section below:

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Is Amazon Echo Now A Police Surveillance Device?

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Is Amazon Echo Now A Police Surveillance Device?

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot were popular Christmas gifts in 2016, but some privacy advocates are warning they could be used by law enforcement to gather data about you and your family.

Prosecutors in Benton County, Arkansas, have issued a search warrant to Amazon for data from an Echo device belonging to murder suspect James Andrew Bates.

So far, Amazon is refusing to cooperate.

“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,” a press release from the online retail giant states. “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

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Echo and Echo Dot are digital assistants that answer questions from owners who use voice commands to “wake up” the devices. One typical word is “Alexa.” The devices are tied to Amazon’s computer cloud. Supposedly, the only information within the home that is stored is what is said following the word prompt.

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Investigators want the Echo data in order to get more information about the mysterious death of Victor Collins, who was found dead in Bates’ bathtub in Bentonville, Ark., last November. Amazon might have recordings of sounds from Bates’ home, the search warrant alleges.

Attorney Kimberly Weber is representing Bates and opposes the use of the data in court.

“You have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us,” Weber said, according to The Information.

Bates had a number of such gadgets in his home, including a smart water meter that shows he used 140 gallons of water from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., police say.

Police seized Bates’ Echo but allege that there is more information stored in the cloud.

Boundaries Needed?

Echo also allows a person to control home automation devices, such as lights and the thermostat. Additionally, a person can request news and information from Echo.

Lynn Terwoerds, executive director of the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security and Risk Management, told USA Today that devices like Echo would not benefit police.

“The myth we must fight against with Echo is that it’s constantly listening in on you — it’s not,” she said. “I understand that law enforcement would have an interest in any information that could help in a murder investigation, but it can be argued that this data would be of very limited use as compared to individual privacy rights,” she said.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said that to protect privacy, “there should be clear legal standards established for law enforcement access.”

“And manufacturers should adopt techniques for data minimization and data deletion,” Rotenberg said. “Devices that retain data will be the targets not only of law enforcement officials but also criminal hackers.”

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Cops Raid Wrong House & Then Post Innocent Family’s Pic On Snapchat

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Cops Raid Wrong House & Then Post Innocent Family’s Pic On Snapchat

NEW YORK — Police raided the wrong house, handcuffed an innocent family, and then put their pictures on Snapchat with a Christmas “greeting.”

“Merry Christmas it’s NYPD (New York Police Department)” one of the captions accompanying a picture of the family read.

The Santiago family’s Brooklyn home was raided on the morning of Dec. 22 and everyone put in handcuffs, WABC-TV reported. As the police conducted the investigation, Kimberly Santiago noticed that one of them was using his phone.

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“We thought he was texting on his phone,” she said. “Because the whole three hours we were sitting here, he was the one standing there. We saw him on his phone, but we didn’t think an officer would do that.”

The unidentified officer has been suspended without pay as an investigation is conducted to see if department policy was violated.

No one was arrested, and the police left.

“If he did that to [us], picture how many other families he’s done that to,” Santiago said.

Snapchat is a popular social media service that had 150 million users as of June 2016.

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Mom Walks 26 Miles In Snow To Rescue Family; This Is What Kept Her Alive …

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Mom Walks 26 Miles In Snow To Rescue Family; This Is What Kept Her Alive …

Photographer: Thomas Quine. Flickr Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

PHOENIX — Karen Klein now knows the high price of not carrying survival supplies such as winter clothes, boots and food in her car. The mother walked 26 miles over a stretch of 36 hours in the snow with no snow boots and no cell service – and with only a small bag of cheerios to eat.

Klein’s ordeal began with a family vacation and ended with what authorities are calling a “Christmas miracle.” Klein, her husband and 10-year-old son became lost when their GPS device told them to take a Forest Service road near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Their car, though, soon got stuck in the mud. Klein, a triathlete, volunteered to go and find help because her husband had recently been in an accident, NBC News reported.

The Kleins did not realize that the area was closed for the winter. When they found roads closed, the family followed GPS directions on a detour that got them lost.

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“It was decided that there is a main road up ahead, and I have professional and recreational experience, a lifelong (experience) in the outdoors, so I said, ‘I’ll just go, I’ll just walk up to the main road, I can do this, I’m a runner,”’ she said.

Her hope was to flag down a passing vehicle for help, but the main road was closed for the winter. So she continued her trek, drinking melted snow and eating aspen and evergreen twigs.

At one point she pulled a muscle and then lost a shoe. She couldn’t move her leg and had to “physically pick it up and put it forward.”

“I could only move it 10 steps at a time,” she said.

Her desire to save her family kept her alive. She said she told herself, “I can’t leave my son without a mom. I’m can’t leave my husband without a wife. I’m not letting my parents bury me.”

She eventually broke into an empty residence where rescuers found her. During her walk, she refused to fall asleep, afraid she would die.

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“I kept myself awake. I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm,” she said.

She does have some frostbitten toes but has not lost any yet, NBC News reported.

“In the grand scheme of things,” she said, “I keep thinking: ‘You know what? It’s a few toes. Don’t worry about it.’”

Ironically, her husband and son already had been rescued. After Klein did not come back soon, her husband and son walked in the opposite direction until they got enough cell service to call for help.

Klein said she and her husband could have done a better job in planning.

“As far as places being closed, we just didn’t realize that these roads were closed and these visitor centers were closed,” Klein said. “We didn’t investigate that deeply.”

Klein is now recovering at a hospital in Utah.

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We’ve Been Warned: Russia ‘Has Figured Out How To Crash A Power Grid With A Click’

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We’ve Been Warned: Russia ‘Has Figured Out How To Crash A Power Grid With A Click’

Photographer: Dan Nguyen. Flickr / Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

KIEV, Ukraine — Experts believe that Russian hackers took down a portion of Ukraine’s power grid again earlier this month, and the same experts say similar attacks would be easier and do more damage in the United States.

“It’s very concerning that these same actors, using similar capabilities and tradecraft, are preparing and are getting access to these business networks, getting access to portions of the power grid,” Rob Lee, a former cyberwarfare officer for the U.S. military, told CBS News.

Some power companies in the U.S. have weaker security than the Ukraine, Lee said.

A distribution station that supplies one-fifth of the power to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, suddenly shut down without warning early Dec. 18, Reuters reported.

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The hackers used a simple method to infiltrate the power grid: sending emails with infected attachments to employees. That allowed them to steal their logins and cut the circuit breakers at about 60 substations.

“It was illogical and chaotic,” Vasyl Pemchuk, the electric control center manager in Kiev, told CBS. “It seemed like something in a Hollywood movie.”

Lee thinks it could take days or even weeks to restart the U.S. power grid after such an attack.

“We can’t just look at the Ukraine attack and go ‘oh we’re safe against that attack,’” Lee said. “Even if we just lose a portion, right? If we have New York City or Washington, D.C., go down for a day, two days, a week, what does life look like at that point?”

Pemchuk said workers watched their computers being taken over by hackers and could do nothing except film it all with their smart phones.

CBS reported that “Russia has figured out how to crash a power grid with a click.”

Ukrainian security officials believe their nation’s infrastructure has been under cyberattack from Russia for months. The Ukraine is currently locked in civil war with Russian-backed separatists.

On Dec. 23, 2015, hackers cut off power to half the homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of the Ukraine.

Do you believe something similar could happen in the U.S.? Is America prepared? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Are You Prepared For Extended Blackouts? Read More Here.

Underground ‘Survival Condos’ For The Rich Sell Out: $3 Million; Self-Reliant For 5 Years

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Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

TOPEKA, Kan. — The demand for luxury survival shelters for the rich is exploding – so much that underground survival condos in an old missile silo have sold out.

An unspecified number of buyers paid $1.5 and $3 million each for the condos, developer Larry Hall told CNET. The project was so successful that Hall is now constructing new survival condo facilities and taking contracts for them.

The customers are not “typical ‘survival nuts’ as portrayed in the media,” Hall said in a press release, but rather they are “successful, educated and well-to-do individuals who simply want peace of mind in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.”

The condominiums are located in one of the most hardened structures ever built: an Atlas Missile Silo at a secret location in Kansas, according to the website. The silo was built in 1960 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a direct nuclear strike.

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It has nine and a half foot-thick epoxy-hardened concrete walls and a $2 million concrete dome cap that can withstand winds of up to 500 miles per hour, according to the website.

The facility is designed to be self-sufficient for up to five years during a disaster.

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Underground ‘Survival Condos’ For The Rich Sell Out: $3 Million; Self-Reliant For 5 Years

Image source: SurvivalCondo.com

“We believe that given the present worldwide economic conditions, historical disaster evidence, and the obvious signs of global climate changes, that it is prudent to have a ‘disaster plan and shelter’ in place should a need for it occur,” the website says.

One unidentified buyer told CNET that the price is not as outrageous as it first sounds.

“The same quality of condo in New York would have cost me the same, if not more per square foot and you get peace of mind with this,” the buyer said.

Although the facility is designed to withstand a nuclear blast, the greater concern for clients is the “breakdown of society and total civil unrest,” the company said in a press release.

“In the event of a major disaster, economic collapse or whatever the future may hold, there is one common concern that Larry and his tenants share, and that is the ability to protect themselves and their families when the government is no longer able to do so,” the press release said.

Each unit is from 900 to 1,800 square feet.

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Some of the amenities that will help the wealthy survive doomsday include:

  • A swimming pool and spa.
  • A rock climbing wall.
  • A dog park.
  • Organic hydroponic food production.
  • Aquaculture food production.
  • A general store.
  • An indoor shooting range.
  • A movie theater.
  • Classroom and library.
  • Minor surgery center.
  • Bar and lounge.
  • A dog park so your best friend can survive, too.
  • Complete gym, with spa and workout facility.

So, how will the rich make it to their condos during a disaster if they live in another state? The company has plans for that, too, but the information is only for buyers.

“We have three contingency plans in place to ensure that you have passage to the facility in the case of any emergency. These plans will be discussed with potential buyers only,” the company’s website states.

The silos aren’t the only luxury condos in America. Another company, Trident Lakes, is selling its own underground survival condos in Texas.

What is your reaction? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Californians Rush To Buy Guns Before Ban Takes Effect

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Californians Rush To Buy Guns Before Ban Takes Effect

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sales of semiautomatic rifles have doubled and sales of handguns have spiked 40 percent in the Golden State ahead of a strict gun control law that will take effect Jan. 1.

Californians will not be able to buy certain weapons, including popular styles of the AR-15, after Dec. 31. The new state law will bans rifles with “bullet buttons.”

Another law that will go into effect bans magazines with more than 10 rounds. It also requires background checks for ammunition purchases.

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The last day someone can buy an AR-15 because of California’s 10-day waiting period is Dec. 21, according to a memo from the state’s Bureau of Firearms.

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“Do I need the weapon I just purchased? No. Did I purchase it anyway? Yes. That’s the bottom line: They took the choice away from responsible adults,” one man told Fox News.

Apparently, strict gun control measures are very good for business.

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Obama Warned Putin About Cyber Attack On Power Grid; Believed Russians Had Practiced ‘Dry Run’

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Obama Warned Putin About Cyber Attack On Power Grid; Believed Russians Had Practiced 'Dry Run'

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WASHINGTON — The White House was so concerned about Russia interfering with the election or even attacking the power grid that it used the so-called red phone system to place a call to the Kremlin on Oct. 31, warning the Russians and President Vladimir Putin about repercussions.

That’s according to NBC News, which quoted two unidentified senior intelligence officials – both non-partisan career officers

“[President Obama and White House officials] believed the widespread attack on the Internet on Oct. 21 blocking millions of Americans from popular websites was a possible dry run for a massive attack by the Russians on Election Day — maybe even pulling down the electrical grid. It spooked the White House,” NBC News Correspondent Cynthia McFadden said in a Dec. 19 report.

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The red phone system was created during the Cold War to prevent misunderstandings between the two nations. Today, it employs a secured satellite link and is rarely used.

“It’s extremely unusual, and doing so sends a signal unto itself, so it’s a dramatic step to pick that phone up and use it” former NATO head and retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC News.

The Oct. 21 denial of service attack took down the websites of several major companies, including Amazon, PayPal, Twitter and Netflix. When the White Made the call on Halloween morning, it believed the Oct. 21 attack had originated from Russia.

“Back in October it was viewed by some as a possible dry run for a massive attack on Election Day,” McFadden said.

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According to the intelligence officials, the White House told Russia: “International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace. We hold Russia to those standards.”

One senior advisor urged Obama to warn Russia that any meddling in the election would be viewed as an act of war, although he chose not to be that specific, NBC News reported.

This was the second time Obama warned Putin about hacking. He pulled Putin aside at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, in September and issued a similar warning.

Do you believe Russia, or other countries, has the power to take down the U.S. power grid? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Another Country Just Banned Most Cash; 77 Percent Of Bills Instantly Worthless

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Another Country Just Banned Most Cash; 77 Percent Of Bills Instantly Worthless

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Deadly rioting and looting erupted across a South American country over the weekend after its president declared the nation’s largest banknote worthless.

The violence began in Venezuela when people realized that Central Bank Venezuela (BCV) had no replacements for the worthless money.

“The BCV is not giving any bills or coins but a receipt saying you deposited your 100 bills,” opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra tweeted on Dec. 17.

The riots began after President Nicholas Maduro declared that the 100 bolivar note was no longer legal tender, The Latin American Herald Tribune reported. Maduro said the note had to go because it was being used by “mafias.”

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In December, India’s prime minister made 84 percent of the cash in circulation worthless when he declared that the two largest bills in circulation — the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes — were no longer legal tender.

Venezuela: 77 Percent of Money Instantly Worthless

The 100 bolivar note in Venezuela accounted for 77 percent of the cash in circulation in Venezuela, The South China Morning Post reported. Since most Venezuelans pay for everything in cash, it meant they had no means of buying food.

New coins and bills were scheduled to be available but they never arrived. By Friday rioting had broken out in the city of Ciudad Bolivar and three mining towns, Bloomberg reported. In the town of El Callao, 115 businesses were looted and a 15-year old boy was killed. That forced the governor of Bolivar to call out the national guard.

Citizens had to use smaller bills, which are hard to use and often unavailable. The government has been paying pension benefits in 50 and 20 bolivar notes, but many people cannot find those.

“We are victims of an international sabotage so the bills, which are ready, cannot be shipped to Venezuela,” Maduro told his supporters at a rally on Saturday. The president blamed a supposed conspiracy against his nation for keeping three planes hauling the money from reaching Venezuela.

After the riots, Maduro reversed course and said the 100 bolivar bill would stay in use until Jan. 2, Bloomberg reported.

What is your reaction? Do you think this could happen in the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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7 Simple Ways To Minimize Veterinary Costs For Livestock

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7 Simple Ways To Minimize Veterinary Costs For Livestock

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It is no secret that health care is expensive. If you have animals of any kind, then you know that this fact is not limited to health care for humans, as a visit to or from a veterinarian can cost a lot of money.

For homesteaders operating on a shoestring budget, an unplanned livestock vet visit—or even a planned one—can be an undue burden on the finances. The price of treating animals not only can increase the overall cost of meat and dairy, but also can take earmarked money away from crucial projects elsewhere on the farmstead.

While it is unlikely that any farmer can completely avoid veterinary expenditures, the good news is that there are steps which can help mitigate them. Most of these cost-control methods are inexpensive or even free, and are simple to implement.

1. Prevention is key. The best way to avoid paying medical costs is to avoid incurring sickness and injuries. Watch out for broken fences, protruding hardware, and rickety milk stands. Keep adversarial animals separated. Ensure feed quality and maintain sanitation. Use prevention techniques such as practicing diligent biosecurity, testing for communicable diseases, and quarantining questionable animals. It is always easier and cheaper to keep animals safe and healthy than it is to treat them after they become ill or get hurt.

2. Develop a network of like-minded livestock owners. Build a community of neighbors, relatives and fellow homesteaders. Include the people who sold your animals to you. There are often also breed clubs and show groups. Don’t be shy about asking at the feed or farm store—many workers there have a lot of experience with livestock.

Look for online resources, such as trusted go-to websites which are recommended by others. Also, try public resources such as your state’s cooperative extension or universities.

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Social media is a great connection, too. I belong to several different regional groups—one strictly for goats, another for general livestock, and a third for farming and homesteading. I also follow national groups that are specific to my breed of goat. All of these offer a wealth of information, education and advice.

If you can ask someone in your network, they might be able to help you monitor and treat the animal on your own instead of paying for treatment. If nothing else, they may be able to rule out a few possibilities up front.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

It pays to know when to contact your veterinarian early instead of waiting until things get worse, and a network can help you make that call. I once described my goat’s eye symptoms to a local farmer and she urged me to call the vet immediately—it sounded like pinkeye and the animal could lose the eye if not treated quickly. I followed her advice, and was glad I did.

3. Barter for services (once you have your network in place and have built mutual trust). Dairy goat owners in my area are always ready to help with disbudding, offer advice about parasite prevention, and even show up at two in the morning to assist with a difficult birth—and they expect the same in return.

I’ve driven 15 miles in a snowstorm to help with a friend’s injured goat, and spent an hour on social media walking a stranger through the process of shipping blood test samples off to a laboratory. On the other end of things, I’ve had a dairy farmer drop what he was doing to help me save a dying calf, and a friend diagnose a case of shipping fever on the phone and advise me what to do next.

4. Keep medications and supplies on hand. Having things like bloat relief, blood stop powder, antibiotics and thermometers in your home supply kit will help you deal with emergencies as they arise. If your livestock network gives you solid treatment advice, you need the supplies to follow through. Consider, too, that crises often strike at the worst possible times—on Christmas morning, or in the wee hours during a hurricane. Livestock veterinarians show up anytime, but after-hours care typically comes at a premium. Even if you administer only enough medication and care to tide the animal over to office hours, you can save a bundle.

When you hear of another homesteader wrestling with an animal emergency, take stock of your own supplies that might be helpful and make the offer. In return, they might have what you need someday. I’ve loaned out my microscope and fecal float supplies to a local sheep farm scrambling to control disease, and when one of my goats had a dangerously low temperature, my shepherd friends were quick to suggest and deliver a warm thick coat.

5. Do a lot of procedures yourself. You can learn to administer shots, trim hooves, apply topical medication, neuter, disbud, draw blood, and examine fecal samples. The thought of doing all of that might be intimidating, but not to worry. Acquire the necessary skills for treatments like you would anything else—one step at a time. Learn the easiest thing first, ask people in your network to help with a few others, and call the veterinarian for the rest.

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Pick up additional skills by tagging along with people in your network, signing up for classes and demonstrations at fairs and agricultural events, volunteering or apprenticing, and consulting your cooperative extension experts.

7 Simple Ways To Minimize Veterinary Costs For Livestock

Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Know your animals. Not all individuals behave like the textbooks say they will. For example, self-isolating behavior in goats is usually a signal that something is wrong. However, I once had a goat that was just naturally stand-offish and would routinely stand with her face in the corner for no reason. A vet who was on site for other reasons noticed the goat’s behavior and asked about her. Because I knew what was normal for that goat, I was able to assure the veterinarian that it was nothing out of the ordinary. Conversely, an animal might display behavior characteristic of its species or breed but atypical for that individual, alerting you to keep an eye on it.

7. When you do have to call the vet, be ready. Before you make that first call, be prepared with the answers to the questions they are likely to ask. Take the animal’s temperature, notice if it’s eating and drinking and eliminating normally, and have a list of what medications and procedures have already been given. This will make the vet’s job easier, and he or she might be able to give you advice over the phone instead of seeing the animal – thus saving you money.

If the animal does have to be seen, make sure it is ready when the veterinarian arrives. I am always astounded at the television reality show where the vet shows up and has to chase a cow around the pasture before he can treat it. In my region they charge by the minute, and the clock starts ticking the minute they pull into the driveway. I always have the animal caught up, penned, or crated ahead of time.

I expect that most veterinarians do not want to waste your money or their time any more than you do. It has been my experience that they appreciate having clients who are knowledgeable and capable, with whom they can work as a team and trust to follow instructions.

By following these guidelines, you can develop a good working rapport with your veterinarian, ensure that your animals receive excellent attention, and keep your homesteading operation running smoothly. And best of all, in a world where many costs are skyrocketing, you can save money on health care for your animals.

What advice would you add for lowering veterinary costs? Share your tips in the section below:

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A Town’s Entire Police Department Just Quit – ‘The Community Will Suffer’

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A Town’s Entire Police Department Just Quit – ‘The Community Will Suffer’

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INDIANAPOLIS — There no longer are any cops on the streets of Bunker Hill, Ind., because the town’s entire police force quit.

Town Marshal Michael Thomison and all four of his unpaid reserve deputies submitted their letters of resignation, leaving the town of 888 people without local law enforcement, The Kokomo Tribune reported. The resignations stemmed from a dispute between Thomison and the town council.

Thomison sent the council a letter accusing its members of asking him to “be involved in illegal, unethical and immoral things over time.” Among his concerns: the council requesting background checks on city officials when it was not necessary, and also asking for confidential information.

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“The town has refused to educate themselves on how to run a town, they continue to carry out their personal agendas to either run off the police department or make it so that it is impossible to work with or for them,” Thomison told The Kokomo Tribune.

Thomison also expressed frustration that there is not enough body armor for all of the deputies.

“The community will suffer, but I can’t continue to stay there when the support’s not there for the department or the reserve deputies,” he said.

The town released a statement, reading, “The resignation of the entire police force has come as a shock to the council. It has never been the goal to dismantle or otherwise endanger the town police department or officers.”

This is not the first time an entire police department has walked out. All four members of the force in Green Mountain Falls, Colo., quit in April because of a dispute with the town council, Fox 31 reported.

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9 Reasons The U.S. Economy Remains In Big, Big Trouble

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Dec., 16, 2016

9 Reasons The U.S. Economy Remains In Big, Big Trouble

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NEW YORK — Despite all the optimism generated by the election and recent stock market rally, there remain many signs the U.S. economy is in big trouble.

In fact, there are several good reasons to believe that a downturn or even a major economic crisis is right around the corner. Here are nine reasons why the United States might be on the verge of a major economic crisis.

1. The strong U.S. dollar. It may be hard to believe, but a strong dollar can create major problems for the U.S. economy. The dollar is at an eight-year high against the Chinese yuan (six yuan to one dollar), which makes Chinese goods cheaper on the world market than American. This increases the price of U.S. exports, such as agricultural goods. Some U.S. manufacturers may have to cut production and eliminate jobs because of lower exports. Another effect is that there will be less investment in the U.S., because investors can buy more in other nations with cheaper money.

2. Higher interest rates. Much of the recent economy recovery has been fueled by lower interest rates, but rates are suddenly climbing back. The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.54 percent in September and 4.13 percent in November. Higher interest rates means fewer mortgages, less new construction and fewer jobs. It also means less business activity because it will be more expensive for businesses to borrow money. That can translate into fewer jobs and less demand for raw materials.

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3. Inflation. The rate of inflation in the US doubled between July and October. Inflation was .8 percent in July but rose to 1.6 percent by the end of October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. One factor driving inflation is the strong U.S. dollar. Inflation can affect interest rates because the Federal Reserve might raise them in order to stop inflation.

4. A new real estate bubble. Average home prices in the U.S. hit a record high of $191,780 in September, the Corelogic Case Shiller 20 City Home Price indicates. Prices have not been that high seen since July 2006, right before the beginning of the financial crisis. The situation is worse in certain cities such as Seattle and Denver. Home prices in Seattle have increased by 11 percent over the past year, creating a serious housing shortage.

5. Technological unemployment. Large numbers of jobs are being lost to digital processes, automation and robots. Walmart, America’s largest private employer, is eliminating 7,000 accounting positions in its stores. Those employees used to count cash and process invoices in the back office. Now the cash will be counted by machines and the invoices will be processed by a computer at Walmart’s head office. Many other employers will follow suit as robots and computer algorithms do more jobs such as driving trucks cheaper. For example, Uber recently tested a semi-tractor that drives itself.

9 Reasons The U.S. Economy Remains In Big, Big Trouble

Image source: Pixabay.com

6. The student loan crisis. Americans owe $1.2 trillion on student loans, but payments are only being made on 40 percent of those obligations. News reports indicate that many younger people are putting off buying things like homes and cars because they need all their money to pay off loans. Others are even forgoing marriage and children because of the debt.

7. Wage and income stagnation. Household incomes for at least 50 percent of the U.S. population (around 117 million people) have not increased since 1980, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth reported.

8. The mass closing of stores. Macy’s has plans to shutter 100 of its department stores. Sears, which owns Kmart, closed 80 Kmart stores in July and has plans to shut down another 64. Walgreens might close up to 500 stores. There is speculation that Sears Holdings might declare bankruptcy or shut down completely next year. That company operates 1,687 Sears and Kmart stores.

9. The public pension crisis. State and local governments owe workers and retirees $4.798 trillion in pension obligations but have only $3.7 trillion in assets to cover that bill. To make up the $1.91 trillion they will either have to cut pension benefits or government services.

Americans had better be ready for economic turmoil.

Do you agree the economy is in trouble? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

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CPS Investigates Homeschool Family’s ‘Messy’ House, Threatens Legal Action

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CPS Investigates Homeschool Family’s ‘Messy’ House, Threatens Legal Action

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A homeschool family was almost forced to send their special-needs daughter to public school because someone thought their house was messy.

An anonymous tipster told Montana’s Child & Family Services that the family’s home was messy, leading to a visit from a case worker who found that the house actually was clean, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported.

But even though there wasn’t a mess, the family’s troubles were far from over.

The case worker came back a week later and began asking questions about the parents’ 9-year-old daughter.

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“The family was aware of their daughter’s unique challenges,” HSLDA reported. “They had already had her evaluated by a private psychologist, who determined that her needs were being met in her current home environment, and they were working closely with an ophthalmologist to care for her vision.”

A month later, the case worker returned and asked the girl to read, which she did. The case worker then decided that she should be tested in a public school – and he threatened legal action if the family did not go along.

The state only backed off after HSDLA attorney Dan Beasley wrote to the specialist about what is required under Montana law.

“[Beasley[ explained that the family was in compliance with Montana law and that they were under no legal obligation to access services through the public school,” HSLDA reported. “The specialist quickly responded with an email clarifying that he was not trying to force services on the family, but he wanted to make sure they were aware of the free services available through the school district. He also had some questions about the legal requirements for homeschooling.”

Beasley then replied back to the case worker, and the family has not heard from the case worker since.

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Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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LONDON — Advocates of parental rights won a major victory in the United Kingdom when a controversial “chaperoning” law was struck down – and they won again when a court ordered the government to pay the legal bill.

As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the Scottish law would have appointed a government-approved guardian to every child in Scotland. The British Supreme Court rejected the law this summer, and then last month told the Scottish government it was responsible for a £250,000 legal bill from the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign, which had filed suit against the law. The £250,000 bill is equal to around $315,000 in the U.S.

Scotland’s government would have violated the rights of parents and children by assigning a “named person” (an official such as a teacher or social worker) to monitor every child, the British Supreme Court ruled. The court also found that the scheme would have violated the European Convention on Human Rights by sharing sensitive and private information about family life with the government without consent.

The chaperone-for-every-child law was passed in 2014 and was set to go into effect this year, with around 1 million children and minors receiving guardians.

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“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get to the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world,” Lord Patrick Stewart Hodge, a Supreme Court Justice, wrote in his ruling. “Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.”

Scotland Wanted 1 Million Government Chaperones For EVERY CHILD. But Common Sense Won.

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“Secondly, those provisions may in practice result in disproportionate interference with those rights, with limited safeguards available to individuals affected,” Hodge wrote. “As presently drafted, they are at risk of placing those tasked with delivering the scheme on the ground in breach of important regulations protecting privacy and confidentiality.”

Child Protection or Big Brother?

As part of its “The Getting it Right for Every Child Strategy,” the Scottish government wanted to assign a named person to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland. The person could have been a teacher, social worker or an employee of Britain’s National Health Service.

Advocates claimed the scheme would have made it easier for social services to help children and family.

“Giving a health visitor or teacher formal responsibility for collating information is a key part of the early warning system we need to make sure every child in Scotland is protected,” Barnardo’s, a charity that backed the scheme, told the BBC.

Critics dubbed it the “state snooper” law.

“The Big Brother scheme is history,” Simon Calvert, the spokesman for No to Named Persons, told The Telegraph. “It’s wonderful news for mums, dads and children all across Scotland who no longer have to worry about this unjustified invasion of their private lives. To many of them the Named Person scheme felt like a legal battering ram to gain access to their homes. The court has taken sides with ordinary families and put the Scottish Government back in its place.”

What is your reaction? Do you fear something similar might be tried in the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Police Stun Community: Yes, We Spread Fake News

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Police Stun Community: Yes, We Spread Fake News

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Believing what you read or see in the news is becoming harder every day. In Santa Maria, Calif., even the police are spreading fake news stories.

Police officials this month acknowledged they deliberately lied to the local media and citizens with a fake news release about two prisoners, TV station KEYT reported. On Feb. 23, the Santa Maria Police sent out and tweeted about a news release that said Jose Santos Melendez and Jose Marino Melendez had been arrested for identity theft and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation.

“We never arrested them for that charge,” Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin admitted. “We never turned them over to ICE. They were always in our protective custody.”

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The men’s names reportedly appeared on a hit list compiled by MS-13, a notorious street gang based in El Salvador. Martin said police learned of an MS-13 plot to kill the two men during an investigation of the gang’s activities.

Did Lies Save Lives?

“This was a split second [decision],” Martin said. “They were en route to go murder two people and our detectives got there and took them into protective custody just minutes before the other people got there. We saved two people’s lives and the gang members that were targeting them backed off.”

Newspapers and TV stations in the area – including KEYT and The Santa Maria Times – posted the information contained in the fake news release, as if it were fact.

“We were trailing MS-13 and watching them target two people over in Guadalupe, (Calif.),” Martin told The Times. “We had a moral and legal obligation to go in and save those people before they got shot and killed.”

The MS-13 gangsters behind the alleged murder plot are now in jail.

Media and Gangsters Fooled

No one in the media was aware of the deception until a reporter for the Santa Maria Sun spotted it in court records. The ploy apparently worked.

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“As the suspects continued to look for their victims the following day, they were overheard in their phone conversations saying that the guys they were looking for were arrested, turned over to ICE and probably got deported,” Martin said. “What that did was save those two people’s lives. We had them in protective custody the whole time.”

ICE was not involved with the fake news release.

“We had nothing to do with this,” Virginia Kice, a regional communications director for ICE, told The Santa Maria Times. “I want to be sure that your readers understand that. I understand the dilemma that the Police Department was facing; two people’s lives were in danger. As a former reporter and now a public affairs person of 30 years standing, I was very concerned about corroborating information that we knew to be false. We did not corroborate that claim.”

Said Martin, “If the circumstances came up and there was something similar, I would definitely do it again.”

Do you believe police should have sent out the fake news release? Share your opinion in the section below:

He Was Carrying $32,100 To Buy A Truck When Police Stopped Him. You Know How It Ended.

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Photographer: Scott Davidson. License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Photographer: Scott Davidson. License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

TOPEKA, Kan. — A non-profit organization hopes that a Kansas case will help change civil forfeiture laws throughout the nation.

The DKT Liberty Project is alleging that the Kansas State Patrol illegally seized $32,100 in cash from a man who was set to use it to buy a truck.

State troopers took the cash after they searched Salvador Franco Jr.’s car without a warrant at a rest area on I-70 near Ellsworth, Kansas, in March, attorney David B. Smith told the Salina Journal. Smith is challenging the forfeiture of the money in federal court in an attempt to end the practice.

“It’s really a bad case — that’s why we took it,” Smith said.

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Special U.S. Attorney Colin Wood, though, said in a response filed in court that the cash was drug money and that the girlfriend had pictures of marijuana on her phone.

“Complaints have been upheld on less,” Wood wrote.

The DKT Liberty Project, though, says Franco is innocent.

“We do this because we think the civil forfeiture laws have gone way wrong, and we want to push back,” said A.C. Bushnell, the project’s program director.

Civil forfeiture is a practice in which prosecutors use a civil lawsuit to seize money or property. Such a suit enables the government to take money or property without a criminal conviction or even criminal charges. Franco has not been charged.

Franco and his girlfriend, Liliana Ramirez, allege that a trooper deliberately cued or directed a drug-sniffing dog to find his cash, which was hidden under the rear seat.

Smith says the money was placed there simply because Franco thought it would be the safest place to store it en route from Nevada to St. Louis, where he visited a cousin who recently had a baby. Franco wanted to get a discount on a pickup truck from a dealership and had seen ads for it, Smith added. Many dealers require cash from out-of-state customers, Smith said.

Franco ended up not purchasing the truck and headed back home, Smith said. That’s when he was encountered by police at the rest area for not having a front license plate. Kansas law, though, does not require a front license plate.

“Finally, the handler rapped on the back bumper of the car and the dog allegedly alerted,” Smith wrote in his motion to dismiss the case. “This cuing of the dog was observed by both Franco and Ramirez. Franco angrily remonstrated with the dog handler, to no avail.”

Troopers also cursed at the two, shouted at them and called them derogatory names, Smith alleged.

“They’re probably embarrassed because the whole thing was illegal,” Smith said. “Basically, the officer involved didn’t respect any of their constitutional rights. He seized the money and threatened to keep the money — until they signed a form giving up their rights to it. Efforts to reform our forfeiture laws are driven by horror stories like this one.”

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