4 Times In 4 Days: Russian Warplanes Buzz U.S. Coast Again

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4 Times In 4 Days: Russian Warplanes Buzz U.S. Coast Again

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WASHINGTON — Russian warplanes were detected flying near the U.S. coast for four straight days this week in what one American defense official called a “strategic messaging.”

Three of the incidents off Alaska’s coast involved TU-95s, which are strategic bombers and missile platforms capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

“This kind of cat-and-mouse stuff has been going on for a while now,” former State Department official Howard Stoffer told CNN.

Stoffer said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin “is trying to put the U.S. on notice that the Russians are everywhere and are back to expanding the limits of expanding their military power.”

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On April 17, U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted two TU-95s 100 miles from Kodiak Island.

On April 18, a U.S. E-3 surveillance plane was scrambled because of another sighting of TU-95s 41 miles off the Alaskan coast.

On April 19, two IL-38 maritime patrol planes were seen.

On April 20, another flight by two TU-95s was reported. It was escorted by U.S. F-22s and Canadian CF-18s

The Russian planes never entered U.S. airspace, but the situation is dangerous because of the possibility of shots or missiles being accidentally fired.

“No one wants to go to war with the Russians, but let me double down on another concept: The Russians really don’t want to go to war with us,” retired Air Force General and former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden told CNN. “They are by far the weaker power.”

The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that “all such missions are carried out in strict compliance with international regulations and with respect to national borders.”

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Tensions Rise: China On ‘High Alert’; North Korea Warns Of Preemptive Strike On U.S.

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Tensions Rise: China On ‘High Alert’; North Korea Warns Of Preemptive Strike On U.S.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula continued to escalates this week, as North Korea warned it was considering striking the United States even if the U.S. doesn’t attack first.

“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” The Rodong Sinmun, an official state paper, warned.

The statement came merely hours after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that an “era of strategic patience” with North Korea was over and the same week that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States would not continue the same strategy from the past.

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“We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held,” Tillerson said.

Meanwhile, China’s military has placed its bombers “on high alert” and is prepared to respond to any military activity in North Korea, a U.S. defense official told CNN. The goal likely is to “reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency,” the official said

China has two concerns: 1) refugees from North Korea fleeing across the border to China, and, 2) North Korea collapsing and reunifying with South Korea.

In 2015, 83 percent of North Korea’s exports and 85 percent of its imports involved China.

It isn’t known how many nuclear weapons North Korea, a very reclusive nation, has. The U.S.-Korea Institute said in a 2016 report that North Korea possesses “enough fissile material to build anywhere from six to about 30 nuclear weapons.” China in 2015 said North Korea has 20 nuclear weapons, and a U.S. Congressional report said between six and 10.

What do you believe the Trump administration’s strategy toward North Korea should be? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Russian Bombers Buzzed The U.S. Coast TWICE This Week (Once Within 41 Miles)

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Russian Bombers Buzzed The U.S. Coast Twice This Week (Once Within 41 Miles)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two Russian heavy bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and cruise missiles flew close to the Alaskan coast not once but twice this week, and a U.S. congressman says it’s part of a message.

The TU-95 “Bear” bombers were intercepted on each occasion – the first time Monday and the second time Tuesday — by U.S. aircraft off the coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska, the Pentagon confirmed. Two U.S. Air Force F-22 fighters intercepted the bombers on Monday, and on Tuesday it was an E-3 surveillance aircraft.

The first intercept was about 100 miles off the coast, the second one about 41 miles away.

“This was a show of force by the Russians to show us that they are still here,” U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger (R.-Illinois) told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

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Kinzinger described the flights as “an attempt to come up as close as they could to our international borders to see what our reaction would be.” The Russians, he said, are “trying to show their teeth.”

Strategic Bomber and Missile Platform

The TU-95 is a four-engine strategic bomber and missile platform. It is the oldest aircraft in the Russian Air Force and has been in service since 1956.

A TU-95 can carry nuclear bombs or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, the latter of which are capable of evading radar and antimissile defenses.

A modified TU-95 dropped the largest nuclear bomb ever tested, in 1961 — the so-called Tsar Bomb. During the Cold War, TU-95s often flew patrols with nuclear weapons, much like their American counterpart, the B-52.

There was no radio traffic contact between the bombers and U.S. fighters this week. Instead, the Russians merely flew off.

Russian military forces have been getting more aggressive with their American counterparts lately. The armed spy ship Viktor Leonov was spotted 30 miles off of Groton, Conn., in February.

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Raw Milk Is Poison — Legislators Claim While Maintaining Ban

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Image source: Pixabay.com

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Raw milk is still illegal in Montana, as the state’s Senate killed a bill that would have allowed for limited sales of the unpasteurized product.

“It does not provide adequate disease, drug or antibiotic testing,” Krista Lee Evans said of House Bill (HB) 325. Evans represents the Montana Milk Producers Association.

Others agreed.

“We have found through the years and years of public health work … that pasteurization does its work,” state Sen. Jill Cohenour, a Democrat, said. “It protects us from the sicknesses that can come from raw milk.”

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HB 325 would have allowed farmers to sell raw cow, sheep and goat milk directly to the public, AgWeek reported. Sale of raw milk in retail stores still would have been illegal.

HB 325 was written and introduced by State Representative Nancy Ballance and sponsored in the Senate by Keith Regier. Both are Republicans.

Ballance called HB 325 the “ultimate freedom bill.” Ballance introduced similar bills that failed in 2013 and 2015.

“Processing foods takes valuable nutrients out of the food,” Regier said. “Steamed or raw vegetables are said to be healthier. Many of you eat salad with raw ingredients.”

Raw milk sales are illegal in 20 states, according to Procon.org. Eight states allow raw milk to be sold through cow share agreements, 17 states allow sales direct from the farm and 13 states allow it to be sold in stores.

Do you believe the sale of raw milk should be legal? Share your thoughts in the section below:

North Korea Official Warns: ‘Thermonuclear War May Break Out At Any Moment’

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North Korea Official Warns: ‘Thermonuclear War May Break Out At Any Moment’

PYONGYANG – A pair of high-ranking North Korean officials are warning that the world is on the brink of nuclear war due to U.S. involvement.

“The United States are disturbing the peace and global stability, insisting in a gangster logic,” North Koran foreign minister Han Song-Ryol said over the weekend.

Han added that “nuclear war could break out at any moment” and that the country will continue missile tests “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis” no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

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Meanwhile, Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy United Nations ambassador, warned of “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any minute.”

Kim called the Korean peninsula “the world’s biggest hot spot.”

“[North Korea] is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, during a visit to South Korea, said the “people of North Korea” and “the military of North Korea” should not “mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies.”

“But all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea for denuclearization of this peninsula and for the long-term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea,” Pence said.

What do you think the U.S. should do? Share your thoughts in the section below:

5 Reasons America May Be Headed To War With North Korea

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5 Reasons America May Be Headed To War With North Korea

An all-out war involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the People’s Republic of China became even more possible following a chain of related events this week.

1. The U.S. has plans for a preemptive strike to knock out missiles and weapons — if U.S. officials believe North Korea is set to test a nuclear weapon, NBC News reported. American military forces have moved a number of weapons capable of destroying missiles and facilities into position in the region. This offensive firepower includes Tomahawk cruise missiles, Gray Eagle drones and the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB).

“The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue,” Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News.

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President Trump tweeted, “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.”

2. North Korea might be preparing a test or tests of nuclear weapons or a ballistic missile. The nation has been moving launchers and other equipment needed for a missile test around, intelligence officials told CNN. There also has been new activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing area in North Korea, satellite images indicate. The activity includes digging and work at tunnel entrances, which would precede an underground nuclear test.

North Korea is planning for a major national holiday on April 15 on the 105th anniversary of the birth of the regime’s founder. In the past, such events have been celebrated with weapons tests.

The country warned this week that U.S. actions have “created a dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment on the peninsula and posed serious threat to the world peace and security.”

3. The U.S. Navy is moving a carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to waters near the Korean peninsula. A carrier strike group normally consists of a Nimitz class carrier, a guided missile cruiser (which is equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles), two guided missile destroyers and a Los Angeles class attack submarine.

4. Japan is preparing for a North Korean attack. The Japanese government is bolstering defenses against ballistic missile attacks and preparing to evacuate 57,000 of its citizens from South Korea, The Japan Times reported. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is fearful of chemical weapons attacks on Japan, the CBC reported.

“There is a possibility that North Korea is already capable of shooting missiles with sarin as warheads,” Abe told a committee of Japan’s parliament April 13.

5. China seems to be mobilizing for war. The China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may have deployed up to 150,000 troops along North Korea’s northern border, the China Post newspaper in Taiwan reported. The PLA has 24 Dongfeng “carrier-killer” missiles stationed in northern China. The People’s Republic has stopped buying North Korea’s most important export, coal, and ordered Chinese companies to return coal shipments to North Korea, CNBC reported.

Do you believe the U.S. should strike North Korea? Share your thoughts in the section below:

 

Feds Mull Tax On Organic Food, Farms

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Feds Mull Tax On Organic Food, Farms

WASHINGTON — Some supporters of organic farming are warning about a sneaky effort to impose what amounts to a federal tax on organic farmers and products.

The proposal by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would collect funds from organic farmers and food producers to fund pro-organic advertising programs. The funding is called a “checkoff.”

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) supports the idea, but other organic organizations oppose it and are calling the checkoff a tax. The checkoff would impact all organic certificate holders who vote on the issue – whether they support or oppose the idea.

“After reviewing the proposal, we’ve determined that this Check-Off would be a grossly unfair tax imposed upon small personal care processors, and we question the legality of its application to non-food personal care businesses,” businesswoman Diana Kaye wrote at NoOrganicCheckoff.com.

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Kaye operates Terressentials, a small company that makes and markets organic care products.

Feds Mull Tax On Organic Food, Farms

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The Cornucopia Institute also opposes the checkoff, saying it will harm family farms and small business people.

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance sent an email to supporters stating, “Say no to a new tax on organic farmers!”

Checkoffs fund some popular and successful advertising campaigns including “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner,” “Got Milk?” and the “Incredible Edible Egg.” The intent is to help farmers by increasing consumption of those products.

The problem by using a checkoff for organic food, though, is that – by rule – an organic advertising campaign cannot say anything negative about other foods.

“Checkoff dollars,” Cornucopia said on its website, “could almost certainly not be used to advocate for claims of organic food health, superior food quality, safety, sustainability or be used to expose differences between ‘natural’ and GMO-free food claims because these types of messages can be viewed as disparaging conventional food commodities.”

Another fear is unfair competition from big retailers and processors, such as Kroger and other large grocery stores, which would big beneficiaries of the publicity. Kroger, the nation’s largest standalone grocer, is expected to sell $16 billion worth of natural and organic products in 2017.

Another concern: the governing board for the checkoff program would be selected by the USDA. Farmers would have less than half of the seats, according to Cornucopia, which asserted that people “with political and corporate connections would likely be appointed by the USDA secretary.”

“We don’t trust OTA and USDA to speak for us in describing organic food to the public,” said Jim Crawford, an organic farmer at New Morning Farm in Pennsylvania. “We don’t want OTA and USDA to form another board, which is weighted in favor of corporate organics and which would control our message to the public.”

Persons can give their thoughts on the checkoff through a federal website. The USDA will close comments at midnight on April 19.

Do you support the checkoff program? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Trump: We’re Sending ‘An Armada’ To North Korea

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Trump: We’re Sending ‘An Armada’ To North Korea

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WASHINGTON — Tensions between the United States and North Korea showed no signs of cooling this week, as President Trump said the U.S. is sending an “armada” to the region and North Korea retaliated by saying it’s “ready” for war.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Trump told the Fox Business Network. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”

The U.S. already had an aircraft carrier in the region. He also issued a warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We have the best military people on Earth,” Trump said. “And I will say this: He is doing the wrong thing.”

North Korea has tested a series of missiles in recent years and has warned the U.S. and its allies that it will retaliate – perhaps with nuclear weapons – if provoked.

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“If the U.S. dares opt for a military action … the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.,” a statement read on North Korea’s news service said, using the nation’s official acronym.

North Korea’s Submarines a Danger?

Meanwhile, North Korea’s navy has around 70 submarines in its fleet, CNBC reported. A few of those vessels are believed to be capable of launching ballistic missiles which can be equipped with nuclear warheads. North Korea is known to have at least 10 nuclear weapons.

Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) would be a threat to the mainland of the United States if a North Korean submarine were able to cross the Pacific. Once a sub got within a few hundred miles of the U.S. coast, it could fire a nuclear missile at a large U.S. city such as Los Angeles or Seattle.

Experts believe that North Korea’s SLBMs have a range of around 600 miles, CNBC reported. North Korea has tested an SLBM that flew for 310 miles. Experts also think the DPRK has a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

Seven years ago, a North Korean submarine apparently sank a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors, although the incident remains in dispute.

North Korean submarine missiles would easily evade anti-missile systems in South Korea that are only pointed north, Heritage Foundation national security specialist Bruce Klingner said.

“The problem with the SLBM is that it exposes South Korea’s flanks to attack,” Klingner said.

It is difficult to track North Korea’s sub fleet, Klingner said. At one point in 2015, South Korean officials lost track of 50 North Korean submarines.

“We didn’t know where they were at the time,” Klingner said. “One would hope that we would keep very close tabs on those that could launch the SLBM.”

What do you believe the U.S. should do with North Korea? Share your thoughts in the section below:

State Baned Sunscreen At School. Then A Girl Stayed Outside Too Long.

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State Bans Sunscreen At School. Then A Girl Stayed Outside Too Long.

It apparently is going to take a change in state law to give kids the right to use sunscreen at schools in Washington state

Senate Bill (SB) 5404 would allow children to possess and use over-the-counter sunscreen on school property, AP reported. Under the current state law, it is illegal to have sunscreen at school without a note from a licensed healthcare professional.

Sadly, though, the law was not proposed until two children were badly burned at a school function.

“Two of my three children experienced significant sunburns,” Jesse Michener, the Tacoma mother credited with inspiring SB 5404, wrote on her blog in 2015. “Like, hurts-to-look-at burns.”

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Michener’s daughters, Violet and Zoe, experienced the sunburns at field day because officials with the Tacoma Public Schools would not allow them to use sunscreen. Disturbingly, one of the teachers who refused to let the girls use sunscreen was using it in front of the girls as they burned.

Zoe Michener suffers from albinism, a condition that makes her white vulnerable to sunburn. But school officials said they could not allow the girl to use sunscreen.

After she posted the story on her blog, Michener heard from parents across the country whose schools have a similar policy that treats sunscreen as a drug.

The Washington State House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously, Reason reported. Legislatures in California, Texas and Oregon have passed similar legislation.

The Tacoma Schools banned sunscreen use because some chemicals in the lotions might cause allergic reactions in children, District spokesman Dan Voelpel told ABC News in 2015.

What is your reaction? Do you think sunscreen should be allowed? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Russia Warns: It And U.S. ‘One Step Away’ From War

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Russia Warns: It And U.S. ‘One Step Away’ From War

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Some of America’s top enemies have sided with Russia in pledging to defend Syria following the U.S. missile attack on that country.

The U.S., for its part, isn’t backing down.

“We’re calling [Russia and Iran] out,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,  told CNN. “But I don’t think anything is off the table at this point. I think what you’re going to see is strong leadership. You’re going to continue to see the United States act when we need to act.”

Haley’s words were prompted by statements of support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from Russia and Iran. The two governments were joined in their support for Assad by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, the Associated Press reported.

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“Both sides [Russia and Iran] noted the inadmissibility of aggressive U.S. actions against a sovereign state in violation of international law,” a Kremlin press release stated. “[Russia’s] Vladimir Putin and [Iran’s] Hasan Rouhani spoke in favor of an objective, unbiased investigation of all the circumstances of the chemical weapons incident on April 4 in the Syrian province of Idlib.”

Russia has implied that the chemical attack – which prompted the missile strike – never happened. On Tuesday, the White House alleged that Russia had helped Syria cover up the chemical attack.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, earlier said the U.S. was “one step away from military clashes with Russia”

Rouhani, Iran’s president, even called Assad to voice his support for Syria. Iran has troops from its Revolutionary Guard fighting for Assad in Syria’s civil war. The Russians have been supplying Assad with air support, artillery and technical advice.

Trump ordered the strike in retaliation for a nerve gas attack on the city of Khan Sheikhoun that killed around 70 people.

War Talk Escalates  

This prompted calls from U.S. allies for Assad’s removal.

“I am very clear that there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria, which is representative of all the Syrian people,” UK Prime Minister Theresa May said.

But some in the U.S. say the White House should think twice about more military action.

“When the Trump administration uses the words ‘regime change,’ they are talking about a military effort to remove Assad,” U.S. Sen. Ed Markey told CNN. “And that would mean putting American young men and women on the ground in battlefield conditions in order to accomplish that goal. I don’t think there’s any appetite in the United States for a massive additional military presence.”

Do you think the U.S. should try and remove Assad? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

Trump Orders Strike On Syria; Russia Responds By Pledging To Defend Country

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Trump Orders Strike On Syria; Russia Responds By Pledging To Defend Country

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration began the year with high hopes for a restart in relationship with Russia, but those apparently were dashed Thursday when U.S. destroyer ships fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria in retaliation for that country’s use of a deadly chemical weapon that killed more than 70 of its own citizens.

“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” Trump said Thursday night. “Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

Trump said he had ordered a “targeted military strike” on the Syrian airfield “from where the chemical attack was launched.”

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said. “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council.”

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Just a few months ago, the political establishment was joking about Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin being best friends. Now, they seem like long-time enemies – and just a few steps away from world war.

Russia’s Sputnik News labeled the chemical attack “alleged” attack, implying it never happened.

“President Putin regards the US attacks on Syria as an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “… Putin also sees the attacks on Syria by the US as an attempt to divert the international community’s attention from the numerous casualties among civilians in Iraq.”

The Russian defense ministry even said it would strengthen an air defense system within Syria to protect that country. Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally.

“In order to protect the most sensitive objects of the Syrian infrastructure, a system of measures to bolster and increase the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces’ air defense systems will be implemented,” said ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov

Peskov said the chances for a collision or war between the two countries in Syria had “significantly increased.” He even charged that the airstrike was “carried out for the benefit of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”

Russian also announced it was suspending a September 2015 agreement that was intended to avoid incidents between U.S. and American aircraft.

Did you support the airstrikes on Syria? Share your thoughts in the section below:

North Korea Defector’s Urgent Warning: ‘World Should Be Ready’ For Nuclear Attack

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North Korea Defector's Urgent Warning: ‘World Should Be Ready’ For Nuclear Attack

WASHINGTON — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un would not hesitate to use nuclear attack on the United States and other countries, according to a defector who formerly served as deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom.

“Once he sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile),” Thae Yong Ho told NBC anchorman Lester Holt. “Kim Jong Un is a man who can do anything beyond the normal imagination.”

Thae and his family defected to South Korea in August, becoming the highest-level defectors from North Korea in two decades. Thae risked his life to talk to Holt; Kim has demonstrated a willingness to murder his enemies.

“I am already a marked man,” Thae said. “Kim Jong Un wants to eliminate any person or any country which poses a threat to him. And I think I am really a great threat to him.

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“Kim Jong Un is a person who did not even hesitate to kill his uncle and a few weeks ago, even his half-brother,” Thae said. “So, he is a man who can do anything to remove [anyone in] his way.”

Others Agree

Thae is not the only one who believes North Korea is a grave threat. The commander of America’s Pacific Fleet is worried about the reclusive nation.

“They have the nuclear capability — they’ve demonstrated that,” Admiral Scott Swift told NBC News. “And then, where they’re going with the miniaturization of that, whether they can actually weaponize a missile, that’s what’s driving the current concern.”

North Korea has an estimated eight nuclear warheads, but no one knows if it has a working ICBM. An ICBM would be necessary to hit the United States from the Korean peninsula.

“It does feel more dangerous — I’ll give you three reasons,” retired Admiral James Stavridis told NBC News. “One is [Kim’s] own precarious situation in command of the nation. Number two is the instability in South Korea. We’ve just seen the South Korean president indicted, arrested, and incarcerated. And, number three, a new and more aggressive American foreign policy coming from Washington.”

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached over a corruption scandal last year and ousted from office during March of this year. Kim might see the constitutional crisis in South Korea as an opportunity to attack.

‘Only a Nuclear Weapon Can Guarantee His Rule’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 17 said military action is on the table.

Kim thinks that possessing a nuclear weapon is the only to avoid the fate of tyrants like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, Thae said.

“That’s why Kim Jong Un strongly believes that only a nuclear weapon can guarantee his rule,” Thae said.

Thae added, “If Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons and ICBMs, he can do anything So, I think the world should be ready to deal with this kind of person.”

What strategy do you think the U.S. should pursue with North Korea? Share your thoughts in the section below:

State Defeats Bill That Would Have Let Kids RIDE BICYCLES ALONE

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State Defeats Bill That Would Have Let Kids RIDE BICYCLES ALONE

Leaving a child unsupervised outside for a few minutes can still be illegal in Arkansas.

A state legislative committee rejected a bill this month that would have prevented parents from being charged with neglect for leaving a child outside alone.

According to the summary, Senate Bill 305 was designed to “protect a parent or guardian’s decision to grant his or her children unsupervised time to engage in activities that include without limitation playing outside, walking to school, bicycling, remaining briefly in a vehicle, and remaining at home.”

It was designed to prevent investigations of parents who leave children alone for short periods of time, Reason reported. The bill would have allowed a child to remain unsupervised in a car for 15 minutes “if the temperature inside the vehicle is not or will not become dangerously hot or cold.”

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“This just simply says that kids walking home from a park and kids being left in a car in good weather for a few minutes is not a criminal act,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Alan Clark (R-Hot Springs), said.

Despite that, the House Judiciary Committee rejected the legislation earlier this month after it had passed the Senate, Reason reported.

The bill was drafted by the Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore, free-range kids advocate Lenore Skenazy, and Advance Arkansas Institute’s Dan Greenburg, with the help of attorneys.

“This is a bill to make sure my parents would not be criminals,” Scott said. “This is a parents’ rights bill. As a practical matter, this bill requires DHS (Department of Human Services) to close investigations of child maltreatment once they find there was no maltreatment.”

But Republican House Speaker Jeremy Gillam opposed the bill, noting it takes only 37 seconds to carjack a vehicle with a child inside.

Skenazy, in a Reason story, asserted that Gillam’s assertion is beside the point.

“Simply because something can happen does not mean that it is remotely likely to happen,” she wrote. “And as Clark proceeded to point out: If kids can be kidnapped in 37 seconds from a car, the same must hold true if they are allowed to ride their bikes, or walk home from the park on their own.”

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Caleb Taylor of The Arkansas Project argued:

If you make the assumption that any imaginable tragedy is sufficient reason to never allow kids to be left unattended by parents, public schools should close tomorrow. It’s possible to imagine that kids could be sexually abused or beaten by a school employee. Does that mean parents who send their kids to school everyday are bad parents? Obviously not.

The bill’s legislative findings asserted that parental coddling of children has had negative effects on kids.

“The alarming rise of obesity and diabetes in childhood is almost certainly linked to the insistence of parents and guardians on driving their children to school and activities instead of allowing their children to walk,” the bill stated. “As measured by incidences of mental health difficulties, today’s over-supervised youth experience more difficulties upon reaching adulthood than earlier generations.

“Earlier generations learned resilience by walking, bicycling, playing, helping out, and solving problems without constant adult intervention,” the legislation states.

The legislation was prompted by news stories about the arrests and investigation of parents for leaving children outside alone.

Would you have supported the bill? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The Looming Pension Collapse: Chicago Collected $90 Million But Paid Retirees $999 Million

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The Looming Pension Collapse: Chicago Collected $90 Million But Paid Retirees $999 Million

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The city of Chicago’s pension funds only generated $90 million in investment income but paid retirees $999 million in 2015, according to Chicago City Wire.

Chicago is just one of several cities or states facing a crisis in which pension funds are not generating enough money to cover obligations to retired employees.

An analysis by Chicago City Wire of the six pension funds provides a frightening picture of the city’s economy. None of the funds generate enough money to cover retirement obligations to employees.

“All six operate as government-sanctioned Ponzi schemes, paying retirees with contributions made into the fund by active city employees, as well as taxpayers contributing on those employees’ behalf,” Chicago City Wire reported.

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A Ponzi or pyramid scheme is a con game in which a fraudster uses money from new victims to pay previous suckers.

But it’s not just Chicago. According to Market Watch:

  • The Michigan Public School Employees retirement pension fund is $26.7 billion underfunded.
  • The South Carolina government employee pension fund is $24.1 billion underfunded.
  • The Social Security trust fund is on pace to run out of money by 2034.
  • The United Mine Workers of America pension fund is $6 billion underfunded.

Jeff Reeves of Market Watch wrote that “America is rapidly approaching a point of no return” in underfunded pensions.

“Say what you will about the solvency of Social Security, and the imperative of acting on admittedly imperfect calculations that still give us a good 15 to 20 years until the trust runs dry,” he wrote. “But the millions of Americans relying on underfunded pension plans have an urgent need for reform in 2017. And if they don’t get it, it could have serious effects on the American economy for decades.”

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Heavily Armed U.S. Marshals Are Now Evicting Homeowners In This City

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Heavily Armed U.S. Marshals Are Now Evicting Homeowners In This CityWASHINGTON — Heavily armed U.S. marshals, whose normal job is to hunt down dangerous fugitives, are being used to evict tenants in the nation’s capital.

SWAT-vest-wearing marshals sneaked into Donya Williams’ apartment with guns drawn to serve an eviction notice, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is alleging in a complaint.

Williams was reportedly naked and in the apartment with her 12-year-old daughter when the marshals entered and pointed guns at everyone, WJLA television reported. The marshals were evicting Williams because she had not paid the rent on her Washington, D.C., apartment.

“It happened all so quick,” 12-year-old Juanita Williams told the TV station.

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Said Donya, “And I’m sitting there just shaking, just trembling and I’m saying, ‘Please just give me a minute to get dressed because I don’t have on anything.’”

The eviction took place in 2015 but the ACLU filed its complaint in February of this year.

“There is not even a plausible safety justification for that,” ACLU attorney Scott Michelman said. “It’s just humiliating and it’s wrong.”

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Marshals wearing SWAT vests and sometimes carrying rifles routinely serve eviction notices in the nation’s capital, Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote. She witnessed a separate eviction in D.C. performed by marshals. Although Williams’ eviction involved an apartment, marshals also are used to evict homeowners.

The marshals are in charge of evictions in D.C. because they are in charge of carrying out orders of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The marshals’ duties include serving eviction notices.

Since the District of Columbia is not in a state, the federal government is responsible for law enforcement and other government services that would normally be provided by the state, county or city.

“This winds up weird for a number of reasons,” Brown wrote. “First, let’s consider the impact on evicted tenants. Being evicted is tough enough without the public embarrassment and intimidation of having it made into a spectacle complete with rifle-wearing U.S. marshals in SWAT vests and a baseball team’s worth of mandated movers. And the potential for escalation of hostilities, violence, and (should anything get out of hand) criminal penalties are always greater when you throw armed federal agents into the mix.

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“Sure, some sort of security during evictions might be necessary, but in most cases it could probably be handled better by building security staff or community police than people primarily trained for things like federal-prisoner transport and apprehending fugitives.”

The law even requires the landlords to provide movers for the eviction.

Williams was refusing to pay her rent because of a dispute with her landlord at the time of the eviction.

“They have my record,” she told Barber. “I have [no criminal record] — not even a bad driving record.”

Williams has since moved to a new apartment but has filed a complaint against the marshals for violating her rights.

What do you think? Should U.S. marshals be used for evictions? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Former CIA Director Warns Of Attack That ‘Would Blackout North America And Kill Millions’

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Former CIA Director Warns Of Attack That ‘Would Blackout North America And Kill Millions’

WASHINGTON — A former CIA director is warning that it would be “profoundly dangerous” to underestimate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who he calls a “sociopath” who doesn’t follow the standard protocol on nuclear weapons.

James Woolsey, CIA director under President Clinton, and Peter Vincent Pry, chief of staff of the congressional EMP Commission, co-wrote a column for The Washington Times asserting that the U.S. isn’t prepared for North Korea’s threat.

“Kim Jong-un is a sociopath who inherited absolute power from his father and grandfather,” Woolsey and Pry wrote. “Like them, Kim is mentally and spiritually absolutely corrupted. Kim is so suspicious of his own followers that he is purging his political and military elites, inventing sadistically ingenious ways of killing even close relatives.”

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They called him “Caligula in the third generation, armed with nuclear weapons.”

“His paranoid personality is exactly the type to start a nuclear war,” they wrote in the March 26 column.

Western analysists, they wrote, “wrongly assume” that North Korea will follow a testing regime “similar to that for U.S. missiles,” with multiple flight tests. Instead, North Korea is rushing untested weapons into deployment.

“North Korea sees itself in a long nuclear crisis with the United States, always on the verge of nuclear war, necessitating that missiles get rushed out the door based on component testing and maybe some minimal flight testing,” they wrote. “Pyongyang is in a panic, like Moscow during World War II rushing not properly tested tanks to the front from the factory floor — except Pyongyang’s panic is over nuclear war.”

That explains why North Korea deployed 30 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) for nine years without flight testing them until recently, they wrote. The country also has deployed mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) without flight testing.

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“Pyongyang’s panic explains why we should be a lot more worried about their KMS-3 and KMS-4 satellites orbiting over the U.S. If nuclear-armed, these satellites could make an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would blackout North America and kill millions,” Woolsey and Pry wrote. “Surprise EMP attack by satellite is such an unconventional gambit it is still not on the mental radar screens of most analysts — exactly as Pyongyang hopes.”

The two men asserted that the U.S. must do four things to protect itself:

  • “Harden the national electric grid against EMP and cyberattack, starting by appointing new commissioners to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who care more about national security than essentially representing the electric utilities.
  • “Redeploy Aegis guided missile cruisers to plug holes in the National Missile Defense, especially in the southern Gulf coastal states — Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
  • “Modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent, including development of EMP and cyber weapons capable of neutralizing nuclear missile threats preemptively.
  • “Launch a new Manhattan Project to resurrect President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and deploy space-based missile defenses to make preemptive warfare unnecessary.”

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

This Federal Agency Has Seized $3.2 Billion From People – Without Charging Them With A Crime

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This Federal Agency Has Seized $3.2 Billion From People – Without Charging Them With A Crime

Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictures-of-money/

WASHINGTON — One single branch of the U.S. government, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), has collected more than $4 billion through civil forfeiture since 2007.

Disturbingly, most of that money — $3.2 billion — was seized in cash without criminal charges or convictions, a report from the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Justice found this week. The $3.2 billion figure does not include the value of cars, homes and other items the DEA took.

The report – dubbed “The Review of the Department’s Oversight of Cash Seizure and Forfeiture”found that reasons for the seizures included “traveling to or from a known source city for drug trafficking, purchasing a ticket within 24 hours of travel, purchasing a ticket for a long flight with an immediate return, purchasing a one-way ticket, and traveling without checked luggage.”

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Darpana Sheth, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, told The Washington Post that the report “raises serious concerns that maybe the real purpose here is not to fight crime, but to seize and forfeit property.”

Civil forfeiture is the controversial method whereby law enforcement officials can seize property they believe to be tied to drug trafficking, without going to trial or even pressing charges. (Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth report on it here.)

Sheth said a criminal conviction should be required to seize money.

“Nobody in America should lose their property without being convicted of a crime,” Sheth said. “If our goal is to curb crime, we should simply abolish civil forfeiture.”

Do you support or oppose civil forfeiture? Share your thoughts in the section below:

A 5-Year-Old Girl Guarded A Pretend Castle With A ‘Stick Gun.’ She Got Suspended From School.

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A 5-Year-Old Girl Guarded A Pretend Castle With A ‘Stick Gun.’ She Got Suspended From School.

Image source: Reuters screen capture.

RAEFORD, N.C. — Make-believe is now a forbidden activity on the playground at some schools – but only if it involves a pretend gun.

Five-year-old Caitlin Miller discovered this the hard way when she was taken to the principal’s office during recess and suspended.

Her misdeed: “turning a stick into a gun and threatening to shoot and kill other students,” a note from the assistant principal said. Or, at least, that’s how the school saw it.

Caitlin and her friends were playing “king and queen” during recess on the Raeford, N.C., school playground when she noticed a stick shaped like a Star Trek phaser pistol on the ground.

She picked up the stick and used it to guard the castle’s king and queen against an intruder – at least until teachers noticed and took her to the principal’s office. There, Caitlin was given a note to take home to her mom. It included a picture of the stick. Caitlin was suspended from school for one day.

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A 5-Year-Old Girl Guarded A Pretend Castle With A ‘Stick Gun.’ She Got Suspended From School.“One minute she’s playing with her friends and the next her teachers are dragging her to the principal’s office,” her mother, Brandy Miller, told WTVD TV. “She’s confused. Nobody explained anything to her.”

The school stood by its action against the kindergartener.

“Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning,” a press release from the Hoke County School District reads.

Caitlin has grown up around guns, as her father serves in the Army. Her mother did not know what to tell the girl, not wanting to bring up the subject of school shootings.

Now, the girl feels uncomfortable at school.

“She feels like all the teachers hate her,” Miller wrote on Facebook. “I can’t imagine being five and feeling that way.”

Do you think the girl should have been suspended? Share your thoughts in the section below:

7-Year-Old Boy Makes Twisted Joke At School … So CPS Seizes Him

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7-Year-Old Boy Makes Twisted Joke At School … So CPS Seizes Him

Image source: Health Impact News/family

Eight police officers surrounded a couple’s home and took their seven-year-old son away because of a disagreement with school officials over ADHD and mental health, the parents say.

Christian and Katie Maple lost custody of seven-year-old Camden because they disagreed with school officials’ assessment of the boys’ mental health, they told Health Impact News. He attends Bowman Primary School in Lebanon, Ohio.

They describe him as a normal American boy: He has five siblings and enjoys Star Wars, Pokemon, football and Legos. He even has tested a grade above his current grade, the website reported.

“The school thinks he is ADHD, we as parents disagree,” the couple told Health Impact News. “We believe that it stems mostly from boredom and not being challenged in the classroom. The school has tried on several occasions to get us to have him diagnosed, so that he can be medicated.

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“We as parents do not have the problems the school claims to have with him, at home. We know how to deal with a rambunctious 7-year-old, but the school is content with making him believe that he is a bad child, we disagree.”

The controversy began when the parents were called to pick up Camden following an incident at school. Camden had been disruptive in class and had told a school counselor that he was upset because he felt that he was bad and he wanted to “erase himself from the earth.” The counselor asked how he would have done that, and he responded that he would have stabbed himself in the eye, Health Impact News reported.

Christian and Katie had a lengthy conversation with their son after they left school. They saw the incident different than the school saw it.

“Camden said that he did not want to hurt himself and just said that because he was upset and wanted to see what the counselor would say,” they told the website. “The school thought we should have taken him to the hospital emergency room for a mental health evaluation, but upon assessing the situation and speaking to him at home, it was clear to us that he posed no threat to himself and just said it to get a rise out of the counselor. He has never said anything about harming himself prior to this incident or after. This was one time, one day … most likely repeating something he heard somewhere.”

They added, “If we really believed that he would have really hurt himself, then we would have taken him to be assessed. They’ve blown this way out of proportion.”

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The next day, school officials phoned the couple to ask if they had taken him to the hospital. They also wanted to know the details of the couple’s conversation with the boy. When the parents refused to disclose what was said, the school contacted CPS, according to the parents.

Two weeks later, Christian and Katie learned that there was a court hearing “later that day” on March 3. The judge sided with the school and CPS, and police officers were sent to the home to assist in the boy’s removal. He remains in state custody.

The parents were ordered to get a psychological evaluation and drug and alcohol tests. The psychological tests came back normal. The drug and alcohol test results were clean.

“How can this be?” Katie asked. “How can CPS get away with ripping children from loving homes without just cause? … CPS should not have this much unchecked power.”

They added, “There is nothing to stop this from happening to anyone.”

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

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.

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

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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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‘Little Doubt’ North Korea Is Prepping For First-Strike Nuclear War, Expert Says

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‘Little Doubt’ North Korea Is Prepping For First-Strike Nuclear War, Expert Says

SEOUL — An expert on Asian politics says he has “little doubt” that North Korea is preparing for a first-strike nuclear attack against America and its allies in light of recent activity within the Communist country.

“North Korea’s military exercises leave little doubt that Pyongyang plans to use large numbers of nuclear weapons against U.S. forces throughout Japan and South Korea to blunt an invasion,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, wrote in Foreign Policy. “North Korean defectors have claimed that the country’s leaders hope that by inflicting mass casualties and destruction in the early days of a conflict, they can force the United States and South Korea to recoil from their invasion.”

Lewis was referencing a test this month in which North Korea launched four missiles from the northwest corner of the nation. They traveled more than 600 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan.

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North Korean then released a map that “showed all four missiles landing on an arc that stretched down to the [U.S.] Marine Corps Air Station near Iwakuni, Japan,” Lewis wrote.

Just as significant, North Korea previously tested its missiles from a central location but has been changing launch sites recently.

“These aren’t missile tests, they are military exercises,” Lewis wrote. “North Korea knows the missiles work. What the military units are doing now is practicing — practicing for a nuclear war.”

North Korea is conducting the missile tests at the same time that U.S. and South Korean forces are taking part in exercises in the region involving tens of thousands of personnel, as well as an aircraft carrier, bombers and F-35 aircraft out of Iwakuni – the same base North Korea could target.

The U.S.-South Korean drills are a “rehearsal” and part of a war plan known as OPLAN 5015, which “has been described as a pre-emptive strike against North Korea,” Lewis wrote.

All sides have plans to strike first, Lewis added.

“That means, in a crisis, the pressure will be to escalate,” he wrote. “Whatever restraint Kim [Jong un] or [Donald] Trump might show — and let’s be honest, our expectations here are not high — each will face enormous pressure to start the attack lest his opponent beat him to the punch.”

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

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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.

What is your reaction? Should the boy have been suspended? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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.”

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

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

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

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.

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

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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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Victory: Court Says Creamery Can Label Its Skim Milk … ‘Skim Milk’ (Huh?)

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Victory: Court Says Creamery Can Label Its Skim Milk … ‘Skim Milk’ (Huh?)

Image source: Institute for Justice

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In what some are calling a victory for common sense and liberty, a U.S. federal appeals court Monday handed a creamery a major victory by ruling that all-natural skim milk can be labeled “skim milk” even if it is not injected with state-mandated Vitamin A.

The unanimous 3-0 decision overturned a decision from earlier this year by a federal judge.

At the heart of the controversy is Ocheesee Creamery, which has an all-natural philosophy and clams that injecting the vitamin would make its skim milk anything but all-natural. The state had ordered the creamery to label the skim milk “imitation skim milk” if it didn’t have Vitamin A.

The creamery sells cream, skimmed from whole milk, to families and coffee shops; skim milk is the byproduct. The creamery currently dumps about 400 gallons of skim milk each day because it refuses to label its product “imitation.”

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The creamery’s use of “skim milk” to describe its product “is not inherently misleading,” the judges ruled.

Story continues below video

“As the Creamery’s label does not concern unlawful activity and is not inherently misleading, the Creamery’s commercial speech merits First Amendment protection,” read the ruling, which vacated the lower court’s decision.

The judges remanded the case to the lower court.

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“This decision is a total vindication for Ocheesee Creamery and a complete rejection of the Florida Department of Agriculture’s suppression of speech,” said Justin Pearson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which is representing the creamery. “All Mary Lou wants to do is sell skim milk that contains literally one ingredient — pasteurized skim milk — and label it as pasteurized skim milk.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture had ruled the milk could be labeled “skim milk” only if it was injected with artificial Vitamin A.

“I simply want to tell the truth about what is in the products I sell, and I did not like that the government wanted me to lie,” Mary Lou Wesselhoeft said. “Today’s good news is proof that it is important to stand up for your rights when the government wants you to do something that is wrong.”

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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.”

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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.

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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’

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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.

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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

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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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‘Home School Check. Please Give Us A Call’

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‘Home School Check. Please Give Us A Call’

PARIS, Ky. – Homeschooling families in one Kentucky school district were surprised to discover recently that school officials were conducting unannounced visits to homes – and if no one was there, leaving door hangers.

The February visits within the Paris Independent School District apparently violate a state-wide agreement, which is designed to protect a family’s constitutional right to privacy, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association, which reported on the incident.

“I got the impression that district staff could become more difficult if I didn’t cooperate in answering their questions or bring out my child to meet them,” one parent, Jenny Griffith, reported. “I tried to handle the situation as civilly as possible, without adding any threat to them.”

Griffith said the two officials who visited her home said the district has plans to visit every homeschool family three times a year.

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“As part of their plan to help families, the school officials asked about attendance records and curriculum,” HSLDA attorney T.J. Schmidt wrote at the organization’s website. “Before leaving, one official asked Jenny about meeting her child.”

Families who were not at home got a doorhanger, reading, “Home school check. Please give us a call.” It was signed by the principal.

But the visits go against Kentucky state law, Schmidt said.

“Under Kentucky law, a homeschool program operates as a private school,” he wrote. “While private schools are required to keep attendance and scholarship records (i.e. report cards) in the same manner as the local public school, homeschooling parents do not need to open their homes and present these documents simply because a school official comes knocking.”

An agreement was reached more than 20 years ago between the homeschool organizations and the state that “unless school officials receive some report or have some evidence that the parents are not educating their children, no further inquiry should be made,’ Schmidt added.

HSLDA has contacted the school district about the law.

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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

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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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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

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“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.

Would you support a balanced budget constitutional convention? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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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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

Image source: Remington.com

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.”

Who do you think is right? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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National Weather Service Warns Flooded Californians: Pack A Bug-Out Bag

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National Weather Service Warns Flooded Californians: Pack A Bug-Out BagSACRAMENTO, Calif. – The majority of Northern California remained under a flood warning Tuesday as record rains continued, and the National Weather Service even urged residents to gather essential items in the equivalent of a bug-out bag.

More than 14 million people are under a flood warning until Thursday, including the area around the Oroville Dam which experienced a mass evacuation just before Valentine’s Day.

Sacramento has received 26 inches of rain since Oct. 1, double what the city normally gets during the same time, The Sacramento Bee reported. San Francisco has seen 24.38 inches of rain.

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With mudslides and floods threatening the region and reservoirs at capacity, the National Weather Service in Sacramento issued a dire warning:  “Gather important items, documents and medications in a ‘go bag’ in case you need to evacuate quickly. Don’t forget to plan for your pets, too. Make sure your vehicles have a full tank of gas.”

Thousands of residents in the towns of Prunedale and Salinas have been without power since the storms started Friday, forcing schools in the area to close

“We’re on our 56th hour without power now and it’s getting a little brisk inside the house,” Prunedale’s Gary Bolden told KSBW.

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On Monday, the levee broke in San Joaquin County near Manteca, which is an hour south of Sacramento. More than 500 people were forced to evacuate. The situation was so severe that local farmers took their own excavators and tractors to the level to help fix it.

Elsewhere, another dam, the Anderson Dam just southeast of San Jose, attracted sightseers as its spillway began releasing water from the Anderson Reservoir for the first time in 11 years in a scene local media were comparing to Niagara Falls. Officials are concerned because the dam was not built to withstand an earthquake when the reservoir is at 68 percent capacity. As of now it is at 100 percent; a 7.25 magnitude earthquake could cause the dam to fail, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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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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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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‘Pure Chaos’ — 200,000 Calif. Residents Evacuated; ‘Nowhere To Get Gas’; 30-Foot Wall Of Water Possible

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‘Pure Chaos’ -- 200,000 Calif. Residents Evacuated; ‘Nowhere To Get Gas’; 30-Foot Wall Of Water Possible

OROVILLE, Calif. – An evacuation order that forced nearly 200,000 California residents to flee from a damaged spillway remains in effect, as officials hurriedly try to finish the repairs to the tallest dam in the United States before a storm hits Wednesday night.

Around 188,000 residents fled the area Sunday night, out of fear that water from Lake Oroville would collapse the spillway and flood an area that is comparable to the size of Connecticut. The concrete portion of the spillway is sound, officials say. It is the natural spillway to the side – made of dirt – that is in danger.

The spillway is used to release surplus water from behind the 770-food Oroville Dam during emergencies. Torrential rains and heavy snows from the past few weeks damaged the spillway.

The lake behind the dam has fallen 13 feet since Sunday, but the Weather Channel says there is a 100 percent chance of rain Wednesday night, with totals of over an inch possible.

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The dam was built to capture and store runoff from the mountains in 1968. The body of water it created, Oroville Lake, is the second largest reservoir in the state of California. The water is used to generate electricity, irrigate crops in the central valley and supply cities with drinking water.

Repair crews are using helicopters to drop rocks in the gap to try and stop the erosion.

“It would be a massive blow to the state’s water system if they lose Oroville,” Peter Gleick, a water researcher at the Pacific Institute, told the Desert Sun newspaper. “The question is, will it erode away the emergency spillway? Will there be a big uncontrolled release of water? Or will they be able to draw the lake down enough to prevent that?”

The fear is that a “30-foot wall of water coming out of the lake” will flood homes if the spillway fails, said Cal-Fire incident commander Kevin Lawson.

The Sunday night evacuation led to a scene reminiscent of a disaster movie.

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“Everyone was running around. It was pure chaos,” evacuee Maggie Cabral told KFSN.

Sean Dennis, from nearby Yuba City, told NBC News, “Nothing like this has ever happened. We just grabbed what we could.”

But not everyone could get out.

“There’s nowhere to get gas,” Jennifer Neff, an evacuee, told The Sacramento Bee. “I’ve called roadside assistance – I’m on hold with them now. Do we call the police?”

Neff and others were trapped because gas stations in Marysville, Calif., were closed.

Oroville Dam, located 65 miles northeast of Sacramento, is holding back more than 3.5 million acre-feet of water.

Cracks were found in the dam’s spillway in 2009, but officials claimed that they had been repaired.

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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.

What is your reaction? Should the history of Islam be taught in public schools? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.

What is your reaction? Do you believe the district dropped the ball? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.”

Do you support background checks on ammo? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.”

What do you think? Did the White House make a mistake? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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China’s Agenda 21 Sparks ‘Vertical Forests’ – Skyscrapers With 3,000 Trees & Shrubs

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China’s Agenda 21 Sparks ‘Vertical Forests’ – Skyscrapers With 3,000 Trees & Shrubs

NANJING, China — China’s plan to move 250 million people from the country to the city in the next decade has resulted in some strange developments, including ghost cities and now, “vertical forests.”

The first vertical forest will be built in Nanjing, a city of more than 8 million people, and include 1,100 trees and 2,500 plants and shrubs hanging off a pair of tall skyscrapers. It was designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti and promoted by the government-owned National Investment Group.

According to Stefano Boeri, the vertical forest will absorb 25 tons of carbon dioxide and produce more than 20 tons of oxygen each year. Stefano Boeri even has plans for a yet-to-be-built “Forest City” that will boast dozens of the vertical forests and house about 100,000 residents.

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China’s Agenda 21 Sparks ‘Vertical Forests’ – Skyscrapers With 3,000 Trees & Shrubs

The Nanjing vertical forest is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The tallest tower will be more than 600 feet high and will host offices, a museum, a green architecture school and a private club on the rooftop, according to Stefano Boeri. The second tower, at 354 feet high, will include a Hyatt hotel. The facilities also will have restaurants and a grocery store.

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In 2014 China officials unveiled their National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020) with the goal of moving 100 million people from the rural and farming areas to the city by 2020 and 250 million by 2026.

Story continues below picture

China’s Agenda 21 Sparks ‘Vertical Forests’ – Skyscrapers With 3,000 Trees & Shrubs

“It’s a new world for us in the city,” 43-year-old Tian Wei, a former wheat farmer who now works in a city factory, told The New York Times. “All my life I’ve worked with my hands in the fields; do I have the educational level to keep up with the city people?”

Some have labeled it China’s Agenda 21 – a reference to a United Nations “sustainable development” plan that was adopted by China, the United States and other nations in the 1990s. Critics of Agenda 21 — and the subsequent Agenda 2030 – argue that if the plans are carried out, the U.S. and other countries eventually will force people into cities, even if it doesn’t look as dramatic as it does in China.

(Listen to Off The Grid News’ in-depth report on Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 here.)

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China’s Agenda 21 Sparks ‘Vertical Forests’ – Skyscrapers With 3,000 Trees & Shrubs

The yet-to-be-built “Forest City.”

China’s goal is to transform the country into one that is more competitive on the world stage. Currently, around 55 percent of Chinese residents live in cities, compared to 80 percent of Americans who live in urban areas.

The concept has resulted in hundreds of “ghost cities” across China – that is, cities with streets and skyscrapers, but no people. Eventually, they will be occupied.

What is your reaction to China’s vertical forests and population plan? Do you think it could happen here? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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A Caseworker For Every Single Homeschool Family?

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A Caseworker For Every Single Homeschool Family?

Image source: Flickr / jimmiehomeschoolmom / Creative Commons

 

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa is well-known as being friendly to homeschoolers, but that could change if a bill requiring four government-approved home visits each year becomes law.

The bill by Democratic state Sen. Matt McCoy was introduced in response to the death of 16-year-old Natalie Finn, who died of cardiac arrest in October after starving to death. Her parents were charged in her death and remain in jail.

Neighbors had reported their concerns about the girl to police five months prior to her death. She was not enrolled in school.

McCoy’s bill, S.F. 138, would require the board of directors of each school district to “conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety of children located within the district who are receiving competent private instruction or private instruction.”

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“Home visits shall take place in the child’s residence with the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted,” the bill states.

If parents refuse permission, then the school district can get a court order to enter the home.

Attorney Scott Woodruff of the Home School Legal Defense Association called the bill “a well-intended but misguided response.” Woodruff sent a letter to Iowa state senators urging them to reject the bill and instead to focus on the findings of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF).

“The report listed numerous risk factors,” Woodruff wrote. “Homeschooling was never listed as a risk factor – or even mentioned.”

The report found that a prior report to social services is the “single strongest predictor of a child’s potential risk for injury death … before age 5.”

The problem, Woodruff asserted, is that local officials did not notice “the numerous abuse-neglect reports related to Natalie’s family.”

“Senator McCoy’s bill completely misses the risk factors identified in the CECANF report and instead focuses on an issue – homeschooling – that does not warrant even one mention in the report,” Woodruff wrote.

What do you think? Should homeschoolers be subject to government visits? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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’

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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.

Do you believe war with China is growing more likely? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Moose Falls Into Family’s Basement … And Refuses To Get Out

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Moose Falls Into Family's Basement ... And Refuses To Get Out

HAILEY, Idaho – People who live in moose country know what to do when a Bullwinkle-sized creature crosses their paths. But what happens when one falls into your basement?

That’s exactly what happened to one Idaho family Saturday when a cow moose fell through a window well and ended up trapped in their basement – unwilling to walk out the door.

Moose Falls Into Family's Basement ... And Refuses To Get OutThe you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it problem was solved only when law enforcement from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department and officers from Idaho Fish and Game teamed up. They first “attempted to herd the moose up the stairs and out the front door to freedom” but “the moose was having none of it, charging the officers several times,” according to the Idaho Fish and Game Facebook page.

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Finally, around 3 in the morning, they sedated the moose.

“With all hands on deck, the sleeping giant was carried up the stairs and out the front door,” the Idaho Fish and Game Facebook page added. “It woke up in the snow covered street, groggy and confused, but free.”

The Blaine County Sheriff’s Department said on its Facebook page that deep snows “have brought wildlife into town and close to homes looking for food.”

What would you do if there were a moose in your basement? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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.

Do you agree or disagree with the police chief? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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

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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.”

Do you believe the baby should have been seized? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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

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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.”

Do you believe the student should have been charged? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.

Do you agree with Trump’s actions? Share your thought in the section below:

Trump Just Overturned 8 Years Of Obama On 2 Oil Pipelines

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Trump Just Overturned Obama On 2 Oil Pipelines

WASHINGTON – President Trump signed executive orders Tuesday breathing new life into the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, saying the “regulatory process in this country has become a tangled-up mess.”

Signing the executive order related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump said the pipeline completion would be “subject to terms and conditions to be negotiated by us.”

Plans for the Dakota pipeline have it running from North Dakota to Illinois while spanning also South Dakota and Iowa. It has been embroiled in controversy and protests due to its crossing of the Missouri River. President Obama blocked construction of part of it last year.

The Keystone pipeline is set to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico but has not been completed. Obama rejected it in 2015.

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Trump’s actions put the projects back on track. Trump said his orders also will “put a lot of steel workers back to work” because the pipes themselves must be built in the U.S.

“We are and I am very insistent that if we’re going to build pipelines in the United States, the pipes should be made in the United States,” Trump said Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Trump said his administration is going to ease environmental rules.

“Our friends that want to build in the United States, they go many, many years and then they can’t get the environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before,” he said. “And it’s absolutely crazy. I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But it’s out of control.”

Jamie Henn, of the environmental group 350.org, said his organization is “going to fight Keystone XL and Dakota Access along the route” but also is “going to jiu jitsu this attack into energy to take on fossil fuel infrastructure all across the country,” he told Politico.

Do you believe the pipelines should be completed? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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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.

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“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.”

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Obama Approved One More Anti-Gun Rule Before He Left Office

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Obama Approved One More Anti-Gun Rule Before He Left Office

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WASHINGTON — The Second Amendment rights of some of America’s most vulnerable citizens are now under attack. During his final days in office, President Obama’s administration ushered in a federal firearms rule deeming tens of thousands of disabled citizens “mental defectives” simply because they receive a Social Security disability check.

Americans with mental disabilities who receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit check may now have to decide which is more important to them — money or their firearm.

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) fought hard to prevent the Obama administration from creating the new rule, but lost the battle. During the public comment period about the federal gun restriction rule, more than 91,000 Americans stood up in opposition to the plan in comments to the Social Security Administration.

“It will affect those who receive SSI or disability insurance because of a listed mental health impairment and who have been assigned a representative payee to manage the benefits because of the person’s mental condition,” the NRA reported. “The bottom line, however, is that tens of thousands of completely harmless, law-abiding people will lose their rights every year under the rule, a premise the SSA did not even try to refute.”

The Social Security Administration “essentially ignored the NRA’s comments and the tens of thousands of others pointing out problems with the plan,” the NRA added.

“The NRA has already prepared proposals for corrective action, and we certainly hope they will be given favorable consideration by the incoming administration,” the NRA said.

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

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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.”

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Gov’t Report Warns: Power Grid In ‘Imminent Danger’ Of Cyberattack Impacting ‘Millions’

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Gov’t Report Warns: Power Grid In ‘Imminent Danger’ Of Cyberattack Impacting ‘Millions’

Jan. 11, 2017

The U.S. power grid is in constant danger of a cyberattack that could cause widespread blackouts and impact millions of citizens, according to a new 492-page report from the Department of Energy that warns if nothing is done to protect the system, the nation likely will suffer.

“The U.S. grid faces imminent danger from cyberattacks,” the report, released Jan. 6, states. “Widespread disruption of electric service because of a transmission failure initiated by a cyberattack at various points of entry could undermine U.S. lifeline networks, critical defense infrastructure, and much of the economy; it could also endanger the health and safety of millions of citizens.”

The report, titled “Transforming the Nation’s Energy System,” notes that the electric grid in the 48 contiguous states is comprised of 21,500 substations and about 700,000 miles of power lines.

It points to the 2015 cyberattack on the Ukrainian electric grid as an example of what is possible in the U.S. That attack — the “most sophisticated cyber incident on a power system to date” – took out electricity for 225,000 customers “after malicious actors remotely manipulated circuit breakers across multiple facilities.”

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One problem America faces, the report says, is that while cyberattacks are rapidly evolving, power grid officials are slow to deploy defensive measures.

“This gap is exacerbated by difficulties in addressing vulnerabilities in operational technologies that cannot easily be taken offline for upgrades, and the presence of significant legacy systems, as well as components that lack computing resources to incorporate new security fixes,” the report says.

For a fix to be successful, the report notes, it “must be implemented by the thousands of private companies that own and operate electricity infrastructure.”

“While cyberattacks on the U.S. grid and affiliated systems have had limited consequences to date, attacks elsewhere in the world on energy systems should be seen as an indicator of what is possible,” the report says. “Threats can emerge from a range of highly capable actors with sufficient resources, including individuals, groups, or nation-states under the cloak of anonymity.”

“There’s the weak-link issue for the whole system,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview, according to The Washington Post. “The reality is, for a lot of rural, smaller utilities, it’s a very difficult job to have the kind of expertise that will be needed in terms of cyber, so we suggest for example, grant programs to help with training, to help with analytical capacity in these situations.”

The economy would “just take an enormous hit” from a successful cyberattack, Moniz added.

Do you believe the power grid is vulnerable to a cyberattack? Do you think President Trump can or will fix it? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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.”

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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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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.

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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

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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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